Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Garden '10: Planted

I planted plants yesterday and seeds today. They are as follows:
Habanero (from Red Barn Garden Center, $2.99 -I think)
2 Lemon Balm (from Red Barn Garden Center, $2.99 each)
2 Dill (one from Lowes, one from Red Barn Garden Center, $1.99 and $2.99, respectively)
2 6-packs of Tagetes Marigolds (from Lowes, $1.99 each -I think)
Black Krim Tomato (from Rebar and Roses, Free)
Ananas Noire Tomato (from Rebar and Roses, Free)
Beatrice Eggplant (2 seedlings)
2 Yellow Hot Pepper (from Charlie, Free)
Orange Fogo Thai Pepper(seedling)
Green Zebra Tomato (3 seedlings)
Yellow Admiral Bell Pepper (seedling)
Valencia Orange Bell Pepper (seedling)
Queenette Thai Basil (seedling)

Of these, one of the lemon balms looked a little peeked this evening when I checked on everything, and one of the Green Zebras probably won't make it, and one of the Eggplants was gone when I checked on things this evening. Also, the Black Krim was bent (snapped) an inch or so above the ground, but it wasn't obviously broken off yet so I put a toilet paper roll around it and pressed it into the ground about an inch or so and then filled it up with dirt. I don't know if this will work in any way, shape, or form, but if it does, then I've learned something new.
Edited for Update: As of 3-31-10, the Orange Fogo, one of the Green Zebras, and the Black Krim did not make it.

Nasturium (Alaska Variegated, Botanical Interests, $0.99, Gardens, purchased 2010)
Ornamental Corn (Strawberry Popcorn, Botanical Interests, $1.89, The Great Outdoors, purchased 2010)
Cantaloupe (Hearts of Gold, American Seed, $0.30, Lowe's, purchased 2007)
Lima Beans (Fordhook Bush #242, America's Choice, $unknown, Lowe's, purchased 2007)
Watermelon (Crimson Sweet, Walmart Gardens, $0.97, Walmart, purchased 2007)
Compact Winter Squash (Early Butternut, Renee's Garden, $2.79, Mail Order, purchased 2009)
Compact Winter Squash (Delicata Squash, Renee's Garden, $2.79, Mail Order, purchased 2009)
True Thai Basil (Queenette, Renee's Garden, $2.69, Mail Order, purchased 2009)
Butterfly Flowers (Torch Tithonia, Renee's Garden, $Free (Garden Blogger's Get Together), obtained 2009)

AND I still have two unused tomato cages...which are set up so I can put two more tomato plants in.

I also transplanted the Baby Blue Eyes (from Rachel @ In Bloom), the White Linen Poppies (from Lancashire Rose) and I bought a Tropical Milkweed (aka Butterflyweed, Red Barn, $7.99) and transplanted it yesterday since I read the article that Fits and Starts linked to.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Garden '10 updates

No, I haven't started planting anything yet. I've just been collecting plants, or killing plants, and figured that rather than use Twitter as my journal I should use the blog I set up as a journal.

So...let's see...

The seedlings I started are pretty leggy. This is to be expected because I started them at work where the light is from a window. A window that has a sun filter on it.

I brought all the seedlings home and then some of them started doing worse instead of better. Maybe it was because I had them outside during the day in a location that wasn't very well protected, or I don't know. Some of them started looking worse. So I did the number one thing you're not supposed to do and fertilized them. That killed off some right there. I then decided I'd get supports in the little pots for the plants, so I used some zip ties as stakes and pipe cleaners as the ties. Only then Gray Kitteh! decided that they were fun toys and started pulling out plants. I had to emergency plant the two I found (Beatrice Eggplant and Green Zebra Tomato). It happened to be the first night I was planning on leaving the seedlings out, so I guess it's a good thing since it could have been the first day I had brought them home. As time has gone on, I've had a couple other plants bite the dust and have obtained others.

Plants that died:
Marvel Stripe Tomato
2 Habanero peppers
Brandywine Tomato

Plants that I have obtained:
Black Krim Tomato (from Jen at Rebar and Roses)
Ananas Noire Tomato (from Jen at Rebar and Roses)
2 Yellow Hot Peppers (from my coworker, Charlie...I think they might be Pineapple Aji peppers or something similar)
(maybe I should get a Pineapple Guava plant and go for the pineapple trifecta?)

Plants I have given away:
Vidi Crimson (Red Bell Pepper) to Jen at Rebar and Roses

Seeds planted in the planters of the dead plants:
Thai Basil
Green Zebra
French Lavender

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Starting a Garden

I got a question/comment the other day on one of my older blog entries:
I am just thinking about starting a garden- mainly for herbs maybe some veggies if I get daring. How much sun do these gardens really need? IT does get pretty hot around here, won't there be some baking of the plant? My neighbor has a garden in her front yard- unfortunately a real eye sore. Can you give me any advice? I thought I would keep a bit of a journal on the sunlight for a couple of days? Thanks for any advice- Jody

1. Congratulations on starting a garden (or at least thinking about it). Herbs are a great way to start--they're not quite as finicky as vegetables, and you usually can get SOMETHING to grow. Plus, they tend to do well even if you forget about them. I would guess that oregano, basil and parsley are some of the better ones to start out with down here. Rosemary as well if you have a full sun location that doesn't get watered too frequently. Basil will let you know when it needs water--It will look all sorts of wilty but then perks right back up after watering. The parsley, basil, and oregano I planted down here were planted in a mostly shade location and all three survived (the two rosemary plants, however, did not). The basil and parsley both reseed pretty freely so if you don't want extra plants, make sure you cut off all flower heads.

2. Gardens need at least 6 hours of sunlight. 8 if you can swing it. Some things will do okay in less (like lettuces--but only in the winter). I think all of the spring/summer veggies are going to need lots of sun, whereas the winter veggies will do better with less.

3. There is some baking of the plants, but none of the veggie plants do spectacular in the middle of summer (Okra might be an exception--but I dont' know, I've never grown it). Most of the gardeners I know will start their spring gardens in early-mid March and use varieties that have short maturation times so there's a harvest before the summer temps are in full swing. Then they take a short break during the hottest part of the year in which the goal isn't for anything to necessarily look good, but just to stay alive and then start up again in late August/early September for a second summer harvest. Some of my coworkers let everything go that isn't actively producing in June/July, and then replant in September. If you really wanted to, you could get shade covers for the garden which would protect from the afternoon sun, though that may be a lesson in futility. Also. WATER THE PLANTS. In March I maybe have to water once a week. By June it's usually 2 times a week and by August it's every day, maybe every other day. Thus the brilliance of the coworkers that just let everything go in July--if the plant makes it through the summer, GREAT, if it doesn't, Meh, planting time is just around the corner. Plus that way you're not spending tons of money on water.

4. Knowing where the sun is at what times in your yard is an AWESOME tool and I highly recommend doing it. If you have the time, you could chart where the sun is once an hour for and entire day. I don't know how much charting for a couple of days would be of any help unless it was like you did the morning hours one day and the afternoon hours the next or something along those lines. I would suggest (especially if you're going to do a winter garden) charting the sun a couple times during the year so you know how the amount of sun changes based on the time of year. If you're going to do this chart now, be mindful of trees that haven't fully leafed out yet.

5. Other random recommendations I have are: a) Do raised beds if you're going to go with something permanent. However, if you don't really know where the sun is in your yard, I'd start with a couple of large flower pots--that way you can move them around if the plants look too crispy or too leggy. b) find out the seasons for all the veggie plants you want to do--carrots and lettuce don't go well in the summer, but tomatoes and eggplants rarely make it through the winter. c) Get a rain barrel. If you live in the City of Austin, there's usually a couple of subsidized rain barrel sales once or twice a year. d) a good place to start is with the Master Gardener Garden Guide for Austin and Vicinity, the MGs, any of the MG seminars, and local blogs--I've got a list on the right and all of them are great people and are very willing to help with ideas and they're a fountain of knowledge.

Anyone else have any advice?


Shawn adding the compost to the "Spring Garden" which currently has peas and a few onions and a few beets in it.

The cat helped a lot. Obviously.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Foliage Follow Up March '10

graptopetalum from Bob at "Gardening at Draco"

Little Lizard Friend by some succulents (also from Bob)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Obviously Hell has frozen over as I am actually posting pictures of things. Things that are blooming. On bloom day.


Baby Blue Eyes from Rachel at "In Bloom":

Toadflax in the area where nothing grows. except for Toadflax, poppies and bulbine. But the poppies didn't come back (must not have reseeded themselves) and the bulbine died in the freezes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Elevensies. And first lunch. And second lunch

The little habanero plant mentioned earlier did indeed die. RIP little habanero plant. Also something (squirrel, bird, cat) made off with the only Marvel Stripe tomato plant. The little planter is there, there is no sign of the plant itself. and it's not like 'oh, if died', it's like "it's gone. poof! where'd it go?!"

So I re-purposed the planters and planted more habaneros and another green zebra (I'm out of marvel stripe seeds and only have brandywine and green zebra left and like hell I'm starting ANOTHER brandywine. Why waste space on a plant you know won't do all that well anyhow?). Unlike the other planters which get moved in and out at night, these two will stay outside in the garden area. I also figured out 3 days ago that if I put the seedlings out by the garden (sitting on the ground infront of one of the raised beds) then they get full sun and are protected by the wind. I blame the P.E. test on this--my mind is so addled, I can't come up with simple solutions to common sense problems.

Shawn cut off all the broccoli last night as all three plants were starting to bolt. We ate the side shoots with some Marzetti's ranch dip and will probably have cooked broccoli tonight. With another salad of spinach and carrots.

I also stopped by The Great Outdoors yesterday to find a solution to my gnat problem at work. I stopped in to see if they had the Quinoa and Popcorn I mentioned in my Tweet a few days ago. And sure enough, they did. So I will be growing Quinoa in the fall and I figure I'll do the popcorn now, and then regular sweet corn a little later. I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to have the two types cross pollinating...but obviously I'll have to plant them closer than 1/2 mile apart. So I'll do the next best thing and plant them at different times so they don't pollinate concurrently. I assume this will work, but I dont' know...and I'd rather have the sweet corn getting into the popcorn than the other way around.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I brought my seedlings home from work yesterday and set them outside this morning for some full unfiltered sun. I hoped they'd be fine, but assumed that some would be the little habanero that looked like one of the cats decided to step on it in the middle of the night. I, like a dum-dum, put the seedlings in a location that during the winter gets about 7 hours of sun, which means it's probably getting at least 8 hours of sun, and it's not all that sheltered either. So when it started getting dark at work because of the clouds rolling in, I just assumed that it was quite possible that all the seedlings would be dead. Thankfully they aren't all dead, but some of them do look worse for the wear (especially the ones that were getting super tall and leggy at work). I think it pretty much means that I should have brought them home maybe a week or so earlier because the short stumpy ones look absolutely gorgeous. So I guess I can use Popsicle sticks and tie up the wimpy plants for some stabilization until they get their grow on.

Also, I finally decided it was time to start ripping out plants in the fall garden as it's getting close to that spring planting time. I originally thought about pulling out entire squares (an entire square of spinach and an entire square of carrots) except that would mean a heck of a lot of carrots and more spinach than we could eat in one night. So I instead opted to pull enough for us to have a single serving salad and will go out and pull more tomorrow night. I'm also debating on whether to leave some stuff in the garden so when my inlaws come down the week after SXSW, we can have fresh garden stuff...well, I mean some stuff will for sure still be in there (like beets, garlic, swiss chard, and onions). I guess I'll play it by ear and see if it looks like the spinach or broccoli are going to bolt (I'm actually surprised the broccoli hasn't bolted yet).

Also, I count this year as a success when it comes to carrots. The ones I pulled today are only as big as my pinky finger, but still, that's the biggest carrots have ever been since I started gardening here 4 years ago. GO RAISED BEDS!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


For such a hellacious storm last night, it sure didn't rain a whole lot (only 1/2")

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What to do? What to do?

I got a bit ambitious with this past fall garden. Not that it's too big, it's just that I got ambitious with how much food I wanted from the garden. Of course I got the garden in a little late (November), and then there was some colder weather through the winter and so everything has just remained stunted...And I'm sure that I was supposed to be watering much more frequently than I did.

In January, I planted beets, chard, spinach and peas in what was the original garden. And because of the cold weather, they didn't even sprout until the last week or so.

And now we're in March. You do know what happens in March, right? Spring planting. That's what happens in March. But now the problem is that both gardens are least full enough that I don't really have anywhere to plant the tomatoes, eggplant and pepper plants. To top it off, I'm usually a person that can't put plants out of their misery by pulling them up (unless they have bolted). Shawn normally stays out of garden planning other than to add his two cents about which pepper plant to try, but when he saw all the pea plants this afternoon he got all excited about having garden peas and was none to happy when I told him that I had actually planted an entire patch of peas specifically for green manure (the peas were free from a coworker and I had 50 seeds and figured that planting 15 for green manure wasn't actually bad at all.)

So, now the quandary: let the pea plants get big enough to produce and therefore put off planting the normal spring crops until April at the earliest, or try to plant stuff interspersed in the peas (like corn maybe)?...though I still need to figure out what to do with all the tomato/pepper/eggplant seedlings I have at work then...though I guess I could try to hold off on planting those until the fall.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Water: Part II

It rained on Sunday. Now my rain barrel is full again. Yeehaw!