IN THE GARDEN: You can't beat beets in the fall
Although fall does not officially arrive until Sept. 22, we have been blessed recently with cooler weather and rain. In a previous column, we suggested planting beets as a fall garden vegetable. Beets love the cool autumn weather. Their tops can be eaten as greens in a salad and are full of vitamin A and calcium. The roots are often served pickled, baked, or boiled — we have even met folks that eat them like apples.
After 7-8 weeks from planting, your beets should be ready for harvest. You could serve beet salad at Thanksgiving. While you’re waiting for harvest time, keep a careful eye out for these pests: flea beetle, aphid, webworm, and beet armyworm. (No, we didn’t make that name up.)
TAKING PHOTOS FOR IDs
Lisa from Burnet asks: “What are some tips for photographing plants for identification? I’ll take a few photos with my phone, but then when I get back to my computer to ID the plant, I don’t seem to have all the information I need.”
Martelle: Great question, Lisa. There are several points to remember when photographing for identification.
First, perspective. For instance, what size is the plant? Whenever I am in the field and discover a new plant, I always take a photo with either my boot or my hand in the photo. I know that my mucks are 11 inches long and my hand without my thumb is 3 inches wide.
Second, try to take a photo from the top and the side. These shots will tell you how the leaves are connected to each other and to the stalk. The angle will also show the shape and characteristics of the leaves.
Third, if the plant is blooming or fruiting, take a photo of that. Often, leaves can be similar, but the flower and fruit will give you more insight into what type of plant you are identifying. Happy exploring.
With cooler weather upon us, wildlife can become frisky. If you feed your cats or dogs outside, bring the food bowls in at night. Nocturnal animals will be more active since they won’t be spending as much time hidden trying to cool off from 100-plus-degree heat. Double check that your trash cans are secure. And please, if you see an animal behaving oddly, do not approach it.
COOING OVER DOVES
White-winged, mourning, Eurasian collared, white-tipped, common ground, ruddy ground, and Inca doves are found in Central Texas. The two most abundant native doves are the mourning dove and the white-winged dove. (Eurasian collared doves are not native.)
Mourning doves prefer hard-coated seeds like the ones quails eat. However, mourning doves are “pickers,” not scratchers like quail. Doves think “insects are unimportant," per the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. White-winged doves will eat seed, but they prefer fruits and nuts.
While mourning doves nest in pairs, white-winged doves generally nest in colonies. We enjoy the cooing of mourning doves, and Inca doves always just look so cuddly.
Enjoy the fall with our avian friends.
Till next time, keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1
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