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…

Fried Brain…

sb158 | April 6, 2011

fried-brain

and body, truth be told. Monday was 100 degrees, even “officially.” Tuesday was a bit cooler, but today it’s hot and humid again. Not quite THAT hot, but still hot! By the time I’m done for the day, I’m thoroughly done. Every night I tell myself to post…

I guess I finally listened. LOL!

Things are settling in and starting to really grow now. This is the Blue Moon rose bed as of March 29.


Lasagna bed

Since then, the rose has bloomed again. They smell soooo good.

Lasagna bed

The alyssum, winecup, and blue salvia make a pretty combination, I think. You can also see a few of the Contender bush beans and one of the Swiss Chards I planted in there. No reason edible can’t be pretty, and vice versa.

Lasagna bed

This is the Tomato Lasagna bed as of April 2. It’s grown noticeably in just the past few days. The Roma tomato (in the tripod cage) has at least 4 baby tomatoes. Hubby is already tasting every one of them, too. Told him it’d be a while yet, but he still keeps drooling! The TripLCrop tomato by the trellis has shot up significantly in the past few days. Looks like it is getting ready to bloom soon.
In the mid-far-right of the pic, you can barely make out another small tomato plant. This is a Sungold cherry; it’s grown in the past few days, too. It already has one baby tomato, and more blooms.

Lasagna bed

In the pic above, you can see some of the other plants in that bed. There are some peppers, basil, and some peanuts in there. I went to the grocery store and bought a bag of raw peanuts. Shelled a few of them and planted the seeds, just to see if they would actually grow. Much to my surprise, they actually did! Peanuts are a good nitrogen fixer, like beans, and supposed to be pretty plants, too. So far, I like them! They are pretty.

Lasagna bed

Since I took these pics, I’ve planted pink Bright Lights Swiss chard around the sides of the bed, then planted some pink Laura bush petunias between the chard. Above that, and to the left of the Sungold tomato, I put a borage seedling. Borage attracts bees and beneficials; you can use the leaves as mulch material or compost fodder; its roots are very good at breaking up compacted clay soil like mine. And it’ll look pretty with the pink chard and petunias!

In the last little bit of space, I’m going to plant a tithonia in the bed, and some Carpet Cosmos in the sides of the bed below the tithonia. The bell peppers in the bed ripen to gold, crimson, and orange, so the tithonia will pick up those colors, attract beneficials, and look pretty! Hummingbirds love tithonia, too. Carpet Cosmos are like the yellow and orange shorter cosmos, but they are only supposed to get about a foot tall.

I’m hoping I picked the right plants to both help the tomatoes and peppers grow, and look pretty. Like I said, no reason edible can’t be pretty!

More to talk about, but now I’m closer to over – done! That heat just wears me right out, and makes me smell bad. I hate the icky sticky feeling it leaves on my skin, too. Have I mentioned I hate hot and humid? Anyway, it’s time for a shower and bed…
G’nite, y’all!!!

Something To Cheer You Up

sb158 | March 8, 2011

The high temperature here today was 88! Way too hot to be outside doing garden stuff, but better than still be buried in snow, I guess. I watered and took some pictures of blooming things, instead. I know, should’ve been working on my tomato lasagna bed, but it was just too hot…

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

Here are a few pics of what’s growing and blooming in my garden right now.


Yellow “Gleam” nasturtium, I think, and the variegated “Alaska” leaves next to it.


Orange Nasturtium and some Alyssum

Yesterday, I started the lasagna bed for the volunteer tomato, and made a “tomato teepee” from PVC pipe painted green. Here’s a pic of the bed and teepee:

I had no idea how to tie the poles together, but I found a handy link about lashing poles to make your own trellises and teepees. Very helpful, with good illustrations. Maybe it’ll help you, too.

And that’s all she wrote for tonight…

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!

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

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

April Bloom Day

sb158 | April 15, 2010

april-bloom-day

We live on a tiny, long. skinny mobile home lot in extreme S. TX. The soil is alkaline concrete clay, unless it rains. Then the soil turns into soggy, sticky, stick-to-your-shoes gunk. I haven’t got the energy to mess with it, so most of my garden is containers. I have a small L-shaped raised bed for veggies, though I grow a bunch of them in containers, too. Not much of a garden, really, but it makes me happy to think I’m a gardener. I’m working on making it prettier as arthritis, time, money, and weather allow.

It’s really windy and cloudy; we’ve had rain showers all week so far. The plants didn’t want to stand still and smile, so the pics might be a bit fuzzy. Here’s what’s in bloom in my yard this month:

Mouseover the thumb to see the big picture. Click for the really big pic.
These first three containers are in my side-of-the-stairs container garden.

This container has blue sage, a Blackie sweet potato vine, and yellow lantana.


Tahoka Daisy, alyssum, and Blue Daze convolvulous.


Pink ‘N’ Blue Bachelor Buttons.

Like I said, nothing special, but it’s mine…

Rainy Days and Mondays…

sb158 | April 14, 2010

rainy-days-and-mondays

Started on Sunday night and hasn’t stopped yet; we’ve had a lovely little storm system move through, and we sorely needed the rain. Monday it rained almost all day; yesterday, there was some space between showers. Today, too. Yesterday was my future DIL’s birthday, so spent most of the day cooking and stuff, but been out between showers putzing a bit today.
Decided it was time to put up bird netting; was looking out the kitchen window and watched one of those brassy mockingbirds fly right down and take a chunk out of a cucumber leaf. Those buggers think that just because they are the state bird, they can get away with anything. I went out to chase it; bugger kept flying just far enough away, until I ran at it with my arms waving and shouting at it. Can’t (don’t want to, really) imagine what the neighbors must have thought.
I’m glad I had the sense to put up a small bird netting cover over the pot with the green beans, or they’d probably have eaten them all by now. But, what with all the rain, the beans are growing like crazy, so I have to put up a permanent one ASAP. Put up a piece of it along the back of the trellis, and have to go out when it stops raining again to measure the circumference of the pot and height, so I can make the rest of it. Problem is, I can’t figure out a way to keep the net off the plants far enough to allow them to grow without getting all tangled in it. Doesn’t do much good if the beans grow through the net and let the birds eat them anyway. The peas did that; was a pain to take down; the net will probably have pea tendrils in it forever! Anybody’s got any ideas, I’m all ears. Still have to do the second cucumber container, too.

What else? Oh, yeah, The little pieces of herbs I planted the other day are doing well, thanks, no doubt, to the rain. I even cut off a small stem of the lavender I bought and stuck it in there, just to see what would happen. So far, it looks good. hasn’t wilted at all. I planted some common thyme seeds in there today; I hope it grows.

Here’s a pic of the “BBQ container”:


Herbs planted in a BBQ cover

Also wanted to show you how much the volunteer tomatoes have grown since the first pic I posted. Rain does some amazing things. No matter how much you water…
If you remember when I divided the mums and gazania, you’ll notice that they are looking great so far. Guess I didn’t kill them (yet!).


My, how you’ve grown.

I planted a pot of Unwin’s dwarf dahlias a while ago; planted a few seeds in each spot, not knowing how well they would germinate. I think they all came up, so I had to move 5 baby dahlias to individual pots (for now) as the container’s only big enough for three. I may use them, may try to sell them on craigslist. We’ll see.

Went out after dinner and between rain showers and got the bird netting on the beans enough, I think, to keep the birds off. Still need to do some adjusting and fine-tuning, but, for tonight, at least, I think they are okay. Would’ve finished, but it started raining again, and got dark…