Wednesday, January 31, 2007


So, according to one of our old neighbors (old as in he's now moved to Sun City, I guess that's 'Old' in 2 different ways) told us back in the day one of the trees in our front yard died, and Larry, in his infinite wisdom decided that it would cost too much to have the stump of the tree removed, so instead he had the tree chopped up into tiny pieces and then piled on top of said tree stump. They then planted 2 baby trees (which were probably 5 year trees), but not in the same place as said stump--in that area they planted 4 Devil Plants aka groundcover that never dies and a couple of Easter Lillies...which, why? oh well.

Anyhow, I've got this new theory that the tree in the front yard was an Arizona Ash because the tree died about 3 years ago, and all the neighbors that have Arizona Ash are starting to have their trees die off on them. But, if they originally had Arizona Ash, which notoriously does not do well down here (as in it grows quick and lives for about 30 years then dies off in 'chunks'), then what other crappy trees do we have in our yard?

This is the tree by our driveway. Yes yes, I know, leaves help more than bark pictures, but there aren't leaves on the tree right now. And look at it this way: NOW I will pay attention to leaves, flowers, and seed pods so I can take pictures and post them here. DUH!

This is the tree next to our front door. I think this tree is dying--every year it seems that it takes longer for the leaves to come out on it than any of our other trees, so it's probably got no leaves for about 8 months of the year. This one has to be an ash tree of some sort if the pictures at the Arizona Allergy place are any indication--the second leaf picture looks EXACTLY like this tree's leaves.

This tree is other remaining "new" tree in our front yard. It may be an oak of some sort...I also think that it needs more water than we give it, so I'm going to try water it more this summer.

This last thing is probably a bush...they had 2 on the side of the house, but one of them wasn't getting enough sun, so it died last year, and there was another of these bushes already dead in the backyard when we moved in...we don't know why that one died. This is either Cleyera or Red Tip Photinia. I really need to pay attention to new growth this year then.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Does ANYTHING grow here?

So, some history for the poor person that just happens to stumble upon this blog:

I moved from Denver, Colorado to Austin, Texas in January of 2005. In Colorado I had a garden, and usually, my garden did really well--I was able to grow pumpkins, corn (albeit not very much--in order to get any significant amount you have to plant an entire garden of the stuff), broccoli, radishes, lettuce, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, mint, onions and cucumbers. Furthermore, plants that I had inside also seemed to flourish.

Then, I moved here.

Most of my plants I brought from Colorado died within a couple of months. The only plant that survived was the bamboo. In addition to all my plants dying, it seemed that I couldn't get any plants to start growing in the house either--the bonzai pine trees started to grow, but quickly died off, the italian windowsill garden produced some piddly little plants that never got bigger than "seedling", the other herb windowsill garden never really grew, and all the flowering plants never even germinated. In February, I went and got some calla lily bulbs, I planted them, only four came up, and of those four, only 2 flowered. Plants I planted in the yard usually died off pretty quick--the only plant that has successfully stayed around for longer than one season was the tropical hibiscus bush, and that is probably because it has 8" of mulch around it. No, seriously, 8"...minimum.

I waited a full year before thinking about doing an actual garden. And, I decided, on a lark, to try to start an avocado tree. The tree did great, until the cat fell on it and snapped it in half, but the tree managed to survive and now is sitting at my office where it's safe from the leaf-eating, tree-landing cat.

For whatever stupid reason, the husband and I decided to put the garden along the south fence. I don't know why, it's stupid, the area is probably the shadiest area in our backyard. But then, compared to the shady areas in Colorado, our yard is downright bright. Anyhow, we made a garden, it's probably 24' long by about 3''s got two levels to it even. We filled it with good garden soil, mulch, and manure.

Then we went and got the plants.

We got a couple tomato plants, oregano, rosemary, thyme, watermelon seeds, cantaloupe seeds, marigolds, basil, carrot seeds and lima bean seeds. We planted everything. Everything was going swimmingly and then the rosemary was one of the tomato plants...then the squirrels got to the carrots and lima beans...most of the watermelons and cantaloupes never came up...the oregano and thyme seemed stunted. We watered, we mulched, we bought a composter and started making our own compost (and compost tea). We bought another tomato plant, and another another oregano, and a pineapple plant, and a catnip plant, and pennyroyal. The new oregano and pineapple were put in planters instead of in the garden, the catnip and pennyroyal were planted in nice planters and taken to work (since then, the pennyroyal died, and the catnip is getting by...just barely). The tomato and rosemary replaced the dead ones in the garden. Ultimately, the only plants that really produced anything were the tomatoes and the basil. Everything else died...or, as I said in the case of the herbs, remained stunted. The only plants doing well were the pineapple and oregano (in planters outside), and the avocado tree (at work). Even though the basil and the tomatoes were producing, they still looked pretty peaked most the time (and yes, I was watering every day). To top it off, the tomatoes developed a case of "Blossom-end rot" meaning that you'd have a good tomato, and then at the tip of it, there would be a rotten black spot. It's apparently due to a lack of calcium in the soil...oh, and it seemed that as soon as the tomatoes turned some form of "red" they would immediately start to shrivel and die.

By the end of August, I had given up hope on the garden, so I stopped watering, added a layer of mulch and compost to the Rosemary, thyme and oregano, and didn't touch the garden again for a while.

I noticed the basil and parsley (damn, I forgot to mention the parsley--never fear, it died too) had reseeded themselves and I now had little baby plants. Then the freeze came. I managed to save 3 basils. As of right now, I think one parsley plant made it through the most recent freeze, along with the aforementioned garden herbs. The pineapple and oregano are doing well, but then, they go in the house when it's cold. But, I digress--back to the basils. The basil...oh the basil...The basil was doing great until New Year's. Then, they apparently weren't getting enough sun sitting on the window sill and started looking a little sick. I transplanted them and took them to work. One has since died and the other ain't lookin' too hot.

I will try to post pictures later. Yes, I took pictures of my efforts. It was because the gardening book said that I should make a notebook to document things, to help me do better in the future about where to plant what plants...HA funniest thing ever!

In anycase, it's time to start thinking about what to grow in the garden this next year...