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?

Wow, two days in a row!

admin | March 31, 2010


Just a quick note on what I did today. Couldn’t do as much as planned cuz the water in the park was off until after 1 PM today – major PITA, and it happens with great frequency around here. Hard to garden without water…

Anyway, yesterday I posted a pic of the pot of Gazania. Decided it was overcrowding the pot. I bought a 6 pk at the nursery last year for $1.00, cuz it was darn near dead. They survived the horrible summer, and the freezes this winter. Seemed to like it, actually. There’s also a verbena in that pot, but the gazania were crowding it out. So today, after the water came on, I took out three of the gazania, moved two of them to balance the pot, and trimmed back the verbena. Hated to do it, cuz the gazania was already blooming, and the verbena had buds. Have to give the roots time to establish before they bloom, though.

Here’s a pic of the repotted and separated babies…

Hubby decided that we are definitely moving out of this park and into a house. Told me to start looking. He got thoroughly fed up with the high electric bills – a mobile home is like living in a solar-powered oven, especially down here in S. TX, and the AC bills get outrageous. Besides that, the town we’re in charges the park the commercial rate for water, which is very high. On top of that, they charge the park sewage rates for every lot in the park, occupied of not. The occupiers (i.e., us) get assessed a share of that every month, too. So, yea, the rent sounds great, until you add in all the rest of it. DH finally figured out we could be in a much nicer house for the total of what we’re paying here.

Upshot of all that is, I’m going to be house-hunting, packing (YUK), and moving, which means not much gardening’s gonna get done. I’m glad he decided now, instead of a month from now, before I put too much into the garden. Containers are much more portable!

No telling when I’ll be updating again. Try to make it sooner rather than later; can’t promise, though.

Happy Birthday Nick

sb158 | September 12, 2009


Happy Birthday Nick! I know I missed your birthday, technically, but I did get this posted while it was still your birthday in MY time zone…


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Happy Birthday Kyle

sb158 | July 31, 2009


This is just a Happy Birthday to my second grandson. As of today, I now have 2 teenaged grandsons. Can’t be right; I can’t possibly be THAT old. Sigh…
In any case, Happy Birthday, Kyle. Love Ya! Hope you’re having a great day.


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Been putting this off, but

sb158 | July 26, 2009


it’s time. (Cue scary music) I have to update my version of WordPress. If I disappear for a while, you’ll know why. Went fine on my local copy, so I’m hoping…

I keep a copy of my blog running on my PC at home, and always try out new stuff there before I screw with the online version. Anything can happen, and I sure don’t want to kill my blog…

Also time to be making some more monster pots. Been putting this off because it makes a giant mess I have to clean…but it’s time to start the flowers I want, so I gotta do it. The pots I made back in April or so are holding up well so far, so it’s time to try again. I need a few 14″ pots, as well as a small trough in which to plant some creeping thyme and other herbs. I’m gonna use the top of a small BBQ grill as the form for that one. Wish me luck!

Later, time for Hubby’s birthday cake.

EDIT: Well, so far so good. I’ve updated and the blog hasn’t crashed. Now I’m trying a new toy, a video player… just a little e-card for Hubby.

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Picnic Tables and Garden Progress

sb158 | July 9, 2009


I told my daughter I’d take a pic of Hubby’s (almost) finished picnic table, so here it is, Jen:

Mouseover to see bigger pic; click the thumb to see the really big pic.

Just needs to be stained and it’ll be done. Already had a couple offers to buy it, too!


As for the garden, just been keeping up with the routine chores. It’s been hot, so watering is critical, and been cleaning aphids off my peppers every other day. Been cleaning them off everything, actually, but they seem to really like the peppers.

Got a few more cukes coming along, one will probably be ready tomorrow, the other the next day, and more shortly thereafter. I did harvest an actual ripe Heatwave tomato, too, and more are starting to ripen. The Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes are a major disappointment. The tomatoes are tiny, and split every time we get a little rain shower. Admittedly, that’s all too rare, but still…

As soon as the few tomatoes left on the plants ripen, I’m pulling them out and replacing them with another variety of bush tomato I started a few days ago. They haven’t even sprouted yet, and won’t be ready for a while, but I’m hoping they’ll do better than the others.

And now a few pics of garden progress since my last post:


The Kentucky Wonder pole beans I planted to grow up the arbor thingy are finally doing so. The french filet pole beans are not doing well at all, and the bush beans are even worse. The Contender beans bit the dust a while ago. They look like they have some sort of disease, and something still keeps eating just the leaves. KY Wonder have some disease resistance, so that may be why they are doing better. I bought some bush beans that have good disease resistance, and have them germinating in paper towels at the moment. I’ll put them out soon as they sprout. The other ones will probably end up being my post for Garden Blogger’s Death Day this month.

As if keeping up with the watering, harvesting, and debugging weren’t enough, it’s already time to be planning my fall garden. I’m supposed to have planted tomato and pepper seeds to put out come late August for my fall garden. I did start the tomato seeds, but am undecided on the peppers. Mine are just now starting to blossom and fruit, and should last until frost, if we ever actually ever get one. Unless, of course, the aphids eat them before then! If I start more, I may have to pull producing plants; if I don’t and the aphids kill them I’m SOL. What would you do?

I have to be thinking about all the cool season crops, like lettuce, parsley, potatoes, etc, and still find room for the fall hot weather crops. Gonna be a tricky juggling act, for sure. Then there are all the perennials I want to start, too…and the herbs…Oy, giving myself a headache thinking about it!

That’s about all the garden news, so here’s a personal note…

Today is my middle daughter’s birthday, so Happy Birthday, Chrissy!

My son and his girlfriend were here from the Thursday before the 4th until yesterday. He’s moving back here, as he’s applying to a local police force. My brother-in-law’s son has a relation on his wife’s side who is already a cop there, and he says they really need people. So I guess Mike will be staying until he actually gets hired, goes to the police academy, and actually starts working. Be nice having him here; he’s my “baby” and I like having him around – most of the time!

Whew! Think that’s just about enough for this post. Didn’t start out to write a novel; hope you didn’t get too bored!

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…)

Off To Colorado

sb158 | May 14, 2009


Only about an hour away from leaving for the airport. I left Hubby with (I hope) complete instructions for plant care. I have every confidence that he’ll do the best he can to make sure I still have a garden about which to blog when I get back.
Jen says that things are just beginning to bloom up there. If I spot any pretties and have the camera handy, I’ll take pics. Don’t know how much access I’ll have, but will post if I can.