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

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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

More Blue & White, Watering, and Shopping

sb158 | April 10, 2010

more-blue-white-watering-and-shopping

Uh oh. Knew I shouldn’t have done it. But I had to. Needed to buy a dog chain that the puppy couldn’t break if tormented by evil cats, and it was just there. Couldn’t help it. It’s an addiction…

I bet you know what comes next. The garden dept at Lowe’s. Yup. Almost as bad as a book store. I needed stuff to make Al’s container mix, and a little batch of gritty mix for the herbs. When all was said and done, I spent about $80.00, cuz I needed seed-starting mix, vermiculite, perlite, orchid bark mix and on and on. Then of course there was the new hose nozzle – old one died – and, oh yea, the creeping lemon thyme, Provence lavender, marjoram, and rosemary I just had to have. And the garden magazine. And the seeds. Only 3 packs, I swear…SIGH…

To make things even worse, I had to lug all that potting soil, etc, to the truck cuz the helper lady was helping a lady even older than me. So I’m trying to manhandle that cart thing in the vague direction of my truck, and I wandered off without the bag with the dog chain in it. The whole reason (so I told myself) I went in the first place. Naturally I didn’t remember until I was pulling in the driveway, so I had to turn right around and go back after it. Was still there, no problem, but…

Oh well. Once I got home, I made a small batch of gritty mix and planted the herbs. I put the marjoram, lemon thyme, and creeping thyme I already had in one of the ceramic pots Hubby got me on clearance last fall, but I also took a little piece off each to try another experiment. Hubby bought one of those cheap little charcoal grills for something or other, but I think he only used it once. The top (pretty red) was just taking up space in the laundry room, so I took off the handles and grill supports, lined it with a piece of coco fiber mat to keep the soil marginally cooler, and filled that with gritty mix, too. I put the little pieces from the other herbs in it, and will plant the common thyme seeds I bought today, maybe tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

Once I got done with all that, it was getting dark, and I was starving. Forgot to eat lunch today, and breakfast was a long time ago. Called it quits for today, and made a left-over roasted chicken sandwich.

I know it ‘s way late, but one little corner of my raised bed is close enough to the house that it gets some shade even in summer. I had a foot or so of space once I pulled out the borage, so I decided to take a chance and plant some lettuce and spinach. Between the house and the swiss chard next to it, the spot may get enough shade to let them grow, at least for a while. Some of it’s already sprouting – so far, so good. Also planted some carrots. May not do well, but all it cost to try was a few seeds.

Just a couple flowers:

Tired and gotta get up early to ride to McAllen and have breakfast with Hubby’s nephew and his wife. That’s all she wrote, for now…

Evil Cats, Wandering Puppies, and Grandma’s Recipe

sb158 | April 7, 2010

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Dang, I hate those evil cats that hang around the dumpster by our place. Went out to water earlier, and one jumped right out of my side-of-the-stairs garden. It apparently parked itself in the big pot with a nicely-growing baby cosmos; needless to say, gotta replant now…
On top of that, it decided to torment the dog so much that she broke her brand-new tie-out line. We found her out on the highway dodging cars. Thankfully before she was road pizza!

I have a cookbook that used to belong to my mom’s mom; was printed in 1920-something. It’s got a lot of old-fashioned recipes, and sometimes I find just what I’m looking for. Wanted to use some navy beans and leftover ham tonight, so went recipe hunting. Finally looked in Grandma’s cookbook. Imagine my surprise when I found a baked bean recipe that had been quantity-adjusted in Grandma’s handwriting. Made me tear up a minute, then I smiled. And used the recipe…

Had to go hunting for a good cornbread recipe to go with the beans; none of the ones I have turned out especially good. Found one on About.com that sounded good. It has to be the best cornbread I have ever made. I used 2 Tablespoons of honey, and it was still very sweet. If you don’t like sweet cornbread, adjust the amount, or leave it out altogether. But it came out moist and light; not at all dry or heavy like cornbread can be.

The beans were good, too; least, I thought so…

Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:

* 2 cups stone ground cornmeal
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 3/4 cup buttermilk
* 3/4 cup milk
* 3 tablespoons honey
* 1/4 cup melted butter, cooled

Preparation:
Heat oven to 400?. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan or spray with nonstick baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, milk, honey, and melted butter.

Stir the liquid mixture into the dry mixture until blended. Spread in the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

In garden news, yesterday the beans I planted with the repotted mums weren’t sprouting yet. Today they are starting to sprout. Got dill and cilantro sprouting, too. Probably already to hot to get much out of either, but the flowers will attract beneficials, so it’s all good. All the cukes and watermelons still looking good, so I really have to thin pretty soon.

Not much else new in the garden; just trying to keep up with the watering due to the hot wind…as usual…Supposed to get a cool front some time tonight with possible showers. Surely do hope so.

Blooming, Planting Out, and Dividing

sb158 | April 3, 2010

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Since today was marginally cooler, breezy, and, most helpful, fairly overcast, I decided it might be a good day to plant out the baby cukes and watermelon that have sprouted so far. Keeps them out of the hot sun while they settle. Planted out Marketmore and Tender Green burpless cukes and Crimson Sweet watermelon. I put all the sprouted seedling of each in the containers; if they all survive the move, I’ll thin in a few days. Despite the clouds, I still covered them with the cube-things to keep the sun off and minimize wind damage.

Mouseover to see bigger pic.


Baby Marketmore cukes

Then I decided I’d divide the mums (yea, I know, should’ve been done ’round about February) while I was taking advantage of the clouds. I bought two cushion mums last fall (clearance is a wonderful thing); they bloomed themselves out and grew all winter. Pretty much took over the container. Hate do do this, but to divide, you gotta massacre all those pretty mums-to-be. It actually hurt… Here’s a couple “before” pics:

And then (Guh! Feel like Norman Bates here) I took the pruners to all those buds. Still wincing. Here’s an after:

Dug out the plants; divided the yellow mum into 2 plants, but the burgundy mum seems more vigorous. Divided that one into 4 little plants. Now they look like this:

Thought about this last night when I should have been sleeping. Decided the mums would look nice in a 24″ window box with the extra gazanias I transplanted a few days ago. So here they are in the new home:

I put the other two new mums in gallon pots, then moved pots and box to a shady spot and started praying I didn’t kill anything.

Meanwhile, I put one of each back in the original pot. See, plenty of room for more plants now:

So, more it is. I planted a couple Scarlet Runner, French Filet, and KY Wonder pole beans in the back. Put a couple Hestia half-runner beans in front to (hopefully) trail nicely down the pot, then stuck in a few Medinah bush beans behind the mums. No idea if mums make good companions for beans. We shall see what we shall see.

The red Nikki Mix nicotiana is blooming. While I’m talking about annuals, I’d recommend you try the pink Laura Bush petunia (pics here) I got from Wildseed Farms. The catalog description says “Very low maintenance and forgives neglect.” and “Flowers are delightfully fragrant.” Both are true. They grew all winter with no help from me, and they smell absolutely wonderful. If I’d known they were such great flowers, I’d have planted a bunch more. You better believe I will come fall.

I think I’ve rambled on long enough for one day. TTYL…

Not Much New…

sb158 | August 14, 2009

not-much-new

It’s still too hot; Hubby’s weather gizmo says 111 today. Much as I hated to, I had to go out there and spray the aphids off my peppers again; gotta keep up with it, as the little buggers multiple faster than tribbles(Trekkie reference, y’all). I got myself soaked in the process, which was a good thing. Cooled me off in that awful heat; probably kept me from dying of heatstroke.

Got all my SWC’s cleaned out and mixed some new dirt, getting ready for Round 2, which should commence shortly. Got tomatoes, peppers, and some broccoli, among other things, big enough to harden off. I put them on Hubby’s picnic table, in the shade, but am slowly exposing them to a bit more sun every day. Really gotta watch ‘em, though; this wind and heat will fry the poor little babies faster than I can blink.

Got some seeds sprouting to fill a couple off my new containers, and just got an idea for another one last nite while I should have been sleeping. I’ll start the seeds in a bit.

A couple weird things, though. I was about to pull my cukes, as they just aren’t fruiting, and are infested with whiteflies, among other things. All of a sudden they have just started growing like gangbusters, so now I’m debating. The watermelons in the SWC’s are doing the same thing. For a while it’s looked like they were barely hanging on, so I was babying them along hoping the melons would ripen before they expired. Now they’ve started growing new vines and blossoms, too. We’ll see what happens.

Later…

Been A While, so…

sb158 | July 24, 2009

been-a-while-so

Not really much going on in my garden, other than the fact that it’s being slowly baked to death by 111 degree temperatures. Not every day, but it has hit at least 109 for the past several days. Yesterday it was 110. I had a few minor things to do out there, and by the time I came in, I had sweat pouring off me. Didn’t stop for the next hour. Felt all woozy, too. Had to come in and sit in front of the AC for a while just to keep from dying. Would have taken a shower, but had a load of laundry going. Can’t do both at the same time around here…LOL.

By the time Garden Blog Death Day rolls around, I’ll have plenty to share. All the Roma tomatoes have ripened, not that there were all that many. The plants are just hanging around until I pull them out. Got some replacement stuff growing now, but it’ll be a few weeks until it’s ready to plant. I let the sickly zucchini expire, too, so that’ll be in the Death Day post.

The Heatwave tomato plants look awful, too, but they at least have a bunch of tomatoes ripening, if I can get them before the mockingbirds decide they’re ready to eat. The only thing that doesn’t seem bothered at all by the heat is the Lablab bean I planted. It just keeps growing taller, and has finally reached the top of the arbor thingy. Getting some side shoots now too, so maybe the arbor will finally start serving it’s intended purpose by the time I plant Round Two in early September.

The biggest thing I’ve accomplished is finishing the Excel seed-starting chart I got at I Wet My Plants.com. It was fine for Canada, but, boy, did it need a lot of work for South TX. Took me quite some time, and lots of tedium, to enter all my seeds, correlate the planting dates to the Texas Gardener magazine Planning Calender, and get it all set up for my area. Now, however, it is tailored to my garden, and it is really cool. Just print and plant…eliminates alot of the mind-breaking co-ordination two (well, really, 3) garden seasons requires.

That’s about it for now. Got dinner cooking and gotta get back to it…

I REALLY hate those little

sb158 | July 12, 2009

i-really-hate-those-little

(insert vile epithet of choice)______________. Fire ants, I mean. Bungled into two separate nests of the little _______ yesterday, with very unpleasant consequences. I’ve mentioned before that the french filet pole beans weren’t doing well, but I don’t think I mentioned the sick zucchini. It’s in one of the containers by the arbor thingy, and it’s only grown a few leaves and two male blossoms since I planted it before I went to Colorado. Whoever heard of a zucchini NOT growing, at least before the squash vine borers get it? So I decided to pull out the french failures and try some scarlet runner beans. I started to move the mulch away to plant the seeds, and was viciously attacked. Got away with only two bites that time; not so bad. I read somewhere that ants don’t like molasses, so I poured about a cup of molasses into a gallon of water and drenched the container with it. I also dumped a bit of Amdro in there. The ants might explain the sickly zucchini and failing beans, at least in part.
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Picnic Tables and Garden Progress

sb158 | July 9, 2009

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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!

Hallelujah and Thank You

sb158 | June 23, 2009

hallelujah-and-thank-you

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.

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