Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm only happy when it rains

"Baby Got Rain" -- an ode to El Niño
(sung to the melody of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back")

I like rain storms and I can not lie
You other gardeners can't deny
that when clouds roll in over heat-scorched waste
sprayin' rain drops in your face,
seeds get sprung! Wanna push up dirt
cuz they know those clouds are stuffed
heavy with the rain that they’re carrying
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring

El Niño I wanna get with ya
and take your picture
My weatherman tried to warn me
but that rain you got
make me so happy

Ooh, rumbling thundering
You say you wanna get in my beds?
Well then fall, rain, fall,
'Cause you ain't that average squall
Baby got rain!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grow your own...cigarettes?

Sales of tobacco seeds are booming, and it's not about the flowers. There's a story on Current today about how some smokers, fed up with taxes and the rising cost of cigarettes, are growing their own tobacco in ever-larger numbers. Read all about it here. The article quotes a price of $5 a pack for cigarettes. A smoking friend of mine says she pays $7 for a pack of organic, chemical-free American Spirit cigarettes. At those prices, I can see where a smoker would be tempted to turn their backyard into a miniature tobacco plantation...not to mention the heady scent of those glorious flowers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I LURVE this idea.

I don't usually post direct links to entries on other gardening blogs as the sole content of a post, but today's Garden Rant blog entry about shopping cart gardens struck such a chord, I felt compelled to share it with all of you. Check out the post and the concept here.

Then consider this a challenge to all who read this. If there is an abandoned shopping cart in your vicinity, I Texas-double-dog-dare you to turn it into a shopping garden as described on the aforementioned link, take a picture of it and post it to your blog, then come back and link to to your post here (use the tag shopping cart garden to find this post). (It's really unfortunate that Blogger does not support TrackBack.)

Oh but I can't WAIT to find an abandoned shopping cart.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day at the Natural Gardener

Since nothing's blooming in my garden that you all haven't seen 100 times before, I'm posting pics from yesterday's field trip to John Dromgoole's Austin nursery, the Natural Gardener, where I attended an Organic Gardening 101 class. Meredith from Great Stems was kind enough to drive me to the class in her nifty hybrid; upon our arrival, we met up almost immediately with Cat of AmLo Farms. The class was held in a shady section of the orchard and herb garden.

At least 200 people attended: many, many more than I'd expected.

Rosina Newton, horticulturist at The Natural Gardener for the past 12 years, gave the presentation. The class was nearly an hour and a half long and covered everything from site selection to harvesting, including a hands-on demonstration of preparing a raised bed.

The class was right near the garden demonstration area, so it was easy to stroll around while listening to the presentation. I desperately need some of these hoop houses over my raised beds. Jack promised he'd help me build some.

They seem insanely easy to build. You install rebar spikes on either side of the bed, 2 feet apart, with half the spike buried in the dirt and the other half sticking up above ground. Flexible PVC pipe (diameter a bit larger than the rebar) goes on top of the rebar and arches over the bed. Then you cover the arches with (depending on the season) shade cloth or floating row cover, anchor it down with clamps or rocks or what have you, and voila: protection from pests and unrelenting sun or frost.

Look at these gigantic okra. They must have been a foot long. They'd make one heck of a jar of okra pickles!

Dromgoole's herb garden is going strong despite the drought and the heat. 3551herbs

Throughout the nursery, the grounds are chock full of gardens. Check out the swing on the left! Wee!

I love this combination of trailing rosemary, blue salvia and hot pink portulaca.

There's even a babbling brook, surrounded by agave and native grasses.

When the class was over, we went shopping. The class was free and everyone received a 10% coupon for attending. All the plants were 30% off, so I had to get another purple fountain grass plant (Jack loves them), a rock rose and a Mexican oregano. I used the coupon on Renee's Garden seeds (baby spinach and green beans). I'm proud to say that I planted everything I bought today. (P.S. The plant sale is going on through August 20.)

As I wandered down the Xeric Plants aisle, this little fellow fluttered over, right on cue. Hmmm, I wonder if he's on staff?

The Natural Gardener's staff members are all so helpful, willing to answer any question, and Dromgoole's Lady Bug garden products are second to none. The Natural Gardener offers a variety of garden soils, composts and mulches, and brews and sells compost tea.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable gardener's outing, and it was great to meet two awesome Austin garden bloggers. I knew some of the material presented during the class (yay me) but learned some new tips as well, and got oodles of helpful handouts. After next weekend's Master Gardener public class on the same subject, I should have all the information I need to make my fall garden a blooming success.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stage 2 Water Restrictions are coming to Austin

The following information is from the City of Austin Water Conservation website. Looks like it's back to hand watering for me on Wednesdays. If you think this is bad, it could be worse: Kerrville went to Stage 3 restrictions in the first week of August, and closed the city pool.

Austin's Stage 2 Water Use Restrictions

The City Manager has determined that Stage 2 Water Restrictions will go into effect on Monday, August 24, 2009. These restrictions will be in effect until further notice.

In Stage 2, the following additional restrictions apply to the use of potable water:

* Outdoor irrigation is prohibited except on assigned days at designated times (see once-per-week schedule below)
* Golf fairway irrigation is limited to assigned days before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
* Golf tee and green irrigation is limited to every other day
* Vehicle washing is limited to designated days and times, with a hand-held bucket or a positive shut-off nozzle on a hose*
* A person may not conduct or participate in a charity car wash
* The use of outdoor ornamental fountains is prohibited except to provide aeration for aquatic life
* A person may not fill, refill, or add water to an indoor fountain
* No automatic fill valves are allowed for pools or ponds
* Washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, patios or other paved surfaces is prohibited*
* A restaurant may not serve water to a customer unless requested by the customer

Outdoor Watering Days
Odd-numbered addresses on Tuesday
Even-numbered addresses on Friday
Odd-numbered addresses on Saturday
Even-numbered addresses on Sunday

Outdoor Watering Times
Automatic Systems: Before 10 a.m.
Hose-end Sprinklers, Soaker Hoses, Drip Irrigation: Before 10 a.m. and/or after 7 p.m.
By Hand: Any time on any day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gardening Gone Wild - Down On Your Knees

Gray hairstreak near blackfoot daisies

This is my entry for this month's Gardening Gone Wild contest: a call for garden pictures taken from knee level or lower. My picture is of a tiny gray hairstreak on a tiny leaf (about the size of a blade of grass) in a patch of tiny blackfoot daisies. This shot was taken at roughly ankle-level.

Good luck to everyone who enters!

Wordless Wednesday

plumbago, originally uploaded by caroline homer.