Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Expanding Homes

Greetings! Today's entry in our TCC Blog series is by Diana Medrano and D.M. Ruiz. Enjoy!

Dogtrot cabins by lcveducator

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nineteenth Century Cooking...

Here's our next installment in the TCC blog series, an article about 19th c. cooking by Molly Arkel.  Bon appetit!

19th c. cooking by lcveducator

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Aunt Molly and Uncle Jeff

Faithful blog followers may remember that we've had an ongoing service-learning partnership with Tarrant County College--Trinity River Campus for a few years now.  Every year, dedicated students come tour the Village, help us preserve the cabins by raking leaves, and research and write blog entries for us.  This year's entries also include creative fiction writing inspired by Village content.

We will publish these entries here for you to enjoy over the next few weeks.  Thank you so much, Professor Blank and students!!!!

Today's entry is from Jazmyn Garcia.  In this fictional account, she imagines what a child in the Foster household might have felt upon learning that their freed slaves were staying with the family.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

July Gardening Tips

by Pat Kriener, Village interpreter and Master Gardener

Triple digit temperatures are here! Your best defense is smart watering practices, plant selection, and the secret weapon of all Texas gardens--MULCH.  I usually do not plant once the summer heat hits but the garden centers always run sales this time of year and I can never resist a good sale. I at least try to only buy plants that are Texas hardy, but I know I am going to have to baby it through the next few months.

  • Annuals - With this heat it’s a great time to check out the seed catalogs for cool season annuals. For the Texas heat, plant amaranthus, blue daze, cosmos, Esperanza, gaillardia, marigold, moss rose, purple fountain grass, purselane, sunflower, tropical hibiscus, variegated tapioca & zinnia.

  • Bulbs –Deadhead bulbs, up-pot spring bulbs that have overgrown their pots. Wait to cut back bulbs until brown. Do not cut back gladiolus until foliage is totally brown & dry, remove foliage and mark the location and leave them or lift them & store in paper bags in a dry cool place. 

  • Composting - Continue to add garden, kitchen and yard waste to the compost bin, stirring occasionally. Work compost into your beds and in the vegetable garden for fall crops. A great way to deal with all of that waste that comes out of the kitchen is by adding a kitchen composter. They make small counter bins to large under the counter self-contained units.

  • Containers – For a yellow & blue annual combo use Esperanza  in combination with blue daze. Purple and white perennial combo purple coneflower & oxeyed daisy. For a patriotic pot, try red verbena, white periwinkles and blue plumbago. Check spring containers to see if the your plants need to be discarded and replaced with summer dazzlers. 

  • Fruits - Many of our plums, peaches and other fruits are ready to be harvested--check them often. If the birds are a problem, get netting to put over your tree or hang old CDs facing towards the sun in your trees. They reflect sunlight and movement that can deter the birds.  Woodland butterflies will flock to their favorite fruits.

  • Greenhouse – Use a frame green house and cover it with shade cloth for the summer. With this open-air greenhouse you can still continue to propagate by seed, root and tip cuttings for fall vegetables, annuals, perennials & herbs.  Check plants twice daily to see if they need water, spot water from rain barrels.  This also helps add humidity.

  • Herbs – Deadhead, harvest leaves and flowers; use fresh or dry for later use. Chives are a wonderful accent to any garden and they attract butterflies & bees. Lemon Chive Butter – Mix half-cup softened butter with a tablespoon of finely chopped chives. Add the zest of a quarter lemon and a few lemon drops.  Enjoy!

  • Mulch - A Texan’s secret weapon against the sweltering heat. It helps to conserve water, which helps with your water bill. Keeps the soil cooler, which keeps the plants from stressing and suppresses weeds, which keeps you out of the summer heat. What’s not to LOVE!

  • Perennials – Start planning for the fall. Existing perennials, deadhead, watch for pests & disease.  Texas hardy – autumn sage, buddleia, coreopsis, purple coneflower & oxeyed daisy.  Usually the Perennial Sale is the one I can’t resist. So if you are like me plant & baby them through the summer and if they make it through to fall, next summer they will need little care.

  • Problems – I’ve had calls on fleas, spider mites, squash bugs, corn weevils, fire ants and much more. For detailed information on how to fight these pests and many more contact Johnson County AgriLIFE Extension at 817-556-6370.

  • Rainwater Harvesting - For those of you who have not gotten on the bandwagon to collect rainwater maybe the last few weeks changed your mind. Catching rainwater in barrels drastically reduces my water bill because I use it to water my containers, greenhouse plants and the vegetable garden. For now, I only use tap water for new beds, fruit trees and landscape beds if it hasn’t been watered within 7 days.  http://twri.tamu.edu/newsletters/TexasWaterSavers/tws-v3n2.pdf

  • Roses - Do not allow Tea Roses to wilt before watering, this can lead to stress & disease. Ground water at least 3 to 4 inches deep. EarthKind roses are Texas tough and will be fine once established.

  • Trees – if you plant trees now make sure they get water every 7 days (you may have to bump it up to every 5 if they show signs of stress). If stressed, do not fertilize.  Instead, give them root stimulator or liquid seaweed; either will help prevent stress and promote a strong healthy root system. A few Trees for Texas:  Bur oaks, Magnolias, redbuds, Althea, Desert willow, Mexican plum & Yaupon.

  • Vegetable Garden – It’s time to start planning that Fall Garden.  I know it’s hard to think about that when you are harvesting tomatoes, peppers, peas, dill, fennel, radishes and herbs. Vegetables you can propagate now by seed to plant next month:  broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards.  Plant Now - cucumbers, luffa, okra, peppers, pumpkin, shallots, Southern peas, squash, tomatoes and watermelon. Usually I recommend just cutting your spring tomatoes back and use them for fall but with all of the calls I have been getting about spider mites I am recommending that if you are having an extreme problem to take out your spring tomato plants and plant new ones for the fall and in a different spot. The vegetable garden is usually my biggest water hog, so before I planted my raised beds I dug a trenches, laid a layer of small rock in the bottom of them, placed a PVC pipe on the rock which I drilled holes in every 3 inches, then I covered the pipe with a layer of rock, at the end of my bed I put and elbow on the pipe and run other pipe to the surface. Now I know I am getting water to the roots by simply running water down the pipe but I also make sure to ground water as well.

  • Watering – I constantly harp on getting your plants & yard on a 7 day cycle and watering before the sun comes up, but again with triple digits, I realize that is not always doable and still have living plants. The vegetable garden needs water at least 3 times a week. So during extreme heat make sure you to hand water or use slow release ground-watering methods such as soaker hoses and water deeply, 2 to 4 inches deep. 

  • Wildflowers – Take an air-conditioned ride and enjoy the painted landscapes of Texas. Don’t forget to take your Wildflower I.D. Books so you can read up on the different wildflowers.

  • Wildlife in the Garden – We need pollinators for the garden but many people do not want Honeybees so check out Mason Bees.  They rarely sting because they are not territorial but if they do most people say it hurts no greater than a mosquito bite.
This is the time of year to enjoy your gardens with family and friends so I personally tend to do very little work other than sitting on the porch with a cold drink and planning on what I will do once the temperatures drop.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Summer Camp is coming soon!

June 11, 2013
9 a.m.-noon
Participants for this camp will learn a bit about 19th century food preparation and prepare a meal of their own with fellow campers! $15 admission includes materials, snack, and recipes to take home. Reservations required one week prior. Camp is for children going into 4th-8th grade.  Download registration form.

June 12 or 21, 2013 (pick one only)   
9 a.m.-noon
Wagons West is a program of hands-on activities recreating elements of a typical school-age child's day. The children wash clothes using a washboard and lye soap, card wool, grind corn by hand and weave on a child's scale loom. $15 admission includes materials and a snack. Reservations required one week prior. Program is for children going into 1st--6th grade. Download registration form.

June 13, 2013
9 a.m.-noon
Join our skilled woodworker as he introduces basic 19th century woodworking techniques and helps campers complete a project of their own! $15 admission includes materials and a snack. Reservations required one week prior. Camp is for children going into 4th-8th grade. Download registration form.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March Gardening Tips...

By Pat Kriener, Village interpreter and Master Gardener

Spring is just around the corner!  For a Texas gardener every year we are tempted to purchase plants that look so tantalizing in the garden center even though the next cold spell will kill them. Of course there is no way to stop us, so now what do we do with our ill-advised purchases? We have to make a “Just in Case it Freezes Plan,” and this basic plan really applies to all of your plants in the winter (especially your cold tender plants).  Water deeply, mulch at least 3 inches and if your plant is very cold susceptible, cover with frost cloth, a sheet or a pot with hay.

  • Annuals – Color is here! The garden centers are awash with the colors & scents of spring. In Texas our cool weather plants thrive in the spring but start looking to replace or freshen your beds with some hardier plants for the summer.  Think COLD SNAP with every purchase. I bought stock & marigold today.

  • Bulbs - It’s time to divide summer bulbs. Plant your summer blooming bulbs, African iris, agapanthus, alpinia, cannas, dahlia, gladiolus, lilies, oxalis, naked ladies, society garlic, spider lily to name a few. The daffodils are blooming..one of the first to heralds in spring.

  • Containers – For those of you with limited space or who just love to container garden the garden centers are full of annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and more. Create your own salad bowl or edible flower garden right next to the kitchen door.  

  • Herbs - start indoor seeds, divide large clumps, cut back winter damage, clean containers, top dress & mulch and plant hardy herbs. I bought rosemary today and I highly recommend this plant to anyone who is looking for a 5 ft. tall & 5 ft wide edible landscape shrub--smells great, blooms and is a great wildlife plant.

  • Greenhouse - I must confess any of my plants that over-winter in the greenhouse have spent more time out than in with our mild temperatures; but they are on a covered porch and I keep a few blankets and sheets ready to cover them for a sudden frost. Just think more room in the greenhouse for those ill-advised purchases!  Mainly it’s time to start summer vegetables and annual plants by seed, and perennials by cutting or division. Watch the temperatures and airflow.

  • Lawn - Weeds in your yard? Think of them as our pollinators' winter food. Can’t do that? Then  how about soil indicators? Many weeds thrive in certain kinds of soils, so their very existence can help you determine what kind of soil you have. Alkaline Soil – henbane, Acidic Soil – dandelion, Compacted Soil – wild mustard, High Fertility – purslane, Low Fertility – yarrow. Still can’t stand the weeds?  Mow your yard short, keep it short until the temperatures climb, and kill out many of the weeds we have now. Use an organic pre-emergent like corn gluten meal to destroy weed seeds. Remember that it destroys any seed so don’t use in your vegetable garden if you plant by seed or in your wildflower beds or fields. Check with your local garden center for what will work best for you & your yard.

  • Mulch to keep your beds weed free and retain moisture. Pull back your existing mulch, put 10 sheets of newspaper down then replace your mulch. If it is less than 3 inches thick add more.

  • Perennials - many are showing signs of life. Make sure they are watered and mulched to protect them in a cold snap. 

  • Problems -.For questions or problems check with your local Extension Agent, Master Gardener or Garden Center.  

  • Rainwater – My barrels filled up during that last rain we had, but we are still behind in rainfall and I am using the water faster than I want. I have every container or bucket I can find on the back porch to catch any additional rainfall we may get.  http://twri.tamu.edu/newsletters/TexasWaterSavers/tws-v3n2.pdf

  • Roses – Want a little color in your life?   This is a great time to visit the garden centers and check out the new stock of roses.

  • Trees - Plant trees, trees and more trees. Then watch the Lorax by Dr. Seuss (the old or new version).  Remember what happens UNLESS you speak for the trees!

  • Vegetable Garden –Plan your Spring Garden NOW before it’s too late! You can still start spring seeds inside to be planted in 6 to 8 weeks. Plant nowcollards, kohlrabi, lima beans, mustard, onion sets, shallots, radish, snap beans and Swiss chard. Plant late March: peppers, southern peas, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelons, and winter squash. I could not resist buying a few tomato plants even though I know it is too earlySo if you are like me, pot them into a 1 gal pot and put in the greenhouse. Don’t have a greenhouse?  Plant them and put your tomato cage over them. Wrap the cage in plastic and have hay ready to toss over them when that cold snap hits.  Don’t have tomato cages?  Simply cut the bottom out of a 1 or 5 gal black pot, bury it in the ground a couple of inches and plant your tomato plant inside.  Cover if needed.

  • Watering – Water in a 7-day cycle if we do not get any rain. In the winter sudden freezes can kill a plant if is dry, but be sure to water the soil not the leaves. It is primarily the roots that need the protection of moisture and mulch, but if the plant is tender, toss frost cloth or a sheet over the plant.

  • Wildflowers – It is time to spread seed!   Make sure the seed you are buying is for Texas. This year just for fun let’s make Wildflower Seed Balls 1. Mix compost and dirt out of your yard (mine is clay so it sticks together easily). 2. Grab a glob of soil mix in your hands and work it just like making mud pies but form a ball instead. Golf ball size works great but there is not right or wrong size 3. Roll your Seed Ball in your Texas Wildflower Seed Mix until covered. 4. Let dry 2 – 3 days 5. Toss or place balls where you want them to grow.

  • Wildlife in the Garden - Get your feeders and houses cleaned and put up now. I am so excited I already have bluebirds making nests in my houses. You can tell they are bluebird nests because they are made of dry grass with no trash or weeds and just few feathers for softness. If you are wondering why I want bluebirds, they are insect eaters and one of their favorites are grasshoppers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Garden Clippings: February Gardening Tips

--By Pat Kriener, Village Interpreter and Master Gardener

February is for pruning! Sharpen those tools and give your yard a massive haircut by following the helpful tips in this month’s guide. Since you are in the pruning mood, don’t forget to remove dead trees, limbs and plants near the house to help "Firewise" your landscape for the upcoming wildfire season. For more information about Firewise Landscaping, wildfires and how to prevent them contact the Texas Forest Service.

  • Annuals – prune back any damage and deadhead to encourage new growth and flowering. We still have a few months that cool weather plants will thrive, but keep a look out for some of the hardier spring annuals to arrive. Dianthus, pansies, snapdragons and violas are some of the hardiest for winter.  Plant by seed into the ground alyssum, annual phlox, calendula, and nasturtium and stock.
  • Bulbs – Plant gladiolus now, and in mid to late Feb. plant caladium bulbs. If you find spring bulbs on sale at this time, remember they will not do well if planted so late; but if you come across some amaryllis or paper-whites that look good and haven’t started to sprout, snap those up and plant. Early Spring Bulbs are up & growing in the beds; watch for the early bloomers such as paper-whites and daffodils. Start planning for next month when it’s time to divide your summer bulbs.
  • Compost Bin – Throw all clipping, leaves, vegetable and garden waste in the compost. Top-dress all beds & trees with compost:  it’s a wonderful slow release fertilizer.
  • Container Plants – Prune and reshape evergreens, deadhead and trim back winter flowers to encourage new growth & blooms.
  • Fruits & Nuts- Prune Fruit trees now, plant B&B, bare root and container grown trees. Start looking for bush fruit: blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and vine fruit (grapes & muscadines.For more information on Fruit & Nut growing in Texas, check out http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut
  • Greenhouse - Check all over-wintering plants for winter damage, disease, fungus and pests. During this time of year temperatures can fluctuate severely outside of the greenhouse, so make sure you keep a sharp eye on your temperatures and airflow inside the greenhouse. Start spring annual plants & vegetables by seed for planting in 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Herbs – Want an easy to grow landscape plant that mounds up to 2 feet tall and wide, drought tolerant, tolerates poor soil, full sun and blooms white?   Look no further than Mother of Thyme!
  • Lawn – Mow or cut back winter grass & weeds to keep them under control. Talk to your local garden center about additional ways to control them (hopefully organic!)  Don’t bag those leaves--mulch them for fertilizer or place in compost
  • Mulch now to protect your plants from the summer heat without getting heatstroke.
  • Perennials – At the end of Feb. or after we have had at least 2 hard freezes, prune back all dead material. This is still a great time to move them and to top dress with compost and mulch.
  • Problems - To learn more about plant diseases and pests, contact your local Extension Agent, Master Gardener or Garden Center.
  • Roses – Tea roses--prune on Valentines Day to about 15 inches tall. EarthKind Roses do not need pruning other than to remove dead or damaged limbs.  Top dress and mulch existing roses.
  • Tools – this is the time to do tune-ups on mowers, tillers, shredders, chainsaws and any other garden equipment. All hand tools need to be oiled and cleaned--especially your pruning equipment--to get ready for February pruning.
  • Trees – Prune back dead limbs and low hanging branches. Do not prune oaks unless it is around 30 degrees or above 100 degrees to keep Oak Wilt from spreading. Plant trees, trees and more trees
  • Vegetable Garden –Plan your Spring Garden NOW! Get your materials ready for seed propagation; seed mats, pots, soil and seeds. Start cool weather and spring seeds inside to be planted in 6 to 8 weeks. Plant transplants of beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, English & snow peas, Irish potatoes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard, onion sets, shallot sets, spinach & turnips. Cleanup beds, add compost, and cover with mulch.  I am planting like crazyI have my seed potatoes cut and drying to harden off which is how my Dad always did it.  I also have to dust them with ash before I plant because that’s the way my husband's family planted potatoes. Sometimes gardening is simply remembering times past with family. 
  • Watering – Water in a 7-day cycle if we do not get any rain.
  • Wildlife In the Garden - Bats & bluebirds will be looking for spring homes soon so get those houses up now. If you don’t have a house already, go to the following websites and they can give you detailed instructions on how to make them. The best reason in the world to encourage bats & bluebirds to your yard is one little brown bat can eat 1000 mosquitoes in a night & bluebirds are simply ravenous for grasshoppers. www.Batcon.org  & www.texasbluebirdsociety.org.