Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Garden Shed

This is my "new" garden shed.  It's not new, new... I have had it since fall, just slipped my mind.  It's a rustic pine armorie that I weather proofed using Thompson's Water seal, and added Galvanized metal to the roof. 
It looks a lot better than having the "necessities" laying around.  Spare extension cords, oil, gas, pruners, sprayers, etc all fit nicely. 
Both top and bottom cabinet have shelves, and the drawers are nice spots for gloves and weed eater string. 
Because it is nice to look at it doesn't look out of place sitting right of the dining area, and if we were to have a garden party, it could easily be converted into a wine bar, or a place to keep plates and cutlery. 
You have to be creative about an items use. This once housed a TV, and now it has a much more important function.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Peaches, Peaches peaches...

So much work so little satisfaction.  We have 4 peach trees with Delicious fruits...unfortunately the Plum Curculio (PC) agrees.  It has been a thorn in my side for years.
What is a Plum Curculio?  It's a tiny beetle only about 1/4n long.  The beetle itself is not the problem.  It's the larvae.  Well the beetle is a problem, but the larvae....aaaargh... that is a PROBLEM.  The larvae, also referred to as "the worm" is a whitish grub like creature with a brown head.  You find a nice big peach, pick it and take a bite....Then in the flesh you see the worm, you spit out the bite and try to spit out anything else and gag.  So for years of battling this problem, this is the final straw.  If we can not get some control over these pesky pests this year, I am giving up on peaches. 
It is not only peaches and plums it affects.  It likes all the stone fruits.  peach, plum, apple, cherry, apricot, pear, quince...etc...etc. 
In trying to keep the yard organic, don't want any pesticides to harm wildlife, pets or people, we went to the Natural Gardener in hopes to FINALLY find the solution. 
We were advised of a spraying schedule, and hopefully this will be the year we can eat peaches fresh from the tree!!!
We started of with Beneficial Nematodes.  They are in ground warriors, that are supposed to hunt down and brutally kill bad bugs, not only the Plum Curculio, but also fleas, fire-ants, grubs, etc...
We sprayed them twice, one week apart.  Once after rain, and once before it rained.  I really hope they are planning a brutal war down in the soil....
Then after leaf drop on the trees, but before flowering  a dormant oil was sprayed on all the fruit trees in the yard.  That is a very short window here in Central TX, since at least my peaches start blooming mid-February.   Peaches, Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Plums were sprayed, every inch of the trees drenched in the solution.  War against "the Worm" is on.  I got 4 sprays in, timed roughly 10 days apart using Hi-Yield Dormant oil. 
Also in late winter/early spring when buds are forming and the tree start flowering, it is very helpful to take a hammer to the tree.  Not literally, but place some sheets under the tree surrounding the trunk.  Then hit the trunk with a mallet. Be careful and don't damage the tree.  The point is to knock the beasts down from the tree and onto the sheets, then submerge the sheets with the enemy in soapy water until they die.  I will do this weekly until every peach is picked off the tree.  Since I have never had any issues with the PC on any other fruit trees, I will not hammer any other trees.

It is also CRUCIAL to not toss damaged fruit on the ground, or let fallen peaches stay.  Eliminating "the Worm's" chance to scoot back into the soil and become adult is very important.  Diligence and patience is the only things that can get you the upper hand with these bugs. 

Now, it it stops raining anytime soon it is time to spray again.  Hopefully the forecast is correct and by tomorrow afternoon the rain is out of the area.  Don't get me wrong, we need the rain, still ...desperately....but that doesn't change the fact that I really don't like rain.  Especially when it keeps on going for days.
This time the spray will be tree specific, namely spraying at petal fall or when roughly 75% of the flower petals have fallen off the tree.  Then again at chuck split. The Chuck is the paper like covering of the baby fruit. 

I will also check the foliage for adult PC in the summer, though I am sure they will feed, and spray accordingly. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Some March Bloomers

Tangerine Beauty ... I keep forgetting I even have this plant.  Besides it's bloom time it is not showy at all...Though every spring I am reminded about this beauty

Hydrangeas... Even though my area is less than ideal for growing them, I have such a fascination.  Also if planted in pots they seem to do good, though I have had 0 success in the ground

Cold and rain

hyacinth bloom, yes they grow in TX

Yesterday the temperature fell 19 degrees within one hour, and left us with this cold and rainy mess.  Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.  We NEED the rain...still...desperately...but the cold.  Could definitely do without the cold.  Up til yesterday spring was here.  I guess spring is still here, just a lot colder and wetter.  This is an inside gardening day.  Or trying to resist temptation and make some additional orders.  I prefer mail order bulbs, not  plants.  There is something so special about digging a hole, placing a bulb in it and cover it with soil.  Then as the days go by I walk by and check with an eager anticipation, then one day I see some green...
From that point on it grows daily. Bigger and bigger... then a bud forms and then the reward.  A stunning bloom.  Sigh... that is the reason I love bulbs.  Even though I have heard stories that hyacinths don't come back in TX, I still bought 1 bulb in 2008.  Every February it comes back, its has even multiplied.  From that 1 bulb I planted, I now have 3. Not a great yield, but for a bulb that wasn't supposed to come back at all, I am impressed.  My problem is that by late march, the foliage has  died down, and I forget about it.  Maybe this will be the year I remember to buy more bulbs and plant them.  If not, I'll start seeing you again in January my friend

Garden Amaryllis

I love amaryllis.  When that bloom stalk first start to grow.  Oh how excited I get.  I will check on it twice a day in anticipation.  They take a few days and then they look like the picture.  Ready to burst.  These are new this year, and it is always a thrill to see if they are true to the color they were supposed to be.  These two are supposed to be red and white.  I also got a pink one this year.  OK I will buy a pink one every year in hopes that one will actually come up as pink.  They are usually red, though I have had a mostly white one as well.  Another surprise about the mystery amaryllis bulbs is the flower stalk.  I have some tall ones some medium ones, and I also have some that are pretty much blooming on the ground. These seem to be medium-tall.  Can't wait for them to open!!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seeds Update.

No sprouts in either of the Delphinium 3L bottles.  This is probably the last time I will try growing them since I have never even seen a sprout.  Ever.

On the 24 pack marked Nasties.
All 6 cells with Balsam, Kaos Mix have sprouted, as well as one Lipstick Pink Nastrium and one  Fordhook Fave Nastrium.  Very disappointed with the Nasties,  they can be a bit finicky here because of our uncertain spring weather.  I probably started them way to late.

The Flat with calendula is doing good, the first seedlings to emerge were the KG variety with the "designer" ones almost a week later. 

Alyssym Flasts KG'12
Unfortunately the flat marked Purple Rounds got flooded.  It completely slipped my mind to bring the flat back into the greenhouse, and several inches of rain later I remembered but it was already flooded as the winds had blown the clear plastic top off.  I did get 5 Millet seedlings so far, other might be hope.
I have however decided that the Jiffy peat pellets I don't like.  Seems like the seeds started in regular seedling mix or the ones using the Burpee pellets are doing much much better.  That's really a bummer because for the first time in years I had been able to  find the Jiffy pellets locally in the smaller size that fits the 72 cell flats. 
All the Alyssum seedlings have been thinned and transplanted to bigger pots.  They are just about ready to go into the garden.  They have also had several watering's with a seaweed mixture.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Texas Mountain Laurel

Spring is here!  That's right... For me spring starts with Mountain Laurels.  The sweet grape cool-aid smell that perfumes the air ...that is the smell of spring.  The flowers, purple flower clusters look so fresh and delicious.  ( Don't eat these though, they are supposed to be poisonous)  It's a TX native, drought proof, heat proof, and deer proof.   It is a slow growing evergreen tree.  The foliage comes in a range of colors from dark glossy green(my favorite) to silver.  In the wild it's an understory tree, but it can take the full TX sun, in itself that is impressive as not much care for full sun in summer here.  I have seen trees close to 20ft tall, but imagine they must be old.  Mine are about 5 years old and close to 4ft tall.  The biggest one was 3ft tall when I planted it 5 years ago, and has grown to 4 feet.  Patience is definitely a virtue with this tree, but for the two weeks in spring it perfumes the air it is worth it

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kaos's Iris is Blooming

A great day in Kaos's Garden.  The Iris Planted in Kaos honor bloomed for the first time and is stunning.  There are several buds coming but the first bloom took my breath away.  I am sure it means more to me than it ever would to her.  I am not sure how interested dogs are in flowers.  I know some they like to eat and some they smell, but mostly they like to pee on them.  This one is off limits for the boys.  Surprisingly they haven't run over it, sat on it or in any other way tried to damage it.  As faith will have it the first blossom opened on a special day.  Febuary 29th. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I couldn't resist anymore so I ended up ordering a few things.  I ordered from K.Van Bourgondien& Sons wholesale site.  I have figured out that ordering wholesale is usually much better when there's a big yard involved.
I ordered:
Peruvian Daffodil, KG 2009


Cannas are always great.  Practically indistructable, even though a little Colt wold like to try.  The spread and fill areas quickly.  I am in the process of making "tunnels" for the dog, and they will be great in front.  There is no use fighting with the dog about the yard.  I am trying to make it a fun place for him as well as a beautiful space for me.  With  some creativiy I think we can  make it work.  T
The peruvian daffodils I absolutely love.  I already have a few in the garden, but I don't think I could ever get enough of them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grapes are easy to propegate.

I just cut some pieces off the vine, and stuck them in a pot.  Now I have 3 more plants, now I just have to find a place to plant them.  Ideally a place where the squirrels can't get to them since they seem to like to eat them when they are ALMOST done. 
Actually most/a lot of plants are very easy to propagate.  Try it yourself, cut of a branch and stick it in the ground, you would be surprised how easy it it.  This also works well with sweet potato vine, tomato plants, some salvias.  Others are more foolproof if you layer them. 
Layering seems difficult but its easy.  Fill a put with potting soil, place it next to the plant you want to propagate, and bend a branch under the soil.  To keep it in place I usually just hold it down with a small rock.  This is a very easy way to make multiple Salvia Greggii's

Friday, February 17, 2012

QVC TSV from Robertas Garden

It was not planned, I just like to check QVC right after midnight to see what the TSV (Today's Special Value) will be.  On this faithful night it was Calla lilies.  15 giant calla bulbs to be exact.
As the presentation wore on I scuffed at the remarks from the Roberta's garden rep about how special the "big" ones were and how they were the only ones who had them.  Yeah right.  I bought some years ago from both HD and WM.  As I was about to change the channel the gentleman held up what he claimed to be an example of the bulb they shipped out.  It was big, it was huge...  He showed more and my interest level started to peak.  Most of his claims I took with a grain of salt, but the bulb size was impressive.  The size and quality he claimed would be shipped out was astounding.  Each bulb was the size of 3-5 big box bulbs.
I caved, and ordered two sets.  I have shopped with QVC for a few years and trust that what I saw is  what I will get.
Well that was last night, and today I am struggling with buyers remorse.  I can still cancel...but can't make up my mind. 
A quick search on garden watchdog showed very disappointing reviews.  As were the reviews on QVC.  Still I couldn't get over the size of bulbs shown and my trust in QVC.  Even my garden friends told me they had ordered from RG/QVC and been disappointed.  Told me don't do it, they would never do it again.  The lure of the bulbs had taken a hold.  These were Calla bulbs, and I already have and grow Callas.  So I know they will grow here.  They are perennial for me, no lifting needed.  Digging up bulbs to store/overwinter is something I just won't do.  I am sure that QVC quality control make sure that what you see is what you get.  So when they eventually ship out, I'll see what they are and how they do.  I still don't know why they make us wait so long for the bulbs.  The big box stores have had theirs out since new year, and by late March it's already borderline warm here.  To some probably HOT, anyway by mid March we usually hover around the mid 80's, decide yourself if that is hot or warm.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February is here

as is the itch for bulbs.  Dahlias, freesias, Glads, Peruvian Daffs, lilies.... the list is never ending, and temptation is only a click away. 
On a separate disappointing note, it seems like Connell's Dahlias are out of business.  That's to bad since I wanted to place an order.  I have found some retailers online and I am debating on placing an order or two.
A coldfront swept in and highs has only been in the 50's today.  Another 1+inches of rain last night.  Seems like the weeds are growing with super speeds. Been pulling them for days, seems like it's a never ending cycle.  Lemon trees are starting to bloom, other citrus are budding up, and first blooms appeared on the back Plum tree. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

More Seeds

3L bottles

#1 - Delphinium, Blue Duet Mix (21-28 days)
#2 - Delphinium Pacific Giant (21-28 days)

24 pack Marked Nasties
12 Fordhook Fave Nastrium, 6 Balsam Kaos Mix, 6 Lipstick Pink Nastrium

72 Cell Flats

Yellow Starburst all   White Alyssum

In Dahlia Flat First 7 rows planted with Unwin's Dwarf.

Seedlings Direct Sown Poppies, Shirley, Double Flowered Mixed Colors
Flat Orange Marker containing Hot Pink Petunia and Moss Rose.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Spray schedule

Nice Sunny Day.  Sprayed Round-up on weeds, Dormant Oil on fruit trees and final dose of Nematodes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crape Murder...

Crape Murder is a saying here in the south referring to the butcher like pruning of Crape Myrtles.  It is very common, and occurs in all states, towns and neighborhoods.  Take a look around and you will probably a neighbor, a commercial property or even yourself have committed this offense.  First of all I don't have a problem with pruning ornamental including Crape Myrtles, I selectively prune my own.  I have two Red Dynamite, and an unknown lavender variety that was labeled Naztech White when I bought it.  I prune all three, but very differently.  The Unknown Lavender one Has an amazing natural shape, so I only prune "stray hairs", or odd branches that grow the wrong way.  I also cut off small branches that are growing into the tree. 

Crape Massacre

The Dynamites have a very irregular growth pattern.  Seems like half the tree (and it is the same on both) grows tall and straight up, with no shape what so ever, and the other half grows broader, and shorter.  In order to even it out and hopefully one day have two beautifully shaped trees I prune them a lot more severe than I would want.  Every year I feel like I have butchered the trees, and I guess in a way I have.  They are now 5 years old and FINALLY the short stocky side has gotten about 6ft tall. 
The problem is that last summer the "tall" side shot up over 15 ft.  As you can imagine those were some very funny looking trees.  Both of the Dynamites have been pruned back to an "even" shape. 
Crape murder however was taken to a whole new level by a neighbor down the street.
Last year I noticed there was two stick in their yard, bluntly cut.  I didn't think much off it at first, assuming they were getting rid of it.  In summer however the stick turned into a Crape Myrtle.  Hanging on for dear life.  Again, I thought, maybe they hadn't realized the CM was alive when they had chopped it, or they had thought it was a weed....
Then this fall, I walked past the house and to my horror saw they had chopped it again.  I don't think Crape Murder is a strong enough phrase for this.  It's More like a Crape Massacre...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seed Starting.

Started seeds for spring 2012.  Somehow the pelleted seeds were damaged, and my totals of pelleted wave petunia seeds comes in at a total of 36, and not the 75 I had planned. 
Next time I purchase pelleted seeds I will try to check if they have been crushed.
The White Shock Wave Petunia seeds came from Park Seed, the Purple and Silver Tidal Wave from Ferry Morse.
The regular Hot Pink Petunias are from seeds collected from the garden. A total of 18 planted. Moss Rose was planted on the rest of the flat.  Mix in color as well as both single and double flowers.

Alyssum, Snaps (First Ladies) and Stock (seeds from Kaos'sGarden.

In addition a full flat was planted of dark red snapdragons, seeds collected from Kaos'sGarden.  Also sprinkled some around the potted pots by the patio, as well as some Alyssum seeds.  Also at that corner two Pink Amaryllis bulbs were planted.  Everything was watered, the clear plastic dome lids were placed on top of the seed starting flats, and secured with bungee cords.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Potted up some Seedlings

Potted up 12 2in pots and 1 quart container of Rock Rose Pavonia lasiopetala.  It's a great shrubby perennial for central TX.  Very drought tolerant and blooms most of the year.  It looks stunning in the morning sun.

Also potted up 7 2in pots of  Blue Plumbago seedlings. Just about a perfect plant.

6 2in pots and 5 quarts with Datura wrightii  One of my all time favorites. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Onions Part Two

Planted yet another bunch of about 80.  This time it was the 1015Y Texas Supersweet.  They were planted around an apple tree and in the raised bed containing one Iceberg rose.
In the spot between the raised bed and the gate, I also planted one bulb of Red Amaryllis, two  Ruellia brittoniana 'Purple Showers' and one Dahlia _________
All were watered in with a seaweed solution.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Onions Part Two

Planted yet another bunch of onions.  This time it was roughly 75sets in the bunch of Yellow Granex.  They were watered in with a seaweed solution. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I overextended myself with onions

There are a lot more in a bunch than I first thought and planned for.  I assumed 50 plants/bunch, times 7 bunches, for a total of 350 transplants.
The Bonnie Onions didn't disappoint.  Roughly 50/bunch.  However after planting and counting one bunch of Early White, there were 103 onions in that bunch.  In the White Bermuda bunch there were 73 onion transplants.
Now I am left with 4 bunches and most likely a LOT more than 200 onions, and as shown of the garden schematic, not a whole lot of room.  I might have enough room in the three empty beds to fit lose to 200.  The five big beds can hold an average of 100/section and the smaller ones almost 50.  I guess I'll have to squeeze some here, there and everywhere.  An extension might me necessary to fit in other veggies.  Potatoes late this month, as well as lettuces, radishes and collards.  That is just what needs to be planted in January. 
After planting, the seedlings/transplants got watered with a seaweed solution.  They will receive that approximately every two weeks, and some cottonseed meal (8-2-2) to make sure they have food enough to grow delicious

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I LOVE onions.  They are great raw, cooked...and makes every meal better.  Not to mention they are the one crop that is practically fool proof.  You plant the transplants/sets in January, and then you harvest in spring/summer.  They don't need much and are easy to place pretty much anywhere.  Walking through my garden, they are everywhere.  Tucked between rosebushes, around citrus, anywhere there's an open spot I plant an onion.
Normally I'll plant two bunches of Bonnie's White onions, one bunch Bonnie's Yellow onion, and on Bonnie's Red onion. There's roughly 50 plants in each bunch. 
This year we went a little kookier than usual.  I did plant one bunch of Bonnie's White onions, though I couldn't justify paying $4/bunch and get multiples.  Well off to a great local nursery we went.  Had to see their selection and pricing before I made up my mind.  Well, they had a much better selection, and an easier to swallow price of $2/bunch. Not only are they cheaper, but this nursery specializes in plant varieties suitable for central TX.

So here's what we got.

2 bunches Texas Early White
1 bunch 1015Y Texas Supersweet
1 bunch White Bermuda
1 bunch Yellow Granex
1 bunch Suothern Belle Red

Needless to say I am very fond of the white onions. Planting will take place this weekend after the freeze is over. 
I also got some lettuce seeds that I will plant along some radishes. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Hope

That's right... HOPE.  We got some rain in November and December, yard has greened up.  Mostly cool season annual grass and WEEDS.  At least it's green. 
So after replacing the back fence we are ready for a better 2012.  Hopefully thsi will be a good garden year. 
Started off by spraying Dormant Oil on all our fruit trees.  Well almost all.  Didn't spray the citrus and still waiting for the leaves to fall off the apple trees so they can be sprayed.  We are hoping that with some vigilance, THIS will be the year we can get peaches WITHOUT those pesky worms.
The worms are Plum Curculio, and they are a big problem.
Practically all our peaches last year was infested by them.

We are also spraying nematodes.  According to the person we spoke with at the Natural Gardener, Nematodes search the soil for bad bugs and tortures and kill them.  So hopefully these nematodes will search and find the Plum Curlico larvae and kill them.