the show

Mix Edibles with Wildlife Food

encore date: December 6, 2014

original air date: October 18, 2014

Pump up winter’s perennial beds and containers with cool-weather vegetables and edible annual flowers. Deena Spellman from Bastrop Gardens picks easy-care plants that feed us and overwintering pollinators. On tour, Austin Neal flavored his front yard renovation with food, wildlife perennials, art, and neighborly spots to hang out. Daphne answers: why did all my healthy herbs wither away? Plant of the Week is crossvine, a perennial vine that loves to cover fences and trellises and invites hummingbirds to its tubular flowers. Trisha shows how to freeze herbs in Mason jars to use all winter.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Garden with Food, Wildlife Plants and Art

When Austin Neal moved to Austin, he dug in feet first into new garden territory. Starting from scratch in a barren lot, he livened things up with a front courtyard filled with food and drought defiant plants for wildlife, framed by a hand-made fence with neighborly portals. Ipe and decomposed granite paths set the stage among artistic touches that wind up on a multi-level deck to sip a cold one to the sounds of a two-level steel-framed water runway.



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Question of the Week

Why did my sage, thyme and oregano rot?

Thanks to Tracie Storie for her great question and pictures! This is a very common problem in summer.

Here’s her story:

Tracie says that the problem started with her culinary sage in late spring, when almost the whole plant turned brown and crispy, then died, but a small portion held on and is green still.  Several rows away the marjoram, thyme, and oregano are now showing these symptoms. Some of the leaves look burnt at the top like fire blight, and with a pear tree nearby that died of that disease, so could that be the problem?

Tracie notes that the herbs are several years old and she doesn’t water them much. Could the problem be drought combined with old age, or do the herbs have a disease that can be treated?

Finally, in May, she got lots of rain in a short amount of time. By then, it was also hot and humid.

What happened:

I think a FEW issues piled up here.

1.       We can rule out fire blight, as herbs are not susceptible to that particular disease, so your infected pear tree would not have passed the bacterium along to nearby plants, unless they were apples, pears, quinces, or other pear tree relatives.

2.        The plants were older, so I’m sure they were large and heathy and full of leaves, which would have increased the humidity in the center of the plant when you got that heavy rain in May, just before you started to notice the problems.

3.        The herbs had not been irrigated for quite some time, so they were growing in dry soil, which herbs do prefer to sogginess. So going from a nice, dry environment, to a heavy, wet environment definitely stressed the herbs.

4.       Plus, if you have any amount of clay in your soil, that extra moisture would have been even more of a problem. Any time a plant’s environment changes so drastically, it’s going to be stressed, thus making it more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

5.       I’d suggest cutting all the dead and damaged growth back and seeing if the plants recover with new growth, like your sage did. If the problem continues, you might want to move the herbs to a raised bed, where you can install more porous soil to increase the drainage.

6.       It’s not unusual to lose sage and thyme in our humid summers, especially in rain bombs.


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Plant of the Week

Crossvine Tangerine Beauty

Crossvine Tangerine Beauty

Bignonia capreolata

Crossvine is a woody, native vine that is tamely aggressive compared to its cousin, trumpet vine  (Campsis radicans). The original native is golden yellow with magenta center. Cultivar ‘Tangerine Beauty’ is orange with yellow center. Crossvine does grow quite vigorously, but it doesn’t sneak over into your entire landscape and try to take over the neighborhood like trumpet vine.  It can grow up to 50’ feet long, so is perfect to cover a fence, sturdy trellis or arbor. It is native to Texas and the Southeastern U.S. 'Tangerine Beauty' is a specific variety that puts on a fabulous spring show followed by sporadic flowering the rest of the year. Plant in sun to part shade in just about any soil. It needs little water once it’s established. Tubular flowers appear spring and sometimes in fall to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Deer resistant: No. Considered a semi-evergreen, crossvine keeps its leaves through winter, only dropping them in spring, just before putting on new ones. It blooms on old wood so prune soon after flowering to shape and encourage new growth and later flowers. Like any vine, it will take a few years to take over!