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
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!
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