Sunday, December 27, 2009

Snow Survivors

Survivors of the snow include almost everything.
I wasn't sure about the lemon tree but I figured it was pretty big and should be able to handle the cold weather by now. I was right. Not one leaf fell from it's branches and it's still going strong. Of course it wasn't actuall in the snow but it was exposed to the below 30 degree weather.
A couple of the orphaned cacti died but they were on their way out anyway. They had turned yellow and splotchy. Maybe I should have watered them but since I had no idea what kind of cactus they were I didn't know.
Even the strawberry plants are still green and they did get hit with the snow and cold. Looking forward to some nice berries in the spring and maybe even in late winter if everything goes well.
The cabbage and root veggies are all looking nice. I'll have to remember that for next season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cacti Orphans

I have finally had the change during the day to take pictures of the cactus plants I have adopted. The previous owner moved several states away and didn't want the hassle of moving things that could injure her if she wasn't careful moving them.
In my brief attempt at figuring out exactly what kinds of cacti they were I have found out that I would rather have someone who knows something about them to just tell me. The first two are very similar and may be the same variety while the other two are very likely not.
I hope someone can tell me if they can survive 20-something degree weather since we are scheduled to have some in the next few days and they are still sitting outside in pots. Which reminds me my lemon tree is due to come back in soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chinese Onion

I didn't know there was a particular onion that was Chinese but that is exactly what I have been given. They're just sprouts at the moment but I have also been told how to plant and harvest them.
What you do is dig a trench about a foot deep, plant the onion sprouts in the trench and just cover the tops of the plant (I was given sprouts from the seeds of last season). As the plants grow you keep covering more of the onion until the trench is entirely filled in. They make medium onions but for the first year or so only the tops should be eaten so the rest of the onion can develop.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lots o' Pots

One of our many friends has moved away again leaving her sons to tend to the house until it gets sold. They really don't want to take care of the pots of plants she left, not to mention the several bags of potting soil, and so they have asked me to get rid of it all for them.
Usually I would say, "Yes! Of course!" So I did. And now I have a good many pots sitting in my driveway waiting to be placed in their permanent homes. Among them are four different types of cactus, a few different flowers including dianthus, and some post that I'm sure are just some kind of local weed that has taken over and covered the dirt.
I have not gotten all of the pots and dirt yet and will post a series of pictures showing the wonderful findings soon (as in some time this year, I hope).
It was all outside durring the recent freeze so it should all be able to stand whatever Texas has to throw at them. In short, they're staying outside.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Veggies (Texas)

I know this probably won't work in a lot of areas but where live these are some of the survivors you can look to for veggies in the cold weather.
The great old standby is cabbage. At least in the south it's what you eat on new years with black eyes peas in hopes of having a better year. In the beginning it was because there was nothing else to eat and that's what they had.
Here in the DFW metroplex it's a little warmer (3-6 degrees) than the surrounding cities due to lots of heat being produced. In fact now that there are a lot of gas wells just burning off the initial fumes coming out of wells it should be a little warmer than that even.
Due to the warmness other crops are still doing well. For instance my beets, carrots, radishes and lemon grass are doing great. If there's a particularly cold night just cover your plants with a cold frame or, if nothing else, a sheet.
Let me know when you make some soup with your winter veggies and I'll come try it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winter is finally here

I'm in Texas. What did you expect?
Anyway, it's supposed to have flurries or freezing rain or some such thing tonight so I finally harvested all of my peppers. Keep in mind that the only thing I put on them was water so although they're not super big there are plenty of them, most of which will have to be frozen because I don't believe I will actually use them every day.
I also still need to separate the hot ones from the bells and sweet peppers. Just so you can see them all I put them in a strainer and voila!
Any other harvests out there?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blimy! More Blooms!

You were probably thinking, "I bet he didn't show us all of his flowers. What an outrage! Let's pick off all of his petals!" You then picked up your gardening implements and marched toward my house.
After a couple blocks you gave up because it was too far and wore a blister on your little toe because you hadn't broken in your new shoes yet and they weren't made for walking across whatever states there are to get here.
Before you get another crazy idea into your head I guess I had better post the rest of the flower pictures and get it over with. Sorry for causing such havoc.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MBD (My Bloom Day)

I was out in the garden today gardening and all arount me there seemed to be flowers! Normally this wouldn't have made any lasting impression since it is a garden but mostly I've been reading about what plants to bring in out of the snow or how to winterize your plants. Apparently my garden hasn't gotten the message and still thinks it's September or some such thing and decided that blooming was a good idea.
So for all of you who don't have any blooms, here you are.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tired of the same old thing?

I sure was. So I decided to do something about it!
The little I have picked up here and there by fixing all of the problems that Dreamweaver creates by making junk code and if you ever tried to look one of it's pages over after several edits and whatnot you would sympathize and nod appreciatively to removing vast seas of Dreamweaver code.

Anyhow the result is a new and wider blog! That's right, there's more room to move about and not so much scrolling down
and down
and down
and down
and down
and down
and down
and down...
You get the point, pictures wrap better too. Hope you enjoy and feel as relieved as I do that the blog isn't squished into a sausage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wouldn't You Like To Have A Pepper Too?

My pepper experiment this year has been an overwhelming success. I threw a bunch of pepper seeds out on a very fertile raised area of the yard and *POOF* up come pepper plants. With a little watering they survived the summer and now in the cool part of the year they are producing a hefty crop of peppers.

The first frost has been pushed back a little longer so they should get nice and big. I've already picked a few and used them in pastas, sandwiches and a gumbo. I have to admit that they aren't as big as the ones in the stores but they taste way better.

Here is a view with several different peppers in the picture. Unfortunately I don't know what some of the peppers are since I sprinlked some mixed pepper seeds in with all of it just in case they were still good. No sense in wasting seeds. It's made a very interesting grouping of peppers. They are all different sizes and hopefully soon more colors will come to the fore.

I just better not forget to pick them or my wife will probably shake her head at me and sympathetically pat me on the back to comfort me in my time of mourning.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gardening with Style

I've heard of stylish gardens and people who have a flair for gardening. A garden can be very complex or so simple it's gorgeous. Our garden is none of the above as far as I'm concerned even if our friends say it's wonderful. I think they're biased.
One thing I don't think I can ever forget is the time my wife and I went strawberry picking and one very cute couple decided to dress up for the event. It was a bless her soul moment because she really should have known better than to wear high heels and such a short dress to pick strawberries. Sun dresses, on the other hand, work beautifully. Unless you're a guy....
Curiously, as far as I can tell, a guy can wear just about anything he would normally wear and still be modest while gardening.

Friday, November 6, 2009


If you've ever tasted a fresh warm pecan pie you probably became an addict and need a fix occasionally to keep you sane. There's good news though! We're smack dab in the middle of pecan season and there is a good supply of pecans for everyone.

"I don't have pecans around me." you may lament. That's ok, there are these things called trucks that will bring them to your local grocer and you can get them from him. He's a nice old man who knows a lot about things like fishing and spitting and of course pecans so you should be in good hands if you don't know what to do with them once you've bought some.

In the rare instance that I met a different grocer you can also look online for some recipes like the following one.

If you even try to convince me that you don't have access to the internet then shame on you.. I'm not that gullible.

The main problem I have found is that there are too many pecans where I live and the squirrels like to hide some of them in the flower beds to pop up in the spring where I then have to dig them out and scold the squirrels for their industriousness.

Hurry before the end of the month though because the prices will soon rise as the harvest season ends and the grocer treis to hoard the rest for himself.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Live Bamboo Fence

All you need is several acres for it to grow in well and there you go..... What? That doesn't sound good?
If you're like me then it sounds really good except that you probably don't have the acreage. Don't let that daunt you though, there are varieties of clumping bamboo that are much more manageable as a screen and don't end up on the other side of the yard, or worse in the middle of the yard.
If that still sounds a little too much, there are many shrubs that would do just as well for a little privacy. If your area is good for it you might consider grapevines The main problem with a live fence is the time it takes for it to grow. Even if you have the acreage, bamboo would take a few years to make a decent fence unless you planted the entire thing. Likewise bushes and shrubs are usually sold in much smaller sizes than you would need to make a good fence. In the mean time you can plant vines, which would work well on a chain link fence, or tall growing flowering plants like sunflowers to fill in where the shrubs haven't yet.
If you have a living wall I would love to see pictures of them!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trains in the Garden

Gardening is about plants and the things that accent the plants or possibly the other way around such as in a rock garden or sculpture garden.
I have been into garden railroading for many years and have set up courses in several of the gardens I have had at different residences. Weekend before last was the monthly meeting of the North Texas Garden Railroad Club where we got to sit around and discuss garden railroading.
Below is the course.
Beginning on the north end of the long stretch of track is the garden loop. A few boulders, a tree, and assorted green plants highlight this area surrounded by the courtyard wall.

To go to and from this area the train has to pass through a tunnel under a waterfall (not shown and not very big)

It continues down the tracks along some herbs and small flowering plants on one side of a walkway and continuing under the covered porch area that enters into the living room of the house.

Finally it passes the last pillar near the control area of the train to the train yard where cars can be taken on and off. The white rocks portraying more of a railyard than a garden. The width of the area being easily seen here is the reason for the long layout and gardening areas.

Some of the plants not shown include rosemary and thyme, plants suitable for scale greenery.

Planting Rocks

I worked out at a site this last weekend planting trees, shrubs, groundcover and rocks.
I didn't know there could be so much work in putting in large rocks. digging the right shape of a hole for the rock you are putting in can be more time consuming than planting trees. If you want to put the rock in at an angle then you have to dig the angle into the ground before you set it.
At first I was told that we needed a trench so wide by so deep. This would have worked except that the rock they then selected had a nice growth on one side that they wanted to be more visible so the trench turned into what seems more like a truck loading area ramp so that it had a good viewing angle.
Then burying it took some doing while avioding ants which had been living where we wanted the rock to go.
Looking back I'm pretty sure it was well worth the changes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Plant Swap Moved!

It was just one of those days. I left a little late to start with but then the world decided to step in and see how much later I could be.

I already had somewhere to be afterward and I didn't want to be lat to it too so by the time I made it to the park there was less than two hours to do anything.

Unfortunately for me, when I got there the park was closed off to traffic due to a walk for diabetes. I have nothing against these sorts of things but no one there knew of this supposed plant swap.By the time we figured out that it wasn't anywhere in the park there was just enough time left to have lunch and go on to the next event.

After we got home that evening my ife looked on the board to see what might have happened. Apparently 4 days before the event was to take place the location was changed and since I wasn't glued to the boards I missed it.

Suffice to say there will be no pictures this time around.

There is one person who was expecting me to show up and they're still going to drop by to swap some flowering plants for a few key lime trees.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mexican Mint

I still need to plant the mexican mint in the ground even though it seems to like it on the widnow sill. It's even putting out some nice little yellow flowers.
As far as where to plant it, I have been told that it looks really good next to purple flowers so I think I'll find a spot near the lavendar bushes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Candy Lily Sprouts, Fort Wroth Fall Plant Swap

I have great news! The candy lillies have sprouted! Well, at least 5 out of 6 have sprouted. I plan on planting some more of the seeds soon in some more pots for propogation and I have to remember to bring one of them to work as a thank you for the seeds in the first place, maybe get her a nice pot to boot.
Anyhow there are now at least 4 candy lilly plant sprouts to trade come Saturday.

Right now they look like little blades of grass but I believe she said they were relate to the iris.
Ok, after taking the picture the flash has revealed that the 6th pot has indeed sprouted. You can also see the basil and the coleus at the edge of the picture.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spice of a tree

There are many herbs and veggies out there that get tons of attention. We all know about parsley, mint, onion, beets, carrots, rosemary, thyme and a whole slew of others. One of the often left out of the delicious seasonings comes from a tree. You're probably thinking about cinnamon or cloves, maybe even cocoa.
When I was little I was camping with my family and my mom foud some of this wonderful bit of the plant family and made some tea. It was one of the oddest taste and yet familiar. It was sassafras tea, ok so not really a tea but see my other blog about that.
It was once the main flavoring of rootbeer but is now illegal to put in there since it is a very mild narcotic. I guess some narcotic is too much for the FDA. Amazing how some things still get through... Anyhow that wasn't the wierdest part. We probably know various plants that make pretty good flavoring from the root but this tree has another use. An entirely different seasioning comes from it's leaves and you can buy this in the store, at least down here in Texas. If you've ever heard much cajun music you are bound to have heard of the "filé gumbo." Pronounced fee-lay it is the dried leaf of the sassafras tree. I have found a local sassafras tree on a nearby street and as soon as I muster up a little more boldness I'm going to ask if I can rake the yard for this wonderful spice. Ok, maybe not rake the yard but at least pick up a few leaves for drying so I can have fresh filé.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Seedy little plants

I went outside today and looked over the front garden and saw tiny little plants growing in the gravel walkway. I knew there were some weeds creeping in and trying to make it a weed bed but I was a little surprised to find some other plants sprouting up there. Mainly, besides the weeds, there was cilantro. I really like cilantro, as long as there's not too much of it at a time, but now there are dozens of little plants along the edge of the gravel and I'm afraid I will have to uproot them and toss them to the side like the rest of the plants. They have journeyed to the realm of weeds since, as we all know, weeds are merely plants that are growing where you don't want them to.
Another newcomer to the weed family, in my case the plants that are growing in my gravel walkway, is fennel. There are only two fennel plants sprouting where they shouldn't but that's still too many. It's hard enough to keep the grass out.
I wouldn't have this problem if they weren't so reproductive. Both plants produce many seeds every year and have no problem dropping them where they shouldn't. Ok, so it's partly my fault for trying to harvest some of the seeds for cooking but I don't want to complain about myself...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rosemary for Rememberance

Rosemary is such a wonderfully armoatic plant. I wasn't sure I would like it when we planted it at the end of the walkway up to the front door but it's still one of the best things when I come home. As I brush against it walking by it fills the air with its scent.
It's also one of the hardest plants to kill. I rarely water it and, even in the hot July months of Texas, it just doesn't care and keeps on growing. if all plants did this there would be no such thing as a desert.
You also can't cook with all plants so I guess it evens out in the end. It keeps growing and I keep eating it. Well, not by itself but on pork or chicken or in a cream sauce over noodles. Any of these options will do.
It's also good for sachets!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Glade Tin

Ok, so this isn't about gardening but ther is a flower on it.
Check out the glade design a tin contest and have a little fun, and uh vote for me.

Here's the link to mine as well as a snap of the tin.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Citrus Family Health

Ok, I know I've been needing pictures so here they are.

As you can see the lemon tree has gotten a lot bigger since spring. It might even intimidate the cats. I've had a time with the caterpillars though.

Next is the kaffir lime tree in all of it's glory. I had to pick off quite a few rolly pollies beore taking this picture though. I didn't know they would like it.

The key lime sprouts, and yes they're still sprouts, are mostly doing ok. They are still in order with 1 at the bottom left and 12 at the top right. 6 is, as you can see, dead. I will keep it in the pot just in case it comes back from the root but I'm not holding my breath or anything.

First frost is still some time away and they won't come in until then and hopefully most of the key lime sprouts will have new homes by then.

Kaffir Lime Tree

I believe I will finally start calling it a tree. It's still not very big but it has to face some big problems. Winter is coming and the cats can smell the dirt about to be brought into their domain. Even outside though it has had to face caterpillars eating it's leaves and outside cats knocking it's pot over.
For it's resiliance in the face of these obsticlesI believe it has earned the right to be called a tree.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Steady Rain

We're fianlly getting steady rain. The heavy downpours of water are great for filling the lakes back up but do very little to help my garden.
It's rained on and off for at least five days now and all of my plants are loving it. The strawberry plants are perking up well and even the new offshoots are getting big. The pepper plants are getting along fine and producing at a good rate. Even some of the pepper plants that haven't really done anything this year in the front are starting to get big. Hopefully I'll be able to get some peppers off of them before the freeze comes this year. Last year I didn't get to some if the peppers in time and they froze on the plants. All I had to do at that point was pick them, cut them up and put them in a sealable bag to be tossed in the freezer for later use in the winter.
Sometime next year I'm planning on digging up some of the sweet potato bed to see if there is anything there next fall to give it time to produce well and to weed out any less hardy parts of the plant. I also hope to see flowers next year and gather some seed (genetic engineering at it's finest).

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Gardening is about growth. It's a thrill to plant a seed and watch it grow. Most people seem to want results fairly quickly so they grow things that will mature anywhere from weeks to months. Some others of us like to see a much longer progression and may plant things that take years or decades to reach maturity. Some plants even outlive the planter and possibly even their grandchildren.

Blogs are a lot like planting. Sometimes a blog can grow to a point where the blogger thinks it has matured and is now reaping the reward of his hard work. Other times a blog fizzles and is uprooted and tossed aside for a more productive venture.

One thing about gardeners is they like variety. I don't know anyone who just plants roses for instance. Sure roses may be their main plant but there are always other plants in the yard that are cared for and maintained. Vegetable gardeners are likewise very diverse in their plantings.

In the gardening spirit I have decided to keep up with this blog but start yet another plant in my blog garden. It is not a gardening blog but may at times have garden related posts in it. It is a general blog in the line of a roughly 500 word format on whatever topic comes up that day.

Please feel free to stop in and see what is being covered that day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fort Worth Autumn Plant Swap 2009 Starters

I have planted some seeds for starter plants for the plant swap.

Included are the candy lilies that I got seeds for recently, basil that I have had for some time now which is actually sprouting, jujube but only four of them since I haven't gotten back to the tree to get more seeds, grape from my mom's grapevines of which I still have most of the seeds from, and let's not forget the key lime trees which it seems that all but one is still alive.

The only definite plants so far are the basil and key lime trees since they are the only ones that have actually sprouted so far. I hope the grapes will sprout soon since the seeds are smaller and usually denotes a shorter germination.

For those of you who don't know a little basil goes a long way. From the two plants we had last year we made some pesto. We froze most of it into cubes and put it in the deepfreeze. One cube makes an entire meal for pasta and thaws quickly which makes me think, pesto chicken linguini for dinner tomorrow?

Just in case you are interested in attending we will probably also have the much talked about lemon thyme cookies again this swap.

Hopefully coming soon will be my want list. I still have to discuss it with the misses. Included will most definitely be bushes of some sort for the front.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


We have a little skullcap plant in the front but I really had no idea what to do with it. At first I thought it looked a little scraggly but it turns out that it's supposed to look that way. No wonder most people don't like planting it. It's not a showy plant or even lush. If I didn't know better I would have pulled it up and tossed it into the weeds.

I may be making a tea out of it soon to see if it helps my wife sleep, I still need to do a little more research just to make sure there are no calamitous side effects. So far as I can tell an overdose may lead to confusion, giddiness, and possible liver damage over a long time, then again so do a LOT of things. I love those commercials that end in the disclosure, "Side effects vary and may include, nose bleeds, liver damage, eyes bleeding, skin peeling off and possibly death." Ok, so I exaggerate, but everything has a side effect that's usually why something is taken.

Skullcap is also listed in a tea for arthritis which includes rue, angelica, black cohosh, colombo, valerian root, and gentain root.

Rue is another thing I don't currently have much of an idea of what to do with but that will be another day and probably after I get another plant of it, the last one died, I think....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Growing Herbs

It's amazing how much money growing a few herbs can save you. In the last week we probably saved twenty or so dollars by not having to buy the herbs we're growing.
Among the recently used herbs and plants were, parsley, sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, lamb's ear, mint and chives. On top of that we had beets, peppers, onions and green onion.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rain Day at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

We were actually there to take pictures of hats and scarves and such ( can't help the shameless promotion of my sweetie) but really, who would miss taking a few pics of the scenery?

The oddest thing was the bumble bee that just sat there. It wasn't dead but more seemed intent on getting every last bit out of his flower.

We took most of the pictures in the rose garden where there were also wedding pictures being taken. They were an early 20's couple and by the huge smiles didn't mind the light sprinkles falling on them. There were rose blooms everywhere and it smelled wonderful.

When I got home I noticed the creeping rosemary blooming. The regular rosemary has never bloomed and has been there for a much longer time, but whatever.

I also checked in on the blue agave and noticed a new resident looking back at me with his beady little eyes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gardening at Night (Cabbage)

Looked in on the cabbage this time and it's doing pretty well. It will hopefully take off again this winter and make a good harvest. I pulled off most of the leaves and left a stub to grow. Not bad for a plant that usually gets pulled up after the harvest. Coleslaw anyone?

I've more or less left it alone since June.

I also did a little planting of seeds for the plant swap today. Hopefully everything will sprout.

Gardening at Night (Lamb's Ear)

Still doing a little gardening at night. This time I've been checking on how the lamb's ear has been doing. These lamb's ears don't seem to be having any problems with any infestations. It took a few times sowing seed and transplanting into this bed but we finally got them to grow where we wanted them. The trick now is to keep them from spreading like wild fire.

I found an interesting tid bit about what to do with lamb's ear. The usual is to use it like a bandage, but I have also found that it works in tea and tastes very light and almost minty.

Don't worry. I've tried it and it's really pretty good.

I made the tea by steeping a partially dried torn up leaf in a cup of hot water for three minutes.

Gardening at Night

Suffice to say I'm probably working way too much this week. This has made me take what time I have left, after dark, to do a little gardening.
Several of the plants seem to look better at night. I don't know if it is because they perk up in cooler weather or if I just can't see the problems in the dark as well. Either way it seems the plants are doing much better.
I need to make some cold boxes soon before it gets too cold to do anything about it. Granted that is still a few months away but I'm a procrastinator. It's a miracle I get around to blogging sometimes.
Currently I'm sitting up with my sick wife watching Lilo and Stitch wishing we could go back to Maui and wander around on foot. Maybe even see a mongoos again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby Bells

I'm pretty sure these are small bell pepers. I can't gurantee it since I really don't remember what all was planted in this bed (they were all peppers). The overall shape and color sure seem to agree with me though.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Garden Snake

While doing a little work, like that's uncommon or something, I ran across this little guy snuggled under some bark. I have run across over a dozen of these over the seasons. They seem to be getting bigger each time I find one.
I believe that is a good sign because where there's snakes there's bugs and critters and such and they wouldn't be there if it wasn't a pleasant place to hang out. The probably feed mostly on rolly pollies. For every snake I've found I've found hundreds of rolly pollies.

Don't mind the mess. One day this will be a greenhouse with actual plants everywhere instead of wood and stuff. Oooh look! You can see some small pots on the bottom left by the light! It's proof...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Office Space

There is a lot of room in our office but not a lot of dirt. For instance there are lemon sprouts in some of the pots that have dracaena canes in them since there is still a good bit of dirt room.

This summer I rescued a little plant from the dirt outside of the office and put it in a slightly crowded pot. Can you spot it?