Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Around the Yard - Early Sept 2013 - Edibles Edition

Finally we come to my "Edibles" Section of the yard (never you mind that I have herbs all over the place so it's not a TRUE 'edibles only' section). The garden proper looks sad.  I mean, comparatively...as in 'compared to other peoples' gardens.'  I think it's because I never fertilize.  I hardly ever add compost, and I don't think I've refreshed the mulch in a few years.  So yeah.  I PLAN on pulling out the summer plants, digging out all the mulch, adding some soil & compost, and then adding both the mulch I still have and fresh mulch.  Of course, this plan would work much better if I didn't have herbs and other plants that will survive year-round.  

Looking toward the photinia

Looking away from the photinia

A few years ago, I made the mistake of adding lemon balm to the garden.  It was intentional - it was one of my science experiments.  The experiment was to see if it repelled the squash vine borer.  I didn't notice any difference, as in, all my squash was still destroyed.  We did, however, discover that lemon balm works relatively well as a mosquito repellent.  Temporarily, at least.  And I'd rather smell like lemon than sweat.  And so, the lemon balm was given reprieve after reprieve.  Then I added Garlic Chives, and two Chile Pequin, and Swiss Chard, and Thyme, and Oregano.  And now I have have very little space in my gardens for important plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  Ironically, I just recently pulled out all the lemon balm because I don't really use it for anything and it doesn't seem like any of the beneficials like it either.  

Maybe I should move the herbs to a different location (perhaps to the area by the possumhaws).  I should really clear out the area where I actually PLAN to plant chile pequins and move them this fall.

Potato Box plants...none of which are potatoes.  Naturally.  Also, I don't remember why there's a pipe-cleaner twisted around the one post.  I'm sure I had a good reason at the time.
We also have a potato box full of plants that aren't potatoes.  Because of course we do.  We created the potato box because my mom said that I just HAD to do a potato box.  We have grown potatoes in it twice.  and I've never had to go more than 3 slats high.  The grand plan, of course, is to plant the seed potatoes in the ground, as the plants grow, you add a slat and some dirt.  Then the plants grow more and you add another slat and more dirt.  Continue so on and so forth until you've got six slats and a shit-ton of potatoes (also, 'shit-ton' is the SI unit, just so you know).  Actually, I wonder how this would work on a smaller scale for tomato plants - you know, since tomatoes create roots where the stem is buried...would you end up with more tomatoes?  I feel another experiment coming on.

Anyhoo, back to the potato box plants that aren't potatoes.  In case you haven't already noticed, the husband and I are, generally speaking, lazy.  Why put away your garden stuff when it's past the season which you're using it for when you can just leave it out there creating an eye-sore in your yard?  We tell ourselves that we've left it there to help the Arizona Ash stump decompose quicker.  In reality it's just that we're lazy and we keep saying that we'll try potatoes again.  In the mean time, I use it as a regular planting bed.  Right now it's got a Habanero, Eggplants, an Orange Fogo Pepper, and a Cossack Pineapple ground cherry.  Let me tell you about the ground cherry.  I got the seeds from The Great Outdoors when I went to get a Christmas gift for my mother in law.  They were on clearance, and they were right by the register.  I thought they were some type of tomato-like plant.  And I guess they technically are since they're in the same family.  The fruit looks like little tomatillos, and they are sweet and tart.  I like them.  The husband isn't as much of a fan, but he'll eat them.  The plant we have has been doing pretty well and making a bunch of fruit.  They're like peas, though - you have to have a bunch of plants to get enough to do something with otherwise, they're just an item that you stand out in the garden eating the ripe ones when you see them.

The eggplants just recently started flowering, so I don't know if we'll get anything from them this year.  The habanero and the orange fogo will be dug up in about a month and I'll try to keep them alive through the winter so I can use them next spring.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Around the Yard - Early Sept 2013 - Back yard

Rather than do a gazillion posts (like I did for the front yard), I figure you all can handle just having one whole slew of photos of the back yard.

I'm starting to really like the back yard.  I'm also starting to really want to get back to working on it.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that my yard is going to take a back seat to my parents yard this fall as they will have to have all their garden beds and plants designed and planted by the beginning of March.  Which is both awesome and mind boggling.  Po' Shawn.  He's always complaining that I never spend enough time doing the yard work here at the house (more like I can find better things to do with my time than shear back plants or spread a few handfuls of compost), and this year there will likely be very little headway made on my backyard plan because I will be helping my parents with theirs.

Above is a picture of the Iris Bed.  you can see the original photos here.  It has obviously grown.  The only downside is that only one of the irises bloomed this year - a Cemetery White.  I also think the Jesse's Song iris died - or at least all of the leaves turned brown and disappeared.  I'm not sure what, if anything, I'm doing wrong - maybe they're getting too much water, maybe they need to be fertilized, maybe they just don't get enough sunlight, or hell, maybe irises don't bloom that first year.  I don't know.  I should probably do some research into that...  The artemisia (front) could stand to have a haircut.  I have a feeling that the iris and the artemisia need much less water than they're getting in this spot - which means the problem is the petunia (back) because I'll water when they start looking sad - which is about once a week or so.

The "Mull-shay" bed, on the other hand, looks fantastic.  Again - if we can just ignore the syrup barrel composter, the line of limestone blocks that I need to use and the fallen leaves, it would be pretty awesome.  I'm not too happy with the Firespike (it's the tallish plant on the right in the front) as it requires more water than I like to give plants.  I also, however, have a problem with removing plants...so I guess I need to hope for it to die off in some fashion.  The Yarrow (the little plants in the front) are a bit of a disappointment, but maybe they just follow the adage, "first year they creep, second year they sleep, and third year they leap."  I also have 4 Beauty Berry Bushes in little 6" pots by the Shrimp Plant (you can make out one pot in the far left of the photo).  The Liriope (the strappy foliage) looks like it's trying to take over, and I do plan on removing a large clump of it since it's right in the middle of the pathway I take to the syrup composter.  I will likely give this giant clump of liriope to my parents for their yard.

The "Grass Bed" was only ever half completed - as in I planted the grasses, but I never removed the St. Augustine.  The plan was actually that the St. Augustine was supposed to have died out over this summer.  Then we'd remove it and mulch the area and have a nice large mulched area for the clump grasses to go wild.  The husband, however, decided that this was the year that he wasn't going to let the St. Augustine die off - mostly because this area is pretty decent, so his plan is to baby this area to get it good and healthy, then cut it up in strips and go place it in areas that the grass actually has died out.  One of the Big Muhlies I planted died, so I think I'll put my little Caldwell Pink Rose in it's place - which means that there are 2 Big Muhlies and 2 Gulf Muhlies and 1 Pink Rose that's smack in the middle of them.  I think it will probably look a little weird, but maybe I can fill in with some more Gulf Muhly or something.

The Photinia Bed went a bit crazy.  It's mostly due to whatever plant it is that I seeded over there (cosmos maybe?).  And as you can tell, that is the problem - I don't remember what seeds I threw out there, only that I threw them out there and they actually did start to grow.  And grow.  And grow.  They're now 4 feet tall or so and show no signs of flowering.  The area also has some Giant Mexican Petunia (mostly hidden by the other plants), and Milkweed in the front.  I hope the Milkweed and Petunias return next year...and if I can only have one, I hope it's the milkweed. 

Possumhaw bed - nothing much here other than I added an Autumn Sage (I got it for my parents and then ended up keeping it).  And there are some self-seeded Wild Petunia.

The Rain Barrel Bed is starting to look pretty good - it has Brazos Penstemmon (in the back - and you can make out the seed heads which have fallen over), the Hamelia Patens "Nana" which is blooming, and then a "Blue Penstemmon" in the front, which also does not look like it plans to bloom anytime soon.  I may end up moving the penstemmon to the possumhaw bed to give the Hamelia more room (especially considering that the Hamelia was the only thing on the plan in this area).

The Rock Bed is filling in nicely - I really should stay on top of the Henry Duelberg sage (in the rocks, on the left) - as in, I really need to cut back the long stems.  I just never can do it because it always seems to have a small amount of blooms which the bees really appreciate.  The funny thing, of course, is that I'm sure if I cut it back and watered it, it would bloom more prolifically.  The Agave Lopantha is starting to pup (you can make out the mother plant in the rocks between, and behind, the sage and the rosemary which is front right).  In pots, there's a Plumeria (the tree looking thing on the left), and a pot full of self-seeded Thai Basil.  I should harvest it and make some more basil cubes.

Back on the other side of the yard, and next to the Mull-shay Bed, is the Turk's Cap Bed.  The grasshoppers really did a number on all of my Turk's Cap this year - 4 plants and not a one looks good.  The Turk's Cap is on the left (in case anyone didn't already know that), the Passion Vine (on the fence) has bloomed off and on all summer - would probably bloom more if I bothered to fertilize (aka Seaweeded or Fish Emulsioned) and water with some consistency.  The Mexican Petunia (the tall plant right in front of the thermometer) likes this area a bunch - it's probably it's favorite location, but I'll eventually remove it all; once the Yaupon (which you can't even see) gets bigger.  While I like the blooms of the White Philippine Violet (right), I don't like how much water it needs - between it and the Firespike mentioned above, I'm always watering one or the other with a bucket of water.  I think I like this one just a tad more than the other, so I don't really want this one to die.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Around the Yard - Early Sept 2013 - Rose Bed

Out front, I have the area that I call "The Rose Bed."  It is named as such since the only things that the bed has ever had in it is a rose bush (Dr. Huey), and Asiatic Jasmine.  The jasmine died during the great heat wave of "aught 8" [note:  Really it was 2011, but I think "aught 8" has a nice ring to it, so I shall go with it].  In summer 2012, I decided it was time to remove the dead jasmine; you can see pictures of the process here.  I planted Zexmenia (front left) because I like the yellow/orange flowers and the fact that the plant can survive handily without additional water.  Of course, I also watered this bed a bit more frequently in 2012 because I was trying to get the plants established.  And established they did become.  The zexmenia seeded out prolifically, you can't even see the Chocolate Daisy anymore and the Summer Thyme is beginning to be overtaken (right in front of the rose).  The Dwarf Lion's tail (in the back on the left) is relatively huge, and the Blackfoot Daisies (with white flowers) are doing swimmingly.  All that being said...this bed needs a haircut. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Around the Yard - Early Sept 2013 - Front Bed

My the front bed looks a little sad.  I think I need to remove the Guara (front and center), the old Parsley plant (on the front-left), and the dead Coreopsis plants (in the back).  As I said - everything just generally needs a haircut.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Around the Yard - Early Sept 2013 - Entry Beds

And we continue on with the tour of the yard. Next we will look at the entry walkway beds. I don't really have a reason why I'm jumping to this area (actually, I do - it's because the names were next in the list of photos).

Walking up to the front door, the pathway can be pretty overgrown at times - the Gregg's Mistflower and Lantana (both on the left) like to spill over a lot.  And the Culinary Ginger (in the pot), always grows like a little kid's chives experiment.  In front of the ginger, succulent pots do most of the heavy lifting for interest since the Society Garlic and Dwarf Petunias all end up looking pretty sad.  You'd never know it, but there's also passionvine along the right side - the caterpillars keep it pretty mowed down (most of the time, there are only little 6" twigs of it sticking up)

Under the front windows, I have a bed of Artemisia which has a Pam's Pink Turk's Cap as well as a Chile Pequin, and a tiny Pale Pavonia plant along the front edge.  The Chile Pequin is in more shade than it would like, so it doesn't set out a whole bunch of peppers, and I tend to leave them for the birds anyhow.  The avocado tree which I grew from a pit is in the pot to the right.  I started it in 2005, and it's been an outside only plant for the last 2 winters (though it will occasionally be pulled to be right under the light and wrapped in blankets if the weather warrants).

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Around the Yard - Early Sept 2013 - Hell Strip

My dad is now on the mend, and the 'rents will be moving out of the house tomorrow, so I hope to maybe, possibly, have more time to blog in the near future. The problem, of course, is the husband - he now has it in his head that we must exercise every day. EVERY DAY! We exercise after we come home; so after getting home, exercising, showering and eating dinner, we usually have about an hour before we go to bed. Not much time for blogging when we do things that way. So I may end up resorting to creating blog entries to be posted at a later date (not like I don't do that already).

Anyhoo - I figured, since it's been a while, that I would start with some photos from around the yard - just so you can see what it looks like in all its crispy glory. (Don't worry - I'll get to the 'how to water trees in a drought' eventually - probably next weekend)

In the photo above, the Artemisia (the silvery plant) looks pretty darn good - and the Alamo Vine (on the mail box) as well.  Other plants that seem to be doing pretty well include Santolina (both gray and green - you can see them close to the car tire), and the Ruby Crystals grass (next to the Santolina).  Plants that aren't doing so well include a plethora of some type of sage that was a tag-a-long plant from some plant that I purchased (I let it reseed - when it gets enough water it looks pretty darn good), and Tahoka Daisy (I just think it's at the end of it's life cycle because it usually looks really good in the spring).  The neighbor's patch of grass is pretty crisp-i-fied and there is a giant Fire Ant mound.  Yippie!

In the above picture, there really isn't anything that's doing exceptionally well.  This is because all the Dahlberg Daisies are reseeding and will die off soon.  There really isn't a whole lot else in this bed - there's a Mexican Feather Grass which is dead (or dying), and Prairie Fleabane (currently reseeding).  And a bunch of weeds...A whole bunch of weeds.  I will probably be tackling this next weekend.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Stay Tuned for Watering Trees in a Drought

Ifin I don't remember, someone needs to remind me to post about watering trees in a drought.  Added bonus of a picture of my "Tree Waterin' Bukkit"

Also, I should take updated photos of the front bed, the hell strips, the iris bed, the garden, the photinia bed, the mull-shay...So yeah, I really need to get out and take photos.