For all the weather punishment we’ve been taking down here in Texas for the last 5 years—especially last year—we’re actually getting a much deserved break this year! We had a mild to non-existent winter (which does make the bugs quite happy) and a very, very wet and long spring. Yes, we’ve had a stretch at 106°F already, but it didn’t hit 100° until July 1 here, which is great! Last year we hit 100° by June 1. We don’t know what to think about this kind of mild weather, but after last year we’ll take it!
You may have heard we had a pretty hefty hail storm here in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. Luckily there was little damage at my home. Unfortunately, almost all the plants I put in our display and testing gardens up here at the garden center were completely destroyed by almost softball-sized hail. Who knows what the rest of July and August will hold, but the mild temps and rainfall have so far made for a pretty easy gardening year, all things considered. Not easy to say in Dallas!
Side note: Dallas is under permanent watering restrictions. Twice per week via automated system, but we are allowed to use drip irrigation or hand-water as needed within specific time parameters.
I’m particularly in love with this ‘Faerie’ watermelon so far. It’s probably my favorite variety on the trial list right now. Of course, we’ve had such a mild June that who knows what they’ll do in a normal summer. So far, they’ve been very prolific (but I do have beehives and the bees are helping quite a bit). The compact size of the vines is fantastic. I have them growing in my front yard where they are quite the fascination for the neighbors. And no powdery mildew. I should be harvesting soon—I hope the flavor is just as good as all the other characteristics! —Leslie Halleck, Dallas, Texas
On the Test Garden front, everything is growing extremely well. The All-America marigold and zinnias are outstanding, absolutely covered in blooms. The 4 lettuces I am trialing are wonderful, with special praise going to ‘Sea of Red’, which nearly looks black-blood red. Love the colour. But I think with the huge heatwave we had last week, it didn’t stay as perky as the green lettuces. Dark colour, I guess.
‘Shiny Boy’ watermelon, another All-America Selections winner, is spreading out nicely. No fruit yet. The peppers are starting to colour up—’Gusto Purple’ and ‘Pinot Noir’. And the tomatoes are covered in fruit, but nothing ripe yet. Beans should be ready in a week.
‘Apollo’, a broccolette-style broccoli, was early. I have harvested all the main heads. They are smaller and more loosely beaded than traditional broccoli. I like the heads on my ‘Green Goliath’ better, but this sure beat it in terms of earliness.