Wednesday, December 31, 2003
- purple basil
- cuphea hyssopifolia (mexican heather)
- gelsemium sempervirens (carolina jessamine)
- lantana camara - "new gold," "radiation," "raspberry," "silver mound"
- lavandula multifida (fern leaf lavender)
- pentas lanceolata
- peppers - serrano
- plumbago auriculata
- unknown rose
- salvia elegans (pineapple sage)
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Oxalis of Evil.
(thanks to pete for suggesting the cheesy title.)
last week i declared that "oxalis = evil" and promised further explanation. here it is.
those cute little pink flowers that i thought were so cheery back in february have, over the last several months, come to show their true intent, and it is not to lend color to an otherwise dreary and gray season.
what started as a few plants scattered through the grass has become enormous colonies of oxalis. yes, it is nice and green, but it chokes out everything in its path and grows like, well, a weed. it doesn't get tall and scraggly, but it stops at nothing in its quest to overtake the yard.
"dainty pink flowers" my patootie.
the plants national database lists more than a few varieties of oxalis, native as well as introduced. it exists in every state except alaska. how's that for distribution. i haven't positively identified our oxalis, but i think it is oxalis violacea (violet woodsorrel).
once you've let it go too long, eradicating oxalis becomes a near full time job. the kind we have grows from small bulblets, which then multiply into dozens of tiny bulblets, which in turn grow larger and multiply themselves. and on and on, ad infinitum. i shudder to think of the number of these things hiding in our yard.
darin has become quite adept at rooting out oxalis clumps; i don't have quite his skill, but i have greater perseverance. in part, i think, because i feel guilty about letting the sneaky things have free rein for so long.
there is a place oxalis -- the native sort, that is -- but that place is not in the middle of my yard. if i had a "woodland" sort of setting, i might well consider oxalis. but i don't, and darin does still have a certain attachment to small patches of st. augustine lawn. thus it must be gone.
oxalis has officially been designated one of my least favorite plants. the other being liriope.
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Basil and Peppers.
a couple of observations:
- i have always had it in my head that basil died when temperatures fell below ~50F, so i've been pleasantly surprised by the fact that the two "purple ruffles" plants i spared continue to grow despite several nights in the 30s and 40s (but no freezes yet). now i regret pulling out the rest of the basil.
- i also didn't realize that pepper plants could be perennials. the two serranos that remain have not only put out lots of new growth after being severely cut back, but they are also blooming and setting fruit! of course, the tiny peppers could very well fall off if / when we have sustained low temperatures. and the new leaves will be especially vulnerable to freezing when the time comes, but now i'm hopeful of having a "winter" crop of serranos.
Oxalis = Evil.
more on this later...
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Orchids and Worms.
Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum (Bird Pepper).
last week darin brought me an unknown plant from a friend's property near austin. it had been growing in the underbrush and its sparse leaves made it look ratty. however, it was covered with tiny, bright red berries so i had him put it in a temporary container until i could decide what to do with it.
today i squished one of the berries -- they are tiny, pearl sized -- with my finger. not much came out, just a little juice and a few seeds. looking at the seeds, i realized that they looked just like pepper seeds.
i've read about chile pequin, aka "bird pepper," and know they grow wild in texas, but i've never seen either plant or fruit.
now, i'm an incredibly cautious person and have a very healthy respect for what i don't know. totally against character, i touched the squished berry to my tongue. only a teensy bit.
holy cow, it was HOT! my lips were on fire for twenty minutes. these are much hotter than serranos.
drinking lots of milk does alleviate the burn.
i didn't think chile pequin had any use beyond providing food for birds (certainly reason enough for existence), but it turns out that they are attractive small perennials and can be used as an ornamental.
they can also be used in salsas, soups, and such, but i would use with great caution.
now that i know what it is, i'll definitely be keeping this plant. somewhere.
more chile pequin info:
- bird pepper (garden bits)
- pequin chiles (a taste of texas)
- chile pequin, chile petin, bird pepper (lady bird johnson wildlife center)
Friday, December 19, 2003
blogging has been light -- okay, nonexistent -- lately due to pre-holiday panic and will probably continue to be light / nonexistent until the new year. of course, i might squeeze in some posts as i take breaks from the holiday activities, but don't count on it.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Back to the Bulbs.
in my eagerness to recount this morning's tale of doggy misbehaviour, i forgot to report how many narcissus i actually found. so, here it is, along with a couple of other bulb counts:
- narcissus "erlicheer" -- 4 sprouts + 2 offset sprouts
- tulipa saxatilis -- 8 sprouts + 2 offset sprouts
- leucojum aestivus -- 4 sprouts
- ipheion uniflorum "wisley blue" -- lots + lots of offsets
- crocus sativus -- at least 30 sprouts
Daffodils and Dogs.
i noted a few days ago that, much to my surprise, some of last year's tulipa saxatilis were sprouting. (i was surprised not so much that they had returned, but that they were sprouting in late november / early december.)
when i stepped out on the front porch to get the mail yesterday, i was again surprised. this time by evidence that the erlicheer narcissus were sprouting. it was raining, so i didn't rumage through the fallen leaves to see how many sprouts there were, but i could see three poking through the leaves.
n.b., i titled this post "daffodils and dogs" because i like the alliteration, but in the post i refer to the erlicheers as narcissus. lest anyone be confused, daffodil is the common name for narcissus. the american daffodil society explains the daffodil / narcissus quandary succinctly.
when i went out to get the newspaper this morning, i stopped to push back the leaves and look for additional sprouts. i had planted five bulbs last november.
as i was kneeling at the edge of the porch, digging through leaves, i glimpsed a brown and white shape zipping past me. i think to myself, "oops, cat out the door . . . cat out the door means door is open . . . dogs were standing at the door when i went out." as all this flashes through my head, the dogs push past me, before i'm aware enough to grab their collars.
now there is one cat heading for the neighbor's backyard, and two dogs heading who knows where. two greyhounds. they can disappear in a flash if i turn my back on them for even an instant, but i know i have no chance of catching them before the cat slips into the fenced backyard. so i run after the cat first, simultaneously calling the dogs and watching over my shoulder to see which direction they go.
once upon a time, tex was a very timid dog and on the few occasions that he and major escaped he wouldn't venture beyond the end of our driveway. major, on the other hand, has no fear of the wide world that exists beyond her backyard. today, for the first time ever, tex decided to tail major down the street. at least they stayed together. he even looked back at me with a look of glee in his eyes.
back to the chase. i caught up to the cat as she was heading up the neighbor's drive, clamped her under my arm and briefly considered whether there was any way for me to pursue the dogs, hang on to their collars and drag all three animals back together. i decided against this plan since the chances of the cat lacerating my stomach and escaping were very high.
so i ran back to the front door, threw the cat in, and wenr after the dogs. luckily, they were more focused on exploring the other yards on our block than doing a sprint through the neighborhood. with major in the lead, they headed through three yards on the other side of the street until major was distracted by something on the ground (probably another dog's poop), stopped and marked the spot. the entire time i was calling their names, trying very hard not to sound angry since that would only give them cause to put more distance between us.
after major finished her duty, she changed direction and the two dogs went the other way down the street, meandering through yards along the way. a few houses away from ours, major disappeared behind a house, tex close behind. i approached the house, waiting for them to come tearing back around the corner and past me. but they did't. this could only mean one thing -- the backyard is open and they've gone in. this is a very good thing.
sure enough, as i go up the driveway i see the gate is open and there are the dogs. by this time tex has apparently had enough adventure and lets me take his collar. i drag him along and major more or less surrenders as well, letting me approach and take her collar.
turning around, i see the lady of the house standing behind the screened back door. she laughingly says, "got away from you, didn't they." i apologize profusely and haul two happy dogs back home.
reflecting on this episode, i'm thankful for two things: that we live in the middle of a block of large lots, providing many doggy distractions before they have the opportunity to cross any streets; and that i was fully dressed and wearing shoes instead of being still in my pj's, sans footwear.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
in a fit of semi-insanity i pulled out all four tomato plants, all the basil except one purple ruffles, the remaining bell peppers, the poblano and all but two of the serrano peppers before we left town for thanksgiving. this came about mostly because the beds they were in were not intended to be vegetable beds but perennial beds. the beds now look naked but more orderly.
as for the edibles that haven't been eliminated (because they are in beds intended for herbs and annual vegs):
- fernleaf dill is coming along nicely. i've already thinned it a few times.
- flat-leaf parsley is growing more slowly and only just now getting "real" leaves.
- cilantro and black seeded simpson lettuce are looking well, too. most of the lettuce has recovered from the earlier rain abuse.
- spinach and giant caesar lettuce continue to disappoint.
- the two original multiplying onions have increased to four.