Monday, December 13, 2010

despite drought and pests, decent December vegetable harvest

Second (small) beet harvest
Caterpillars weren't satisfied eating the beet greens and moved on to the beets themselves.
Austin's officially in the severe drought stage again. I don't think it's rained since September. The fat, woolly, black and orange Giant Leopard Moth caterpillars have been eating everything in sight. And yet, I've managed to grow some cool-weather vegetables, and I'm extremely grateful.
first time I've tried growing Fall potatoes
I planted them a little bit late (early October, I think) but the Fall potato experiment worked! We made and ate buttery mashed potatoes within a few hours of digging them. Heavenly.
first time garlic: foreground bigger ones I planted in September; small ones were a November experiment
I planted my first-ever garlic in September, and they seem to be doing fine. After pulling out the spent green bean plants, I decided to try more garlic in their place, even though November is apparently a little late to plant garlic. I faithfully watered the new guys but wasn't expecting much. But Saturday, voila: the little garlic seedlings appeared. All 15 of them!
sauteeing chard, broccoli greens, and kale with onions, shallots, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes
My broccoli plants are producing large leaves but are just now showing tiny crowns, so I snipped bunches of those leaves, plus dinosaur and Russian kale, and some chard to make a big pot of green soup this weekend. I added roasted onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes; plus minced ginger/garlic/jalapeno, cumin, cinnamon, fresh cilantro, and salt. It tastes great but isn't pretty because I used the immersion blender. I love my immersion blender.
ugly but healthy, tasty ginger sweet potato-greens soup
Did I mention how much I love my immersion blender? Oh yes, back to vegetables. After harvesting the remaining beets, a third of which were destroyed by those dang black woollies, I weeded and composted that bed and planted even more beet seeds.

I asked Larry, farmer/co-owner of  Boggy Creek Farm , if it was crazy late to sow beet seeds. He said I had a decent chance as long as I cover the little seedlings (assuming they emerge) when it's cold. Carol Ann, farmer/co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm and married to Larry, told me that the evil black woolly caterpillars and their gray and beige cousins are a relatively new (past 2-3 years) scourge to this area and that birds won't eat them and BT won't kill them. Wasps are their only obvious predator. Hmm...may revise my previous pacifist approach.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

just in time for Thanksgiving: early carrots and late beans

I didn't thin all the carrot seedlings as thoroughly as I should have, as you can see from this curly duo.

But overall, I'm thrilled with this season's early group of little "Carnival Blend" (from Botanical Interests) carrots. I, like many other Austin gardeners, doubted that those seeds I planted the first week of August when the weather was consistently in the upper 90s and dry would actually make it. I had to hand water them three times a day every day for at least a month. I'll plant more seeds in the new bare spots tomorrow and hope for the best.
The "Contender" and "Royal Burgundy" green beans have been consistently producing for awhile but are winding down now. I'll definitely try them again in the spring! I plan to pull out the bean plants this weekend and, although it may be a little late, plant more garlic and shallots in the bean beds.
All my lettuces (leaf, Lolla Rossa, Little Gem, and  romaine) are looking good except for some damage from Leopard Moth black woolly caterpillars. The caterpillars and some grasshoppers seem to have moved from my kale to the broccoli and cauliflower. I hope the cooler weather we're supposed to get this weekend slows them down.

My front yard isn't looking so great, but it primarily consists of established drought-tolerant plants, so it ought to bounce back next spring. I prefer to save water for the vegetable garden and practice a little tough love elsewhere.

Monday, November 15, 2010

garden bloggers' bloom day

 Cooler weather but precious little rain has led me to water my vegetable garden and a few potted plants but allow the rest of the yard to fend for itself. So I don't have a big bloom showing this month. You can find other garden bloggers' blooms at Carol's May Dreams Gardens blog. Also blooming are blue and white plumbago, lavender, trailing lantana, a few blackfoot daisies, and ruellia.
Snapdragon with loropetalum
Marigolds with chard and shallots
This Torenia has been blooming since early April. It's my favorite summer annual.
"Diamond Frost" Euphorbia: curious to see if it's too tender to make it through a predicted mild winter.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween weekend greens and grasshoppers

Husband Kurt and I finally put up a few Halloween decorations today and will celebrate our 11th anniversary tomorrow. Meanwhile, I've been harvesting (all from seed) several quarts of kale and chard, one big bowl of baby lettuces, a couple of handfuls of green beans ("Contender" and "Royal Burgundy"), the last few cherry tomatoes, and a few banana peppers. Tonight I'll make a big pot of curried sweet potato kale soup.

But I'm having a major battle with grasshoppers, who have decimated one of my cauliflower plants and chewed big holes in the kale. I'm also battling these fuzzy black caterpillars.
I don't know what they are, and I can't yet bring myself to kill them because, well, I just have trouble killing anything except mosquitoes and fleas. Must be the Quaker side of my ancestry. I have relocated a few of them, but that hasn't helped, and now they're all over the place. I've got some research to do!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

tardy garden bloggers' bloom day

marigolds in the potato patch
Not much new to report this month except that the delicious cooler weather has helped lift my spirits, as well as those of several almost-dead plants. It's still dry, though, so my hoses and watering cans are getting quite a workout. You can see blooms from all over the place at Carol's May Dreams Gardens.
blackfoot daisies don't mind the lack of rain
resurrected diamond frost euphorbia
fall aster
Mexican bush sage
snapdragons and phlox
Also blooming: Turks Cap, blue plumbago, purple and white ruellia, rosemary, abelia, confetti lantana, indigo spires, white gaura, leadwort plumbago, and pavonia.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

not another vegetable update

Gregg's Mistflower with Monarch butterfly
I actually have been doing some gardening that does not involve obsessing over vegetable seedlings. I potted some cool-weather annuals, transplanted some perennials, and sowed my first Larkspur, Sweet Pea, Bachelor Button, Viola, Nigella, Flax, and Scabiosa (ugly name, no wonder it's also called Pincushion Flower) seeds.
new Gregg's Mistflowers
As much as I love blue-purple flowers, I had somehow overlooked Gregg's Mistflower, a great butterfly magnet, until now.
Sweet Pea seedlings ("White Elegance" and "Singing the Blues")
I expect the Sweet Peas to eventually get fairly vine-like, so I planted them close to the fence to make it easier to rig something for them.
My first kalanchoe (in front pot) is a gift from MSS, who really likes that chair.
We transplanted some artemisia ("Silver King"?) to help camouflage the ugly Grande fiber optic utility box.
Did I mention that box is ugly? And that we don't even subscribe to Grande? And that it's crooked?
newly potted white snapdragons and phlox
Just a teensy vegetable update: look at these pretty baby Romaine lettuces.
baby Romaine lettuces, to be thinned next weekend
The end.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Treats

red spider lilies--first time (in 21 years) appearance, I think
My first time growing beans, "Contender" variety
I'm so grateful for Austin's recent much cooler temperatures. Being able to sleep with the bedroom window slightly open and still needing a blanket is fabulous! But, still I must remind myself to water the oregano and plumbago we relocated last weekend because they're now in full sun. And I continue to give all my seeds and seedlings a decent spritz once or twice a day: so far it's paid off.
Yep, I've diligently watered these "Early Wonder" beet seedlings, but I really need to thin them now.
Seeded these carrots in August but had to water them 2-3 times a day for quite awhile. They look okay so far.
Have also been diligent about watering these leaf lettuce seedlings.
Cauliflower in front of "Royal Burgundy" green beans. 

Seeded this kale in August, and it's really grown fast! Need to eat some.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

late garden bloggers' bloom day

white gaura

I don't really have a good excuse for being a day late for the bloom day party, but I do have lots of blooms to show, thanks to the recent heavy rains from tropical storm Hermine last week. Make sure to check out other garden bloggers' blooms at Carol's May Dreams Gardens. Thanks for hosting, Carol!

leadwort plumbago
my huge plumbago
appeared out of nowhere, Scarlet spiderling (Boerhaavia coccinea) Thanks to MSS for the I.D.
indigo spires salvia finally makes an appearance
first-ever green bean (Contender) flowers
exploding trailing lantana with some white verbena in the back
society garlic
sparkly white ruellia
I cheated and took this photo of my waning oxblood lilies two days ago.