Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Has Arrived (Pic heavy)

You wouldn't know it with the drop in temps we've had this past week, but spring has definitely arrived in the garden. I've spent about 30 mins or so each night pulling weeds in the flower beds and trying to ID seedlings. I've been successful with some, but most I have no idea what they are! In the first flower bed I started I am now to the point where I'm ready to move plants and rearrange things so the shorter plants are closer to the front and the taller plants are towards the back. I have a few plants I'm still waiting on to come back to life, especially the Esperanza plant. It's always the last thing to come back, but I'm not so sure it survived the extremely cold winter we had. Here are some pics from my walk about the garden beds this morning.

The butterfly weed showed up last week sometime. Hooray!

My Brazos Penstemon has really taken off since the late winter. I can't wait to see this thing bloom.

This Balloon Flower will be moved. This is the first year I've gotten a volunteer in addition to the mother plant.

This sedum will bloom a pretty yellow. It's planted in a small Weber grill!

The Texas Gold Columbines are starting to bloom. Love these flowers! The plant gets pretty scraggly looking in the hot summer weather, but they go crazy in the winter and really start growing like crazy.

The gaillardia (Blanket flower) is starting to get its flowers on! This thing will bloom non-stop till fall.

I thought I'd lost my Four Nerve Daisies this winter, but they survived!! Here they are with their happy little flowers.

This dianthus (Sweet William) has been waiting for a year to bloom. Finally put out flower buds and started blooming this past week. Love the color!

My Cranesbill Geranium is going like gangbusters. I have it in a pot, but I'm going to divide it and transplant it out in the flower bed by the front curb. It loves the sun and will survive the winters.

My little Cowpen Daisy has come back from the dead of winter as well. Sooooo excited about this!

May Night Salvia does so well in my flower bed. It's a bee attractant like none other in my garden.

Pincusion Daisy (scabiosa daisy) is putting out its pretty pink flowers.

A look across the flower bed to see the height of the poppy in relation to the pincushion daisy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I Hilled

Some of my potato plants were getting tall enough to progress to the next stage, hilling. This helps the potatoes produce more potatoes. I'm using leaves as my hilling medium, but you can use compost, soil, straw, or mulch. Basically, you pile your hilling medium up the stems of the plants, leaving only about 2" or so of leaves showing.

Hilling has many purposes. One, it cools the soil, which here in Texas is very much needed. Second, it creates space for tuber development. All tubers (spuds) form at the same level as the seed piece and higher, so you are also creating more growing space. Third, it keeps the sun's rays from the tubers. Exposure to the sun causes 'greening' of the potatoes, which often taste bitter when eaten. Fourth, it gives you something to do with all those leaves and dried grass clippings in your yard. Fifth, it helps with drainage and prevents weed growth. Lastly, it makes harvesting easier since the tubers are in the leaves, straw, dead grass clippings, compost or whatever you use.

Here are the first containers with leaves. I only hilled around the plants that were 6"-8" tall. I covered the stems and any leaves at the lower level. If you're overly zealous, you can clip off the lower leaves. I am lazy, so I didn't do that.

We already need to add either another layer of sides or some kind of wire caging to the box so we can add more leaves!

Same planter, different angle. In this pic, you can see that I have too much plant showing and need to add more leaves. I know what I'll be doing on Easter Sunday! LOL

The big blue planter. One of these plants is growing like it's on steroids! Couldn't completely cover the bottom with leaves because of the new little shoot poking its head out.

Junior sprout!

This plant is appropriately hilled--for now.

I'll continue hilling until the plants start blooming and stop growing. Then they'll start making tubers!!

For more information on potato growing, check out the growing guide on Ronningers Potato Farm's website. Scroll down the page to the *.pdf documents under the form for the paper catalog.