Friday, May 27, 2011

Windstorm Damage

Amazingly enough there was very little damage to the plants during the last few windstorms. There was damage to the power lines that run down the back of the property but we called the power line company numerous times to let them know it would probably happen. I only hope the sparks coming off of the lines don't catch my compost pile on fire.
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

Community Garden Update

The planting of the plot out at the community garden didn't go as badly as feared. I went out yesterday just before dark and I could actually see rows of plants. Some of the children must have listened to instructions and put the seeds in the rows I made.
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

Green Mulch

It's not the typical use of the word green when describing compost. What I mean is the use of living green plants to help prevent moisture from escaping the soil. You might be more familiar with the term weeds but in the end there will be no weeds since the meaning of a weed is a plant that is growing somewhere you don't want it to. Sure you don't want all plants to grow in the beds such as grasses but after these are removed the ramaining plants can actually help your crop by promoting competitive growth even though they aren't really competing for root space.
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

Community Garden Planted

We finally got the plot out at the community garden planted. It was a group effort. Me, my wife and a bunch of children we don't know all helped out with the task.
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.

Harvester Ants

From what I can tell these guys were harvester ants. I snapped this photo at the lavender festival at Blanco by the side of the road where the booth was located. They didn't seem to bother anyone, the little black ants did more of that.
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


It seems to be a death match between the hops and 4 o'clocks. Unfortunately the hops is a sure looser unless I assist it. Only a few days ago the 4 o'clocks were winding around in the background and this morning I had to remove the strangle hold it had on the hops. I also uprooted several 4 o'clocks just to make sure they didn't try it again before I got home to implement a more permanent solution. They're still climbing the drain pipe nicely and may have to uproot most of them so that the hops can have plenty of breathing room.
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

Becker Vinyards Lavender Festival

We had a great time at the festival last weekend. With the weather holding off on pouring rain down upon us we were able to survive the sudden gust of cold wind. While I was standing there talking to some gentleman or other the wind blew in a good fifteen degrees colder in an instant and kept dropping for the rest of the day. Most of the visitors were either in shorts or sun dresses and hurriedly left to avoid getting a chill.
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.