"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress and keep it". Genesis 2:15

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Update - Rain!

This has been a very hot, dry summer. After a more than unusually cool and wet spring, a late planting of the garden, then early hot dry weather, this year the garden has barely hung on and not produced a whole lot. Now that our fall rain has finally started I am looking to the fall garden to make up for the loss. After no rain for a couple of months, we finally had rain last week - 6 torrential inches in a few hours time! The one road going East out of town was flooded and closed down which meant going around a long way either North or South to get out.

This ditch in front of our house is 20 feet across. The water is really moving fast. Imagine what probably happened to the lettuce seeds that I had just planted out back in the garden!

This pretty little vine is Malabar Spinach. It is an edible perennial. I am very interested in anything that is perennial and edible, and I just read somewhere that Swiss Chard was a perennial! I am very interested in finding out if this is true. Wouldn't it be great if you only had to plant a vegetable garden once?

New growth on roses.

Spider Lilies coming up. I hope to eventually have a lot of these.

Crepe Myrtle Still blooming.

Its a small thing, but, hey, anything that will bloom this time of year is all right with me.

Day lilies this year put on a poor show. I am hoping that a good fertilizing in October will help for next year. But wait did I say that these bloom in the FALL like clockwork every July 23rd? I love them.

Turk's cap in full bloom. We see a hummingbird in these every day. They are right out side the dining room window and I can see them from my seat.

Pyracantha, otherwise know as fire thorn. The great thing is that you have to actually be allergic to them for the thorns to bother you, and I'm not. I love anything that blooms in the fall and has berries! Robins love these. This shrub has gotten so over grown that a major pruning is due once the berries fall in the winter, something I don't look forward to as, even though I am not allergic, thorns are still thorns! How will I protect the trash men from these?

My one annual plant is responding well to the rain. I am usually too lazy to plant annuals - Thanks for Giving me this Gail!

Shot of the pitiful garden. You can see squash on the left, broccoli, swiss chard, rocket and kale left over from spring on the right, tomatoes and peppers looking worse for ware, Okra going strong.

Other side of the garden. Lima beans, peppers, tomatoes and okra and a cucumber plant that so far has given us one tiny cucumber.

One morning after the rain I found a bunch of prints on the ground around the overflow to the rain barrels. I found cat, dog (we don't own a dog) and strange large bird prints. I mean a really large one legged bird! I don't know what it was, but it looked like the cat chased the bird up the tree!? Weird. There was also evidence that some creature, probably a possum, was digging in the vegetable garden for grubs. It must have been an interesting night out there!

What I planted so far this month: butternut squash, deluxe baby lettuce mix, spinach, swiss chard. I am hoping that my tomatoes and peppers will begin producing again and that the broccoli will also produce something.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

August Pictures

Black-eyed Susans and Purple Cone Flowers
You can see how much the grasshoppers have devoured the Irises.

A lonely Rose of Sharron. 
This summer was so hot and dry that nothing really bloomed spectacularly.

Turks cap just beginning to bloom.
Hummingbirds love these.

Rain Lilies

There were at least ten of these cabbage butterflies feeding at the blooming oregano at once. I know I should "hate" these, but they have such a twinkly cheerful way of flitting around the garden. I took dozens of pictures but nothing did them credit.

More Cabbage butterflies.

I canned some pickled okra and banana peppers. 
It was really easy because you packed the jars with all the ingredients and seasonings, then poured boiling vinegar over them. Then just seal and boil in a water bath for ten minutes. Simple and uncomplicated, plus you can do a few jars at a time as you get the produce from your garden. Each jar has either okra or banana peppers, or both, a clove of garlic, a hot chili pepper, salt and dill seed. We have already tried these and they are good.

In August I planted more Lima beans and more squash. So far no stink bugs.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Always Learning New Things

Today I was alternately grossed out and charmed by nature and learned a few new things along the way too.

First the gross stuff. Well part of it is interesting. We have this humongous garden spider that has made a web near the side entrance door. Anna has named it Allie. We have been watching it get bigger and bigger.  We have watched her capture and eat a June bug or two, and yesterday Anna fed her a great big Tomato Horn Worm.

This is Allie. She is an Argiope aurantia and is about 4 inches long right now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Bugs Bite Back, Weeds held in Check

This year has been a real battle against bugs. 

Last year I had a battle with cucumber beetles. They devastated squash and cucumber seedlings and spread disease in the garden. I made some changes to a few things and so far this year I have seen very few cucumber beetles.

First of all I covered all of my seedlings with fine row covers. This protected all my crops form cucumber beetles as well as from all kinds of caterpillars, and it really reduced aphid problems. Covers can be left on indefinitely for plants that don't need to be pollinated. The only thing I don't like about them is that it is more trouble to check your plants to see how they are doing. I like to check things everyday. To get around that I want to make some kind of hoop system that can be lifted up easily for checking plants.

My squash grew like gang busters under the row covers and did fine for a while after I uncovered them for pollination. Unfortunately last week I discovered hundreds of stink bus on my squash plants! These bugs can quickly kill a plant as tender as squash. I wasted lots of time trying to find some organic way to kill them (being a little squeamish about touching the stinky things) but nothing worked. Finally we resorted to hand picking and squashing the bugs (with gloves on.) The bugs have managed to kill two thirds of my squash plants and so far we have had no harvest. 
: (

This plot shows all that is left of once tall healthy, lush squash plants.

Friday, June 18, 2010

May Update

I see that I am very behind with my posts. This post will show what we were up to in May. The early spring flowers are gone, but now my day lilies are blooming.

Orange Day Lilies

Yellow Day Lilies

Plum Day lily

Gulf Coast Penstemon amongst the Louisiana Iris. This lovely little plant will rebloom for a long time if you cut the dead flowers.

Purple Coneflowers starting up.

Pomegranate Blossoms

Blackberry bush. I am buying three more of these in the Fall.

Figs are finally producing and the peach tree is also doing well so far this year.

The vegetable garden has not done so well so far do to the wet cold Spring weather, but we did get onions and garlic out in May along with greens and a little broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts.

A wheelbarrow full of onions.

Onion Braids in Pantry. I braid these with a string in one of the leaf bundles for strength. then I use the string to tie off the top and hang up the braid. This many onions wont last long around here.

Garlic harvest. This is my first year to grow garlic. It was super easy and fun to see a few bulbs multiply into many.

Some things harvested from the herbal tea garden. In the bowl chamomile, lavender, and borage blossoms. In front of the bowl chocolate mint and pineapple mint, beside the bowl is stevia, and on the end is some dill which a child accidentally "weeded". The dill made a delicious tarter sauce and the herbs made a lovely tea.

A funny thing about the tarter sauce, Claire wouldn't eat it because she said she did not want her fish to taste like pickles!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to Train a Spider

I have always had the utmost respect for spiders. My Dad taught me that it was unlucky to kill spiders and as a kid I really believed it. I once had a dream that a legion of spiders were crawling up onto my bed while I slept, to get their revenge for a poor brother of theirs that I had killed - although I hadn't! Honestly!

I don't believe in lucky any more but I have kept my respect of spiders, and we never kill them at our house. So what do you do with a spider that makes a huge web right over your front door every night for instance? What I do is train the spider to make its web somewhere else.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Pictures

Grape Hyacinths and Daffodils

Peach Blossoms

Look at the shape of this snow on the pots!

Bumblebee on Red Bud Blossom

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Room With a View

This is currently the view from the window right by my computer desk. My desk looks out over a short walk that goes from the side door to the back yard gate. It is a small area but I have planted things here that give me three seasons of bloom and a nice view whenever I am at my desk. Even in winter the Irises, walk, fence and gate look nice.

One landscaping principle that I am trying to follow is to make your garden as pretty when viewed from inside the house as it is when viewed from the street. Make something interesting and pleasing to look at from every window you spend a good length of time looking out of. Site your bird feeder where you can see it out the window from your place at the dining room table, and you wont miss seeing your bird friends visit. 

I have a pretty view of the front garden from my favorite reading chair in the living room. Our bird feeder can be seen from one dining room window and also from the window over the kitchen sink. The humming bird feeder is right outside the other dining room window, close enough for plenty of opportunities to see the hummingbirds that visit.

Nothing lifts my spirits like seeing the beauty of a flower. So my final advice is to put a pot of pretty flowers right outside the door you go in and out of the most. In the summer try a big pot of petunias and in the winter you can have a pot of pansies. That way whenever you go out about your business your flowers will give you something to smile about.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I recently had some fun watching the interactions of some Bumblebees and Honey bees in my two Red Bud trees. In the smaller tree the Honey bees appeared to be trying to chase off, unsuccessfully, the larger Bumblebees. In the larger tree the bees just ignored each other.

Since I took these pictures with a small point and shoot digital camera I had to get within inches of the bees to get the pictures. I knew they would just ignore me, but it made me jumpy anyway.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Birdie Story

This morning I was inspired to take another picture of this lovely pair - the Texas Red Bud and the white Daffodils - because they looked even prettier than a few days ago. The morning sun was making everything sparkle and shine so beautifully. I really wanted to capture the moment, but alas I am a terrible photographer. I point and click and hope for the best. Nothing ever looks as beautiful in the photograph as it did in my eyes.

Anyway, I took the picture, and was hoping for the best, when in flew a little Bedwrick's Wren wondering why I was standing so close to his birdhouse. I never expected birds to nest in these birdhouses. They are just for decoration really, they are too close to the house and the cats, but, for reasons known only to Wrens, the Wren chose the old dilapidate birdhouse closest to the Red Bud. We had provided a new certified Wren house (they have a tiny opening that keeps out Sparrows) in another, safer area of the yard, but the Wren has nested for four years now in the birdhouse that a squirrel chewed a very large opening in. The entrance hole is big enough to put your entire fist in. The cats could easily get these birds, especially as the Wren makes such a conspicuous production about protecting his nest, but somehow they survive. I have the privilege of watching this spectacle from the window you see in the picture. My desk sits right behind it.

Meanwhile, looking out the opposite window from the dining room, I see that the sparrows have been driven crazy trying to get into the wren house! It has stayed empty all this time, but every year a male sparrow will chose it and vainly sit calling out for a love to come inspect his chosen home. The sparrows cant get inside. The birdhouse is wedged up into a corner near the roof of the porch, so there is a little bitty space too small for a sparrow to stand up in on top of it and a little bitty space in the corner behind it. 

The male sits outside our dining room window calling and calling. The females come and look. They try to get in and can't. They try out the little bitty space on top, and with difficulty wedge themselves behind it. They reject it. This is our dining room dinner hour drama.

Well, I thought to myself recently, "You know I am tired of watching all this disappointment. I am sort of anti English Sparrow, but I can't take this poor male sparrow's frustration any longer. Wouldn't it be better for some bird to use the house if the Wrens wont? It would be kinda fun to watch, even if it is just sparrows." So, Garry got out the hole saw and sawed a bigger hole in the Wren (now sparrow) house, and the hapless male sparrow now has a lady love to share his home with. (It is fun to watch too.)

Back to the Wren that flew into my picture. Of course I panicked! I took a very crooked picture where the Wren is all blurry. He is hopping all over the Red Bud giving me a look. I am franticly fumbling with the camera, chanting ZOOM ZOOM dumb camera! but I did manage to get a picture of him even if it isn't the best. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Spring Flowers


Dandy Lions are the first flowers bees find in the spring and are very important for that reason. The low growing pretty ones like this I like to leave, but I chop the tall ugly purple ones.

Peach blossoms

Front walk. The purple flowers are grape hyacinth. I bought 50 bulbs wholesale and they have really filled in.

White daffodils under a baby Red-bud Tree. This is the tree that I kept having to save from the wood ants last summer.

Wild grape hyacinths under the peach tree in the front yard.

I planted one hundred day lilies and one hundred daffodils that I bought wholesale under the two Red Oak trees. The day lilies are doing great, but only 40 daffodils came up and bloomed this year. The daffodils come up first and bloom, then as their foliage dies they are hidden by the day lilies as they grow. The idea works well, but I did not buy the right kind of daffodils for Texas.

Grandmother's Iris blooming under another Red Bud tree. This is always the first iris to bloom. The rest of the flower bed looks pretty bare, but lots of things are sprouting up and soon it will be full.

Red Bud Blooms