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  • Archive for July, 2013


    The garden is in an in between stage right now. The melon bed is recovering from too much water with the rain a few weeks ago; I’ve been babying it a bit and hoping for the best. There was one melon forming for awhile but it ended up rotting and so far the most successful vine has been a moon and star watermelon.

    I harvested the yellow corn a few weeks ago but most of the ears were rotting or undeveloped and not good to eat. We also had a patch of strawberry popcorn and the same thing has happened, though there were two ears Chris found ripe enough to keep as seed for next year, but he’s not liking the idea of continuing with corn. We’ve just not been very successful in the past with it either.

    Finally all of the beans, except the cowpeas, are all beginning to flower and the asparagus beans are putting on long fruits. The luffa vine is beginning to climb wildly up the fence and it won’t be long until it is covering the west facing fence. All of our summer squash has been removed because it didn’t survive the squash vine borers and I’m nursing along two spaghetti squash vines that had some SVB damage, starting two new seeds to replace the ones that failed. One acorn squash plant is doing really well, the butternut is trying to do well as are sweet dumpling squash plants.

    The tomatoes have not been the massive crop we had last year but I’m not complaining because I’m getting to eat tomatoes frequently this summer. I replaced four plants in hopes of getting a big crop of fall tomatoes for canning. We’re starting to run low on canned tomatoes and we’ve been out of spaghetti sauce for months; its hard to go back to grocery store sauce after you make your own.

    Chris has started working on Phase 2 of the flower garden, the side yard flower bed. He’s trying to get as much done before he heads back to the field soon. I think this section is going to be pretty cool, we’re going to put a bench under the fig tree but now we’re in search of a comfortable bench. We went to Lowe’s to look but the variety was slim of course, and nothing looked comfortable for pulling up with a good book for a few hours outside.

    I posted the last Summer Garden Tour today. Chel and I are trying to figure out where we’re going to go with Sprout Dispatch now. My brother has stopped contributing as he’s got a very full life at the moment, but he’s always welcome back. Until then I’ve thought about looking for a third contributor again but I’m not sure about how well someone would be able to participate in a mostly weekly blog, particularly if they weren’t in the south where gardening is a little more year-round. If you think you are interested shoot me an email (oceanicwilderness at and we’ll see if there’s a fit. Until then drop by and say hello as Chel and I adjust to a new routine around Sprout Dispatch.

    I tend to get locked up in using one lens for a long time and pair that with Chris having the macro for awhile when he was in the field, I didn’t have the opportunity/haven’t taken the opportunity to use the 100mm macro lens lately. I remedied that last night and went out and shot a few things in the garden. I’m going to have to dig this lens out more often!

    A close up of a zinnia.

    Next year I think we need to find a few more places for the white firewheel in the garden. In fact, I’m kind of in love with all Gaillardia species and varieties.

    Fuzzy tomatoes…

    I’m extremely happy my table queen acorn squash has produced a fruit! I’m hoping it will give me a few more and evade the squash vine borers.

    Spaghetti squash blossom

    spaghetti squash


    and grasshoppers have been chewing up a few plants in the garden.

    This is why I get the macro out!

    The ‘Wendy’s Wish’ Salvia has been blooming profusely all summer, I highly recommend this variety.


    There’s always cat antics going on!


    My asparagus beans are finally beginning to flower. It’s been a slow start with beans this season.

    And the monarchs have finally made it to my garden, hopefully with thanks to the butterfly weed.

    I think I’ll go around with the macro more often!

    I haven’t felt the urge to do a lot of writing here lately and that will likely continue for awhile. However, I was enticed by my garden when I got home at lunch today to take a few photos and share them here. Also, please stop by Sprout Dispatch today and check out the latest garden tour, my friend Matt’s garden. If you have even more time, check out the rest of the summer garden tour too! It’ll be wrapping up next week.

    White fire wheel, Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri

    Ascelpias tuberosa, the yellow version.

    The wild section of the garden, most of this is from wildflower seed packages.


    Zinnias are doing well and there in the background you can see some orange nasturiums still going strong despite the heat.

    A lobelia I picked up the other day, freakin’ gorgeous!

    I think the deer are walking through my tithonia, either that or the tithonia just can’t hold themselves up anymore which I’m not sure I believe. I keep having broken branches and some of them I’ve had to cut down. I need to trim up some more tonight.


    Johnny jump-ups I started from seed. Doing good!

    Scarlet catchfly, Silene subciliata

    I had to move my Brazilian plume flower, Justicia carnea, to a different location to evade the deer. I’m hoping they won’t poke around near the sago palm now!

    That’s just some of what is blooming. What’s going on in your garden if you have one?

    Last weekend we were in Arkansas for a short vacation with my family. Saturday was the day they had to vacate the rental house on the lake and everyone else headed home for DFW while Chris and I were staying until Sunday. We weren’t quite sure where to go, wanting to take pictures, do a short hike, and sight-see. My brother mentioned he’d initially wanted to stay up near Petit Jean State Park and visit other areas nearby, but had changed the plans in order to simplify the issue of having to change locations every few days. So, Chris and I decided to check out the park and then see if there were any other waterfalls closer to Hot Springs we could check out.

    Unfortunately most of the nicer (re: bigger) waterfalls were towards the northwest part of the state in the Ozarks and it was going to be well out of our way to go there. Petit Jean was as-the-crow-flies relatively close to Hot Springs but driving time was about two hours due to having to take Scenic Route 7 and other small, country roads in order to reach the state park. Route 7 meanders up and through mountains in several areas so zooming through isn’t really an option.

    We’d left Hot Springs around 9 am that morning and figured we’d arrive at Petit Jean somewhere near lunch time. The GPS said we would pass through a few small towns so that’s where we thought we’d stop for lunch. Let me be clear—don’t rely on these small towns for food! Only one seemed to have a cafe and when we were about to get out and go in we saw a sign for cash only and turned back around to our car. A Dollar General was across the street and after we’d left that town and drove through even smaller towns I’d wished I’d found something at Dollar General to snack on before our hike. (As a note, we did all of our research on my mom’s iphone since the house didn’t have wifi, and we aren’t smart phone savvy so it was difficult for us to research fully. Just got the basics, which is why we didn’t know about food options.)

    BUT—-all of that was resolved when we arrived at the state park, stopping shortly above a bluff with a parking area for a lookout. I saw a park sign for a lodge and thought–well, maybe there was some kind of concession there. I’d already resigned myself to sufficing with the snack bars we’d picked up that morning for during-hike snack breaks, but I was really hoping for some real food before going on a hike. I’d learned my lesson while climbing Guadalupe Peak not to hike on fuel that was not sufficient (I ate a salad before that hike, what was I thinking???) and didn’t want to have any crashes again.

    Sure enough when we drove on down the road we found an old CCC lodge and cabins nearby, even a swimming pool area. FOOD! All was resolved! We had our lunch next to the wide window over looking the gorge and valley below. It was really spectacular to have a nice view and the food was pretty good to boot.

    So, the photos are going to start backwards, from the waterfall and returning back up to the top. I didn’t want to carry my camera on the way down, tripping and falling ya know.

    The falls were not running fast but based on other videos on You Tube it appears that the falls can run quite fast during recent rain events. A little awesome and scary looking from what I’ve watched.

    The area was relatively crowded and difficult to take photos. I wasn’t nearly as patient and landscapes are Chris’ thing anyway so I let him go for it instead.



    Looking down the creek bed, the dry area.






    Chris found this variegated plant, which I believe is Boehmeria cylindrica.

    The trail was blazed orange, à la the Florida Trail. Doesn’t quite look like the Florida Trail though!

    The big thing about this trail, or at least its hype, is that it is steep going down to the falls. And yes, there is a steep section for not even half a mile at the very beginning. The trail is switched-backed well, with of course areas where people have cut the switchbacks despite signs warning not to, but it was not all that intense for folks in a decent amount of shape. The rest of the trail is flat with a couple of undulating areas around boulders, but it is not a difficult trail.







    Probably should have dashed over to the Blue Hole, but we didn’t. It looks pretty nice too.




    Heading back up the trail, see the orange blazes heading up?


    We thought the rock wall up on the top left was CCC built…

    But apparently not. Maybe it was a renovation?

    And back up top, this is the view from the lodge. Pretty nice, isn’t it?


    I would have loved to have seen more of this park. The Seven Hollows Trail said it had grottos and a natural bridge which sounded enticing. Unfortunately it was a 4.5 mile loop and none of the interesting features were near the trail head, all well into the hike. Due to time we didn’t get to visit this one but I think it would be very fun to see if we were ever to go back.

    Great trail, great park—just in the middle of nowhere….seriously.


















    We were driving down a two lane, very rural road in central Arkansas having just left Petit Jean State Park and Chris was intent on finding either Lilium superbum/Turks cap lily or Lilium mixhauxii/Carolina lily. I had a vague idea of what they looked like, lily-like you know, but having not recently seen a photo I had no idea for sure.

    So, here we are driving along and looking at farm after farm with very tiny towns interspersed in between looking in roadside ditches as we got 60mph down the road. We slowed a couple of times for trumpet creeper and orange daylilies to get a better look only to find out they were trumpet creeper and orange daylilies. Then I spotted this patch of lilies which made us turn around, park the truck on an abandoned driveway entrance and walk over in the knee high and very itchy grass in the right-of-way and start taking photos.

    I think maybe five cars passed by us while we were taking photos and Chris grabbed what we thought at the time was potentially the purple seed pods but now I know they are bulbils. Since neither of us had any kind of field guide with us we had to wait until we got to our hotel room that evening to look it up on the internet.

    Chris dug in and start looking around feeling confident about the plants still being the Carolina lily or the Turks cap lily but he said he thought the seed pods didn’t match. That gave me an idea that perhaps they were Asian tiger lilies instead, the more common cultivated garden plant. I then got online and dug around and looked at the leaf structure of both the Carolina and Turks cap and they did not match our plants. Flowers were similar, yes, but leaves, no. Next I went for seed pods and up came a photo of exactly the plant we saw and it turned out to be….the Asian tiger lily, Lilium lancifolium. Darn!

    Oh well, at least we took photos and had a little adventure! Now that I know kind of what the other two look like I will definitely know the difference next time. And it was a beautiful plot of plants!


    Last week Chris and I drove up to Hot Springs, Arkansas to spend a few days at a house on Lake Hamilton with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their kids. It was a relaxing trip, not filled with going hither and tither but for the most part spent lounging inside in the ‘cabiny’ living room or in the slightly more formal and spacious adjacent living area that had near floor-to-ceiling windows, or on the deck outside. More of those photos later.

    I sat a lot in the reclining chair looking out at the porch as you see here, flipping through magazines, watching whatever was on tv (Food Network or kid tv), watching the my niece and nephew play and fight and be goofballs, and just enjoying myself.

    I also turned 33 while we were away. It is only just starting to bother me. 30 was easy, that was perhaps because I was backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and got to spend it in Vermont. And then I spent part of 31 telling people I was 32 and now here I am 33. 33 is just so close to 35 which is that point in which you are running full speed into 40. I know, numbers don’t mean much, but some years they do. I didn’t care for 28.

    I’m definitely at a stage in which I feel like when I see a woman with kids I assume she’s much older than me when in reality she’s likely my age if not younger—-hell, she could be 23 for all I know. In essence, my brain is functioning as if I’m looking out from 20 and into the years ahead of me but I’m actually at 33 looking out and I can’t seem to grasp that yet.

    Anyway, before I ramble on too deeply there…

    Lots to catch up on here with writing. I got a new laptop for my birthday which means my old one is now the assigned write your damn book, Misti laptop in which I can leave it in my studio to write my Florida Trail book. It’s amazing the kinds of mental blocks we creatives can put up when trying to work on something and this book has endless mental blocks.

    What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

    On the 4th of July I met up with Keely and her boyfriend over at Lake Livingston State Park. Chris was still out of town working so I decided to spend time with some friends instead of wading through chores at home—which I could have easily done mind you. Luckily I got there before the crowds got really thick and parking became impossible, but it was already filling up when I arrived at 11am. Keely was meeting a geocaching friend there for a cookout so for the first while we sat around a picnic area talking, eating and watching folks circle around and around looking for parking.

    The drive out to the park was beautiful as I took the scenic route through a lot of farm roads and up through parts of the Sam Houston National Forest. I kicked myself for not stopping at two trucks with trailers loaded up with local watermelons in Coldspring; they looked tasty! I could have juiced them and then frozen the juice for some tasty slushies.

    Anyway, Keely and I haven’t met back up since our the first time at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory over a year ago so I thought it was high time to see her again. She’s been recovering from a broken leg and hasn’t been out and about hiking and geocaching like she had been.

    Lake Livingston State Park
    There was a micro geocache hiding at the top of this sign, my first cache since the last time I saw Keely. The last cache before that had to of been the one we randomly found in Tennessee on the AT, but we didn’t sign that log I don’t think.

    Lake Livingston State Park
    This path was highly utilized by bicyclists (kids) roaming between campgrounds.

    Lake Livingston State Park
    We were feeling the heat so when we arrived at this cove on the lake I think all three of us wanted to jump in.

    Lake Livingston State Park

    Lake Livingston State Park
    There wasn’t a whole lot blooming aside from this trumpet creeper.

    Lake Livingston State Park
    I did stop to point out the clematis seed pods.

    Lake Livingston State Park

    Lake Livingston State Park

    Lake Livingston State Park
    The boardwalk trail at the north end of the park was nice but very quiet. The crowds were down by the water.

    Lake Livingston State Park
    We found a nice bird blind but not a lot of birds, just cardinals. I’m sure most of the birds were hiding in the shade during the heat of the day.

    Lake Livingston State Park
    A couple of flower beds in an attempt for a butterfly garden.

    Lake Livingston State Park

    Lake Livingston State Park

    Lake Livingston State Park
    Some very tall alligator flag (I think)!

    Lake Livingston State Park
    The frog pond on the north side of the loop.

    There isn’t an extensive trail system here but there are enough that you can stretch your legs well. There was a second section of hiking trail and a horse trail that we didn’t take but for the heat and time it was a nice jaunt in the woods.

    The placement of our vegetable garden was such because it had the widest area of open space but also because it let the most sunlight in below the canopy of the trees. This area just so happened to be at the very front of our yard near the street, not exactly the most ideal spot but it works out. While it has a lot of sun it also gets some shade which I think has benefited the garden during the heat of the summer. Full sun for plants during the height of Texas heat isn’t very good, so a dose of shade through some of the rougher parts of the day works in favor for the plants. I think it has helped out with the vegetables so far, but we’ll have to see how it continues on because we still have the rest of July, August and September to contend with. September for many folks means a cool off—not so for Texas. It continues being summer right on through then.

    I’m very happy to see large fruits of Yellowed Ruffled tomatoes forming.




    The tithonia…oh, the tithonia! I am loving them so much! My only problem is they are drowning out the Texas mountain laurel so I’ll have to remember to plant them elsewhere next year. I might even have to prune one out so the mountain laurel can get some more sun.

    The perpetually non-fruiting squash that continues to grow gigantic.

    The okra are putting out some giant leaves! I’m growing three varieties, I think Stewarts Zee Best, Hill Country Red, and Fife Creek. Maybe an Eagle Pass thrown in there, not sure. A couple of nights ago I cooked up my first harvest, fried it up in some olive oil—-oh so good!




    Beans in the front, melons in the back. Which if you think about it makes perfect sense for a garden mullet!

    If pollination was successful I think this will be a Bidwell Casaba melon. Very, very tasty and excellent frozen. I froze a bunch last year for smoothies.

    I think the cool front last week helped set some more fruit on the tomatoes, so I am happy that I’ll be extending my tomato season a bit.

    Fantome du Laos tomato.

    And my cowpeas which I thought were going to be bushing but are so obviously not are on their own and will have to climb over each other. I did stake two up that kept falling over but far they seem to be cooperating.

    The corn is forming ears.



    Montana Popping Amaranth
    The Montana popping amaranth is doing well but being eaten but something. Grasshoppers perhaps or maybe a potato beetle….not sure on that as I haven’t taken a close up of the bugs themselves, but the beetle is striped like a potato beetle. Either way the plant is surviving so far.

    Lots going on and I didn’t even show you the beans and winter squash!

    Drop by Sprout Dispatch today to check out my night blooming cereus photos but also on Wednesday for our Summer Garden Tour!

    We harvested two bars of honey this morning! The bees are in crazy comb making mode right now and Chris thought we might be able to nab some honey from them while they are still building comb and storing up for the winter. Around 6:58 the volume goes off, so no it isn’t your computer. I forgot to turn the volume back up for that segment and didn’t realize it until the video was uploaded. Sorry! I’m a newbie at this video editing stuff. Around 8:30 we switch to indoors and show you the crushing up of the comb.

    This was our first time noticing small hive beetle in our hive which means we’ll be keeping a close eye on that population and killing any by hand that we see.

    Enjoy! I promise to get better at video editing in the future!

    Fig Season!

    Fig Season!

    It’s fig season around here, or just starting up really. I tried one out about a week ago and it wasn’t quite ready yet…but now, now we’re talking. Last night I walked back and forth under the fig tree as I passed by doing garden and yard chores and would snag one off as I passed. A deliciously fresh desert! I also noticed some other garden animal had enjoyed one too as it was half eaten on the stem!

    Last year we harvested from the community garden. I’d forgotten we’d done that around the same time we’d closed on our house. We’ve been here a year—time flies!

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