Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My inlaws moved to Texas a few months back and of course watered their lawn as good home owners are to do (especially good home owners who live in a neighborhood where the home owners association looks down on those that allow their grass to go dormant in August).

But they have a problem with their yard. The back yard is completely shady (in the summer, in the winter it's okay since the trees lose their leaves). When they first moved down, they were watering the yard 3 times a week, and unfortunately, that meant that the back area was kept pretty wet most of the time. Much like how Mayflowers bring pilgrims, we all know what wet, muggy conditions bring: Mosquitoes.

They had an exterminator come out and spray, they went out and sprayed, they bug-bombed and did other non-eco-friendly things. After asking us multiple times what exactly we did to deal with the mosquitoes; and after us telling them multiple times that the only way we've found to deal with it is to not water the areas we have mosquitoes, or more specifically, STOP WATERING THE GRASS, they finally cut back to watering the back yard shady area once a week.

Now then, the grass they have is buffalo. Which does not grow in shade (also it shouldn't need to be watered 3 x a week, but that's neither here nor there). So obviously now their back yard is a large dirt patch. They don't like having a dirt patch for a yard. My mother in law has decided that after Christmas they will put in a limestone paver patio area just outside their sun room. But she wanted to re-sod the rest of the yard with grass. I think I managed to convince her that she shouldn't plant grass and she should really plant some plants to fill in the space instead.

The problem with this plan? She says she's not good at design--she can't see things or create things the way that some people can (I'm looking at all of you landscape designers out there). The problem is, neither can I. Normally, I tell people to utilize the services of some fellow garden bloggers who do garden design for a living (like Pam, Philip, and Jenny and I'm sure there are many others out there who I can't think of right now) when they have an entire yard that needs to be redone. In this case, however, I know that the recommended plants and the amount needed of them that are shade tolerant and deer resistant are more than likely going to cost enough to cause my mother in law to have a small coronary, and I like to keep the amount of cardiac events that my in laws have to a minimum. So instead I told her about the City of Austin's Grow Green program which came out with some pre-canned designs for various types of gardens. The problem is that they have a Shade Garden plan, a Deer Resistant Garden plan and a Classic Garden plan. You notice that there's not a Shade Tolerant, Deer Resistant, Classic Garden plan.

So, I have now somehow managed to volunteer myself to help her with designing, and quite possibly implementing, her garden. This will be fun? frustrating? will go massively wrong because of our combined ineptitude? Currently I'm predicting all three of those F's.

But stay tuned, I have a feeling I'll be blogging about this every once in a while.

Winter gardening

So I planted more spinach (the rest of the seeds that I had), more peas (only a handful) and more carrots (yellowstone and whatever the orange variety that is in the packet - nantes, maybe?).

The broccoli is the only thing that seems to be actively growing, though the cauliflower is starting to look robust and the quinoa is looking like an actual plant (maybe if I can keep it alive until February, it will take off and it will be like I started the seed at the right time). All the garlic is doing swimmingly and the onions are green and healthy looking.

I pulled out all the tomatoes and the remainder of the peppers (except for the habanero). I had forgotten that the reason I planted the lemon boy tomato in the spot I did was because I had a problem with root nematodes in that spot last year. And lemon boy, while sometimes marketed as an heirloom, actually isn't and therefore is not as susceptible to the same problems as heirlooms. So yeah, the little Ananas Noire plant that I planted in that spot for the fall didn't fare so well. Or rather the plant seemed to be doing fine until I pulled it out of the ground and realized that it really wasn't.

I transplanted the Red Hot and Hot Yellow peppers into pots so I can bring them in and hopefully overwinter them. Both looked great this morning which is a plus.

Now then, I just have to remember to get to the store to buy some marigolds to put in the nematode spot...