Sunday, March 29, 2009

Zilker Garden Fest and Draco Gardens

I met my friend (and coworker!) Bond at the Zilker Garden Festival on Saturday. She had likely been there for about an hour by the time I showed up . I arrived at about 330 and we walked through all the vendors, then headed over to the food station because I hadn't had lunch yet. A fajita, kettle korn and strawberry limeade later, we headed back to the vendors to purchase our plants. Bond bought a rock rose and I bought one batface cuphea and two passion vines. Had I known how many non-plant vendors there would be, I would have probably tried to buy Christmas presents 8 months early. We also walked by the kid's corner and decided that next year we are going to 'babysit' some of our friends' kids so we can get free plants (the kids were given a free plant if they went to every Zilker info booth).

Then today I went out to visit Bob and Lyn at Draco Gardens (my God I love visiting these people! they're so entertaining!). Bob had messaged a while ago that he had some plants for me if I wanted them, and I, being native plant deficient, said "absolutely!" (I mean really, how many Asian Jasmine plants can someone put on their property? the answer is 20...and that's just in the front yard--no it wasn't me, it was the previous owner).

I didn't realize that it would get me like 10 plants. Plants like Gregg's Mistflower, Turk's Cap, Giant Petunia, Artemesia, Rock Rose, and Rosemary and probably a couple others that I can't remember off the top of my head now. While I was out there, Bob said that he'd get me some Beautyberry, Flame Acanthus and Zexmenia at a later point in time (when he has them). But the joke's on him, see? I was just lamenting this morning about how I totally forgot to look for a beautyberry at the Garden Fest yesterday.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pictures of Hail

I lied. I do not have any photos of the garden right after we planted it. This is because I was going to get tomato cages and then take a photo, but I haven't gotten tomato cages yet, so there is no "Post Planting" photo.

And Shawn was the one that took the photos of the hail, so he took photos of the most impressive stuff, and since the garden was relatively unscathed (except for the aforementioned eggplant), there wasn't anything impressive. Plus all the hail was gone in the garden by the time he got home (though according to my supervisor who lives close to Spicewood Springs Road, he said that in his garden the hail penetrated about an inch into the ground because it was nice good soft soil and not all hard and packed down, thus it looked like there was no hail in the garden).

So here are the photos that Shawn took of the hail:

The front yard area. I remember driving through the neighborhood and thinking it looked like it had snowed.

The backyard area right outside of our door. There's a wee Mountain Laurel seedling in the middle of the wrapped hose (it did survive and is actually looking great now). There was still hail in this area the next morning when I woke up--not much, but the point is, it was still there.

Here is the obligatory hail size photo. Shawn took this photo at 6 pm, and I think the hail stopped in our area around 530 or so. By the time I got home at about 730, this stuff was pea sized. My supervisor was actually home when it started hailing at his house, and he got hail that was about egg sized.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Massive Hail!

Luckily, it passed us by. Oh yes, we got hit, but we didn't have any lasting damage (unlike one of my friends--her bedroom window was busted by a racket-ball sized piece of hail). The tomato plants all look pretty good, considering. The only plant that looked like it might not make it is the eggplant.

Shawn took some pictures when he got home yesterday (he got home well before I did since I refused to leave work until I was guaranteed that there would be no hail on my drive home). I'll try to post them later.

::Okay, so I know I'm totally behind on pictures--I've got planted garden pictures to post, and flower photos to post, and now hail photos to post::

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Okay, so I guess I have to start worrying about having these kitties in my garden.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Garden: Planted

We went out and planted the garden today. Shawn even helped, which I was surprised by, I figured he would have been spreading compost on the lawn while I planted plants, but he actually helped dig holes and whatnot.

We've got all the tomato plants, the eggplant, and two pepper plants in the new garden, and the cayenne was bumped to the front yard area. We also noticed that 3 of the pepper plants from last year are starting to regenerate (I had cut off the plants at the ground after the first major frost). Which is cool. It would be even cooler if they actually produced some peppers this year.

After planting stuff we then had to compost stuff (or rather since I wanted compost tea, it meant we had to take the enviro-cycle off its base to get to the tea), and once the cycle part is off, we might as well compost the yard...which then means we gotta do yard work to get more stuff to put in the composter.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Do you have a passion for plants?

March 21, 10am - 4pm, Govalle Park: Master Gardener Passion for Plants Fair. Govalle Park is located at 5200 Bolm Road.

I want to go to this...but now my husband has some crazy ideas about going to southby-ing.

All I have to say is that he's crazy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Gardening

After the Master Gardener Presentation last night about Spring Gardening (and reading Skip Richter's article about growing tomatoes) I'm so totally jazzed about planting stuff.


My coworker had started seedlings and then decided to move in with his girlfriend and the new landlady won't let them put in a vegetable garden. He may do some container gardening, but he's got WAY too many plants for just container gardening. So I may get some...the biggest problem of course is that I also am running a little short on garden space, too. (Damn you 6' tall tomato plants!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Container Gardening

Good news, Ross! It looks like the Master Gardener Container Gardening seminar will be April 15 at Zilker at 7pm. More info can be found on the Central Texas Horticulture blog.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rain Amounts

So I finally went outside to check the amount of rain we've gotten since 530 am on Wednesday. According to my highly inaccurate rain gauge we've gotten 3.4". I question it. I probably had some water in there from the last time I actually watered the plants...though it wouldn't have been much (maybe about .25").

I also heard the hill country got about 7"...but unfortunately, Lake Travis is only up about a foot or so.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Finally, Rain

It's been raining off and on for the last 36 hours or so. It started at our house at about 530 in the morning on Wednesday with some big gusts of wind and rain blowing in the windows of the house. I had thought the rain wasn't supposed to come until later in the day on Wed, so we stupidly slept with the windows open.

And then, because it was so windy, I started freaking out about all my recently bought seedlings outside so I got up and ran outside to save them. in my underwear. Yep. you heard me.

I haven't gone outside to see how much rain we've gotten (mostly because it's been pouring in the mornings when I leave, and by the time I get home it's dark, cold and wet). But it's gotta be in the 2" range based on the amount of ponding we had in the backyard when I got up today...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Predicted Weather

Forecasts appear to predict that we will be having some rain over the next couple of days.

Praise be to Jebus.

Thankfully I just finished my most recent 'On Call' rotation on Monday. Poor coworker Pam though...ever since she covered for someone a year and a half ago, it's rained every time she's been on call.

hmmmm, maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe she needs to be on call more frequently...just so our gardens can get off to a good start.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I shall post all of the veggies that we plant for the spring season here and will do a comparison/evaluation at the end of the season on how they did.

For descriptive purposes I will use whatever is on the plant or seed packet, lacking that, I will use the info sheet handed out at the Sunshine Community Garden Sale.

Black Krim Tomato (Austin Organic Gardeners Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $1.50): (from the plant) Indeterminate. 75 days. Large brown-red fruit with rich sweet flavor. Sets well in heat. Heirloom from Crimea. (from the info sheet) Dark-brown, red fruit, large (10-12 oz), Russian. Heavy Producer, prone to cracking. Likes hot weather. Rich complex flavor, sweet-tasting fruit. Indeterminate. 75-90 days. Status: Heirloom

Brandywine Tomato (Austin Organic Gardeners Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $1.50): (from the info sheet) Pink-red beefsteak tomato (1-1.5 lbs), rich tomato flavor. Amish. Excellent balanced taste and production. Indeterminate. 80 days. Status: Heirloom

Roma Tomato (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Red, pear-shaped tomato. This is your classic paste and salsa tomato! Thick-walled, solid with good flavor. Determinate, 78 days. Status: Paste

Viva Italia Tomato (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Red, elongated tomato. Italian. Very firm flesh, great for canning, freezing and making yummy pasta sauces! Determinate, 75 days. Status: Paste

BHN 444 Tomato (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Red Tomato. Resistant to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. Excellent quality and size, perfectly smooth, globe shaped fruit. Determinate, 75 days. Status: Easy Grower

Cloud 9 Eggplant (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Mild, white, tear-drop shape. [note: okay, this isn't very descriptive, so instead I will use google for this one] (from Google) Pure white colored eggplant, usually growing to 6-8" long. Fruits have a teardrop-pear shape, with a non-bitter flavor. Plants grow to about 3-4ft, with a 2-4ft spread. This variety is resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus. This variety is one of the few pure white colored eggplants. Maturity: 75 days

Corno di Toro Gold Sweet Pepper (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Italian "Bull's Horn" colorful sweet peppers are 8-10" long and curved like a bull's horn. Ripen to bright yellow and are delicious fresh in salads, but more often are sauted or grilled. Prolific tall plants. Maturity: 68 days

Large Red Thick Cayenne Pepper (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Concentrated set of wrinkled, very pungent fruit, 6" long by 1 1/4". Very pungent, even when small. Useful for sauce and drying. Maturity: 76 days

Yellow Manzano Rocoto Pepper (Sunshine Community Gardens Plant Sale, 3/7/09, $2.00): Extremely hot, 2-4", yellow pepper. Known both for its tasty fruit with a spicy, apple-tinged flavor, but also for its growth habit. The Rocoto pepper plants can live for many years and grow into a small shrub. Sometimes called the Tree Pepper. Maturity: 95+ days.

I would still like to get a squash plant of some sort and a cateloupe and watermelon plant, but I don't know if I'll have enough space (since the tomatoes are likely large plants, and at least one of the pepper plants turns into a bush).

types of Tomatoes:

Determinate means plants have short vines, are bushlike and compact. Most produce fruits in a short time span while others may produce all season. If you are planting in pots, you are better off with determinate tomato plants. Determinate plants are also great for canning.

Interdeterminate: Indeterminate means plants have long vines and grow big. You will need to stake these. They will produce tomatoes for a longer period of time than the determiantes.

Plants bought at Zilker Garden Fest (March 28):
Bat Faced Cuphea - $2.50
Passion Flower (2) - $5.00

Gaden Bed

Yesterday we built our second raised bed. And I must say that I think this one will work out much nicer than the last. Not only does it get more sun, it also has more nice dirt before it hits the rock hard stuff.

After we went and bought an insane amount of tomato plants (for two people who don't usually eat uncooked tomatoes, we sure did buy a bunch), we went to Home Depot to get lumber and dirt.

We walked around in the lumber area, and Shawn asked what type of lumber I wanted. I suggested redwood or cedar since it's untreated and lasts longer out in the elements. He looked at the 2x6x10's and decided it was way too expensive (never mind the fact that I was the one paying for everything, with my money, out of my account). So instead he decided to get the untreated pine (according to the sales associate it is untreated, I think he lied as I'm sure you'll notice in the photos below). I pointed out that pine would only last a fraction of the years that the cedar would, but he countered that he could build 3 beds in pine for the cost it would be to build 1 bed in cedar. I asked if he REALLY wanted to be rebuilding beds instead of just building it once. He said he would. So I acquiesced on the lumber issue--if he wants to be the one rebuilding a bed every 5 years because it's falling apart, he can be my guest. (And I realize I'm making this sound like it was only a 10 minute conversation, but it wasn't. We were standing in the lumber area of Home Depot for like 45 minutes.)

We then went down to the meager selection of soils. I said that I would really rather go to the Natural Gardener or to the Red Barn and get some good garden soil. He said he'd rather just buy all the stuff at Home Depot. He found some Top Soil bags for $1.50 and got all excited. He then read the note on the bag about how in order for it to be good turf soil it needs a bag of triple compost for every 2 bags of the dirt. I just assume it's the stuff known as Red Death and insisted that we should mix in more compost than it recommends. I also claimed that I only wanted to fill half the depth with dirt, and half with mulch, so we only got enough to do half the depth. "Oh well, must go back to the store...Oh hey, I wanted to go look at stuff at Red Barn, and while we're there, we might as well buy the soil we need." (so that's on today's agenda)

We get home and start debating on where to put the bed. I want it pulled out from the fence about 2-3' so I can walk all the way around the bed. He wants it pushed up against the fence so he doesn't have to mow the area between the fence and the bed. The side effect of putting it where I wanted to put it was that we wouldn't have to dig as much since it was flatter (the area he wanted to put it has about a 1' difference from the front to the back). We ended up putting it where he wanted it because it leaves more space to put in extra beds if we decide we want more (this bed runs parallel to the fence, and putting it where he wanted it meant we could ultimately build 2 more beds running perpendicular, if we so choose to do so). Also, I took this photo at an angle so it just LOOKS like it's sloping toward the right of the picture.

As Shawn screwed everything together, I was put in charge of hauling dirt bags to the back yard and digging a trench for where the bed would lay. When I was finished, we moved the bed to the trench and then started with the leveling. After we got it fairly close to level, newspaper was laid down and dirt/compost thrown in. I forgot to wet the newspaper after laying it down, but I figure that if we saturate the dirt after everything is said and done, then it will have the same effect. Besides, I'm not going out there now and shoveling out all that dirt just to wet some newspaper.

Now, as mentioned, I need to buy more soil (actual good garden soil), plant the plants, lay out the watering system, and mulch everything. And yet, it feels like we have more than half of the stuff done. Though some of it could be that from here on out there isn't really anything for the husband to get all stubborn about.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sales and a New Bed

Today was a busy garden-filled day.

We went to the Austin Organic Gardeners' plant sale (bought a Black Krim tomato and Brandywine tomato plant). The only reason why I got the Krim was because Annie at the Transplantable Rose said she was growing them, and she really likes the tomatoes.

We then went up to the Sunshine Community Gardens' plant sale (bought Viva Italia, Roma, BHN 444 tomato plants, Red Manzano pepper, Large Red Thick Cayenne pepper, Corno di Toro pepper, and finally a Cloud 9 eggplant).

Now then, I don't know if, when we went to the Sunshine sale a few years ago, we went closer to the end of the sale or if they've just started growing more plants to sell. But my goodness! there were so many plants--when we last went, we didn't have very many choices at all--there were no peppers, or eggplants, and the tomato section was very picked over. This year, we went at noon and there were definitely some varieties that had already sold out, but there was still PLENTY of selection.

So after the plant buying, we went to Home Depot and bought lumber and dirt for the new bed. And then promptly used the rest of the afternoon building a bed using the brackets Bob at Draco Gardens was nice enough to make for me (Thanks again!!), leveling it, and filling it. We ran out of dirt, so I need to buy some more tomorrow, and then I think I'll probably plant stuff next weekend as well as install the soaker lines (also from Bob).

I shall do a more in depth post about the new garden bed, and post a picture of it tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Greater Austin Area Garden Bloggers Unite!

In order to plan outings/meetings/plant swaps/garden viewings more efficiently, Rachel started an Austin Area Garden Bloggers group on Google.

If you're interested in joining, let me know and I can send you an email with the link so you can register yourself.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Upcoming Events

March 7, 8am - 2pm, Zilker Botanical Gardens: Austin Organic Gardeners Annual Plant Sale.

March 7, 9am - 2pm, Sunshine Community Gardens: Sunshine Community Gardens Spring Plant Sale. Sunshine Community Gardens is located at 4814 Sunshine Drive (Just west of the Triangle).

March 18, 7pm - 9pm, Zilker Botanical Gardens: Master Gardener Seminar on Growing a Spring Garden.

March 21, 10am - 4pm, Govalle Park: Master Gardener Passion for Plants Fair. Govalle Park is located at 5200 Bolm Road.

March 28/29, 10am - 5pm, Zilker Botanical Gardens: Zilker Garden Festival. Entry Cost: $5

April 4/5, 10am - 5pm, Zilker Botanical Gardens: Austin Cactus and Succulent Society Show and Sale.

April 11/12, 9am - 5pm/noon - 5pm, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Sale. Entry Cost: $7 for non members, $0 for members.

May 9, 10am - 5pm, Zilker Botanical Gardens: Austin Daylily Society Show and Sale.