Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tropical Fruit Sprouts

I'm attempting to start some tropical fruit trees this winter for something to do, growing wise. I have a number of citrus seeds as well as cacao and a couple others that I don't want to bother looking up at the moment.
I'll be posting more about the citrus in detail on the citraphile blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Starting Pineapples

We've all been told if we've bothered to ask, to twist the top off of a pineapple and plant it if we want to have another pineapple plant. That's great if al you want is one. I don't like to settle with the status quo usually so I looked for the seeds. They had to be somewhere in that fruit otherwise we would never have more pineapples. Seriously, how many tops have any of us really gotten to grow?
The seeds are a litle smaller than apple seeds and they are just under the eyes on the outside of the fruit. When cutting one up they are usually thrown away. here are just a few of the seeds out of my last pineapple. I haven't gotten around to planting them either but they should last a little longer than the top before having to be planted.
This is of course talking about your standard pineapple you get at the store. If you have plants then you already know that they send out runners and make new pineapples without any hassle.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Japanese Maple

I got back to work yesterday to find a small pile of seeds sitting on my desk. I'm well known for trying to plant just about anything and one of my coworkers decided to see if I could get them to sprout.
At first I thought they were black pine seeds since they had the wings on them but upon asking if that was what they were, I really hoped they were, he told me they were Japanese Maple seeds.
I looked up exactly what they looked like and expected to see some sort of pod that would release them but instead found that the seeds grow in pairs on the end of twigs. He confirmed this and said that all he did was reach up and pluck a few from the tree that grew between his house and his neighbor's house.
I have yet to plant them but I'm sure I have quite a while before I have to worry about them loosing viability.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surviving the Cold

The onion bed has sprouted quite a few onions this fall. I expect them to do pretty well since the mirror is in place and will keep them pretty warm during the day. Some of them might be leeks by the looks of it but we'll eat those too.

An unfortunate arrival is this litle squash, the first on this year to actually show up. I don't have much hope for him surviving but who knows. I still think we're going to have a pretty mild winter this year and he just might get big enough to eat.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter's Arrival

So far winter is having a slow approach. I know it's not winter yet but usually it's gotten colder than it has already. I'm hoping and believe that winter cold will still be some weeks away and that my garden will still have a little time to produce something still.
Even if it doesn't stay back for long, I have started some seeds inside that should prove to occupy my time for a while. I have planted two coffee seeds and two noni seeds. They might not do a lot but the anticipation is all I need to get me through the few cold days we have here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Texas Fall Colors

The color change in the north central Texas region isn't what you might call colorful or long lasting but it's nice when a little color comes to the yard. There will be a lot of raking in a day or two. Figs tend to loos all of their leaves in a short period of time.
The only other color in the yard is the crape myrtle. It's a little scragly looking at the moment since i've been trying to kill it. I should probably try something this winter while it's dormant. It might be easier to kill then.
The fig has gotten to a good size this year and should produce well in the spring.
Lots of other things to start this winter inside so the gardening should still be busy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blue Moon

The blue moon is out right now hanging high in the sky. Of course the next moon will be closer and higher that today but it's still a sight to see.
I go by the older method of tracking blue moons since the newer method really makes no sense whatsoever. The names of the moons don't depend on the month but depend on the seasons.
If you try to go by the months then the famed double blue moon, a second moon in January followed by a second full moon in March, throws the naming all out the window since one of the moons won't even be needed. The purpose of having a blue moon was to keep the names of the moons in order in the seasons in which they appeared.
The next full moon, since I live in Texas, I would term the long night's moon since there is no definite forecast of really cold weather.

Bamboo in the Tropics

Although growing bamboo in your yard at home might not be the best of ideas, you probably won't have them get this out of hand. Here they use them as furniture though and view this kind of growth as a new dining room table more than a problem.

The bamboo I have growing in the back yard isn't nearly this large and is contained in a pot. My wife thinks there might be some kind of city ordinance against bamboo of this size.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall is nearly over and the plants can't be happpier. All summer long the radishes lay there crying, barely growing at all. Now that they are growing the make great additions to salad.

Our purple basil has gone to seed and is nearly ready to collect seeds for next year. Not enough leaves to worry about and the ones that are still on the plant are pretty small.

Another prodigious grower is the ever present dandelion. They're a little too bitter at this point but they aren't too bad when they just start sprouting in the spring.

Unfortunately fall also brings around spiders. When coming back from our trip we saw tons of strands waving in the breeze at the airport shimmering in the parking lot lights. I don't mind them hanging around but I don't like running into them in the woods or yard.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winter's Approach

As the days get cooler I have to decide what to leave out and what to bring in. The tropical plants of course have to come in but there are a lot of plants that used to be inside plants that I am leaving outside this year.
Among those that will have to brave the elements are a relatively small cactus that wintered in the garage last year, the day lilly that I have put in the ground which is the bloom you see in my icon, the basil I am letting go to seed instead of trying to winter it and the lemongrass which will probably need mulch. We had to replace the lemongrass from last time since it died, not from the cold but from trying to produce starters for others.
The elephant ear plants by the back fence came back from last year so I don't have to worry about them. I also don't have to worry about our strawberry plants since they all died this summer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mystery Plant 2

It's curious, it seems that no one could help me identify the last plant... Well here's the other one. Same situation. I planted a seed and have no ides what it was I planted. We reused some of the cells of the seed starter and this doesn't match what the charts say. It likes the wet soil and seems to have a very hard stem on it, not a vine.
It's already split into two parts and each has new leaves forming from them so it may be a shrub or vegetable that has to grow fairly tall. This isn't a low grower.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cantaloupe Fatalities

We've lost one of our troops to some sort of bug it seems. The pit right in the middle went pretty deep into the center of the fruit. It wouldn't be getting any bigger and cutting it up would have been only a bite.

After cutting in down the hole I found that the hole turned after entering. There's almost no room for the orange goodness to develop.

Cutting into the right slice reveals the hole going even deeper into the middle of the melon.

Fortunately for me there are still many melons to go. Unfortunately the weather is getting cooler and there's not much more time for the melons to develop. There are only two good candidates for maturity but they'll sure be sweet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mystery Plant Help

I admit it, again. I have no idea what this plant is. I have let it grow from it's little beginning spiraling self to the stout little fellow it is now, about 2 weeks growth.
If you can identify this plant I will send you a hearty thanks. I'm poor...
(NOTE: The seed in the background is a small acorn and the leaf in the second picture is a pecan leaf.)

This side picture really doesn't help I don't think but just in case at least it gives it's height a little better.
There's a second plant that still needs identification but that can wait for now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weather Planning

One of the things I don't usually think about until it's too late is the temperature. Going on a cruise next week and I don't think I need to worry about the weather but then I heard it's supposed to get into the 40's. Today it was in the 80's so it wasn't really on my mind. It should have been since November is coming up but I find as I get older, not old, that time keeps speeding up. Just yesterday it was July.
A number of plants will be brought in for the colder nights but most of it is just going to have to face the temps. I'm still trying to natrualize some of it. There are many things that I think will grow just fine given enough breeding. Of course being on such a small scale it might take longer than I have to live. My grandchildren might have to finish it for me and right now I don't even have a kid.
Of course as time goes on there are more plants that are available for growing that were not too long ago deemed unfit for the area. Some still are unfit but we plant them anyway.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pansy Time

When I came in from the field, still afflicted with rashes of poison ivy, I saw the landscaping crews outside the office ripping out the plants that had been flowering and putting in pansies. They do this every year around this time when the heat is bound to stay down.

I personally don't do pansies. They look neat and come in lots of colors but I prefer things that come back easily and rough it out. I also prefer things I can use in everyday cooking.
You can, of course, eat pansies, not sprayed with pesticides. They make cupcakes look really neat either plain or crystalized with sugar if you aren't going to serve them right away.

If you dry them you can incorporate them into homemade paper or other crafting projects. My wife has made a pendant using dried flowers. She picked smaller ones though due to the size she was working with.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poison Ivy (What Not to Grow)

I've been out surveying in the deep jungles... ok, forests.... fine, thick bunches of trees of Fort Worth and Mansfield and of course there's a lot of things not to grow that don't need tending.

I've kept clear of most of them but the poison ivy just finds a way to get to you. Currently my arms are red and swollen, not bad enoug to stop me from blogging though.

Another of the fellons of the forest would be bull nettle. I have successfully kept clear of the hairy death plants. They say it feels like a jellyfish sting if you accidentally rub up to one. They can go through your jeans and lodge in your leg, but they are low growing and don't climb.

This mean little thorn can reach both the length and the thickness of a pencil and grows all over the honey locust tree. This is not a climbing tree. The thorns start out purple when they're still growing and have a toxin on them that will leave you sore and aching long after the thorn is removed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Backyard Cantaloupes

As I was mowing, about a week ago, I decided to just mow off some of the cantaloupe vine that had been growing out of the box, over the tile and out into the lawn. What I didn't realize was that it had already started making melons. It's the kind of thing you hope will happen but usually doesn't pan out as quickly as that. The first thing I knew about the matter was a loud thud as the blades hit a softball size melon and it rolls along the ground spilling newly forming seeds as it goes.
I have since left the escapees to their own devices.

Fortunately they have started forming in the bed and not so much outside. There is also a bitter melon plant in the corner, the only one to survive. It's flowers are much larger and I don't think it has made a melon yet.

The smaller melons still look mostly green and there's plenty of flowers for more to start forming. I scattered some pepper seeds in today to hopefully give a litle more sun cover and keep some more of the moisture in. They like lots of water.

The larger ones are starting to get some stripes but still no netting yet. Give them a few weeks and they should be netted and ready for picking. They probably won't get as big as the ones in the store but they're sweeter.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I was talking with one of my neighbors today and got an update on how his garden was faring.
Most of his crop died... That isn't surprising but at least it wasn't all of it. His okra for instance did pretty well. Okra is of course the original main ingredient for gumbo, the word coming from the french word for okra. His cherry tomatoes also survived and produced some. My one tomato plant hasn't made a tomato yet but also isn't very big.
unlike his melons, mine are doing well and will hopefully ripen soon before the weather changes again. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In the Last Year

I was looking back at the posts from last year around this time to see what was up then.
This year I'm way too booked to attempt to go to the plant swap again. I haven't even checked to see when or if it is happening, just too much going on.
Some of the plants that I had posted have various updates. The lemon tree is still growing though unfortunately it hasn't produced any lemons yet.
The key lime trees are all dead. This is most definitely due to the fact that none of them ever got transplanted or watered regularly. The only exception to this may be the one I gave my brother. He waters much more consistantly at times than I do.
The kaffir lime on the other hand started in a bigger pot and is doing fine. I have used it several times in cooking and it just grows more leaves for me.
The agave plant shown with the spider in it has nearly doubled in size since last year and I really need to remove the smaller one and put it somewhere it can grow better.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall Yet?

They said it would get cooler yesterday.
Then they said it woud be cooler today.
Then I stopped listening to them and just waited like everyone else.
Granted, it was a little cooler today. I stayed in the truck more with the AC running. I've been out doing surveying work. The worst part is the mosquitos atacking. As I was swatting them away from my head with one hand and a hat, I failed to notice my other hand. By the time I looked down there were nearly a dozen on the one hand alone, not to mention my jeans where they couldn't get to me anyway. I smacked them off and red smears were left.
All things said though, it is a little cooler. Not as much as I would like just yet but it'll be here soon enough.
We'll be cruising out of Baltimore November 4th. Then I may just be thinking why I wanted the cool weather to come so soon.
The cantaloupe is still growing. It's been netted for some time now and just hasn't ripened. So far I haven't found a reason for this. In the mean time I guess I'll keep it watered and fed.
The cooler weather has done wonders for the weeds in the yard too. I pulled out a bunch of them recently just to have them replaced with a new batch.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Crops - Lettuce

Lettuce is a very versatile plant. It can be planted in the spring or fall.

I have seeds from the last fall's harvest, 75 or so. They will hopefully be a good cross between the types I had in the back. One of them tasted better but the bugs thought so too. I hope to get at least one not so bad tasting plant that the bugs don't care for. If I can get that then I'll really have something to save seeds from. Both of them were leafy and taste good when young, a few nibbles of some of the smaller leaves is always a treat. This year I'm going to put a couple on the side after I clear out the remnants of the sunflowers. They didn't do as well this year but I still got quite a few seeds to put up.

In my heas the seeds may produce something along the lines of the following mind you this is an altered photo of normal lettuce.

For those of you who don't know how to take care of lettuce here is a quick guide to growing it.

It takes full sun and likes long days. It doesn't take heat well though and will bolt when the ground temperature gets into the 80's. It can take a light freeze overnight.

A well ammended soil will do fine and no further fertilizing is needed.

Water it when it gets dry. If it gets too wet, bugs will start to congregate.

It can be planted in early to mid fall and early to mid spring.

They also make good office plants if you have a corner office with windows to the South and East so the plant can get enough light. The temperature is usually good as well as the lack of bugs.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cantaloupe Cantastrophy!

Cheesy? Probably.
This doesn't make the horror any less upsetting. I was mowing the lawn and decided to clip one of the cantaloupe plants to try and shock it into making melons. What I didn't realize is that there was a softball size melon hiding under the leaves. A thud and out rolled the clipped and cracked melon. I still have others starting so I'm not devastated.
It's amazing how easy melons are to grow and how easy it is not to notice the fruit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seed Survival

It never ceases to amaze me how long a seed can sit in the dirt and still sprout. Recently I had a bird of paradise sprout. It didn't last two weeks but it still sprang up and said "hi" for a second.
This morning I had another visitor in a seed starting tray come up. I think it's a bean plant but I'll have to check the charts when I get home.
There are a lot of seets that lay dormant for years before sprouting. Typically seeds last a year or two. You can usually count on most of your seeds sprouting if kept for the usual time for the type of seed. Every year past that you can drop the number by half or more unless you have stored them well. The better you prepare the seeds for storage the better chance you have that they will sprout.
Some seeds seem to sprout on their own. I collected a bag of acorns one year and they sprouted in the bag. I watched it for a week and by the end well over half of the acorns were sending out roots.
My wife planted some coneflower seeds last fall hoping they would come up. Winter came and she forgot she planted them. We nearly removed all of the flowers since we thought we had contracted a bad case of some strange weed! Fortunately we hadn't gotten around to removing them by the time we realized what they were.
Citrus seeds store well since they have a hard outer coating. They can be stored for years and still sprout. Of course after a long period you will want to score the outside or maybe even entirely remove the outer layer so it has a better chance of sprouting quickly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The second cantaloupe is growing nicely. The webbing is getting more pronounced but the underside is still green. It has gotten a little bigger so I really don't mind the wait. Just a little longer for sweet juicy cantaloupe!
One of the vines in the back has a few little starters on it. The vine is a little bigger than the other one but it's been growing in the back. The shade hasn't let it get too hot and the soil is better so maybe I'll get some nicer melons back there.
The tomato plant, the only on left, seems to be doing fine. I'm going to have to build a mound around it soon so it can grow fast enough to make tomatoes before the frost comes. I might even get around to making a cold box for it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Butterfly Attractions

No, it's not butterflies on parade. Rather it's things that attract butterflies.
Several years ago we helped out with the Butterflies in the Garden exhibit at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. The butterflies really lilked the shirts they had for us. They were mostly yellow with a little black writing on them. It was just after we had taken a photography class from UTA and had some slide film left. We don't get to look at those very often.

We went back out to the botanic gardens recently and took a few pictures. The butterflies were out in full force.

This one didn't seem to be doing very well since he had a deformed wing. He was flopping or fluttering, depending on how you see it, in among the salvia. I wouldn't have seen him except that I was sitting on the ground next to the bush. He had plenty of flowers within reach and may still have lived however long he was supposed to for reproducing.

This on however had fully formed and colorful wings. He was in mid-flap so it isn't as vibrant as it could be but it was one of the better pictures.
Lantana was blooming everywhere.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saving Melon Seeds

After you grow your beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and any thing else you usually see in a typical garden you might want to grow melons. It's nice to get some good seeds and plant them, knowing that what you bought is what's coming up. After you harvest your first melons though there's no point to throwing all those seeds away! You may have spent three or four dollars on a pack of 20 seeds and there on the cutting board there's probably hundreds of them. You know the taste of the melon. You know it will grow in your area. You also know your family loves them. What you don't know is how to make sure the seeds will be stored properly. Fortunately you came here.

You of course have your melon. So, cut it open and get the seeds.

Now you have a mass of pulp and seeds. There may be seeds still stuck to the strands than used to run down the middle of the melon. If so, just pick up the strands and let them hang. Run your hand down the length, stripping off the seeds as you go.

What you are left with now is a bit of wet seeds and a little pulp. At this point I use a strainer and put all of the seeds in it. Run water over the seeds and swish it around. The strainer will help scrub off most of the rest of the pulp leaving you wet seeds with just a little bits of stubborn pulp clinging on. As you dry them the little bits of pulp will be removed. What I like to do is use paper towels for this. The seeds will stick a little at times but the pulp really likes to hang on. As pulp dries it gets sticky. As seeds dry they slip.

Now you have dry seeds. Well, mostly dry. You don't want to stop just yet. If you run your fingers through them they will feel cold. This is due to the moisture still in them that will rot them if not removed. I've stored too many seeds when I "thought" they were dry to make that mistake again. Pick through them again looking for any hidden pulp and remove it usually just a film.

After the film is gone and you think they are dry enough to store you might let them sit out for a day on a paper plate to fully dry. They will feel a little cool still but not cold to the touch.
I use plastic bags or canisters but if yo want to use paper for storage it breathes a little better and will help pull out moisture just in case some is left. Check the bags for problems for a few days. If a problem starts you can usually save most of the seeds and remove the problem.
Next season you can plant.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

4 O'Clocks

We have some 4 O'Clocks flowering in the morning instead of at 4. This really shouldn't be a cause for concern but it would be really cool if I could get some flowers blooming like, and this isn't a pun.. ok it is, clockwork.
I know it's probably been done by plenty of people but I've never heard of or seen it done where a clock is made up of flowers that bloom in succession at the different hours. A real vegative biological clock. Ok maybe it would be a bocanical clock, whatever.
I remember my grandfather on my mom's side waiting until the wee hours for his night blooming flower to open. I really don't remember what it was except that it was a vine and it had a huge bloom on it. I was about 6 years old at the time so the hugeness could very well be relative to my size at the time. I can remember their cat seeming huge too. The claws on that thing were the most memorable since I got a closeup look at them one day after loosing a staring contest with it.
Well, clock or no clock they're still not flowering on "time".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Striped Beets

It doesn't look like a typical beet but that's because it's not. I counted at least 13 different sprouts. I had to cut up the beet to remove the areas that were not quite right. There were gaps in the root where the individual plants were growing together.

I think something similar happened to some carrots last year. It ended up splitting apart and little sugar ants were eating the fluid that was flowing from the cracks.

The same thing happens with lots of plants. Some plants like to mix with other plants even taking over the plants at times so they can live. The strangler fig is one of those who loves to wrap itself around it's victim. Similarly it too hosts critters. Not necessarily ants but other critters use the eventual hollow.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cockatiel Eggs

We got our little babies, the cockatiels, a little over a year ago. At the time we were told that they were about a year old. Just the other day it laid two eggs!
We're going to give her a nest soon so she has some place to put her eggs other than the bottom of the cage.

Tree Moth

We usually have small moths visit us but as I was watering the front yard area I plashed the oak tree and down fell a large moth. It fluttered a little, I say fluttered because the wings were so large but it eventually settled down and let me take a picture.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Well, as I feared, the bird of paradise sprouted and promptly died. It is being buried in the compost pile with everything else.
The kaffir lime tree has almost doubled in size in the last two weeks! I don't know what made it want to grow so vigorously but I refuse to complain. I checked to make sure it wasn't a waterspout and I even used a few of it's leaves in a red curry dish (beef) a few days ago.
My kitchen compost bin has gotten a lot of egg shells recently due to a lot of baking, but the recent eggs I have come in contact with had to be thrown away. No, they weren't the recalled eggs in the news recently but they were the eggs of my sweet little cockatiel Lacy. She laid two of them. They both cracked on the cage bottom since she doesn't have a nest. I plan to remedy that soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bird of Paradise

I had just about given up on them ever sprouting but this week I noticed what I thought was a blade of grass popping up in a starter tray that I had just about abandoned. I didn't remember planting grass but I figured that it had come in some time when I had gone outside and planted itself like the rest of the weeds.
Yesterday I decided to look up what I had planted there since it wasn't growing like I thought grass should. Come to find out it was a bird of paradise seed and the green blade is actually a rolled up leaf coming up for the first time. The seed was probably over three years old since I got it in Hawaii nearly three years ago. Who knows how long it was on the shelf.

Now all I have to do is wait until it has a couple leaves and transplant it into a decent size pot. The biggest problem is keeping it away from the cats long enough for it to live.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

St Augustine Die Back

A coworker was telling me about her St. Augustine dying back in her back yard. Mine does the same thing when the heat gets to be a little too much. As far as I can tell it just needs a little more shade in really hot weather. Unfortunately so do most of the plants around here. Fortunately it has been a rather cool summer with only August really heating up a lot. Probably have a few more weeks of heat before things start producing again. It's at times like these when I wish I had the money to install a real green house with a little climate control.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kaffir Lime Tree

So far as I can tell it's still growing well. There are several new leaves even since this picture. The rain has come though so that's what I have. I'm not getting my camera wet.

I really should put it in a bigger pot soon so it will have room to grow. I think it's about at the size that the pot will allow.
The same goes for my key lime tree, the only one still alive. It's in a much smaller pot and the size clearly reflects it. Maybe I'll get to it next week or so.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


The heat is once again getting unbearable. Surprisingly the patchouli is doing well as well as the melon plants and tomato plant that seems to have planted itself in one of the beds. I'm not going to complain since we wanted some tomato anyway.
The cats have started sleeping behind the turk's cap. I guess it's one of the shadier spots in the yard. It's also near one of the sprinkler heads and when I turn it on they shoot out of there like nothing.
One of the lavender bushes died. It was planted where the last one died so I think there might be something wrong with the location, bugs or something.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cantaloupe - Home Grown

I went outside today and checked on my cantaloupe vine, particularly the cantaloupe itself and it decided to fall off the vine. So, I brought it in and placed it in the fridge so it would be nice and cold when we decided to eat it.
As you can see it has a nice orange undertone.
The seeds are also nicely developed and can be saved for next year's planting. This time I'm going to label it better.

Now we just have to make sure we get more than the cat. She loves cantaloupe as well as strawberry yogurt.

Friday, July 23, 2010

10% Chance of Flooding and Monsoons

I looked just yesterday and the forcast was a 10% chance of rain. This morning I checked with someone who's iphone said it would only be partly cloudy the rest of the day.
When five-o-clock rolled around there was a sudden loud clap of thunder and the sky got realy dark. It poured for nearly an hour making streams of water flowing in the streets.
At what point did 10% turn into a monsoon?
The up side is that I don't have to water the plants today. The cantaloupe really likes the rain water better anyway.
The down side is that it's now too wet to mow the rest of the yard.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tamarind Tree

Although it is grown in zones 10-11 the tamarind tree has survived it's first day outside. I planted it yesterday in one of the pots that had beets in it before. I have since eaten the beets.
It looks a little wilted but not badly. I have watered it twice a day like everything else.
I'm also working on two other projects. The first one is setting the tile around the planter boxes. I'm putting the tiles down first to kill off most of the grass and then I'm going to level it better and reset them.
The second project that I have been putting off for some time is making a fence panel out of bamboo. Since it looks like I really only have enough to make one with a few pieces left over it might turn into a shade canopy for tomato or other plants that need to be shaded in the hot part of the day. Time will tell.
Unfortunately I don't have the ability to put up any pictures of the projects since my wife has the camera and she's in Pennsylvania. She'll be back soon though and after a couple days I should have pics of it all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


July heat is upon us and about all I can do now is water and hope everything lives.
I put my plumeria sprout out today in a shady spot so it can have some real sunlight even if it is indirect. it seems to be struggling under the grow light.
The cat has eaten quite a few sprouts we had on the window sill. He hasn't bothered the big plants at least. That would probably cause a little bit of a mess.
The kaffir lime tree is still putting out new leaves and getting a little taller.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cucumber - Watermelon - ????

Ok, I have grown cucumber before which is why when what I thought were cucumber seeds came up I assumed they were cucumbers. They had the prickly stems and the leaves looked good enough to be right. The fruit even looked the same when it was really small.

Then there came the shape and texture of the fruit as it got bigger... They were smooth and round and began to show long stripes. A watermelon, right?

Nope... I got up this morning and checked on the progress. I figured with all the rain a watermelon would have gotten to the point I would have to do something about it again. When I looked at it there was a strange grey weaving pattern all around the round fruit. It will soon turn a little orange in the middle and be really sweet, I hope. That is what cantaloupe does after all...

Friday, July 9, 2010

More Spring Cruise 2010

One of my favorite pics of the trip was this plant. It was a bit taller than we were which afforded this neat perspective straight into the middle of the wavy stems.
I particularly liked the way they twisted as they went out.

Among my other great loves is the sundial. This one particularly struck me a neat because it tells you exactly when we took the picture. As long as you know it's spring then you can look and see where the shadow is falling and read the date. I think it was April 28.

Although I don't have a pic yet. The kaffir lime tree is really showing the beginning leaves more evenly now. Two more have started and show real promise.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Straw in the City

The title's not that catchy but the idea is sure to catch on if it hasn't already.
My beautiful watermelons need some place to lay down their enormous selves where the bugs won't get to them and cause a mess. My wife suggested I put straw under them... Where am I supposed to get straw?
Well, I was outside today cleaning and maintaining as best as I can with only ten minutes to do it and found that the Mexican feather grass was in desperate need of some tidying up. As some of you might know, I don't subscribe to the haircut method. It's barbaric and cruel to chop the top off wholesale, not to mention not as effective. So there I was brushing the grass to get the dead parts out and leave a lusterous mane when all of the sudden it hit me that I also had a small pile of straw.
It wasn't the usual type of straw but who cares.
I carefully pulled up the largest watermelon and placed the straw beneath it. If I was that watermelon I would be way too thrilled. I think I might need to move it out of it's current location though so that it won't be in danger of sitting in water even if it is lying on straw.
Grow melon grow!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kaffir Lime Tree

It's been over a year now since this little one has sprouted. I remember it like it was yesterday, the little guy fighting to grow and not mind too much when I would forget to water him for a week. He's gotten quite used to the outside where the heat can really be unbearable. The rain of course helped and unlike the plumeria (shown in the background behind it), it's leaves haven't gotten too burned.
You're probably thinking, if you know a lot about kaffir lime trees, the leaves look all wrong. That can't be a true kaffir lime tree! Well, truth be told I have no guarantee that it is. All I know is that the seed I planted came out of a kaffir lime. In theory then it is possible that this is a kaffir lime hybrid. but I haven't found any information on what the leaves look like on such a young plant. It very well may develop more distinct leaves once it gets bigger. The smaller parts have been getting bigger as it has aged and I don't have any reason to believe it will stop or continue this trend. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Watermelon Patch?

Ok, maybe not a patch, but it surely is taking over a little. It's pulled down it's second sunflower plant. I can't bear to mess with it too much though since I really want some watermelons this year.
I have to go put planks and straw under them today so they don't get eaten up by slugs or rolly pollys, which devoured my cucumbers last year.

Along with the watermelons there are all of the flowers that they produce. This little visitor seemed to realize this and waited around for a bite to eat.

Gerbera Daisies

The gerbera daisies in the front have sprung back to life, not flowering but lively. Of the three, the one in the back left was barely more than a clump of black dead matter for weeks before the rains came and revived them. Watering does less than you might think under our Texas sun.

The other two on the right hadn't fared as badly and so the wonderful rain has really gotten them up and happy. This fall there should be a nice show once it cools down a bit.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Ok, I know I've been really happy about my cucumber plants growing and making fruit and all but I have some really bad news. I don't have any cucumbers. Apparently they're watermelons instead. I thought I planted cucumber but due to the lazyness inherent in the way I garden, they either didn't come up and I planted more than one thing or I somehow mistook watermelon seeds for cucumber seeds. They look nothing alike.
I could still be mistaken even since I have never grown watermelon from seed before. They could be some other melon entirely. They are still little green balls after all and who knows what color they may turn.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beet Seedlings

I wasn't sure how successful harvesting beet seeds would be but I didn't feel like harvesting all of them and scattered some of them back on the dirt the beet they came from had been.
There are now probably over a hundred little beet sprouts springing up all over the pot. I guess they are pretty fertile. If my neighbor wants any I'll transplant some of them for him or maybe just plant some seeds in his garden. They seem to like growing.
I wasn't sure the beets were making seeds at first since the seeds look so strange, kind of like a spiky pepper corn.
The rest of the garden is still loving the rain and fruit is popping up all over the place. I just hope it keeps up.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rain, rain, rain, rain ...

After watering my gardens twice a day, for I don't know how long now, the rain has finally come to give me a break. All of the plants seem to love it too as they are springing to full attention and plumping as only a rain can make them do.
I can only hope my fig tree is taking in enough to make the second wave of figs ripen and get fat and juicy. So far the figs that are ripening, if you can call it that, are dry and shriveled looking.
The cucumbers were already forming fruit and should keep going well.
Unfortunately my wife can't pick flowers in this weather since it makes picked flowers mold which is not the scent you want in a sachet or bowl of potpourri.
I need to get my citrus plants out while it's raining so they can get used to the outside before too long. The kaffir lime is already sitting out front and has done well and the lemon tree out back has a ton of new branches growing. Still no sign of fruit though. Maybe next year.
There is a decent chance all week for rain. I guess I'll just wait and see what ripens.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Neighborhood Gardening

More gardens are popping up in the neighborhood. I already knew about one of them down the street, a nice large garden in neat rows. Now my next door neighbor is preping a bed just by the fence. I just happens to be one of the only place in the yard to grow anything since the tree in their back yard shades the rest of the yard.
They have decided to grow squash, tomatoes, okra, snap beans (blue lake) and possibly others. We said they could have some of our starters if they had room that needed to be filled. We're currently trying to water twice a day, morning and evening, to keep the moisture even. So far it's working but still no fruits.
The sunflowers are producing though and I hope to have more seeds in the next few weeks. We also toyed with the idea of going out to the highways and harvest the flowers on the sides of the roads. there are literally tons of them growing wild.

Cats vs. Kitens

Kittens are cute when you find them playing among the plants and napping in the shade. Cats on the other hand are not so cute since they have the bad habit of napping on plants that aren't quite big enough to be able to take it.
Recently we have had several snow pea plants crushed under the weight of a not so large cat who knew that he shouldn't be where he was. He left very deep tracks in his haste to leave. If he returns he will find his favorite bed filled with pepper and chili powder and hopefully not so inviting. So too are the other beds and the top of the ice chest just in case he keeps looking for a resting place.
The plus side to having cats in the neighbor hood is squirrel control. There are fewer pecans planted where they shouldn't be.
My wife thinks I should go ahead and put cages on the planting beds to keep the cats out. In the long run this is probably the best and most economic method.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New planters

Even when I feel terrible it seems that planting gets done. Yesterday we got some free pots from craigslist from a wonderful family who just didn't feel like trying to grow more stuff. I can't say I blame them though since after looking at the plants they tried to grow I noticed that almost all of the plants that they had in the pots that they were giving us were rotting. I don't know the whole story but that would be enough to discourage a lot of folks.
One of the stargazer lilies was ok though and I repotted it in hopes of a bloom. I'm not holding my breath but who knows. I had to clean it up a bit still.
In the back we constructed another 4x4 garden box and planted some cucumber in part of it. In one of the older boxes we put a few snow peas that we had sprouted inside along with some beans.
I turned the compost bin and find that it still needs more green matter. The old leaves are just not composting very fast (3 years). It is just about there but there are still bits here and there. It should be nice and good by fall if it keeps up at this pace.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dragonfly Visitor

At first my wife thought it might be dead. The first few pictures were much farther away just in case she was right but after a while I just strolled right up to it and snapped off a few. This one I think is the best. The straight on back picture really is a good one. I wish I had also gotten a side pic but I hadn't thought to at the time.
It sat there until the rosebush was bumped and it flew off.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day Lilly, Second Bloom

My day lilly has bloomed for the second time in it's life. Hopefully it will keep blooming and divide soon. I'm afraid to dig it up too soon in case it isn't ready. So far it has only had one set of leaves so I guess I should just keep taking good care of it.

Growin' Garlic

I have grown some garlic this last year and the results were a little surprising. I mean litterally the small size of the first garlic clove was sort of a shock. This clove is sitting on a regular sheet of paper 10 point type.

Fortunately it wasn't the only garlic to grow this year. These two are sitting right by the remains of the other little one. There are more still in the garden and the onion is about done making seeds.
Speaking of seeds, the beets seem to make a lot of seeds, way more than I would have thought.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Arlington Farmer's

The farmer's market was a great success (at least for what we went out there for)
There were around ten vendors and many of them did even better than we did. Kay Lymon of Top Shelf Confections made the best cupcakes I have had in a while. If you live in the Arlington, Texas area you should give her a holler and see for yourself.
There was also an actual farmer with produce from his farm and his son's land. I don't know if his son has a farm or just grows cantaloupe (possibly musk melon).
My wife's book sales doubled today. Of course she hasn't been selling them for very long but double is still good.
The figs from my tree sold in a couple hours and when I got home after work there were just as many waiting to be picked. I love figs.
Later we went to get some trays to start still more plants. They were dirt cheap. I never get tire of that one. Unfortunately dirt isn't cheap anymore but around here clay is. Problem there is you can't plant very much in clay.
Anyway market good, figs good, life good.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Medicinal Mexico

One of the highlights of our trip was the medicinal section of the botanical gardens.
Among the plants were mint and rue but the guide didn't let us stay very long since we were already behind schedule before we even got to the gardens.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arlington Farmer's Market

My wife and I will be out a the Arlington, Texas farmer's market this coming Friday.
The city decided to start having one last fall and has brought it back this spring. It is supposed to continue through the summer on into late fall /early winter when there will probably be mostly squash and such.
Among other things there will be fresh vegetables, honey, and eggs. My wife will be bringing herbs and some herbal items. We will possibly be starting a larger bed to plant things in to eat and bring out in the coming months. I have plenty of supplies and just need to get up off of the sofa and do something with it all.
The Arlington, Texas Farmer's Market is located at 215 E. Front St., Arlington, Texas and is open on Friday and Saturday 8:00 till sold out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Botanical Gardens, Mexico

After the trip to the bird sanctuary we headed to a botanic garden near the local university. Actually I believe it was a school that was a combination of different grades but at the time we were there we saw mostly older teens or twenties with backpacks and such.

This picture was one of my favorites. The way the light hit it just right was too good to pass up. It is one of the varieties of heliconia they have there.

Here is another where the yellow is also present. They don't look a lot alike but they're in the same family. If you look closely you can see some ants at the bottom looking for a bit of something to eat.

This one lacks the yellow in favor of the green, but like the first one is upright instead of hanging.