Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Front Flower Bed

This in "no man's land" in our front yard. It's on the other side of our driveway, receives the harsh western sun and is a pain to water since it's a sorta lopsided pie-shaped area. When my husband and I moved in, we immediately decided to gut it of all the grass and make it a flower bed. I plant many low-maintenance perennials and self-sowing annuals in there. This is also where most of my daylilies are planted. I know they're not necessarily low maintenance, but they do well over there. I thoroughly enjoy roaming through the plants and seeing what's growing besides the weeds. My goal is to eventually to have plants mature enough that the mulch can't be seen. That might happen in about 5 years! Here are some of my favorites that are blooming now.

Sweet Alyssum~Came in a mix of low-growing wildflower seeds. The white really stands out in the garden and the smell is lovely.

Mealy Blue Sage~This was a tagalong plant in a container of Frogfruit. This is a Texas native and I'm so excited that I got a "two-fer".

Blue Sage~Different than the Mealy Blue Sage above, but similarly colored flowers. This one is shorter and spreads more prolifically.

Part of the front bed. The butterfly bush (bright purple bloom on the left.) was a rescue from the nearly dead table at Wal-Mart several years ago. The blooms smell wonderfully! There's Silver Ripples daylily, yellow Four Nerve Daisy, and another purple salvia, May Night in this pic.

Balloon Flower~This is a self-sowing annual. It dies back in the winter, but it's come back every year I've had it. Just mulch it well in the fall and wait patiently for it's first leaves to poke through in the spring. I have a problem with that waiting thing, though!

Pink Skullcap~Another native that I'm excited about. This came to me last fall as a trade. I couldn't get it in the ground before it got cold, but it had set seeds, so I harvested the seeds and put the plant in my sunroom to overwinter. The plant survived and when I winter sowed the seeds, almost every single one germinated! I have these spread along the borders of this bed.

Daylily 'Hawaiian Nights'~first flower opening on this one and it's a beaut! Well worth the wait!

Pinks, purples, and blues. They will nicely accentuate the yellows and goldens I'm waiting to bloom.

Lastly, I leave you with a view of the bed from this morning's shade looking toward the street.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Today's Garden Stroll

It was a bit overcast this morning when I first went out to the gardens, so it was quite pleasant. The recent steady warm temps have really helped everything take off.

Red California Wonder pepper (sweet)

Baby yellow peppers (sweet). These plants are smaller than the red peppers. Interesting!

Yellow squash

Watermelon flower (male)

Cantaloupe flower (male)

Burpless cucumber (again...male flower)

Pole beans going crazy.

New trellis system for the pole beans, designed by the Handy Man himself!

Buds on my bush beans. Exciting!

Almost ripe Christa Merced tomato

The Sugar Baby watermelon baby is still about the size of a softball, but it's turned a deeper shade of green this week.

Another yellow straight neck squash

More strawberries!!

In the next post, we'll stroll through the flower beds. Lots of pretties showing off! :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last Minute Veggie Bed #5

In order to plant the tomatoes my husband purchased over the weekend, he had to construct another bed. We also planted an edible kale that was given to us at the plant swap we attended in April. Don't know anything about growing kale. Don't think I've ever eaten kale, but the husband wanted it so we have kale.

Here's our last minute veggie bed, full of heirloom maters and kale. Two of the tomato plants had been at the nursery so long that their stems were fragile (top heavy) and crooked. We planted them sideways to help them build a better root system and grow nice and strong. We simply cut off almost all of the leaves, dug a trench-like hole, sprinkled in some earthworm castings and tomato food, then laid the plant sideways in the hole and filled it back up with our dirt-compost-planting medium misture. You really can't see them in this picture, but they're there! I'll try to snap a pic of them today. We also planted the last of the tomato seedlings we had from when we did the first tomato planting. Some were too tiny to plant then, but we had one that was a wee little seedling in with one we were planting, so we separated them, stuck the baby in a 4" pot and have been nursing it along until it was big enough to plant.

I peeked out the window at them this morning and they're all still there. Definitely a good sign! We just need to mulch and then they'll be set for the season.

The pole beans in the small bed at the back of the yard (#4) have finally gotten tall enough to send out tendrils. They're ready to climb! The husband needs to get the trellis system in place for them soon, like today!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blooming Today 05.20.09 & Vegetable Garden Update

May is a great beginning time for most of the blooms in my garden. I really need to work on some earlier blooming flowers to keep things interesting earlier in the season. Here's a few from my jaunt around the flower beds this morning.

Siloam Double Classic, a beautiful pink

Here she is from the side

Balloon Flower. I don't remember this many blooms on it last year, but I could be suffering from CRS.

Veronica "Sunny Border Blue"

Daylily 'Golden Girl'

Tall Coreopsis gone wild and floppy

Some kind of butterfly enjoying one of the coreopsis flowers

Onto the veggies!!

"The" Sugar Baby watermelon. Look how he's grown! Awwwww!!

Clemson Spineless okra~Haven't decided if this is a flower bud or an actual okra fruit. I know this plant flowers, but I've not seen one.

The maters...I just love the smell of tomato plants! (Except for yesterday when they smelled like sheep poop after I applied the fertilizer! LOL)

Moving onto the peppers (sweet). California Wonder (red)

Yellow straight-neck squash. Will be part of tonight's dinner.

Second flush of strawberries. Too bad I only have one plant!

Lastly, my lone little Straight Eight cucumber. He's looking a bit like a pickle already! LOL

Now then, I know that many of you are still waiting for ground to thaw so you can get plants in the ground, but I'm already thinking about planting my fall garden. Contrary to popular belief, Texas has two shorter growing seasons when it comes to vegetables, late winter - early summer and then late summer -early winter. I need to start my seeds in about 6 weeks or so if I'm going to have a good crop for the fall. Today I spent some time looking at seed catalogs online and this is what I ordered. I'll have enough for the fall and the early spring next year. All of these are heirloom vegetables or open pollinated vegetables, too.

Tomatoes (ordered with DH's help)~
Amish Paste
Blondkopfchen (yellow cherry)
Box Car Willie
Chalk's Early Jewel
Cherokee Purple
Cherrygal Cherry (we'll see if it reseeds itself down here!)
Eva's Purple Ball
Mortgage Lifter
Ponderosa Red
Sweet Pea
Black Cherry

Lettuces (again, ordered with DH's help)~
Parris Island
Black Seeded Simpson
Red Rapids
Craquerelle Du Midi
Grandpa Admire's
Lollo Rossa
Kentucky Limestone

White Wonder
Miniature White
Straight Eight

Carrots~Imperator 58, Little Fingers, James Scarlet, Danvers Half Long
Cabbage~January King
Peas~Tom Thumb
Radish~Early Scarlet Globe
Pumpkin~Small Sugar
Peppers (Sweet)~Mini Bells, Bullnose

We'll also plant some Alaska peas, bush beans (Blue Lake), pole beans (Kentucky Wonder), and Cherry Belle radishes.

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Friday, May 15, 2009


One of the most beneficial aspects of gardening is hope. When you plant seeds or young transplants there's such hope in the waiting and prospect of fully grown plants that produce lovely flowers or fruit. I love watching plants grow and mature. I love seeing the plant's first offerings of flowers or fruit. I love the anticipation of knowing at just the right time, the plant will send out its flower or fruit. When talking about vegetables, after the fruit has set on the plant, there's the joy of watching it grow daily and then reach maturity so it can be plucked and eaten. I traipse out every day and walk the gardens just to see what's going on, to look for damage, but also to check on how things are growing and maturing. I take pictures to document the journey so I can remind myself how far we've come. Watching things grow brings such a sense of satisfaction for me, such joy, and such fulfillment. Take this for example:

This was Wednesday:

This was Thursday:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lift Off!!

With all the crazy weather we've had in the past couple of weeks, I thought the garden was doomed. However, I've harvested my first crop...radishes! These are 'Cherry Belle' radishes. If I'm not mistaken, these are open pollinated, meaning I can let a couple go to seed, save them, then plant them in the fall and these will come true to the parent. Seeds of hybrids don't always come true to the parent.

This past week, I also discovered that crops such as squash, cucumbers, and melons often need to be hand pollinated. So, I've been helping the boys out early in the mornings. ;) I think it's worked! This is what I found on my journey through the gardens this morning.

Sugar Baby Watermelon

This one's hanging over the side of the bed and will most likely need to be supported in some way. I'm thinking either some netting or pantyhose.

Right at the edge, near the end of the bed. This will be fun to watch grow, too!

Straight Eight cucumber

It's so tiny and prickly!!

Straight Neck yellow squash

This pretty baby is about 4" long already. I think it grew to that length overnight.

There's lots of blooms on my pepper plants. The okra has buds on it. The strawberry plant is even putting out flowers again! The beans are growing, but some are covered in aphids. Ugh! The maters continue to flower and some are starting to set fruit.

The cantaloupe have taken root and are starting to spread. This one is an Israel cantaloupe. I'm also growing Hale's Best Jumbo.

I planted my Moon & Stars watermelon seedlings last week. They've taken hold in the bean bed. This is an old Amish variety of watermelon that supposedly has a dark skin with yellow 'spots', hence the name Moon & Stars.

The herbs are doing well, too.

The basil has really taken off. It's flowered, but I've been cutting off the flowerheads to promote more leaves. I might move this out by the veggie beds to invite the bees. Thyme has established and is starting to spread. My aloe vera has come back from the dead, after I almost killed it by overwatering it. I stuck it in this pot, then didn't water it. When it was supposed to rain, I put it under our carport. Now it's looking good! Today, I also planted some pineapple mint and regular mint...in containers!! LOL

On the flower front, San Antonio Firecracker is still crankin' out the beautiful flowers. (Click the pic to see the collage larger.)

It does throw up an ugly bloom once in a great while.

Lastly, Pure & Simple bloomed for the first time for me yesterday. Isn't she purdy?