Sunday, January 31, 2016

They get me, they really get me.

I love my family.  I mean, they're my family, I have to love them; but also, they get me.  Even though they may not understand all my gardening desires, they'll humor me.

For example - 'why would you want to attract bugs?  but whatever, she's got "bug house" on her list, so a bug house it is.'




Also, Ollas - now Ollas are something that's been on my list for YEARS and I finally made some homemade ones during the summer.  They've been working great, but it'll be even better to have these two so that I can see which type work better (always with the science experiments with this one).  It also would mean that I probably wouldn't ever have to surface water since I'll be able to have 2 ollas in each garden (one homemade and one official).

And that's not where it stops - oh no!  my sister got me the 20-30 something Garden Guide by Dee Nash.  She also got me a seed subscription to Grow Journey, and they've already sent me my first shipment of seeds which was the impetus to FINALLY build my seed growing lamp set up and get some mini greenhouse seed starting things so maybe I'll actually finally be able to grow some tomatoes from seed.

The toughest part about getting seed starter set up going was wiring the light - I bought a fluorescent light which is supposed to be hardwired into the ceiling and used an old computer power cable to convert it into a plug in light (or rather Shawn did it because he was worried I was going to electrocute myself).  Of course I needed to get the plug into the housing and the light was very industrial and had little punchouts on it, but I couldn't get the little thing punched out and ended up bending it which then meant that Shawn had to bend it back into place.  And then I had to figure out how to hang the darn thing from the shelf.  In the end it probably took longer than it needed to - and may have been worth the extra $30 to buy the ACTUAL grow light or a terrarium light that already is a plug-in. Oh well, at least doing it this way was a good way to spend 2 hours on a Saturday.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mother Nature

So Mother Nature has decided that we weren't to have any freezes here in north Austin until late in the year - like I don't remember going quite this long before getting a freeze.  We may hit freezing tonight (predicted low of 34), and we'll likely get a brief freeze tomorrow as well (predicted low of 33).  And of course it's coming in with some rain which means that the sheets I put out are soaking wet and the Christmas lights on the plants keep tripping the CFGI on the outlet. 

Now you may be asking WHY I have Christmas lights on the plants - and I really only have Christmas lights on 2 plants - the tomato plant and the mum plant that has a queen chrysalis on it.  To be fair, the added heat isn't for the mum. 

This is the latest I've ever had a tomato plant; and it is loaded with green tomatoes. I may end up having to make Jenny's famous Green Tomato Chutney (which is very good); but I was so hoping to get some ripened tomatoes.  I just wish I had paid more attention to when the plant was flowering because then I'd have a better idea of when I should be expecting the tomatoes.  I feel like it was in early October because I was expecting them to be ready around Christmas-time...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Your Mid-Fall update

It's like the middle of fall.  I've got some shrimp plant blooming; and the Mexican Petunia (or Carolina Petunia, depending on who you ask) is putting out blooms like no tomorrow.  The milkweeds are all still blooming and the grasses have their fall seed heads.  Yet, it seems like everything is getting ready for winter.  I've pulled in the ginger and the tender succulents/cacti.  I have my Vorlon tomato wrapped in Christmas lights (as well as one milkweed plant that I keep moving all the caterpillars I find to); but I keep forgetting to bring in my pepper plant (it's totally going to die).  The tomato plant has a few huge tomatoes on it, but they don't look like they're getting ready to turn and I know what's going to happen is that it's going to get down to freezing on one of the nights that we're not home and that's how I'm going to lose my tomato...which is fine as long as I actually get the tomatoes off of it first.

Now's the time to do projects, and I've got a big one lined up; but it's also going to require getting some PVC pipe and drilling holes in it (easy), and then laying them down and filling an area with angular rock (much harder if only because it requires my husband to help), and then mashing them with a weight thingy until my arms fall off (extremely hard).  Needless to say I'm putting it off because I'm nothing if not a procrastinator.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chiricahua National Monument

After saying goodbye to my grandparents, we headed off to Chiricahua National Monument.  I gotta tell you, my desire to see National Parks and Monuments really paid off with Chiricahua.  It's out of the way so you're not just going to 'come across it' and even knowing how far away it was, we still were like, "did we miss a turn off?"

After arriving, we went for a trail run (which is where the first couple of pictures came from), and then did a long hike the second day.

Chiricahua was formed by an old volcano spewing ash all over and hardening into rhyolite; the elements have been at work ever since.  It's also a location where you can see coati mundi - I'm sad that I didn't see any - though we did have Arizona Whitetail deer walk through our campsite.























Camel Rock.



Duck Rock














"Wall Street"


Intriguing rock formation



chin on the left, forehead on the right - looking up at the sky

"organ pipe" formation



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Canoa Ranch & Tumacacori

My grandpa volunteers at a place called Canoa Ranch down the highway from their house. The work is hard, but he loves it. On our last full day we were in town, we went on a tour of the ranch.  Fun fact: the daughter of the guy who is in charge of restoration is a cop here in Austin.

Standing on the drive over the little creek.  This creek caused the place to flood a couple of times back in the day which ended up limiting the use of the ranch some times.

Grandpa showing off his tools.  All of the tools here (except for one axe) were owned by my grandpa.  We even played the "what is this tool used for?" game that we used to do when I was growing up.  Once I explained to Richard (the guy in the green shirt) that this was a normal game and Grandpa would wait until we made at least a few guesses, he got into the game as well.  The tool we were actually talking about were some gloves with curved spikes in the middle of the palm.  Any ideas what they were used for?  How about corn shucking?

Gate to one of the pens.

Retaque fence.  These fences were made like this to keep wild Brahma Bulls from getting out of the pens.  With 3 pens (that we saw) with this type of fencing, it must have taken forever to build them.  There are 12" diameter metal poles around the pens, the theory is that the owner at the time also worked for water district - 12" pipes are a common size to use for water and sewer pipes and some question how the owner managed to find all those pipes for so cheap.  There are 57 pipes around the ranch; my grandpa painted every single one of them green (you can see it on the right).

Gate - with nifty engineered latch at the top so the cowboys didn't even have to get off their horses to open gates.  The gates also opened like a dream considering how heavy they are.

Planter box at one of the houses.

Screened patio at the main house


See the funny shaped spindle in the middle?  I thought it was from termites, but the guide said it actually was from a puppy chewing on it back in the 60s.

A view to the southeast from the house


Tumacacori -

After leaving Canoa Ranch, we headed south  to Tumacacori.  I remember coming here back when I was in college 15 years ago - and I can tell you that the little informative video they have is exactly the same.


Agave & cacti garden

Agave Lophantha

Mill Stone

Courtyard



My favorite photo.  Quite possibly ever.


Walking to the old Mission building



The door

A view from the granary


In the cemetery

A good use of floodplain area.  That's the reason behind the fertile crescent, the reason why civilization followed the Nile, and there's such great farmland along the Mississippi.

Eating our fruit burritos at Wisdom's Cafe

Metal Yard art...maybe Bob at Draco will make one for you...

Another piece of yard art - an ocotillo in bloom.

A picture of one of the restaurants in Tubac.  Tubac is the oldest non-religious founded town in Arizona.
On the drive home.  My grandma made my grandpa pull over to the side of the highway so she could try to take a photo of the rainbow in the background with the saguaro.