May 2018 – Native Plant of the Month
Monarda species – Lemon/Horsemint, Beebalm, Wild Bergamot
Scientific names: Monarda lindheimeriani, Monarda fistulosa, Monarda citriodora, Monarda punctat.
Family: Lamiaceae, Mint family
Species of the Monarda genus are the native plant of the month for May, which is when they begin to bloom, bringing us the next round of showy displays and vibrant colors just in time after many of the earlier native wildflowers have slowed or stopped their blooming. The annual and perennial species of the Monarda genus are reliable and hardy edible and medicinal plants for humans and wildlife, and are easy to grow in abundance from seed or transplants.
These members of the mint family (Lamiaceae) make delicious medicinal teas from fresh or dried leaves and flowers. The flowers are also a beautiful touch in salads, or can be saved in ice cubes. They are especially popular with pollinators and hummingbirds, and make wonderful perimeter plants in our gardens to attract beneficial insects. The perennial species, such as Monarda lindheimeriani and Monarda fistulosa, spread vigorously through their rhizomatous roots, and transplant readily. This quality, combined with their relative deer-resistance, makes them very useful as habitat restoration plants in rougher conditions when we are trying to create food for wildlife, and build biomass and species diversity.
Species in order of pictures: Monarda fistulosa cultivar – perennial
Monarda lindheimerianiv – perennial
Monarda lindheimeriani – perennial
Monarda fistulosa – perennial
Monarda citriodora – annual
Please follow and like us:
May 2018 – Crop of the Month
Sweet Potato – Scientific Name: Ipomoea Batatas
Family:  Convolvulaceae, commonly known as the bindweed or morning glory family

Sweet potato is the crop of the month because May is when sweet potato slips become available in most plant nurseries.  Bill Mollison spoke highly of the sweet potato.  Its edible leaves and edible tuber are a reliable source of food.  The tuber can be stored in root cellars for months through the winter.

In warmer climates than here in Central Texas it is a perennial food crop.  At our latitude of thirty degrees, however, it dies back in the winter and many of its tubers begin to rot in the ground.

Sweet potato should be planted after the last danger of frost and cold, wet spring weather.

The slips are sold in bundles of 50 or so, for about $10 or $12.  Plant them quickly after you buy them about 24 inches apart.  The sweet potato’s tubers will be ready to harvest in 90 to 120 days.

It’s satisfying to watch the dense leafy coverage of the sweet potato vine do a good job shading out Bermuda grass in and along the edge of your garden beds.  Watch out for rabbits and other rodents, though, because the leaves are very tinder and palatable and once rodents, especially rabbits, find a patch of sweet potatoes they will eat them all.

Good luck growing your sweet potatoes!

Explosive abundance,

Kirby Fry

Please follow and like us:

After evaluating so many of our gardens, I’m seeing a need to plant a more hardy native perennial understory.

Below are a couple of photographs I took of a highway median between an over pass and the access road in Bastrop, Texas along US Highway 71. Someone in the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has their shit together. Read More

Please follow and like us: