I’m hopeful the crisp cool mornings we’ve been waking up to lately mean Fall really is here and we can pack up our shorts for the season. My tomatoes are setting fruit and the cool-season greens Wade and I planted are experiencing a growth spurt. While I’m not going to be able to fill the vegetable display like I was in the Spring, I’m starting to bring in a nice bit of produce after a long hot dry spell.
The great pumpkin experiment was a dud. It turns out you can’t successfully grow pumpkins in the middle of summer in Texas. Wade and Kaleb and I fussed over rows and rows of pumpkin plants, watered, weeded, and fought bugs for a couple of hard months, all for some pretty puny results. We’re enjoying the Fall atmosphere our meager group of pumpkins are providing us though, and consider the experience a lesson learned.
Along with the cooler weather, I’m looking forward to some Halloween fun. Mark and I and our daughter, Becky signed up to participate in the Food Drive on Main St. We’ve got our dog-themed booth decoration all ready to go and are just waiting for Tuesday evening to give out some candy. Right now I’ve got the big cardboard dog decoration perched on top of the display of the new line of dog food we brought in called Zignature. It is a fabulous limited-ingredient dog food boasting no grain, no potatoes and no corn. Next week we should also be getting Taste of the Wild’s new limited-ingredient food.
If you are lucky enough to have pecan trees in your landscaping, this is the time of year to start looking for pecans on the ground. A mature pecan tree can produce 40 to 50 pounds of pecans on a good year. The pecan trees in our yard were planted by my in-laws over 30 years ago. With a little maintenance, a little fertilizer and a bit of water over the summer, they do well by us. Over the weekend Mark and I gathered as many pecans as we could find. And since I still had most of last year’s pecans yet to shell, we decided to make use of the beautiful day yesterday to haul all our pecans over to Nutcracker Station in Bertram to have them cracked. If you make an appointment they can crack while you wait. It was well worth the trip. Now I have plenty of pecans to cook with all year long.
Here is a pecan picker-upper that I highly recommend–it will save your back. All you do is firmly roll it over the ground, pushing the pecans through the wires. When the hopper is almost full, you gently separate the wires and the pecans will drop out. Frank demonstrated this for me.
And here’s a link to the Nutcracker Station in Bertram. Mark and I had a great time walking through the downtown section of Bertram while our pecans were being cracked. It was like stepping back in time and it was only a 45 minute drive from Pflugerville.
After more than 15 years it was time to spruce up our sign. Last night the good folks at Pflugerville Signs installed new panels on our old sign. I love the new sign and am inspired to work on freshening up the rest of the storefront.
The rainy little cold front that blew in today has me feeling like we just might get some Fall weather here in central Texas after all. To celebrate, I bought a new chick feeder and set it up for some seasonal snacking–for humans this time. An inexpensive chick feeder with a canning jar makes a pretty decoration when filled with candy corn or M&M’s. Plus it kinda limits the speed of snacking since it’s not easy to get a handful of goodies at a time.
Update September 21st: New chicks arrived today. Black Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, and Silver Laced Wyandott chicks available now. We also have about 6 two-week old Ameraucana chicks left.
Black Australorp, Buff Orpington and Ameraucana pullets available now at Gaddy’s. Please call us at 512-251-4611 if you have any questions. If you come in the store and don’t see any chicks, don’t worry. We have set up the brooder in the back room to help us keep the front store clean.
The first chicks of the Fall season are expected next Thursday, September 7th. We should receive Black Australorp, Buff Orpington, and Ameraucana chicks. As usual, we order pullets (all females) but please note–there is a 95% accuracy rate when sexing chicks, so roosters do sometimes happen. Please call or email Kim if you have any questions.
I know it seems too hot for anything to grow right now, but it really is time to plant tomato, pepper and eggplant plants. For the brave of heart we have some fall vegetable plants at the store plus some nice herb starts. We also got in our fall seed rack. If you hurry, you can still get some squash and cucumbers planted from seed!
Click august planting guide to access our August planting guide for the Pflugerville area.
If you want to plan ahead, here’s the September guide: september planting guide.
August is so brutally hot, it’s hard to feel like gardening, but if you can stand to get out in the heat, you can reward yourself and your family with one more planting of squash or cucumbers before it gets too late in the season. This week Wade planted a bunch of slicing cucumbers out in the Gaddy’s garden and I planted a couple rows of squash. In 50-60 days we hope to have fresh cucumbers and squash back in the store.
Mark ‘air rooted’ a bunch of tomato cuttings from our spring tomato plants. They are now fully rooted out in 4″ pots and will go out into the garden next week. Hopefully as soon as our high temperatures move consistently below 95 degrees the tomato plants will be established and ready to bloom and set fruit. Tomatoes grown in the fall can often be the best of the year. Usually we eat fresh tomatoes up until the first frost when we pick all the tomatoes ripe and green alike, and fry them up or make salsa.
Kaleb and I planted pumpkin plants last month and, with Wade’s help, have been diligently keeping them watered. This is our first attempt at pumpkins, so we plan to make many mistakes. I also planted some sunflowers. I hope to have a lovely backdrop of sunflowers right in time for pumpkin picking. Here’s a link to a great youtube time-lapse video of a pumpkin patch. pumpkin video
I love new school supplies. The smell of brand new Crayola crayons just makes me happy. Helping local kids get a good start to the school year makes me even happier. Please join me in supporting local students by dropping off new school supplies at Gaddy’s. The FFA Booster Club has a school supply donation box at our store for the next month or so. If you’d like to learn more about many other great things the Pflugerville FFA is involved in, check out their Facebook page here.
Although we don’t have much produce this time of year, the chickens have been doing their part to keep something stocked in the Market Garden area of the store. It’s going to take a while for our young girls to lay full size eggs, but we are all so proud of their little pullet eggs, we decided to put a price on them. They make real cute little fried eggs and are tasty too.
Also, if you already have some good layers and find it hard to come across enough egg cartons, we now have egg cartons for sale. They come in three pretty wild colors, hot pink, turquoise and lime green. (I think I messed up and ordered cartons for Easter Egg products.)
Summer gardening in Texas may be challenging, but with a little effort (OK a LOT of effort, and even more water) you can pull fabulous vegetables out of the garden even when the thermometer tips 100 degrees. Here are a few pictures of the summer crops now available at Gaddy’s. The large cantaloupe is Hale’s Best variety and the small melons are a ‘personal size’ variety called Lilliput. Watermelon doesn’t normally enjoy our black clay soil but the mini-love and sugar baby melons I tried worked out well. I love the color of the pink eye pea hulls. Although it takes a bit of work to shell them, the flavorful pay-off is well worth it. Okra is always a sure bet when the weather gets unbearably hot. We even have had great luck with the cut flowers despite the climbing temperatures.
The little chicks we started raising in February started laying just this week. Each day I collect 6-10 pullet eggs and expect to find more and more as the weeks pass. Soon we will have fresh eggs to sell at the store. You can even visit the girls while you’re here. They like the attention. Most mornings the hens go outside for a little stroll in the garden but are back in the coop by noon when it gets too hot for exercise.
Frank just brought us a freezer-ful of beef. The packages have a Westphalia labels, but that’s just because the meat is processed by Westphalia. All the beef in the freezer was raised completely on Frank’s ranch and lives the life of riley. The steaks may look a bit smaller than what you find at the grocery because Frank butchers his calves when they weigh about 600lbs. It makes for the best tasting beef we’ve ever eaten. Click here for a price list.
Even though we are still getting good produce out of the garden, it won’t be too long before we take a little garden break for the worst dog days of the summer. Don’t give up on us though, we are already getting ready for Fall. We have pumpkin plants in the ground and in flats just waiting to go into the field. We’re rooting out our favorite tomato varieties and planning our Fall sunflower planting. We hope to have a great pumpkin patch this year complete with a sunflower backdrop for family photos. We’ll let you know how it goes.
Hope everybody has a safe summer! Now get out there an enjoy yourself!