Has it really been since last July?

sb158 | March 1, 2011


So much has changed in my life since then, it’s no wonder I haven’t blogged. I see that the last I wrote, Alex was threatening. Fortunately, He went south, but did dump a bunch of rain west of us. Mexico and parts of the Valley got badly flooded. We got some rain, and then more rain from assorted other storm systems, but it really hasn’t rained much at all since then. We need some, but I’m afraid if I did the rain dance, we’d end up with a hurricane (or a blizzard), as crazy as the weather has been. I did plant a fall garden, though not much of one. We’d been house-hunting, and I didn’t know if we’d be moving, so took it easy.

As it turns out, that was a good thing. My daughter in Colorado had been having serious car issues, and in October, her 12 year old Passport just totally died. We started looking for a used vehicle down here, as Hubby wanted to be sure she got something safe. My son, who worked briefly at a car dealership a few years ago, came with us to prevent rip-offs. He saved us at least 10 grand; we ended up buying a new Chevy Silverado and giving the Dodge to my daughter. This meant, of course, that someone (yea, that’d be me) had to drive it all the way from south TX to Colorado, so off I went to stay until just after Thanksgiving.

Things didn’t quite work out that way. My other daughter decided she’d had enough after her son and husband nearly came to blows. I flew home to rearrange my house to fit 3 extra people – no easy task in a mobile home, let me tell you! Hubby and son went to FL the weekend before Thanksgiving, loaded the truck, and turned right around and drove all the way back to TX that same weekend. Then we had to cram a bunch more stuff in an already jam-packed house.

We immediately started looking for a bigger place, but ended up just moving to a bigger mobile home in the same park in mid-December. We’re still house-hunting; this place is better, but still way too small. The kitchen drives me to distraction, and occasionally to drink…

In between moving and rediscovering the “joys” of teenagers – 2 grandsons – all over again, I did a bunch of garden reading. Paul James, the used-to-be Gardener Guy on HGTV (before they went all “landscaping” and “curb appeal”) mentioned a book called “The One Straw Revolution” written more than 50 years ago by a Japanese farmer named Masanobu Fukuoka. Paul said it changed his perspective completely; he might even go so far as to call the book life-changing. Of course I had to read the book after a recommendation like that! And he was right; it did change my perspective completely, and set me off on a research binge that has been most enlightening, and maybe even life-changing.

I read a gazillion web articles, watched Youtube videos, and Googled any number of gardening things. The most useful book I found is called “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (Second Edition)“, written by Toby Hemenway. Found it as a pdf on the web, and was so impressed I spent the money to buy it from Amazon. IMHO, every gardener should read this book. In fact, it ought to be required reading in every high school biology class. Also found Rosalind Creasy’s “Edible Landscaping (Second Edition)” to be very helpful. I’m going to be adding pages about these books, and the garden ideas that result, as I have time.

After we were more-or-less settled and Christmas was gone, it was time to translate all the new garden ideas from abstract to stuff we can eat! Though my plans keep changing (a gardener’s prerogative, of course), I started a ton of seeds and started making garden beds. Had a bit of a setback when we had a 3-day freeze, and even some (very little, actually) snow, but Hubby’s brilliant idea saved all my container plants. He told me to move them all to the picnic table, then he hung two big high-intensity work lights in the roof. Wrapped it all up in a big ole tarp and turned on the lights. Even when the power went out, it was warm enough in there (though NOT so much in the house) to keep the plants all above freezing. After it finally warmed back up, we unwrapped it all, only to have to wrap them all back up again a week later when we had yet another deep freeze. Never in the almost 40 yrs. since I first heard of the Valley have I ever heard of weather like that down here.

So, to make a very long story much shorter, I’ve got some garden beds started, more in the planning stages, and a gazillion baby plants growing bigger every day while they wait for me to get my tush in gear and make them a home…

I’m about out of steam for tonight, so I’ll quit for now and continue this novel another day.

Alex…After Effects

sb158 | July 9, 2010


While Alex made landfall about 100 miles south of us, we didn’t escape unscathed, by any means. We got some wind and plenty of rain, but it poured on the Rio Grande and Falcon Lake watersheds. So now, we have this…

This is still well upstream to us, but it’s getting closer. They released some water from Falcon Lake into the flood-ways, which has made its way here. On top of that, we had “Tropical Depression 2,” which didn’t get strong enough for a name, but is still dumping rain on us. The mosquitoes are as big as B-52s, and really vicious, and there is water all over the place. Not to mention the disgusting humidity…

Alex shredded the zucchini, broke the cantaloupe vines, and gave the Gold Bar Melon a terminal case of powdery mildew. I saved 3 cantaloupe; the rest either fell off and splattered, or split because of all the water. Got lots of Gold Bar Melons, though I still haven’t tasted them. Been eating the cantaloupe…

My arbor blew over, as I expected, and pulled some plants out by the roots. I have one surviving cucumber, which seems to have been resurrected by either the rain or the compost I put on it. The tomatoes all have blight, I think. And tomato fruit-worms…I’ve had to throw away at least 2 dozen tomatoes with icky worms eating the insides out. I’ll let what fruit remains ripen, then pull them out. I’ve got some more volunteer babies coming up in the compost I put on the containers, so I’ll transplant them and see what happens.

The jalapenos and Fruit Basket bells are doing great; The pole beans I planted a bit ago seem okay so far, too. For now!

So, not a complete loss, but annoying still! Gotta tell ya, though, it is no fun trying to garden wearing long sleeved shirts to protect against mosquitoes in this heat (in between rain storms). I’ve been using the Off clip-on thingy, but it’s pretty ineffective against the hordes of evil beasties out there now. I need to spray for aphids and icky diseases, too, but it just keeps raining. Maybe by Monday or so the rain will be gone…I hope.

So, that’s the state of the garden for now. More later…

So Do Not Need This!

sb158 | June 28, 2010


As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, right? Now we’re gonna get hurricaned on. That can’t be good for gardens. Alex is gonna come along and kill the almost-ripe cantaloupes I have been babying along and salivating over for weeks. Mother Nature is a b*&ch! No fair at all!

Seriously, I have no idea what to do with all my containers and the arbor thingy. If I leave them there, they will probably end up in the next county, or maybe in the neighbor’s living room, but I really have no secure place to put them. No room in the house at all. I guess I’ll stick the ones that fit under the picnic table, as that thing is so heavy it may be okay. The rest, I guess I’ll put behind the lattice. Not gonna be of much use, but at least I’ll know I tried. Don’t really want my containers flying through somebody’s window at all.

I just hope ole Alex politely fizzles out and goes away. Hurricanes are no fun when you have to go to your BIL’s house and sit in the dark with no AC and nothing to do until it goes away. This time, I’m bringing beer (even if it will get warm!) and my bottle of rum. If I have to be miserable, I’d prefer oblivious!

If you’ve got an in with MN, would you mind asking her nicely to be gentle?

So hard

sb158 | August 26, 2009


not to get discouraged. I see all the pretty pics of other people’s beautiful gardens with all they produce, then look out the window. Dry, brown, dead vegetation, tons of bugs, and no produce. Sigh…

Thank goodness for those pics, though, and for garden magazines. They help motivate when thinking about planting seeds and nurturing the babies seems like an exercise in futility. Sooner or later (most likely MUCH later), it will stop being well over 100 degrees every d&*m day, and we will get some rain. Then when other people are shoveling snow, I’ll be picking tomatoes and eating garden suppers.

Gardeners have to be either eternal optimists or masochists. Haven’t decided which yet.

Hallelujah and Thank You

sb158 | June 23, 2009


We’re finally getting some rain and (slightly) cooler temperatures! Not nearly as much as we need, but, at this point, I’m thankful for whatever we get. I expect my plants will grow a foot overnight!

Here are some pics I took about a week ago that show how much the garden had grown while I was in Colorado. Compare them to these pics.

Pics within (more…)

Home and Finally Posting

sb158 | June 16, 2009


Been home about 10 days. Spent a couple days getting readjusted to the (much) lower altitude and (MUCH) higher temps and humidity. Then I had a bunch of catch up to do in the garden. Surprisingly, I only lost a few plants, and they were the ones I half expected to expire, anyway. Then there were the ones the dog ate, but that happens…

Thoroughly enjoyed my trip. Colorado Springs is an amazingly beautiful place, and there is so much to see in the area. We went up Pike’s Peak, visited the Garden of the Gods, saw the Air Force Academy, and went to Seven Falls. Saw lots of other stuff, too. Spent a lot of time with my wonderful, adorable grandsons, which was the best part of the whole deal, apart from watching Jen graduate.

I took more than 200 pictures, which I will be posting in a gallery eventually. I took one of them and made the wallpaper below:

Click the thumbnail to see full-size and download.


Now, back to the garden. (more…)

Monster Mud, Rosemary, and Jasmine

sb158 | May 4, 2009


Much better day today, since the guy fixed the AC first thing this morning. Good thing, too, cuz hubby bought this gadget that collects weather information. The gadget said the high today was 101. Felt that hot, for sure.

So I finished my two Monster Pots, as I mentioned. Here’s a pic of the jasmine pot: (more…)

Rats! Too Windy

sb158 | April 9, 2009


The wind was (is) blowing like crazy today, so I can’t finish the last 5 sq ft or so of my garden. Bummer. And I still need lime. It ain’t easy trying to find garden lime in a place where the water and soil are so alkaline that most people want stuff to acidify the soil, not sweeten it. I better find some soon.


sb158 | March 26, 2009


Been really involved in getting this blog ready for public consumption. I used WordPress, about which I knew nothing, and I wanted to make it “gardeny.” Learned alot, mostly by trial and alot of error, but here ya go. Finally got it looking, and working, mostly like I want it. A few minor fixes, but good to go. (more…)

So now the plan

sb158 | March 4, 2009

Once I decided to use Square Foot Gardening, I had to plan and design the garden. (more…)