Whaddaya Gonna Do…

sb158 | April 8, 2011


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


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!!!

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!

Rainy Days and Mondays…

sb158 | April 14, 2010


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…

More Blue & White, Watering, and Shopping

sb158 | April 10, 2010


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…

This Is Why, Jen…

sb158 | May 8, 2009


My daughter called today while I was painting the new SWC’s. Naturally, her first question was “Why are you painting ugly orange Home Depot buckets?” Told her to check here for the answer…

So, Jen, I’m making Self-Watering Containers into which to plant 2 watermelon, a zucchini, and a cantaloupe. Should have taken a “Before” pic, but here’s the “After.” (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…)

Got An Answer! Thanks, Jim.

sb158 | April 27, 2009


A very kind blog visitor identified my Mystery Shrub as Ruttya fruticosa. Found some cultural information here and here.

Apparently it’s easy to propagate by seeds or cuttings, so I may try that down the road some time. Got too much other stuff going on right now to deal with it.

Yesterday we went to brunch with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and his son and wife. (more…)

Baby Beans

sb158 | April 25, 2009


I finally got all the baby basils transplanted into their nice peat pots and outside. The first batch graduated to a couple hours in the sun today, before I had to put them, and the baby peppers, back into the shade. Hope it won’t be too much more than a week or so before the basil I intended to plant in the garden are big enough to move into the garden.

Here’s a couple pics of the baby basils and peppers… (more…)

What’s Your Name? Etc…

sb158 | April 22, 2009


I’ve mentioned that I bought a night-blooming jasmine and another shrub before. Been looking all over the net trying to find the origin and care for the second one, with no success. The nursery guy said it was called Rutaya, and was new. It must be really new, to be so conspicuously absent from the Net.
I’m posting a couple pics, in the hope someone knows what it is and how to take care of it. (more…)