The First Day Of Winter Is Here

By Jannie Vaught

 As this gardener walks the outside it sure feels like the arrival has been early.

Yes, it is cold and as many of you already know the seed catalogs are arriving.

So it begins.

The planning and selection.

First, we get that excited exhilaration of the new items and the great pictures. Then I let it all settle down and go back to my earlier garden journals and see what worked and what didn’t. What can be upgraded with compost and how it can be changed for the coming spring. Remember a good gardener looks and plans two seasons ahead. This week lets look at something we often don’t have in the front of the list but are steady and abundant providers of fruit, flowers for pollinators and the deep roots we want for our gardens. Vines. Grapes and Berries. Again go to your growing zone and choose from local growers or learn to do some hardwood propagation and ask a neighbor for a few cuttings and get plants that are adapted for your local area. Here are a few Vines that work great. Crossvine, Trumpet vine, Coral honeysuckle. These are very hardy and grow steadily year after year here in Central Texas.

There are many more so do your research. I have them on trellises and use them for a beautiful flower covered wall for privacy. I really do not do much of anything. I give them a little compost in the spring and a light watery liquid feed of seaweed. and I do water when they are looking a bit droopy in the summer heat. I cut them back, chop and compost the vines and leaves and cover with leaves for the winter and they return yearly. Grapes and berries. This is a tricky group for me so let’s look at them. Grapes, grow Pierce’s Disease (PD) resistant varieties. Your garden supply will have them labeled. Choose the variety you like to eat, can or juice. Aggie-horticulture, has a great site of all the varieties that are PD resistant. If your going to invest in grapes do your homework first. Berries. Texas Blackberries, again go to Aggie horticulture online. I have found blackberries of the older varieties and well established do well here. You just have to beat the birds for the picking. They like sandy soils that are well drained if not use a raised bed. They need a 1-foot deep place to be planted, a ph of 4.5 to 7.5 is where they like to so check the ph with a meter. They do need compost and pruning so again learn the old canes from the new canes. I sometimes tie a colored twist tie on this year’s fruiting canes so I can tell the old from the new when pruning time comes. They will need irrigation especially when they are fruiting and use long handle loppers and gloves when tending them. There is a variety called Hull that is thornless and erect that you can look at also. I have the old ones Brazos and they give me berries and flowers. They need a trellis or low fence and are a good fruiting plant to build habitat for ground nesters and butterfly.

Yes, we are in the planning phases of the coming spring and lake a moment to let is all settle and think about, vines, grapes, and berries.

Growing green with Jannie