Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Blooms

Where did the summer go?

While my blog posts may have disappeared, the garden churned out blooms all summer long. It has been a joy to see plants survive and even thrive (I'm talking about you lantana, yellow bells) during the high temperatures and not too frequent rain.

Stars and stripes crinum - The blooms, which missed the 4th of July by only one week, were spectacular, but only lived a day or so. I was thrilled to see this one bloom since I planted the bulb in May of this year.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm') - These were great little plants that recently dried up and almost completely disappeared. I'm not sure if I neglected them, but I hope they come back next year.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

'Homestead Purple' Verbena

Daylily (Hemerocallis 'Little Business') - I love the name of this daylily as well as the brilliant colors of my alma mater (go Texas State!).

Nacogdoches Rose - the yellow rose of Texas

Bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) - It seems like the blubells bloomed all summer and they're still going strong. They grew much taller than I expected and leaned quite a bit. After their inital blooms were finished, I cut them down and they re-bloomed at a much more reasonable height.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Harvest Time

It's been a while since my last post. And I'd like to tell you that it's because I've been so busy... but that would be a lie. While it seems that not much has been happening in my garden, the opposite is true. Some of the blooms throughtout the garden may have faded, but the vegetables have taken off! I don't think I ever told you about my spring square foot gardens did I? I thought it would be fun to draw a cute layout of the two gardens to show what was planted. Alas, if I made that my goal you would probably still be waiting for this post in 2011.

In lieu of a cool drawing, here's a list of what I planted:

Tomatoes (1 each) - Early Girl, Brandywine, Roma, Green Zebra, Yellow Pear, JD's Early Black
Okra (2) - Clemson Spineless
Squash (1) - Butterstick Hybrid
Pole Beans (8) - Kentucky Blue
Bush Beans (3 squares full) - Roma II
Cucumber (2) - Straight Eight
Pepper (1) - Sweet Banana
Swish Chard (3 squares) - Bright Lights
Strawberry (1) - planted last fall
Lemon Basil, Zinnias and Marigolds

I also have a couple of watermelon plants in the easement behind the house. They were gifted to me, but I didn't have room for them in the garden. One of the plants is getting quite large, but they're mostly forgotten since I can't see them.

This is my first full-on spring vegetable garden, and so far, the results have been mixed. I tried a little bit of everything this year and will have a better idea of what I want to do next year. For now, it's all about trial and error.
  • You can plant tomatoes in 6 inches of soil! But give them some room. I planted marigolds in between, but the marigolds are getting squeezed out.
  • Someone has consumed more of my swiss chard than I have; I've picked off the caterpillars when I see them, but I think someone else has been enjoying the harvest.
  • Plant more beans! I planted one square of bush beans 4-6 weeks before the other two. One square just isn't enough for a decent harvest.
  • One of the prairie lizards enjoys the shade provided by the tomatoes. However, he startles me every time! One of these days, I'm going to remember that he's there.

Any square foot vegetable gardeners out there with some tips for me?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A garden discovery

Remember in 2008 when I scattered wildflower seeds in the empty space in the backyard? I'm pleased to report that a new plant emerged and just began blooming last week. (There are still about 8 or so varieties that haven't made an appearance yet!) I looked it up and I believe it is called wild or false foxglove (Penstemon cobaea). It's quite showy with beautiful tubular flowers and dark purple stripes inside. Have a look...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Handy gadget for a weeding fool

I'm a sucker for inexpensive tools that make annoying tasks, well, less annoying. For instance, my kitchen is filled to the brim with all kinds of gadgets that make repetitive tasks quicker and measurements more accurate. It seems that my habit is not limited to the kitchen.

Recently, I purchased a couple of weeders to see if they would help with the inordinate amount of weeds that have decorated the area around our house. At one time, there was grass there. You see, last year (during the drought) we really didn't water our grass. Oops. Oh, we put the sprinklers out every now and then when the watering schedule allowed. But it just wasn't the same as having a sprinkler system that could target many areas in a short amount of time. And we really didn't want to spend extra money since our water bill stays pretty high throughout the year. We didn't fertilize and didn't use any pre-emergents. Oops again. It's so bad you can see the property lines we share with out neighbors--the weeds designate the area that belongs to us.

So now that you know the back story, I can tell you about my new favorite gardening gadget. It's the OXO Good Grips Gardening Weeder. It's lovely because the design of the tool allows you to pop the weeds out of the ground and pull up the roots too. And you should know that it's a little bit of an obsession for me. Even though it may be a futile task, I enjoy cleaning things up and making the yard look less shaggy. I'm also hoping to encourage the bits of grass to grow and spread. At least until I'm ready to remove it and plant something better!

Do you have any handy tools that make life easier? How about weeding tools that you can use with your feet? This one can be a bit tough on the hands and back.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Spring Photos

I'm delighted to show some new photos taken by my hubby last night in the backyard. Stay tuned because more photos are coming your way.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The $64 Tomato

Need a fun, light-hearted read? You should definitely try The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden.

As the popularity of backyard vegetable gardens has soared and I've started my own, at times I've doubted the cost savings associated with such an endeavor. It seems like I typically spend much more than I save. When I spotted this book, I knew it would be something I could understand. However, I didn't expect it to be hilarious. Like laugh-out-loud-at-work hilarious.* If it's any clue, the first chapter of the book is titled "Whore in the Bedroom, Horticulturist in the Garden." The author is a man who is turned on by the dirty fingernails of his attractive landscape architect and compares a resident groundhog to Brigitte Bardot. Not exactly what I expected from a book about vegetable gardens. It's a quick read--give it a try!

*I'd like to explain while I was reading a book at work, but it's a really long story that begins with the 4th largest bank failure of 2009.

Signs of Spring

Ahhh...the signs of Spring. No, I'm not just referring to the Kleenex in my hand and the redness in my eyes. I'm talking about all of the color that has magically popped up around me. The green that has started peeking out of my brown lawn. The pinks and purples that are dotting many of the trees as I drive home from work. Even as an allergy sufferer, how can you not love this time of year??

Although it seems like I've put countless hours of labor and love into my yard, alas, it's only been two years and I don't have too much to show you at this point. But I know there are good things in store. Countless bluebonnets waiting to make their grand (at least to me!) appearance. The peach tree which will soon be full of lovely pink blooms. And the spring/summer vegetable garden that's beginning to take shape. Mostly in my mind. After all, it's barely mid-March and a late freeze could be ready to strike when I'm not paying attention. Expect to hear more about the veggies in a couple of weeks.

Until then, I'll leave you with a few shots of some of the happiness I'm finding in the yard.