Friday, August 31, 2012

Invasion of the Bugs!!

Went out on my daily inspection rounds and found that the pumpkin patch has been invaded by vile looking bugs that are sucking the life out of the plants.  They killed one vine and several leaves on the others have died off as well, so out came the organic insecticidal soap and the entire patch got a got soaking.  From the looks of them, most of them are in the nymphal stages, so if I can kill them now it may stop the invasion from advancing.

We had an vintage movie lobby card reframed and I used to old frame to hang the vintage garden hand tools I bought a while back.  Since I didn't have any more old fencing available, I took some slightly rusted wire fabric I had left from the seedling greenhouse, stapled it to the back and used monofilament fishing line to tie the tools to the wire fabric.

Lastly, here are pictures of the Bay Laurel and Thornless Boysenberries I bought last weekend; they're hanging out on the potting bench until the weather cools enough to plant them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Organic Chili Powder

For several weeks now I've been drying Yellow Hungarian, Big Jim, Poblano, Habanero and Takanotsume peppers that I grew organically and today I used my coffee grinder to grind them into chili powder, seeds and all.  I only use the grinder for spices, so there's no concern that I'll wind up with spicy coffee.  The pepper made about 1 cup of a medium dark powder with just the right amount of heat and wonderful flavor.  Stephanie is making a pot of red chili using it right now, and dinner will be ready soon.  To avoid spoilage, the powder will be stored in the refrigerator.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I got up this morning with plans to mow the lawn, but it was too wet with dew, so I started to survey the yard when I spotted something on the other side of the yard and assumed the dog had dragged something out there.  When I got closer I realized it was mushrooms that must've sprung up overnight, as I was sure they wren't there yesterday.  The largest one was about 8" across and there were also several clusters of them as well.  After taking some pictures, I carefully removed them, trying to be sure I got the entire root ball and placed them in a bag to be thrown away since I didn't want to spread the spores throughout the yard.  A couple of the mushrooms were in the Ein Shemer bed which also contains irises and I noticed that they are starting to spread, so hopefully by Spring I will have quite a display of blooms.
This one was about 8" across.
I went to a Harper's Nursery, a locally own nursery that propagates many of the plants they grow, as I had purchased a DealChicken coupon for $40 worth of plants in 1 gallon or larger pots for just $20.  After looking over their stock and debating about several succulents, I wound up choosing a pair of Thornless Boysenberries and a Bay Laurel.  Now I just need to decide where to put them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Yesterday's Events

On the 2nd, I posted about a new succulent planter; well here's an update: the extreme heat we endured from the 6th through the 14th was too much for the hen and chicks and the moss rose is just barely hanging on, so off to the 99 Cent Only Store for replacements.  I was able to find one of the original type of hen and chicks, plus 2 others, which were dutifully planted yesterday. I added gravel to act as mulch to hold the moisture in and give it a cleaner look.

While at the store, I also got a kalanchoe, which I potted up and placed on the front porch, which is beginning to look more and more like a succulent garden itself.

I spent my lunch hour yesterday digging up the gladioli so that they can be refrigerated until being replanted next Spring.  I decided to do this as the Firecracker glads from last year came up but didn't bloom, which I'm assuming is a result of the mild winter we had causing them to not get chilled enough.  I got much bigger corms than the ones I planted in Spring and also dozens of cormlets which probably won't bloom next Spring, but should be big enough in the spring of 2014.  I'm going to plant some of the cormlets in pots in the house in November to see if they can be forced to bloom early.  Here's a picture of the corms drying on some wire mesh in my air conditioned shed; they should be ready to put in the mini frig early next week.

We got more rain last night, .56", for a total of nearly an inch in the last 2 days, which is much needed and the gardens are looking like they appreciate it, but unfortunately, so will the weeds. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Good Soaking Rain

I spent most of last week in Texas on business, so not much of anything got done in the garden and there wasn't much to do anyway, as the heat wave didn't break until the middle of the week.  Most everything made it through, but some of the salvias didn't make it and the geraniums look much worse for wear.

Last night we got a good soaking rain, not the usual summer downpour, but a reasonably gentle rain that soaked in without puddling for a total of .42" over several hours.  The storm was proceeded by some strong winds and two of the three screws on the bracket holding up my German flag pulled out, so I'll have to use some longer screws to put it back up.

Soon it'll be time to start putting in seeds for the Fall/Winter garden and I'm going to plant lettuce and cabbage, as well as more peppers and tomatoes, plus radishes, leeks, maybe some cauliflower and kohlrabi, so I need to build some more raised beds.  I'm also pulling out the veggies in the back yard and replacing the in-ground beds with raised ones, as it'll be easier to control the weeds that way.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Addition to the Bird List

I was looking out the back window this morning when an unfamiliar bird appeared at the feeder and I grabbed the camera to take a shot, but it wouldn't digitally zoom; after fiddling with it and getting it reset, I went to take a picture and the bird was gone.  While I didn't get a photo, I did get a good enough look at it to make an identification; it was a sub-adult male Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus.
This is not the bird I saw, but a picture of a mature male taken from the Internet.

I went to the Habitat ReStore near my house at lunch looking for one thing and instead wound up with four vintage hand gardening tools to add to my collection, and at just $1 each they were a real bargain. Now I just need to find an old frame and some old wood to mount them on, or maybe a shadow box.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ever More Gnomes!

Put up a sign stating that gnomes are welcome and it doesn't take long for the word to get out.  Went out to water this morning and found more gnomes had joined the colony overnight, including a family of three, with Dad reading aloud to Ma and their son, another reader (what an educated bunch they are) and one who rode in on a frog!  As quickly as they're arriving, they're spreading out to other parts of the gardens, as they all need their space; I wonder where the group under the nectarine tree will wind up now that the pumpkin vines are getting larger?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Heat Wave, Red Corn and Stapelia gigantea

We're in the middle of a heat wave with excessive heat warnings every day since Monday, continuing through Sunday.  An excessive heat warning is declared when temperatures are forecast to meet or exceed 110; yesterday it was 114 and today hit 117, so I've been giving all the plants extra water to help them cope.

The first ear of red corn has developed and a second is right behind it, so it looks like I might actually be able to harvest enough to make some red corn tortillas.

I know I've shown pictures of the flowers of Stapelia gigantea before, but I just am amazed by them every time, so here's one that opened today, it's fully 10.5" across!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gnomes and Cukes

Well the little gnomes are making themselves right at home, actually they've made themselves a home; went outside and found this little house hiding among the flower pots on the porch, so it looks like they plan on staying long term.

The larger gnomes have decided that they like living under the shade of the nectarine tree in their version of a "Tramp Camp", but also felt it necessary to forewarn trespassers that they may be met with something less than a friendly greeting.

Checked on the cucumbers today and despite the heat, I found two cukes that should be ready to harvest soon, one slicing variety and a lemon cucumber.

The red corn is starting to tassel, so ears shouldn't be too far behind and this time they should all make it as I'm controlling the water and the plants are staked so they won't blow over.

Surprisingly, the roses are still blooming, although they're smaller than they were when it was cooler, so hopefully I'll get some nice bouquets come Fall.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Succulent Day

As I've come to appreciate succulents more and more, I've been adding more of them to my garden, but strictly in containers at this point.  When we started cleaning up the patio at the kid's new place, we had to decide what to do with an old concrete water feature that was missing the top piece that the water cascaded from; it was way to heavy to put in the trash, so of course, I took it home.  Today I was at the 99 Cent Only Store and they had hens and chicks in 3.5" pots for just 99 cents, so I bought 3 to plant in the concrete basin.  I planted a few sorry looking moss roses, Portulaca grandiflora, that I had lying around and the 3 hens and chicks.  I also hit a few thrift stores today and found a pair of faux stones with faces for $0.99 each that I just had to have, so I added them to the planter as well.  I think I'll go back and buy 3 or 4 more hens and chicks to fill it in more.
Here's an overview of the planter; it's next to the wheelbarrow succulent garden and the yucca in the milk can.
Here's a close up showing the 2 faces.
This one is totally ringed with chicks.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that my neighbor had given me an arm that had broken off of one of his girlfriends cacti and that I'd potted it, even though cacti aren't "my thing" and was planning on giving away at the Fall Plant Swap.  Well, today when I watered it, I noticed it had developed two pups, one on either side of the base, so now I'm thinking I like it a bit more and may not give it away after all.

At the Spring plant Swap I got cuttings of a couple of succulents and while the Stapelia isn't doing real well, the Orbeopsis malanantha is thriving to the point of growing another "arm" and showing growth at the tips of the original ones.
The new "arm" is the lighter green one against the pot rim.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

English Lavender and a Color-crossed Snapdragon

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I bought a couple of urn style planters at Target on clearance and was planning on buying something to plant in them.  I'd kind of set my heart on doing a spiral topiary with an evergreen, in the classic Italian style, but wasn't able to find the right plant, so after much consideration, I finally settled for English Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia.  Now that they're in the pots, I think it was a good choice, as the blue-gray tone of the leaves are a nice counterpoint to the color of the urns and the upright nature of lavender will give me somewhat of the same profile I was looking for.  The blooms will be an added bonus that I wouldn't get from the evergreen, plus I'll be able to use lavender in cooking and baking.

I got a pleasant surprise from the snapdragons I planted from seeds saved from the ones I had planted in the tipsy planter this Spring; a cross pollination between a red and a yellow blooming snapdragon that resulted in a flower with a yellow center and red petals edged in yellow.  I'm hoping they will produce seeds and that the seeds will bloom true, with the ultimate goal being to produce enough seed that blooms true to develop a new cultivar, which I plan to call "Sunset".