Wednesday, November 9, 2011

warts and all

fall aster, basil, potatoes, chard, tiny lettuces, and plumbago in one of back vegetable beds

I was going to wait until I'd weeded the vegetable beds to post any photos, but since I've been such a delinquent blogger lately, I decided to post what's been going on here, warts and all.

at least they're taller than the weeds: chard, red winter kale, dinosaur kale, red cabbage, golden beets, Romanesco broccoli, parsley, dill, sage, cilantro, mustard green, volunteer tomato, and Thai basil

I started all my fall vegetables from seeds (except the mustard green) from Botanical Interests or Seed Savers Exchange. Because of our continued drought, I hand watered the seeds three times a day until they were 1-inch seedlings then cut back to a quick watering once a day. Now that it's a little cooler, I can give them a drink every other day and a once-a-week drip soaking. So far so good.

volunteer butternut squash (probably from our compost pile) and red cabbage seedlings

The ivy that's covered our garage shed finally died, so husband Kurt spent all afternoon carefully removing all those twisty vines intertwined in the beautiful old board and batten siding to reveal, what else? The beautiful old board and batten siding, circa 1941, although it's showing its age.

shed sans ivy

My first salvia madrensis is jazzing up the corner of the shed.

I'm pleased to have already harvested one big bowl of "Contender" green beans and to see a few beets almost ready to pull. The squirrels have been digging up various seeds, which has forced me to do successive seeding, something I've never had the planning or discipline to do before. Never thought I'd have a reason to thank squirrels. 

In the back beds, my potato, broccoli, cauliflower, snow pea, carrot, and beet plants are all doing okay. Now I just need to get to weeding them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

despite drought and heat, some bright spots

Trailing lantana's thriving with a little supplemental water.

It's almost October, but Austin's drought and heat continue to break records. It's difficult not to get discouraged with this continued daily hand watering routine of both drought-tolerant plants--"tolerant", not "impervious"--and vegetable seedlings. I guess I'm just stubborn, but I keep plugging away. Small successes go a long way at this point.

Added some mulch to the Blackfoot Daisies, salvias, and a newly planted agapanthus.

Mexican feathergrass, purple fountain grass, and white ruellia are super troopers.

Two weeks ago we revived our raised beds with more homemade compost, and I planted green bean, cauliflower, broccoli, beet, carrot, snowpea, kale, chard, parsley, and cabbage seeds. I've been watering them around three times a day, and all are now seedlings, which I'll thin this weekend. Last week I planted potatoes, too. I'm holding off on seeding lettuces, dill, and cilantro until it's consistently cooler. If it ever does become consistently cooler...

The "Contender" bush bean (far left) seeds I planted two weeks ago have grown quickly.

red winter and dinosaur kale seedlings

Time to go water the seedlings again. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

garden bloggers' bloom day, late again

Blackfoot Daisies
We finally have a 30 percent chance of rain today, but I'm not holding my breath. That it's only 90 degrees at 1 p.m. is a breath of fresh air, however! Austin has had 85 days of triple-digit heat this year, record-breaking. Mind-numbing. And continued exceptional drought and hideous wildfires. So please forgive my tardy post and lack of botanical names in today's post. Check out other garden bloggers' blooms at May Dreams Gardens.

Thank goodness the Oxblood lilies returned, even if they're a bit puney.

I forgot what kind of salvia this is. Uhm, a white one.

Cheery potted Gerber daisy

Rain (??) lilies from Annie at The Transplantable Rose

Also blooming are Turks Cap, plumbago, leadwort plumbago, white gaura, blue daze, torenia, purple and white ruellia, and rock rose.

Monday, August 15, 2011

garden bloggers' bloom day

Unfortunately, very little has changed since last month's bloom day except that it's even hotter and drier. If I'm counting right, today will be Austin's 61st day of triple-digit heat. Sigh. Be sure to check out other garden bloggers' blooms at Carol's May Dream Gardens.

leadwort plumbago groundcover

ruellia and artemisia

garlic chive and plumbago

I couldn't stand to leave this cute planter empty any longer, so I found this dwarf gomphrena and put enough rocks on top to keep the squirrels from digging it out.

Also occasionally blooming this month are white gaura, plumbago, prairie verbena, trailing lantana, pavonia, blue daze, and blackfoot daisy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

exceptional drought-tolerant plants

cenizo (Texas "Silverado" sage)
Looks like tropical storm Don is not going to grace Austin with any rain on this dry 45th day of triple-digit heat, so I'm celebrating my truly drought-tolerant plants. Plants that are surviving in full sun in this exceptional drought with NO supplemental water. Amazing. 
artemisia "Silver king":
This artemisia spreads fairly quickly and ends up two to three feet tall. I like it better than artemisia "Powis castle" because its foliage is more delicate. This stand came from one four-inch pot planted three or four years ago.
soft leaf yucca and rosemary:
The yuccas and rosemary appear a little stressed.
Not sure exactly which abelia this is. In "normal" springs and summers, it puts out tiny white fragrant blooms that attract bees.
front to back: agaves, gray santolina, and yucca
Sorry, but I don't know what type of agaves these are. Same story for the yucca. The white blooms are trailing lantana that I've watered every other week.
unknown sotol with gray santolina and Mexican feathergrass
I need help identifying this one! I didn't keep the tag, but I could swear its common name had the word "leather" or "rubber" in it, but I can't find it online. It spreads medium quickly and gets almost three feet tall. It blooms these teeny flowers (smaller than a pea) intermittently spring through fall:
Anyone recognize it?  EDITED 7-30-11: Husband Kurt found it! It's Jatropha dioica var. dioica, commonly known as leatherstem, leatherwood, or rubber plant.

My salvias, gaura, lantana, and plumbago are doing okay with weekly watering. Having to hand water my potted plants, herbs, and cucumbers almost daily is getting really old, so I particularly appreciate the tough guys I'm able to ignore. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

another crispy garden bloggers' bloom day

zinnia from mislabeled seed packet
I really meant to post something between bloom days, but 32 days of triple digit heat have somewhat fried my motivation and creativity. Please escape Texas' heat and visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see less dusty gardeners' blooms.
I shot this four days ago: my beloved rugged spider lily, hymenocallis 'tropical giant'
Evolvulus glomeratus 'blue daze' with blackfoot daisies in the vegetable garden.
Trailing verbena loves full sun but still needs a little bit of water in this weather.
some kind of Gerber daisy--forgot to save the tag
Armenian cucumber flower
Also hanging in there today are the following blooms: white gaura, blue plumbago, white trailing verbena, white and purple verbena, various raggedy salvias, bog sage, potted white bougainvillea, leadwort plumbago, turks cap, potted torenia, and society garlic. Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

August in June garden bloggers' bloom day

The coleus I planted in this cool planter was ripped out by squirrels  within hours.
Today is this year's 11th day of triple-digit heat. Mid-June! And of course, Austin's still in an exceptional drought. I think the term "exceptional" is a little too cute for what is the most severe level of the drought o'meter, but no one asked me. Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see other garden bloggers' blooms in more moderate climates!
My new favorite, bog sage. Thanks getting grounded
trailing verbena with a tiny bit of santolina (bottom right)
more trailing verbena
white gaura with a tiny dot of blue leadwort plumbago 
I don't care if plumbago is overused; it's a tough cool-colored winner.
White bougainvillea seems to love all this sun and heat. I do have to water it every other day.
Also blooming now (barely) are salvias, marigolds, zinnias, blackfoot daisies, lobelia, Turks' cap, and torenia

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

happy tomato report

Black Prince, Green Cherokee, Lemon Boy, Black Krim, Sungolds,  Habanero, Serranos
Despite the fact that Austin's drought has returned to the most extreme level, "exceptional"--we had two 100-degree days last week--we've managed to grow some darn pretty tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. I'm thrilled, especially because the Sungolds are the only variety I've grown before.

The Black Prince tomatoes have been the most prolific and are fairly tasty, although their skins are a little tough. The less prolific Black Krims are my idea of the almost-perfect heirloom: juicy, rich, a little smoky, a little sweet, somewhat tangy, with tender skin. Green Cherokee is tied for almost perfection with the Black Krim, just a little tangier.

The Lemon Boys are prolific and more acidic, less sweet. Today I picked my first precious Cherokee Purple from a plant given to me by the tomato queen, Renee Studebaker. It's ripening in the safety of my kitchen.
Juicy, thin-skinned Armenian cucumbers
Contender and Tavera bush beans
first-ever okra flower
I'm tempted to plant more okra next year just because the flowers are so beautiful! The squirrels have discovered the newer tomato beds and stolen a few green Lemon Boys, so we'll try the bird netting again this weekend. The drought seems to have chased off most of the leaf-footed stinkbugs at least.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

better bloggers' bloom day

Vitex tree
Yep, I'm four days late posting for garden bloggers' bloom day, but I did shoot these photos on the 15th. Carol at May Dreams Gardens invites bloggers to share what's blooming in their gardens on the 15th of each month, so make sure to check her blog to see blooms from all over the place.
I thought these balloon flowers were annuals, but these came back from last spring!
gray santolina
returning Mexican bush sage with new salvias and "silver dragon" liriopes  planted  in the huge old rosemary's spot
old faithful plumbago
another old faithful, Turks Cap
I think this is a hybrid annual salvia. Such an unusual color.
ornamental black pearl pepper and lobelia
Clearly this packet of mixed-color zinnia seeds was mislabeled, because I'm not a pink zinnia person.
Also blooming now are purple and white ruellia, bougainvillea, white gaura, leadwort plumbago, verbena, zexmenia, torenia, blackfoot daisies, and society garlic.