Sunday, August 30, 2009


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


My garlic arrived today.

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


"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


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


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).