Teaching a Brit to talk Texan.

I mentioned a book that I’m enjoying the heck out of, The Kitchen Garden.

It’s large, it has glossy, beautiful photographs, it has useful information about planting and pests and such, and it’s a joy to handle. This shouldn’t surprise me since it’s published by DK, and the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are some of most beautiful and helpful around.

One problem. The dates in it are all wrong.  As I told my friend Annie in Illinois, it looked more her timeline than mine, but I figured I could adjust.

Of course one of my problems has been finding a planting guide or calendar for where I live.  Back in the day, you just called your County Extension Agent and they mailed you one.  So I figured forward in this day, you’d go to the County Extension Agent’s website and they’d have that info online.

I’m the first to admit a disconnect in the logic-function of my brain, but if there is such a list, I didn’t find it.

So I emailed the County Extension Office and asked for such information.  Never got a response.  This seems like an easy task, you know, the kind of info that should be all over the place, available, but I couldn’t find it.

I checked out local garden blogs and they have been helpful, but not a complete answer.

A friend suggested that I go to Amazon and look up Texas+vegetable growing, and of course, books popped up.  Lots of them.

Here’s the problem. A lot of them come out of the Texas A&M program, either directly or through graduates.  Sorry, Monsanto U, but I don’t trust your advice. I like Aggies, but you keep strange company. I could go on, but you can google, too.

If not wanting my supermarket veggies sprayed with Roundup to kill weeds but not the genetically-modified seed Monsanto sells to farmers makes me a difficult, then so be it.  If wanting food in this country labeled to show that it has been genetically modified for such a purpose makes me a a bit too picky for my own good, so be it. If being a member of Millions Against Monsanto makes me a a fanatic that doesn’t trust international corporations to put my health above their profits, then, there ya go.

And by the way, it turns out the Aggies are the ones teaching Texans to garden.  Joy, joy.  Would you like some Roundup in your coffee, diazinon in your tea?

I did not set out to bash A&M.  I like Aggies, seriously, like them, and frankly, have always trusted veterinarians from A&M above all others.  But this Monsanto connection is evil.

Okay, moving forward.  Then we get to the books by Neil Sperry, who is from all reports the nicest guy in the world.  I’ve heard him speak about quilting–he is a quilter among other things–and his joy in beauty and creativity is contagious.  His work with addicted teenagers is touching and admirable, and there is just nothing to dislike about this guy.

Except that he is chemical-addicted, himself, when it comes to gardening. So even though Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening is the fourth-best-selling hardcover gardening book in American history, I find myself hesitating to make it my go-to book. (I do have my dad’s old copy.)

The obvious choice for me is anything by Howard Garrett.  The Resident Storm Chaser and I have been listening to his radio show for decades. The thing that has slowed me down is he constantly mentions the various things in his books that need updating.  He chuckles that back when he wrote this book or that one, even HE thought doing A or B was correct, and now he advises against it.  He talks about his ongoing efforts to update them, and all the notes he’s keeping, and I thought, well, okay, I’m not buying one of the older books when he’s about to update them.

Except, he’s been talking about this for a few years so I finally said, screw this, and ordered Texas Bug Book: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which was supposed to arrive yesterday and did not. Oh well, tomorrow will do. And I’ll hand-annotate as needed.

Which is why I like print books for reference instead of digital. I can mark ’em up.

So, getting back to the pretty.  I have decided on several different attempts to create my own Gardening Bible.  One, I’ve ordered a Moleskine Passions Gardening Journal (which also should have arrived yesterday, hey, Amazon, whassup?). Without actually seeing it, I am not sure how it’s setup and whether I’ll like it, but considering I usually love Moleskine products it’s a safe gamble.

Also, I looked across the pond to the Brits. Because the Brits have managed this organic gardening miracle for centuries or longer, without an automatic lunge toward Scott’s and Monsanto and such. Plus, they have such a passion for gardening, I thought they might have some diaries/journals/resources I’m not finding here.

And it smacked me between the eyes. Their allotment gardens are much like my Square Foot Gardening except that mine is my own back yard and allotment gardens are community efforts where each person gets their own “allotment” to grow anything anything they want.  Small areas used as efficiently and creatively as possible. So I also ordered a book from England, and am now waiting for it to arrive, as well, hoping that its viewpoint and organization with be close to what I need.

But during all this googling and such, I discovered that the author of The Kitchen Garden is a Brit.  A highly accomplished photographer and gardener, he has a number of books out. Which explains why my beautiful book doesn’t have the right planting dates in it.

But I finally, finally, finally found an online source for such dates–thank you Collin County Master Gardeners for making it so easy!

And in the meantime I’m listening to the Texas twang of Howard Garrett on the radio and annotating The Kitchen Garden by hand, or, teaching Alan Buckingham how to talk Texan–in red ink.

Have you made the shift to digital so smoothly that you’d rather have your references digital than print? Do you annotate and such with your keyboard instead of by hand?

How’s that working out for you? This Luddite is slow to that particular transformation.





Filed under Books, Garden, Square Foot Gardening

22 responses to “Teaching a Brit to talk Texan.

  1. denise

    Love it!

    I thought I would be helpful and suggest Southern Living as a resource, but they didn’t have much online. 😦 I know they have books. Regardless, I found a link to yahoo and they had this book that may be worth researching: http://shopping.yahoo.com/9781591865315-texas-fruit-and-vegetable-gardening/;_ylt=Ana2v2.7ckdhmRCgN6oKprAbFt0A

    • Southern Living is a wonderful magazine. I think it may have regional “issues,” as in, I think in Texas we might get more Texas article and in the deep south more from that region, but I may be totally wrong on that. I’ve just seen the “TEXAS” label on them in the stores, some sort of notice about Texas articles in that issue.

      I’m bookmarking this book, for if I’m not satisfied with what I’ve ordered now. Thanks, Denise!

      • denise

        You’re welcome.

        I think SL does both the regular issue and special “regional’ issues a few times a year. You’ll always find regional advertising in a regular issue, too. I remember when you could only get SL if you lived in a state that classified as a Southern one and Delaware made the list because it was a split state (Upper South)back then. If you moved to PA or NJ, you’d lose your subscription. lol.

      • You lost your subscription!!! That is bizarre, and hysterical, and oh so Southern!

      • Hey growing from seeds isn’t hard start with the right soil. Use pontitg soil and mix in alot of extra peat moss and vermiculite or perlite so you have a very light, almost sterile medium with few lumps. Then follow the directions on the seed packet as far as planting depth and sunlight.

      • Thanks! That’s very helpful!

      • Make sure when you buy seeds they are not Monsanto genetically moifdied poison seeds. Try to get organic or heirloom seeds not from Seminis. Be careful Monsanto owns 25% of the world vegtable seeds according to Bank of America.

      • Believe me–I shun Monsanto! Glad to know you do, too!

      • I wonder if we ever raelly will have a dairy cow too I would seriously love a small homestead complete with a few cows, goats, plenty of chickens and a few bee hives (and maybe even a few pigs too- and sheep for delicious knitting wool too?) HA! We grow the little yellow pear tomatoes too and they are beautiful mates to the mozzarella and basil as well. I wish we had a great bakery nearby! For now, the best one is my kitchen

      • That’s great! (Baby carrots are so cute, aren’t they? I love the way even the green parts smell when you have a nice fresh bunch fo them.) The shirt’s acllatuy from a local couple who have a shop on Etsy.com HappyFamily. The shirt is far and away my most favorite ever!

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  3. Pooks, would this site be useful to you, or is this not what you need? http://www.naturalgardeneraustin.com/ They do have monthly guides of what they’re doing in the garden for our area.

    I have a ton of gardening in Texas books, but they are boxed in storage for the next six months! No garden this year!

    You know that your potato plants set the potatoes before the temps hit 80 degrees, right? You got to plant them in the fall, apparently. I can’t eat potatoes so not up on them.

    Happy gardening!

    • Oh, Kathi, I didn’t know that about the potatoes. I planted them around Valentine’s Day, which is what I was told to do. We’ll have to see.

      Finding info for Dallas County was my problem. I finally found Collin County which is one county north and should be fine.

    • Yay! I just got in from the garden about an hour ago I was doing some thnining and got some beautiful baby carrots and baby beets. This is my first year too (eating locally and reconnecting with food and with nature is my motivation) and it is so exciting to watch everything flourish. I started out knowing nothing and look baby carrots! baby beets! Lettuce, basil, tomatoes on the vine I can DO this.Love the shirt!!

      • Sounds like you have so much! I’d love to see!

      • We don’t plant until memorial day weneked where I am .but I’ve started some seeds indoors and they are doing well. The sugar snap peas are begging to be put in the ground so I plan to do that a little early as they do like the cooler weather. Your garden looks wonderful. So full and healthy looking. I am going to be using a lot of pots this year too .just strewn here or there wherever they can find good sunlight.Chickens! I am raising 4 sweet baby chicks right now. So much fun. Good luck and happy harvesting!Kris

    • I think just let the herbs flower. dry the flwoers. sprinkle on soil in the summer. i got healthy huge awesome basil plants from my friend’s dried flwoers. and in fact i even kept those flwoers in the fridge for like a eyar before i sprinkled them randomly.

      • That’s interesting. I haven’t tried that method yet!

      • I rread Mel’s blog about his books with great interest. I have the 1981 issue with the front cover photo of a much youegnr Mel standing and leaning on a shovel in his garden while looking up into the camera, but the selling price on the back cover was $11.95, not $9.95. There is no indication that this is a second, or later, printing. The ISBN number on the book is, 0-87857-341-0. Because I was a trucker for 40 years, it sat on my book shelf and except for a little yellowing from age, it is in perfect condition. Now that I am retired and trying to get my own SFG started it has become my companion. Thanks Mel.

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  5. the layout for your blog is so cool! I’m new to blognigg, and won’t get too into it mainly because it takes too much time living life to spend tons of it blognigg about it, but YOURS is so cool!Very fun pics!!happy gardening!

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