The Southside Living Magazine,which previously published our monthly garden column, is temporarily defunct. In the meantime we are distributing our own newsletter to keep you informed about upcoming garden events. Garden News Volume 1 Issue 1 2019 copy (1)
Saturday, May 25, 10 am
Cindy Raimond will meet us in the garden to share her 35 years experience working with butterflies. She will teach us how to create habitat that will attract butterflies to our gardens year after year. If you love our native butterflies you will not want to miss this presentation. Adults and children welcome!
One lucky attendee will win:
- a copy of Cindy’s favorite butterfly book
- a butterfly habitat of your own
- Cindy’s personal cell phone number for advice
- and several host plants to place in your own garden.
In addition, Cindy will help anyone that wants to create their own butterfly habitat during the event. Bring a very LARGE glass or plastic container or a small aquarium.
The Community Garden articles generally discuss growing vegetables, but did you know that the flower beds surrounding the vegetables contain a very intentional mix of plants? We wanted a nice screen for the vegetable beds, but we also wanted to incorporate fruit trees and native plants into the edges of the garden. We have pomegranate trees, persimmons, kumquats, and figs to name a few of our fruit trees. And we planted food and nectar plants for butterflies and insects. Our milkweed is quite popular with the monarch butterflies!
The Upper Texas Coast has around 340 species of birds that either live in or migrate through the area and more than a dozen species of butterflies. Providing habitat and food for them helps them in their migrations. In addition to birds and butterflies, the native species also attract pollinators and beneficial insects that allow our vegetables to prosper without the need for insecticides or chemical fertilizers.
Attracting birds, bees, and butterflies to your own yards is not complicated. The Katy Prairie Conservancy (katyprairie.org) website has helpful information for getting started and has published a list of nine native species they encourage you to plant in your gardens. Houston Audubon (birdfriendlyhouston.org) has a page with a pre-planned garden for birds, bees, and butterflies that also includes a list of recommended plants. Both organizations have a list of sources for these native plants.
Katy Prairie Conservancy advocates the planting of “pocket prairies” in sunny locations to help ameliorate the loss of our native prairies to development. MD Anderson and Rice University both have pocket prairies as do the University of Houston (Shasta’s Prairie) and University of South Texas (Father Meyer’s Prairie) I would encourage you to walk by the Spears home at 4108 University Blvd. They have made a pocket prairie from the lot adjoining their home. I went by last summer, and a stunning amount of butterflies and dragonflies were enjoying the habitat. These are all large installations, but a pocket prairie can be any size. A small bed in a sunny location will work, too. The Katy Prairie Conservancy site has helpful guidelines for making pocket prairies look like an intentional part of your landscape rather than like a wildscape.
Native plant beds can also foster an interest in science and biology for your children or your own hidden inner scientist. Count and identify the number of insects and butterflies in the area before you plant the natives. Then document how many appear after the plants are established and blooming. iNaturalist.org will help you log and identify plants, birds, and insects:. If you don’t know the name of what you have seen, submit a photo and users of the site will help you. It also has an interactive map which shows what has been identified around you.
If many people plant small stands of native plants, it will add up to increased beneficial habitat for wildlife and preserve our Texas heritage. Want to get involved in the Community Garden? Questions? Contact us at email@example.com
photo credit: David Elkin
My favorite time of the year in the garden is tomato time. The promise of home grown tomatoes is, in fact, the major reason I became involved in the garden. Yes, I am enough of a kid at heart to experience a thrill every time I harvest carrots and other root vegetables. I like the mystery of wondering how big they are beneath the soil. And despite my husband’s loathing, I love the summer okra, too. But hands down, tomatoes are my favorite!
photo by David Elkin
This year our tomatoes were babied with hand watering every day by Jim Sowers so we have a bumper crop. By the time this goes to print the harvest may be winding down in our garden, but you should still be able to find some home grown tomatoes at the farmers’ markets. Other than sliced and garnished with a drizzle of good Spanish olive oil and a little salt, my favorite way to enjoy my favorite tomatoes is to make gazpacho from them. I’m sharing my family’s favorite gazpacho recipe from the August 2002 issue of Gourmet magazine. Splurge on some good serrano and manchego to accompany the soup for an easy and refreshing meal during the dog days of July.
CLASSIC ANDALUSIAN GAZPACHO
- 1 (2-inch-long) piece baguette, crust disca
photo by David Elkin
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably “reserva”), or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 2 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca)
- Garnish: finely chopped red and green bell peppers
- Soak bread in 1/2 cup water 1 minute, then squeeze dry, discarding soaking water.
- Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large knife). Blend garlic paste, bread, 2 tablespoons vinegar, sugar, cumin, and half of tomatoes in a food processor until tomatoes are very finely chopped. Add remaining tomatoes with motor running and, when very finely chopped, gradually add oil in a slow stream, blending until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.
- Force so
Teresa and Pat O’Donnell are new members of the Southside Place Community Garden. And do they know something about gardening! They are the founders of Plant-it-Forward, which teaches new Texans how to become urban farmers.
Last week, we got to sit in on a Plant-it-Forward training session with farmers from the Congo, Cameron, and Darfour and then see Farmer Roy’s garden and farm stand (1318 Sul Ross, 77006). We highly recommend a trip to the farm stand and garden on a Saturday morning to buy fresh veggies and help a good cause.
The story of the founding of Plant-it-forward is inspiring and can be viewed on Tedx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLTggYKknZw (or just google Teresa O’Donnell/TED talks on YouTube).