Calvin Finch: How to select and best grow shade trees in your San Antonio garden

Now is a good time to plant shade trees in San Antonio.

When you live in a climate like we do, shade trees are an important part of the landscape. Temperatures of 100-plus degrees are difficult to tolerate in the shade and are even more unpleasant if there is no shade.

Among the important issues to consider when selecting a shade tree species are its ultimate size, growth rate, appearance, drought tolerance, soil preference and susceptibility to pests and diseases. Quite often area gardeners remind me that we describe live oaks as “evergreen,” but they do, in fact, lose their leaves for a short time each March.

Live oaks are relatively slow-growing shade trees when compared to other choices, but they are held in high regard for their appearance, drought tolerance and longevity. If your landscape includes a 50-foot live oak, it may be 100 years old and is probably adding $30,000 to the value of the property.

A lot of attention is given to the live oaks susceptibility to the disease “oak wilt,” but it is recognized that the disease is relatively easy to detect and prevent if a homeowner does a limited amount of research and is alert to the situation with the trees in the surrounding neighborhood. One of the most effective ways to protect the value of live oaks and other shade trees is to establish a relationship with an arborist.

This week in the garden

 It is prime time to plant your winter vegetable garden. Prepare the soil by incorporating 2 inches of compost into the planting area. Also enrich the soil with 10 cups of slow-release lawn fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed. Plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chard, kale and Brussels sprouts with transplants. Use seeds for carrots, beets, radishes, turnips and lettuce.

 The fall tomatoes should be setting fruit. Support their production with side dressing with a winterizer fertilizer.

 Zinnias and other summer annuals will continue to bloom but the winter annuals such as snapdragons, dianthus, stocks, calendula and petunias can also be planted.

 Fertilize the lawn to prepare it to tolerate winter cold and to prepare the grass for a green-up next spring.

Texas red oak is like a live oak in its size, attractive shape and drought tolerance. It is different in its faster growth rate and that it is a deciduous tree, meaning it loses its leaves every winter.

Depending on the soil, it is not unusual for a Texas red oak to add 6 feet of growth each year for several years after it is planted. Texas red oaks also are susceptible to oak wilt as individual trees through wounds, but they’re not susceptible through the roots like live oaks.

Deer are common in many San Antonio neighborhoods and are a factor in successfully growing a shade tree. Bucks in their rutting season rub their antlers on the smooth trunk of young shade trees, often girdling the tree and greatly reducing its growth rate. The girdling involves damaging

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You Can Grow It: Our viewers share their garden harvests

Jim Duthie shares garden photos that were posted on the You Can Grow It Facebook group page.

BOISE, Idaho — Did you grow a garden this year? Many of you have been growing fruits, flowers and vegetables for years, while some of you are just learning the joy of gardening for the first time.

As the gardening season starts to draw to a close for the year, our garden master Jim Duthie is once again sharing some garden pictures that some of you have posted on the ‘You Can Grow It’ Facebook group page. Take a look.

Fall is here and most of us gardeners are busy harvesting and preserving our fruits and vegetables, and enjoying the last flower blooms of the season. It won’t be long before frosty weather puts an end to our outdoor gardening for the year. And while many of you are veteran gardeners, some of you developed a green thumb for the very first time. So let’s take a look at some harvest successes that some of our fellow gardeners have had this season.

It seems like a lot of you grew decorative gourds and pumpkins. Take a look at Lorna Huff’s harvest. She has quite an assortment of traditional Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, as well as a variety known as white ghost pumpkins. And how about those creepy looking warty and bumpy pumpkins, sometimes called knuckleheads, or super freaks. It looks like it going to be a fun Halloween at Lorna’s house.

And here are a couple of pictures that Suzy Erickson posted of her harvest of small gourds, mini-pumpkins and pattypan squash. Did you know that there are more than a hundred different kinds of squash, gourds and pumpkins that you can grow in your garden?

Speaking of squash, butternuts are one of the most popular squash varieties grown in home gardens… after zucchini, that is. Caitlin Ferguson shows us her big butternut squash harvest. They’re ready to pick when the skin turns tan and hard. But inside, the butternut’s flesh is golden yellow, and is delicious roasted, steamed, or microwaved. It also makes a hearty and delicious soup.

There’s hardly a vegetable garden in America that doesn’t grow tomatoes. Clark Muscat had his work cut out for him with his tomato crop, but look at the gorgeous reward…. freshly canned tomatoes and sauces ready for any dinner recipe.

Christmas is still three months away, but Sue Salyer grew her own Christmas tree, complete with decorative ornaments. Actually, it’s her tomato plant, and those ornaments are the tomatoes in various stages of ripeness, from green, to yellow, to orange and red.

Southwest Idaho has a great climate for growing grapes, and Malinda Kempton had a bumper crop this year…. 78 pounds of juicy concord grapes, ready for making some delicious grape juice, jams and jellies.

Not all gardens are about fruits and vegetables. Helena Hanson shows off her beautiful variety of late season clematis blooms, including this delicate pink and purple beauty. There are more

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Neglected Allison Hill garden will grow food and nurture neighborhood again, organizers hope

Harrisburg residents will get a preview Friday of a soon-to-be restored garden in the Allison Hill neighborhood.

“Our effort is to restore the entire area and return the whole thing into a functional use,” said Chris Nafe, the city’s sustainability coordinator. “We’re working on gathering resources to make it happen.”

Members of the Greenhouse Working Group have been spending hours preparing the land, raising funds, and educating nearby neighbors on their efforts to bring back the urban garden and eventually a new greenhouse to provide an option for healthy living in the city.

A virtual town hall on the “Greenhouse Transformation Project” is scheduled at noon Friday. It will be streamed to the city’s Facebook page, where residents’ input is welcomed. Some parts of the garden’s plans will start to take shape on Friday.

Planners said there’s an urgency to grow food now. The plot of land has sat near Reservoir Park off Whitehall Street in the city unused for two decades.

“If there’s one thing that COVID-19 taught us, it’s that we don’t eat healthy in Harrisburg,” said Rafiyqa Muhammad, a member of the group.

Muhammad spearheaded the project. She’s been a member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Council and is the owner of Sustainable Human Environment.

“In 2012, I and small groups of people would come up here to clean it up,” she said. “I had some farmers come up here to test the soil [and also] the USDA do some soil science testing, just to see what the ground was like.”

Through tilling and sampling, she said she feels confident that the garden will not only grow vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, and peppers but also produce flowers that are indigenous to the area.

Her vision of it includes garden beds, compost beds, raised garden beds, and more that can regenerate large amounts of fresh vegetables to help feed a good portion of the estimated 10,000 people who live in the Allison Hill area.

An existing greenhouse remains sitting on the land, but Muhammed said she’s not yet specifically seeking funds to build a new one.

“The goal is to make sure this is totally off the grid,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a burden to the city or the residents. Everything should be self-sustaining once it’s done.”

On Tuesday, while walking around the location, Nafe received news that the project received another $25,000 from the Whitt Family Foundation. So far, about $80,000 in cash has been raised toward the garden part of the project.

Around $100,000 has been given to help maintain aspects of the greenhouse for now. But, at least twice that amount is going to have to be raised to build a new greenhouse. Private investors have also given Muhammad the nod but are watching as the project develops.

“We’re looking at the future, the use of the greenhouse building, and restoration,” Nafe said. “Whatever money received so far, though, is going to be focused on the garden beds, and teaching classes to residents

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Healing Garden continues to grow with the help of volunteers

The sweat is as thick on his brow as the sentiment is in his voice.

Eddie Schmitz pulls out his cellphone to underscore why he’s here on this Tuesday morning in September, the temperature steadily rising in unison with the emotion with which he speaks.

On its screen flashes a picture of a Canadian mother of two.

She lost her life on Oct. 1, 2017.

“Yesterday, it was Tera Roe’s birthday,” Schmitz says of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim. “On my Facebook page, every single birthday, they’re honored on my page,” he notes, scrolling through one memorial after the next. “Every single one of them.”

Healing Garden volunteers Sue Ann Cornwell, left, and Alicia Mierke work Sept. 14 on restoring ...
Healing Garden volunteers Sue Ann Cornwell, left, and Alicia Mierke work Sept. 14 on restoring memorial trellises for victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Elizabeth Page Brumley / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Schmitz stands in the center of the Healing Garden, the verdant downtown oasis created in honor of those who died during the tragedy in question, populated by 58 trees for 58 victims (There is talk of adding a memorial to the garden to honor any further victims, as there is no room for any more trees).

Built in just five days after the worst night in the city’s history, it stands as a testament to a community coming together in a time of unprecedented sadness and loss, an enduring patch of serenity catalyzed by the opposite.

“Over 400 people were working 24 hours a day to build that from nothing, from a little plot of land that the city owned,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman says. “They worked around the clock. It’s a beautiful thing.”

As the third anniversary of the massacre approaches, the garden is undergoing a transformation — cement is being poured; cinder blocks are being stacked.

It’s doing so largely at the hands of Schmitz and Oct. 1 survivor Sue Ann Cornwell, an Army veteran and a retired school bus driver, respectively. They spend six to eight hours between them here nearly every day, volunteering their time.

It hasn’t been easy.

Until recently, there had been issues with the local homeless population.

“There’s a lot about the garden that’s inviting to everybody, and so it was inviting to folks who are more down-and-out and in need of a little bit more help than some others,” explains Mauricia Baca, executive director of Get Outdoors Nevada, which oversees the maintenance of the Healing Garden. “But that creates some complications because when somebody is essentially living in a place like the garden, there are no bathroom facilities there, and so that creates some really specific problems.”

Schmitz puts it less delicately.

“It was just bad,” he recalls. “There were needles in here. It was bad.”

But through his and Cornwell’s efforts — as well as some teamwork with Baca and the city of Las Vegas — they’re ushering in a new era for the garden.

Theirs is a story of two friends with one aim: to keep alive the memories of those

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Click & Grow indoor smart garden 2020 review with photos

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

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Click & Grow

  • Gardening is a rewarding activity, but it’s not the easiest practice to master, especially when you lack the time and patience, and when there are environmental factors you can’t control. 
  • The Click & Grow Smart Garden ($199.95) is a self-watering system that allows even the most amateur gardeners to quickly and easily grow herbs and vegetables. 
  • It does so without using GMOs, pesticides, insecticides, or other harmful substances, putting you in full control of the food you grow and consume. 
  • We tried it and were impressed with how well it worked and how truly effortless the process was.
  • Sign up for Insider Reviews’ weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.

Though I personally don’t possess a green thumb, I’ve always envied those who successfully nurture their plants. Traditional gardening takes skill, patience, and work, and while it pays off in beautiful and delicious results, it can be intimidating to beginners or unappealing to people with busy schedules.

What is the Click & Grow Smart Garden?

Anything that makes growing plants easier and gives me a semblance of gardening credibility is intriguing to me, so when I learned about the Click & Grow Smart Garden, I was eager, albeit a little nervous, to give it a try. The Click & Grow claims to be a zero-effort device that delivers maximum results, and after testing it, I can say that it lived up to its promises.

I tested the Click & Grow Smart Garden 9 in our office before it was closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. It comprises three parts — a base that holds the seed pods and water tank, an LED light strip, and arms to connect the base to the light — and I was able to set it up in our office in all of 15 minutes.

After filling the four-liter tank with water and inserting each soil capsule into a pod, I plugged the garden into an outlet. The light is pretty bright, and it runs for 16 hours on, eight hours off, so if you plan on keeping it in your bedroom, you should plug it in for the first time right after you wake up. 

Review of the Click & Grow Smart Garden

My garden of green lettuce, mini tomatoes, and basil made significant progress in just two weeks: 

garden 3 week progress

Here’s how my harvest looked after two weeks.

Connie Chen/Business Insider

I was impressed by how quickly the plants grew and based on their comments, so were all of my colleagues who passed by the desk and checked up on their progress every day. A combination of factors contributes to this fast, seamless growth:

  1. “Smart Soil” that creates the perfect environment for plants to thrive: This NASA technology-inspired soil releases nutrients in sync with the plant life cycle, keeps its own pH balanced, and employs tiny oxygen pockets to guarantee plants get ample
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9 Veggies You Can Grow in a Fall Garden & Why It Pays to Be a Late Bloomer

Planning on tending a fall garden? Didn’t even know you could do that? Here are the best things to grow during autumn months.

a person holding a bowl of fruit: fall garden tips what to grow

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fall garden tips what to grow

If you’re an inexperienced gardener—or just want to put in less effort this growing season—fall may be the perfect time to get started.

Depending on where you live, fall may actually be “the easiest of them all,” wrote Mike McGrath for a recent episode of “You Bet Your Garden,” a publicly broadcasted radio and TV show.

This is because, in the fall, you don’t have “the cool, wet soil of spring to deal with, nor the sometimes-ungodly heat of summer,” McGrath explained.

Learn more about which vegetables grow best in the fall, as well as when to plant them for best results.

Salad Greens

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In the fall, “the soil is still nice and warm, so the seeds of lettuce, spinach, kale, and other greens will sprout rapidly at this time of year.” McGrath says. This makes this season an optimal time to grow greens.

“I grow all my lettuce and such in big containers on my patio: half-whiskey barrels, grow bags, my brand-new raised bed on legs, and smaller containers placed on tables,” McGrath says.

The benefit of growing greens in containers is that it prevents rabbit damage and makes harvesting more simple, McGrath explains.

Related Reading: How to Grow Your Own Salad Greens


Beets make a great fall crop and tend to take on a brighter color when planted in the autumn, rather than in the spring.

It’s important to note that you should sow seeds for a beet bed at least seven to eight weeks before the first expected frost.

“Beets germinate quickly, but you want to give them plenty of time to mature before the cold weather sets in for good,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac.


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When planted in the late summer, you may be able to enjoy turnips by Thanksgiving. On the other hand, if you plant them in early fall, you can typically expect a late fall harvest. Like with all garden vegetables, timing is key here!

What makes turnips an optimal crop for autumn? For starters, turnips do well in cool weather. Temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal.


If you start early enough, carrots can make a great fall garden vegetable. But just be sure to keep in mind, you typically need to plant them at least 12 weeks before a frost.

However, should you start a bit late, be sure to insulate them using thick plastic sheeting and cut off the green tops. This will help them to better maintain their sweet, crunchy flavor.


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Another cold-tolerant crop is cabbage that you can grow in the fall before harvesting—and, if you’re a fan—fermenting into a big batch of sauerkraut

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New Tulsa Community Garden Intended As Safe Place To Grow

Tuesday, September 22nd 2020, 5:40 pm

By: Sawyer Buccy

TULSA, Okla. –

The pastor of a Tulsa church hopes a community garden will be a safe place for people to learn to grow.

The garden that Wesley Chapel has adopted doesn’t look like much yet, but it’s just the beginning.

The boxes full of seeds haven’t sprouted just yet and the plants are just barely budding right now but one day, hopefully not too far in the future, this space will flourish.

“We have built over 700 square feet of space to have a community garden in a food desert,” said Life’s Food Corporation founder Angela Landrum.

This garden is on Wesley Chapel property in Tulsa. It is being built entirely from community partnerships and the generosity of organizations and non-profits like Life’s Food Corporation and The Rotary Club of Bixby.

“We wanted to create a space that would last for years and years and years,” said Angela. “It is sustainability and empowerment. It is reducing the food insecurity that is currently running rampant.”

Wesley Chapel is adopting the garden and some of the people who go to the church will take over, helping the plants thrive. The community is also welcome to join.  

“The morning service is 100-150 folks who are mostly homeless,” said Wesley Chapel Pastor Chris Beach. “Most of the people we work with are on food stamps.”

Volunteers said they are hoping people can learn how to grow their own gardens at home from the skills they learn here.

Beach said they hope the work that happens in this garden, becomes one small piece of a much bigger puzzle.

“Honestly the more we serve and the more we keep open, the more we keep helping people, the more we keep empowering people to lead themselves, more keep coming in,” said Beach

The garden is in need of more plants and seeds. If you would like to help, you can drop them off at the church, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

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“Grow what you want to eat” local gardeners focus on organization, practical planting wins new Spokane Interstate Fair garden category

For Gabriele Tilley, successful gardening is about beauty and smart use of space.

Tilley’s garden, which is located in front of her Long Lake home, is a mix of flowers, vegetables, and ornamental plants all neatly organized in raised beds. Tilley has been cultivating her small garden patch for over a decade and normally would have submitted much of what she grows to the Spokane County Interstate Fair for judging.

After this year’s fair was moved online, the organizers developed a new category to allow gardeners to participate, by allowing them to submit photos and designs of their entire garden for judging. Tilley was the inaugural winner, garnering praise from the judges for her neat, organized plan and productive use of a small space.

She said the secret to her gardening success is likely her focus on plants she enjoys.

“Grow what you want to eat, and then go from there,” she said.

Her garden includes kale, eggplant, tomatoes and basil, often sharing raised beds with flowers. She said mixing the plants attracts bees and other pollinating insects, and it allows her to maximize space.

Everything in her garden is planted in a raised bed and much of it is held up by home made frames. Her pumpkins are draped over A-frames she made from zip ties and hog wire and her tomato crates are built from rebar. The A frame has allowed her to keep her gourds and pumpkins neat and organized, and provide support for sunflowers, which grow through several A-frames.

She said the neat arrangement of raised beds, the grass clippings she layers on the paths between them and the mixed plants also creates a space she wants to spend time in, a place she can create and relax in for hours.

“For me, it’s meditative,” she said.

Tilley said her garden also is a good place to start plants for the Friends of Manito, an non profit that supports Manito Park in Spokane. Tilley volunteers for the organization and has owned a pet sitting business and has worked as an orthodontics technician.

She said she’s been gardening for 30 years and has picked up many tips and tricks to make her own garden successful, but added there’s always more to learn. She recalled a recent issue with hundreds of volunteer pumpkin plans she accidentally grew after she composted pumpkins. She said the seeds must have germinated at some point and in the spring as she was constantly surprised by unexpected pumpkins.

“Gardening is still an adventure,” she said. “You make mistakes, but then you learn from them.”

For runner-up garden category winner Barb Goehner, gardening is about sharing what she grows with others and the joy of being outdoors.

“People have other joys, but I love this,” she said.

Goehner normally enters 30 to 40 vegetables in the fair every year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the reduced number of entries accepted into the fair this year, she only entered a pumpkin and photos

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Gardening: Two former farm kids embark on new life in Clarkston after helping grow church garden

When I’m 86 years old, I hope I still have the spunk and the ability to garden like Jeanie Baker and Leon Alboucq do.

These two intrepid former farm kids have inspired – and put to shame – the rest of the gardeners at the Resurrection Episcopal Church Community Garden.

Between 2013 and 2019, they grew more than 18,000 pounds of produce and donated it to Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank. Earlier this summer they decided to hang up their hoses in Spokane and head back to Clarkston, to be closer to old friends, family and a milder climate.

The Resurrection Community Garden was started in 2013 when members of the church converted about a half-acre of the field behind the church into raised beds. There weren’t enough resources to build beds in the entire space, which left a quarter-acre empty. Jeanie and Leon saw an opportunity and asked to have the space to plant.

The two dusted off the farming skills they learned as children during the Depression era and began planting.

“We were a couple of old farm kids who knew how to grow stuff,” Jeanie said, so taking on a large garden was no big deal. “We remember the Depression and how people went hungry.”

They grew up in the Lewiston area and met as high school students at the 1951 Junior Livestock Show in Spokane.

“Leon was on the FFA judging team, and I was a cute blonde who was showing an Angus steer,” Jeanie said. Life took them on different paths for the next 60 years: Leon as a stock car racer, cattle rancher, grocer, fire chief and Snake River mailboat operator and Jeanie as a nurse in Henderson, Nevada, and Spokane.

Their paths crossed again in the early 2000s. Leon’s wife died, and Jeanie sent him a sympathy card and then two Christmas cards before he responded.

“It was like all those years just disappeared,” Jeanie said. “We’ve been together ever since.”

Leon moved to Spokane to be with Jeanie, saying what else was he going to do, “that’s where the cook went.”

Jeanie and Leon raised cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, several kinds of squash and collected produce from the other members of the garden to take to the food bank.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Jeanie said.

She also grew a long row of colorful zinnias to draw in pollinators and taught other members of the garden how to gather the seed for the next season.

Jeanie and Leon have been a priceless inspiration to all the members of the garden. Their knowledge of gardening has given confidence to many new gardeners. Their words of wisdom have made us better people. Their stories have grounded us in local history and the value of living a practical life. Lastly, their homemade wine kept us laughing. We will miss you, Jeanie and Leon.

And yes, they are already planning their new garden beds in Clarkston.

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4 Cool-Weather Crops to Grow in a Raised Garden Bed this Fall

Some home growers are intimidated by fall growing because of the cooler temperature, especially since most of their current crops are suited for summer. But a lot of vegetables thrive during fall, so you can still enjoy a bountiful harvest when the temperature drops. 

The trick is to choose the right crops. Fall is the season for growing various hardy greens that flourish in cold temperatures, such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens. Fast-growing root crops and some spring-harvested vegetables also get a second chance in autumn. Some even taste sweeter and crisper when matured in cooler temperatures.

The first step is to get the timing right for planting your fall seeds.

Most autumn crops are seeded in mid- to late summer when the soil is dry. The timing can make it difficult to establish roots, but you have to plant early because growing days are limited. 

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