Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Garden Plants Growing Season 2010

Here is my semi-official list of everything I'm growing this year in the garden. This ought to be fun since I didn't really buy plants from garden stores or sales that gave out fliers of information.

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. I gave the red bell pepper variety to Jen at Rebar and Roses.

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. The Brandywine variety died, the two zebras made it, the Marvel died too. I did plant another green zebra in it's place. You know, I hope I like green zebras since I've got 3 plants...

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. All varieties died this year, too.

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. Both pots died. As did the one that I started after the fact. I ended up buying a habanero plant from Red Barn for about $3.

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. Beatrice was "emergency planted", and is the only one that's still alive. Nadia was killed off shortly after planting in the garden.

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. I ended up starting 2 more containers of the basil (I have a lot of seed). I planted 2 containers in the garden, and the other is still sitting by my porch.

Ananas Noire Tomato: Given to me by Jen at Rebar and Roses
Description: The skin has shades of green, purple, orange, and yellow. Bright green flesh has bursts of red streaks that will definitely add intrigue to your vegetable platter. The lip smacking flavor starts out sweet and ends with the perfect amount of tang. What's more, the sprawling indeterminate plant yields a tremendous amount of 1 1/2 pound fruits.
Experience: This plant seemed to be doing pretty poorly until very recently. It looks more like a tree too (the bottom leaves kept being attacked by something so I cut them off, thus leaving a bunch of leaves at the top. Thus a tomato tree). No flowers yet either. Hopefully it will make it through the summer and do well in the fall.

Black Krim Tomato: Given to me by Jen at Rebar and Roses, also purchased at Allandale Plant Sale for $1
Description: Large brown-red fruit with rich sweet flavor. Sets well in heat. Heirloom from Crimea. (from the Sunshine Gardens 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: As I mentioned last year, THIS TOMATO IS AWESOME. And I totally have Annie in Austin to thank for this since it was because of her that I even tried this variety last year. Considering that I bought a fairly puny plant at the Allandale Plant Sale (and I bought it at the end of April), I am very impressed with the growth it's put on. It's flowering and there are even a few small tomatoes on the plant.

Purple Cherokee Tomato: Bought at the Allandale Plant Sale for $1
Description: 80 days, indeterminate Given to heirloom tomato collector Craig LeHoullier by J. D. Green of Tennessee, it is at least 100 years old and was reported as originally grown by the Cherokee Indians. The fruits are large (twelve to sixteen ounces), dark pink with darker purple shoulders. Excellent complex flavor, slight sweet aftertaste, perfect slicer for tomato sandwiches!
Experience: Not as good of a grower as the Krim. I planted them the same day, so there really is no excuse. Not flowering yet. I hope it does well through the summer, and produces in the fall. I would like to do a taste test between the Krim and the Cherokee.

Kentucky Wonder Bean: Bought at the Allandale Plant Sale for $1
Description: Popular, heavy producing Pole Bean. Excellent for eating fresh, freezing or canning when pods are young. Makes a good shell bean when left to mature fully. Approximately 66 days to maturity.
Experience: This bean plant has easily climbed the 5' tomato cage and keeps wanting to go up. It does have a problem with spider mites.

Watermelon: Crimson Sweet (Walmart Gardens)
Experience: The best that my watermelon has ever done. Maybe this year I'll actually get one to grow!

Cantaloupe: Hearts of Gold (America's Choice)
Experience: I haven't noticed any cantaloupe plants, only watermelon. The seeds were old after all.

Black Eyed Peas: Free from my friend, Ross
Description: Cowpeas, also called Black Eyed Peas, are a favorite southern bean. Although the young leaves are edible, most gardeners grow them for the bean inside. Cowpeas are native to Africa, where it is an important food crop. The plant thrives in warmer climates. There are vining and non-vining varieties. Maturity in 80-90 days.
Experience: I planted these mostly for the legume soil factor and not so much for food. About half have survived at this point.

Bush Cucumber: Free via Master Gardeners of Travis County
Experience: I didn't plant these until pretty late, and they're no where as dark a green color as they were when I first got them, but they are doing okay. One even has a baby cucumber on it.

Basil (unknown variety): Free from my coworker, Charlie
Description: Apparently a Thai Basil (but it doesn't look like my Thai basil). It does have purple flowers though.
Experience: Most of these sat in their little pots for weeks before I planted them. I finally planted them and half promptly bolted. Which is fine. I'm content with collecting seeds, or pulling out seedlings when they sprout.

Basil (purple variety): $1 from Allandale Plant Sale
Description: mild purple variety
Experience: The plant itself is doing well, I just think I like the stronger flavored basils more.

Cherry Tomato (unknown variety): Free from my coworker, Charlie
Description: Charlie brought in some seedlings for my friend, Bond, and me. He was positive they were some of the hot yellow peppers he has in his yard because he had taken a whole pepper and just threw it in this pot and about 4 months later, all these little seedlings were growing in the pot. So he separated them, and gave them to Bond and me. A few weeks later, we were pretty sure they were not pepper plants (they had the fjord-like tomato leaf). And when the plants bloomed, it was confirmed. Cherry tomato of some sort. Sprouted from seeds that were put in a pot 8 months ago and forgotten (or something like that). Charlie says he thinks they might be sun gold tomatoes. I'm not sure, I guess I'll know when they fruit.
Experience: One plant has done amazingly well, the other, not so much. They both have flowered, and the larger one has tomatoes on it.

Random Squash Plant: $1 at the Allandale Plant Sale.
Description: I have no idea what this is. The tag was marked W.B. and the one lady said "oh, that means Wonder Bean!" I didn't bother pointing out that it was obviously a squash plant and not a bean plant. But I still bought it (I didn't want to get change so I needed 5 plants).
Experience: Not so great. I don't know if this will make it. It's in front of the lemon balm, and next to the cherry tomato. And I only put this because if it dies, at least I know that I did actually plant something there.

Experience: only about 3' tall (give or take half a foot), but considering it's supposed to only be 4' tall, it's probably doing good. It's the best that corn has ever done down here (for me at least). I think it mostly has to do with the fact that it's actually getting full sun.

Lemon Balm: $2.99 at Red Barn
Description: Lemon balm (Melissa officianlis L.) is a lemon scented member of the mint family. A native to southern Europe, it is a perennial which will over-winter in hardiness zones 4 to 5. The plant develops many branches and grows to a height of about 2 feet. The leaves are 2-3 inches long, oval to almost heart shaped, shiny and wrinkled with scalloped edges. Small light blue to white flowers appear in late spring through midsummer.
Experience: Going ballistic. But I like it. I'll go out there and make sure I run my hands through it just so they end up smelling all lemony. I got this (and nasturtiums) to combat that dreaded squash vine borer. It's all a grand science experience!

Delicata and Early Butternut Squash: Compact Winter Squash, Renee's Garden
Experience: They're there, but they haven't taken off like the Watermelon.

Spring Garden '10: Update

As mentioned previously, I went on vacation to help my in-laws move to Georgetown. Since I was gone for 5 days, I had to leave my budding garden in the hands of my very capable neighbor (who gets all produce that ripens during the time we are gone, AND usually, if we have stuff that ripens right before we leave, she gets that as well. This works out well because she went vegetarian around October of last year).

While we were gone, the spring garden really took off. The Green Zebra tomatoes grew about 6", the Black Krim shot up, and the Ananas Noire finally stopped looking so bad. The corn grew about a foot (or at least that's what it seems like). and some of the watermelons went berserk. The lemon balm looks like it's thinking about taking over the garden, and a bunch of the basil I got from one of my coworkers is blooming. The Kentucky Wonder Bean plant I got at the Allandale Plant Sale has gone up the 5' tomato cage and is now looking for something else to grow on. I think it will probably take over the neighbor's yard before the end of the summer. The eggplant is probably about half the size that last year's eggplant ended at. And I grew this one from seed! The only downside is that it looks like I've got another outbreak of spider mites, so I'll probably try to work on that soon. Problem being that tomorrow (Saturday), we have a wedding to go to, and then on Sunday we're helping the in-laws unload the moving truck. Which means I MIGHT get around to it on Monday. Which is the day I have to start seedlings for the garden blogger meet up in June.

Fall Garden '09 Updates (Growing Season '10)

I pulled all the garlic this week. Or rather, I pulled 3 of the 5 types (one type never even sprouted) over a week ago before I left on vacation to help my in-laws move down here. I just finally pulled the 4th variety yesterday. I currently have garlic and onions drying in the corner of the kitchen (who would have guessed that the silly little ceiling hook that the previous owners put in would have been so handy?).

I think I'm going to pull a bunch of green onions this weekend and take them to work--I thought I wouldn't have a problem using them, but with a husband who doesn't like onion, it means I never add it to anything and just didn't realize it til after I grew it I guess.

I also pulled the last of the beets before vacation. I gave half to the neighbor lady who watches the cats for us (I also gave her some bulb onions, green onions, parsley, garlic, and oregano). As predicted, there's only ONE which was a golden beet, so I'll try to remember to take pictures when I cook them up.

Bulbing onions are about the only thing left from the fall garden, and I've been watching them like a hawk to make sure they aren't sending up flower stalks, I figure I'll pull them all no matter what in a week or so. Though I guess I should note that I pulled one yesterday that was the size of a baseball (YAY!).

Monday, May 17, 2010


First Chrysalis of the season (at least that I've found). Likely a Gulf Fritillary. On the Passion Flower Vine (which has yet to bloom. BLOOM PLANT, BLOOM!)
As you may have noticed, I've been putting borders on all my pictures recently. This is mostly because the lady who does the Daily Coyote mentioned that she thought pictures looked 'unfinished' without a border. And I figured, "What the hay!" so I've been adding borders to the photos that I've touched up in some way (usually Unsharp Mask, though I'm sure I'll use color correction or contrast correction at some point in time). It will, at least, be an easy way to find out which photos are totally Au Natural (other than scaling so it's not 5Mb) and which ones are altered.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (May 2010)

I've said goodbye to the succulent flowers, the toadflax, and the peas, and in their place we have Rockrose (Pavonia lasiopetala):
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata):

and Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnaris):

Not Pictured: Cucumber, Tomato, Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Horse Herb, Confederate Jasmine, Tropical Milkweed, Purple Trailing Lantana, and Purple Heart.

About to bloom: Dallas Red Lantana, Cedar Sage, Coral Honeysuckle, Watermelon and Greg's Mistflower.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Double Flutters

Black Swallowtail butterflies laying eggs on the dill plants. This is not a trick of photo editing software. I just happened to get both butterflies in the then, if only the first one was more in focus, and the top of the wings hadn't gotten cut off, and the photo was centered a little better...

Thursday, May 13, 2010


5 years ago I stuck three toothpicks into an avocado pit and balanced it on a glass full of water. It sprouted and I then potted it. The cat then started chewing on it and eventually managed to break the main stem. Since it didn't die within a week, I decided I'd take it to work and set it on my windowsill (you can see pictures of it here, and here). It's finally reached the point where 1) it needs to be repotted again and I don't want to have a 50 lb pot full of dirt sitting on my desk, and 2) it started looking very sad. Like it just wasn't getting enough sun (not surprising since the windows have sun shields on them). So now the avocado tree is sitting right by my front door:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Ladybugs!

The picture from earlier in the month when the ladybug eggs hatched.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

So Much!

So much has happened since I last posted a picture of the lady bug eggs.

So let's see...
-The lady bugs hatched and started eating all the aphids.
-I pulled out the bug ridden pea plants the lady bugs were on and painstakingly looked over every bit of those plants picking off the baby ladybugs and placing them on my beans and eggplant.
-I've lost all my dill caterpillars. I had 3 at the beginning of the week, then I went out wednesday and was down to 2, and on Friday morning I checked on the dill and had 1, and by the time I came back from my doctor's appointment, there were none. Caroline suggested that they decided to pupate, and Vertie says that all of her swallowtail caterpillars have always trekked quite a distance before pupating (dill apparently is not a very sturdy plant), so the going theory is that they've either all gone to pupate or the birds got them.
-I pulled 4 bulbing onions (3 white, one purple)
-I pulled a small handful of scallions
-I planted 3 cucumber plants, 5 thai basil plants, and yet another tomato plant (though I don't remember what type the tomato's gotta be green zebra, marvel stripe or brandywine).
-pulled out 4 of the 5 Shilla Garlics because the plants started falling over (and I don't think garlic is supposed to do that).
-planted some of the cast iron plant that Diana gave me
-separated the rest of the cast iron plant that Diana gave me and potted them and took some to work
-pulled out some of the snow cloud artemisia and took it to work as well.
-collected god knows how many seeds from the marigolds
-pulled some plants out of the cactus pot and potted them up in their own little 4" plants...I think they're turk's cap, but the leaves are super soft and since I think turk's cap and rock rose leaves look very similar, they might be rock rose...or the third option is that they're actually a weed of some sort. Because that's always fun--re-potting weeds.
-found some seeds my mom sent me 5 years ago (parsley, basil, black-eyed susans, and cornflower). I rolled them up in some wetted paper towels and put them in a Ziploc bag. Amazingly (and I had this wrong in my tweet), the cornflower and the basil (I think) actually did sprout. So I put some in some of their own 4" pots and have them sitting on the window sill to finish sprouting, then they'll be moved outside to get some more sun.
-Finally, I took 80-billionty pictures of butterflies. I watered everything after planting the cucumbers and basil and the swallowtails LOVED it so they were around for quite a while.

I'll be posting pictures of all this stuff throughout the week as I have time (or, more likely, I'll just auto-post some of the pictures).

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Are these Ladybug eggs? I was going to pull out the dying peas (plus they are covered in aphids), but if the ladybugs are coming, then maybe I'll leave them in for a while longer...

End of April

I had just read ESP's post in which he had a picture of these little eggs attached by a single thread to the underside of one of his bamboo leaves. So, you can imagine my surprise when I went out to check on my garden and, in checking for aphids on my pepper plants (in the past pepper and eggplant always seemed to have problems with did the sunflower, but considering that the sunflower was a volunteer deposited in my yard by one of the helpful neighborhood birds, I could care less about aphids and skippers and ants on the sunflower), I noticed these:

Lacewing eggs

Another picture of some more of my Dillcats (the first one I took a picture of, by the way, disappeared. Like totally and completely. It wasn't even close to chrysalis stage, and it was just gone. POOF. Like the Langoliers. Poor Langolier Caterpillar. ):

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar on Dill

And a final picture; the first of the Confederate Jasmine flowers:

Confederate Jasmine flowers