I bought too many plants last year and have a stack of little black pots waiting to be reused. So this year, I’ve resolved to limit my purchases to twelve plants for the whole year. If I want more than that, I’ll have to start them from seed, from cuttings, or swap with other gardeners.
I’ve been following The Propagator‘s blog for a while to learn more techniques and decided to participate in the Six on Saturday blogging theme, which is a way to share six things that are happening in my garden. For this week, there’s an obvious focus on plants I’ve started myself.
I’ve had this red yucca for a while. I started this red yucca from seed indoors and planted it out last spring. The tallest plant is now a whopping 8 inches tall. Maybe I should have called this post “Slow Things” instead.
Several sprouts are starting to come up from seeds of a few different wildflower packets that I scattered in the side yard in fall. I’m looking forward to a lot more seed for future swaps in addition to having more butterflies show up for pollination duties this year.
I also sowed some California poppy seeds in the fall after having seen a couple of yards in the neighborhood with various beautiful poppies and then reading online that the flowers of this variety are edible. This looks like other seedlings online so maybe in a few months I’ll have some beautiful and delicious orange flowers blooming.
Scarlet Runner Bean
Cowpeas grow really well in my yard, but it requires planting them out every season. I’m hoping that these runner beans really are perennial and I can harvest beans for years to come. Unfortunately, only two plants have survived from a dozen or so that I planted in the fall, but maybe they just weren’t mature enough yet to handle a little bit of predation. Still hoping, and I have some seeds left to start more in the spring.
These aren’t in the garden yet, but I’d like to put out at least a few artichoke plants this spring. Amazingly, these seeds took only a week to germinate (I kept the soil pretty damp because I had heard recommendations to soak the seeds before planting them but promptly forgot until they were already in pots). If all goes well, I’ll start some extra artichoke plants for swapping also. But the hardest part for me is generally keeping seedlings alive until they’re strong enough to go outside.
The seed packet contained two varieties–Green Globe Improved and Purple of Romagna. I don’t know which is which, so I’ll have to do some more research online to learn how to tell the two apart.
This most definitely isn’t a plant, but it was in my yard. I live near a creek, and on one side of my property is a low area that floods whenever there’s a good rain. This morning there were still a few puddles still out there from rains earlier in the week. And there was something moving! At first I thought it was some sort of beetle or roach, but upon closer inspection it was a crustacean. I’m not sure if that really is a shrimp or not, and I never would have guessed that shrimp live in the creek, but I can tell you that I won’t be eating shrimp anytime soon. Whatever that was didn’t look at all appetizing.
Those are my six for this week. Even without accruing many more plastic pots, I think this is going to be a great year for enjoying the garden!
Since we bought this house and planted our first baby fruit tree almost three years ago, I’ve wanted some kind of path for the backyard. It’s not an immediate need that I’d have to resolve by purchase, but it’s a dream. I’ve tried many things.
Wearing a path in the earth. Well, I did spend many hours out in the garden and a visible pathway did eventually appear, but it would disappear into the weeds after the spring rains.
Brick. Who wouldn’t want a lovely brick path? I still collect any abandoned brick I come across, but I’ve also calculated how many bricks it would take to build a path around the whole backyard. Nope. Even with my acquired hobby of started watching Craigslist for unwanted bricks or pavers, I found mostly heartbreak because whenever there was a really interesting listing, the givers wanted them to be gone pretty much immediately and that would have required a truck or the like.
Gravel – I was able to get a bagful from someone who wasn’t using it, but it wasn’t long before I could barely see the gravel through the weeds. Gravel alone wouldn’t cut it. I needed some kind of weed barrier underneath the gravel. Some sort of durable plastic would be the obvious answer, but at the same time I have a hard time putting something in the ground that is just going to turn into bits of trash instead of contributing to the soil.
Cardboard – I looked at materials that were in true abundance, and cardboard may have helped under the gravel. Could it stand up on its own as a short term path? Unfortunately “short” term was right. Anything that wasn’t super thick would start to disintegrate rather quickly. And it’s amazing how quickly weeds can grow through a double layer of thick cardboard!
Pinterest-type stuff – I saw pictures online of people making pathways from glass bottles dug into the ground or with wooden rounds cut from fallen trees. I even went so far as to collect a few bottles at the office but gradually came to the realization that these would be more work than I was willing to sign up for. And I didn’t really trust a pathway made of bottles that could break or wood that might start rotting after several good rains.
Last week a posting by one of my neighbors on NextDoor gave rise to a new idea. He had a few bags of sawdust to get rid of. Online research showed some folks love sawdust in their garden pathways. They used super thick layers, more than I’m willing to use, but maybe combined with the cardboard? Anyhow, it’s worth experimenting with.
As a bonus, while walking over to the neighbor’s house to pick up the sawdust, I noticed a pleasant surprise beside a dumpster in the nearby alley. There was a good pile of bricks waiting for me to take them home.
I immediately set to work in the area I had recently started bricking in an attempt to protect my Meyer lemon tree from being overrun by grass. I added multiple layers of cardboard, set some of the new bricks temporarily on the other side to hold it down, and then added some of the sawdust, damped it, and tramped all over it to try and compress it. It’s still a bit fluffy, but I’m hoping the rain helps.
Of course, this is still an experiment. I have no doubt that weeds will still make it through. Also, the pathway needs to be moved a bit further away from my baby tree. But it’s getting better. And it comes with the bonus of adding a little color to my yard during these dull winter months. I just need to rake away a few more of those leaves and stick them in the compost so I can soon be surrounded by more green. 2019’s going to be a good year. I can feel it.
After an unseasonably warm winter, we’ve lucked out lately with some beautiful (not sweaty) weather lately. I’m doing my best to enjoy it while I can, and many of the plants are enjoying it as well. Even the fireflies are finally out again. Here’s a sampling of what’s been going on in my central Texas garden.
Only a few of my tomato seedlings and none of the eggplants survived. One thing I’ve learned this year is that cleaning the pots and using fresh potting soil really does result in healthier starts. Right now there’s one cherry tomato plant and one Roma tomato plant out in the yard, with one last seedling (started from a random tomato) still in the house.
The jalapeño pepper plants were eaten when transplanted outside. One my coworkers says that rats love them. I’ll bet the squirrels love them too. 😦
At least one of the bell pepper plants is untouched, plus one more still inside.
The cucumbers and nasturtiums were planted in partial shade this year. Last year they looked really heat-stressed in full, full sun. Now that the trees have leafed out, though, I’m worried they may be in too much shade. Only time will tell.
The fava bean plants which survived the winter have finally started producing pods.
I’ve planted random seeds all over the backyard. The bad thing about this is I always have to be more careful where I step or I could squash a cherished seedling. It’s also difficult to cut down the weeds while avoiding seedlings. That might explain the weedy situation of my backyard currently. But yesterday, I saw a dark sprout that I marvelled at recognizing it as a squash. Several sunflowers have sprung up, the beans are obvious, and many are a mystery.
Sadly, I haven’t yet seen anything that looks like a melon vine yet. It’s only the start of April, though, and I still have extra seeds to put out. I will have delicious melons this summer!
I finally pulled up some carrots in March. They were delicious even though there weren’t too many of them. A couple of dozen carrots from three packs of seeds is very unimpressive. I may have to be a more attentive carrot gardener next year, because I really do love carrots.
I only got four corn plants from the whole pack of corn seeds. Maybe if I had watered more… nah. I’m probably not going to try corn again anytime soon.
The cilantro is already flowering. I didn’t pick any because to me cilantro tastes like soap, but I’m hoping to harvest some coriander seeds before my current supply is exhausted. It’s one of my go-to herbs. Strange how that works.
Is the Fuyu persimmon tree dead? It still looks like just a stick in the ground. The trouble with transplanting a dormant tree is that I have no way to gauge how healthy it is and if it there’s anything I can do to pamper it a little more. I did give it the scratch test, and there is a bit of green beneath the bark. I’ve also read in multiple places online that it can take months for a persimmon tree to come back after being transplanted. But I really really hope I don’t have to wait much longer.
Fortunately, the fig, kumquat, and citrus trees (meyer lemon and satsuma mandarin) are more visibly alive. The citrus leaves have some yellowing, but I’ve applied a little bit of nitrogen fertilizer and have been careful to water them only as needed. Most of the other trees nearby have leafed out happily and the sea of green is mesmerizing. Even the pecan trees at long last have bits of green starting to extend from their branches.
After months of patient waiting, the Bluebonnets are finally showing a bit of their namesake color. Unfortunately, grass and weeds are encroaching all around so they don’t get the full attention they deserve. Next year if I can get some started from seed, I’ll plant them out in the front yard bed.
During my last stop at the nursery, I was looking at all the seed packets and finally decided to try some lemon grass. The envelope said “Germinates in 3-5 weeks” and I was prepared to practice some patience, but after just four days the first sprout appeared! Now must be the perfect time for it to germinate here, so I just started another couple of small containers today.
On the way home from the nursery last time, I came across this stalked bulbine, sadly abandoned on the sidewalk. This is a spreading perennial, so I’m delighted to add it to my garden.
It’s the perfect time for taking cuttings here in central Texas. …or so I’ve heard. I’ve never successfully rooted a cutting before. Anyhow, I took a few cuttings of my rosemary and salvias. Once I learn how to propagate these properly I’ll be able to grow a full yard of delightful plants. At the same time, the layering method is also being used to try to root branches of these plants that I can transplant next year.
Sadly, the Esperanza also never came up. I’m going to take this as a sign that perhaps I shouldn’t try to plant things in January. The weather fluctuations between the 30s and 80s are probably too much for any reasonable plant to bear unless they already have a good foothold. Or maybe it’s just for advanced gardeners.
Wild Edibles Discovery
When I first saw the wild onions in side yard, I thought they were the garlic chives sprouted from seed I scattered. Well, nope, the chives never showed. I’ve since seen the wild onions in other places around the neighborhood and even saw them mentioned on tv so I’m sure of the identification. I can’t seem to get a good picture of these, though.
Also, I knew wild blackberries live in some places around town but I’ve never seen them firsthand. That explains why when I first snapped this picture I didn’t even consider it as an option until further explanation. Time to start cultivating the weeds!
… but I can sadly no longer recall where exactly I took this picture and can’t find it anywhere. At least now I know better.
But the best discovery of all was the identification of one backyard tree as a Mulberry. I don’t remember seeing any fruits last year, but maybe I wasn’t looking. Or maybe the squirrels got them as soon as they were ripe. This year my eyes will be open. This weekend I also made the fortuitous discovery of a tree with already-ripe mulberries not far away and they were amazing! I can hardly wait for the fruits on my own tree to ripen.
March wasn’t so bad. I’ve enjoyed spending time in the garden rather than at the shops. I bought a couple of items from my wishlist and bought fewer plants than in February, but did acquire more free stuff than expected. And my wishlist is getting longer with big ticket home improvement purchases coming up. Maybe someday we’ll get a boarder for the extra bedroom so at least these costs wouldn’t be for just the two of us.
The days have already been starting to feel hot, so my plant purchases are finally dwindling down a bit. (Maybe next month they won’t require they’re own category?) I did buy yet another citrus tree as a splurge purchase. After all, the kumquat is the one tree that I really wanted to buy but hadn’t been available in the nurseries every other time I checked. Other than that, just a couple of small potted plants and a couple of seed packs. Unfortunately, I’m almost out of seed starting mix (it goes fast once you realize that using fresh mix every time really does prevent damping off) and may have to get some next month.
Meiwa Kumquat tree – yay! kumquats!
Chili pequin – because what could be better than a perennial pepper plant
English thyme – to see how well it spreads for groundcover potential
Lemon balm seed (already sprouted)
Lemon grass seed (sprouted in under a week although the pack said 3 to 5 weeks) – because lemon grass is reputed to repel mosquitoes
Succulent pieces (orphaned pieces that I hope to propagate into full plants)
Not New Stuff
Wow, this list is fairly long this month. I went to Goodwill and found exactly what I was looking for early in the month, but the other things just happened.
Rain boots – I now have no fear when trolloping around the poison ivy-infested side yard (from Goodwill).
Mini-blinds for the front window for extra privacy. These were kind of new but I found them at Goodwill so close enough.
3 Shirts – Swapping out shirts I like less at the Really, Really Free Market. I know it’s meant to be free stuff but I participate like it’s a swapping party.
Patio chairs – I didn’t even ask for these but my mom dropped off a couple of old patio chairs one morning. They’ve actually been quiet convenient as a sort of shelf in the garden.
Plants – I’ve been doing some research online, and of the plants already in my yard, I may just have wild onions, wild blackberries, wild Muscadine grape vines, and a Mulberry tree. I’ll definitely be paying close attention to see if my identifications are correct!
Soil – From a neighbor doing some landscaping.
Mulch – well, grass clippings and leaves collected from sidewalks, as well as a few lawn bags set out on the street that I furtively made off with.
A book – one of the other book club members gave me an extra copy of the book for next month, so I don’t even need to wait for it at the library.
Lawn bags – I’m not sure if these count because I bought them at my mom’s request (I don’t count the tons of stuff my husband chooses to buy), but I did buy them before helping her rake up some oak leaves in early March. (My mom’s composts many things but the oak leaves just don’t seem to be breaking down.)
Line for the weed eater – The lawn (and weeds) that are already wide awake. My husband is happy to help out as long as it gets a clean trim, so weed eater it is.
Things I didn’t buy
More tomato seeds – Even though I have only two tomato plants that survived this year, it’s already getting hot out and may be late for Spring planting. I may consider starting fresh tomato plants for the fall garden, though.
Machete – I was looking at these on Etsy but it’s too soon to determine if it’s worth purchasing. It’s on my wishlist below though.
Fast food – I gave up fast food for Lent as well as eating out in general for the most part, but I’m ready to have pizza again. 😛
Seed starting containers – In addition to the plant pots I’ve saved from previous nursery visits, working in an office means I have access to plenty of food to-go containers. It’s not hard to find on the perfect size and even with an already vented lid.
Esperanza – The one I bought last year is definitely dead, but I’m going to give seed starting another try for this one. There are plenty of Esperanza bushes in the neighborhood to grab a few seeds from later this year.
Super long wishlist too! Fortunately, I know I won’t be indulging in all of these things in April.
A new roof! I finally got around to mucking out the gutters, and those shingles don’t look like they’re protecting our home that much anymore. Time to start checking out the roofers in this area. My goal is to get this done in the next month if possible.
Rain catchment system — gutters around the rest of the house and rain tanks. This is less about saving water than it is about saving my soil and preventing further erosion. (This has always been part of the post-new-roof master plan, but now it feels close enough to put on the list.)
Machete – My favorite lawn tool so far is definitely my scythe. It’s one of the most effective tools, the easiest, and hardly requires any storage space. With no lack of weeds, I’ve been considering a machete, grass hook, or other implement for the smaller spaces where I just can’t control a scythe with enough precision.
New tub? I’ve sealed up the crack again for now and caulked around the edges since the roof is first, but someday…
Bricks/pavers – Am still collecting the rogue brick for use in the garden whenever I come across it.
Seed starting mix – As I mentioned above, I’m almost out and I’m trying to reduce how many seeds I’m starting inside but will probably need more before long.
There have already been several days in the 80s this year, so you know it’ll be just moments before the unbearable heat of summer hits us here in central Texas. March may be the best time to be out in the garden, so here’s a quick pictorial of what’s in my Austin backyard garden right now. Apologies for an exceptional amount of blur on some of the photos. The mosquitoes are already out, and I had to keep moving to keep them away.
Some of the swiss chard that I planted a month ago in unamended soil has finally sprouted. We’ll see how well that grows.
One of my coworkers shared some extra beans. I soaked them overnight before planting and they started sprouting within a few days. Beans seem to grow so well here in Austin, and I’m looking forward to getting my cowpeas in the ground soon.
A couple more spinach plants are starting to come up. These have grown way more slowly than I expected, though, and I’ve only had a few leaves most weeks. Next year I’ll try planting more.
The garlic looks pretty healthy. I have about 20 of these scattered around the garden.
Radishes haven’t turned out that great for me previously, so I’ve gotten lazy recently and just scattered seed on top of the soil. Still, there are some nice little plants forming which I can either use for radish greens or let them go to seed. I read you need quite a few radish plants for them to be pollinated correctly, so I may just let the radish bunches all go to seed.
The one broccoli plant that grew has already bolted without producing any florets. Next season I’ll try collard greens instead since I’ve seen those grow well in other gardens in the area.
You can just make the edges of carrot fronds in these pics. The number is really disappointing considering I scattered three packets of carrot seeds this year. Next season will require some strategy because I love carrots.
I only have a handful of onion plants that grew from seed (planted in October), but I have confidence that these are the toughest ones and they’ll grow into delicious onions.
Most of the onion transplants that I bought last month are doing alright. This picture is from a few days ago. I actually did weed and mulch a bit around them today. I just hope the rain stops knocking them over before they can put out some better roots.
The fava beans have grown tall and have sweet white flowers on them. They’ve been covered with unidentified tiny dark insects much of the time, but then ladybugs came and enjoyed chowing down so I left them as is.
The cilantro is doing well. If I actually liked cilantro (it tastes like soap!) I’d be using it already, unlike almost everything else in the garden. I will pick a bit for my husband to enjoy, but really I’m growing it for the (coriander) seeds which is great seasoning for soups, pasta sauce, and many other things.
Also of note is the garlic chives, which didn’t grow anywhere I planted them in my garden but did grow from the few seeds I scattered in the side yard by the creek. If they survive until the fall, I’ll transplant a few for convenience.
Also not pictured is the cherry tomato plant–the one tomato plant I grew that hasn’t died on me while still a seedling. The plant is still fairly small though, and the tomato I took the seeds from was possibly a hybrid so there’s no telling how it will produce.
Indoors the only plants alive at the moment are a couple of eggplant sprouts, a couple of bell pepper sprouts, and a few tomato sprouts that just this afternoon poked up from the dirt.
I’m tired of seeing seedlings die but may get some more Roma tomato seeds anyway as I really want to make and freeze some more tomato paste this year.
The Mexican Mint Marigold is coming back to life after its winter slumber. This area also got the weeding and mulching treatment today so it looks a bit better than this now.
The Mexican Honeysuckle looks almost exactly like it looked when I planted it a month ago. I was hoping it would grow into a small shrub. Maybe as the weather continues to get warmer.
Not pictured are the spearmint, a couple of rosemary plants, oregano, a couple of salvias, and a lavender. My trials of santolini, dichondra, and sedum also aren’t pictured because they still look exactly like they did when planted recently. Grow, plants, grow, come on!
In sad news, the lemon balm didn’t survive my attempt to keep it as a houseplant. The chile pequin and lemon verbena which I planted late last year also appear not to have survived the winter, but I’ll keep checking.
The esperanza that I recently bought and planted is also not yet showing signs of life, while other estabilished esperanza plants in the neighborhood have. Hoping mine is just still putting down roots and will give some green soon.
This year has been a big one for fruit trees. I’ve acquired a persimmon tree, which is still dormant and still looks like just a stick in the ground, but persimmons are known to require some patience.
I transplanted my two-year-old Meyer lemon also. Some of the leaves are starting to yellow, but that’s either due to too much rain or not enough of specific nutrients that I can’t feed it with well while it’s getting so much rain. It had better hang in there until the dry season starts so I can give it more targeted attention.
If that fails, I have another baby Meyer lemon tree inside that just needs a bit more time to grow big and strong .
The satsuma mandarin has the same yellowing leaves as the Meyer lemon. But it’s a survivor, I can feel it.
Finally, there’s the fig tree which is the most promising so far.
In less fruity news, there are also four baby Texas Mountain Laurel trees growing strongly in the front yard. Although just a couple of inches high now, they’ll keep growing slowly and in a couple of years become beautiful little shrubs. And someday, graceful small trees.
As a final bonus, we just discovered these growing in the side yard by the creek. From showing this pic around to coworkers, it sounds like they may be daffodils! They’re doing so well on their own that I’ll just let them be for a while longer.
But what’s this growing in a neglected part of the yard? Ugh, I don’t know how I can ever get rid of all this stuff.
I managed to stay away from the thrift shops all of February, so this shouldn’t be as long a list as last month.
However, one of the things I noticed was that last month I was eating out regularly — three or even four times a week. It’s hard to resist. Therefore, I’m giving up eating out for lent. All the food I purchase will be basics (maybe a jar or two of spaghetti sauce in there though), and I’ll be doing more cooking next month. That should get me back on the right track.
My plant-buying spree continued this month–a couple of fruit trees, some onion transplants, and a handful of small (perennial) plants to experiment with and see what grows well/easily here (I’m hoping for some of these to expand quite a bit). Fortunately, it’s already getting fairly warm out, with highs frequently in the 80s, so from this point out it’s mostly about keeping these alive. No more plant spurges until fall.
Fig tree, Texas Everlasting
Satsuma mandarin tree
Not New Stuff
Toward the end of the month, I stopped at the Really, Really Free Market again to drop off a few items and scored some great finds.
Shirt – I’m slowly refining my style, replacing one shirt at a time.
Pair of jeans – Not needed yet, but I’ll stash these as a backup pair. They’ll need hemming before I wear them anyhow.
Couple of bras – This is the first time I’ve found a bra secondhand which actually fits well, and there were two of them. So excited! Don’t worry, I did wash them.
Lentils & spices – Another rare find. Someone apparently cleaned out their panty, and I grabbed what I expected to use. Very glad to get some marjoram as I’m out of oregano, and marjoram will do in a pinch.
Kitchen lights – These are the long tubes and I’d like to switch to smaller LED lights at some point but that can wait a while longer
Things I didn’t buy
A new mailbox – Early in the month ours was hit by a car and it doesn’t quite close properly anymore. But after being re-erected, it’s functioning well enough.
Mulch – I can always use more mulch, but I stole a couple of leaf bags and an xmas tree left on the curb on lawn-waste pickup day. We’re rich with organic matter now.
Even more plants – Yes, I could have gone much further.
A new umbrella – I left my umbrella one day and got rained on slightly. It wasn’t horrible.
Shampoo – I’ve been doing water-only hair washing for several months now and am never going back.
There are a few new items on the wishlist. I may be hitting the thrift stores in March for those first two.
Rain boots or other tall sturdy boots for gardening by the creek, now that the poison ivy is starting to spring back to life.
Mini-blinds for the dining room window, for more privacy than the current curtains offer. (We’re right on street with high pedestrian traffic to look in.)
Fresh tomato seeds if I keep killing off my tomato attempts 😦
New tub? I don’t know who invented these cheap plastic tub-like shells. Not sure if this one can be saved.
Bricks/pavers – This one is difficult to score second-hand without a car, but I’ve been very slowly collecting the rogue abandoned brick for the garden and would like to pick up the pace a bit.
As a kid, an occasional chore I had was to water the plants. I never wanted to, so I never had to be told to not water the plants. But now after getting into gardening a bit myself, that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn. That you can kill plants by overwatering them!
For a while, I wanted a really nifty rain gauge that would tell me exactly how much it had rained. After joining the Buy Nothing New project, I considered making one myself. It would just take a cup, a ruler, and a permanent marker to get my beautiful rain measurements.
But finally it dawned on me that I was still overcomplicating things. I threw a spare bowl outside and it now sits there waiting for rain. Sometimes it rains and then the sun comes out, and by the time I look at the bowl it’s empty or with only a few drops clinging on. No matter whether it was just a light rain or if the sun dried it quickly, it simply doesn’t count as a watering for my plants.
But today, oh, today. There was only some light drizzle when I woke up. I was disappointed that the forecasted rain had failed me again and most of the plants were likely still thirsty. Yet when I got outside the water gauge was full! This meant I could just leisurely stroll around the yard and admire the plants that were growing themselves. No need to even stick my finger in the dirt to check the moisture level. The plants will have their fill for at least a couple more days.
My rain gauge is perfect because I can read it even from the bedroom window, because it’s more durable than the flimsy plastic one I would have otherwise bought, and because once the neighborhood cat curled up inside the dry warm bowl for a nap. You’ll never see that with a store-bought rain gauge. 🙂
After a week full of negative thoughts flooding my head, I wanted to do something positive. So I selected a location with plenty of sun, not too close to the house, not too far from the faucet, and with decent soil (almost no rocks found during exploratory digging). And soon my baby (2 year old) Meyer lemon tree had a new home, free from the plastic pot that had contained it for this past year. I made a ring of random bricks from around the yard, and then filled it slightly with a mulch of crumpled leaves and pine needles.
This plant is a survivor. After living the first year of its life cooped up inside, I had finally gotten the idea that it might like hanging out outside. Sure enough, being indoors must have been torture and this baby tree was finally able to stretch her wings and let her spirit soar after experiencing the warm sun directly and feeling the breeze rustling through her leaves. After a year outside, it was time to give her a permanent home in the garden where she is guaranteed plenty of room for future growth, both above and below ground.
And for her spiritual growth, I needed to find some companions. Today I had the day off work to go visit The Natural Gardener and do just that. I picked up a “Golden Bells” Esperanza shrub (after previous failed attempts to grow it from seed) and a Fuyu persimmon tree. A kumquat would have made a great companion but it’s apparently not kumquat planting time.
Yes, it doesn’t look like much right now (as a bus rider I chose the smallest one available), but it will grow. Fuyu persimmon trees grow up to 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It has a long taproot and is now situated in what looks like some fairly decent soil. All it needs is a few bricks or something around it to keep it cozy and maybe a bit of fertilizer once I’m sure there won’t be any more hard frosts. Lou here will grow up to be a behemoth and someday will provide us with lots of delicious fruits to boot.
It may seem like a small thing, but planting these two trees in the yard has made me feel a lot better. I’m looking forward to the future now, as these young plants continue to grow and as more trees and shrubs join them in the future. I know the future will be a beautiful place.
The garden’s been quiet recently but it’s definitely not snowed over here in Austin. I’ve harvested the dried cowpeas and chopped the tops off, and I’ve occasionally thrown a few more veggie seeds in the garden beds. A week ago there was a hard freeze and the marigold plant out front finally died, along with the zinnias and dianthus. The mexican mint marigold and lemon balm look pretty dead too, but those may just be hibernating for the winter. Fingers crossed.
Some of the seeds were placed in a row and some were just scattered haphazardly. It’s a good things weeds have filled in most of the other beds because this first one has a lot of sad exposed soil. There’s a lot of henbit around, what I believe is wood sorrel, and the occasional dandelion, plus unknown varieties of weeds. I should really learn how to mulch properly…
The variety is Monstreux de Viroflay, so the leaves are supposed to be monsters. Not sure if this plant is still in its infancy or if it’s just unhappy. But I’m pretty sure at least that it actually it spinach because the leaves have that spinach-y taste to them. Not bad. Too bad the others haven’t come up. I’ll try to start some more later in the winter.
This one I’m not so sure about. It could be broccoli or another weed. I’m assuming it’s broccoli because a month ago it was just stems in all direction. The leaves had been totally eaten by something that knows this plant is delicious.
Carrots / Celery
I sowed three varieties of carrots, a different one in each bed. And I threw some celery seeds in as well. These look like carrots to me. Someday I’ll learn to tell the difference between carrot, celery, and Queen Anne’s Lace.
These are supposedly cold season beans, but are totally new to me. I don’t know if they’ll fruit or even if I have that disease which can result in death if I eat fava beans. Either way, these plants look nice and they’re scattered in various places around the backyard.
Chard / Beets
Before the frost, several seedlings were popping up. The yellow ones are definitely chard, so I’m assuming that’s what the red ones are also since they look very similar. Beets are in the same family and some of those seeds were in there too, so only time will tell.
Unfortunately, after the frost the numbers seem to have dropped off. But at least a couple of them appear to have revived.
I didn’t see any of these left after the frost and was scared that these died, but the stalks are just really slender and easy to miss unless you’re looking really closely.
Everyone in Austin should grow garlic. It’s the easiest thing in the world. Stick a few cloves in the ground in October, and then pull out full heads of garlic the next summer. It’s brilliant!
Around the Yard
Some other edibles that showed promise outside of the three garden mess beds.
When we moved into this house in February, one of the first things I did was plant some seed potatoes in a random location amist grass. It was kind of late to be planting potatoes here but I ruined all chances of survival by promptly forgetting where they were and likely cut them down with the grass a few times.
But about a month ago, I saw four of these plants in a sort of row and, after some head-scratching, remembered the potatoes. Alas, since the frost I once again cannot find them. They must have been totally obliterated. We’ll see if they poke their heads out again in the spring.
English Peas / Snap Peas
The English peas died a long time ago and the snap peas were never really happy. It may have something to do with the lousy unamended soil I planted them in, but it was really a test to see what would thrive here. One of the snap pea plants hung in there through and produced a couple of peas. I finally pulled it out today for a picture of what might have been.
The cowpeas had no complaints about the soil. They thrived even as I neglected to water them. I only ate a few handfuls fresh. The rest I let dry out before collecting, so as to have many to plant in the spring. We’ll see how they do in various areas around the yard to make sure it wasn’t just that one location. Besides, legumes are good for rotating with pretty much every other crop.
Red Chili Bean
The seed beans were the same ones I’ve used for chili recently, picked up from the bulk bin at the supermarket, so no clue what variety they really are. But considering that I threw the few seeds on the ground on some partly dug up soil, then quickly retreated inside after ants attacked, and forever after neglected them, I am super impressed with the result. Then again, I had to pull the plant before the bean pod had fully ripened because bugs were starting to eat up the plant. I may try this again in the spring with a dedicated area. If the ants don’t scare me away again, that is.
This may be cheating since these plants joined the garden from the store only a couple of months ago and haven’t grown, but I’m happy to say that they survived the frost and look as healthy as ever. (Note: The weed in the bottom center of this picture is almost definitely Queen Anne’s lace. I’m pretty sure that’s a different leaf shape than the carrots posted above. Pretty sure.)
I have no intention of using this as an edible, but adding a picture here anyway.
Dwarf Buford Holly
Same for this shrub.
And this one. Although I have no idea what it is, I think it’s lovely. And it’s definitely thrived on the spilled water in its prime location directly beneath the faucet.
Meyer Lemon Tree
Still no lemons. Then again, it’s only two years old. I was tempted to give it some liquid fertilizer, but it’ll survive another couple of months before feeding it and then finding it a new home in the ground.
The Indoor Garden
Or at least, the scattered pots sitting on the table near our only south-facing window. I’ve planted persimmon, plum, and meyer lemon seeds which haven’t yet sprouted. Broccoli seeds are the more likely candidates to survive. The Mexican Bird of Paradise plants were lovely for a while and then passed on, as did the American Beautyberry.
I’ve never grown rosemary from seed to this size before. The secret is apparently to not water it too much. Also in that pot are a couple of lantana seedlings. No point in replanting into separate containers until I’m fairly certain that they’ll survive.
Texas Mountain Laurel
Not a food plant. Somehow this indoor plant is already a smidge taller than the one I transplanted near the front driveway. That one survived the frost just fine, so I may transplant this one also before long. I have no idea which plant is poking out behind it. To the right you can also see what I believe is a Ruellia sprout based on the shape of the seed, but it’s dying so it won’t interfere.
This bit of green just peeked out for the first time yesterday. So excited because I got the seed from a locally-grown tangerine, so if this someday turns into a beautiful fruit tree it will have a history in central Texas.
I went to Home Depot this morning so I checked to see if they had any of the rosemary Christmas trees that I’ve heard about recently. Sure enough, I rescued one at half off and am excited to have more rosemary out in the yard soon. I was tempted to get more, but no, I need an excuse to learn how to propagate these without killing them. Besides, this variety says it only grows to two feet tall and I love them large for yard decoration.
While writing up this blogpost, it finally struck me that perhaps henbit was edible and after a quick check online, it turns out that yes henbit is edible! Tomorrow when I get out into the garden again, you know what I’ll be sampling. Can’t believe I never thought of this before. 🙂
The national Arbor Day may be celebrated in the Spring, but here in Texas it’s celebrated the first Friday in November. This is because rather than worries about continuous freezing weather, here most trees need as much time as possible to grow strong before the intense summer heat.
I’m not sure if I even need to say this, but trees are awesome!
Trees sequester carbon and produce oxygen for cleaner air.
Shade from trees can keep your home cooler.
Shade from trees can make spending time outside in the summer bearable.
Tree windbreaks can reduce heating expenses during the winter.
Trees provide habitat for birds and other creatures.
Tree roots bind soil to prevent erosion.
The roots also filter water that is absorbed through the ground to replenish aquifers.
The tree canopy holds a lot of rain that never gets to the ground and helps with the flash flooding we regularly see here in Austin.
Deciduous trees drop their leaves, which make great mulch or compost.
Trees are beautiful. I’ve read that extra greenery can even reduce crime rates.
Sadly I’m not planting any trees soon. I do have some empty space on my lawn that could use it, but I want a kumquat for my next tree and citrus is best planted in Spring. Have you been thinking of planting trees soon? If you’re in Austin, TreeFolks even gives away some saplings and small trees throughout the season. Check their site for giveaway events.
However, I’m not doing nothing. I would love to watch a tree grow to mature size from seed and have been patiently waiting to see if my peach, plum, or persimmon seeds will sprout. They seeds were taken from delicious local fruits, so there’s hope that they may thrive here. The pomegranate sprouted earlier but is getting droopy and probably won’t make it. 😦
On the bright side, I grabbed some seed from Texas Mountain Laurels (TML) in the area and my first attempt (planted September 30) is looking promising.
TML is a slow-grower so it’ll be many years before it gets to full tree size. But I’ve seen them shrub-sized and that looks lovely also. I hear they are covered with beautiful purple blossoms earlier in the year, will have to look out for that next year! How did I never pay attention to this before?
This week to make sure that I at least have multiple chickens in my basket, I planted two more little pots with TML and am anxiously waiting for them to sprout. On the next Texas Arbor Day maybe they’ll find their home outside. 🙂