Living here there are some things you have to accept. Hopefully the traffic gets worse and the Dallas Cowboys get better.
And if you garden here, you’ll be dealt similar unmatched cards. It’s up to you to make the most of shuffle. Bring a little light into your life by separating fact from fantasy. A new year of gardening is about to begin, and I hope you will find it useful.
Over 90% of the Metroplex is built on what is known as the Blackland Prairie. This is a strip of alkaline black clay soil that runs along Interstate 35 on both sides of Interstate 35 from just south of the Red River to Austin and San Antonio. Farmers call it “gumbo” (as the preacher listens), but we all know it gets sticky when wet and hard when dry. is required, but can produce excellent crops if managed properly.
Limiting the time you choose plants that prefer acidic soils will give you the best odds. It is included. All of these plants develop iron deficiency problems 3-5 years after being planted in black soil. While you can amend the soil for smaller types of plants such as flowers, vegetables, and groundcovers, taller plants require much more extensive bed preparation than most budgets will allow.
To repeat a lecture I gave earlier in this classroom, for standard plantings, adding organic matter can improve the soil. My preference: 1 inch each of finely crushed pine bark mulch (nickel and dime-sized pieces), rotten manure, compost, and sphagnum peat moss. Since we’re talking about improving clay soil, I also incorporate an inch of expanded shale.
rainfall and irrigation
Average annual rainfall for Metroplex is about 35 inches. In Texas, you lose about 1 inch from that average for every 17 miles you travel west, so if you live outside the actual Fort Worth/Dallas area, you should get a localized number. Most of that rain occurs in March, April, May and early June. The second rainy season is autumn (mid-September to early November).
Some years are blessed with generous rains evenly distributed over all months, but most are painfully dry. The dry season often comes when it is the hottest. Five days without water in July can be as damaging as five weeks without water in winter. The summer of 2022 was brutal!
A wise gardener is playing in the middle. Limit the planting of dry plants from dry areas. A very wet spring can oversaturate these heavy clay soils to the point that desert-loving plants are essentially drowned. Wetland plants cannot handle our low humidity. An independent Texas Certified Child Care Practitioner in your area can help.
Climate and growing season
When purchasing a new tree or shrub, you’ll want to match it with the hardiness zone of the plant you’re considering. I always feel that the 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone map is inaccurate when it shows that we are in Zone 8. Since this map was released in 2012, there have been three single-digit winters. I think one was in 2014. My suggestion is to find a copy of the 1990 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and follow that guide. Consider North Central Texas to be in Zone 7 and choose plants with that list on the label. In the long run you will be way ahead.
At the other end of the bar, we can count 100 of the 95 days each summer. Many types of plants struggle with it, just like us gardeners. They can handle it for a few days, but will use them up over a period of time. They cannot draw water and nutrients into their system fast enough, depleting their reserves. , which is exactly why peonies give it up in our heat.
Our actual growing season begins with the last dry frost of winter. In the metroplex, on average he’s 3/20 (near urban heat pockets he’s a week earlier, into the north adjoining counties he’s a week later).
The first freeze of autumn usually occurs around November 20th, but it is not uncommon for tender plants such as begonias and tomatoes to be scorched by frost in late October. Some years the first freeze didn’t happen until December, he said.
This makes it look like a very long growing season, from March 20th to November 20th. But in reality spring and autumn he learned early on that the two growing seasons are much shorter, separated by less pleasant periods of winter and summer. With that mindset, gardening here becomes easier.
those are the basics. Plan your landscaping and gardening around them. Keep track of what you do each year for a few years until it becomes your second nature.