the show

Deer-proof Succulents

air date: March 27, 2014

Beat the deer, drought, and cold with succulents on Eric Pedley’s list from East Austin Succulents. On tour, Ally and Richard Stresing tackled flooding to grow organic food, native plants, and raise chickens in a raccoon-proof henhouse.  Daphne explains when to plant tomatoes to avoid freeze damage. There’s no worry about freeze damage on her pick of the week, cold-hardy Satsuma orange ‘Orange Frost.’ Trisha flavors things up with tips on growing citrus, like Improved Meyer lemon, Key limes, and Lemonquat, a cross between lemons and kumquat.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Ally & Richard Stresing | Flooding to Flood of Ideas for Food

Ally and Richard Stresing started with a flood of ideas to control flooding. Now, they head to the garden for dinner.  On their menu: organic fruits, vegetables and fresh eggs from happy hens in a raccoon-proof coop they built themselves. In between projects, they take a break to enjoy the wildlife getting a drink at their ponds and nabbing their own dinner on native plants.


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Question of the Week

Freeze-damaged tomatoes, what to do?

Thanks to Laura Zebehazy for this picture of her freeze-damaged tomatoes in 2013. She sent us a picture of the deformed leaves, though new growth was emerging. She’d done everything the right way and wondered what happened.

Well, she planted in early March and her tomatoes were doing just fine, and even setting fruit, until we got that sudden cold zap, as we inevitably do every spring. We sent Laura’s photo to Randy Thompson from Sunshine Community Gardens and he suspected cold damage.

It doesn’t even have to be frosty for tomatoes to get zapped, they can be damaged by night-time temperatures as high as 50 degrees. In March and even into April, we get warm days but still have some very chilly nights.

So, to get a jump on your tomatoes, be sure to cover them up to protect them until night-time temperatures are reliably in the 60’s.

Another factor to consider with early season planting of heat-loving vegetables is the soil temperature.  Even if the ambient air temps are warm enough for your tender vegetable plants, the soil is going to stay cool well into spring. And cooler soil temperatures will slow down growth.

If your beds are in full sun, or at least getting 6 to 8 hours, the soil will heat up nicely during the day, helping it to stay warmer at night. But if your tomatoes and peppers don’t take off immediately, it may just be that their roots are still waiting patiently for the environment to be a little more welcoming for their growth.

And here’s good news from Laura!  Her plants bounced back from the frost damage pretty quickly and she had a bountiful harvest in the summer.


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Plant of the Week

Satsuma ‘Orange Frost’

Satsuma ‘Orange Frost’

Thanks to Larry Stein from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for this picture of a new cold hardy satsuma orange cultivar 'Orange Frost.' This great addition to our satsuma mandarin choices is a brand new Texas Superstar plant that our AgriLife researchers have been trialing for a few years now. 'Orange Frost' mandarin is a hybrid cross between a very seedy but cold hardy, Changsha tangerine and a very high quality Satsuma. The fruit is very sweet, easy to peel, and only has one or two seeds per fruit. More importantly, the tree has more cold hardiness than satsuma, so once established, it will tolerate more cold, meaning that it can be planted in the landscape a bit further north than other citrus. 'Orange Frost' has proven to be reliably hardy in zone 8, which includes Central Texas. But for the first few years, when the tree is young and getting established, you'll need to protect it during the winter. 'Orange Frost' needs full-day sun to perform and fruit well. And it gets only 8 to 10 feet tall, making the fruit easy to harvest. But it can also get 8 to 10 feet wide, so be sure to give it plenty of space to spread out. Be sure that the soil has good drainage. And don't plant until after ALL danger of frost has passed. For good growth and a bountiful harvest, water regularly and fertilize monthly during the growing season. As with other citrus trees, 'Orange Frost' satsuma is evergreen, and if it DOES get bitten by the cold, the good news is that it isn't grafted, meaning that it will come back true if it has to regrow from the roots. This tree will also work well in containers.