I'm a good resource for reporting on what grows well in Garland. I'm new to the gardening scene, having begun my first garden on June 12, 2013. Thus if I report that something has grown well, you can be almost certain that if you live in Garland that you will be able to grow it as well.
As far as I'm concerned, there are two reasons for an urban garden, or a combination thereof: 1) you want to grow food that you like to eat and that is expensive to purchase in the supermarket or 2) you want to grow plants that you can sell.
The photo above shows my blackberries shortly after they were planted in July of 2013.
The photo above shows one of the blackberry beds as it looked in June of 2014--laden with berries. I had no problem with birds--not even a little bit. I had a plastic owl guarding them about 4 feet away from the bushes.
They are at the top of my list. I planted four thornless blackberry bushes in July of 2013. In 2014 they produced a little over 55 pounds of delicious blackberries from the beginning of May until just about the middle of July. Beyond watering them, I did nothing special. They were planted two plants each to four by four foot raised beds enclosed by wood about 8 inches high. At the typical market value of $4.98 for 12 ounces, I grew about $360.00 of blackberries.
Another reason for choosing blackberries is because of their great nutritional value. Blackberries are rich in antioxidants which protect cells from damage against free radicals--the root cause of many cancers. One cup of blackberries provides 50% of all the vitamin C needed daily and 36% of your daily requirements for vitamin K.
Another plus for blackberries is that you can freeze them for later use. I've planted several new bushes this fall--a few in my yard and four down at the Garland Community Garden.
Some complain the blackberry is an invasive plant and will take over your yard. Being aware of this, I've watched mine carefully and thus far, this is not the case with the plants I have. Neither pair has grown outside its box.
My grape vines shortly after I planted them in late August of 2013.
The photo above represents just some of the bounty from these two vines in 2014, less than a year later.
Grapes are also high on the list of plants I recommend to grow in Garland. In August of 2013 I planted two vines in my front yard garden. Both vines are Mars (Plant patent 5680), a release from the University of Arkansas, a vigorous, blue seedless grape. The grapes taste wonderful. The vines were not sprayed (nor will they ever be). These two vines produced well over 35 pounds of grapes in 2014. Between my blackberry bushes and grape vines, I more than broke even on any expenses incurred with my garden in 2014.
Down at the Garland Community Garden I planted three grape vines--all with seeds and all plants recommended for growing in Texas. We'll see how they do next year when harvest rolls around. I looked all over the DFW area for the Mars seedless grapes but could not find them. Bruce Miller Nurseries who carried them in 2013 did not have them in 2014.
Sign Introducing Visitors to the Loofah at the Garland Community Garden
The Loofah has turned out to be a beautiful surprise. You can still see it blooming and growing at the Garland Community Garden on 4022 Naaman School Road.
Loving Garland Green hopes to encourage our residents to grow food and plants for other uses as well by being the example ourselves of what urban farmers can accomplish. None of us are horticultural experts, although some of us are taking permaculture courses and several have applied to become Master Gardeners. We want to show just how far an ordinary citizen can go. Gardening is a hobby that can easily grow into a vocation.
The loofah is edible--its blossoms as well as its fruit (as long as the fruit is less than four inches long). Once the fruit is longer than four inches, it becomes too fibrous to eat, but it makes great scrubbers for the body as well as for your pots and pans.
At the August 2014 Garland Marketplace we sold 24 loofahs from our plant at $2.00 each. Currently we have at least 30 more that will be ready to sell in October. Thus this one plant will have earned us over $50. Additionally, this one plant is growing out of an 8 gallon recycled plastic container.
Two Stevia plants in my urban garden at home. I'll protect them over the winter and see what happens this spring. If they don't survive, I'll just plant more. In fact, I may plant an entire 4 x 4 foot bed with stevia. Its leaves can be dried and used throughout the winter for no calorie sweetener.
Stevia was another beautiful surprise. It grew like a weed in the Garland Community Garden this year. It was one of the first transplants we installed in our very first garden plot down at 4022 Naaman School Road on April 12, 2014. If you visit the garden within the next few weeks, you can still see it. It's growing in the square foot garden that has Gene's olla water system. The plant is about three feet high and has white flowers. (Ideally the plant leaves are harvested before it blooms; however, regardless what the "experts" tell us, the leaves are still sweet, even if the plant has bloomed.)
Last night I made a cup of stevia liquid sweetener and served it to a few Loving Garland Green members who said that it works as a sweetener. 1. Take a branch from the plant. 2. Wash the leaves. 3. Strip the leaves into a small sauce pan, 4. Add about a cup and a half of water 5. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. 6. Turn off heat and let sit covered on stove top till cool 7. Use a strainer and pour into a glass jar with a lid. 8. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. Use in the place of sugar.
I have saved some of the seeds. However, everywhere I read the advice that Stevia is difficult to begin from seed. It's best to start it in the spring from a plant. Stevia is a perennial that we can overwinter with protection here in Garland. However, after its second year the plant loses its vigor.
NOTE: Charlie suggested that I include tomatoes and brussels sprouts. The jury is out on the brussels sprouts as I didn't grow any in my garden last year. As far as tomatoes go. . . well I tried and many of my friends from Loving Garland Green tried with the tomatoes. Charlie is the only one I know who had great success. He grew over 100 pounds of tomatoes this year in the raised beds around his swimming pool. We will be enjoying tomato sauce from them all winter long. His brussels sprouts were also outstanding. We protected them over the winter and from December through February they yielded many meals.
I think there are a few people who can grow tomatoes in Garland and a few who cannot. That's just my theory. It may or may not be true, but I don't think I can grow them and that's just about a proven fact as I've tried with no success two years in a row.