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Problem & Solution
July/August 2016

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What is it?
Problem: There is a plant we see growing around our gardens and would like to know what it is. I believe it may be edible or have health properties. It is sturdy, with small dark-green teardrop leaves with deep pink tinges, kind of waxy looking.

Purslane

Shalomiyah Baht Malahk
Corsicana


Solution: That is purslane (Portulaca oleracea), a summer annual. It is edible. In India it is considered a vegetable.

Time for Peas?
Problem: I was wondering if it is too late to plant black-eyed peas. After I dig my potatoes out, I hate to leave the spot empty. Will store-bought black-eyed peas grow or do they have to be seed peas?

Irene Peterson
Forney


Solution: Southern peas such as black-eyed peas love hot weather, so go ahead and fill that space with peas. Remember, there is no need to fertilize them as they are a legume and make their own nitrogen. Just keep them well watered and enjoy! Store-bought peas should work if you are on a budget. However, you will usually do better with seed purchased that has been tested and is of a known variety from a reputable garden center or seed company.

Veggie Gardening Book?
Problem: I have just purchased a house with a big yard and want to start my first garden. I was wondering if there were any books on what I need to do to get the soil prepped before I start planting, what would be good to start with and how many plants to grow for just me and my wife. I’m afraid of planting too many of one type. If you could point me toward something to help me out, I would appreciate it. I read your magazines when they come out and I’ve learned a lot. Thank you!

John England
Richland Hills


Solution: If you can have just one book, it should be The Vegetable Book by Dr. Sam Cotner. It covers every home-garden crop from A to Z. A few other books that would be helpful include Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by Howard Garrett, Texas Fruit and Vegetables by Greg Grant and Vegetable Gardening in the Southwest by Trisha Shirey. We carry all of these books, and you can order with credit card by calling 1-800-727-9020 or online.

Mystery Tree
Problem: I have noticed a tree near a 100-year-old historic home here in Big Spring (West Texas) — I feel it is very old — it is small — about 8–10 ft. tall, with sharp spikes on the branches. It has beautiful small orchid-like blooms, creamy to white in color with yellow centers. No one seems to know what it is, but everyone wants to! I have not seen any others like it in this area.

Black locust

Sharon Smith
Big Spring


Solution: With help from Greg Grant, we have identified this tree is a black locust Robinia pseudoacacia. It is probably not native to Texas, but it has been planted here for ages and is well established in parts of the state. It originates from the Appalachians, the Ozarks and the Ohio Valley. The wood has been used for fence posts, marine timbers and even ship nails, and is considered the finest firewood in the country, having a heat index even higher than hickory. It makes a great yard tree, but it does have a tendency to produce root suckers. All parts of the tree, except for the flowers, are considered poisonous.