Author Archives: stephen.brueggerhoff

Extending the Tomato Harvest

It’s tomato harvest time, and avid gardeners are taking pride collecting and eating their delicious homegrown tomatoes. My personal observation is that gardening pride is directly related to production success, often measured in either weight or volume. While varieties such as Big Beef, Cherokee Purple, Delicious and Mortgage Lifter are beefsteak style tomatoes that may take longer to grow, the payoff are harvests that can equal up to 50 pounds per plant. I encourage readers to take pride in healthy eating habits by an enhancing personal nutrition by… Read More →

Gardening for Wildlife

Home landscape beautification often starts with simple ideas and singular plantings:  lawn construction that is often St. Augustinegrass, at least one fast growing tree for anticipated shade and a few foundation plantings of shrubs as a visual anchor. I offer to expand the effort and increase biodiversity by creating habitat for wildlife. There can be many different reasons that motivate us to create a wildlife habitat in our landscapes, such as designing pollinator gardens to attract Monarch butterflies and other pollinators, or to support migratory bird populations. Habitat… Read More →

Caterpillars in the Trees

Early Spring, our residents will see activity and potential defoliation caused by either Forest Tent Caterpillar or Live Oak Tussock Moth. The Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) or the Live Oak Tussock Moth (Orgyia detrita) are moth species with a life cycle coinciding with Coastal Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) leaf emergence in the spring. Live Oak Tussock Moth favors Coastal Live Oak trees as a host plant, and Forest Tent Caterpillar can be found in different tree species or in high populations on surfaces (buildings, cars, etc). The Forest… Read More →

Wild About Wildflowers

Wildflower season is in full swing with eye-catching colors of spring. I must admit that on my commute, I am drawn out of myself with wonder at the vivid colors dotting the landscape. It can be a little difficult to capture floral details as I botanize down the highway at 60 miles an hour. Some flowers are more distinctive and easy to spot, like the bright red clusters of Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa). There are the masses of pastel pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) that remind me of… Read More →

Fruit Tree Planting: Dig In!

This is the time of year to be planting your orchard with fruit and citrus trees. Let’s dig in with a brief review of site selection and planting basics for a healthy and productive orchard. As mentioned in previous articles, the success of any planting starts from the ground up. The challenge in Brazoria County is the predictable unpredictability of our native soil profile. The success of your orchard relies on deep, well-drained soil with adequate amounts of organic matter. Invest in the health of your orchard by… Read More →

Persimmon for a Fruitful Winter

I am a recent convert to the delicious taste of persimmon. We have a tree at Extension’s Brazoria Environmental Education Station (BEES) orchard in Angleton that produced fruit with a sweet and almost jelly-like flesh that was outstanding in taste and texture. I invite you to consider persimmon for your home orchard. While native varieties such as the American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) can be cultivated, varieties of Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki), sometimes called Oriental persimmon or Kaki, are often used in space constricted urban orchards. These fruiting members… Read More →

Cole Crazy: Broccoli for a Winter Garden

Right about this time of year is when we witness unpredictable weather. We hope for a little consistency and temperance with our daily and nighttime temperature. Here in Texas we like to brag ‘if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute’, a saying that has lost its source author but sounds great when joking about a Texas Gulf Coast winter. I would like to highlight one vegetable that is a storm and cold tolerant trooper in the garden: broccoli. There will be similarities in growing conditions… Read More →

Poinsettia Brings Welcome Holiday Color

Cheerful and bright color plays a very important part in our social lives at this time of year, which we instinctively try to cultivate and enhance our indoor environment through plants or artificial decoration. Silver and gold colors certainly for their effervescent qualities that appear to brighten up even the darkest corner outside or indoors. Greenery through wreaths, bowers or even container plantings brings a sense of ongoing life at a time when plants shed their leaves through winter dormancy. Then there is red, a seasonal fall experience… Read More →

Preserve and Serve: Fig Trees for Brazoria County

The end of summer is the perfect time to start thinking of adding to your orchard, and one fruit tree prized as a dooryard standard are fig trees. Fig (botanical name Ficus carica) are considered a classical fruit, a prized sweet-tasting commodity celebrated from ancient western Asia to Mediterranean civilizations. Figs were imported to California from Spain in the mid eighteenth century, making their way across the southern United States with expansion. In general, fig trees are not cold tolerant, limited to regions with mild winters well above… Read More →

It’s a Lawn Story: Watering Grass in Summer

Keeping up with lawn appearances can have its challenges in the heat of a good old Gulf Coast summer. We had a long stretch this summer where plentiful seasonal spring rains became a memory, and watering regimes may or may not have been modified to fit the season. Our efforts should be focused on home turf maintenance practices that are based on science and a little bit of common sense. Let’s talk St. Augustinegrass, the grass of choice for home yards and appropriate for our region. St. Augustinegrass… Read More →