Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moths, Butterflies, and larva

Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

Gulf Fritillary larva (Aqraulis vanillae) Purple Morph. This guy started the chrysalis stage later in the day. Also, apparently the purple morph is common in Texas but less so outside of the state.

Saltmarsh Moth larva (Estigmene acrea) I also have these guys in abundance in the black and the blond/black variations. As if the squash-type plants didn't already have enough problems with the SVB, these guys seem very particular to the squash and watermelon plants.

Bordered Patch Butterfly (Chlosyne lacinia)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Veggie Garden June 2010

A picture of the garden as of Saturday (June 26) morning. The tomatoes need pruning, the squash needs to be ripped out and the basil needs to be harvested...And it's time to start seeds for the fall garden. The work never ends.

Fiends! The whole lot of ya!

looks like I caught them right after hatching. Needless to say, they quickly met their watery demise.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Potatoes (post 2)

As I mentioned before, I ordered the potatoes. I gave them a delivery week of July 19. Somehow that was translated into June 25. According to Caroline, as she ALMOST had the same problem, this has something to do with the potato place thinking that the seed potatoes they have won't all be viable by July. That and the place is in Colorado so they probably think we Texans are crazy to try planting potatoes at the end of the summer rather than at the beginning. So basically what happened is they put a rush on both of our orders. The difference is that Caroline called them and told them to hold the potatoes no matter what.

On a totally unrelated note, why is there a single cat kibble next to the cat litter box? did one of the cats decide they would like a nice snack while they were pooping? so weird.

Anyhow, back to potatoes. Right. So since I didn't realize that they were going to be sending the potatoes until after they had already sent them, I have the ordered potatoes sitting on my kitchen the original box. I haven't even opened it yet.

According to the Aggie Horticulture site, it sounds like I can store the seed potatoes in the crisper drawer of the fridge. That's good because there is absolutely no sense in trying to plant potatoes now. I mean there's no where to put them, and they wouldn't set tubers anyway.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artemisia and Rock Rose


After (avocado tree to the left, random weed tree to the right, and chile pequin front and center):

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mail Orders (Potatoes and Garlic)

I ordered some potatoes for fall planting today. I, like Caroline from the Shovel Ready Garden, ordered them from Since I don't have a specified garden area for potatoes yet, I will likely be building a potato box as per my Mom's instructions.

[aside] My mom found an article in their newspaper about building a potato box in order to grow like 100 lbs of potatoes. She immediately ripped it out of the paper (so I could read it in person), and promptly called me to tell me about it and said that I just HAD to build the potato box and try it. See? Apparently I get this experiment thing from my mom. But the reason why I had to try it instead of her? Because I am the one who gardens. My mom was also the one that insisted I try the Earth Boxes of years past. And that experiment worked out well, so how badly can this one go? However, since she is the one who's so adamant about the potato box, what I should do is grow them and then pay to have them all shipped to her. I think my dad would get a kick out of that. [/aside]

The varieties I selected were a pound of Red LaSoda, 1/2 pound All Blue, and 1/2 pound Purple Viking. The LaSodas are a recommended variety for Travis County while All Blue and Purple Viking are recommended varieties for Texas by Howard Garrett. The other recommended varieties for Texas and/or Travis County were already sold out (except for the Russian Banana and Yellow Finn). I put that the ship date should be the middle of July, so we'll see how this works out.

I also ordered more garlic from Gourmet Garlic Gardens. I wish I would have been able to get the Creole varieties sampler, but they're already out of them so instead I got the Warm Winter Varieties again. They are automatically shipped just prior to the best time to plant in your specified area so they should be arriving in late-August or so.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Succulents, Cacti, and other drought tolerant plants

I finally got around to buying some new pots so I could officially plant the variegated agave from the last blogger get together I went to in Feb. and the ice plant I bought when I met up with Diana at the Barton Springs Nursery in April. I originally planted the agave in a plastic flower pot with some regular garden dirt and the put it under the eaves of the house so it didn't get as much water when it rained. Having it in the plastic pot was a short term solution--I didn't really know where I was going to put an agave--I had a couple of choices--in the giant berm out front amongst the asian jasmine, lantanas and random wildflowers or in a pot in the backyard (in which case I would need a very large pot), or in a pot by my other cacti/succulents (in which case I would need a smallish pot--8-14" diameter). Now then, the husband still doesn't care for cacti and succulents so he didn't really want it in the berm area (besides, I still haven't decided what to do with that area--Agave/guara/feather grass combo or lantana/mountain laurel/verbena combo...actually I'd like to do both--with the agave combo in a large stock tank to either the left or right of the berm...but the husband doesn't like the stock tank idea), which left the potting options...and we all know that I'm a cheapskate, ergo the small pot option was selected.

The ice plant just sat in its little 4" pot by the water barrel while I took my sweet time getting a pot for it. I ended up choosing a shallow terra cotta bowl in the 'chocolate' color. Because the ice plant obviously isn't very big, I decided to add some of my other succulents to the pot. I pulled off some of the blue and green sedums from the other succulent pots and some of the new babies from the ghost plant.

I've topdressed both pots with extra sand I have lying around (even though the ice plant pot doesn't look it), but I'd really like to get some of that recycled glass to put on top instead.

I had decided a while ago that I wanted to plant the portulaca plant I bought at BSN in something whimsical. And I thought I had the perfect container: An old glass light fixture. So I filled it with dirt and sand and then I added the plant. And then I put it in the sun at the end of my walkway.

And then I promptly freaked out that it was going to somehow start a fire. You know like magnifying glasses and ants? only with regular glass and wood chips.

So I unpotted the plant and instead put it in a terra cotta pot. A terra cotta pot which I've been meaning to give back to Bob at Draco. Sorry Bob, you're gonna have to wait until I find a non-fire-starting-pot-of-whimsy.

Glass container AFTER I pulled the portulaca plant out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Parsley Caterpillar

One of the many Black Swallowtail Caterpillars (on parsley)

Oak-y Problem

A few weeks ago my husband decided to go and prune all the trees...which really actually translates to pruning the Arizona Ash in the back yard so it doesn't hit the house, the Chinese Pistache in the front yard so it doesn't hit the house or the neighbor's house, and the Red Tip Photina on the side yard so it doesn't hit the house. Are we seeing a theme here?

Anyhow, I told him he was free to cut whichever trees he wanted except for the oak tree. That was the only one he could not prune. And I don't know if it was the whole "Do not do this" that made it so appetizing--like the whole 'whatever you do, don't put me in the briar patch!' said Briar Rabbit, but he went and cut one limb off of the tree. A limb, that if left to its own devices would have eventually grown larger and would have started sideswiping my car. A limb, that could have easily been left alone until the middle of July when it's safer to prune oak trees. Of course we also did not have pruning paint at the time he cut the branch and I didn't get anything over the cut until the next night.

So you can imagine my dread when I noticed that the leaves started looking like this:

However, from what I've found on the vast interwebs, this isn't oak wilt. Oak wilt should apparently start from the edges of the leaf and work its way inward. It should also cause a browning of the leaf, not a transparency. AND it should have started at the crown of the tree and worked its way down instead of being only at the bottom of the tree.

So, from what I CAN find, it appears that this is the damage of some kind of bug. Perhaps the Oak Skeletonizer bug (Bucculatrix ainsliella Murtfeldt)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (June 2010)

The Eggplant has finally started blooming:
The blanket flower is still blooming, as are the tomatoes, and the mexican hat. The squash plants, watermelon, and rock rose all bloom off and on and of course are already closed by the time I get home from work. Funny story: the other day I saved a bee who had become trapped inside one of the squash flowers when it closed at the end of the day. Good thing I go out and check on the garden every morning and evening.

The purple lantana hasn't bloomed much this year, but the white ones are going crazy. The red and volunteer lantana both have bloomed, but it's not very consistent.

The coral honeysuckle is blooming off and well as having issues with downy mildew.

The zexmenia looks like its about to flower, as well as the turk's cap.

I'm most excited (in the flower department--I think I'm probably always over all most excited about watermelon blooms because I really want to grow a watermelon) about the following two blooms:

Gregg's Mistflower (flash with motion blur is apparent--it causes that halo-ing effect--the flash first goes off and it freezes the frame, but if the shutter speed is too slow a bit of motion can get into the frame causing a halo.):

and Beauty Berry (there is some motion blur, but it was in the shade, with no tripod, shutter speed at about 1/10 of a second, focal length is like 240, AND it was breezy. So in other words, I'll take it!):

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Horse Herb?

Looking for a confirmation that this is indeed horse herb.

The husband has started complaining about how it's taking over the flower bed...the flower bed which is currently full of seeding parsley. This means that I'm going to be digging it up and throwing it in the compost bin...unless it's horse herb...then I may pot some in 4" pots and bring it to the garden blogger get together.

So, if it's horse herb, let me know. And if you want some, let me know.

Bumpy Stems (Tomatoes)

I took a picture of this today on my tomatoes and decided that either they had contracted some type of STD, or were being attacked by bugs. After a quick Google Search, I came across this website: This site informed me (with pictures even!) that what my Ananas Noire tomato is suffering from is called Tomato Stem Primordia. Basically the plant is trying to start some new roots. The causes of this condition are high humidity, predominantly wet weather, or over watering (I think greater than 3" of rain in one night within the last week would constitute as 'over watering', plus this plant is in the newer bed which has more dirt and less organic matter mixed in which means it gets soppy and stays soppy).

The other tomato in the bed (the Purple Cherokee), has been suffering from some leaf rolling recently. Leaf rolling which I confirmed to be of the Environmental variety...also indicating that there is too much water in the bed.

Note to self, more organic matter!


The popcorn is 4'+ tall, it has tassled out (which actually means that the pollination stick at the top of the plant is no longer a stick, but more like a branch), and in some cases, looks like it's ready to be picked (as in if it were sweet corn, I'd be out there checking the ears every day to see if it was in fact time for eating). It has been 12 weeks and 1 day since I planted the seed. Maturation is in 100-105 days (15 weeks).

I decided to check what the seed pack said to do about harvesting. And the answer is "let it dry out on the stalk." um...okay. But wouldn't that require the corn not getting any water for a while? And this stuff is still in a garden bed where I need to water all the other plants. So...uh, yeah. I don't think it's going to be drying "on the stalk" unless I pull out the entire stalk and dry that. Which...just no. That won't happen.

I don't know what I'm going to do to dry out the corn then. Maybe I'll pull the ears and then use some old pantyhose to do the trick...or more likely I'll pull the ears, pull back the husks and tie all the husks together and hang from my "newly minted" dry hook in the kitchen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Garden 06-05-10

Ivy is in a bunch of my photos because I'm her favorite person and she insists on following me around like a dog when we're outside at the same time. It really isn't intentional that she be in all the photos. She is the cat that had the kidney problems six months ago.

Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest

A few months ago (heck, it may have been last month), the GGW photo contest theme was "Green," and I was going to enter a photo. I ended up not doing so because the photo I was going to submit wasn't 'perfect' in my mind (for those of you interested in knowing what it was, it was the Artemisia plant photo from April 8, 2010).

And of course no photo ever is perfect (or if it is, it's very rare indeed). Now then, choosing a FAVORITE photo on the other hand is much easier, though still difficult because it depends on what mood I'm in. Some of my favorites in the past have been the anole, spider web, and the double butterfly photos, along with countless flower photos. And those are just the "garden" photos.

As I decided I should finally enter the contest, and it doesn't require me to go out looking for a subject to photograph, I've decided on a flower photo (since the website is Gardening Gone Wild and they do ask that the photo be plant or garden related). I've already posted this picture before, but because it needs to be around 500 pixels on the long edge, it means I had to resize it specifically for the contest.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Science Experiments

Maybe it's the engineer in me, or maybe I just like a good challenge, but I LOVE to do grand science experiments. Okay, they're usually not so grand, and very rarely are they even science experiments, but I stick with what I know.

This year I have done, or will do, a couple:
- The aforementioned Garlic Experiment - Win!

- Make seed start pots out of toilet paper rolls - Fail. I fried all the seeds. I'll have to try this one again in the fall when I'm starting my spring seeds.

- Strawberry Popcorn - In process. So far the corn is about 4' tall and starting to pollinate. I do, however, have a gray aphid problem. Actually I don't know if it's a problem--they seem to be just on the pollen stalks. I did also have a problem with the corn 'laying down' during the rain storm. So I propped them all up and lashed them to bamboo stakes. Fingers crossed that this experiment is successful.

- Paper towel seed starting technique - Win! I successfully managed to start 5-year old basil and black eyed susan seeds using the trick of sprinkling seeds on a wet paper towel, wrapping it up and putting it in a ziplock bag on the counter. I'm now trying two types of milkweed and a french marigold.

- Lemon Balm + Nasturtium to repel Squash Vine Borer - Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. Today I found the SVB eggs (8) on my squash plants, in all cases the eggs were in locations that were not close to the lemon balm or the nasturtium plants, so maybe it kinda actually works. Also, keep in mind that this is the first I've found the eggs and other gardeners I know started finding eggs weeks ago. (Jenny at RockRose has been keeping a very good running dialogue on the SVB and has some good pictures of both the eggs and the adults. Eggs can be seen here). I have found that the lemon balm works well as a mosquito repellent when I'm out there -- crush a leaf or two and rub over exposed skin. It probably doesn't have staying power, but it works fine for the amount of time that I'm outside in the evening checking on the plants. Plus it makes me smell all lemony!

- Quinoa - Has not started yet. This will be the fall garden experiment.

- Starting tomatoes/eggplant/pepper from seed - Okay so it's not really a great science experiment because a TON of people are able to do this successfully and have no problems. Not me. This is the first year that I have managed to grow tomatoes, eggplant, and sweet peppers from seed. Of course the experiment is ongoing because while I've successfully grown the plants, I still need to actually get some fruit from them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Garlic Experiment

This morning I cleaned my garlic haul for the year. Now I have 4 little paper bags of my minuscule garlics. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that I didn't do anything wrong and it had more to do with the weather as Vertie also had garlic on the small side (and she grew garlic last year, so she at least has something to compare to).

I still have to write the varieties on the paper bags, but I did at least number them, so I just have to search back through my posts to find the one that tells me which number is what variety. (Hey man, I do occasionally try to learn lessons from others so I don't repeat them).

I'm not sure (so I'll have to turn to my good friend, Google), but I think that garlic is kinda like a pineapple--that is, the larger your starter, the larger the end product. That is to say; pineapple, when you start it, can only be as big or smaller than the parent plant, and I think Garlic is kinda the same way--bigger cloves = bigger heads. All this really means is that I'm probably going to end up buying garlic to plant again this year rather than try to get garlic plants out of my puny heads (seriously, there's one that's the size of a quarter...I should take a picture, it's like a wee baby garlic).

Final Thoughts on growing garlic: I found it very easy to grow garlic. I think I compost tea'd the fall garden bed 2 times (ergo the garlic got it as well), but I didn't ever have pest problems. When I did water the garden, it was never because the garlic looked like it needed it (just the other plants). Harvesting the garlic was probably the toughest thing of the whole adventure. The bottom leaves started turning yellow a month or so before I dug up everything. One of my friends pulled up a garlic as soon as the bottom leaf turned yellow, and of course he ended up with a quarter sized head. I at least did dig down to try to figure out how large the garlic head was before I pulled it out. In all cases, I ended up pulling the garlic earlier than I would have liked because the tops were telling me "pull me" but the garlic bulbs were still very small.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Yesterday (before the rains), I came home and went out to look at the garden. My corn had been blown over. And then it rained on said blown-over corn.

Needless to say all the corn looked mighty pitiful this morning when I got up to try and prop it back into place. 3 stakes, and 6 strings of twine later, everything was relatively back into place.

I don't remember this happening in Colorado ever. Has anyone else had problem with corn "laying down"?

In other news I pulled the rest of the bulbing onions and most of the green onions. The largest of the bulbing varieties are the size of a baseball. The husband (who hates onions) was actually pretty impressed with the onion haul. As mentioned previously, the beets and garlic were pulled earlier. We finished off the beets last night with dinner (and right after we finished, the husband stated that he "really, really dislikes beets." Apparently he didn't want to tell me this while we had them for fear that I'd just throw the rest in the compost bin since I don't necessarily LOVE beets). Project 29 for the weekend will be to clean the garlic and bag it.