Monday, January 19, 2015

Roses - who knew?

Oh my god, guys - remember how I said last year that I had determined both of my roses which I got from my friend Andrea were Double Delight Andelis?

Yeah.  Not so much.  One is a Double Delight Andeli, the other is a Sweet Freedom JACshume.  I figured this out when I was finally planting the roses in the rose bed and as part of my pulling them out of the flower pots and pruning them, I found the other metal tag - also wired around one of the larger main stems.

So, now there are 3 roses in the rose bed, the Dr. Huey, the Double Delight and the Sweet Freedom.  I think they should all look good together.  I plan to also plant some mexican mint marigold in the area as well - this area already has a bunch of zexmenia (assuming it comes back from this winter), and some blackfoot daisy.  I also may end up putting the firebush in this area.

Dr. Huey: Hybrid Wichurana.  Crimson colored.  Mild fragrance.  Average diameter 2". Height 10'-12'. Climbing form. Susceptible to Mildew.  Very vigorous.  Prune after blooming.  Blooms once in spring/summer.


Double Delight (ANDeli): Hybrid Tea. Bicolor; white with red edges. Strong spice fragrance.  Average diameter 5".  Height of 3-5'.  Upright form.  Susceptible to Mildew.  Prune spent blooms.  Blooms in flushes throughout spring and summer.


Sweet Freedom (JACshume): Hybrid Tea. Cream colored. Stong Honeysuckle scent.  Average diameter 4".  Height of 5'.  Upright form.  Exceptionally resistant to Rust and Mildew. Prune spent blooms.  Blooms in flushes throughout spring and summer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My succulent problem

My name is Katina and I have a succulent/cacti problem.

I purchase succulents and cacti (and collect them from other gardeners) and I never plant them anywhere. I'm so terrible.

They eventually end up in various pots. Unfortunately, I can never remember which ones are hardy and which ones aren't, though I'd guess that about 90% of them are hardy. To be safe when it gets cold outside, I just bring them ALL inside. Eventually, when I don't remember how much I paid for the ones I actually did buy, I'll probably just leave them all outside and if I lose some, I lose some.  But, like I said, that won't happen until I don't remember how much money I spent.


This year I purchased a shelving unit to try to organize stuff a little better.  Obviously I should have bought a bigger unit.

This year, it's gotten so bad that I've even expanded into the extra bedroom.  The plants in the bedroom are the ones that are tropical and therefore won't even go back outside until after the last frost date in March.  The plants in here are a regular plumeria, an unscented plumeria, my ginger plant (which is dormant and forming corms), and my pineapple from a store-bought one.  I should probably really think about downsizing the plumerias or at least figure out how much I can prune them back.


So, this is my problem.  I'm a little surprised the husband hasn't said anything about it yet.  He'll probably wait until everything is potted and out in the yard and then he'll complain about how he has to do "the ministry of silly walks" to get around all of them.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 Goals and their outcomes

in 2013, my neighbor across the street, Ben, had come up with goals for 2013 - not really resolutions, but actual goals that you could check off the list.  He didn't tell anyone about these goals until January of 2014 and it was really more of an update on how he did on his list.  I thought it was a good idea so I decided to make a list of goals for myself as well.

On the first weekend of 2014, I came up with the following list of goals:
  1. Complete Book BINGO cards (i.e. get bingo in each one)
  2. Complete at least one back yard project
  3. Read more - goal of 15 books (see book bingo goal above)
  4. Volunteer more - goal of 2 hours a week
  5. 50 swims
  6. 100 runs
  7. 50 bikes
  8. Track my garden better - use a journal
  9. Blog more (one post a week)
  10. Partake in Wide Angle every month
  11. Partake in Bloom Day every month
  12. Partake in Foliage Followup every month
  13. Create Front yard plan
  14. Work on Yard cleanup at least once a month
  15. Spread Compost 2 times a year
  16. Spread more mulch
  17. Try new recipes at least 1 time a month
  18. Create a chart for rainfall and temperature
  19. Take more time off work
Sadly, I didn't do nearly as well as I hoped.  Rather, I went gung-ho on some and it totally blew everything else out of the water.  For example, reading on the weekend usually cuts into both volunteering and gardening time.  Really, I think I just need to invest in some time management skills.  Which could probably totally be solved if we didn't watch so much TV - use the week to read books, use the weekend to volunteer and do yard stuff.  Hell, if I could just get Shawn to volunteer with the cats at the shelter, we could get that done during the week as well.  Or we could just do fostering more frequently since that really racks up the volunteer hours.
  1. Book Bingo cards: Success!  Not only did I get a bingo in both of the cards, but I got Blackout on one card (YA reading), and read 20 of 24 books on the other card (grown up reading).
  2. Complete one back yard project: Fail!  I did not complete any back yard project.  I totally meant to work on the projects, I just never did.  Some of that is because I can't really decide what I want to do - for the asiatic jasmine stuff, I know I want to remove it, but I don't know what I want to put in it's place - for the rock bed removal, I know I want to remove the rock, but I don't know if I want to put a hardscaped sitting area in it's place, or if I should put down mulch and make it a sitting area that way, or if I even want it to be a sitting area - what about a hammock? I did work on the grass corner and I did a bunch of work on it, but then I lost my zest for it when I had the snake incident, but the only grass that's left to remove is the bermuda grass.
  3. Read 15 books: Success! I read 48 books.  My goal for 2015 is specifically to read less than that.
  4. Volunteer 2 hours a week: Mixed - I was volunteering more, but the problem with volunteering more is that you get burned out quicker, so I ended up taking a 2 month break from volunteering in any capacity, and then I started back up by fostering kittens - which I loved.  
  5. 50 swims: Fail - 37 swims
  6. 100 runs: Fail - 92 runs
  7. 50 bikes: Fail - 26 bikes (most from spin class - the original goal was to do some tandem bike riding with Shawn, but he always wanted to go much further distances than I did, so he ended up going by himself a lot).
  8. Keep a garden journal: Success! I got a notebook and I used it.  I didn't track things as comprehensively as I would like, but then, I have a feeling that I'd love to be like Thomas Jefferson in my note taking for plants, but I just don't have the time for it.  I also would like to track the ornamentals in the yard too, not just the edibles, but the edibles are really what I end up taking care of so that's what I track.
  9. One blog post a week: Fail - hahahaha!  I was lucky if I managed to post once a month, so thank you for sticking with me through my lackadaisical blogging.
  10. Wide Angle post every month: Success! I think I managed to do a wide-angle post every month.
  11. Bloom Day post every month: Fail!  I don't know that I did a bloom day post at all in 2014. Okay, I went back and looked - I did 6 out of 12 - better than normal, not as good as I would have liked.
  12. Foliage Followup post every month: Fail! I don't think I did any foliage followups.  Okay, I did 3 - but 1 was combined with bloom day, and 1 was combined with wide angles.
  13. Make a Front Yard plan: Fail!  Like, how hard is it to make a plan?  I even have the scaled out front yard and everything - I just need to make circles on the paper.
  14. Yard clean up once a month: Mixed - I know I did more yard clean up than normal, but I don't think I did it every month.  I know it's enough that Shawn didn't have a chance to complain about how I never maintain any of the beds I install.
  15. Compost twice a year: Mixed - my goal was to put compost in every bed, but I only managed to do the edibles - still, 2 times a year for that is more than I normally do - it also meant that our compost bin got emptied out more frequently.
  16. Mulch, mulch, mulch: Mixed - again, the goal was for the entire yard (which means a trip to pick up a pickup bed of mulch), but I only managed to do the edibles and the grass bed.
  17. Mixed - we have tried different recipes, but I don't necessarily think it included a new recipe every month - but I'm sure there were some months where we tried 2 new recipes
  18. Temperature/Rain charts: Success! I really just threw information from Wunderground into a spreadsheet and created a graphic for your viewing pleasure - you can see it in one of the tabs at the top of the page.
  19. Take more time off of work: Fail! - I took time off when my sister came to town, and when we went to France.  Otherwise, I only took off time when I had to so I didn't lose it.  The original plan was to take time off to specifically do yard projects because it's amazing how much work I can get done when Shawn isn't around - but unfortunately, I end up using the first day he's not around to clean inside the house, and it would be the second day that I'd do yard work and I just didn't take any 2 days off in a row unless except for the times mentioned earlier.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - Toad

Lookee what I found under the compost bin when I moved it the other week. 


She (at least I assume it is a she based on size) is most likely a Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo nebulifer) which is technically now called a Coastal Plains Toad but I think most people still just call it the Gulf Coast Toad even though the Gulf Coast Toad and the Coastal Plains Toad split a while ago, though they are VERY closely related.  In any case, these toads are pretty common in this area, and we usually see them in the spring, summer, and early fall.


After emptying the compost juices (i.e. the liquid so I could make compost tea), we carefully replaced the composter base and the compost bin.  I hope to see her again in the spring. 

Hmmm...I think this also means that I need to get a few toad houses and put them about the yard.  ;)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

What I planted/harvested in 2014


Lettuce "Red Rosie" transplanted November 9.  Red Rosie has an upright habit. The leaves are red more than half way down and then fade to green, creating a unique 'half and half' look. Resistant to downy mildew races 1-16, 19, 21, and 23. Begin harvest November 30.  Experience:  Not bad - i think I like the other red lettuces better, but this one is pretty beefy so I will gladly take it.  Because of the half/half look, it actually makes it look like the plant is sick all the time - like it should either be all red, or all green, but as long as you're prepared for it, it's not surprising.

Kale "Scarlet" transplanted November 9. Remarkably attractive dark green kale with red veined, frilly, tightly curled leaves. We have found Scarlet to be a vigorous performer with good cold tolerance. Begin harvesting leaves when young, and allow plant to grow well into the early winter. 24-36" tall by 24" wide, 60 days from transplant.  Experience:  It seems to be growing pretty well - it's got the most shade out of all the plants - once the freezes kill off the petunia, I can get this one more sun and hopefully it will take off after that.

Cabbage "Early Flat Dutch" transplanted November 2. 85 days. [Pre-1875, possibly pre-1855 variety] Does well in southern and coastal areas because of its heat resistance. Excellent variety for sauerkraut and the best variety for storage. Heads are large and flat, weighing 6 to 10 lbs., averaging 11 in. diameter with medium core and few outside leaves. Experience:  Another plant I'm not having good luck with...

Lettuce "Parris Island" transplanted November 2. 70 days. A tasty romaine-type. Uniform heads are pale cream-green inside, and the outside is dark green. Developed around 1949; named after Parris Island, off the East coast. Begin harvest November 30.  Experience:  I don't know why I got a romaine-type lettuce - I've been plucking leaves off the bottom to put in salads, but I should really just let it grow into the head that it wants to.

Lettuce "Dark Lolla Rosa" transplanted November 2. One of the most deeply curled loose-leaf lettuces. Beautiful magenta leaves with light green bases, mild flavor, cut and come again, sow spring or fall. Plant eaten by opossums November 8. Experience:  There isn't really any - the opossums ate it before I could even try it. 

Brussels Sprouts "" transplanted November 2. The Brussels sprout is a cultivar in the Gemmifera group of cabbages, grown for its edible buds. The leafy green vegetables are typically 2.5–4 cm in diameter and look like miniature cabbages.  Experience:  I've never had good luck with Brussels sprouts.

Cauliflower "Veronica Romanesco" transplanted November 2. 85 days. Veronica is the finest variety we have seen, with very symmetrical, absolutely lovely lime-green heads topped by tightly beaded, pointed domes. Excellent raw or cooked, it boasts a milder, sweeter flavor than white Cauliflower, to say nothing of its appetizing visual appeal! Experience:  The only plant that's doing worse of the cauliflowers is the Graffiti. I've never had good luck with Cauliflower.

Mustard Greens "Osaka Purple" transplanted November 2. The large rounded purple leaves of this Japanese mustard are beautiful, pungent and sharp. Try placing a filet of steamed fish on top of a bed of these leaves as a substitute for wasabi. It is best planted as a cool weather crop, and can also be used as a companion plant to repel aphids. Begin harvest November 30.  Experience:  The plant is larger than the Red Giant - but then, I also got this one as a transplant.  I don't like mustard greens in my salads, so I've learned that.  I think this one is a bit more bitter than the Red Giant, but that could have just been the leaf that day.

Cauliflower "Graffiti" transplanted November 2. 80 days from setting out transplants. Easily the darkest and "truest" of the purple cauliflowers. This widely adapted, vigorous variety sets large heads of deep purple that keep their color even after cooking (reaching a shade of mauve). These heavy, well-packed heads intensify their shade of violet with exposure to sun, and need less wrapper protection than most others. They make a splendid fall crop, but are also suitable for spring. Highly resistant to downy mildew, they can withstand rainy and humid climates far easier than older varieties. And they just look spectacular!  Experience:  The worst looking of all my cauliflower plants.  I think it's just more finicky than the other cauliflowers...of course, I also tend to have really bad luck with cauliflower plants.

Brussels Sprouts "Nautic" transplanted November 2. Nautic's sprouts are medium-sized and have excellent taste. Plant is bigger than Diablo and has a higher yield potential, especially in areas with a cool fall. Excellent cold tolerance. For late fall harvest. Experience:  I do not have good luck with Brussels Sprouts...

Broccoli "Marathon" transplanted November 2. This late variety is highly tolerant to cold. Grown successfully in the Northeast for late summer and fall crops, and over the winter in Florida and California.Experience:  The plant is doing pretty well.

Lettuce "Merlot" transplanted November 2. 55 days. (Also known as “Galactic.”) Reputed to be absolutely the darkest red lettuce in existence, which should make it tops for anthocyanin (anti-oxidant) content as well! Leaf lettuce with wavy to frilly leaf margins and very crisp, waxy leaves! Excellent bolt resistance, and good cold tolerance for a late fall to winter crop. Recommended as a cutting type for baby greens production or cut-and-come-again harvesting. We feel, along with our friend William Woys Weaver, that this variety is destined to become a classic, and it certainly deserves it! Begin harvest November 30. Experience:  Yummy!  good in mixed greens salad.

Lettuce "Flashy Trout" transplanted November 2. 55 days. This beautiful variety steals all the attention in the salad garden. In Europe, this Austrian heirloom is called Forellenschluss romaine and is one of the most prized of all varieties. A dark green leaved romaine splashed with wine-red speckles. Imagine dipping a paintbrush in red paint and giving it a hard shake onto your romaine lettuce. You've got the picture. Your taste buds will like it too, for its rich buttery flavor.Begin harvest November 30. Experience:  Yum yum, I recommend this one.

Cauliflower "Snow Crown" transplanted November 2. 50-60 days. Snow Crown is always mild and sweet. Its hybrid vigor and rapid growth make it one of the easiest to grow of all early cauliflower varieties. It forms fully domed curds in heads 7-8 inches across, weighing 1-2 pounds. This variety maintains its prime eating quality for up to 10 days in the garden. May manifest a delicate pink blush when maturing in the hotter parts of summer. Experience:  Looks the best out of my cauliflowers.  haven't noticed any actual cauliflower though...

Garlic "White" planted October 12 (west bed). Large, plump soft-neck bulbs have papery skins and plenty of creamy white cloves bursting with excellent spicy-hot flavor. Easy to grow, very productive, adaptable to any climate. Experience:  I feel like the garlic just isn't growing this year...but then, my garlic looks the same as Roberta's so it's probably right on schedule and I just think it should be further along because I actually planted on time.
Store-bought garlic just can't compare! Large, plump softneck bulbs have papery skins and plenty of creamy-white cloves bursting with excellent, spicy-hot flavor. Easy to grow, very productive, adaptable to any climate. Cultivate and store as you would onions. - See more at: http://www.gurneys.com/product/california_white_garlic#sthash.00H6vCVB.dpuf
Store-bought garlic just can't compare! Large, plump softneck bulbs have papery skins and plenty of creamy-white cloves bursting with excellent, spicy-hot flavor. Easy to grow, very productive, adaptable to any climate. Cultivate and store as you would onions. - See more at: http://www.gurneys.com/product/california_white_garlic#sthash.00H6vCVB.dpuf

Garlic "Inchelium" planted October 12 (east bed). Mid-season. Inchelium Red is a national taste-test winner in the softneck division. This mild flavored garlic is great baked and blended with mashed potatoes. This large, top-quality softneck was discovered on the Colville Indian Reservation in northern Washington. Stores very well for 6-9 months. Experience:  I feel like the garlic just isn't growing this year...But then, my garlic looks about the same as Roberta's so it's probably right on schedule and I just think it should be further along because I actually planted on time.

Cauliflower "Chef's Blend" sown August 30.  Sprouted September 6.  Transplanted October 30. 75-120 days. This colorful mix of three varieties gives you a long harvest period from 75 to 120 days. ‘Snowball Y’, an heirloom variety from 1947, has tight white heads on dwarf plants. ‘Green Macerata’ is a delicious green Italian heirloom. ‘Purple of Sicily’ is also an Italian heirloom with bright purple heads and mild flavor. Healthful minerals give it the purple color, which turns green when cooked. We recommend a late summer planting with fall harvest for best results. Experience:  This is really the first year that I've managed to get these to grow.  i only have 2 (maybe 3 plants) that are still going, but they are thriving - and you can't tell which ones I started from seed compared to the ones I purchased, so yay!

Swiss Chard "Silver Rib" sown August 30.  Sprouted September 6. Transplanted October 30. Selected by discerning Italian cooks for its clean mellow flavor, these handsome vigorous plants have wide, silvery mid-ribs and crinkly, broad, deep green leaves. Experience:  Okay, though the plants seems very stunted compared to what most people end up with for chard.

Mustard Greens "Red Giant" sown August 30. Sprouted September 6. Transplanted October 30. 40 days (mature) or 20 days (baby greens). Red Giant is a brilliant maroon with deep green midribs, so showy you may just have to plant two crops. These leaves are slightly textured for a better bite and good holding power. The flavor is zesty and full, with a good bite that you just can't find in store-bought mustard greens. And because you pick this mustard leaf by leaf for eating (instead of uprooting the entire plant, as you do for head lettuce), you can enjoy the fine display of color for many weeks! Frost just improves the flavor and color. Begin harvest November 30. Experience: Pretty good growing wise - I haven't done a taste test between Osaka Purple and Red Giant yet.  I do know that I do not like mustard greens in my salads though.  We usually use mustard greens on sandwiches.

Kale "Dino" sown August 30.  Unique blue-green savoyed leaf. This variety has surprisingly tender texture, great for raw kale salads and the darkest blue-green leaf color of any kale. Flavor sweetens after frost. Our strain has been improved by breeder Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds. Improved vigor, yield and hardiness. None sprouted.  Experience:  Can't really say since none of the seeds sprouted.  To be fair, it was very old seed.

Sweet Potato Slips "[Grocery Store Variety]" planted April 27.  All slips died. Experience:  They all dried up - I just didn't water them enough.

Tomato "Early Girl" transplanted April 26. Red. Good slicer, dependable large harvest tomato. First of the season! Excellent performer. Indeterminate. 52 days.  Begin harvest June 7. Removed plant August 10. 3 tomatoes harvested. Experience:  Very stunted plant - not sure if it's because I planted late, or if it's the soil, or not enough sun or what.  The flavor of the tomatoes was very much like a store-bought tomato.  Why bother?  3/10 flavor.

Eggplant "Pingtung Long" transplanted April 26. Slender violet-purple eggplant 12" long. Excellent mild flavor and tender white flesh. Thrives and produce continuous harvests in summer heat and humidity. 65 days.  Removed plant August 10. 1 eggplant harvested total. Experience: Eh.  could be because I planted too late, could be that I need to get the soil tested where I planted it because the Early Girl was in the same area and it also did not produce.

Dill "" transplanted April 26.  Plant removed in June or so. Planted for swallowtail caterpillars. Experience:  I like dill plants (usually I try to make Dill Dough Dinner Rolls), but I didn't get enough to harvest this year - seems to be the preferred plant for swallowtails.

Fennel "" transplanted April 26. Planted for swallowtail caterpillars. Experience:  Pretty low maintenance - has already made it through quite a few freezes (including hard freezes) and keeps on trucking.  I don't use fennel in cooking because I don't like the taste, so it's decorative only.

Tomato "Blue Berries" transplanted March 21.  Very dark purple color. At maturity they turn deep red where the fruit was shaded and almost black where it's been in full sun. Elongated clusters that look beautiful. Indeterminate. 75 days. Begin harvest June 7.  Removed plant August 10 (to replant cutting from this plant for fall tomatoes).  Transplanted new plant on August 30.  Removed plant December 23. 305 tomatoes harvested total (none from the fall plant). Experience:  Holy tomatoes, Batman.  I'm pretty sure this is my favorite cherry tomato of all time.  The tomatoes are sweet when ripe, very good in a caprese salad. 8/10 flavor.  Plant is one of the 6' tall ones.

Tomato "Cherokee Purple" transplanted March 21.  Dusky rose, purple fruit, large 10-12 oz, heavy producer. Very popular tomato from Tennessee. Sweet rich flavor. Indeterminate. 80 days. Begin harvest on June 9. Removed plant October 12. 17 tomatoes harvested total. Very vigorous plan - huge tomatoes.  Medium level producer for an heirloom.  Will split with too much water close to harvest time. Very good flavor - 9/10.

Eggplant "Machiaw" transplanted March 21.  Pale lavender skin, 9-12" long. Mild tasting white flesh. 65 days. Removed plant October 26. 4 eggplants harvested total. Not bad, but not very prolific for me - very skinny, long eggplants - usually used in Pasta alla Norma.

Pepper "Red Savina" transplanted (3) March 21. Red Savina peppers were reported to a score up to 577,000 on the Scoville scale, but this oft-quoted figure was never verified;a comparison experiment carried out by a group of researchers including Regents Professor Paul W. Bosland at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University in 2005 revealed an average heat level of about 450,000 Scoville Heat Units for Red Savina habaneros. Repotted (1) October 27. 0 peppers harvested total. Experience:  Nothing to really report.

Pepper "Chocolate Habanero" transplanted March 21.  So beautiful. The chocolate-brown, lantern shaped fruit are about 2 inches long, and so ornamental! But don't let the color fool you; these are not candy, but rather flaming-hot fruit that carry a massive 300,000 Scoville units of heat! Hot pepper enthusiasts love the heat and flavor that these chocolate fruit are packed with, but be careful and use in moderation.  Repotted October 27. 2 peppers harvested total. The plant doubled in size this year (still a small plant).  Not as hot as I expected.  Shawn used the peppers in chili.

Pepper "Pot Douglah" transplanted March 21. A rare and amazingly hot pepper from the Caribbean, Trinidad Douglah (or 7 Pot Chocolate) is one of a group of the hottest peppers in the world. Scoville ratings have varied, but it consistently rates from 1 million to 1.5 million on the scale and the pepper is likely even hotter than the Ghost Pepper/Bhut Jolokia. Trinidad Douglah bears large pods that ripen to a dark, chocolate brown and are heavily wrinkled, characteristic of most of the super-hots. Flavor is intensely hot and unique from the red and yellow 7 Pot varieties.  Repotted October 27. 0 peppers harvested total. Experience:  Nothing to report.  The plant didn't grow much this year.

Eggplant "Fairytale" transplanted March 20. Early harvests of elongated lavender fruit with white stripes. Best picked when about 4X1 3/4 inches while the skin is still shiny. Plants are ideal for containers. 50 days. Plant frozen in November. 12 eggplants harvested total. Experience: Best of the eggplants I've grown.  Eggplants are little though, so I ended up using them mostly for things like Baba Ganouj.

Tomato "Japanese Black Trifele" transplanted March 20. Potato leaf foliage. Black, pear-shaped tomato that looks like a little eggplant on the vine. It's a commercially grown tomato in Russia. Complex, rich sweet flavor. Determinate. 80 days. (note: it does not look like an eggplant).  Begin harvest May 27. Removed plant December 23. 36 tomatoes harvested total (4 with cracking). Experience: Okay.  Fairly bland tomato.  Flavor 5/10.  Did well in grow box and only had cracking issues when we had rain storms.

Tomato "Chico III" transplanted March 20. Very early, oblong tomato developed in California. Wonderful disease resistance. Many consider this to be superior to Roma, as it is much earlier and a touch sweeter. Determinate. 70 days. Begin harvest May 22.  Removed plant December 23.  75 tomatoes harvested total (38 did not have blossom end rot). Experience: Not bad, not great.  not assertively tomato flavored, but not bland.  7/10 flavor.  Do not plant in a grow box - the plant is prone to blossom end rot.

Tomato "Dwarf Arctic Rose" transplanted March 20. A 2012 release by the Dwarf Tomato Project. Topping out at about 3 feet, this is the shortest of the project releases to date. Determinate. 70 days. Begin harvest on June 8 (only one tomato left after this date). 5 tomatoes harvested total. Experience: Small plant (patio), decent sized fruits; med-large yield for plant size.  Okay flavor - 6/10.

Pepper "Aji Crystal" transplanted March 20. Originally from Curico, Chile. Very heavy set of 3½" long fruits on large 3' plants. Waxy fruits ripen light green to yellow to reddish-orange. Excellent spicy citrus flavor is best when immature, great for salsa. 90 days from transplant. HOT.  Removed plant October 26.  21 peppers harvested total. Experience:  I keep feeling like I just wait and wait for the peppers to turn red.  Though they can be eaten when light green, they taste "green" and they were our least preferred of all of the peppers we grew.

Pepper "Trinidad Scorpion" transplanted March 20. 90-120 days. Outrageously hot, these peppers mature to a red color. It is a tall plant that should produce many 2-3 inch peppers. Repotted plant October 27.  0 peppers harvested total. Experience:  Meh.  The plant grew more this year, so that's good.

Pepper "Orange Fogo" transplanted March 20. Removed October 26, one potted up on October 27. Beautiful chiles for authentic Thai cooking. Vigorous Full Moon ripens bright orange with delicious medium hot/sweet pungency, perfect minced in sauces and salads. Red Vesuvius' fiery little fruits point up like flames, with that nutty, incendiary pungency just right for stirfries. Use fresh or air dry for tantalizing Asian style dishes. (85 days) 16 peppers harvested total. Experience:  The first year I've actually managed to get some orange fogos.  Too bad the first one I pulled, I ate straight from the plant because I thought it was a hold over from last year's mild orange pepper.  It was not.  It was 'burn your face off' hot.  I think these are slightly hotter than the Red Demon peppers.  The peppers are about the size of 3 of the Red Demons (middle finger sized vs. pinky sized), so maybe it's not that they're hotter, but that I have to use 3 of the Red Demons to get the same effect in cooking.  These don't dry as easily as the Red Demons.

Pepper "Red Demon" transplanted (2) March 20.  Chilli Pepper 'Demon Red' produces upward facing, very hot chilli peppers throughout summer. This very dwarf variety was specially bred for growing on a windowsill or in patio containers, where it makes an attractive plant for edible or ornamental use. This compact RHS AGM variety produces prolific yields, grown indoors or outside. Height and spread: 35cm (14”). Removed October 26.  105 peppers harvested total. Experience:  Holy Hot Peppers, Batman.  I love this plant.  The peppers are spicy, though not prohibitively so (keeping in mind that we use hot peppers all the time).  These peppers dry easily.

Pepper "Aurora" transplanted March 20.  Stunning 1½" long fruits borne on foot-high ornamental plants, perfect for container growing. Fruits ripen from lavender to deep purple to orange and finally to red. 60–75 days from transplant. MEDIUM HOT.  Plant died. 0 peppers harvested total.  Experience:  Meh - did slightly better last year, I just don't have much luck with the non-Thai peppers...

Artichoke "Imperial Star" transplanted on January 15.  A green artichoke specifically bred for annual production, Imperial Star will produce well-developed artichokes the first year from seed. Plants become 1 1/2-3' tall and have an open growth habit. Each typically produces 1-2 primary buds, which average 3-4" in diameter, and 5-7 smaller secondary buds. Perennial in Zone 7 and warmer; otherwise treat as an annual. Dormant or dead by June 12. Experience: Meh.  I do want to grow an artichoke, but the location I chose just wasn't good.

Carrots "Sunshine Mix" sown on January 15. Sprouted February 17.  exclusive a mix of 2 colorful varieties sow in late summer or spring to yield bountiful, healthful crops of sweet, crunchy, deep orange & sunny yellow carrots. (88 days) Harvested May 21.  3 carrots harvested total. Experience:  I've never had much luck with carrots, though the flavor of these, especially the yellow ones, is very good.


Lettuce "Schweitzer's Mescher" sown on January 14.  Sprouted February 1.  50 days. [Dates back to the 1700s. Introduced 1986 by SESE. This strain was brought to the U.S. from Austria in the early 1900s and has been maintained as a Schweitzer family heirloom.] Best grown in cool weather, forms small tight crisp heads of green leaves ringed with red. Excellent flavor and appearance. Started harvest March 18, ended harvest May 21. Experience: a good tasting lettuce.  The plants seemed a big hardier than the Salad Bowl variety.

Lettuce "Salad Bowl" sown on January 14. Sprouted February 1. Crisp and tender with a sweet flavor. Large, deeply lobed, green leaves. Slow to bolt, non-heading. All-America Selections winner. Ready 45 days after sowing. Started Harvest March 18, ended harvest May 21. Experience: a good tasting lettuce.  The plants weren't very big, though.

Spinach "Bloomdale Long Standing" sown on January 14.  Sprouted February 1.  Popeye's favorite heirloom variety! Bloomsdale Long Standing is an old standard. It's a large, spreading spinach has dark green, savoyed curled leaves. The yield is good, and it is slow to bolt. For first crop, sow in spring. Plant again in late summer. In mild winter areas, fall plantings yield in early spring. Started harvest March 18, ended harvest May 21.  Experience:  not very prolific - but then I've never had much luck with spinach.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas - Wildflower Center Luminations

For one weekend in December, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center does their annual Luminations display.  This year is was over the 13th/14th.  Pam at Digging also attended (albeit earlier in the evening than I did).




This year, the Family Garden was included in the celebration.  It was also the first time that I had been there since the Family garden opened and I'm a little disappointed we didn't get to see it during the day. 




Totally unfocused picture of the Arizona cypress trees in the Children's garden


Chicken wire balls with battery powered lights

The husband even pointed out how weird it is that we usually only go to the Wildflower Center for their annual "walk around in the dark when you can't see the gardens" event.  Next year I suppose we should try to go when they first open (6pm) instead of waiting until 8pm like we usually do (the event goes until 9pm). 


We usually go up to the top of the rain collection tower and take some photos at the end of the night.  This year, sadly, it was closed so I had to content myself by taking artsy photos of the railing going up the tower.


And of course, you always have to take a close up photo of the luminarias

The Center has children's crafts in their big exhibition hall


And there's always music, kettlecorn, and hot chocolate in the main square

Within the last couple of years, they've switched from using strings of lights wrapped around their giant oak at the entrance to using "Fairy Lights" from a projection system, which is honestly even more impressive (though the photo doesn't do it justice).


The Luminations display usually happens about 2 weekends before Christmas, and the fee to get in is 2 cans of food to be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank per person.  The crafts are free, but there's usually a charge for any of the food items.  And while all of these photos were taken with my cell phone, I highly recommend taking your regular digital camera, if you have one.

Previous posts on the Luminations Displays:  2012.   2008

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Wide Angles

As per usual - I took the photos, I just didn't post them in a timely manner.  Thanks to Heather at Xericstyle for hosting the monthly wide-angle post.

The front yard:
Featuring all the leaves.  And Princess, the neighbor's cat.


The Hell Strip:

The Rose Bed:

Closer view of the front:

Seriously - this area needs help.  It gets too much shade for the sun-loving plants (artemisia, pale pavonia, and butterfly iris)
Around the side:





Panoramic from the edge of the deck:

From essentially the back door:


From the other side of the deck: