Monday, August 22, 2011

Maryland: Milkweed

Wild milkweed in Maryland. I also got to see something I haven't seen down here in a while - Monarch butterflies.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Maryland: Jewelweed aka Spotted Touch Me Not

Jewelweed is thus named as water beads on the leaves looking like the plant is bejewelled. It is called Touch Me Not as the seed pods burst when touched. It also is used as a cure to poison ivy and mosquito bites (rip the leaves and rub on affected areas). Jewelweed grows in Texas but it likes moist soil and shade (maybe more of a bog plant...).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Emmitsburg, MD

A picture of a black-eyed susan bloom (at least I assume it's a black-eyed susan) at the Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, Maryland.


So I didn't REALLY go on vacation - I was at a training in Maryland for the last week while my husband was (and still is) at a conference in Vancouver. But the bad part about going to cooler climes in August? It means that your plants are left here in the frying pan to fend for themselves.

I asked the neighbor who was watching our cat to water the veggie garden and other plants in pots on Tuesday and Thursday (keeping in mind that I normally watered those everyday). I also had a coworker stop by on Wednesday to water "all plants outside, front and back." so if we're keeping track that would indicate that all the perennials and annuals and flowering things would get watered on Sunday before I left, on Wednesday and then again on Saturday when I returned. The veggie garden and plants in pots would get watered on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The flowering things all did fine - the worst looking plant by far was the milkweed. And the back yard flowering plants looked downright wonderful.

The garden, however, looked pitiful. The squash plants have all died (probably a one-two punch between the heat and SVB), one of the Krims I had grown from seed died, the marigolds all looked extremely stressed, the lemon balm is crispy, as are some of the sweet potato plants. Hell, even the garlic chives aren't looking so hot. The best looking plants were the eggplants and watermelon. The most pitiful thing to me, though, was the fact that my lone habanero plant (from seed) looked done for. The leaves were completely limp and a dull green. I watered it anyway and it has miraculously recovered.

While I'm a little sad so much died, at the same time it's a good thing because I need to make room to plant garlic, broccoli, and cauliflower very soon like.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


It's been so hot and dry out and this damn drought is never ending that the poor animals are having a tough time.

I started putting a bowl of water out for my cats, but the neighborhood cats started coming around so now it's out all the time, and then I put out a saucer of water for the birds (cats in the back yard, birds in the front). Then I started thinking that they needed a bigger water dish (to account for evaporation), so I started looking for a big plastic saucer (like the type you put under flower pots). In the meantime I found a toad living in my garden (probably on account of the fact that it is the only area that reliably gets water), so I started leaving a saucer of water in the garden. Shortly after that i found the tiny baby anole living on my Thai Pepper plant so I now pour water in a yogurt lid that I have on the dirt in the pot so the little guy has access to water. I finally found a large saucer for the birds in the front and I moved the smaller saucer to the back yard in the shade garden as the anoles tend to like to live in that area.

A few weeks ago, the husband and I went to Lowe's to buy some paint and drywall compound. I got sidetracked by the wild bird section and debated on buying a feeder and food. Just this last weekend, after watching a jay family in my yard obviously looking for food, I finally "broke" (at least that's what we'll tell the husband) down and bought a feeder. Since I know all the animals are hurting (except for the wasps and ants in our yard) so I bought just a flat hanging plate and a 17-pound bag of black oil sunflower. Thus far I haven't seen any birds (or other animals) at the feeder, but something's eating all the seeds...or dumping them out at least.

Update: I wrote this a few days ago and since then I have actually bothered to put out the seed and sit at the window and watch. I had the jay family, a cardinal and about 4 doves visit the feeder while some type of nuthatch/chickadee visited the water saucer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Veggie Plant Winners

Rather than provide an update in the style I normally do, I feel that a summary is warranted.

Black Krim (2 plants) - 5 tomatoes total, 3 ruined by squirrels or birds.
Roma (2 plants) - 4 tomatoes total, 1 ruined by blossom end rot.
Crookneck Squash - 1 2 squash total, eaten by squirrels
Red LaSoda Potatoes (5 planted) - 10 potatoes
White Kennebec Potatoes (4 planted) - 2 potatoes
Sweet Potato - 0 thus far
Watermelon - 0 thus far
Eggplant - 0 thus far
Cayenne Pepper - 4
Thai Red Demon Pepper - 42 47 peppers total, 2 eaten by squirrels/birds, 2 given to Linda Lehmusvirta. Plus, more on the way.

Obviously the winner this year is the Thai Pepper.

(edited to update counts on 8/26)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Plant Sale

I went to the HEB last Saturday to get the makings for Ranch & Spinach Pasta Salad (Rotini, bacon, spinach, and ranch dressing). While there, I decided to check out the plant section to see if they had any thing that would feed/water birds (aka plant saucers or bird baths). I didn't find any thing of that sort, but I did start looking at the plants. I ended up picking up a weeping jade plant for $2, and a portulaca for $1.19. I then found the clearance section. A clearance section that's full of plants that aren't even necessarily looking all that bad, and so I picked up a Persian Shield for $2, Devonshire Lavender for $1, and a Blue Salvia for $1. Of course I'm sure the clearance plants will promptly die as soon as I put them in the ground (but maybe I can propagate them - especially the salvia and the Persian Shield).

Of course the reason I even looked at the plants was because I had bought some clearance pots at Lowe's the weekend before - a lime green and a bright purple small pots (a little bit bigger than those 4" plastic things), and two blue and bronze triangle shaped pots labelled as "Orchid pots". I figured the jade plant would look good in the purple pot and I could probably break off some of the leaves to get them going in one of the blue and bronze pots. And while the Persian shield would look stunning in the green pot, it is a bit too small unless I want to keep propagating the plant to keep it small enough.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wee Baby Anole

The other day I went out to water my plants and there was a wee baby anole on my Thai Pepper plant.

In order to give an idea of size, I've tried to take photos with something one could compare to - here the little anole hanging onto a "medium" size tomato cage.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure: 1/25
Aperture Value: 4.97 EV (f/5.6)
ISO Speed: 100
Flash: No
Metering Mode: Pattern
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 70.00 mm
Post Processing: GIMP - Hue +10, Saturation +10, Unsharp Mask, Border

And here he is on top of the cage with a few of the pinky-long Thai peppers.

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure: 1/25
Aperture Value: 4.97 EV (f/5.6)
ISO Speed: 100
Flash: No
Metering Mode: Pattern
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 70.00 mm
Post Processing: GIMP - Saturation +10, Unsharp Mask