Tuesday, August 03, 2021
September 2021 President's Note
As I write this, another devastating hurricane has just hit Southern Louisiana. We are just now finding out about the damage. I have extended family in Gonzales, LA, which is just south of Baton Rouge and my daughter, Katie, is a student at Tulane in New Orleans. Katie evacuated on Saturday to Birmingham, AL and is safe. My other family members have some roof damage, but are okay. They have persevered through many storms and have helped to rescue neighbors with their trucks and boats like everyone does down there. One thing about Louisiana is that it is resilient. They will undoubtedly rebuild again, even stronger, just like they did after Hurricane Katrina. The $14 billion system of levees, walls, and pump stations seems to have held up for now, but there is extensive street flooding just from the sheer amount of rain. Many buildings are damaged or destroyed. Someone just posted that there will be more than enough volunteer opportunities for all the Tulane students when they return to campus. Good attitude! Tulane is all about helping others and was a great partner to the city after Hurricane Katrina. Their school motto is, “Not for oneself, but for one's own.” In New Orleans’ gardens, there will be fallen trees to clear, debris to clear out, and hardscape to repair, but you can bet the gardens will come back with a vengeance, gorgeous as always, due to the amazing power of nature, but also due to the amazing gardeners of New Orleans.
We all have opportunities to help. From a gardening perspective, it can be helping with community gardens or by doing our part to avoid pesticides or invasive plants, and even in simple things like providing the right plants and flowers for a diverse population of pollinators and wildlife habitat. In the GDOGC, we have a mission to educate and promote organic gardening principles.
Upcoming club events will be awesome! We have a great speaker for September who is Carol Garrison of the John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center. The first Saturday of October is our annual plant sale, which is a very important fundraiser for us. Without it, we can’t carry on operations of the club. Please do your part to propagate some plants for the sale or donate garden-related items like pots, gardening books, or tools. The seed exchange is our October meeting in lieu of a speaker and is always a great time for fellowship. There are always PLENTY of seeds. Finally, our field trip in November and the holiday party in December will round out the year. Details on these to follow, as they will likely depend on the COVID situation.
Best to all,
August 2021 President's Note
Ah, the dog days of summer... It is so hot that I do not want to work in the garden, but if I want my Fall vegetable garden to work out, I have no other choice.
The mosquitoes are crazy. I recently went on a 10-day hiking trip to Glacier National Park and there were bugs everywhere! Even at a higher elevation above the timberline, I had to fight off mosquitoes which is not typical at all. But, the bugs did not make a dent on the gorgeous views and amazing animals in the park. Back here at home, of course, many of my plants took a hit from the heat, a less-than-eager house sitter, and the expected summer decline of tomatoes and other vegetables. As I was pruning tomato plants for the Fall this past weekend, I actually decided the hornworms did me a favor and got the pruning started! I am pruning back my indeterminates to see if I can get another round of production in the Fall. Other tasks in anticipation of the Fall right now are collecting seeds. My basil, morning glories, tithonia, and Brazos penstemon have all produced plenty of seeds. Speaking of seeds, we need plenty of material for the Seed Exchange in October. This is also the time to start seeds to produce seedlings for the Plant Sale that will be the first week of October. Think of cool season herbs like parsley and cilantro, hardy green vegetables like chard, kale, and lettuces, and flowers like alyssum, geraniums, and snapdragons. In Dallas, October is a great time to plant perennials, so start dividing and pot up some of your favorites that can be propagated by cutting or division (iris, grape hyacinth, yarrow, coneflowers, succulents, and mints). Be sure to pot things up before mid-September so they have plenty of time to develop a good root system.
At this point we are still planning to meet in-person at North Haven Gardens for our August meeting. We have a great speaker planned (see the announcement below). She is going to talk about landscape design with an eye toward redoing our landscape after the biting frost last winter.
By the way, I am fully aware of the current COVID surge. We WILL have a Zoom option and we will record the meeting. We respectively ask non-vaccinated or otherwise high-risk members to use the Zoom option for your own safety. All attendees will be asked to wear a mask. If you forget, I will have some available as well as some hand sanitizer. At my day job, we are hoping with increased precautions and vaccinations that the numbers will start going back down in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed! If something happens that keeps us from meeting in-person, I will send out several emails.
As in 2020, flexibility is key. Come to think of it, flexibility is ALWAYS important in gardening.
July 2021 President's Note
Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you are celebrating with some great grilled food and the company of your friends and family. It was so good to see everyone at the first in-person meeting we have had in 15 months! We owe the YMCA a debt of gratitude for hosting the meeting and I appreciate all of the work our GDOGC board members put into the meeting.
Now, we are entering the peak heat which means a bit of a "gardening lull." Fall tomatoes are an exception as they should be planted in July, but otherwise most fall vegetables, perennials, and annuals should wait until the end of the summer at the very least. I had an amazing tomato harvest this year, but it will soon stop. Enjoy the lull! It’s a great time to start collecting seeds for fall and planning for new beds and landscapes next year.
The club has multiple events planned for great fall speakers, the plant sale, the seed exchange, and the holiday party. Our July speaker will talk about garden pests which can get out of control this time of year as the heat stresses our plants. In August, we will think about landscape design to plan our replacement planting in October.
I hope everyone has a chance to take a summer vacation, either home or on the road, and try to beat the heat! I’ll be heading to Glacier National Park soon for an extensive hiking trip. I will definitely bring back some photos of the gorgeous flora and fauna of one of our best National Parks.
Have a great summer!
June 2021 President's Note
I had a strange experience this weekend. Many members know my husband and I are avid hikers. We love to go to the family house in southern Colorado to seek solace in the mountains. This past weekend, I rode with my mother on her annual trek to move to the Colorado house for the summer. When we crossed over Raton Pass, Sunday midday, the clouds and fog settled in. One of the best parts about this drive is getting the first glimpse of the Colorado mountains from the pass, particularly the Spanish Peaks, where the family house sits. This time, nothing. No mountains, just clouds and fog. The whole drive in, even though our house is minutes from the West Spanish Peak, a 13-er that is truly majestic, we couldn’t see any mountains at all. This continued with intermittent rain on Sunday, and again Monday we were socked in with clouds and fog. We went on our favorite “first day hike” which is short and less than 10,000 feet. Due to concerns about altitude adjustments and while it was a lovely walk through the forest and over mountain streams, it's views were non-existent. So weird! We got back to the cabin about noon and the weather really collapsed. Heavy rain turned into heavy snow for the rest of the day. Still, no sight of the mountains that are the reason we come here. It’s hard to describe. It was if they were just gone. I thought about the things that may remain hidden to the immediate eye, but are still there, waiting.
Photo courtesy Allison Liddell, The Spanish Peaks Colorado
Finally, Tuesday morning I awoke at 6am to some noises I thought were my husband getting up and getting into the shower, but then looked out the sliding door and there was an adorable bear cub looking like a pet wanting to come in from the cold. But, "where there is a cub, there is a momma," and sure enough, a few feet back on the deck was a huge momma bear. I definitely did not open the door! They scuttled off, and then I was greeted with a beautiful sunny morning, with a gorgeous dusting of snow on the mountains. So pretty!
So while the events of the past year have kept us from seeing our garden club friends, the sun is about to come out. We are still in discussions at this writing about our location for the first in-person meeting, so watch your emails. It will definitely be this summer. We have already had our first in-person board meeting! Despite no in-person speaker meetings, we have had some great talks this year already. If you missed the May Zoom, Randy Johnson gave a great talk on native plants to use to replace the shrubs and perennials we might have lost during the freeze. There were many options, and he urged us to consider planting pollinator plants and plants with other features that enhance the ecosystem. In June, Ben Sandifer will come tell us all about the Great Trinity Forest, and in the next few months we will have speakers on garden pests, landscape design, and the purpose and function of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center. I hope you will join us for these and the other upcoming garden club events such as the plant sale, seed exchange, field trip, and holiday party.
May 2021 President's Note
“The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life.” -Ellen Burns Sherman
A walk through the woods is therapeutic. I belong to a number of hiking groups on social media and there are often posts complaining about trails that are “just the forest” and “without a view.” When one lives in the city, especially in the sunbelt under constant blazing sun on concrete, the idea of a long hike under a lush canopy of shade is anything but boring. I hiked the Great Trinity Forest Trail earlier in April and felt a wonderful, calm sense of beauty. We hiked the section from the ATT Trailhead to the Texas Horse Park. (https://trinityrivercorridor.com/recreation/trinity-trails-phase-1-and-2). What a treat in the middle of Dallas County! The understory trees like Eve’s Necklace, Styphnolobium affine, (pictured below) were in bloom. Numerous wildflowers were cheerfully peeking up in the few, sunny spots. The trail is paved for accessibility which has been somewhat controversial, but this did not detract from the gorgeous, green trees and abundant wildlife. What was missing were people, which was great! We saw maybe a dozen people and a few bicycles on a midday Sunday hike. A fat and happy bobcat checked us out on the trail crossing back over in front of us before running off into the forest. I definitely picked up my little dog! A large, white-tailed deer looked curious as well. In the ponds, turtles were basking in the sun and on the banks, egrets and herons lounged. Overall, it was a highly, enjoyable stroll. In June, our speaker, Ben Sandifer, will tell us much more about the Great Trinity Forest.
April 2021 President's Note
Spring is finally here!
It’s a month post-snowpocalypse and we are all watching to see what has survived. In my garden, the losers were some succulents, lettuce, Chinese fringeflower (which I never liked anyway!), and some tulips. Other things were scarred, but recovering like the invincible Carolina Jessamine. While it was a mess, it was actually an advantage for spring clean-up to have those live oak leaves fall earlier than they were supposed to. There are also plenty of survivors such as my Lenten roses, which are in full bloom, my side perennial garden, which is sprouting like crazy, and some Delaway kale I planted that took OFF right after the snow. The kale is delicious, by the way. Also, my beloved oak-leaved hydrangea is ready to burst into bloom.
Just like our gardens, the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club is coming alive! We took a hit in 2020 because we could not be together in person, but we are planning a reunion this summer with several surprises. At this point, it looks like our first in-person meeting will be in June, but stand by... Also, another round of virtual garden tours will be released in early June for your viewing pleasure. If you’d like to submit a video, you are right on time! They will be due mid-May. We will use the YouTube platform and welcome videos or slideshows, narrated or not. If you have questions please contact me. We have several club members who can assist with the technical part, but this can be done easily on most cell phones. We are happy to help with editing and adding background music, etc. The benefit of doing this as a virtual tour is that you can pick and choose which parts of your garden you want to show.
We continue to offer monthly ZOOM speaker meetings in place of our regular in-person meetings. For March, we have Barbara Gollman, a Master Gardener and herb enthusiast who will speak about Unusual Herbs: Beyond the Basics. You should have received the meeting announcement with the ZOOM link. In April, we have Callie Works-Leary from The Dallas Garden to speak on growing tomatoes to prepare you for your fall tomato garden. Fall tomatoes need to be started right in the heat of summer by seed and then planted in July or early August for full fall production. The time to prepare is now!
Finally, GDOGC needs to wrap up our membership drive for 2021. You should have received an email regarding your membership renewal this week. It’s even easier to do now with on-line payment using PayPal. Just check out our website, GDGOC.org, and click on the “Join Today!" link. Our editable PDF is now working plus there is a print and a Word document option for the membership form. There will be some special membership gifts at the first in-person meeting, as well as the usual perks such as the Fall Garden Tour, the Newsletter, and the holiday party.
March 2021 President's Note
By Allison Liddell
As I write this, it is SIX degrees outside. Ugh! While the snow is very pretty, this deep freeze is quite a challenge for gardeners and I hope you have all had some success protecting your gardens. I always remember, "when nature strikes, any dead plant in my garden is just an open spot for a new plant." This cheers me up!
We had the GDOGC Board Meeting on a snowy Sunday afternoon. While lamenting the potential damage, it occurred to us that a fun theme for our planned Virtual Member Garden Tour in June would be “Survivor." So make note (and take photos) of what makes it and what does not from now and as the spring wears on, and consider whether your garden would make a fun entry into the tour. The videos are easy to make and the deadline for entry will be in late May. Perhaps in hot June, it will be fun to reminisce about this cold snap!
We have a great topic for our February meeting which should provide some an escape from these winter blues. Ben Sandifer is a photographer and nature advocate. He will talk about our local treasure, the Great Trinity Forest.
Coming up in March, we will have a Master Gardener, Barbara Gollman, to teach us about herbs (but not just the common ones). She will focus on unusual herbs that we can incorporate into our gardens.
“See you” at the Zoom meetings and I hope to see you in person sometime in summer at the Audelia Road Library. Remember, guests are welcome on the Zoom meetings, so feel free to invite friends by forwarding the email. Just don’t post on big social media sites so we don’t get overwhelmed!
Stay warm and I hope your gardens recover quickly from this crazy February weather.
FEBRUARY 2021 President's Note
by Allison Liddell
The air may be cold outside, but that isn’t stopping gardeners from preparing for the spring. In North Texas, we are lucky enough to be able to manage “cold season crops” even in January and February. Right now, I’m sprouting tomato seeds indoors in addition to planting onion slips, and I have various greens and lettuces growing out in the raised beds.
Early last spring, my favorite lettuce was Buttercrunch. This lettuce produced for a couple of months until summer hit hard. There will be more seeds to be started over the next few weeks, peas to be planted, and perennial seed heads to be pruned back as those pretty new crowns of growth appear. I always enjoy seeing what comes up and where it comes up. In my mixed annual-perennial beds, the plants seem to know way better than me where they want to grow. February is also a good time to do soil testing and amendments before growth gets too full to allow much soil manipulation. This year, I’m trying home soil testing since I never seem to accomplish sending my soil to the Extension Service people. We'll see how that works... Many herbs do well in the cooler weather such as parsley and cilantro, so getting them in early allows for a larger crop before the intense heat.
We have plenty of leftover seeds from the seed exchange this past fall if anyone is interested - just contact me and I’ll be happy to put some out on my front porch. The January speaker meeting is about the basics of organic gardening-a great refresher for all of us. See the link below under Events.
The new year has begun, a new administration is starting, the new COVID-19 vaccines are arriving, and spring is coming! Clean off those garden tools and get to work producing the 2021 that you want to see.
Looking Forward and Looking Back by Allison Liddell, President, GDOGC
Greetings GODGC members! For those who don’t know me, I have been in the GDOGC for at least 15 years, having joined when my now-adult children were little as an outlet for a personal life-long interest of mine, gardening. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time in the club, and have served on the Board many times, have been president two previous years, and edited the newsletter since I think 2009. My day job is as an infectious disease specialist. My kids are now in college, and I’m thrilled to be asked to be GDOGC President again this year. One of the great things about the club is we have many longstanding members, but also get new members every year who bring fresh ideas and skills! Our Board this year reflects that, and we are planning plenty of adventures, a fresh take on the newsletter with our new editor Elizabeth, and maybe more frequent virtual garden tours given the rave reviews!
Every day at the hospital where I work, there is something called the Safety Briefing. Leaders from all over the facility gather for a 15 min organized, regimented briefing where each department reports events of the previous day and problems expected during the current day. Numbers of COVID cases are noted, ICU beds available, ventilators available, supply issues, staffing issues, etc. For departments with no current problems, the statement is often “nothing looking forward, nothing looking back”. As 2020 ends, there is certainly plenty looking back, much of it difficult and painful for many people. In GDOGC however, we were fortunate to keep having meetings and events, albeit virtually, so we didn’t lose touch with each other. This was important. We all need something like a garden club so we can think about something other than our normal jobs, make friends from other neighborhoods and other careers who have a shared interest, and just connect with something bigger than ourselves. In this case, nature and community. In 2021, we have plenty “looking forward”, and I pledge to continue, along with the rest of the board, to provide interesting virtual GDOGC content and experiences, until the day we can again meet in person. I miss you all so much. Spring Holiday Party anyone?