Saturday, November 30, 2002
i don't know whether my fall crocus (crocus sativus) will have time to bloom this year, but the bulbs have sprouted. the species tulips are also sprouting in several spots (including the two planted with the crocus).
the peas are finally producing - two pea pods on the vine, several more flowers blooming.
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
most of the fans are producing new growth and none seem to have died outright. in fact, several of the fans in the sunroom bed are sending up new leaves much more quickly than i expected. in a couple of cases the new leaves are already twice as tall as the cut off fans (which makes them look a bit odd).
basically, i'm just leaving everything alone and crossing my fingers that i'll see flowers someday.
despite feeling rather blah much of last week, i did check on the garden every day.
the existing lettuce is coming right along. one of these days, we'll actually have enough for salad (a very small salad). the latest lettuce sprouts seem happy; i even forced myself to thin them.
the parsley is really amazing. it rebounds in no time after every harvest, getting bushier every time. definitely a good fall selection for me. the rosemary also continues to thrive.
the peas confuse me. on the one hand, i'm down to three surviving pea vines (from over a dozen); but they're now blooming, sort of. two flowers appeared late last week. i have my fingers crossed that something will come of this. maybe we'll have a couple of peas to put in the salad.
the spinach is also troubling. the most recent seeds are sprouting, but the earlier sprouts just don't seem to be getting bigger. maybe the spinach has higher sun requirements than the other plants?
in recent weeks i've "rescued" a couple of garlic cloves from the compost pile. they were thrown out with the kitchen scraps for whatever reason and started sprouting. in the process of turning the compost piles, i discovered the growing garlic and transplanted it into the raised veggie bed. so now i have two garlic plants growing; i still haven't gotten around to finding out what to expect from them.
Winter is Here.
despite beautiful fall weather all last week, i was feeling a bit under the weather, hence the lack of posts. this week, i'm feeling much more like myself, but the weather has taken a turn for the cold. and no, i don't care how much colder it is everywhere else, this counts as winter weather in houston. i've lived in parts of the country that experience "real" winter and i do not like it for more than a couple of days. this is why i live in houston. when i want to experience winter, we go visit family members in those cold parts of the country, or we take a ski trip.
speaking of last week, the weather really was perfect fall weather. cloudless blue sky, comfortable temperatures during the afternoon, cooling off to crisp sweater weather after sunset. the trees were even changing color and looking like proper fall trees - all too often, the leaves in houston just go from green to brown with no nice colors in between. this is one of the (very) few things i miss about living in a region with four real seasons.
now the forecasters say we're in for a few days of dreary, damp, cold weather. bleah, and i was looking forward to having five days to play in the garden.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Being a Naturalist.
very interesting reading. i did not know that texas has a master naturalist program. i'll have to check it out. unfortunately, the gulf coast chapter starts its training year in august, so i'll have to wait a bit.
i looked into the texas master gardener program a while back, but the training classes / activities of the harris county chapter all seem to be during work hours. rather limits their audience, i think.
there is also a second texas master naturalist site. it has much the same information as the texas parks and wildlife master naturalist site, lots of "under construction"pages, and a page of other nature sites and links.
real quick - the lettuce has sprouted, giant caesar and black-seeded simpson; the existing lettuce continues to grow. the peas aren't happy, but i'm not sure why. spinach is also struggling; cilantro appears to have finally decided to grow. parsley and rosemary look great.
darin let me finish off the basil plants. they were pretty much done, so i salvaged what decent leaves remained and composted the rest. made fresh pesto last night.
with the basil out of the way (it was in the bed under the sunroom window, along with nearly everything else) i was able to lift the second unidentified iris clump. eight fans altogether. i replanted five of them in the previously occupied iris / basil spot and the other three went into the side fence bed, around the base of one of the mandevilla.
i'm not sure that these iris are the same as the first clump i dug - the way the offsets were attached to the main rhizome was different - they were all much closer. and the leaves seem to emerge from the rhizomes in a slightly different growth pattern. or maybe i just looked more closely at this batch. at any rate, hopefully i'll get flowers eventually and have a better idea of what i have.
the monarch hasn't emerged from the chrysalis yet, but it has turned a beautiful bright green, with glittery gold dots.
Monday, November 18, 2002
Today we burn a half billion gallons of gas a year powering rotary mowers. We pour tens of thousands of tons of chemicals on our lawns. Lawns reflect a 200-year-old Romantic dream of fusing ourselves with nature. Yet that very dream now poses a major threat to the nature it so lovingly celebrates.darin and i (okay, mostly darin) use a scotts reel mower. i love that it doesn't smell of gasoline and the only sound it makes is a very hypnotic "snick-snick-snick" as the blades turn.
What a crowning irony! We so want the loveliness of nature that we put nature under assault to have it. We lay ourselves open to that sort of thing when we take our technologies for granted -- when we let them slip into invisibility.
we also don't use herbicides or pesticides or fungicides or other chemicals in the yard or garden. everything looks nice and green and i believe we have more "good" bugs, lizards, toads, frogs, snakes and birds than we would have if chemicals were used. i like knowing that my plants aren't coated in chemicals.
interesting, somewhat related links:
- history of landscape architecture (kenneth helphand, university of oregon)
- museum of garden history
- hearth & home: cutting the grass (andy wasowski, author of various books for texas gardeners)
- american landscape and architectural design, 1850-1920
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
today's selections, for your entertainment / education:
- "where can i find info and pictures on the large milkweed bug?" - a picture (and info) from the entomology department of texas a&m is online here, and here are milkweed bugs as pictured in a photographic catalog of north american arthropods. more pictures and information are here, from the daylily dictionary.
and my own posts on milkweed bugs were on august 28.
- "vacuuming pine needles" - here at garden spot, vacuuming pine needles seems to be a never-ending activity. although it's a little more work than just raking the needles together and transferring the piles to the compost, the pine needles break down much, much faster when they're vacuumed / chopped with the rake and vac.
the gardenias like pine needle mulch, and the crepe myrtles and crinums don't mind it. and hopefully the unidentified iris are louisiana iris, because they also like pine needles.
Monday, November 11, 2002
Fun with Referral Logs.
now that fall has arrived and daylight savings has ended, the days are shorter and it's usually dark when i get home. and as much as i enjoy working in the garden, i'm not (yet) willing to wake up early to get some garden-time before going to work. so, to satisfy my desire to blog during the week, i'll "answer" some of the questions that come from the referral logs.
- "are toad [sic] helpful to gardens?" - i first blogged about toads in the garden on august 30, and most recently on september 16. i haven't checked the toad hole lately, but i think the garden toad may have moved on to higher ground during the recent rainy spell.
to answer the question, toads are helpful garden inhabitants because they eat insects (including grubs).
- "killing asian jasmine" - my first post on asian jasmine was on february 16. not surprisingly, i was trying to clear the stuff out of the yard.
i am happy to report that due to my diligent efforts over the past several months, i have almost entirely cleared the asian jasmine from our yard - and without resorting to chemicals. i did it all by hand, patiently pulling every single blasted plant, getting as much root as possible. these days, i find only a couple of sprouts a month and my greatest problem isn't so much the few bits sprouting from root remnants, but the bits coming through (and under) the fence from the back neighbor's yard.
fortunately, asian jasmine doesn't seem to be nearly as tenacious / obnoxious as some "weeds". nonetheless, i do not recommend planting the stuff unless you really like it and are willing to look at it for a long, long time.