Six on Saturday 2019-02-16: Weeding and Scratching

The world has greened up enough that I had to put some extra effort into weeding today. My Six on Saturday this week is about my adventures weeding, which is a tiny bit about pulling weeds and a lot more about plant identification and figuring out if I want it or if it’s a weed. At least I got to enjoy the flock of birds that was flying high overhead from tree to tree for a while this morning.

Hackberry

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Sugar hackberries and the sprouts they create, surrounding a nasturtium

I’ve prepared for the spring season by finding pictures online of many of the common known weeds in my yard. Daily quizzing led up to an instant identification today when I found these guys. Does it help that there are more hackberries are sitting right next to the seedlings? Oh well, it’s easier to pull the sprouts than pick up the berries (although it’s easier to pick up the berries than deal with the larger seedlings). And I was very careful to not disrupt the nasturtium.

Field madder

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Field madder in bloom

Field madder is a low-growing annual that has popped up in areas of thin grass. This plant is new to me this year (it’s possible I just never noticed it before) and kind of cute, so I didn’t pull it today. The dense mat should prevent less desirable plants from popping up there. I’ll leave it this year to observe as it continues to grow and die back. Worst case scenario, I’ll have to pull more weeds next year. It happens.

Mystery Plant #1

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A hollyhock maybe?

This looked too froufrou to be a common weed. I’m guessing it’s from one of the seed packets I scattered around in the fall so it stays.

Mystery Plant #2

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Mysterious white bud

Yet another unidentified plant. With the fancy white bud, this one also must be from the seed packets, but it doesn’t quite look like anything on the labels. I have to remember to check it regularly so I can get a better identification after it blooms.

Mystery Plant #3

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Awesome companion plant for the pomegranates?

This little guy was coming up in the mulch next to my new pomegranates. It looks kind of familiar, but I’m still scratching my head on what it could be. Could the pomegranate have put out a sucker after just one month? It doesn’t look quite the same.

Mystery Plant #4

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This must be some sort of alien plant. I came across it unexpectedly in a quite shady spot, where birds are more likely to plant things as I am. With the close leaves, could it be a strange sort of zinnia? An image search suggested that this was sorrel, but it sure doesn’t look like any of the “matching” images. Oh well, time will tell.

Well, that’s my six for this week–a lot of head scratching. To see other sixes from gardens around the world, check out the Propagator’s blog.

 

 

Six on Saturday 2019-02-09: It’s getting green out

It’s been a bit chilly the past couple of days. Nothing like folks up North have seen and nothing that’s even exceptional in the area, but it did dip into freezing. And although I didn’t see any snow like some other folks in the area did, there were some small hailstones still sitting on my back porch from yesterday to this morning.

Overall, though, things are already greening up. Here are a few things that are going on in the gardening this morning.

Pomegranates

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Wonderful pomegranate starting to leaf out

Fresh foliage is emerging from both my Al-Sirin-Nar pomegranate, as well as the Salavatski and Wonderful pomegranates that I just planted a month ago. I wonder what year I’ll start getting some edible pomegranate fruits. Mmm!

Daylilies

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New Stella D’Oro daylily foliage

Last year I was surprised when the foliage on my daylilies disappeared seemingly overnight. Is that what they do when it cools off, or did something eat them? I’ll see what happens this year. For now, new foliage has happily emerged. Since I planted them in the fall I haven’t seen the flowers yet, but this should be the standard orange Stella D’Oro variety.

Blackberries

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New Kiowa blackberry plant in the Warren pear bed

A month ago I planted three Kiowa blackberry plants, and they’ve just started to leaf out as well. Native dewberries grow around my yard, so these should do well here.

Catmint

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Ladybug on catmint

While looking around my garden and making a note of what needs to be done, I noticed new foliage at the base of the Walker’s Low catmint, and briefly considered pruning some of the old foliage a bit. But then I looked closer and saw this ladybug just hanging out. I think I’ll leave it be for now. 🙂

Garlic Chives

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Garlic chives two-thirds from the left

I’ve never heard of anyone having trouble keeping chives alive, but I’ve tried planting regular chives in my persimmon guild twice, and they quickly succumbed both times. It hasn’t been a full year yet, but I’m happy to see the garlic chives replacement are still growing strong so far.

Fennel

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Many new fennel plants

I collected Fennel seed last year, and it’s sprouting up all around my yard. What I thought were poppies in a previous Six on Saturday post? Yup, those now appear to be fennel. Also, I just recently learned that after a fennel plant “dies”, new fennel plants sprout from its base. I’ve read that it sprouts one new plant from each side, but this plant gave way to five new ones! Can some of them possibly be new plants from seed that had been carefully nested underneath? I have no idea. I’ll probably harvest a few of the fennel bulbs before they’re fully mature to make space for the other two.

That’s my Six on Saturday. If you’re interested in more sixes from gardens all over, check out the Propagator’s blog.

Six on Saturday 2019/02/02

With the no-sweater-needed weather this weekend, I’m getting anxious for spring. I’ve already enjoyed the bare stems and branches quite enough for one season. It’s a good thing I live in Texas where the main planting season starts in March. Just one month of patience and prep. Here’s a bit of what’s going on right now though.

Mulberry

Our Central Texas winter started out nice and chilly with a freeze in mid-November, but since then it seems warmer than usual with no risk of getting into the 20s (F) here in my Austin garden. And sure enough, my black mulberry has already started leafing out ready for Spring. I hope other plants don’t follow suit just yet.

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Just a few of many, many leaves on the mulberry

Peppers

One of my coworkers gave me some sweet pepper seeds last month, and I’ve been reusing a “disposable” food container to germinate the seeds before potting them up. But where will I put so many pepper plants? They were originally chosen as companion plants for the citrus, but some may need a dedicated home at this rate.

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A few of the potted young peppers and my germination station

Mexican Bush Sage

When the Mexican Bush Sage puckered out after our first freeze and I pruned it back, I decided to stick the prunings in the ground and see if any of them rooted. Months later, a couple of them are still alive. Here’s hoping they grow strong enough to survive the summer heat, in which case I can transplant them later in the year.

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New growth on the Mexican bush sage (2/3 down)

Dwarf Barbados Cherry

On January 10, I took a few cuttings of Barbados Cherry. I stuck two in water and potted up the other. This week I was pleasantly surprised that the root had grown almost two inches from one cutting. There was also another root sprouting above the water and trying to make its way down, as well as a bit of extra top growth. So today I potted up that cutting and am hoping for the best. There is some root growth on the other cutting in water but not quite as much yet. I’m not sure about the one that was originally potted up but at least it still appears to be alive.

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Two Barbados Cherry cuttings – one already rooted and potted up, the other still sitting in water

Mexican Honeysuckle

The Mexican Honeysuckle in my front yard has been blooming pretty much all winter, but I’m less interested in that right now than in the fact that it’s extremely easy to propagate. I just take a 4 inch cutting, strip it of all but two leaves and stick it in water until I see roots forming. Sometimes they bloom again when they’re still in the water! but I usually snip the blooms off. I’m thinking of using some of these plants to line the south side of my house, but surely I’ll also give a couple away at the swap in a few weeks.

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Mexican Honeysuckle cutting that’s been rooting in water but isn’t quite ready to pot up yet

Agarita

All my previous attempts at propagating Agarita have ended with the leaves turning black. Due to my recent success with rooting cuttings in water, though, I decided to try that instead of potting up the cutting directly. I also tried a new trick of dabbing the end of the cutting in honey as a root stimulator. I don’t know if that really helps or if I’m just getting better at this in ways I can’t tell, but the cutting is definitely doing okay. Although the old leaves are a bit brittle and have been falling off one by one, there is new growth both up top and down below. The waiting is the hardest part.

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Tiny bits of green are growing out of each junction
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Not the best picture and debris has collected in the water, but there’s definitely growth

Well, those are my Six on Saturday. If you’re interested in seeing what’s going on in other folks’ gardens, check out The Propagator’s blog for more Six on Saturday posts.

Things I bought in January (2019)

I first experimented with a Buy Nothing month several years ago, and it wasn’t as hard as I expected. Many of the habits have just stuck without having to make resolutions. But it may be time to start back up with a regular review of how I’m doing on this front.

One thing I purchased this month not on the list below (because it’s not an item) was a WordPress subscription. I intend to look into other options for hosting someday, but as much as I hate advertisements it only makes sense that for now I would spare anyone from seeing them when reading my blog posts.

Purchased Plants

My resolution to buy no more than 12 plants (seeds are OK) this year has definitely helped with temptation when I visited my local nursery this month and also while browsing the internet encouraged by other folks’ seed orders. I did order 2 plants, but that’s pretty reasonable.

  • 2 black chokeberry plants (to be delivered in March) – This was one of the plants on my wishlist, so I shouldn’t regret it. One would have been enough but they came as a pair. At least I still have a month to figure out if I want to plant both or share one with someone else who wants it.
  • Onion starts – I’m not counting these against my 12-plant quota because the pack contained dozens of baby onions, and they were already fully edible when planted (although small) so they’re pretty much just food. 🙂
  • Cucumber seed – Because, yum.
  • Butternut squash – Once we had a butternut squash that just appeared out of the compost, so apparently they do grow well here.
  • Edamame seed – I’ve been thinking about growing this the past couple of years, but this is the year.
  • Borage – Attracts pollinators, edible leaves and flowers, what’s not to like? The last time I planted this I expected some self-seeding so I’d never have to buy more seed. Let’s see if it happens this year.

Not New Stuff

And it’s mostly Not New stuff that I got for free, so all the merrier for me.

  • Porch light fixture – This is one of the few things I purchased. We made a trip to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore just to get it, and this week we were able to turn on the porch lights for the first time since buying the house.
  • Bricks – Although this was a good month for scoring free bricks, I also purchased about a dozen more while at the ReStore. I may love bricks a bit too much.
  • Punching bag – As mentioned in a previous post, this is a way more functional replacement for the punching bag I found during bulk pickup week some time ago. It’s great for exercise.
  • Bricks and pavers – These came from many sources – by the dumpster, set out for bulk pickup, and posted on Craigslist. It doesn’t look like a lot in my unfinished garden path, but they were plenty heavy to lug around.
  • Cardboard – It should surprise no one that it’s easy to find used cardboard for free. 😛
  • Tomato cages – These were posted on Craigslist by someone getting rid of a bunch of gardening stuff. I got up early on a chilly morning to grab them before work.
  • Young yaupon hollies – I “weeded” these from my mom’s garden bed and planted them in my own yard.
  • Snakeplant – One of my coworkers had a plant just sitting somewhere being neglected (although they do thrive with neglect), and just by asking it is now mine to admire every day.
  • Sweet pepper seeds – That same coworker shared seeds of several different types of sweet peppers. (We’ll be doing a seed swap event at work at the end of Feb to share more.)
  • Various seeds – I attended the seed swap for the Central Texas seed library last weekend and got so many seeds — carrots, native milkweed, zinnias, melons, basils, and more. A few of these will end up getting swapped again at the work seed swap.
  • Plant cuttings – There will be many Mexican Honeysuckles to plant out in the spring for sure. They root amazingly well even just in water. I’m hoping many of the others pull through. The mints definitely should.

New Stuff

  • Lightbulbs – They’re LED bulbs so they should last a while.
  • Potting soil – The soil itself isn’t quite new, but it’s all packaged up in a plastic sack so I’ll count it.
  • Toilet paper

Things I didn’t buy

  • A dragonfruit plant – This was in the seed catalog next to the black chokeberry and I really would like to have a dragonfruit plant someday, but it doesn’t grow as easily in this area and I’ll hold off until I have more time to devote to it.
  • A baker’s rack – Just one of the items I’ve seen posted to Craigslist which might be a good fit for replacing worn-out cabinets in our kitchen which will be taken out someday. I will be buying something in this line at some point though.
  • More seeds – Just because there were so many more awesome options for planting. It was hard to resist, but I have enough for this year.
  • Seed starting containers – I’m a bit low on reused small containers right now, but there are plenty of food containers to make do with.
  • Gutters – This was part of my plan for January. And maybe I should have gotten these. We have regular flash floods in Austin that would be much less impactful if more water was stored close to where it landed instead of all being directed into our waterways. However, I wound up with analysis paralysis on whether I should get gutter covers or not. For now, I’ve started digging out some earthworks to hold the water. I can go for the larger scale option later when I’m more confident about the purchase.

Wishlist

We’ve had a fairly long todo list since buying this house a few years ago, and we’ve been slowly picking one thing at a time to improve. I have no idea which of these will come first:

  • New back steps or ramp to replace the unused deck area that has rotting wood
  • Gutters, as mentioned above
  • A real bathtub (not a plastic surround) and a sink faucet that doesn’t have rust holes
  • New kitchen sink cabinet configured so the sink comes up near the edge of the countertop instead of making me stretch to wash dishes
  • Other new bottom cabinets or something like a baker’s rack as mentioned above or even a buffet, because one day I’m going to rip out this gross bottom cabinets. I’m a pretty accepting person, but these cabinets are sitting there unused because they’re really not in good shape.
  • Hallway runner – It’s a 20ft hallway with some of the last old carpet in this house that hasn’t yet been pulled up. If a runner that length pops up on Craigslist for a reasonable price, I’d get it.
  • More bricks or pavers – There’s only a path in one part of the garden so far, but I’m going back to taking it slow and only collecting free bricks.
  • Plant wishlist: agarita, pineapple guava, goumi, mexican redbud, texas persimmon, crandall currant, beautyberry