Monthly Archives: August 2012

A New Edition in 2017 (Last revised 4/05/2017)

The italicized paragraph below is what is new from fall 2016.

Thank you all for supporting my effort to rewrite my book. The latest edition of Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for Metro-Houston is the 12th edition. It has a yellow cover. It was last revised in 2004 and is clearly in need of a major overhaul.

1. Since the last time the book was updated, the internet has mushroomed enormously as has people’s access to it. Gardening books these days need to not only provide a reliable guide to plants and techniques for our area, but also good and bad internet sources of information.

2. The ongoing climate chaos in our area means that increasingly we need to tell people not just what to plant and what week, but under what conditions of temperature, precipitation and wind plants will thrive or even survive. Most of the area south of both I-10 and TX 59 is now in USDA zone 10 most years and above 30 F all winter. Galveston stayed above 40F last winter and all airports are reporting record or near record annual temperatures. What was a fairly easy to predict set of temperatures is now much harder. Should you plant Russian kale or Papayas or even Pineapples?

These sets of questions are much harder to answer than you would expect. We need to know what the weather has been like lately all over Southeast TX and what temperatures each plant and seed needs to thrive/survive/avoid dying. For the most part, this information is surprisingly difficult to find for many food plants. How hot is “too hot” for oats, for example? As well, it results in a dizzying number of tables that many readers might find daunting to understand and use, so there are writing challenges too.

I have nevertheless made a lot of progress on a new edition.

* Two new fruit chapters are finished and much better than anything previous;

* The chapter on ecological pest management has been completely changed; and

• I am about halfway through the most difficult effort, the first of two vegetable chapters. I have had to break with the traditional way of presenting vegetable planting schedules. Rather I am going back to relying on the temperatures different plants need to do well, giving people that information, and then a suggestive planting schedule that needs to be reconciled with temperature needs of proposed plantings, and the likely temperatures in the months ahead in different parts of Southeast TX.

This has required an enormous amount of data collecting that is both tedious and difficult to do since it doesn’t seem to be centralized anywhere. Broadly, it seems like the world’s agricultural establishment is very slow to understand the implications of climate chaos on traditionalist planting schemes. So people are wasting a lot of effort and seed.

Thanks to cooperation from Texas A&M Climatology, I have been able to create RECENT  tables of temperatures month by month for the last ten years at 28 locations spreading from Galveston Island to Crockett, and Liberty to Columbus. This has allowed the creation of vegetable planting zones based on low temperatures year round and in summer high temperatures. Roughly, mean average low temperatures get lower from coast to interior by about 10 degrees and urban areas are higher than surrounding rural areas. Summer high temperatures go from 89 in Matagorda to 99 far inland. By contrast, at night in summer, coastal places are near 80˚F low temperature and the northern part of Southeast Texas is near 70˚ especially in rural areas.

The upshot of this is that my new planting schedule will specify planting dates by planting zone. This will make it much easier for people in different places to plant at the correct time for their location and to adjust to the weather.  Once I finish the planting schedule, I have a few more tasks.  This should mean that at last a substantial revision will be out late in the year. 

• Mark Bowen continues to work on three non-food habitat and native plant chapters. He has similar challenges to those outlined above, but also many more obligations than I do in working on it. Is addition is still a year away.

 CHECK THESE PAGES AGAIN IN SUMMER FOR UPDATES.

Bob Randall
April 2017

 

 

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