Friday, July 31, 2009

Thriving Tendrils

The rain has been abundant in the last few days, not a torrent of water or a flood that would just wash away even the dirt above the hard clay that is so common if not maddeningly pervasive in this area.
This is why my plants have been spared the torture of my poor watering habits recently. I haven't had much time for watering, weeding, planting, or harvesting. My plants seem to have understood the last one and seem to have decided to help out in that area by producing almost nothing to be harvested.
The rain has brought about a spurt of growth among the vines in the yard, most noticeably with the squash and cucumbers. These are the same cucumbers that were given to me by one our friends along with some basil that was left on the front porch for some weeks. Now it sits up by the corner of the house on the garage side with many other potted plants to be moved to a sunnier place as soon as there is a sunnier place to move them to. I doubt this will ever happen since it is the sunniest place in the yard unless a tree gets hit by lightning or a car and falls over.
Speaking of the sunniest place in the yard, I hope to move the citrus around again to a sunnier place than they are currently at which gets between eight and ten minutes of sun a day (the potting area).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Key Lime Update

The key limes are still growing in their new pots.
On average they have grown about 1/4 inch and seem to be acclimated just fine in their new pots.
The kaffir lime is also doing well with about the same rate of growth (it is about the same height as the average key lime sprout).
My project for next week is to have a chart ready to be posted each week to track the progress of each pot (some have one some have two plants). The lemon tree is a little harder to figure out the height since it's bigger and sways with the breeze. I'll do my best though to find a way to track it.

Just a note about some tomato sprouts, they have been mercilessly pulled out of the ground and thrown away by the maintenance crew at work. It's not like they looked bad...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fort Worth Water Gardens

I had the off chance of visiting the water gardens in Fort Worth over the weekend, a truly interesting place. I had been before but didn't apparently see all of it before.

I saw the usual waterfalls and calm pool down by the walls of water, which are really neat. You really can't tell but the entire wall is covered by a sheet of water. You can just make out the concentration in the corner.

This time I was thrilled to see the aeriated pool.

There has to be somewhere in this maze of stone, water and trees to plant a small out of the way garden. Unfortunately I couldn't tend to it.

Jujube fruit (tastes like apple)

I saw the fruit. I picked the fruit. I ate the fruit. I was then told that if I don't know what it is then I shouldn't eat it and would not be driven to the hospital if it was poisonous since she keeps telling me the same thing again and again.
Fortunately it was not poisonous. It was a jujube. I figured it was either that or an olive and the tree didn't look rough enough to be an olive. So I ate it and lo, it tasted like a dry, not so sweet, apple.

(for reference here is the jujube I ate and a picture of an olive. the pits look similar too.)

One of the local nurseries said that they grow very well in the area even during a drought. It won't be until a few more weeks until they are ripe though. At that time I will go back and get some more and see if I can't make jam out of it. They are supposed to be really good for the stomach.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Citrus Progress - Key Lime Sprouts Divided

Ok, I have finally divided the key lime sprouts. It was a little dificult with the ants crawling in the dirt but I managed. They're divided into twelve little pots now and will be numbered and recorded. I'm thinking that Tuesdays should be good for the records. Currently they're still sitting on the back porch but one day... You know the rest. They will be ready for the plant swap in the fall however and well acclimated to their new pots. They really were crowded in there. Even divided into the twelve pots there are still two plants in four of the new pots, sixteen plants in all.

The lemon tree and kaffir lime sprout will also be tracked.

Speaking of the kaffir lime sprout, it's finally looking like it will have a characteristic leaf forming! The patience seems to be paying off. It will still be a while for the flavor to enter the leaves and give that wonderful aroma to thai dishes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Citrus growth

If it was a race then the lemon tree would be taking a nap, the kaffir lime tree would be strolling along looking at butterflies and the key lime trees would be space men with rocket packs.
It probably has to do a lot with the placement of the plants. The more they grew the more sun they have. The poor lemon tree is sitting under the pecan tree which gives it maybe 2 hours of sun a day.
Even though I still need to split up the key lime trees (all being in one pot and all) they still shoot up being in full sun all day and having plenty of water (from the hose).
I think I'll swap them up and see if they change growth. Probably sounds like a no brainer, but who knows. It might also be that the smaller plants are growing faster which is also true.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Large Sunflower

I checked the large sunflower today and found that it's about ready for harvesting. the only problem is that it's been eaten by something. I didn't look too closely but one of the seeds had a big hole in it.
Soon I guess I'll have to go and pick the flower and remove the seeds, checking for holes and bugs before placing it with the rest of the seeds to be planted next year.

The heat is really getting to a lot of the plants but one of my coworkers said that their tomato plant is still making fruit and will bring me some if she remembers. I'll probably make lunch out of it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sit, Heel, Lay Down! Good Onion

Ok, so that's probably not what most people want their onion to do but at least it listened. On top of that they were given to me in a bundle that was already drying out and I waited an extra week to plant them.

They turned out to be about the size of tennis balls or a little smaller but the taste is superb! I'm going to make another box just for onions next year and plant them on time. The garlic is just next to them I think, I hope, I fear I might be wrong... The yams on the other had are definitely in the last quarter of the box (2x2 area which really should be bigger for yams) and are flourishing. I know you would love a pic right now but, sorry, it's late and have to do a shop.

Next time I'll show you how to get it into an omlet!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lemon Tree Sprout

There is another sprout in the office!
I'm pretty sure it's lemon or possibly orange, it's really hard to tell at that size since they're all very similar.
This one is growing in a pot where it actually gets some light unlike the two in the breakroom which must think solar eclipses last two days every week and even after that it's overcast.

The other one has sun but does not seem to want to grow much at all. Not sure why.

I was looking at a picture of my large lemon tree the other day and realized that it has tree times the leaves that it had in the picture but hasn't grown but an inch or three in height. I really am thinking about planting it in the ground, but I'm now leaning more toward next year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Heat Sets In

Well, for the next two months or so, there will not be much in the way of produce, at least not in my garden. The heat has set in.
Now I get to water the plants daily, not so much the grass. As long as I can keep what I have alive until September they should start to fruit again until December.
I'm going to see if I can keep things from freezing this winter too and hopefully have some produce in the winter frost. Once again I'll be using mirrors to heat up some portable planter boxes and I'll cover them overnight for insulation.
Last winter we were out in coats until I got the mirror in the backyard. As long as I was in the reflected light and out in the open it went from chilly to nice.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Seeing Red?

Seeing red? Most people look at a dandelion and cringe because they know that it's only the first.One dandelion can spread to a thousand in only a few days. I once thought that if I just picked the flower off that it would be done. One day I looked down at a flower I had plucked the previous day and poof, it was just that, a poof. Some of the seeds had even blown away.Next time you think red though you might want to think a little deeper, like Magenta! Dandelion makes a great magenta (allum) color or even purple (tin and vinegar) depending on the chemical you use to set the dye.

How to dye wool using dandelions:
1) In a stainless steel pot soak dandelion roots or plants overnight in water. In the morning bring the pot to a boil then remove the plants with a wooden spoon.
2) Wash the material you wish to dye in warm soapy water and keep it wet. The dye bath is your key to color.
3) Put a mordant (allum or tin and vinegar) in the pot with one cup of water: one ounce of mordant for every thirty-two ounces of material.
4) Simmer gently and stir until dissolved, add 2 quarts water, and stir well to mix. Your saturated textile goes into this bath; bring to a low simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
5) Note: When dyeing, ensure the fabric stays completely covered with water, and remember, materials appear darker wet than dry.
6) After the dyebath starts to simmer, check in 15 minutes if you wish to have a pale color. Leave the material in the dyebath longer for a deeper or richer color. For full color saturation, leave overnight in the dyebath.
7) Turn off the heat, let cool, squeeze out excess water, and then rinse in warm water to remove the alum.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Over Iced

Went to the water park today with the wife and had some fun and sun. Probably a little too much sun since my neck turned that not so good shade of red.
While waiting in line for a sno-cone I noticed the sno-cone guy dumping some of the remnant ice out on the ground near some plants which loved it At least most of the plants loved it. In the very middle, were he probably does this every day, there were no plants at all. This is why I say that icing plants is great but not to put the ice directly on the plant but around it. That's also why I use blocks so I can place them where ever I think is good and they don't move or slide like cubes or slush.
Sorry for no pictures, maybe next time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aloe (not your brain)

This is aloe.

In fact this is aloe after being deprived of water for a LONG time.

Freaky thing is, it's still farily tender just brown.

If this were your brain it wouldn't have stood up nearly as well and the only thing that might be any kind of consolation is that you wouldn't feel a thing.