Saturday, January 24, 2009

Garden Guide for Austin and Vicinity

Last fall, at the Master Gardener's Fall Garden seminar, I found the Garden Guide for Austin and Vicinity in the little Zilker Park Botanical Store (Chrysalis Shop). Since no one was working the cash register I couldn't buy it, but put it on my list of "Things I need to buy for the Garden."

This last Monday, since I had the day off, I decided to go in search of this book. The Travis County Master Gardener's website has a list of places where this book is sold. There is one kinda close to me called "It's a Jungle" at Kramer and Lamar.

Since my friend Sarah and I have a tradition of hanging out for a couple of hours each MLK day (we normally only see each other once or twice a year), I decided that I would go over to her house for a little while then drive over to the garden shop before it closed.

I managed to find the shop and I went into the store area and looked around for the book, I didn't see it so I hunted down an employee. She told me they didn't have any and that she was going to call the MGs because I was the 3rd person that week who asked for it. I wandered around for a little while longer (if you like orchids, roses, or citrus trees, this is the place to go), then left empty handed.

Magically, as if by fate, my coworker Ross asked if I had ever gotten the book, I said no and that it pissed me off since I made a special trip just to get the book. He then offered to loan me his book for a while since he lives in an apartment and can only do container gardening and he had already read the book through a couple of times. So, now I have the book on loan. Yippee! There's quite a bit about turf grasses, which I will make Shawn read since the lawn is his turf (ha ha, get it?) and I will read the parts about flowers and vegetables. And maybe, eventually, I will get a citrus (or peach) tree and attempt to grow one, without killing it off, obviously.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stupid Texas and it's Stupid Allergens

Graphic courtesy of Central Texas Allergy and Asthma Center. If you want to see what it looks like when the Cedars release their pollen, take a gander at the Rock Rose Blog.

Gardening Plans for Spring 2009

1. Make yard layouts on paper (I know, I know, this is always supposed to be the FIRST thing you do. But I usually think planning is over-rated). It's not like I don't have the tools--I have a measuring tape, and engineering paper even, I'm just lazy. The part I find the funniest is that my profession would usually make you think I'd be all into planning and much less likely to do the doing part. But you'd be wrong. We ran into trouble when I started doing all my gardening down here because we put the garden along the fence figuring it was a prime spot to put such a thing--there wasn't anything growing there so we didn't have to worry about digging up grass and plants. The fact that things weren't growing there should have tipped us off. It's not like the husband and I were gardening novices. We just didn't plan.

2. Put raised beds in the sun in the backyard. I will use the brackets that Bob from Gardening at Draco has been nice enough to offer to make for me. I haven't decided how big of beds we'll put in (it will probably either be 1 long one, or 2 short ones). The biggest problem with this is that we will have to do some digging to level out the area that we ultimately decide to put this/these bed(s).

3. I want to expand the front yard berm area. There are two spots on either side of the berm that just never seem to do well during the summer. This is probably because the husband and I have an aversion to watering St. Augustine grass. So, more xeriscape plants are in order. I want to put one of the stock pond agave plant setups on one side. But this is going to take some time since I have to convince the husband that they look nice, not cheap. The other side would have a line of rocks, very similar to what we've already got out there and then will have xeri plants planted in it.

4. There's an area at the end of the driveway (right before the sidewalk) that the previous owners cordoned off with lawn edging and then planted a bunch of Asian Jasmine and one lone rose plant that has bloomed 2 times since we've been here. This is because I never take care of it. Ever. Anyhow, I want to pull all that stuff out and put something else there. Texas Sage, or a Pomegranate tree maybe.

5. And while we're talking about pulling out plants, we've got a 6' berrying Nandina in the back yard corner that needs to come out because of the whole 'invasive plant' thing. I don't know what to put in it's place though since it's in the area that gets sun, and shade, and it's so dappled that I can't tell how much sun it actually gets throughout the day. I guess I should assume it gets more shade than sun and go for a Part Shade/Shade bush. I don't want to put Turk's Cap there because I already planted two of those close by.

6. There's also the area along the pathway to the house--in the last 2 years I've just planted my garden stuff there, but it's really not ideal for that. It doesn't get full sun because the Chinese Pistache tree shades a portion of it for most of the day. I've also had some Yucca-looking plant there (something like kangaroo paws), but it died, and I never bothered trying to replace it because it was starting to poke people in the ankles as they walked by. Maybe Passion Flower will do alright in the area that gets more sun.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (A few days late)

The problem with winter bloom days is that I leave for work before the sun comes up and I get home after it goes down so I never usually get to photograph the plants on ACTUAL bloom day.

Tropical sage (at least I'm pretty sure this is Tropical Sage). The plant itself looks like crap for want of water.

Purple Pansy.

And the bloom I'm most excited about--a Strawberry flower!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Victory Garden

So, I know on this blog I tend not to talk about my personal family stuff, or the economy, or anything other than gardening related activities. Today I will digress because it's my blog and I can do what I want.

We, fortunately, have not been hit hard by the collapsing economy. The husband and I both have jobs that pay well, a house, clothes on our backs and money for food. The down-turning economy hasn't really hit our families (yes my father in law was laid off over a year and a half ago and he still has not found a job, but my mother in law makes just enough to keep them from having to raid his 401k). Yesterday, one of the engineering firms in Austin laid off 30 of their employees. This was the 3rd or 4th round of layoffs for that particular company. And this time people I actually have worked with were let go.

This occurrence made me want to dig up the entire back yard and plant a huge vegetable garden.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thai Chili Peppers

So, a few weeks ago, I pulled the 4 green Thai Chili peppers off of the plant and set them on the windowsill in the kitchen to eventually turn red.

I minced one and added it to our breakfast potatoes on Thursday.


The husband said "The potatoes have extra kick...I'm surprised you're still eating them." (I am notorious for not handling heat well--for comparison, I tend to think the Plucker's Buffalo Medium is just about right and the Buffalo Hot is much too hot. The husband, on the other hand, thinks the Fire in the Hole is the bees knees). You better believe that I was trying to pick off every little bit of red I saw on my potatoes after the first couple of bites because I really didn't want to bite into one of those peppers.

This next year, I think I'm going to try Habaneros. This is only because I think the Mexican peppers will do better here than the Thai peppers.