Thursday, December 22, 2011
It's also the perfect time of year to get some needed pruning done. The trees are dormant and for us in Arlington we have pretty nice weather.
There are three reasons to prune a tree, shaping, fruit production and removing damaged or dead material.
If you want to shape a tree you first need to figure out what shape you want the tree to take on. This will depend on what kind of tree it is and where it was planted. An apple tree for instance usually need plenty of room to spread out and you would thus prune the branches to give plenty of room between the main limbs. If you moved into a house where the apple tree is in a more cramped space you might do something similar but with the branches moving more upward, cutting off branches that might want to be hitting the house or other structures.
For fruit production you will want to remove sucker branches. These grow more or less straight up from the trunk or sometimes large branches. they usually don't produce fruit but are easy to remove since they are new and green. You would remove these in the spring when they form. They can also be removed in the winter but by this time will have become woody. If you bought a bush from the store then the rootstock might not be the same as the rest of the bush. Suckers originating from the base may not even be of the same type and can take over if not removed.
For removing dead or damaged limbs you will need to figure out what limbs need removing and make sure you have removed enough. A rotted limb might go into a larger limb and the entire thing might need removing. This happened with my fig tree. A limb as big around as my arm had to be cut out. The next year it produced better than ever since it didn't have to work on healing as much.
One of the main things to consider with any pruning is making sure the tree as a whole is not damaged in the process. A cut too far back can damage the limb or trunk the pruned limb is being cut off of. Better in that case not to cut too much lest you have to cut the next branch too.
I would recommend cutting these off as soon as you see them start to grow.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The long part of making pesto is picking the leaves off of the plant. You don't want the woody stem in the pesto since it won't cook down quite right when you add it to a dish. i can't imagine eating pasta with chicken or possibly shrimp and finding a hard woody piece of basil in the mix.
The recipe I used calls for pine nuts, but I used walnuts instead, along with garlic and olive oil. As usual it took a while for the leaves to get chopped up enough to blend well but in the end it made 16 cubes of pesto. One cube is plenty to season a pasta dish for my wife and me and should last most of the year the way we use it. Last year we didn't get quite as much and had to get some pesto from the store.
I tossed the flower heads along with the stems back into the garden to finish reseeding for next year's crop. There were also some smaller basil plants up front that I left. The mild freeze seemed to have mostly gotten to them and weren't many good leaves to use.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Here in the metroplex we've had unusually warm weather. No real frost to speak of. It was a little unusual this morning when I turned my wipers on. At first it wiped off just fine. They were on intermitant and as soon as I had any real speed, over 10 mph) the water froze and the blades scraped against them. Once I got really moving though the water was liquid again. It was just on the edge it seemed.
Monday, November 28, 2011
The coldest time of day is often just after sunrise before the sun has had a chance to really change the temperature any.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
I know fruit lovers usually know that when winter comes it's citrus time. Unfortunately it seems that these same people seem to forget that apple season is here and now is the time you can get some really good apples.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Head south and you have the humidity and the gulf keeping things in check. Go north and you have winters that stay cold and don't jump to the mid eighties all of the sudden convincing your broccoli and lettuce to bolt. Head east even and you start to hit a little more humidity. By the time you reach Louisiana green is a major color in the landscape.
Couple that with the grey blotch you can see in images from space, the grand mass of concrete which keeps this area nearly 5 degrees hotter than surrounding areas and there goes your moisture.
I was watching the weather a few weeks ago when we were supposed to have rain and you could see the clouds and rain part in the middle as it reached the metroplex. There was so little humidity and so much heat that it absorbed the clouds before they could do much of anything.
Yet here I am still. What can I say, I live really close to work.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I don't know why she came up this far north. Usually they stay in the south, only occasionally visiting south Texas. More often you can find them in Brazil or possibly south Florida. I guess she was atracted by the turk's cap she was feeding on.
Unfortunately I didn't have the pleasure of taking this picture but my wife did along with several other pictures of the yard and gardens.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It's one of the ones from the trip to Samana, Dominican Republic. Hope I can go back soon, it was lovely there.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Plenty of water was provided to keep the workers hydrated and working. Fortunately the heat stayed at bay making the work much more pleasant.
From the garden the view of the arbor was great. Hopefully this will attract more visitors to see the nice planter beds.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
This summer we had to resort to store bought pesto. I can't say it was bad but I'd rather not spend the money if I can help it.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Anyway, the danger we now face instead of scorching heat of an oven is drowning plants, especially for container plants. I have a few in actual cups with no drainage. Now I've poked holes in the bottom and they're all good but in the past I've forgotten and killed many a plant including an apple tree while I was away camping. Fortunately it didn't rain where I was. That would have been miserable.
This is also the time to check existing drainage and fix any problems in the yard or garden. Standing water can cause root rot and breeds mosquitos.
Remember to keep well and dry off once you're done. A cup of tea would be nice afterwards too.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Up front there is still a clump of chives. Half of the lavender plants made it, unfortunately that means that half of them didn't. The purple cone flowers have some green left. Since they come up every year from the root they'll be fine. One pepper plant is springing back even though the last peppers it made are still hanging on the plant shrivled up.
Out back the tomatoes of course have a few survivors as previously mentioned. My day lilly plant from down south is hanging in there and some of the oxalis around it has shown up again. The onions didn't make it. I got a few out of the dirt but they weren't any bigger than my finger.
I need to check on the grape vine. It might be either dead or needing some TLC.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I have a number of seeds now trying to germinate and since I don't currently have a lot of citrus plants I figure now is a good time to start some more and review the steps and information to go about doing so.
The seeds I will be using are a bit older but they don't seem to have lost any volume so I'll just stick with what I have. Results are usually pretty quick so I'll know if I have to go buy some more limes or whatnot.
I even have the lemon seeds that were in an older post about seeds and what they look like, still pretty good hits on the google image search. They're still different colors too so I know which ones are meyer lemons.
All I really need to do is get some larger pots and good soil. Then peel the outer shell off of the seed and plant. Water when needed. Wait patiently.
A good rule of thumb, is the more you're waiting for the shorter the wait. Typically something will happen every few days of you have a lot of stuff germinating. If you want to see results quickly then plant some beans while you're at it. It will make the wait for everything else seem shorter.
Monday, September 26, 2011
At the back of the house there are still some tomato plants that have endured the heat and kept alive as well as some new tomato plants that have decided to sprout.
On the side of the house there's basil, beets and cucumber.
At the front of the house there's chives and fennel.
At the garden there are still the zucchini and squash plants as well as a little bee balm and onion. This fall they should produce well.
Pulled some onions from the back that seemed done for the summer and they were tiny. So maybe fall onions will be better.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I put the three in dirt today and will put the floaters in sirt this evening. Need some more pots for planting.
On the wide variety seeds there were two floaters and 8 corks.
I put a little bit of pine needles on top of the dirt to help with the acidity since we have relatively low acid soils around here.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
As I type this the seeds are soaking up water and germinating. Soon I should have little sprouts to put into 3-5 gallon containers until spring. They need room for the tap root.
When spring comes I will transplant them outside mainly between my and my neighbor's house, but anywhere I can find full sun or nearly full sun. She wanted something planted there anyway and they make really nice bushes. I should be able to get 16-20 bushes there. Spacing for good production seems to be about 3 feet but I might have to end up zig-zaging them to have them fit well.
They should be hardy by the next winter and growing well. It will take a few years before I can make good cuttings from them and by then I will know which bushes I want to take cuttings from for more bushes.
If I don't have more land to plant bushes on then I will talk with my neighbors to see if I can plant them in their yards, those with enough sun and pay them a portion of the profit from the bushes grown on their land.
All leaves will be hand picked that will be used for tea but I will be using a trimmer to keep the bushes in shape. It will probably take only me and my wife to pick leaves at first but there are probably some neighborhood kids that would like to make a quick buck picking. There are some good families in the area.
Still don't know what I'm going to brand it as...
Monday, September 12, 2011
I have therefore obtained some seeds and am trying to sprout and grow them. They are hardy in zones 7-9 and I'm in zone 7b or 8a supposedly. It feels more like zone why-won't-anything-grow-here at times. The plan is to plant the bushes between drives where the dirt has always mounded and has plenty of sun.
Below are the seeds germinating in a plastic bag. There should be moss or some such thing but I'm out of cotton balls at the moment so I'm doing what I can until I get to the store.
Hopefully I'll have sprouts soon.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Another way to water is tossin the ice from your drink when you are done with it at the base of the plants. It waters them and cools them down, still 104 here.
With all of this I still have managed to keep my basil and beets alive and well along with a ton of weeds.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
We cut up the light part of the leeks into thin slices and sauteed it in oil with garlic until tender. Added the potato, only one, cut up into small cubes and two cups of stock. Cooked it down for a little more than 20 minutes until the veggies were soft and threw it in the blender.
It still needed a little more salt
I also added a little shredded cheese to it to make it creamier. I should have added bacon but then it would have been even fattier so I refrained.
Had it again today for lunch.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Today I'm going to pick zucchini and see what else is out in the garden that's looking good. Maybe someone out there will be willing to let me have some seeds from their crops. If not, there's still some seeds I want to put in the ground for when the heat lets up. Who knows, maybe the seeds will sprout and stay shaded under the huge squash leaves.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
The fairytale castle cactus is getting bigger. It still looks like just a tower, almost an inch tall, but at least it's growing. It's not meant to be an outside plant except in the spring and fall. Likes water, but not too much, and mild temperatures.
The plumeria and kaffir lime tree are also in the hutch and recuperating from the heat. I'll put them back outside at the end of the month or possibly next month depending on the heat. I've kept them alive this long and really don't want to kill them off by being in too much of a hurry. Kaffir lime seeds aren't that easy to come by.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Fortunately that hadn't happened at all. What had happened is that my neighbors are really nice and keep the plot watered. The squash plant had doubled back on itself and was growing like crazy. I pulled some of the vines back off of the path which it seems to have done numerous times now and checked for produce. Nothing yet but the zucchini plant did have about a six inch fruit on it. I'll probably let that one go to the food bank and see what else comes up. Nice to finally be producing.
Come fall I should have plenty of produce since the plants are nice and big. The stem on the squash plant is thicker than my thumb, and this in 100+ weather for some time.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The area I did remove weeds from is looking really bad now whereas the area I left the weeds alone is still looking pretty good. The basil plants and the cucumber plants are what I'm basing this off of. I've lost the basil plant already in the weeded area and the cucumber, although still alive this morning, is fading fast.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Today I'll check on the plants to see how much the weeds were protecting the plants I actually wanted.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
One that suprised me was pecan trees. I just figured they produced what the season allowed, with some years thinner than others. Come to find out they produce better every other year.
Blueberries also produce every other year.
Some apples produce well every other year. Although the fruit is always edible it isn't always what you're looking for.
What makes trees and plants produce this way? Well, I'll tell you.
Fruit production takes a lot of energy, some plants only produce a single fruit, like pineapple. The stress the plant feels takes a while to come back from and depending on the plant can be over a year long before it's ready to produce well again.
Speaking of pineapples, I'm going to try and I'm going to fail to get my pineapple plant to produce another fruit. The fruit is turning yellow already and softening up. the base looks ok at the moment but from what I've been told it can't make another fruit.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The hops on the other hand don't like the heat at all and are shriveling up and resting, I hope, for the summer. We'll see if they return.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I guess I'll wait and see what kind of flowers it puts out.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The rain barrels in the back will really help too. I can soak some areas and not have the water bill feel it as much. The fig tree has decided that it's been getting enough water and has some ripe figs on it for once in the summer. Usually all it has around this time are little dry knobs where a fig should be.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Just the other day I figured our yard had gotten plenty of rain but alas the rain stopped a block short. My yard was still bone dry when I pulled into the driveway.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
1. Clip off 3"-6" sprout.
2. Don't worry if it starts to wilt.
3. Put the cutting in watter for 3 days or until it starts to put out roots.
4. Don't worry if it's still wilted looking.
5. Put it in dirt for at least a week.
6. Don't worry if it's still wilted looking.
7. Transplant to the garden.
8. By now it should be picking back up but don't worry if it's still wilted looking. It will survive.
So far it's in the dirt and doing well. I'll get it in the garden this weekend.
Friday, July 1, 2011
I put a stick in the ground by the end of the longest runner for a marker. That evening I went out and checked on it. In only six hours it had grown two inches. so it's probably growing at a rate of nearly six inches a day. No wonder it's traveled half way across the sixteen foot plot.
It's wreaking a little havoc as it goes, using it's tendrils to grab other plants that are trying to grow themselves. This is the one plant that I really want to grow though and don't mind a little havoc in the process.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Anyway, I found that the little buggers are not as fond of the tomatoes as they are of one of the pepper plants. He had nearly chewed through the entire plant when I found him this morning. The tomato plant he started on was only slightly chewed before he spotted his goal.
I'm going to have to be more strict when examining the plants in the back now. Once the horn worms come they don't seem to stop that quickly.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Echinacea is one of the things we have growing in our garden but it's not the only root herb we have. The other one is orris root or bearded iris. I would suggest harvesting them and drying them the same way to preserve the roots for the most benefit.
Do not dig everything up at once unless you want to get rid of the entire crop. The roots will keep growing as long as you have some in the ground. Personally I like to keep 3/4 of the plant still planted so they will keep producing more roots.
When drying it's best to let them air dry for some time. I recomment drying orris root for several weeks in the sun. but if you're in a hurry you can always use a dehydrator. When it's dry you can crush it up in a morter orspice grinder.
The green onion up front has decided that it likes walking. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's when the flower stalk forms little onion plants in the flower head and bends over. The little onions then root and grow without going through the seed stage. Since I noticed them I was able to just remove them from the flower stalk and plant them in some of the pots that didn't have anything growing in them.
The large squash in the community garden is growing nicely. One of them is really getting big and two others are hanging in there. Hopefully this fall we'll have some nice squash to eat.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
The tomato plants could be a little more productive but at least I got some tomatoes this year and there are still more on the vine.
The agave plant has decided to send out runners. I've found three so far, one of which is outside of the bed for it. The parent plant however didn't start as a runner. When I pulled it up it had it's own root system and no attached runner stalk.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The heirloom squash has also come up and is looking very healthy. At least 4 out of 5 of them did.
Our neighbors of course have much prettier and bigger plants but we'll catch up soon and then no one will be able to tell the difference.
Among the plants I could identify were beans, peas, basil, carrots, cucumber, squash and carrot.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The key to successfully green mulch is to be selective as to which plants you will let grow. In the end what you have effectively done is companion planting. Most of us know some of the basic companion plantings but for some reason can't wrap our brains around maybe a less noticable benefit to letting some plants grow in the area.
Plants are far more sensitive to infrared light than our eyes are and since over half of the radiation from the sun hits our planet as infrared light it is important to know what our plants think about this. Infrared light stimulates growth which is why plants grow faster as the days get longer. Plants also reflect a bit of the infrared light and thus when smaller plants reflect this light up to our crop plants, the crop plants get more infrared light and, although they might not realize they are competing with space, they respond to the added infrared light and grow even faster. They push their roots down and produce more leaves. Again, they don't know that they are competing with another plant or what kind of plant they are trying to compete with. So, if you are letting plants like clover grow under the crop what you have is a competitive response to a plant that isn't trying to compete and is instead merely helping to hold moisture in the ground giving an added bonus to the growth effect.
Monday, May 9, 2011
It started out with just me and my wife putting in more dirt and doing a little tilling. Then a few children who live nearby came to look at all of the plots. When thay came by ours and saw there was nothing in it yet but dirt they asked if they could help. Seemed ok since there were only a few children but it soon bloomed into nearly a dozen children all asking to plant seeds.
I tried to make rows and organize it to some degree but with that many children I gave up and let them have fun. I'm positive something will come up, I just don't know what or where.
The garden at the house is still growing well. I keep pulling out weeds in hopes that I can keep up with their growth. So far so good.
I tossed a few pebbles on top to see how many would come out and defend the mound, not big pebbles mind you, just big enough to get their attention. Not many did but besides horned lizards I don't think many things mess with them.
I didn't see them bringing anything into the mound the ants mostly sat there and guarded the entrance. I guess it's the slow season for them.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
There also seems to be another vine plant coming up near the far right hops plant that looks similar. It might just be another hops vine coming up with the leaves slightly different.
The hops plant on the far left still hasn't emerged and may never emerge. I did split that one off of one of the larger roots so everything I bought has sprouted and it will put off more roots next year.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The decorations were all my wife's idea. The balloons were supposed to be giant lavender flower stalks. We never did hear what the results were for the best decorated booth but I'm sure they forgot to even worry about it due to the high winds otherwise we would have won.
My wife gave two lectures that afternoon. One was on the history of lavender and the other was on using lavender in cleaning and decorating. This of course goes right along with her book which we still have a few copies of but again need to reprint.
I got to get some pictures of the lavender fields they grow out there but never got to the grape vines. There are actually a lot more grape vines than lavender bushes. I saw them in the distance as I drove by but figured I shouldn't take pictures while driving. Come on, if texting or talking on the phone is a bad idea then pulling out a camera while holding it steady at something out the window and then waiting for it to focus right to take a picture is crazy. Which goes to show I'm not crazy.
The lovely folks at Becker Vinyards gave us this bottle of wine for my wife speaking. We have yet to open it but I'm sure it won't be too long until we have something for dinner, my wife being an excelent cook, that will pair nicely with the wine. Fortunately she's supposed to be in contact with them for a lavender day some time soon and we can get some more when it runs out.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I have one in place under the spot wheer most of the rain comes off of the roof. It's easy to tell where it is even when it isn't raining since there is a permanant hole there. It hasn't rained since, at least nothing to write home about.
So, I now have 3 mostly empty rain barrels. It's supposed to rain this weekend but the rain has missed my house in general even though it has rained all around our area in great quantities the clouds seem to split apart and let the sun shine on my house. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The seeds are relatively easy to start. After the flower head has dried up for a week or so just remove it and either remove the seeds yourself or let them dry some more until they fall out. Plant the seeds on the surface of moist soil in temperatures you wouldn't mind living in yourself which makes a kitchen counter perfect for this. Cover the pot with plactic wrap making sure you have some space between it and the soil and let it germinate. once you see them sprouting remive the plastic and let them grow in a greenhouse or under grow lights. Transplant when they look big enough.
Some people like to keep them in 3-5 inch pots so they will want to bloom while others stick them outside.
Monday, April 18, 2011
The onions have sprouted and are growing well. We sprinkled some rosemary in the beds and it has worked so well that we've since added it to all of our pots that we're trying to grow things in. I don't know how or why a cat would decide to climb into a ten inch pot a foot off of the ground to do it's business but they seem to have a knack for it. I've thought about many other ways to rid the neighborhood of these menaces but I'm way too nice to try any of them. I can't even bring myself to get a dog. I don't mind them wandering through the yard as long as they don't try leaving me any presents as they do. Ok, maybe if they left mice that would be good, or opossums. I really don't think the cats around here have what it takes to take on a opossum though.
The snow peas have also arrived which the cats have fortunately left alone. The pot must not be enough of a challenge for them to worry about. I have since thinned them to only four plants while seven are shown here. Some of the lettuce plants have also sprouted but not very well yet. The zuchini has decided to grow pretty well on the other hand. Since this picture it has gotten three times bigger. We have also put bamboo teepees on this and other climbing plants.