Whaddaya Gonna Do…

sb158 | April 8, 2011

whaddaya-gonna-do

when the wind is blowing so hard you’re afraid to put your small dog out for fear she might fly away? Seriously! Yesterday the wind was blowing 25-30 mph, with gusts to around 40. Bad enough, but today is even worse. Sustained winds 35-40 mph, gusts to above 50! Added to the heat, we’re talking really unpleasant out there.

Lasagna bed

Went out and watered, but that’s all I could really do. Much too windy for planting any seedlings, building a new bed, or pretty much anything else on my To Do List.

Speaking of watering, have any of you ever tried those Aquaglobe things for your containers? My eldest grandson got me some for Christmas, and I use them in a few of my smaller pots. Surprisingly, they actually work quite well. Two of them are in pots of thyme; they really do keep the moisture level just right.

Lasagna bed

On Tuesday (I think) when it was comparatively cooler, I built a new lasagna bed. This one came about because there is a “volunteer” vine of some sort in my big lantana container. Could be a cuke or a watermelon, still can’t tell. Anyway, I decided to let it grow just to see what it is, but had to trellis it somehow. Wind already broke one of the vines, and that’s before it got really windy. I decided to loosely wrap some green-painted weed-eater string around the tree and let it grow up the tree. Then I said…yeah, you guessed it. Why not put a 5 gallon bucket with a couple cukes I plant on the other side of the tree, and let them grow up it, too? However, last year I realized that things in containers don’t do well, because the heat bakes the poor roots and dirt. I figured, if I put a little lasagna bed around the container, then plant it with bushy stuff, maybe it’ll mitigate the heat somewhat, and the poor things will have a chance. So I did!

Lasagna bed

I planted 3 of the bright yellow Swiss Chard, in between which I put a couple dill babies. I thought the bright yellow chard would look good with the yellow lantana, as well as the yellow cuke blossoms. On the sides of the bed, I put a couple divisions of Greek Oregano. The container really needs repotting, so I cut out a couple chunks and planted them. Will do one more piece after the oregano recovers from the first butchery. Between that, I planted several cilantro seedlings. I doubt very much that the cilantro or dill will do much more than bolt to flower, but that’s okay, too. Beneficial bugs love dill and cilantro flowers! I’ll stick some bush bean seeds in there, too, once it’s just normally windy out there again. Still thinking about what to start to fill the space once the heat kills the cilantro and dill completely.

Speaking of containers, here’s a look at the container garden from street-side. Pardon the skewers; as I’ve mentioned before, I use them to keep the horde of feral cats out of the beds. Works pretty good! Still need to plant a few things on the right side of the bed to replace the Lilac Beauty pepper that expired. I think my daughter’s dog lifted his leg on the poor thing one too many times…

Lasagna bed

Did you notice the Red Sage blooming? Hummingbirds and bees are supposed to really like this plant, so I put some all over the place!

Lasagna bed

In the Blue Moon rose bed, I have the lavender rose planted with some Red Rubin and Dark Opal purple basil, so naturally, the first green beans I planted were some purple bush beans. They are beginning to bloom, and the colors do look nice together…

Lasagna bed

Be nice if I actually get some beans out of the deal, too. I’ve tried these beans several times, with no luck at all. Something eats them, or they die!

Well, that’s enough for now. Time to go start dinner…

Not Getting It Done…

sb158 | March 14, 2011

not-getting-it-done

as quickly as I would like. The monstrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan has had me glued to the TV when I should be outside working. I’ve never seen anything like that, and can’t imagine experiencing such a thing. My prayers go out for those people; it isn’t going to be easy recovering from something like that.

On the garden front, between 35 mph winds, migraines, and life in general, I’m still not even done with my first tomato lasagna bed. Got more tomatoes to plant, as well as lots of peppers, so I really have to get my butt in gear.

I did pot up all my tomato seedlings into gallon pots today, as well as repotting a bunch of other stuff. I guess I am accomplishing something, just not enough and definitely not fast enough!!! Got my sweet potato slips pulled off the potato and planted in seed mix to grow some roots while I build the bed for them…took them long enough to grow, but they did grow.

I hope things go better tomorrow…

Hard to Garden Without Water…

sb158 | March 4, 2011

I started transplanting things into the little bed I made yesterday, but before I was done, the water in the park went off. This happens with disturbing frequency; I have no idea why. In the interim, I decided to take a few pics to show the “Before and After” so far.

Mouseover the thumb to see the big picture.
Click for the really big pic.

This is the view from the north side of the yard, looking south, from whence come the moisture-sucking, leaf-tattering, plant-murdering winds.


This is the “before” looking toward the little ash tree. Not much of a yard, is it?

The pic below is of the little bed I built between the end of the sidewalk in the previous pic and the container garden. My original idea was to plant a bunch of gazania self-seeded babies, just as a pretty ground cover. When I realized there was enough room, I decided to plant one of my pepper seedlings and some companion plants to help it grow. I thought the Lilac Beauty peppers would look pretty with the purplish stems and flowers of cinnamon basil.


Lilac Beauty Pepper Bed

The cinnamon basil smells yummy and attracts beneficial insects and pollinators that will help the pepper stay healthy. I added a few Summer Berries yarrow; the flower colors will go well with the pepper and basil. The yarrow roots will help stabilize the bed; yarrow is also an excellent nectar source for ladybugs and other beneficial insects. It’ll keep them around and fed until the bad bugs start attacking, at which time they’ll go to work eating them all. Yarrow also accumulates nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and copper from the soil, so you can use the leaves as mulch to return those nutrients to your soil. On top of that, it has several medicinal uses. How can you lose with a deal like that?
I’m also going to stick some bush green beans in between the other plants, which will fix nitrogen and help all the other plants grow.
As for the gazania, most of them will be planted in the sides of the bed, again, to help stabilize the edges. They do attract beneficials, but, mostly, I just like the cheerful flowers and appreciate how easily they grow, even in this miserable climate.
The green mini-crates make excellent transplant-protectors; these are sheltering Ten-Week Stock until they get established.

I did the Tipsy Pot thing this year with a chile pequin in a 5 gallon bucket on the bottom. The second container has sage, with some nasturtium that will most likely die when it gets really hot. The next container up has marjoram and more nasturtiums. The top container has thyme. Other containers hold cleome, rosemary, ageratum, and other things.

Container Garden

My hanging baskets this year have Laura Bush Petunias (love the fragrance), more nasturtiums with some sweet alyssum and thunbergia to take over when the nasturtium fries in the heat, and one with Blue Daze evolvulus and a few left-over strawberry plants that didn’t fit in the other bed.

Hanging Baskets

In this area, I built a bed between the two windows, mostly for the Blue Moon Rose I found at Lowe’s while shopping for potting soil and stuff. I had a Blue Moon Rose years ago, and one bloom would scent the entire yard with the most delicious spicy fragrance…

Blue Moon Rose Bed “Before”

In this bed, I also put parsley, Swiss Chard, chamomile, blue salvia, red sage(the native perennial, not the bright red annual), strawberries around the edge, and some salad crops. I tried Ten Week Stock for the first time this year; they are a cool-weather annual that are supposed to have a lovely fragrance. Hope they actually manage to bloom! And, no, I’m not trying to grow bamboo skewers; they’re my attempt to keep the herd of feral cats in the park from using my beds as a litter box. So far, it seems to be working.


Blue Moon Rose Bed

Oh yeah, I also repotted my night-blooming jasmine into the bigger barrel, along with some mums that have managed to survive thus far.

This is my “Baby Nursery.” All my seedlings are hanging out here, where they get afternoon shade, until I have their new homes ready for occupancy. I really do need to hurry up and do that…

Baby Nursery

This is as far as I’ve gotten so far; got to keep on keepin’ on to get the rest done in a timely fashion. Especially in this climate, it’s best to take advantage of the “cooler” weather before the heat kills the garden – and the gardener!

Keep-It-Alive-Till-Harvest Mode

sb158 | June 26, 2010

keep-it-alive-till-harvest-mode

We’ve had three weeks of temps in the mid-to-high nineties, with humidity to match, and heat advisories all the time. You can imagine what that does to a garden. I’m babying most things along until I can harvest whatever’s still surviving out there. Cukes and watermelon in the containers have just about had it. I do have several cantaloupes almost ready to harvest, and keep checking every day to see if any are ripe. The Gold Bar Melons do keep chugging along, but even they are looking a bit weather-worn. They better taste good, because they have set a bunch of fruit. My volunteer tomatoes still have a bunch of fruit ripening, even set a few new fruits.

Haven’t gotten so much as one zucchini; I think it’s a pollination problem, or the heat. I do hand pollinate, but still no fruit set. No green beans, either. They either get some dreadful disease and die, or something eats all the blossoms and half the leaves before I see green bean one. I did plant some Contender bush beans that are still looking good; I’m still holding out hope. Probably futile, but you have to be an optimist to try and garden, especially down here!

The jalapenos, on the other hand, seem to be enjoying the heat. Got several fruit, which is way more than I had last year! The Fruit Basket bells in the hanging baskets even have a few fruits.

So all is not lost, but it’s still very discouraging. I think that I’m done with self-watering containers. Haven’t had much luck at all to date. I’ll probably do like Annie’s Granny and use them in the raised beds like she has. They might work for a fall garden, but the summer heat is just too much for any plant to survive.

Still house-hunting, too, which kind of messes up fall garden plans. Don’t want to start fall veggies, only to have to either haul baby plants if we do find a house, or leave perfectly good veggies in the garden. What would you do?

Not much else to say, I guess. I’m pretty much in “Survive-Till-Cooler-Weather” mode myself. I have had quite enough summer already, even though it’s just barely started. Sigh…

Garden Update

sb158 | June 8, 2010

garden-update

I haven’t posted any pics in a while, so I guess it’s time for an update. Things are definitely going better than they did last year. We had a nice t-storm last night, and I think everything grew a foot overnight! More storms possibly tonight, too. Amazing what a little thunder, lightening, and rain can do for a garden.

Mouseover the thumb to see the big picture.
Click for the really big pic.



Here are a couple overview pictures.


Arbor Garden

This is the “Arbor Garden.” The near SWC is a watermelon. One is a bit bigger than a softball now, and a couple more small ones are coming along. On the left edge is one of the cucumber SWCs, from which I picked my first cuke last night. Made a tomato & cucumber salad that was very good; it disappeared fast enough! Past the yellow flowers on the right edge, you can see a cherry tomato identified only as “Heirloom Cherry.” It has some baby fruits; won’t be long before we’re eating those. You can see the volunteer tomato jungle in the background, and the Laura Bush pink petunias. Despite being beaten about by wind, they just keep pumping out tons of pretty, fragrant flowers.



Raised bed garden, from both ends.



Raised bed from one end


And from the other



That monster plant in the left picture is a melon called “Gold Bar” that I got on clearance from Park Seeds last year. It’s supposed to be a cross between a cantaloupe and a cucumber, I think. Last year, it was eaten alive by cucumber beetles, but the Gold Bond Powder remedy saved it this year.

Mixed in there, I’ve got bush beans of several varieties and stages of growth, some of which are blooming. The jalapeno peppers are blossoming now, too.

In the right-hand pic, you can see zucchini in the forefront, with cantaloupe behind, and “Monster Melon” behind that. If you compare these pics with this post you can see how much these things have grown in about 3 weeks.

A growing cantaloupe

Can’t wait to eat this!

And some cukes



More tomato & cuke salad in the very near future.

The laundry hamper volunteer tomatoes keep chugging along. I’ve gotten more than 7 lbs. of tomatoes from these guys so far. Picked all of the almost ripe ones yesterday, as I knew it might rain and didn’t want the tomatoes to split.



And the tomatoes to go with the cukes…

This is a chile pequin (wild bird pepper) bush. These are really hot little buggers; you can see a ripe one if you look hard enough.



Hot stuff

This bush has quite a story. DH’s dad had a bush in front of his house that he babied for years. He used the peppers to make some wicked salsa, among other things. When he died, we dug up his bush and put it in a 5 gal bucket that we hauled around for years! I knew the bush would die when we moved back up north, so we gave it to hubby’s brother. He’s not what you’d call a gardener; he killed the poor thing!

Hubby’s been looking for a replacement ever since we moved back down here. A few months ago, we went to a family birthday in Hebbronville, and hubby found a bush in the yard. He says “We’re taking this home” as he grabs it and just yanks the poor thing out of the ground. He hands it to me and says “You can plant this, right?” I’m like “WTH am I supposed to do now?” So I wrapped it up in damp paper towels, put it in a baggie, and took it home. I cut it way back, put it in a gritty soil mix in a gallon pot, and covered the pot with a plastic bag. Kept it under my florescent lights and babied that sucker along. Much to my surprise, it didn’t die, and eventually started growing. Uncovered it gradually, and put it outside when it got warm. This spring I put it in the container, and it has done quite well, so far. It’s going to need a bigger container come fall, I think. Fascinating, right? LOL!

Had enough yet, or should I go on? Okay, you asked for it. This is my pitiful-looking Side-of-the-Stairs container garden. Looking pretty sad, aren’t they? The annual blanketflowers have just about had it, as have the bachelor’s buttons. I’m letting both go to seed so I can save some for next year. The jasmine is dropping leaves in self-defense (normal, I’m told), but there are still things growing.


Getting too hot for the Side-of the-Stairs flowers, I think.

These are cinnamon basil and a Mini-Rose morning glory I think I got from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. It’s supposed to trail to about 3′; I like the variegated leaves, too. Very pretty little plant.


Cinnamon basil and MG

This has gotten long enough. I’ll leave the butterfly garden and hanging baskets for another time. TTYL…

Yesterday Veggies, Today Flowers

sb158 | May 14, 2010

yesterday-veggies-today-flowers

And Gold Bond Powder. Yesterday I posted about critters eating my melon leaves and what to do about it. One gardener wrote that she puffed Gold Bond Medicated Powder (the cheap store brand) on her melon leaves, and the cucumber beetles (or whatever critter was chowing down) left her plants alone. Apparently they didn’t like either the menthol or the powder. Figured it was worth a try. If it killed the plants, well, the bugs would have done that anyway, right? So I misted the leaves and dusted with powder, and it didn’t look like there were any new holes today. Couldn’t say for sure, so I cut all the chewed leaves off and dusted again. This way, I’ll know for sure if it worked or not. I’m hoping it does, cuz those critters decimated the poor melons last year. I’ll let you know.

Before I get on with the flowers, got a quick question. I’ve mentioned previously that we were thinking of moving into a bigger home here in the park. We’ve decided that since it’s unlikely we’ll be getting out of this god-forsaken Valley any time soon, we might as well buy something. There are a bunch of foreclosed homes down here, so we can probably find something nice that we can still afford. So, the question becomes, am I a total garden geek for spending until 3 am this morning “daydreaming” about how I want my garden when we actually do get a house? I mean, really. I have no idea at all what kind of space I’ll have, and here I am planning a garden already. What kind of sense does that make? LOL!

Pics and more inside

So The Veggies Are Growing…

sb158 | May 14, 2010

so-the-veggies-are-growing

I’ve been trying to update all week, but things have been blowing around too much. We’ve had 35-40 mph winds all week, with occasional gusts even higher. It’s hard to get decent pics in all that wind. The wind finally “calmed down” to 20-25 mph today, so took quick pics between gusts…
Pics and more inside

First Ripe Tomato, Bean Flowers, and a UFO…

sb158 | May 4, 2010

first-ripe-tomato-bean-flowers-and-a-ufo

Woo hoo! I managed to save my first ripening tomato from marauding mockingbirds by the timely application of bird netting, and picked it yesterday. It’s not a real big tomato, but it’s the first this year, and it’s mine!

Pics and more inside

Blooming Blanketflowers, Growing Babies, and More Weird Ideas

sb158 | April 29, 2010

blooming-blanketflowers-growing-babies-and-more-weird-ideas

Aside from the blooming blanketflowers, no earth-shaking developments today, unless you count the 4.0 earthquake in Alice, TX, the other day. From the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:
“ALICE, Texas (AP) – A small earthquake has rattled awake some residents in southeast Texas. A 4.0 magnitude earthquake hit an area near Alice, about 50 miles west of Corpus Christi, around 9:10 p.m. Saturday. No damage or injuries have been reported. But numerous residents felt the quake. A 3.8 magnitude quake was reported in Jim Wells County in March 1997.”
Still can’t figure this. Alice is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, and just about the last place one would expect an earthquake. I guess I don’t know enough about TX geology to say, but I wouldn’t think Alice would qualify as earthquake territory. Got a speeding ticket there once, more than 30 years ago. We were on our way from the Valley to San Antonio, in a new car DH hadn’t let me drive much. Wasn’t familiar with it, so I’m bopping along, and sure enough, they caught me. Everybody knows it’s a friggin’ speed trap up there, and I walked (drove) right into it. Really aggravated me. However, had DH been driving, he would have been going alot faster, and the fine would have been much bigger. First (and last) speeding ticket I ever got, though. Learned my lesson!

On to the blanketflowers. Pics and more inside

Snow Day in Colorado, 90+ and humid here…

sb158 | April 23, 2010

snow-day-in-colorado-90-and-humid-here

Been busy all week with garden stuff, despite the lack of posts. Mostly just routine maintenance, watering, etc., but also seed starting and seedling babying. After a few really rainy days, it stopped raining and stayed cloudy and comparatively cool for a couple days. Today, however, is much more like our usual weather. Yukky hot and muggy…
Meanwhile, my daughter tells me that they had a whopper snowstorm in Colorado Springs, and her sons had a snow day. The boys enjoyed that, but the oldest one was not happy that now the last day of school won’t be until June 2.
Anyway. I’ve been germinating seeds using EG’s seed starting method, then planting them into yogurt cups and immediately putting them outside in a “nursery” spot. I figure they will start to grow in the conditions that they have to get used to, so the whole “hardening off” thing becomes a non-issue. So far, so good…

Pics and More Within