Winter In Central Texas

Yes, for anybody that wonders how hard it can be to garden in central Texas, today Jan 4, 2021 it is now 75 degrees outside. Sounds wonderful? Maybe if you are in dark cold snowy weather. BUT guess what it does to your garden. The poor plants don’t know what to do. Is this spring, summer, will it get cold? So yes, your lettuce may bolt, your peppers may even start sprouting, but what will happen?

Well, where the temperature will drop slightly, down into the 60’s later this week, we could still get cold 31-30 degree nights later this weekend. And we don’t really have much in the way of rain coming. So you can plant, or at least try, but what will the weather be like next week?

That’s why gardening here can be sometimes a significant challenge. We don’t have an easy to understand winter, nor do we necessarily have cold rainy weather. Water will always be an issue. And once it doesn’t finally get out of the cold, may be next month February, it may go from 60’s to 80’s. That may feel nice, no real cold, but you also miss that slow growing season.

By the time you hit the 80’s, you are now looking at jumping into the high 80’s to the low 90’s. And it won’t take long.

This is the challenge of gardening here in Texas. The seasons may be “short” and you may not have much time to grow what you want. It also means that direct seed sowing/growing, what I do, can be an iffy proposition. Plants may germinate when the temperature is right, but the calendar says its not time. And that is what can make it a challenge – planting seeds/plants at the right time, before it gets hot, regardless of what the calendar says.

Welcome to gardening in central Texas.

Still cold

We have had an honest to goodness rain and cold front event. Even though we had 2″ of rain the other day, yesterday we got an additional 1/2″ of rain. And cold weather, as in almost freezing nights cold weather.

Today, New Years Day 2021 it is blue skies, clear, and still a bit on the cold side. Where the forecast says we are going for a high of 52, with these clear skies we are also going for a low tonight of freezing, 32 degrees. We have a light breeze and I don’t see us getting anything in the way of clouds to keep us any warmer than that tonight.

I have covered my lemon trees, at least those I can, with green “planket” cloth, and two trees have lights in them to help keep them warm. Those are outdoor incandescent type Christmas lights. The incandescent lights provide a bit of warmth, LED lights don’t. Since my covered patio area stays warmer, since its covered, I have moved some plants back toward the house to keep them warm.

So the yard is doing okay. I do have a few things to do to it, figure out some planters that just didn’t work (not sure why they didn’t), and I need to pick up more soil and more landscape pins, those things are handy, and I’m already getting my 2021 seed catalogues. So it’s already looking like its time to start thinking of what to plant for this year.

Everybody, welcome to 2021.

Its Beautiful

Strange as this may sound, central Texas has fit what is officially fall/autumn. And the weather is great. This is some of the nicest weather we get. The highs have been in the mid 80’s, for the most part humidity is down, the sun is shining, it is lovely outside. Even my dogs are enjoying their walks – they are little dogs so when it is too hot I cannot easily walk them.

The weather is so nice plants are growing. This is really the second growing season for this area. My tomato plants have more tomatoes on them than they have had all year. My basil is growing. Seeds I put out that did nothing earlier are now growing. With highs in the mid 80’s and lows hovering in the low to mid 60’s it is wonderful growing time.

If seeds or seedlings had been put out, now is a time you may find them growing like they had not grown in a while. Strange as that may seem in other areas, for central Texas plants are growing.

Welcome to fall in Austin. And the weather is wonderful.

Summer?

Somehow they seem to think we are in summer. Well, the calendar says we are, but the weather is still wonky. We’ve had some days with storms, yet warm weather.

This past week, we had high 80’s and some 90’s yet have gotten over an inch of rain. We’ve also had some issues this week with a dust storm from the Sahara that made its way to Texas. Its left us with a haze in the sky. Its hazy enough to even notice it looking down the street. Its possible to notice the dusty haze on even such a short distance. Yet we had some rain, probably 1/4 inch, today, and about a inch earlier in the week.

As for the garden, its very different from my last yard. My two beds are growing some things well. The raised beds with squash, cucumbers, and melons are growing well. Yet the peppers in the same beds are not. I’m trying to chalk it up to old seed. I’m not sure that’s true, but at least it sounds good. I say I’m not sure its true as some new seed didn’t sprout even.

But I am having some success. I’ve begun harvesting some zucchini and cucumbers. I have learning some interesting things. Next to the deck is a small protected area. This area does get some shade. What’s interesting is that a pot with zucchini in this area is doing poorly, whereas the same seed in the raised bed is already producing. I’ve moved that potted zucchini out by the raised bed. We’ll see if that helps. I do know that the peas are growing well in this protected area. So it may be this is a good spot for lettuce and some plants that need less heat.

I have had some additional problems to deal with. I recently came down with shingles. In my case it has shown up on my face, scalp, and neck. This means it’s rather hard for me to go out into the sun. Luckily I was put on medication to help, and within two weeks now have scabs, so I’m no longer contagious. But I will say scabs on the scalp are not comfortable. Having shingles on the scalp have made washing my hair, brushing my hair, and wearing my glasses extremely uncomfortable. The pain and fatigue of shingles is a very real problem. So having shingles has made it harder to work in my garden.

But I am still plugging along. I’m even starting to think about next years needs. I’m thinking that my front yard may needs some irises, maybe a peony, maybe something else. I’d like to get some color out in the front, but of course I do have problems with deer out front so that has to be taken into consideration. We’ll see.