Thursday, April 30, 2009
Basil is,by far,my favorite herb. My husband tried planting some in January. He kept saying "They said it couldn't be done!" But really it couldn't. Hah. It popped up but was bitten back by a few brief cold spells. But now, finally, we have basil all over the yard. There is never enough basil for me. Soon we will be making what I call Texas Pesto, using my neighbors free pecans in place of pine nuts. Yum! Pesto pizza, pesto sauce, pesto dip...
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Ok these are actually Maroon bonnets, but same difference. I pulled them out because I didn't really enjoy the color in the garden and hung them to dry a back corner of the garage. You can leave them to go to seed in the ground just as easily, probably easier, I was just done with them. But I am saving the seeds to pass on to others at a future seed exchange. We are letting our actual bluebonnets go to seed in the garden so they will hopefully reseed themselves in the same spot for next year.
So saving the seeds: they turn brown on the stem.
Then you will see the pods start to crack open on their own or you can crack them open. They should open very easily if they are ready. If its hard to open them or they are bending- they are not ready.
Pop open the pod and pull the seeds out.
Save and date em and ta da! You are done.
Poppies are the easiest seeds to save. After the flowers bloom and fall away, the little holes open up under the top the seed ball. Then you just turn them upside down and they fall out like a million little pieces of confetti. Bag them up, date them and you are good to go for next season.
The holes opening up.
Monday, April 27, 2009
So the sunflower fort is coming along. Finally. Here are my two favorite people testing it out. One "wall" has come in nicely. My husband convinced me the other wall should be part sunflowers, part tomatoes since we have a plethora of tomatoes growing and were running out of room to plant them. We put a few large rocks in the center for a play area. My daughter is obsessed with rocks. Saves on toy bills considerably. : )
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I have mixed feelings about soy beans. On the one hand, I have heard rumors of how the estrogen in soy can affect the body and I personally try to avoid eating excessive amounts of it. (But that is way beyond the scope of this blog and beyond any real knowledge I have of soy) On the other hand, edamame!
We are planting it mostly as a cover crop in areas we have intensively gardened the last few seasons to give the area a needed rest and a nitrogen boost.
Friday, April 24, 2009
I don't post often about flowers unless they are flowering edibles but we do have a few around just for show. I like this little patch of Larkspur and Pink Rockrose. The colors flow together. In many parts of our yard we put flowers in without a lot of planning or thought to color design. That is something I'd like to work on in the future, a more intentional, planned type of flower bed.
Hooray! Our first berries are starting to pop. I hope we get to eat them before the birds do. We planted these back in January when they just looked like sad sticks poking out of the ground. Its amazing to me how quickly they have turned into bushes. I spent many summers in my youth picking wild berries in upstate NY for pies. Yummmmm pies.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In honor of Earth Day- I'm going to share a personal dream of the Dirtiest Family in the World.
We hope to someday buy some land near Austin and set up an organic farm. Maybe build a straw bale house with some solar panels and raise more than 3 chickens. I am a social worker by trade and passion and would continue with that work while my husband farmed the land with our favorite little helper. (She already weeds nut grass- its in her genes.) We could live simply, treading lightly on the earth and enjoy the company of our favorite people.
Now if this is a dream that will be realized in 2 years, 5 years or 15 years- I don't know yet. But dream a little Earth Day dream with me.
And we will be calling on you for a good old fashioned barn raising. We know how to throw a hoedown.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I bought these heirloom Lemon Cucumber seeds from Baker Creek Seeds which we have not used before. The website says they have the largest selection of heirloom seeds in America.(rareseeds.com) Who knew? I just picked them out because they were new to my favorite nursery and I like experimenting with different things. I also have never had lemon cucumbers before. The picture on the seed package shows them as cucumber balls. I'm excited to see what we get.
There is something so satisfying about growing food from seeds. I've found it much more satisfying then growing anything from a transplant. There is still a touch of magic to the whole event.
Monday, April 20, 2009
It is the complete wrong time to grow pumpkins in South Texas. But we are growing them as a living ground cover to keep some moisture in our dry soil. And guess what? Some pumpkins are actually starting to grow! I wonder if they will make it. Sometimes you just need to believe.
Linus: He'll come here because I have the most sincere pumpkin patch and he respects sincerity.
Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wow! That's a much better photo of some simple Bougainvillea than I've seen on this sorry blog before you say to yourself. Now this next part is embarrassing. My beautiful friend Ellie sent me an email which informed me that my camera has a special flower feature on it for taking digital photos of plants. I'm pretty sure she knows this only because her boyfriend is a professional photographer and not because 99.9% of all normal people know this. So if you are one of the few, the proud, the oblivious-like me- you can find it on your camera too. Mine is listed under the super secretive title of foliage with a graphic of a flower. How would anyone have known?? Hopefully my photos will be a little nicer from here on out. = )
As for the Bougainvillea- ours was growing over the water meter-which is a great cover for an unsightly meter- not so great for the meter reader who is getting stabbed with Bougainvillea thorns. So we now have it tied to a near-by fence and with pruning hope to convince it to grow over the side and spill down the back.
The birdies are building a nest above our electric box! Not the safest real estate in town- but clearly visible and highly enjoyable from our dinning room window. I know very little about the local birds in our backyard. I think the only two I can easily identify by sight are the cardinals and the hawks. (oh yeah and the chickens) I think its time to hit the library for some bird books.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Some of our zucchini plants have what appears to be powdery mildew. Boo. I found a solution recommended in a book entitled Growing Fruits and Vegetables Organically that is 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and few drops of gentle dishwashing liquid. Its more of a preventative spray but can also be used for lighter cases of fungus. You have to reapply after a rain or heavy watering. If it doesn't work- we might just pull out the few plants it has affected.
EDITED: My mother-in-law who is the brains behind the brains of this operation says she doesn't think this is powdery mildew because it would have killed the leaf or be killing the leaf. It doesn't really seem to be bothering the plant. It most likely is a fungus because it rubs off and is not embedded into the leaf. Maybe the leaves aren't dying because of the spray? Anyone have any idea what it is? Let us know.
Friday, April 17, 2009
April 20-26th is national turn off week where people are encouraged to turn off their TVs and, dare I say it, internet and get on with life. I'm not yet prepared to go the whole week without internet but I'm thinking a Monday, Weds, Friday, Sunday break might be nice. In San Antonio, its FIESTA! so it shouldn't be hard to find activities to entertain the family. But you can also host a potluck or game night or something that suits the people you know. Find a new community, meet a neighbor, or you know- work in your garden a few extra hours.
If you are looking to start sooner- tomorrow is the new Farmers Market from 9-1 and a fun Earth Day celebration at Woodlawn Park from 10-4. Last year we got a bunch of free seeds there!
Hope you enjoy a piece of a simpler time.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
So I had a request for more photos of the whole veggie garden. Here are a few. In the top photo you can see the dwarf peach tree in the bottom left corner, then zucchini, corn, pumpkins, marigolds, a row of dill, a crazy bean tripod my husband rigged on near the top far right, a real eagle eye could see my daughter tormenting the chickens in the very back.
This is the garden view from the other side, chard, artichoke, onions, herbs, and lemon cucumbers under the white trellis.
Right in front of the chicken tractor you can see the little orange tree and the established tree further back is the lemon tree. In the front is another view of the herbs and artichoke. You can also see our rain barrels. We are planting lilies in front to eventually cover them up a bit.
Here's a side view of about half- you can see the strawberries in front. We also started mulching some of the paths. Last week I rang a neighbors doorbell and asked if they used chemicals on their lawn because they had a bunch of bagged leaves on the curb. What with the chickens, and walking my dog wearing my baby and inquiring about lawn practices before taking "trash"- I don't think I can get weirder to my neighbors.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
For my first mothers day, my beautiful mother-in-law gave me this beautiful rose from the Antique Rose Emporium (http://www.antiqueroseemporium.com/.) It is called Miss Dudley Cross and it is perfect for mothers of little ones because it doesn't have much of a thorn. We have it planted in a large pot because we want to be able to move it wherever we move. Thank you Miss Dudley- wherever you are.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I heard about The Great Sunflower Project from another garden blog www.worldofyardcraft.com/blog.
You may have heard about the population of bees collapsing in recent years. They are now trying to study this phenomenon in urban gardens, and environments.
If you go to The Great Sunflower Project: http://www.greatsunflower.org/- you sign up and they send you a free packet of sunflower seeds. You plant the seeds, and fill out a short questionnaire online about your garden space, which can be as small as pots on a porch. Then when the plants have grown (watch out for birds!) you go out to your spot and document how much time it takes for 5 bees land on your flowers.
Free seeds and the chance to do scientific garden research for the good of us all.
“Once we identify where bees need help, we can start improving their habitats!”
All the cool kids are doing it- you know you want to: http://www.greatsunflower.org/.
I should warn you the website is a bit slow but worth it.
Monday, April 13, 2009
This morning I realized we weren't the only ones who had noticed the monster artichoke. I saw a bright red lady bug. I happily pointed it out to munchkin. But then I saw another and another. Aw shoot- I knew what was coming next. I flipped over some of the smaller new growth leaves and there they were. Black aphids.
But then I realized it was the perfect excuse to buy more lady bugs. Which my daughter and I love doing. We went to Shades of Green (www.shadesofgreensa.com) and picked up a bag of 1,700. You put them in the fridge and release them either early morning or dusk. Before you release them water the plant(s) you need the pest control on. Water the leaves and the ground well. The bugs are going to be thirsty and will stay on your plant if they have enough water and aphids to eat. After they have eaten what is there to be eaten, some will stay in your garden to fall asleep and some will fly on. This evening at dusk I released about 1/3 of the bag. I'm saving the rest so my daughter and I can enjoy them tomorrow. My husband informed me that the first step could have been to just pressure spray water on them which would remove most, if not all, of the aphids and that they have a difficult time returning to the plant. So since you need to water regardless you might want to start and end there...but then again what fun would that be?