Thursday, January 28, 2010



January 25

January 28

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spring 2010 Seeds

Jewel Toned Bell Peppers: Crimson, Gold, & Orange. Renee's Garden.
Description: Our mixed seed packet offers you an easy way to grow three different colored sweet bell peppers. Vidi ripens up deep crimson red, Admiral turns glossy golden yellow and Valencia matures glowing orange. These plump vigorous varieties combine mouth-watering rich flavor and juicy texture with high yields and excellent disease resistance. Days to Maturity: approx 75. Year Opened: 2009. Number Planted: 1 of each variety
Experience: All varieties have sprouted as of Jan 22.

Heirloom Tomatoes: Rainbow's End. Renee's Garden.
Description: Our mixed seed packet delivers mouth watering heirloom varieties saved and savored for generations. Luscious Brandywine's tender skinned fruits burts with quintessential rich tomato flavor. Big bi-colored Marvel Stripe is rosy-red marbled in gold with meltingly smooth, mild tasting, sweet flesh. Unique Green Zebra's smaller fruits are a wonderful emerald overlaid in golden-amber stripes with a zesty sweet/tart flavor balance to make you smile. Days to Maturity: Approx 80. Year Opened: 2008. Number Planted: 1 Brandywine and Marvel, 2 Zebra
Experience: All varieties have sprouted as of Jan 22.

True Thai Chiles: Orange Fogo and Red Dragon. Renee's Garden.
Description: We import these brilliantly colored, authentic Thai chiles direct from the source! Vigorous Fogo ripens bright orange with delicious medium hot/sweet pungency, perfect minced in sauces and salads. Red Demon's fiery little fruits point up like flames, with that nutty, incendiary pungency just right for stirfries. Use fresh or air dry for tantalizing Asian-style dishes. Days to Maturity: Approx 85. Year Opened: 2008. Number Planted: 1 Orange Fogo
Experience: All varieties have sprouted as of Jan 22.

Habanero Chile: Red Savina. Renee's Garden.
Description: Bred exclusively by Frank Garcias at GNS Spices, incendiary Red Savina is the hottest habanero known, tipping the scale at 380,000 to 500,000 Scoville units which put it in the Guinness Book of World Records. Along with brilliant red color and intense heat, Red Savina's flesh has that special tantalizing fiery fruitiness that characterizes habanero chiles from the Yucatan. The Chinese lantern-shaped fruits grow on sturdy 3 to 3.5 foot plants that do best in long hot summer areas. Days to Maturity: Approx 90. Year Opened: 2009. Number Planted: 2
Experience: Both pots have sprouted as of Jan 27.

Specialty Eggplants: Italian Trio. Renee's Garden
Description: Our trio of delicious Italian eggplants combines teardrop-shaped, purple-black "Nadia," gorgeous, oval-shaped magenta "Beatrice" and heirloom rose and white, globe-shaped "Rosa Bianca." The strong plants with velvety leaves and lavender blossoms bear abundant crops of curvaceous glossy fruits with tender skins and succulent flesh that is never bitter or seedy. Enjoy in recipes from all Mediterranean cuisines. Days to Maturity: Approx 80. Year opened: 2009. Number Planted: 1 of the Nadia and Beatrice.
Experience: Nadia sprouted by Jan 22, Beatrice finally sprouted on Jan 29.

True Thai Basil: Queenette. Renee's Garden
Description: This tropical-looking ornamental basil has dense .5" leaves that grow in clusters around distinctive purple stems. Imported directly from our best Thai seed producer, Queenette's exotic flavor combines aromatic mild sweet spices with clove/mint basil flavor. It is a critical ingredient in Southeast Asian dishes and marvellous in stirfries, chutneys and marinades. An eye-catching herb to interplant with flowers for "edible landscaping." Plant Queenette basil to enjoy growing and cooking with authentic Thai ingredients. Days to Maturity: NA. Year opened: 2009. Number Planted: 1
Experience: This has sprouted as of Jan 27.

planting more seeds (fall/winter garden)

I'm at home sick today. This morning I thought it could be the flu, but now I'm 99% sure that it was food poisoning since by 2pm today I felt great. I decided since it was so nice outside and I could do with having some Vitamin D, I opted to plant more seeds in the garden. This is something I've been wanting to do since last Monday, but since I get home after the sun sets, it's kinda difficult to do so unless it's the weekend and then this last weekend was extremely windy.

So! I planted more beets, more spinach, more peas, and more chard. I opted to go with plants that will mature quickly since I'll be planting the spring/summer garden by the end of March. The peas are mostly being used as green manure so I dont' necessarily care how they do, but I really, really, REALLY want to have some beets. The other seeds I planted in November are doing okay but I think everything still seems stunted (probably because of all the cold weather). Today I noticed that the broccoli plants have itty-bitty broccoli heads on the plants, so that's encouraging. The onions have started looking pretty darn good recently and the carrots are growing well. The beets are getting bigger, and if I didn't know how big the tops are supposed to be, I would be trying to pull some to see how they're doing (same for the carrots), but since I know from Farm to Work that the tops need to be MUCH bigger for proper sized veggies, so I've left everything in the ground. But still...I started everything at the beginning of November, and so most stuff should have been ready to go by now (like the beets and chard should have been ready at the end of December, and the carrots and green onions should have been ready to go by the end of this month)...Le sigh, the trials of mice and men.

Friday, January 15, 2010


If you've been following my Tweets (which I really need to add a feed to this blog instead of at my normal blog), then you know I've been updating on what the NWS is predicting for central Texas in regards to rain (the current estimate is that some places, albeit southeast of Austin may receive localized totals of up to 10" over 48 hours). So far, my humble abode has received 1.25" between yesterday and last night (I checked the gauge this morning at about 715am).

The stupid cat continues to want outside even though he can see it is raining. stupid, stupid.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


As everyone already knows, Austin has been having some mighty cold weather. The garden has been covered every night and I didn't even bother uncovering it yesterday. The thermometer on the south side of the house was reading at 45 this morning, so I did uncover and re-water the garden (with a little garden helper friend--a gray tabby kitten that's been hanging around. We can't tell if he's a stray or if he just likes our yard--our last cat we figured was a stray because she NEVER left our yard after I befriended her, whereas this cat only seems to show up every once in a while, and never at night).

For the most part, everything looks okay. The peas may be a bit damaged, and the beets don't look so good, but other than that, the garden looks okay. All the other plants, on the other hand...those ain't looking so hot. The turk's caps are all crispy, the petunias are done for. The rock roses, bulbine, society garlic and passion vine actually all look fine, though I question if those are only looking good right now and when the weather warms up, they'll also be mush.Jan 09, 2010

Nov 17, 2009

Monday, January 4, 2010

Garlic: Update

prepping the garlic for planting wasn't nearly as bad as I was perceiving it to be--when you read directions and they're like "soak overnight in baking soda water. Soak 3-5 minutes in rubbing alcohol before planting" you start to thing "man, is this worth it?" but really the toughest part of the whole thing was finding small enough containers to keep the 5 types separated.

I planted the garlics in their little plots (square foot gardening) and posted the little labels to I know what I planted where. The only one that hasn't come up (and I doubt that it will) is the Kettle River. I don't believe anyone else I gave that to has had any luck with it either, so at least it's not just me. The other ones have all grown well, and I think it's type 3 that is doing fabulous...which of course worries me with the freezes coming up. oh well, c'est la vie.

Seeds: Planted

I didn't plant any seeds because of the upcoming freezes this week, but I did, as per the Gardening Bible, start my spring seeds yesterday:

2 Red Sevina Habanero
2 Green Zebra
1 Brandywine
1 Marvel Stripe
1 Orange Fogo Thai Chili
1 Yellow Bell pepper
1 Orange Bell pepper
1 Red Bell pepper
1 Beatrice Eggplant
1 Nadia Eggplant
1 Thai Basil

I was also looking at my companion planting and the reason behind it printout I found back in the day...

It appears I need to plant Marigolds (the smelly kind) to combat most insects and nematodes, Nasturtiums and Dill and Lemon Balm to combat the squash vine borer adults and Mums for nematodes (again).

Has anyone tried the Nasturtiums/Dill/Lemon Balm for squash vine borers?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Spring Garden Roundup

As mentioned in a post I did back at the beginning of March, I will do a "after season round up" giving my thoughts and complaints of my experience with the various plants this year.

Veggie Garden:
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
Experience: LOVE this tomato. It is the first heirloom tomato that I've gotten to grow. The flavor is great, even if the tomatoes themselves look a little strange. Did great in the spring/summer, and while it had some tomatoes on it on Dec. 2, they were no where near ripening and were lost to a freeze (during the great blizzard of 09). As mentioned earlier this week, it seemed to be the most affected by the galls on the roots (I'm guessing nematodes), but I don't know if it's because the plant started with them, or it was just the most susceptible of the plants. In any case, the plant was very vigorous until the end of the summer, and even looked good after the summer pruning so even if the galls are nematodes, it didn't seem to affect the plant much.
Will I be planting this one again: Absolutely. I will probably also try a Cherokee Purple.

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.
Experience: This was the first year in which the plant looked "good". By "good" I mean I'm comparing it to Brandywine plants from years past and not to the other tomatoes I planted this year as it probably fared the worst out of all of them. Yep, epic fail. I only ever remember it having 1 tomato on it. It did ripen, and the neighbor, who got to eat it since we were in Yellowstone the week it ripened, said it was wonderful, albeit small (about 1.5 times the size as a cherry tomato). It did have a problem with spider mites in the spring and never really seemed to recover. When I pulled this plant out, it also was affected by the galls though not as much as the Krim.
Will I be planting this one again: Probably not (at least I won't purchase any plants). I just can't get it to grow, and as a tomato, it's such a water hog. I think I still have some tomato seeds I bought a few years ago and Brandywine was one of the varieties, so I still may end up with a Brandywine tomato plant next year.

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.
Experience: Roma tomatoes have always done well for me, and this one was completely COVERED in tomatoes in the fall. Spring, this year, didn't have as many tomatoes, but I am willing to believe that the hail storm we had which damaged most of the front row of plants, had something to do with that. I don't necessarily think these have the best flavor, but considering all my tomatoes end up in sauces, it doesn't matter so much to me. This one had some galls on the roots, but only one or two, so I would say it did pretty well.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes. It's fairly compact and usually the best paste producer for me.

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
Experience: I think I've planted this one every year as well since moving to Austin. In the past it hasn't ever produced tons of tomatoes, but some of that was because it always seemed to not get enough sun or be too waterlogged. Since installing my raised beds, however, this plant did wonderfully. It did much better in the spring than in the fall. I think it has slightly better flavor than the Roma. When I pulled this one out of the ground last week, it did not have any galls on the roots.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes, more than likely. This year was the tallest it's ever been at about 4'.

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.
Experience: This plant was damaged by the hail storm and only ever produced a handful of fruit. The fruit looks the most like store-bought out of any of the varieties that fruited this year. The full sized fruit was about 3"-4" in diameter which always looked funny on the plant because it was only ever 2'-2.5' tall. By far the shortest of all of my tomato plants. When I pulled this out of the ground, it did not have any galls on the roots at all.
Will I be planting this one again: Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what other varieties there are available--I wouldn't be adverse to planting them, but may look for some other hybrid variety to plant instead.

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
Experience: Very prolific producer in the fall. When the rest of the garden looked stressed in the summer, this one was putting on flowers. Having never grown eggplant before, I was most surprised by the purple nightshade-esque looking flowers. Flavor-wise the eggplant was good, not too seedy and no bitter taste as far as I could tell. Because there were about 12 eggplants on the plant at the end of the growing season, none of them got very large before I had to cut them off the plant. The couple we got in the spring were in the 6"- 8" range.
Will I be planting this one again: Once again, I wouldn't be adverse to it, and I know it can produce. However, I have purple eggplant seeds that I need to start and may not have any space for another Cloud 9. Besides, I like eggplant, but not enough to have multiple plants. On a side note, my Mother In Law always has 4 plants (usually of the Nadia variety), and there are weeks where every dinner has eggplant. I can't do that. Just will not happen.

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
Experience: Tall my ass. It was maybe 18" by the end, and that's being generous. It only ever produced 2 peppers, one of which was catfaced and never eaten. The other pepper was taken to Colorado at Christmas and put in a pot of chili (still green), and so I have no idea how it tastes.
Will I be planting this one again: Probably not. Especially if my bell pepper seeds I bought in the summer do well this year.

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.
Experience: As usual, the plant did decently. It never got very tall, maybe only 12". This one produced a handful of peppers in the spring and then just languished for the rest of the year until it was finally killed by the Blizzard of 09.
Will I be planting this one again: Likely, though probably not this coming year--Cayenne is one of the few spicy peppers I am okay with growing and using in cooking (there's this yellow spicy pepper that one of my coworkers grows and I just LOVE it, but he doesn't know what it's called). My husband doesn't like sweet peppers, and would prefer if I grew habaneros so the Cayenne is the compromise--hot, but not so hot that I cry. Because I was in a giving mood, I bought habanero seeds to grow this year so this particular plant may take a year hiatus from our rotation.

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.
Experience: Epic Fail. It died within a month of planting it.
Will I be growing this one again: No. I will stick with varieties that are proven here--think habanero. Though, now that I read the description, it may be the type that my coworker grows that I love so much...I will have to look into this.

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 from Seeds:
Delicata Squash:
Experience: The plant just never set fruit and was eventually killed by a squash vine borer.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes since I still have seed left over

Butternut Squash:
Experience: The plant had a tough time setting fruit and only ever set 2. One fruit ripened in the summer, the other I had to pull off before it was fully ripe and ended up adding it to the compost pile since it turned brown. This plant also had problems with squash vine borers.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes since I still have seed left over

Experience: The seeds sprout and then are quickly eaten by something.
Will I be planting this one again: Yes since I still have seed left over

Experience: I killed this one by not watering it enough.
Will I be planting this one again: Maybe someday, but I've got other curcurbit plants to plant first.

Experience: This plant never even made it into the ground before the leading stem was broken.
Will I be planting this one again: I'll always probably try planting canteloupe. I think I even have seed for it...again.

Plants bought at Zilker Garden Fest (March 28):
Bat Faced Cuphea - $2.50 - a bit leggy, but otherwise good.
Passion Flower (2) - $5.00 - still alive even though it was completely denuded 2 times because of caterpillars.

Plants bought from Wildflower Center Spring Sale:
Coral Honeysuckle - $8 - doing well in the shade, and I'm pretty sure it will do wonderfully next year.

Plants bought from Red Barn Garden Center:
Turk's Cap - great!
Cyclamen - bloomed until the summer, went dormant, and has come back with the cooler weather.
Bluebonnets - never even came close to blooming
SnapDragons - provided some much needed color until the heat came.
Pansies - died as soon as I planted them.

Plants obtained through other means (aka Bob at Draco and Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange):
Turk's Cap - sat in a pot all summer, and was planted in the front yard at the beginning of the fall. Looks to be doing fine.
Gregg's Mistflower - sat in a pot all summer, and was planted in the front yard at the beginning of the fall. A little leggy, but otherwise seems fine.
Artemesia - planted in the front yard, seemed like it did better with infrequent deep waterings and looks like it is a little starved for sun, but it's still growing.
Rock Rose - planted in the front yard and is doing swimmingly.
Rosemary - sat in a pot all summer, and was planted in the front yard at the beginning of the fall. It is doing well.
Petunia - planted in the shade garden area and actually grew to be 4' tall and bloomed even. It now looks icky because of the freeze (am I supposed to prune this to the ground?)
Orange Bulbine - planted in the front yard. It is growing well in an area that NOTHING else ever seems to grow. I am happy.

Plants obtained through other means (aka Bob at Draco in the fall and Ross Clark in the fall):
Chile Pequin - had an aphid problem, but seems to be putting on new leaves.
Beautyberry - leaves have fallen off--I hope it's just for the winter.
Society Garlic - looking awesome.
Liriope - also looking awesome and I've only planted half of it...the other half is still doing fine sitting in a bucket. weird.
Shrimp Plant - looks wonderful and is flowering prolifically.
Prickly Pear Cactus - seems to be doing well
Sedum - the bright green stuff is doing wonderfully, the blue green is still there, but doesn't seem to expand
Hens and Chicks (?) - both have been planted and seem to be doing fine.


Today I trimmed up all the lantana plants (we have 5 of them), and then moved the one I had blogged about here to an area that is less hindersome to the it will be trying to take over the walkway up to the house instead. (note: That plant really did grow quite a bit--it probably tripled in size from the picture I took) I really want to have it elsewhere but the husband does not want it anywhere in his precious, precious grass which is only funny because I was going to put it in a spot where the grass is dead. I figure it would be one less area to mow, but shows what I know.

Tomorrow will be a yard work extravaganza--the husband will vaccum up the leaves, spread mulch over the yard and gardens, and likely chipper all the branches we have laying around. I will likely plant more seeds in the newly vacated spring garden bed (even though I'm still about 2 weeks ahead of the recommended times for most 'winter' seeds) and also get tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds going for the spring.

It's like as Bond said, once you get done with one garden, it's already time to start planning for the next.


I'm posting this a month late, but I forgot I took the picture.

Here's my harvest from December 2, 2009--just prior to when we started getting frequent freezes in my neighborhood.

We used the Red Demon Thai Chilies (the small green ones) in boxed Spanish Rice, I took the Corno di Toro (the large green pepper) to my mom's, and she put it in Chili, the tomatoes were allowed to ripen and were used in various Italian dishes, and all the eggplants (yes they're supposed to be white--it's the variety--Cloud 9) were diced and used in Pasta Alla Norma.

As I mentioned earlier, I hung 2 of the tomato plants in the garage as that was the way we did it back home (aka Colorado) when the freezes would come...of course we would put the plants in the basement instead of the garage, but we don't have a basement here. I don't remember the tomatoes getting all wrinkly back in the day, but I'm sure they must have and that was the reason why the plants were always thrown out after a set amount of time. I'm sad to say that I just threw the plants away yesterday, and the Roma did have quite a few tomatoes left on it. Had I been up for it, I would have made Lancashire Rose's Green Tomato Chutney. Part of the reason I didn't make a batch was because the husband and I just aren't that into tomatoes to begin with and I didn't want to get myself into making multiple jars of the stuff when I wasn't sure if we were going to like it (plus I would have to alter it to leave out the raisens, even though I'm sure they're like prunes in crock pot cooking--used to impart a sweet flavor, and since the husband has a firey hate for mustard, I'd probably leave that out too).

And yes, I do realize the irony of us growing 5 tomato plants when we don't eat raw tomatoes. It actually has something to do with the fact that growing up, we both always had tomato plants in the garden and therefore it's the proverbial garden plant for us.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Spring Garden

I finally pulled out all the plants from the spring garden (sans the onion and peas I planted in between plants back in November). I think the Black Krim was most attacked by the nematodes. The Viva Italia and the BHN were the least affected (the BHN was pulled out of the ground back in the day), which makes sense since they're nematode resistant. But now it sucks because it means I need to be sure to plant nematode resistant plants in the plot...that and french marigolds, and up the compost being added to the garden as per instructions from various extension websites (Florida, South Carolina, and Texas all come to mind). Of course I don't know if the Krim was so attacked because it was the one that started with nematodes or if it was so attacked because it was the only non-resistant one that was left in the soil the longest.

Oddly, the pepper, squash and eggplant did not have any nematode damage on their roots.