Sunday, January 21, 2018

A WORRYING TIME FOR SOUTHERN GARDENERS

Like many gardeners in the south I am tempted to grow plants just outside my range. Cold snaps cause me to run for the blankets but there was no way I could have protected against the cold temperatures we had last week. We had already suffered a significant freeze event while I was away after Christmas but that was was not near as bad as the last few nights. We are typically much colder than Austin, from anywhere between 5-10º. partly because of the lack of housing and roads but in my garden there are no trees to moderate the temperature. I am fearful of the losses which may take a few weeks to really show.
I went out with my camera this morning. Typically a gardener likes to show the best of his/her garden but this morning that was impossible to find.
Our native mullein is a pretty tough plant, right? It made it through the first cold snap.


But not the second. It's hard to imagine that cold could bring it down. I shall miss the those soft velvety leaves and the beautiful flower stalk with yellow flowers.


But the plants I worry about most of all are my gorgeous structural agaves, Agave weberii.


They are already beginning to collapse. And I don't like what I see here.


Will the Philippine violet, that show stopper of the fall garden, survive? Only time will tell.


This week brings a thaw and should reveal what will live and what will die.
And I don't like this. Of course I know full well that spalling takes place when pots are full of wet soil and it freezes and thaws. There wasn't even anything growing in this pot but it was full of soil. It was very careless of me to leave out outside.


This was one of last year's garden purchases and I must say they were worth every penny.


They come in a set of 3 and I put them to good use this year. Despite the fact that calendula and alyssum are usually winter hardy I experimented by covering one grouping one. The plants came through with flying colors, whereas an uncovered grouping suffered horribly.


On a cold morning when there was no hope of getting outside I turned my attention to new life; seed cleaning and sowing. These are the dried seed heads of the American basket flower, Centaurea americana, given to me by a gardening friend last summer. This native annual has large thistle-like seed heads, but without the prickles. On the left what remains after seed removal.


The seeds are difficult to clean so some will be planted with a little extra. I use coir fibre to plant and they are on a heated seed mat. They should really have been planted in the fall so fingers crossed they will germinate quickly and soon catch up. If not I will remember to plant earlier next year.


Under the new grow light system I have arugula, chard, kale, pak choi, cilantro, tomato, brachyscome, and stocks. There is nothing more cheering on cold winter days than seed germination.

Swann River daisy, Brachyscome

10 week stocks
Pak choi
At least it makes me feel as though spring is on the way.

8 comments:

  1. It was very rough here just outside of Houston, too. I'm worried about our citrus. Time will tell on a few of the tropicals we grow. Typically, even after last year's crazy freeze, they all come back. Sometimes it just takes a few months. I thought our nun's orchid was dead last year but in May there were new sprouts.

    I know a lot of people are rethinking what they are going to be growing from now on. Too many recent winters with abnormally cold weather.

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  2. So sorry for the freeze damage in your garden, may the worst of the weather be behind you.

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  3. I just said to a local gardener this morning that there is no normal anymore. We've had brutally cold temps with no snow cover. Now we are above normal with rain in the forecast. I think we are all going to have losses this Spring.

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  4. I am so sorry! Having been through something similar I get it. I hope you have some pleasant surprises.

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  5. Ouch! I'm sorry the winter weather struck a blow to your garden, Jenny. The progress of the seeds must be comforting. I'm crossing my fingers that you get a slow steady warm-up from here on out.

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  6. And here, the drought is back. Let me know if you need a new weberi, I have a spare.

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  7. Oh dear! I'm a bit scared, too. But as you say, only time will tell. I gave up covering things a few years ago, but would love to know about those protective "tunnels" you got. My calendulas were looking so happy. . .

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  8. So sorry to hear your weather has been so volatile. On the plus side, what a great start you have on your veg garden -- those seedlings look so happy.

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