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