Garland Community Garden:  Charles Bevilacqua with recently dug sweet potatoes - November 8, 2015 


This morning Charlie and I worshiped in the Church of the Garden and Mother Nature duly rewarded us.  We harvested one and a half five-gallon buckets of sweet potatoes and gathered another five-gallon bucket of loofahs.  

Members of Loving Garland green have found the sweet potato grows very well here in North Texas--provided, of course, the gardener has amended our heavy clay soil with expanded shale or perlite prior to planting the slips.  Jane Stroud, an officer of Loving Garland Green's board, has been successfully growing sweet potatoes for several years here in the backyard of her home which is located in the Firewheel area of Garland.

Bucket of Sweet Potatoes from the Garland Community Garden:  November 8, 2015


1. Harvest Prior to the First Frost

As long as the weather stays warm, sweet potatoes will keep growing.  Unlike white potato vines, the sweet potato vines don't die and signal harvest time.  You do, however, want to harvest them before the first frost.  Cold weather and frost can hurt the sweet potatoes.  When frost blackens the vines, decay can quickly start in the dead vines and spread down to the potatoes.  If a frost hits before harvest, cut the vines off at the top of the soil the first thing the next morning and then harvest the potatoes no later than four days.

NOTE:  Sweet Potato leaves may be eaten in a salad and make a great substitute for spinach.  Unlike the white potato which is a member of the nightshade family, the sweet potato is not.  In fact, the leaves of the sweet potato are even more nutritious than spinach. [Source: - accessed Nov 8, 2015.]

2. Cure the Sweet Potatoes

Unlike most vegetables, you should not eat sweet potatoes right from the garden as they will have little flavor and you should not wash them. They must be aged for about two weeks prior to eating. To cure them, place them in a warm dark place that has some humidity.  Eighty Degrees F is an ideal temperature.  After curing, keep potatoes in a dry well-ventilated place at about 60 degrees.  Sweet potatoes can usually be kept up to the next harvest.  It's a good idea to save back a few for growing slips for next year's crop.

Loofahs on top shelf and sweet potatoes on bottom shelf--stored in the garage for curing--November 8, 2015




Garland Community Garden, Garland TX - November 8, 2015 10:30 am - Healthy Male Monarch

Today was another great day for butterfly sighting here in Garland.  While we were down at the garden we saw three large Monarchs and one Gulf Fritillary.  It seems as though we always see at least one of another species of butterflies whenever we see a Monarch.  Perhaps these other pollinators want to remind us they are an important part of the ecosystem as well.

One of the three Monarchs was tagged.

Garland Community Garden- Garland Texas - 75040 - Tagged Female Monarch  - observed about 10:30 AM Sunday November 8, 2015

I saw her first perched on a zinnia near our spent tomato patch.  I followed here around the garden, but never could get close enough to read the tag.  As you can see from the photo below, her right wing is damaged.  It didn't appear to impair her flying capability, but the wing looks like what paper looks like when it gets wet, turns dark and is puckered after drying.  Perhaps the tag was attached shortly after she eclosed and the wing was not dry so the handler damaged it while applying the tag by pressing too hard.  The tag was applied to the opposite wing--not the one that is damaged.  Below is another photo I was able to get of her.  This time she was perching on top of one of the loofah leaves.

Garland Community Garden Garland Texas 75040 - November 8, 2015 - Another view of the tagged and seemingly injured Monarch.

More information on Tagging Monarchs:

Monarch tags are tiny, round stickers made of polypropylene. They are 9 mm in diameter, a little larger than a hole-punch. A tag weighs 10 mg. A typical monarch weighs 500 mgs, so the tag is about 2 percent of a butterfly's weight. The tag is encoded with unique numbers and letters. Tags are supplied by Monarch Watch, a University of Kansas program that documents the monarch migration and promotes conservation of butterfly habitats. Tagging information helps answer questions about the geographic origins of monarchs, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during migration, the effects of wind and weather, and changes in geographic distribution of monarchs.

More information at Monarch Watch. 


November 7, 2015 - Garland Community Garden in the Rain - New Blackberry Trellis


There is always something to do in a garden--regardless the season. Yesterday (November 6, 2015) Charlie and I put up a trellis for some blackberry bushes in the back of the garden.  In 2016 we are anticipating a harvest of over 100 pounds of blackberries in the Garland Community Garden.  We still need to construct four more of these trellises for four different locations of blackberry bushes in the garden.  The one we built yesterday is seven feet tall and about 9 feet long.


Here is an inexpensive way that we've found to build a trellis:

1.Panels of wire fencing (3.5 feet wide and 7 feet tall) at $7.28 a panel purchased at Home Depot or Lowes.  [It's rusty looking wire and the panels are usually located near the rebars in the store--lumber/hardware area.]
2. 10 foot tall 1/2 inch thick rebar at $4.98 a pole
3. Lots of zip ties (Cheapest place to get them is at a Harbor Freight store--really the same thing for less than half what they are sold elsewhere.)

1. 8 to 10 foot ladder
2. sledgehammer
3. spade

Two people best.


1.Position the rebar where you want to drive it and push it down into the soil.
[Both people grab the rebar with both hands and push it into the soil as far as possible. If the soil is moist the rebar will go in at least a foot to a foot and a half. Thus it is standing alone.]

2. One person climbs the ladder and the other one hands them the sledge hammer.

3. The person on the ground holds the ladder with one hand and the rebar with the other.

4. The person on the top pounds the rebar further into the ground.
[When using the sledge hammer, grasp it only a few inches from the head and strike the rebar with the side (not the tip of the hammer head). This way you have better balance. Drive the 10 foot rebar the rest of the way. It should be about 7 feet above ground when finished (the same hight as the wire fencing. Thus, three feet of the rebar is in the soil. It may sway in heavy winds but it will not fall over.]

5. Once the first rebar is in the ground, use zip ties to attach the wire panel to the rebar.

6. Position the second rebar at the edge of the wire panel and follow steps 1-5. [Note: you may need to swing the wire panel five or six inches a little bit out of the way before pushing it into the soil.]

You can continue these steps as long as you wish. You can even make one parallel on the other side, attach wire fencing to the top and make an arbor.

The trellis we made yesterday cost $37 dollars in materials.

Below is a close up of the trellis showing a zip tie (the black band) that attaches the wire panel to the rebar.  We put a zip tie at bottom of each square in the fencing.


Zip Tie Holds wire panel to rebar post.


A garden, where one may enter in and forget the whole world, 
cannot be made in a week, nor a month, nor a year; 
it must be planned for, waited for and loved into being.Chinese Proverb
216 East Kingsbridge - Garland Texas - November 7, 2015  A laughing Buddha guards the oranges.

Garland Community Garden Nov 7, 2015:  Kevin's Horseshoe Bed has some healthy-looking broccoli and ripe sun gold tomatoes.  
Garland Community Garden Nov 7, 2015:  Lots of green tomatoes in the garden.  We may have to pick them green.  
Garland Community Garden Nov 7, 2015:  Plenty of Mexican Tarragon and kale throughout the garden 
Garland Community Garden Nov 7, 2015:  Lots of Malabar Spinach down at the garden.  If you haven't tried it, we invite you to pick some and make a salad.  You'll be hooked.  Also there are lots of seeds if you want to take a few and grow your own Malabar Spinach next year.  Unlike other spinach that wilts when things heat up, Malabar Spinach loves the heat.  You can plant it in the partial shade too and its leave will get larger, but it really likes the sun best.  
Garland Community Garden November 7, 2015:  Our Keyhole garden is overflowing.  On the left we have the largest Indian Mustard, broccoli and collard greens that I've ever seen.  On the right you see the Malabar Spinach that was previously featured.
 Garland Community Garden Nov 7, 2015:  Kale growing in two 8-gallon plastic pots.  These two plants have been producing for over a year now.  You don't need 40 acres to grow some of your edibles. These two pots would furnish a family of four all the kale they need for over a year--and they are also pretty to look at.  
 Garland Community Garden November 7, 2015:  Blackberry bush in front of the garden.  This one is destined for a wire trellis sometime before Christmas  
 Garland Community Garden- Nov 7, 2015:  More kale growing crazy in the garden.  These plants are growing in the very first bed that we installed in the garden. 
216 East Kingsbridge Garland Nov 7, 2015:  Mandarin oranges on a tree in my yard.  This tree is in a pot and I bring it in each winter.
216 East Kingsbridge Garland Nov 7, 2015:  One of my rose bushes.  I love this old thing.  It's been here for 11 years that I know of and it continues to bloom faithfully up to the first killing freeze.
216 East Kingsbridge Garland Texas Nov 7, 2015:  My old faithful Lemon tree.  this tree has faithfully produced at least 25 and sometimes as many as 32 lemons each year for eleven years.  Yes I have to bring it in for the winter.
216 East Kingsbridge Garland Texas November 7, 2015:  Pomegranate bush (one of two) - Both bushes have grown considerably this year.  I hope to have some fruit next year.
216 East Kingsbridge Garland Texas November 7, 2015 - These flowers have helped to fuel the journey of many Monarchs this year.


Kevin Keeling checks one of the peanut plants in the hugelkultur down at the Garland Community Garden as (clockwise) Mitch McGowan of Dot Dirt, Anita Opel, Nancy Seaberg and Charles Bevilacqua watch.


Loving Garland Green is closing out 2015 with a bang.  Here are just three of the many items from our action list:


Yesterday (November 3, 2015) several members of Loving Garland Green met with Mitchell McGowan of Dot Dirt Organic Landscapes down at the Garland Community Garden.

Mitch's background includes studying Bio-Chemistry and Biology at the University of Texas, Austin, from 1988 to 1992. With over 20 total years experience in the landscape industry, Mitch has designed and supervised projects including terraced flower beds and retaining walls, outdoor lighting systems, ponds and fountains, and even a professional photographer's backdrop. During the past 11 years, he founded DOTDIRT Organic Landscapes, an organic-only landscape design firm.

With clientele ranging from homeowners and ranch-owners all over the North Dallas area, to private tennis clubs, parks, and neighborhood associations, to a Highland Park hair salon, Mitch and his team design landscapes, flower beds, walls, walkways, and perform major renovations to all kinds of land areas.

We are very fortunate to have Mitch's services as he is designing and guiding us through the process of installing an irrigation system for the Garland Community Garden.  He is donating his labor and expertise.  Loving Garland Green will pay for the expenses of the materials though a generous donation we received from Jane and Robert Stroud.

Mitch's thorough approach to detail, background and experience inspire confidence.  He will create the design and apply for a permit from the City of Garland for this project.  Among other things at our first meeting yesterday, we learned about the importance of the installation of an anti siphonage device to prevent back flow from our system to city water.

Our battery operated valves will run from 9 volt batteries.  These valves will also have a rain/freeze sensor.  This project will progress over the winter.  We hope to have at least part of it installed by the middle of March 2016.  Also as a note to members:  If you are interested in learning about irrigation systems, you can come help us with the labor for this project and learn as you go.

 Mitch McGowan, owner/founder of Dot Dirt Organic Landscapes, is a living example of the potential that businesses and products related to urban gardening can have for an individual and also for the local economy.  Mitch's business is located right here in Garland Texas.  As a matter of fact, he only lives a few blocks from the Garland Community Garden.  We can't get much more local than that.  

Mitch and the people who work with him offer just about any type of urban gardening related services that you can imagine--from building arbors to taking care of sprinkler systems.  Don't take my word for it visit his website and take a look at his before and after showcase. 



We are taking orders now for delivery the first week in December.  So far we have gathered 15 gallons of unshelled pecans.  We will sell them shelled and by the pound.  The price per pound will be set according to current market value on November 15, 2015.  We plan to sell at $1.00 under market value so that we can be competitive.  To place  your order now, please contact us at .



Get ready for the holidays!  If you are cleaning out your closets and extra bedrooms to make a little room for guests, then give us a call at 972-571-4497.  We would be happy to help you out by carting away some of your good stuff for re-use in our sale.  And remember, as the cliche goes:  "One person's trash is another's treasure."  We are sure to have at least one treasure for you at our sale so stop by and find it!  Our sale this year will be on Pebblewood Drive here in Garland.  Specifics regarding time and address will be forthcoming.


Garland Gives a Hand Up to a Deserving Pollinator--The Monarch Butterfly (also the state insect of Texas)

November 2, 2015 2:30 PM Garland Community Garden - Another Monarch is released--photo by Charles Bevilacqua

During the Loving Garland Green meeting this week Chris Savage, VP of Loving Garland Green, reported the two caterpillars we gave to students at Abbott Elementary here in Garland were released at the school on Monday, Nov. 2.  Charles Bevilacqua reported the three caterpillars we gave to the three kindergarten classes at Walnut Glenn Academy had also been released.  

Kevin Keeling, member of Loving Garland Green reported that one of the two Monarchs in his keeping eclosed yesterday morning (November 4, 2015).  Kevin released this one, a male, in his back yard.   Following are a few photos of this event:

November 3, 2015- 10:00 AM - Monarch is attached to one of the leaves of the milkweed inside his Monarch Condo at Kevin Keeling's home.  Photo by Kevin Keeling.

November 3, 2015- 10 AM Garland Texas- Butterfly at home of Kevin Keeling - Photo by Kevin Keeling


November 3, 2015- 10 AM Garland Texas- Butterfly at home of Kevin Keeling on top of condo preparing for takeoff - Photo by Kevin Keeling


The photo below is a great shot of the butterfly that was in Kevin's care.  As you can see, it has one black dot on each tail wing.  This tells us that this particular butterfly is a male.

November 3, 2015 - 10 AM  Garland Texas - Butterfly at home of Kevin Keeling - Photo by Kevin Keeling


MORE TO COME - We still have a few more possible members of the fourth generation Monarchs of 2015

Below is a photograph that Kevin sent us showing a pupa on the floor of his Monarch Butterfly condo.  At some point this pupa, or chrysalis as it is sometimes called, became detached and fell to the bottom of the condo (mesh laundry basket).  We don't know for sure if this one will survive, but yesterday (November 3, 2015) Kevin did notice that it appeared to beginning the process of emerging from the pupa.   If you look closely you can see the tips of what appear to be hind wings. This is yet another Monarch story to be told here in Garland Texas.   

November 3, 2015 10 AM - Monarch beginning to eclose - Photo Kevin Keeling


One of the officers of the board of directors for Loving Garland Green, Jane Stroud has six possible adult Monarchs housed in  Monarch condos at her home.  Below is a photo she took yesterday of the first one of the five that is beginning to eclose.  If you look closely you'll see the wings coming out of the bottom of the pupa.

November 3, 2015 - 7 AM - Eclose beginning in Monarch Condo stewarded by Jane Stroud - Photo by Jane.



 LET'S NOT FORGET ALL THE OTHER SPECIES OF BUTTERFLIES AND OTHER POLLINATORS SUCH AS BEES--all of whom are vitally important to ensuring pollination of our food crops.

One of them, a Gulf Fritillary, stopped by Kevin's garden yesterday to watch the main event of the Monarch reaching adulthood.  Indeed this is a big deal since since it is estimated that less than 5% of Monarchs complete their life cycle in the wild.  The happy side of that story is that 95% of them who are rescued will survive to the adult stage.

Still, we must not overlook the importance of all our pollinators and do what we can to protect all of them them.  We have verifications of over 221 species of butterflies and moth sightings here in the DFW area.  Most of these species overwinter right here in our neighborhoods.  According to the species, they overwinter in various stages of their lifecycle.  

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae incarnata)  - November 3, 2015 - 10 AM - Garland Texas - Photo Kevin Keeling



Female Monarch about an hour after eclose--November 2, 2015 2PM  Garland, Texas 75040

This afternoon (November 2, 2015 I peeked into the one remaining Monarch Condo and there she was, still clinging to the outside of her chrysalis. I guess it's not a minute too soon although there are still a few stragglers in our area.  When Charlie and I went down to the Garland Community Garden to release her we saw two other Monarchs and a butterfly that we yet have to identify.  Perhaps if there is a lepidopterist reading this article you can tell us what it is.  We did notice that it is missing parts of its hind wings.  Perhaps a bird clipped them off.

Unidentified Butterfly- Garland Community Garden - November 2, 2015  Garland Texas 75040.  I think it may be some type of Swallowtail.  It looks most like a Spicebush swallowtail but without the distinctive white dots around the outside edges of its wings.

This time around Charlie got the monarch out of her condo.  Like the other Monarch this morning, she was reluctant to leave the human touch.

Charlie Bevilacqua with female Monarch - November 2, 2015 2:30pm - Garland Texas 75040

 This female was so friendly that she went from Charlie's hand to mine.  Although we released her near one of the flower beds, when she eventually took wing, she she flew high up to a branch in a nearby pecan tree.  I think perhaps her wing were not quite dry and she wanted a high safe place to finish the process.  Normally when butterflies are released they are hungry and will go to the nectar flowers for their food.


THERE ARE STILL A FEW MONARCH RELEASE TALES TO BE TOLD HERE IN GARLAND, but this closes the chapter for this year on my rescues.  I think that at least two other Loving Garland Green members have Monarch chrysalises. Also, Loving Garland Green has delivered four or five Monarchs in various stages of their life cycle to Garland public schools.



Photo taken 9:30 AM Garland Texas at 216 East Kingsbridge Drive 75040 - Photo Elizabeth Berry

This morning I saw three monarchs in my front yard.  Two were females and the third one was too far away to determine the sex.  Perhaps the news is getting out about how much the residents of Garland, including our mayor, appreciate the Monarch and their pollinator friends.  We have school children at several of our public schools who are also taking care of monarchs this fall--all of which have now progressed to the late end of chrysalis stage and are almost ready to eclose.  In addition, Loving Garland Green recently assisted North Garland High School Key Club with the installation of a lovely butterfly garden on their school grounds.  We are hoping to install many more in our school yards here in Garland over the coming year.  We would also like to add vegetable and fruit gardens.  We might as well make sure these pollinators have lots to pollinate.


Female Monarch eclosed morning of November 2, 2015 - Garland, Texas - Photo Elizabeth Berry

This year, my first in the business of rescuing pollinators,  I've rescued four Monarchs and two Mexican Fritillaries.  The third of my Monarch rescues eclosed this morning and I released her at 10:30 this morning.  This release was special because I extended my index finger down into the Mesh Laundry Basket aka "Monarch Condo" and the Monarch hopped on for her first free ride into the wide open spaces.  It was my first time to allow a Monarch to hitchhike on my finger and I can report that it is quite a thrill.

Rescued Monarch Butterfly being released at 10:30 am November 2, 2015 Garland Texas -  216 East Kingsbridge Drive 75040 - Photo by Charles Bevilacqua


The Monarch became attached to my finger and it was a while before I could get her to release to snack on some nectar flowers.  I was beginning to wonder if she would have to become a member of my family.  Fortunately for her she finally decided to opt for the wild blue yonder.  With a little bit of luck she will be wintering in the Mexican highlands in a few weeks.  Speaking of luck, this female Monarch already has a great deal of luck.  Less than 5% of Monarchs complete their life cycle in the wild due to predators, weather, and other environmental factors.  However, it is estimated that as many as 95% of rescued Monarchs are able to reach adulthood.

Elizabeth Berry, president Loving Garland Green,  tempting the Monarch Butterfly with nectar flowers- November 2, 2015 10:30 AM -- Photo by Charles Bevilacqua



In case you haven't heard, Texas has a Monarch and Native Pollinator Conservation Plan.  You can learn more about that plan at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website:

In addition, other organizations that have joined in these efforts to restore our monarch population include the following:

Texan by Nature

National Wildlife Federation

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service