Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category
Today is a rainy, dreary day and we’re going to get a slight dip in temperatures to the 50s and 60s for a few days before we return to life in the 70s and probably 80s once again. I was hoping to get a few things done in the garden this weekend, pull some weeds, plant some seeds, and transplant some stuff, but that might be held off until later in the week.
The garden is awakening well now, with a few plants taking a little longer than others. A couple of plants I am actually wondering if they are dead but we will give them another month before we do something about them. Sometimes plants are sleepier than others and they take awhile to come back.
We’ve had a ton of milk thistle reseeding itself in the vegetable garden from the compost so I’ve been trying to transplant some of them into the flower garden. I’ve been reading and listening to a few podcasts/blogs that talk about using thistle in various manners and I may try to see what I can do with our thistle once they are grown. I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to use more of the plants and weeds in the yard for whatever edible and medicinal uses they are known to have.
The Rhododendron canescens is blooming and has been for about a week. Now that I’m thinking about it, we have a few more behind Chris’ man-cave (the garage) and I don’t usually go over there but I bet those are blooming, too.
A couple of weeks ago we got a third load of mulch which I spread out on the final areas of the garden, some of which is seen here. I spread it on a Saturday and on Sunday I noticed a few plants looked grey and a little weird but I thought it was from the mulch dust and just shook off whatever mulch was left on the plants and didn’t think anything else of it. Chris and I planted a few things and I sowed some seeds in that bed and then on Monday we had a good rain. On that Wednesday after I went through the garden to see what was going on and I was horrified to see plants bleached out and looking like they were dead! A quick Google searched suggested that the mulch had not been cured properly and alcohols had built up in the mulch which basically burned the plants. I truly thought the plants were dead but by a week later I saw a couple of plants look like they were trying to pull through. If you see the purple plant and two little green plants at the bottom of the photo, those are two that I thought were toast but here they are severa weeks later, pulling through. I was a little dismayed at the mulch issue because we’ve bought from that company many times in the past and had no problems. Needless to say we will be more vigilant in the future!
The Gladiolus dalenii are thriving after Chris started spraying some fish emulsion on the flower beds. It has been working as both a fertilizer but also a deer deterent. I had to replant one gladiolus bulb continually because the deer kept pulling one up when they were nibbling.
The patch of blue-eyed grass has expanded over the years and if we let it I think it would take up an entire section of the flower bed. Nevertheless, it is a gorgeous addition to the front flower bed.
We had several nice marigolds that really made the corner of one of the beds look really awesome last year and they all self seeded and germinated back in January. Looks like we will have another great patch again this year.
One of our goals this year is to provide plenty of milkweed for the monarchs. In addition to swamp, common, and ‘butterfly’ (tuberosa) milkweeds, Chris bought more tropical milkweed seeds so we can really get a thicket of it growing. Some of it reseeded from the plants we had, and even came back after the freezes, but we are looking to have more plants this year as I think we may end up raising many caterpillars in a caterpillar tent. We need to get more pots of it so we can have a rotating supply of it in the tents as the cats chomp them down. We’ll see.
I left this dandelion because it was just too happy growing out of that nook!
One happy surprise is seeing the golden lotus finally bloom! Progeny of a pup we gave Chris’ dad back when we lived in Florida, it’s like having an old friend back!
Things are looking good. It will be vastly different in a month!
And like that, the strawberries have begun ripening and now we’re harvesting the fruits! Last Friday we picked the first few strawberries; I had found a couple at lunch that day but knew Forest would get a kick out of picking them so we waited until after dinner that evening to go out and pluck them from the beds. Forest has decided he likes strawberries lately, the ones I’ve bought from the store, and thus he is very interested in eating the ones grown at home. As a strawberry enthusiast, I like this new development! He’s also, finally, starting to request to try other things we are eating at meals so there’s hope he will begin branching out his toddler taste buds soon.
The evening light is slowly lengthening and we’ve been poking outside for a bit after dinner a few nights over the last week or two. Being able to walk around the yard or neighborhood has been a refreshing change from the months of hibernating inside during the evenings. I’m contemplating pushing his bedtime back an hour or so once the time change happens so we can enjoy being outside in the evenings this spring and summer. We will see how that goes. There are pros and cons to keeping the current routine and changing the routine so I guess we will find out which one works best here in a few weeks.
Sometimes he wakes up and asks to go outside or into the garden! Of course, sometimes he asks to watch helicopters or airplanes on YouTube, so take that for what you want, but I think we’ve been indoctrinating him into the world of outside pretty darn well!
I think it’s safe to say that spring is here. A string of 80-almost-90 degree days gave us a taste for what a few months down the line is going to be like. Having the weather that warm already was pleasant in the mornings but by afternoon it was edging towards uncomfortable. A few of my lunch hour gardening days had me teetering on the knowledge that it won’t be long before I’ll be back to needing to shower before returning to work after those garden sessions.
With Chris gone the last few weeks I haven’t gotten to finish mulching the flower beds but I should be able to get that done this weekend. The flower beds are weeded—well, as much as I can get without being too nitpicky. I’ll have to stay on top of Virginia creeper, pine, and elm seedlings that sow themselves in waves through the next two months. Right now the heavy seedling situation is with the Virginia creeper and I’m seeing a few pines here and there.
I’m thrilled with what has been showing its face, the plants that have returned from the roots after our hard freeze last month. I thought I’d lost the tropical milkweed but even the little sprouts that had started germinating back in December have returned! The one oddity so far has been our large clump of pink brugmansia. Maybe I need to dig through my photo archives to see when they started returning in previous years—well, last year they barely died back, I only clipped them down to around chest height—but they have not started re-sprouting. This is odd because the variegated brug and a white brug have already send shoots up as has the randomly planted pink brug that is down near the pond. I’ll have to give it more time.
There are still plenty of chores to get on top of. It’s time to look back at the vegetable garden and the weeds there as well as think about getting tomatoes planted and maybe even squash. More mulch needs to be laid in the pathways that haven’t had mulch yet and a few beds need mulch, too.
I started some flower seeds last weekend and re-potted some tomato seedlings but I need to do some more seed sowing this weekend and next week. Lots of little garden chores here and there but I’m making myself stop and enjoy the garden sometimes and attempt not to do chores on occasion. You know, stop and smell the roses!
I have two Mexican orchid tree seedlings (Bauhinia mexicana) that I grew from seeds I nabbed at the zoo awhile back. I recently moved them up a pot size so they could put on some better roots. I’m hoping in a year or two they will be big enough to plant along our fence.
In the yard the oxalis is trying to paint the yard pink, which I love! There were more blooms a few weeks ago but Chris mowed the yard to clean it up a bit from months of not being mowed. They will come back!
While a lot of the dill was set back or killed, a few plants have come through and are starting to do very well. I sowed more seeds to try to recover from what we lost. I need new dill seed in the pantry and to dry the plant for pickling later this summer.
I managed to get two flower beds mulched last weekend and plan to get the other three flower beds cleaned up this week so I can get mulch for them in the next week. There are flower seeds to sow and my excitement for a new season of growth is rising!
Are you doing any gardening?
The good thing about having blogged and taken photos all of these years is that it is an excellent way to be able to revisit the garden to see the changes, good and bad. Over the weekend I managed to weed and mulch the two beds on the side of the house and I thought it would be fun to do a little photo history tour of the side yard garden beds. Here we go!
A week ago—right after the freeze
September 2012 — we moved in last few days of June 2012.
May 2012 — when we went to view the house for the first time
Pretty crazy, right? I need to take more photos—and I may have and just didn’t process them all out of RAW into .jpg for viewing.
I’ll probably do another round up of the front flower beds and the vegetable garden as well, so look for that in the coming weeks.
Attention Houston: This is your once-a-decade reminder that you don't quite live in the deep tropics.
— Eric Berger (@SpaceCityWX) January 7, 2017
Oh man. We left town Friday evening prepared for the weekend deep freeze with what we thought was going to be mid to high 20s and instead woke up Saturday morning in Dallas with Chris checking the temperature for our town to find out the low was 20*. There’s a good chance it was a little lower than that, too, but either way, the damage was done. Saturday night was more of the same, a double whammy. Chris has prepared by putting up all of the orchids, bromeliads, and other tropicals, and covered the sensitive cactus but we left everything else—including the vegetable garden—up to its own devices because our previous experiences with the mid 20s and high 20s had left everything else in decent, if not a little nipped back, shape.
Needless to say, that 5-8* difference was enough to ruin several things in the vegetable garden and severely nip back several plants in the flower bed. It remains to be seen what will and won’t recover. My hopes of the African blue basil, which had several branches surviving the freeze in December, pulling through until spring are completely toast. Other plants, we won’t know for a few weeks or until spring. The citrus appear to be affected somewhat but they should pull through just fine. I’m most heartbroken about all of the tropical milkweed plants that had germinated from seed in the garden as well as had already started resprouting from being cut back. I was hoping for a thicket for the monarchs this year. I only took six cuttings, well, six are what rooted, so I am hoping the pull through and the rest of the sprouts can recover enough for the caterpillars this summer.
I have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. This weekend I need to start tomato seeds and a few other things including resowing some greens in the vegetable beds. I want to get the flower beds completely weeded in mulched before the end of January so they are ready to go into spring and there are seeds to sow in there, too.
Lots of garden chores among many other things I need and want to do!
Edible Garden Tour
Flower Garden Tour
A conversation with my brother kind of lit a fire under me to make more videos of the garden this year. Actually, I’ve been really lax in making videos of any kind over the last year, even with Forest, and I kind of regret it. I think I did so much that first year of Forest’s life that I really wanted to pull back a little there for awhile. I do miss being able to watch videos so I’m planning to be more proactive this year. Expect more!
The last week has been quite the lazy one around here. Chris and I were off work and the first half of the holiday week was warm and pleasant and we spent a lot of time outside playing. However, by Wednesday Forest’s cough that had started developing last Monday grew worse and we had a camping trip planned for New Years weekend and I didn’t want to go without getting him checked out. So, off to the pediatrician we went. She prescribed some cough medicine—so nice that we’re finally getting into the ages where more medicine can be prescribed for him!—and thought it was RSV or some similar virus and said there wasn’t much we could do but alleviate some of the symptoms with the cough medicine, Zyrtec, and an inhaler. But Thursday came and his appetite started plummeting and a cold front blew through. By Friday morning we knew it wasn’t going to be good to trek to the Hill Country for a camping trip with iffy weather and a sick kid, so we stayed home.
It’s been a mostly grey weekend with some rain sessions which meant we’ve been inside bouncing between upstairs and downstairs toys and watching a lot of television. I’ve tried to do some of the items I wanted to get done this week but they’ve mostly been the inside goals. My gardening goals have mostly been on hold. But now I’m starting to sneeze and I felt little wonky this morning so I’m just crossing my fingers that I’m not getting sick just in time to return to work! In all, it is probably good that we’ve just been homebodies this week.
I’ve done a little looking forward to 2017, planning and goal-wise. I settled on my word last week, Peace. In 2015 I chose mindful which was a good start and I learned quite a bit about the word but I think peace could be a good one to grab hold of this year. Another thing I’m using for 2017 is Elise’s Daily Goal Tracker. I’ve loved this goal tracker since she introduced it a few years ago but never bought it. When she sent her November newsletter announcing it was going to be free for December readers I was excited! I modified mine to print small enough to fit into my Moleskine Bullet Journal and washi taped it inside. I actually made four different ones to keep track of various things.
One thing I worked on over the break was putting my podcasts on YouTube as another outlet for listening. My goal is to also start incoporating gardening videos over there once or twice a week. If you are a regular YouTube user please subscribe! My brother is also planning to do more on YouTube this year so you can check out his site as well. We recently chatted about gardening on the podcast to wrap up our gardening year.
I got out for a few minutes yesterday evening to pick collards for dinner and took some photos of the vegetable garden. Here’s what is going on out there!
The okra were in this section over the summer and down below I kept seeing a weed pop up that I would try and pull. Well, the okra have been gone for a month now and I haven’t done much maintenence. Turns out the weed is a lawn orchid, a plant that is not native and usually spread by mulch.
Happy 2017, friends!