Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Busy day on the back 40 (feet)

Today I did the following garden chores:
* Cut down the trash tree seedlings the birds planted along the fence line
* Hauled the brush and old cosmos sticks out to the street (city pickup is this week)
* Mowed down the grass in the zinnia bed
* Loaded up the bird feeder
* Turned the compost bin (it's working! the kitchen waste is turning into compost!)
* Planted a six-foot row of yellow Granex onions
* Planted more Danvers 126 carrots

After this week's rains, everything looks happier. The rain gauge was up to three inches on Thursday morning, but got knocked over Thursday night. On Friday, we got two inches more.
Rain gauge
I'm not exactly sure how many inches we got, but obviously we got enough to turn the Fairy rose and columbine leaves yellow, and sprout a bunch of weed seeds.

Here we have a plethora of lettuces. These little babies made it through our recent freeze just fine, thanks to pine straw mulch and floating row cover.
A plethora of lettuces
Front to back: baby oakleaf from Seed Savers Exchange, Simpson Elite from Livingston Seed, "Crispy Winter Greens" mix from Renee's Garden and "Q's Special Medley" mesclun mix from Botanical Interests.

These baby Catalina spinach seedlings survived the 17° F temps, too!
Now I'm dreaming of spinach salads and sauteed spinach with garlic.
Catalina baby spinach seedlings

The Swiss chard is rising from the soil, like a phoenix from the ashes.
Swiss chard, rising like the phoenix

The Packman broccoli is coming along; this head is the size of a half dollar.
Baby broccoli

Still no sign of the Snowball cauliflower, though. They're growing in the same conditions as the broccoli; same Hill Country Garden Soil, same Ladybug organic fertilizer, same water, same pine straw mulch; not sure what the problem is.
Snowball, where are you?

I planted a few herbs in cinder blocks right outside the back door. Here we have dill and cilantro; the parsley and chives haven't come up yet.
Cinder block herb garden

They say that onions and strawberries are good companion plants. I'm putting that old wives' tale to the test! These are bunching onions from Dromgoole's. I planted the yellow Granex onions in this same bed.
Companion plants: onions & strawberries


Overall, I feel MUCH better about the garden this week than I did last week.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-Up: January 2010

Greetings! Here's an assortment of random foliage shots from my winter garden.

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A lone dwarf pomegranate fruit, frozen and dried on the tree.

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A Texas red oak, stubbornly holding on to all its bottom leaves. The top leaves fell off during the recent rain.

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"Red Carpet" sedum, nestled close to the stones outlining the front stone path. The largest rosette is no bigger than a dime.

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Unidentified sedum (probably S. hispanicum) and elfin thyme, both even tinier than the "Red Carpet" sedum above.

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Bare stems of "Indigo Spires" salvia. The green leaves near the base of the plant give me hope it will return in the spring.

Thanks to Pam at the ultimate Austin garden blog, "Digging", for hosting Foliage Follow-Up, on the 16th of every month, the day after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Click on the link to take a peek at the fantastic colors of her “Sticks on Fire” euphorbia and purple “Santa Rita” prickly pear.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - January 2010

African violet

My one and only blooming plant this GBBD is a relatively nondescript pink African violet that I purchased from a grocery store about 7 years ago, maybe more. It was the only survivor of a grand repotting effort last year. It thrives on a mixture of indirect light from the north-facing kitchen window and a fluorescent strip light above the sink. It's in a self-watering pot. I feed it Schultz African violet food (when I remember). It's nothing particularly special or rare. But I do like its ruffled flower petals--they sparkle like a pastry chef's sugar flowers.

It's not a garden bloom, technically, but Carol at May Dreams Gardens says all blooms count on GBBD, and Carol's the one that thunk up GBBD, so there! Visit her site and find out what else is blooming today.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Surviving the cold

Just before the coldest temps hit on Friday night, I ran out and harvested the rest of the fall greens (in the dark, with a lantern). These greens are considered semi-hardy: they can tolerate a dip into the upper 20s, but go floppy at temperatures below that. 5216
From left to right: collard greens, bok choy, Swiss chard, and a few Easter Egg radishes.

On Saturday morning, it was bright and sunny, but COLD. Despite the bright sun, temperatures remained below freezing until nearly noon. I caught this squirrel licking ice at the bottom of the bird bath. Silly squirrel. I went out and filled the bird bath with warm water, but he didn't return. Guess he didn't want to get his feets wet.
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The lengths I go to, babying my lime trees--rope lights and a clip light with a 60 watt bulb provide heat beneath a scaffold of tomato cages, covered with floating row cover that allegedly provides 4 to 6 degrees of protection. I've had this Bearss lime tree about three years; it flowered for the first time last year, but bore no fruit.
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A Mexican key lime gets the same treatment. This four-year-old tree has borne a few delicious limes, but not as many as it's capable of. The drought has not been kind to citrus.
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I watered both trees Saturday morning. We were supposed to get rain last Wednesday, but it never came.

The fall veggies are hanging in there. I'm most concerned about the broccoli (in the shady section in the back of this photo); the leaves are looking a bit floppy. The cauliflower (front), Brussels sprouts (left) and cabbage (top) look less floppy. However, I see no sign of a cauliflower head or Brussels sprout, and some bug is nibbling at the cabbage. I should have planted these much earlier, but my broken hand did not allow it. Live and learn.
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Turnips and beets are looking good.
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Other things that are looking good (not pictured): roses (all), autumn sage, Gulf muhly, lamb's ear, Bath's pink dianthus, Pringle's bee balm, freesia, saffron crocus. Not that any of these are blooming, no, but the foliage is intact. The sedums and buddleia look fine, too. Anything that can make it through a drought, 107° fall temps and 17° winter temps is, in my opinion, a proven winner, and I will be planting more.

Things should be warming up and getting wetter this week, hooray!
Garden, "You're gonna make it after all!"
MTM hat toss

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's official: it's not a Whale's Tongue agave

Whale's Tongue agaves don't make pups.
Agave pup
I like the agave, but it's not what I thought I was buying. I wonder what type of agave it is. I hope it doesn't get ginormous...