Six on Saturday 2019-03-16: Edibles and Poison

While there is more greenery out, I feel bad watching the occasional butterfly flittering around and not finding any flowers to sip nectar from. I may have to find some early-blooming food for the pollinators for next year.

At least the leaf-cutter ants haven’t stopped by again. I found one soldier scoping out the place, but I decapitated it and hope the others got the message.

Anyhow, here are six things that are happening around my yard today.

Flax

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I was looking forward to feeding the butterflies this year. I had many milkweed plants growing from seed scattered around the yard. Or I thought I did. Today I found a couple of small blue flowers on the plants. After some online investigation, it looks like this is actually flax. This shouldn’t be surprising. Last year after I got tired of eating flax seed, I scattered what was left around the yard to see what would happen… but then promptly forgot about it.

Peppers

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Last weekend I planted out over a dozen baby pepper plants. This was in addition to the few I had planted out already. Some have already been dug up by squirrels, but others appear to have settled in nicely. Peppers are supposed to be good companion plants for citrus trees, so I have them planted in each of my tree beds. They’re especially good plants for me because they’re drought tolerant. I don’t tend to get many peppers that way, but maybe this year it’ll rain more.

Kumquat

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The leaves on my young kumquat tree have been gradually getting yellower for a while, but I’ve been putting off any kind of fertilization until Spring. Well, now is the time. The liquid fertilizer I bought last year isn’t sold anymore, but this week I picked up some Citrus-tone at the nursery. Kumquat isn’t actually a citrus plant, but close enough.

Blackberries

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I’m pleased to see the blackberries starting to bud, but those have gotten pretty yellow also! Do they not like the homemade compost I added around them not long ago? Well, we’ll find out if they like citrus food.

Crandall Currant

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The foliage on this young shrub just looks cool. I hope the berries are good too.

Poison Ivy

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Winter was so nice, if for no other reason, then that the poison ivy had died back for the season. But now there are fresh sprouts starting to dot my yard. I have to start being careful again, and prepare for some fun Spring sessions of manually attacking the poison ivy. Last year I used a herbicide to kill much of it. I’m hoping that’ll make it manageable enough for me to handle it on my own this year.

Well, those are my six. Check out the Propagator’s blog to find more goings on in gardens around the world.

Six on Saturday 2019-03-09: Garden delights and fears

Some cold weather came through Austin early this week. Temperatures were in the 20s on Monday morning in my yard, and then both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings also dipped into freezing. Sure, there are some pomegranate and mulberry leaves that are totally frost-burnt, but most plants are fine and it seemed to be a signal to the other plants that winter is now concluded and with warm days again more green appears every day.

Here are six things from my garden this week.

Not Comfrey

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When this plant first appeared in an unexpected spot, I thought it was a comfrey plant and wondered how it got there. But it grew larger than my other comfrey plants and the leaves have a slightly rounder shape. Finally when it got large enough, it struck me that it could be borage. I tore off a piece of leaf, and sure enough it had that distinct cucumbery flavor. Note: This is probably not the smartest method for identifying plants but I had a pretty strong hunch.

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For reference, this is an example of what my comfrey plants look like.

Asparagus

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Although this early asparagus spear first poked out of the ground almost a couple of weeks ago, none of its asparagus buddies have joined in. I measured it this morning at a whopping 25 inches (63 cm), which seems like a lot to grow all alone. Does it prefer the nearby grasses at this edge-of-the-bed location?

Warren Pear

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This Warren Pear was planted bare root at the start of January. As always, I was hugely relieved to see the leaves finally break free from their little brown knobs this week. I’m trying not to baby this plant too much because the information I’ve gleaned from the internet is that it’ll do fine only so long as it doesn’t grow too quickly. It needs a bit of tough love, or it’ll be weak and could ultimately succumb to fireblight in this area.

Pollinator

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I may not know how to identify all my pollinators, but I generally know how to make them happy. Leaving some “weeds” for them to enjoy? Easy enough!

Anole

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Anoles are regular guests in my yard, but they rarely agree to stop and pose for pictures.

Texas Leafcutter Ants

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Due to the other wildlife like those mentioned above, I normally avoid insecticides in my yard. However, leafcutter ants really freak me out. They build huge underground colonies with tunnels up to several feet deep. Last year when they showed up, I first noticed them because my dwarf buford holly was red and alive. The last of the green leaves were just being removed, and ants were all along the branches making sure they’d gotten everything. Then I started reading about roads that had collapsed due to the vast excavation done by the ants. Last year, I didn’t bother growing vegetables because I didn’t know if they’d survive. Mounds popped up in my yard, and desperate, I tried a few different types of poison. Finally, in November I saw the last of them. Anytime a mound popped up, I’d dig it up and pour some of the poison down their hole. And then one day I stopped seeing them… until this Thursday. I went out into the garden after work, and there was a huge long parade of ants gather leaves to take back to their own fungus garden. I panicked and poured the remnants of last year’s poison onto the parade. They may have just been gathering weeds, but who wants to feed their colonies that grow to the millions? This picture is one of their mounds from last year, presumed dead, but which some of the ants made as their destination on Thursday. I haven’t seen any more yesterday or today but remain on high alert. I need to calm down and find a way to deal with these buggers that doesn’t involve killing anything else….

Well, that last one was an earful, wasn’t it? But those are my Six on Saturday for this week. Check out the Propagator’s blog for more sixes from gardens around the world.