Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Keeping on keeping on

No real updates on my front. I pulled the cacti inside for the time we were out of town (seems like a good thing since my weather app was telling me there was going to be a freeze in Austin while we were gone). By the time I came back, the fall garden had gotten bigger, though it still seems so compact, and it looks like there was some hail maybe? I don't know--the chard and beets seemed a little beaten down. Most of the plants have gone dormant for the winter (like the lantana and wildflowers), but the shrimp plant was still blooming away and the passion vine looks like it's finally thriving without caterpillars eating all the leaves.

The plan for this weekend is to thin and weed the fall garden, take out all the plants in the spring garden and probably replant it with more fall garden stuffs (beets, chard, spinach, and peas come to mind). And I'm sure the husband can't wait to go suck up all the leaves for mulching purposes. :P

Thursday, December 10, 2009

freezing

I am typing this from my phone, so please disregard spelling errors and what not.

The fall garden has made it through our two freezes in the last week, the spring garden, however, did not. This isn't very surprising as I did cover the fall garden with a bed sheet and did no such thing for the spring garden. To be fair, I was going to try to save the black krim tomato, but fate had other plans. Mostly, those other plans involved going to the husband's office holiday party. So, when we got back home it was already 30 degrees outside. And it was alteady obvious the eggplant was done for.

Thankfully, I had decided to save as many tomatoes as possible and pulled the plants the night before the first freeze--just like we used to do in colorado. That is, I pulled up the plants and hung them, root end up, in the garage. So far I've eaten maybe three romatoes from those plants...all of which have been damaged by bugs, but they still had good parts.

I'll post pictures of the hanging tomato plants when I have time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Onion

My friend Ross ordered some onion starts from the web a few weeks back and they arrived about 2 weeks ago. Of course, it's not onion planting season yet, but the starts only live for about 3 weeks so it was plant or die. I obtained a small handful and just planted them today in the two black flowerpots and around the spring garden.

I also had another run in with the leaf footed bugs. I have found that pulling a leaf off of the eggplant and then using it as a 'smusher' works quite well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pictures

Quazi--I don't like the feel of being so squished on the top and open on the sides, but it's rare that my cats will actually do what I want them to and he had been laying down for all the other pictures (see below)

Quazi--again. Once again, still kinda squished on the top, but it would have required me to go over and close the front door in order to prep the shot correctly. And I am lazy.


Shrimp Plant from Bob at Draco Gardens


The fish head (I have no idea what it actually is supposed to be)


Succulents--once again, from Bob at Draco Gardens


Bulbine--from the spring Garden Bloggers Get Together


Leaf Footed Nymphs. If you see one, it's actually an assassin bug nymph. If you see hundreds, then they're Leaf Footed bug nymphs.


Click to embiggen--I think the gall looking thing is (are?) nematodes. Vunderbar.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall Garden Update

While out checking on the spring garden, I also did an inventory of the fall garden. I think everything I've planted has come up except for garlics 2 and 4. They may just be taking their sweet time though. I thinned all the carrots and spinach. I cut all the extra beets and chard at the ground. I haven't yet thought about thinning the onions and chives because they're still ultra small and I have a while before they'd start crowding each other. I also still haven't planted any strawberry plants. This is because I am lazy.

I did notice though that I have quite a few carrots in random places--the result of washout. Meh, so what if I have a few carrots in the pea and spinach squares at the right end of the garden?

Garlic | spinach| garlic |chard|garlic|spinach|broc |chard|garlic
Carrot| onion | beet | broc | beet | garlic |beet |chives|spinach
pea | straw |chives|carrot| pea | straw |onion|carrot|pea

Spring Garden Updates

Yesterday, I went outside to check on the spring garden. At this point, the reason for checking on the spring garden is because of the 5 tomato plants, 4 of them have tomatoes on them. Of course, the Krim only has 1 tomato, but still, it counts. In any case, since I figured at this point in time that any current flowers were not going to be able to ripen into tomatoes so I might as well pull off all the flowers on all the plants (including the pepper and eggplant).

Since the Brandywine Tomato didn't have any tomatoes, I went ahead and pulled it out. There are a couple of growths on the root (I have pictures, but I'm outside babysitting the cat to make sure she doesn't eat any plants so I don't have access to the pictures I took), which I'm pretty sure means something was wrong with the plant. The Krim has one tomato on it, the BHN and Viva Italia both have about 5 and the Roma is so loaded with tomatoes it's starting to fall over and take the tomato cage with it. This is the plant I'm most worried about with the upcoming freezes. With the soft freezes I can just put a sheet over it to give it some protection, but once a hard freeze is projected then I'll either have to make green tomato chutney (using Lancashire Rose's recipe) or I'll have to do what we did in Colorado--that is pull the whole plant out and then hang it upside down somewhere in the house and wait for the tomatoes to ripen. Of course, doing it that way, you only get the tomatoes that were close to turning pink to ripen, the ones that are itty bitty on the plant and are no where close to even beginning to turn pink usually are thrown away.

The Eggplant has about 10 golf ball sized or slightly bigger eggplants on it. It was during the inspection of the eggplant that I found out that I had an infestation of nymph leaf footed bugs. I immediately sprayed the plant with soapy water and then I came back out about 2 hours later and smashed up all the bugs I could find. This morning when i went back out, I didn't see a single nymph. The eggplants I can pull off whenever to use, but I think I'll let them grow until the first frost so they can get bigger.

The Corno di Toro pepper finally has some peppers on it--one is pretty big, and the others...not so much. I hope the big one can ripen before a hard freeze kills the plant.

The Thai pepper plant is in much the same situation as last year--that is there are about 5 peppers on it that are green, and they probably won't turn red before I have to pull the peppers off of the plant.

The butternut vine is keeping on, keeping on. It has one butternut squash on it, and the squash is already bigger than the one I pulled off in the summer--apparently squash plants do not like the head of summer. Also keeping my fingers crossed that the squash will ripen before a freeze.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Garden: Growing

I went out yesterday afternoon and checked on all the plants. Everything looks to be going along swimmingly. Garlic hasn't sprouted yet, but I think just about everything else has. Plan for this weekend: thin.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Garlic: planted

After soaking 5 cloves of 5 different garlics overnight in a baking soda water solution, and then soaking all the soaked cloves in rubbing alcohol for another 3-5 minutes, I am glad to say that I have planted the garlic. Obviously not all of it, so I may be doing this dance all over again shortly.

Since this blog also doubles as my gardening notebook, I'd better make a note of which garlics went where (lest I end up in the same situation as Vertie).

Using metal garden marker stakes that Bond got me for my birthday, I opted to write numbers instead of names--mostly because they are reusable, and I want to reuse them. Each stake is placed front and center of each garlic square.

Numbers, names and description written on the bag:
1 = Burgundy: A Creole Garlic, Very rich garlic flavor - Mild/Mellow pungency when raw - Harvests in mid-season - Stores 8-10 months.
2 = Kettle River: An Artichoke Garlic, Rich mellow garlic flavor - medium warm pungency when raw - Harvests in early-mid summer - Stores through winter.
3 = Shilla: A Turban Garlic, a rich garlic flavor - warm pungency when raw - harvests very early in season - stores through fall.
4 = Korean Red: An Asiatic Garlic, Mildly rich garlic flavor - very mild pungency when raw - Harvests in early-mid season - Stores 5-6 months.
5 = California Early: An Artichoke Garlic, Rich mellow garlic flavor - medium warm pungency when raw - Harvests early in season - Stores about 6 months.

As noted earlier, I got all these in the sampler pack for growing in Texas from Bob at www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com

I went ahead and added one Korean Red clove and one Shilla clove to our breakfast potatoes this morning. Because there's no way I can tell a difference between one type of garlic and another when they're mixed in the same dish, I did sample a small raw piece of each. It's amazing how the pungency really is very different between them. I first tasted the Korean Red and said "hmm, that's a little 'hot', not very though." and then I took a taste of the Shilla and was like "wow, that's hot! and it tastes like garlic garlic."

Shoots

Already seeing chard, spinach and beet shoots. Mostly chard and spinach--theres only one place where a beet shoot is coming up, which makes me think that it's not a beet, but one of the spinach seeds I accidentally dropped.

I've got my garlic soaking right now, so I can plant that in about 3 more hours. I did give Bond and Ross 3 cloves of two different kinds of garlic, so hopefully they'll have some luck.

Now i just need to figure out what to do with the rest of this garlic...

Note: for whatever reason, I've decided to go in a fiscal year sort of sense for growing seasons--I think this has to do with the fall to spring season and which year do I put it under, etc. Because I work for the guvmint, and they do fiscal years from October 1 to September 30, I think i will do the same--kinda like the school year if you think about it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Garden '09 - Spring '10

We leveled, and filled the secondary garden today. We built the wood framing last weekend, but didn't feel like doing all the other parts of it. We decided we HAD to do it this weekend since we are officially now in November, otherwise known as "almost too late to plant anything...including the garlic I bought."

Since I didn't know for sure if we were going to actually be ready to plant stuff until this afternoon when we got the dirt, I didn't bother soaking all the various seeds overnight as I was supposed to (the spinach, chard, beet and garlic all need to be soaked overnight), plus I still haven't bought the strawberry plants. Update: I planted the spinach, chard and beet seeds last night (11-2). The chard plants are one per square, the beets and spinach are currently at 9 per square which will be thinned to 5 per square. Hopefully when they're at the point of being large enough to thin and use.

I'm doing a somewhat modified "square foot" gardening thing. Modified in so much that instead of square feet, it's square 10". This is because the bed is 30" wide. And 30 does not divide by 12 easily. But it does divide by 10 easily. It just meant that I had to redo all the math of how many plants to add per square. Of course, it probably would have made more sense to do 2 one foot rows and then one 6" row. Too late now, already have seeds planted.

After going through and making a plan based on height of plants and companion planting, I ended up with a grid that includes 2 broccoli, 2 chard, 5 garlic, 2 green onion, 2 chives, 3 carrot, 3 pea, 3 spinach, 2 strawberry, and 3 beet squares. As I did for the spring garden, the descriptions are as follows:

Broccoli: Renee's Garden, All Season Blend; We've mixed equal amounts of seed for these great tasting, high-yielding hybrid varieties with early, mid, and late season maturities for the longest possible harvests. We've chosen cultivars for flavorful, extra-fancy, tightly beaded main heads and abundant side shoots. All three have excellent disease resistance and weather tolerance. Transplant to Harvest: 60.

Chard: Renee's Garden, Italian Silver Rib; A long time favorite of Italian cooks for its flavor and substance, this fine variety has wide, crisp, silvery-white midribs and crinkled, shiny green leaves. The large-framed, handsome plants grow easily and vigorously from spring through late fall. Heirloom Silver Rib produces an abundance of big succulent leaves with sweet crunchy stalks to enjoy as mild, mellow-tasting greens. You'll find it consistently delicious simply steamed with fresh lemon, sautéed with aromatics or added to stir-fries, soups, and casseroles. Days to harvest: 50. Notes: These are the seeds I got for free from the Planning for Spring Gardens Master Gardener seminar.

Beets: Renee's Garden, Jewel-Toned Beets (red sangria, golden, and striped chioggia); Our mixture of burgundy, golden, and candy-striped beets yields big harvets with glowing rich colors, succulent testure and sweet earthy flavor. These beets will become an easy to grow, long keeping staple in your gardenn and kitchen. The smooth roots can be harvested at any size to bake, boil, or steam and enjoy hot and buttered or chilled in an herb vinaigrette. The nutritious young tops are unrivaled as melt-in-your-mouth steemed greens. Days to Harvest: 55.

Carrot (1): Liberty Garden, Danvers Half Long; Home garden favorite, dependable, heavy yielding. Very sweet with good flavor, fine grained and tender. Days to Harvest: 75. Note: I bought these seeds eons ago, as in fall of 2007 I think; however, the package sell by date is Sept. '09. Also, I planted these in 2 of the three boxes--the two closest to the currently existing garden.

Carrot (2): Renee's Garden, Sunshine Mix (Yellowstone and Nantes Forto); Our novelty mix offers gardeners the fun of growing both sunny yellow and bright orange carrots. You'll have eye catching rich harvests of crisp, smooth, evenly cylindrical roots that reach a full 8 inches in length. Both of these premium European varieties taste sweet and crispy with no soapy off-flavors and you can enjoy them over a long harvest period. Whether fresh sliced into carrot sticks, or quickly cooked, their sunshine bright colors are a kithcen gardener's delight! Days to Harvest: 88 Note: This is only planted in one square--the one closest to the neighbor's fence that lives behind us.

Scallions: Renee's Garden, Salad Scallions (Green Feast and Red Robin); Enjoy colorful salds and sautee's with our unique blend of tender-crisp green and red scallions with straight stalks and juicy flesh. Bred for high quality, heat tolerance, and disease resistance, they are perfect to spring plant and harvest will into summer. Pull them as needed to eat fresh for weeks and add an aromatic sweet zing to everyday meals whereever you crave a mild onion flavor. Plant their pretty colors again in late summer for a long standing fall crop. Days to Harvest: 65.

Chives: Renee's Garden, Garlic Chives; Garlic chives, also called Chinese chives, have slim flat grass-like leaves that taste like a perfect combination of weet garlic and chives. Just snip them over salads, fresh vegetables, or any savory dish to add a subtle and delicious garlic accent without any of th efuss. The green strappy leaves form neat mounding plants with pretty white edible blossoms. This permanent perennial herb is a joy to have ready at hand--a gardening cooks secret! Days to Harvest: unlisted. Note: I put this in the raised bed which means that I'm going to be treating this as an annual instead of a perenial.

Peas: Unknown; Bond had left overs from their planting this year so I got the extras.

Spinach: Unknown; Bond had left overs from their planting this year so I got the extras.

Garlic: Already blogged about that here. Of course at 4 (5 plants maximum) per square, and when each bulb of garlic probably gives 20 cloves, it means I'm going to either a) have a bunch of left over garlic cloves and will be giving the stuff away to other gardeners (so if you want to try your hand at garlic, but don't want to purchase a pound of it, let me know and I'll give you a couple of cloves), b) will be eating half of the stuff I bought rather than planting it, or c) will be building another garden next weekend just for the garlic. I'm guessing it will be a combination of all three.

But seriously, if you want to try growing garlic, let me know.

Friday, October 23, 2009

National Parks

Then:

When I was a kid, we never necessarily made a big deal about going to the national parks as much as it was more like 'Well, this is the closest we'll ever be to it, so we might as well go'. Oddly enough, I grew up a couple hours' drive from Rocky Mountain National Park, and I don't think we ever went there...at least, not that I remember. But I digress.

My mom and dad both grew up in South Dakota and my mom's family has their reunions there every 3 years. Since it was cheaper to drive than it was to fly with two kids, it was always a family road trip. Every time we went back, we stopped at Mount Rushmore. I still consider it my favorite of the National Monuments--it even beats the DC mall. It is also the only photo of a National anything that I have framed (though since I'm doing a photo project in our guest/drum room, I'll soon have three pictures of Yellowstone/Grand Teton and three of Big Bend up there).

I'm the one in the trench coat. I was cold. I was walking around using the umbrella like a cane. For whatever reason, I remember that I was pretending I was Mark Twain.

Of course, on one of the trips back we stopped at Devil's Tower in Wyoming (and Fort Laramie). It was also around this time that we went to Yellowstone. This trip was precipitated because we were living in Cheyenne at the time and we were going to be moving back to Colorado so it was decided "We'd better see Yellowstone before it's another 2 hours away". I don't remember much of the trip--we stopped at Independence Rock, and we ate at a restaurant in Thermopolis that had the most dead animal mounted heads I've ever seen...or rather, I guess I should say we didn't eat there--my sister and I claimed that there was no way we were going to be able to eat buffalo and elk steaks while said animals watched from above as the heads were mounted over the table. Instead we ate at some restaurant that had fish mounted everywhere. And we saw lots of buffalo in Yellowstone. It was during our over-sized sweatshirt and leggings phase as well. Hey, I was in the 6th grade.

Every road trip we made had some history thrown in. When we went to Disneyland, we stopped at Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. When we went to Disneyworld there were stops at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Kennesaw, Stone Mountain, St. Augustine, the Kennedy Assassination Museum, and at every historical marker in Texas (well at least on the road we were traveling). A cousin's wedding in Ohio warranted a trip along the east coast seeing revolutionary war battlefields, DC, Mammoth Caves, and more Civil War battlefields. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Now:

Since getting married (all of 4 years ago), we've gone backpacking in Yellowstone and Big Bend, camped at Grand Teton, and went to DC and Gettysburg. And all of this was within the last 3 months. I blogged about every day of the Yellowstone trip on my other blog. If you don't want to read all the verbiage of the blog entries, just know that when I label the Prius as a "Stupid Car" it really has nothing to do with the car other than it has a huge center console display and it doesn't even bother telling you "hey dummy, the reason the car won't start right now is because you're not stepping on the brake pedal". All the pictures can be found on my Picasa page here:
Yellowstone

A month after Yellowstone, we went back east for one of the husband's cousin's wedding. My parents met us out there and we hit up a couple of historical markers in the Pennsylvania/Jersey area. After my parents left, we headed down to Baltimore, DC, Gettysburg, and then drove back to Philly for the wedding. All of those pictures can be found on my Picasa page as well. Of course, this time there are many more people in the photos since we were with more people.

East Coast Vacation

Most recently, we took a 5 day trip to Big Bend to do some 16 miles worth of backpacking. Water is heavy in case you didn't already know. The weather was nice and of course it was wonderful. The part I find odd though is that the border crossing agents have a little set up just south of Marathon, which is like an hour north of Big Bend. Very odd. The Big Bend pictures can be found here:
Big Bend National Park

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Bend post postponed

I swear, I'll get to it, but I currently have a sick cat who is having to be transported between the normal vet and emergency vet every morning and evening. needless to say I'm not of a mind to really blog about gardening or big bend. besides, I still need to actually put in the garden. Though I did get a bunch of flower plants (from Bob) planted on Saturday...of which I need to get pictures. But as I said...later, when the cat issue is figured out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Big Bend

Just got back from Big Bend National Park. A blog post to follow for the National Park think that Pam/Digging is collecting.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

El Nino

I believe that El Nino has finally reached Austin and it is bringing all the rain. we had 1.25" last night and then probably about another 3" today. I have to use my highly non-scientific method of measuring the depth of water in one of the buckets outside and then subtracting the amount of rain that was in it before it started raining...or rather how much water I thought there was before the storm this afternoon.

One thing is for sure, certain areas of the yard become ponds and rivers during downpours. One area is the "lower garden"--This area currently has rain lilies, a turk's cap, horse herb that I never planted, and one little Esperanza plant I got from Bob at Draco Gardens last weekend. The whole area along the line between our property and the neighbors to the south becomes a river. Since this area is close to the house, I would much prefer to turn it into a rain garden with some sort of French Drain system--especially since it was probably 2" deep against the foundation of the house and 3" of rain isn't a 100-year storm (10" is though). The other area that ponds is just below the dry pond area, which we can always just expand a little.

So much work...sigh...eventually we'll get it done.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Rain! AGAIN!

had a nice rain storm that dropped 1.25" here last night.

NWS is predicting a bunch more where that came from for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rain

Monday Sept 21: 1.25"
Tuesday Sept 22: .25"
Wednesday Sept 23: .25"

This evening, it was below 60 degrees.

And it snowed in Denver on the 21st...the official last day of summer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Even More Rain!!!

So...it's been raining off and on since my friend Matt flew in. It rained on Thursday...and apparently it rained through the night (according to one of my coworkers who lives close by), and then it rained some more at the house on Friday (according to Matt who was here). It rained all night (sprinkles mostly). This morning I got up and went out to check the rain gauge. It was at 2.25" or so. I didn't empty it because I was under the misguided impression that it wasn't supposed to rain as much today, so I didn't dump it out. Now it's pouring. Yeah, I'm sure the little rain gauge has been overtopped. I only figure this based on the fact that I have a bucket sitting outside and it is about 2/3 full. It was only maybe 1/6 full this morning when I checked the gauge.

It does make me think though that we ought to put in a rain garden in the area on the south side of our house since the rain has formed a nice point of ponding.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More Rain!

And more forecast for the weekend.

that is all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rain

I forgot to mention (which, I know, we're in a drought, how could I forget to mention RAIN?): We had rain last week. On Wednesday night. Not a whole heck of a lot. about half an inch or so. It was still enough to refill the rain barrel though. So I'm happy for that.

It also caused one of the rain lilies I got from Annie at the Transplantable Rose to bloom. And look, us no where near a bloom day. sigh. Maybe I'll just have to post the picture on the 15th of Sept and pretend it bloomed then instead.

And then, with the temperatures dropping because of a cold front (thus making the highs like in the mid nineties), it's almost like it's fall. I'm almost tempted to open the windows at night.

Looking over the garden

As we're winding down with the spring garden and prepping for the fall garden, I decided to go out and look at the garden again. Of course, having cooler than 90-degree temperatures didn't hurt either.

The heirloom tomatoes have been attacked by spider mites (again) and the Brandywine has some scale on it. They haven't really taken off with the growing for the fall season, but I think it may be time to fertilize all the plants again. The only tomato that looks like it's doing well is the Roma. I'm not sure if it's because it gets the least sun and therefore (it seems to follow) it doesn't get roasted like the other plants.

The eggplant shot up in the last month and now could justify having its own tomato cage, if I had one to put out around it. It does have some leaves that are yellowing, but after picking those off, the plant looks to be extremely healthy with both new leaves coming out and tons of new flowers, and already a baby eggplant or two.

The butternut plant does have a squash vine borer in it, but it would require me to go through digging up the vine in order to find it, so I'm hoping that as long as I go about covering the vine with dirt as it grows that I can get it to root in multiple spots and therefore be able to keep it alive long enough for the one butternut to ripen.

The pepper plants are all looking pretty sad--the only one that doesn't look completely done for is the Thai Chili Pepper (Red Dragon). It has been quite the performer this year with us getting maybe 8 peppers off of it this summer. I have high hopes for the fall, though this is the same plant that when it started cooling off, the peppers just stopped ripening. I had to pull all the peppers off while they were still green since I was afraid the plant was going to be killed by some of the light frosts we got here in the winter. The Cayenne pepper just doesn't seem to get enough water. I'll still put some compost tea or miracle gro on it to see if it gives it a boost (yes, I bought miracle gro right after I moved down here and haven't finished it yet...because I use it that infrequently. I also have rose fertilizer and azalea fertilizer that I need to get rid of too. I had bought those because I was going to do a science experiment with a hydrangea...which died) . The Corno di Torro pepper did have a pepper on it, but the bottom was cat-faced and so some bugs got into it and destroyed it. Considering that the pepper plant is still about the same size it was when we planted it, I'm probably not going to try planting another one--Shawn will just have to suck it up and deal with me growing normal bell peppers--it's not like I make him eat them anyhow.

On the flower front: The passion vine has been denuded again. I found there was a caterpillar on it, and since I feel bad about pulling caterpillars off of the plant, I usually leave them on and then content myself by scraping off all the eggs I find on the plant. Obviously I missed an egg. It just went into chrysalis stage last night so, based on the last time, I should have a new butterfly in about 2-3 weeks.

There's something munching on the coral vine, but otherwise it looks healthy, so I'm not going to worry about it (oh believe me, I'll still look for the culprit, but I'm not going to go about putting all sorts of pesticides on it).

The Turk's Cap plants are all doing swimmingly. As are the Rock Roses and the Artemesia (though I did have to deep water the artemesias).

The Bat-faced Cuphea is looking a little off...but I can't quite figure out if it's lack of sun, lack of water, or a little of both. I'm going to guess lack of sun since the leaves look fine. It also is getting a little leggy so I may need to look into pruning it back.

All of the lantanas are taking a hit this summer. Some of it is because I have them in an area that does not retain water, and some of it is because I don't water them enough. Oh don't get me wrong, they're all still alive, just none of them have bloomed since spring.

I've found that the bulbine does well with ultra deep waterings. Something I found out when I was deep watering the trees. So I'll have to remember that instead of using the sprinkler to water them, I need to just set the hose out by them like twice a month.

The grass looks like hay.

The devil plant (aka Asian Jasmine) has turned a rusted shade. Maybe this summer will have finally killed off big portions of it. Well, I can always hope, can't I?

For growing season 2010:
I started the broccoli seed I had. 2 of the starts have come up, the other two haven't. I'm not worried yet because 1) it's only been 7 days, and 2) the variety is called "All season's blend" which is actually 3 different types with different maturity rates; because of this, not all the types come up at the same time. And I had made sure to separate the seeds by color so I could make sure that I only had one type per start container.

The other seeds I started (Rock Rose and Texas Lantana) have not germinated yet. Also not surprising (see: 1 week).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garlic

My garlic arrived today.

"Hey, katina, what's in the box?"

"Garlic."

"hmmm, yes, I guess I should have figured that out since it's from 'Gourmet Garlic Gardens'... When do we have to plant this stuff?"

"I'm not sure...sometime soonish--they only send the stuff when it's about time for you to plant it."

"oh. And when do we harvest it?"

"like June I think."

He just sighed, shook his head, and then asked what we were having for dinner.

Update: I checked which types we were sent, they are: California Early, Burgundy, Korean Red, Shilla, and one other one that I don't remember, but probably another soft neck variety. (you'd think I'd remember since I just looked in the box like 10 minutes ago, but alas, no. And since I sealed up the box until we get to planting time in September/October, I'm not going to go look at it again).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butterflies

The passion vine ended up supporting 4 butterflies (there were many more caterpillars, but they didn't make it since the vine wasn't large enough for that many). Also, amazingly to me, the passion vine has already started to recuperate--there are new leaf sets all over it. I expected it to be bare until next year. I wasn't around for the second hatching, but I did get a picture the morning of the day of (August 6).



And then, yesterday (August 22), I noticed this little buddy flying around and taking a breather on some of the wildflowers out front.

I thought about sending this one in for the Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest, but didn't look at the deadline until today. Oh well, C'est la Vie.

Garden Work in 100+ Heat

I pulled some seeds from both the Texas Lantana plant by the gate and the Rock Rose that Bob gave me. I've planted said seeds in some containers so we'll see if they grow, and if they do, I'll likely have some plants to give away.

I also finally planted some Broccoli seeds in some starter containers...Of course by the time I have to plant them in the ground, they'll only maybe have been germinated for a week or two...but if I've gotta wait until it's a little cooler to put them out, I may just keep the little transplants in the house a little longer.

After seeing Patty's pictures of Graffiti, Cheddar, and Romanesco Cauliflower, I think I'd like to try them. I'm a picky eater and I've never really cared for Cauliflower or Broccoli florets (I love the stems though). But, I'm also willing to try something that looks just crazy. Besides, if it creeps me out too much, I can always take it to work, I'm sure someone would eat it. Though I don't know if we'll be able to grow cauliflower this year--already have beets, garlic, scallions, carrots, broccoli and chard that I'll be planting, and as I said earlier, I'm keeping all the spring plants going through the fall. Oh yeah, and I need to find a place to do some lettuces/spinach, potatoes and strawberries. Of course the garlic, scallions and beets can probably be thrown inbetween other plants (see Bob's pictures here) , so I might be able to free up some space by using more of the spring garden--I do have maybe a square foot of space in the front center and side rear of the bed. Plus I'm sure some items will be pretty obvious that they're not going to make it through the winter (like the eggplant will probably be pretty done for in October, and if the pepper plant doesn't have any peppers on it, it too will be pulled).

The Butternut plant also set one squash. Hopefully it will stick and we'll have a winter squash to eat. This has really been the first time growing squash to eat (I grew jack-o-lantern pumpkins in Colorado, and only ever had real success with it one year), and this is the first time I've tried growing squash down here in Texas. Next year I'll have to put the seeds in one of the beds and then try covering the vines in order to get the plants to set some roots along the thing to deter that squash vine borer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Organic Gardening Talks

August 15, 9 am, The Natural Gardener: Organic Vegetable Gardening 101

August 22, 10 am, River Place Country Club off of 2222: Fall Vegetable Gardening

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tomato Taste Test

Since I don't eat raw tomatoes, I took one from each of the plants (except the Brandywine) and had my coworkers try them and tell me what they thought. The only problem is that I don't know which tomato was the Viva Italia and which was the Roma. I think I know, but I'm not positive, so I'll have to wait for the fall garden crop to be sure.

The Black Krim was favored by 2 of the 5 tasters. And the 2 that liked it ate the whole thing, thus the other 3 couldn't try it. I was, however, told by both the tasters that if I ever had any extra krims that I didn't want, they would be glad to take them. Of course, the 3 that didn't try it did get a look at it and were all leary about eating it since it is a purple tomato and has greenish/black goo.

The Viva Italia (at least I think it was the Viva Italia) was deemed the best paste tomato. Very little seed and goo, good meat amount. It was the favored tomato by two of the tasters.

The BHN was very acidic flavored, but good. It was the number 3 pick for all the tasters (number 2 for the ones that didn't get to try the Krim)

The Roma (at least I think it was the Roma) came out at the bottom of the bunch. I was told it tasted like a store-bought tomato and everyone was surprised that I grew it in the garden.

As I said, when the plants start producing again, I'm going to have to take in one from each plant and do another taste test...because it ain't scientifically proven until you have multpile tests showing the same result. Besides, it will give me time to figure out the difference between the Viva Italia and Roma plants.

Monday, August 3, 2009

SVB

Darn that Squash Vine Borer. Darn them all to heck! I pulled another 3 out of the plants yesterday and wiped off god knows how many eggs. And while I was talking to my mom on the phone, I watched the adult fly around and deposit more eggs (which I wiped off as she went along). You may ask why I didn't just kill the bug, but that's because I'm weird like that--I don't like getting my hands dirty unless it's with dirt.

So, because of the surgery, half of the butternut is dead, and the delicata has bit the dust as well. On the plus side, I think I'm going to just go out every afternoon and do an egg search instead of waiting until the borer is actually inside the vine.

I do, however, think the adult bugs look really cool...the grubs just look like something someone would eventually eat on Survivor.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Planning for the Fall

I just pulled out my Planting Guide for Travis County* and noticed that most of the fall seeds need to be planted in September. Which means that we need to start planning for where to put our second raised bed. Based on my "Winter Sun" chart I made in January, it looks like the best place is just to the left of the location of our previous bed. Of course the problem with this spot is that the Rose of Sharon plant will provide some shade from the sun while it still has leaves on it, but once the leaves are gone, it should be fine. I've already told Shawn that we need to plan a little better for this bed--like putting some pieces of PVC vertically on the sides so we can make frames if we need to (whether sun shade or garden net or even string nets for climbing plants), pulling it a little ways from the fence so I can actually walk all the way around the bed, etc.

Now then, as far as plants: I've got Broccoli seeds (which I probably need to be starting soon), garlic that will be delivered in time for planting, scallions, carrots, beets and chard. Plus, I'll keep everything that's going in the spring garden bed going for a fall garden as well.

I also had my first run in with the dreaded Squash Vine Borer last week. I did surgery on all three of my plants, and it only ended up killing one of them, the other two have pulled through admirably, though I still doubt they'll set fruit before they die from a freeze or something (though at the rate we're going, we're never going to see temps under 70 ever again).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Random Thoughts

1. I would like to plant Garlic for next year. After reading Vertie's blog, I think I will order some. This is only dangerous because I've got 80 billionty seeds that I bought in the spring...and most of them are winter plants. I forsee building another raised bed in the near future. Good thing Bob gave me brackets to make 2 beds.
Update: I will be planting some garlic. I just ordered some from the place Vertie got hers last year.

2. Does anyone know if beets, broccoli, and garlic grow well together?

3. I keep meaning to post about my yard art, but always forget. I found this while doing some field work for my job. No, I did not take it out of anyone's yard. It was sitting at the bottom of a creek. Instead of going through the hassle of writing out a work ticket to have the field crew come out and remove it, and then go and put it in the dump, I decided I'd haul it up the bank and then take it home. This thing is HEAVY. I don't know how it ended up in the creek (okay, that's not true, I do--someone threw it into the creek), but it does worry me some that its brother was in the same creek, but at a different place (about 20 yards away)--did the previous owners intentionally throw the blocks away at two separate locations or did the water move them? It's likely that the water flow moved them, but still, as I said, they're heavy, it is solid cement after all. Anyhow, I would like to do something like East Side Philip's Botox Lady with it, but need to find something somewhat vining for it (I actually was hoping that the scarlet flax would come back this year and so I could play around, but alas, it was not to be). I also apparently need to move this a couple feet away from where I have it now since it apparently a bird poop collector.

4. The Rock Rose and Artemesia from Bob by the front door:
I must have put the artemesia in too shady of a spot because it's practically growing along the ground to the east. The roses, however, are flourishing. I think I'm going to put the turk's cap and mist flower over by this area as well (only they'll both be further to the east, and therefore have more sun).

5. Since Bob's told me that he'll give me a beauty berry bush, I've been contemplating where to put it--do I put it over by the turks cap in the backyard, or do I pull out the invasive Nandina and put it there, or do I just put it on the hill area next to the Nandina and leave the Nandina in the ground? I don't know how much I'll like red next to purple, but at the same time, that's the same thing that would happen if I put it next to the turks cap. Plus I guess I'd better start thinking about where I'll put my Avocado tree. It currently sits in my office downtown, and sits right next to the window, but since they put that sun reflector stuff on the windows, it doesn't get nearly as much sun as it seems it should get...which means I probably need to put it in a semi-shady spot in the back yard.

Cicada

And another post that Wizzie would like. This particular creature is on one of the petunia plants that Bob at Draco gave me at the beginning of the spring.

I went outside at dusk to make my rounds of checking on which plants needed water. When I got to this one, I freaked out some because of the crazy green bug on the plant. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a 'hatching' cicada and ran back inside to get my camera.



Top view. Taken 10 minutes after the above photo. Taken from this angle so you can see the wing nubs.


It's finally out of its shell and is waiting for the wings to fill with blood i assume (similar to a butterfly). Taken 5 minutes after the one above.


Two minutes later the wings are 'fully inflated' and it appeared that it was hanging out for its exoskeleton to harden before it flew off. At this point it was getting pretty dark out (this last picture was taken at 8:25) and I figured I couldn't wait around any longer just so I could attempt to take a picture as it flew away. But still, I'm such a nerd, I was all excited about it and made my husband come out and see as well.

Gulf Fritillary

And now onto the post that Wizzie would like.

At the beginning of June, my passion vine looked like this (bat-face cuphea is between the two vines)


Then, these guys showed up at the beginning of July and totally denuded the right vine.



And now I've got these all over the plant.


Yay! success! and it happened the first year I planted them!

Pictures, Yay!

I've got a couple of posts' worth of pictures, so bear with me (and the 3 or 4 posts that I'm going to be making in rapid succession).

First, The garden through time:

April 4, 2009. 2.5 weeks after planting everything, and having the front row damaged by a freak hail storm in late March.


May 22, 2009. The pepper in the back is dead, the pepper in the front ain't doin' too hot. The Brandywine is the tallest, with the Krim a close second. The Eggplant looks all squat and funny. I still have strawberry plants in the black planter.


June 6, 2009. Only a two week difference from the picture above, and yet the Brandywine and Krim have grown about 1.5'. The eggplant has also grown some. I also had ripped out the strawberries and replaced them with Delicata and Butternut seeds. I also had put up the bird netting just before this picture as well.



July 18, 2009. It was too depressing to take photos of the plants before I pruned them, so I just didn't. I chopped the Brandywine in half and most of the Krim--the long branches are from the Krim, they have tomatoes on them still so I left them, but when I harvest the tomatoes, I'll cut the branches down. The Krim branches that remain show that the plant was about 2' taller than in the previous photo. The Roma and Viva Italia (on the right) have filled out quite a bit from earlier, and the eggplant practically requires a tomato cage of its own. The delicata and butternut have really taken off on the left side of the picture. Oh, and you can barely make out the eggplant itself--it's the white thing above the yellow leaf on the left plant in the garden.

Monday, July 13, 2009

lack of posting, again

Sorry for the lack of posting--we were on Vacation. Again. This time to the east coast, where I actually took some pictures of flowers and gardens and what have you at Mount Vernon, so I will probably post them here. eventually.

The neighborlady who watched the cats and garden was paid in copious amounts of tomatoes this time around (okay, maybe not copious, but at least 10 tomatoes since that's how many were ripe the day we left, plus whatever ripened while we were gone).

The garden is looking pretty pitiful.

The Brandywine is miserable, and I'll be pruning it back this weekend since the ONE tomato it had on it is now gone (I'm hoping it ripened and Cammie got it, and not the squirrels).

The Krim is starting to feel the heat, but still looks kinda decent, though leggy, it will also be pruned back.

The other three tomatoes are doing fine I guess. The eggplant and winter squash plants are actually thriving. The pepper plants are all keeping on, keeping on.

All the flowering plants look like crap except for the ones Bob gave me, the two Turk's caps I bought, and the coral honeysuckle plant. Of course the bat-face cuphea came back pretty well after watering it yesterday, and I think the bulbine plants and lantana plants will pull through as well. The passion flower was in dire need of water, but perked up after it got some.

It of course looks like crap right now because of the caterpillars. :) I don't know if it bloomed or not, but it does have cute little spikey caterpillars all over it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Updates

Yeah yeah, I know, I really need to post pictures...sigh.

Anyhow, as I'm sure everyone's been reading on all the other Austin garden blogs, the hot weather has hit. We've had multiple days in a row with 100+ temps...which isn't good for the garden.

That hot of temperatures tends to make everything slightly crispy.

The heirloom tomato plants started showing some crispy fried leaves so I've upped my watering from 2x a week to more like every day...though I do have to be careful because I noticed some blossom end rot problems on the Romas. Silly temperamental tomato plants.

The Brandywine tomato plant does not look well. I can't really figure out the problem--the leaves turn yellow, then will get some crispy spots, but they never drop off. I think it's a water problem at this point, but it even had problems back in the day that I don't think were related to water...unless it was getting too much water. Sadly, I don't think the plant will make it to the fall (I probably should take Bonnie's suggestion and prune it to see if that would help). Also, there is one lone tomato on the plant (it set during our last vacation--which was the last time we had temps that were below 75 for more than 2 hours...it just happened that that time frame was during some hellacious storm, or so I've gathered from the Austin Garden Blogs).

I've pulled another Viva Italia tomato (and there's another ripening), as well as 4 more Krims--I've started pulling them off the vine when they look pink and then let them ripen to the purple color inside the house. I gave 2 of the Krims to one of my coworkers (in exchange for some squash from his garden). I also learned that Shawn doesn't like them much --not because they're tomatoes, but because when you cut them open, the goo around the seeds is dark green/black and he thinks it looks like the tomato is rotten...so I have to make sure to scrape out all the seeds first and then add them to our sauces.

The Delicata and Butternut plants took off while we were on vacation, and other than getting a little wilty during the heat of the day, they're doing fine--and are about to bloom.

I noticed some tiny Thai Chili Peppers on the pepper plant out front, so it looks like we'll be able to have our spicy breakfast potatoes again, yummy!

I'm still pulling some worms off of the tomato plants...they look to be Yellowstriped Armyworms, but the damage is pretty minimal--enough to be noticeable, but not enough to do anything other than pick them off the plants and throw them in the neighbor's yard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tomatoes

Sorry for the lack of blogging--I've been out of town for the last week. While I was gone, my neighbor took care of the garden and the cats...though I don't know how much she really had to take care of the garden--most of the time the garden does fine with a good soaking on the weekend and a good soaking once in the middle of the week and it rained 1.5" on Thursday night I guess it was (I was still gone, so I'm going off of what my coworkers told me).

Anyhow, right before leaving, we had a Roma tomato ripen up and it looked like 3 of the Black Krims would be ripe within a few days, so I told the neighbor to take them and enjoy them. I think she took two of the Krims, and the Roma, but the third Krim ended up rotting on the vine (I pulled it off when we got back on Saturday).

When I had a chance to check the garden on Saturday morning, I noticed that something started eating holes in the eggplant (like the actual fruit, well, the leaves too, but it's a healthy plant, so it was the fruit I was concerned about) so I pulled the worm off (dark gray with light gray running stripes). I also pulled 5 ripe Viva Italia tomatoes off the plant, with 3 more close to being ripe). I pulled all the worm eaten green tomatoes off the plants (mosly on the BHN for some reason), and was surprised at how well the winter squash did with minimal watering (or maybe the neighbor watered more frequently than I told her to).

I have noticed that the Krims are starting to have splitting problems (Annie had warned me of such), so I'm trying to water the other plants and let the Krim plant stay dry, but I don't know how well that's going...guess I'll find out when the other two close to being ripe tomatoes ripen.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bird Netting

Today I put some bird netting (technically it's labeled as Deer Netting...but it's the same as the bird netting only it comes in 7' x 100' rolls instead of 14' x 14') around the garden to attempt to protect the ripening tomatoes from the squirrels/raccoons/random neighbors who are stealing my ripened tomatoes. So, we'll see how this works.

For an update on all the plants:
Viva Italia Tomato: Covered in tomatoes. Not very big (the plant), not many non-fruiting branches (so it looks a little airy). One ripened tomato thus far. One ripened tomato taken by wildlife. No longer flowering

Roma Tomato: Has a few tomatoes. This one was one that was damaged by the hail. One ripened tomato thus far. And it was good. it was diced and put in spaghetti sauce. Still flowering, though barely. One tomato currently ripening. This is why I put out the bird netting--I want my tomatoes, dammit.

Corno di Toro Pepper: piddly. But I did Miracle-Gro all the plants this weekend, so maybe it will get a move on.

BHN tomato: 2 tomatoes total. This one was one that was damaged by the hail. One tomato ripened thus far. One ripened tomato taken by wildlife. Currently flowering prolifically.

Cloud 9 Eggplant: 1 eggplant thus far (about 2" big). This plant has really taken off in recent weeks and is about to flower again.

Rococo Pepper: Dead. D-E-D, dead. I ripped out--roots looked fine, so I assume it was something I did (or some act of God--it did seem to go downhill very quickly when I watered the plants and then it rained 3"). I replaced it with some watermelon seeds. Which just came up so hopefully that will have better luck.

Black Krim Tomato: about 4.5' tall I would guesstimate. Has quite a few tomatoes on it--enough that even if they all are taken by wildlife this year, I will plant one again next year. No ripened tomatoes yet.

Brandywine Tomato: about 6' tall I would guesstimate. Has NO tomatoes on it. Pssh. Still flowering prolifically. Which is only stupid because it won't set fruit with temps this hot. It better do well in the fall, otherwise I'm writing this breed off.

Cayenne Pepper: It's doing alright. Hasn't flowered any since I pulled all the peppers off. but still, 3 peppers are worth it.

Thai Chili Pepper: This is a plant that I had planted last year and at the end of the season I cut the plants down instead of ripping them out--I thought they would die over the winter. Instead, all 3 plants came back--one was killed by the guys doing our roof though, and another just never seemed to do well (plus i never watered it enough). But the third one is doing very well. I think it's about to bloom too (fingers crossed).

Other things I did today: I ripped out the strawberry plants and put them in the composter, and then planted one compact Butternut and one compact Delicata squash seed in thier place. I also finally ripped out the oregano plant in the planter and am currently drying the parts that were green. I spread the remainder of my lettuce leaf basil plants in its place (but I'm guessing the basil seeds are no longer good--they are 3 years old I think.) If nothing is coming up by the middle of June, then I'll probably plant something else in there, but I don't know what...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rain

It rained. Again. Again it was a day after I watered the garden. You'd think I'd learn by now that I need to actually look at the weather forecast instead of just watering everything willy-nilly.


And how fitting is it that the Purple Heart started blooming the day before Memorial Day?


And just 'cuz I like this photo (An inchworm on a sunflower):

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rain

Rain amounts last weekend (May 16/17) were in the 1" range (some parts of Austin got 2"). The only sucky part was that I had just watered all the plants the day before.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Freaking A!

Stupid. Freaking. Squirrels.

Made off with another tomate-er today. The quickly ripening BHN. Only sucktackular because that was the ONLY tomato on that plant. Great. How am I supposed to know what they taste like now.

Those squirrels better be glad that I have a job and therefore can't sit outside all day in a lawn chair wearing a truckers' hat, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon* and shooting at them with a BB gun**.

So it looks like we'll be making a trip to pick up some bird netting and then figuring out a way to anchor it down so the squirrels don't get under it. I may also have to buy them some squirrel corn.

*I've never had a PBR, but one of my friends from college always drinks it whenever he wants to "do it up like a trailer park". His quote, not mine. I think most trailer parks are perfectly adequate.

**I've never shot a gun in my life either. BB or otherwise. At work, we keep talking about going skeet shooting though. So yeah...me with a 12-gauge shotgun. It will be GLORIOUS.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 15: Bloom Day (One Day Late)

Of course, now that I have some time to go out and take pictures of the blooming plants, it's all rainy outside. So instead, you'll just have to make do with pictures I took earlier of the plants that are blooming and will have to wait patiently for photos of the plants that are currently blooming that weren't blooming earlier (or in some cases, wait for photos that actually look good instead of like crap).

So, here's a list of everything that's blooming right now: Tomatoes, Squash, Eggplant, Bulbine, Red Lantana, White Lantana, Volunteer Orange Lantana, Coral Honeysuckle, Parsley, Oregano, Easter Lily, White Cornflower, Volunteer Sun Flower, Asian Jasmine, Confederate Star Jasmine, and Bat-Face Cuphea.

Pictures I have of things that are blooming (or at least were blooming at the beginning of the month):

The cyclamen bloomed at the beginning of the month completely surprising me. This one is no longer blooming, though the bloom only officially fell off on Thursday. I want to know why posting these red flower photos on Blogger always makes them look like crap...

The Bat-face Cuphea started blooming at the end of April, and it's still going, though it had many more flowers earlier this month than it does now. The part that surprises me about this plant is that it's so small--the blooms are really little too, about the size of my finger tip (from the tip to the first joint)

Oh Noes!!1!! The Bat-Faced Cuphea has a tumor! It's nice to know that not even mother nature is perfect all the time.

As I said, I'll update later (probably tomorrow) with more pictures of all the other stuff that's blooming--and I'll be sure to get a wide angle photo of the front yard area because it's a mass of white flowers with an accent of the sunflowers...it's actually kinda pretty this year--I think its because the lantana is larger and is blooming at the same time as the Easter Lilies (the Lilies just opened up yesterday as did the cornflower---I totally should have taken pictures last night, but I was too concerned about getting everything watered since everything looked crispy...now of course it's raining. But I'm still grateful--the rain barrel needed to be refilled.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lantana

So I need recommendations on how to transplant plants. More specifically what I need to do to prep for digging up the plant and then moving it to a new place in the yard. See, this is my problem:I think I can probably get through the summer having it here, but after the summer it needs to be moved to a different part of the yard.

So I guess my questions really come down to:
1. Should I move it now, or wait until after the summer?
2. What do I need to do to prep it for moving (cut back, water well, etc)?
3. And I'm also going to assume that I ought to just move it directly to where I want it to be as opposed to putting it in a pot and then transplanting it later...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mystery Flowers

Mystery Flower #1 has turned out to be a sunflower of some sort:
Mystery Flower #2 is a Lantana plant. It has yellow flowers, and I think it didn't get enough water before they started falling off, but I think it's the Texas variety. Also, this picture is so close up because I was trying to take photos in the wind. Stupid wind. The best part about this plant is that we don't have a Texas Lantana in our yard. I've planted the purple trailing, the red Dallas, and some white variety.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Solanaceae Garden Update

Why plant a selection of plants in your garden when you can plant everything in the same family thus guaranteeing that if you have a problem with one plant, you'll have the same problem with all the plants?

Anyhow, I went out yesterday evening and noticed that there are spider mites. I've never had spider mites before. So I will start preventative measures tomorrow morning. These preventative measures are also called "strong spray of water from underneath the leaves", thus the reason for doing it tomorrow morning instead of tonight.

Also, I noticed a few leaves that were yellowing in what is possibly a spotted fashion. It may be early blight. I'm not sure. I dealt with the problem last night by pinching off the affected leaves. I will likely prune the tomato plants tomorrow morning to increase air flow. Of course I will end with the affected plant so as to minimize the transfer to another plant via clippers. Furthermore, the savior of the garden during the hail storms has now become its worst enemy (the fence prevented the golf ball sized hail from damaging the heirloom tomato plants, but it now also serves as a windbreak thus reducing airflow).

Oddly there are still no tomato hornworms. Though I think they're coming since I saw a moth fly away from the plants last night.

The one pepper plant still has aphids.

I did get 2 cayenne peppers off the pepper plant out front. And the Thai chilies surprised me by coming back from the ground this year...If they survive the summer, I'm hoping they'll give some fall peppers.

And now the before and after pictures:

Before (about a week or so after planting...a few days after the hail, thus the craptacular looking plants in the front):



Now-ish (about 2 weeks ago...So that gives about 3 weeks between pictures. Front Row from left to right: Eggplant, BHN tomato, Corno De Toro Pepper, Roma tomato. Back Row from left to right: Rococo Pepper, Black Krim tomato, Brandywine tomato, Viva Italia tomato):


We planted the tomatoes in the "organic gardeners of Austin" style; that is, we planted them as deep as possible, of course the only one that was small enough to actually somewhat adhere to the "all but the top leaves" rule was the Krim. And it has probably had the best growth there for a while. It's definitely the most robust of the tomatoes in any case.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bloomin' Plants


Orange Bulbine (plant graciously given by an anonymous garden blogger).












Coral Honeysuckle blooms. This was the only plant I bought at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Sale. I'm guessing that since it bloomed it means it's doing well.






(next post will be about the mystery plants that finally bloomed. And the post after that will be soliciting advice for transplanting one of the mystery plants. And the one after that will be about more plants blooming...who knows...maybe that one will actually coincide with a Bloom Day for once).

(Also, this is what happens when I can't read all my normal blogs during lunch at work--my blogging suffers because I have to spend the time after I'm home reading blogs instead of writing them.)

Austin Garden Bloggers Get Together


I attended the Austin Garden Bloggers Get Together last weekend. (also, does any one find it funny that Blogger.com says that Blogger isn't a word?) I showed up late at Jill's house as I left my house a little late (what do you mean I can't make a land-speed record and make it to downtown in 5 minutes?), and so I'm sure I missed introductions and what have you. After hanging out in Jill's yard for a while, we went on a walking tour of the immediate neighborhood, and it was during this tour that I found out just how large artichoke plants are AND how large pomegranate trees can get. Discovering this kinda actually sucks because I wanted to plant a pomegranate in the front yard but it's a bit big for the place where I wanted to put it.












After our walking tour it was off to Jenny's house to see her gardens...and quite honestly, if she'd let me I'd just take out of town guests there rather than the wildflower center. And she makes it seem so easy to have a gorgeous garden. After the explanation of how everything was done (the rockscaping part), we had snacks (courtesy of everyone) and a little raffle (courtesy of Pam). Jenny's husband, David, won the first raffle and I don't remember who won the second (Vertie maybe?), And as Pam points out in the comments, MSS won one of the raffles (and actually there were three raffles--two for books, one for a magazine). After more food and conversation, Diana recommended that because the weather was starting to turn stormy that maybe the plant swap should commence. So we all trouped around the yard to the driveway. Since I didn't bring anything to swap, I pretty much stood back and only accepted seeds that were offered (I don't know why but when people want to get rid of plants, I view it as a big money commitment from them whereas seeds are more like "I have this, but I don't want it, please take it"...which of course is only funny because all the plants are dug up from yards and the plant swap is really more like saving a plant from a compost heap). Sue and I got involved with talking about work (we both work with government entities...she for the environmental side and me not so much), and when we noticed everyone else heading off to our cars, we opted to as well. That's when Jenny asked if either of us wanted the bulbine plants sitting on the driveway. Since everyone else was leaving, Sue and I split the plants and then headed for our cars. I don't remember any one presenting/talking about the orange bulbine (I do remember someone talking about the yellow bulbine which was snapped up). So, to whichever of you garden bloggers brought the orange bulbine, thanks so much! I already planted it out in the front yard, hopefully it actually does well where I planted it. (also, please tell me if I linked to anyone incorrectly!)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Squirrels!

Yesterday evening, I took a picture of my strawberries that were going to be ready to pick today. So today, I came home right after work and went straight to the strawberries. Only to find that they had been eaten. Eaten by squirrels I assume (based off of the nice bite marks). Those stupid animals ate only the red ones.

Coming soon: pictures from the Austin Garden Bloggers' Get Together.

Rain

We've gotten about 2" at the house, probably a little less, over the last week or so. The plants are loving it. Almost as much as the lawn.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Garden Work

I jogged/walked the Texas Round Up 5k this morning, and on the way home, I decided it was a good day to do some yard work so I stopped off at Lowe's to pick up a couple bags of mulch.

I've mulched the vegetable garden beds and pots, and I still have 2 bags in order to do the flower beds. I also planted 4 more potted plants from Draco Gardens (I know, I've been horrendously lazy recently). Of course it took me a while to dig holes and everything because the previous owners used that weed barrier stuff in the beds where I planted the Artemesia and Rock Roses. Now, of course, I am a hot mess because all I've been doing all day long is sweating profusely.

The volunteer plant by the gate has proven to be a yellow lantana plant (a color which we do not have). Too bad it's in a place that requires me to move it to a different location, otherwise the gate will eventually smash the poor thing to death. I tried to take photos of it yesterday, but it was very windy, so we'll see if any of them turned out good enough to post.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Seeds

When Ross (coworker) and I went to the MG Spring Vegetable Gardening seminar, they gave us a seed pack of the Silver Rib Swiss Chard and a coupon for ordering seeds from Renee's Garden. The coupon was a "buy 4 get 1 free" deal. But of course, with one pretty small garden, what was I going to do with 5 packs of seeds other than plant them over the next 10 years?

That's when the idea struck that I could just go in on ordering the seeds with my garden fanatic coworkers and then subsidize the cost somewhat. I got enough people involved that it ended up making the cost $0.50 per variety wanted, and all I had to do was separate all the seeds into equal amounts and copy the planting instructions for everyone. I also went a bit crazy and ordered 10 seed packs instead of the required 5. But so far I think all involved are happy with the outcome--5 varieties of seeds for $2.50: The only possible problem is that for some seed varieties it means that people only got maybe 5 seeds or so (like the watermelons), while with other seeds everyone got 50 (like the scallions).

So, over the next couple of planting seasons (fall and spring most likely), I'll be starting the following seeds:
Beets
Broccoli
Chard (from the MGs)
Eggplant
Watermelon
Bell Peppers
Habanero Peppers
Scallions
Winter Squash
Garlic Chives
Lavender

Add this to the goal of saving my own seeds from the tomatoes (and possibly peppers...if they ever grow), and I'm going to be very busy this year.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More Animal Visitors

Yesterday, when I woke up, I went to see how much it had rained. And I noticed these footprints by the back door:

I can't really decide if they're the tracks of a raccoon or of a young opossum though. Whatever. They just better not steal all my tomatoes when they ripen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Bloom Day,

Another day in which I didn't take pictures.

It's like I'm anti-bloom day or something. No, that's not true. It's just that I always feel like there's nothing blooming, so I don't take any photos. So today, though I didn't take any photos, I made a conscious effort to note everything that was blooming: The pansies, the purple lantana, the rose plant, the parsley, the tomatoes, and the strawberry are actively blooming. The bat-faced cuphea, passion vine, white lantana, and the volunteer plant by the gate and the volunteer plant by the lantana are about to bloom.

I'll for sure take photos of the volunteer plants since I have no idea what they are.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lady Bird Wildflower Center Sale

My friend, Bond, and I went to the LBWC plant sale today. The cost to get in is $7 (the fee to get into the grounds) and then the plants are obviously some additional money.

Bond didn't find any plants, but I did find the one I wanted; a Coral Honeysuckle plant. At a price of $8, I only got one. I have a bad track record with plants and I want to make sure I can keep it alive before I go dropping all sorts of money.

We also went on a guided tour about plant taxonomy, and learned some interesting things--like sunflowers are actually lots of little flowers all organized to look like one single flower, and that there's this plant called Frostweed that is fairly nondescript until the first frost of the year where the sap leaks out and then freezes in all sorts of weird patterns.

And, of course, as always when I go to the wildflower center, I left my camera at home.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Weather

Stupid, freaking weather!

It is liable to freeze tonight. And it's still all windy. Though I guess the wind should die down around 10pm tonight and stay at less than 3mph for the rest of the night. This weather reminds me of Easter 2005. That was the year my inlaws came for a visit and were all excited because they could wear summer clothes. Then it was all cold and windy and we drove the 3 blocks to the church we visited that year (I would have toughed it out and walked--they served hot coffee!). Though I guess to be fair, that same year, the time when my parents came down to visit in October it was the same situation.

Stupid wind.

Sigh...that which does not kill my plants only makes them stronger.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Weather

This crappy wind on the weekends REALLY needs to stop. I've got garden work to do, but I refuse to garden in the wind and get dust blown in my eyes.

Also, I need to get this garden stuff done because I'm starting to forget about certain plants in pots--I have no problem with the ones on the back porch because I see them everytime I look out the door. But I'm starting to forget about the ones I had bought at the Zilker Garden Fest. I went out to check on them on Thursday night and thought they were a little dry, but didn't want to water them right before nightfall so I promised myself I'd do it Friday morning. I forgot. By the time I got home and remembered to check on them, it was just about nightfall and the poor bat-faced cuphea was all crispy. I doused all the plants in water as waiting until morning probably would have done them in. See? This is why I need to have a nice day to plant stuff.

And yes, yesterday WAS a nice day, and I should have done more gardening, but I thought the whole weekend was supposed to be nice, so I figured I'd do chores on Saturday, gardening on Sunday. Boourns stupid wind!