Tuesday, September 30, 2014

End of Month View: September 2014

The Texas fall has arrived, and it is a beautiful thing.  The days are sunny with a high in the mid to upper 80s and low of mid 60s.  Glorious.  Here are my end of September garden views:

The front yard rock garden is most impressive, especially the left side of the house.  A few other Texas bloggers have talked about the "fall colors" we get here in Central Texas, and it is true.  The colors may not be on the trees, but they certainly can be found in the flowers.  Here, my autumn sage, Texas sage, Mexican sage and lantana is going crazy with color!

The rock bed in the very front of the yard is also popping with color from the autumn sage and lantana.  It looks like there are a few blank spaces that could use a plant or two, but I'm not sure what exactly to place there yet.

The veggie beds have gotten a major overhaul in the past few weeks.  I took out all the tomatoes, a real chore since they were over 8 feet tall and draping over the tomato cages.  I then planted some fall veggie seeds in their place in the first bed on the left.  The bed looks empty now, but there will soon be broccoli, chard, and collards growing there.

View of the first bed where I planted some fall veggie seeds - I left the peppers and a couple of eggplant for now on the left, since they are still producing.  In a few weeks, I'll rip them out and plant another round of fall veggies.  Bed #2 behind it remains full of self-seeded zinnias that I have not ripped out.  I'll leave them there for a few more weeks until another round of fall seed planting happens.

Bed #3's fall veggie transplants are doing well.  I've planted various kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts.  I also have a row of sweet peas along the trellis that are off to a good start.

The shade tree bed is doing well after about three weeks in the ground.  I look forward to the day this bed is full and lush.

The herbs are getting bigger and stronger.

The peach tree beds have a few plants, but have been kept mostly bare for now.  But since I planted a lot of fall sowing flower seeds in these beds, I expect them to be overflowing come next spring.

Looks bare, for now, but this bed will be full of flowers from the seeds I planted next springtime.

Neighbor fence line also looks a bit bare, but I'll be planting a lot of bulbs in this bed later this fall, so it won't remain empty for long.

Empty-ish neighbor fence line.  I'm waiting to pick just the right roses to fill this space.

Looks like the bulb bed needs some fall color.  Time to order some oxblood and spider lilies.

And to round out this month's view - the backyard fence line.  The plants are still getting rooted, but those blackfoot daisies are sure winners.

Thanks for stopping by to view my September garden.  Be sure to check out The Patient Gardener to see other bloggers' September gardens from around the world.  Thanks to Helen for hosting!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lazy Sunday

That's a lie.  I worked in the garden for several hours this morning, did some housework, then drove an hour with my cousin to watch the Packers/Bears game with my sister and brother-in-law.  We are all Cheeseheads, having grown up in Wisconsin, and the Packers won, so it was a good day (Go Pack Go!)

By the time I got home this evening, I was pooped.  The new hammock that we put up between the shade trees was calling my name.

While not completely a lazy Sunday, I got to spend some time lounging in the new hammock in the lovely 80 degree weather.  I took the time to appreciate my beautiful garden that surrounded me as well as my many other blessings.  Too often I get stressed with work and life.  It is always good to take time a reflect on what a good life it is...and I can't think of a better place to do that than in a hammock in the garden on a peaceful Sunday evening.

Dividing Canna Lilies

All the recent rainfall in Central Texas has loosened the soil, making it the perfect time to dig up and divide bulbs and rhizomes.  Our house came with a section of orange canna lilies which have become very overcrowded, so I figured it was time to get digging and dividing.

First, I cut the stalks down.  It makes it much easier to dig up the rhizomes.

Using a shovel, I dug out huge clumps of the canna lilies.  These babies were long overdue for some dividing.  To divide, I first tried to get as much dirt off the roots as possible.  I then started breaking the rhizomes apart, making sure to leave at least one eye or stalk on each plant.

Here is an example of a two-inch piece of rhizome that had two eyes where small shoots were coming out.

Me diligently working on dividing the cannas.

By the time it was all said and done, I had about 200 rhizomes.  I decided to keep about 100 for myself and pass along the other 100.  I gave about 20 each to five of my lucky friends and neighbors.  I love passing along plants for others to enjoy!

I then replanted my cannas.  I planted them about 1 foot apart.  The instructions I read said to plant them 1-2 feet apart.  I had so many, I decided to keep it on the closer side.  It means that I'll have fuller foliage, but that I'll have to divide the cannas again a little sooner.

I had so many that I spaced them out in twice the area they were in before, fitting about 50 rhizomes in the picture above, but that left me with still another 50 to plant, so I decided to plant them along the back of the border, behind the gardenias and pomegranate tree.  Hopefully they look good next year and I won't have to divide them for a few more years!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prickly Pear Lemonade

While the dog days of summer are nearly behind us, one can still use a refreshing drink to help cool down after a hot afternoon gardening in the sun.  Now is the time of year when the prickly pears are in season, so why not make some prickly pear lemonade?

None of the spineless opuntias that I planted this year produced any fruit, so I had to scavenge for some fruit in the parks around my house.  Hopefully next year I can use the fruit from my own plants.

Make sure that you pick the nice ripe fruit that are a deep magenta color.

Be sure to use tongs to pick the fruit.  The outer skin of the fruit has fine little prickly hairs that hurt quite a bit if they poke you.  I made sure to also wear rubber gloves when I washed and cut the fruit so that I didn't get pricked.  However, a few of the fine hairs pierced their way through the rubber gloves and I still had to use some tweezers to pick them out of my fingers.  I can only imagine what would have happened if I did it bare-handed!

Next, rinse the fruit.  I then cut off the ends of the fruit and peeled away the outer layer of skin.  You will be left with the bright magenta and seedy fruit on the inside, like this:

I have a juicer, so I then juiced the fruit.  If you don't have a juicer, you can juice the fruit in a blender and strain the juice from the pulp with cheesecloth.

For each Prickly Pear Lemonade drink serving, I used the following ingredients:

  • Juice from 2 prickly pears
  • Juice from 2 lemons (or limes if you want to do a limeade or margarita)
  • About 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Hand full of ice
  • Optional - Splash of vodka or tequila for the adult drink version
Adjust to taste.  Shake all ingredients in a shaker and serve.  Cheers!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall Seed Sowing

Fall is here, so now is the time for fall seed sowing.  Last weekend, I planted numerous packets of veggies, herb, and flower seeds in all my beds.

Here's the full list:

  • Summer Squash (Zucchini) - Sure Thing Hybrid
  • Summer Squash - Burpee's Golden Zucchini
  • Summer Squash - Pic-N-Pic Hybrid
  • Broccoli - Sun King Hybrid
  • Swiss Chard - Fordhook Giant
  • Swiss Chard - Ruby Red
  • Collards - Georgia
  • Lettuce - Sylvestra
  • Spinach - Bloomsdale Long-Standing
  • Beet - Detroit Dark Red, Medium Top
  • Cilantro - Spanish
  • Oregano - Greek
  • Lemon Balm
  • Bulbing Fennel - Trieste
  • Dill - Bouquet
  • Parsley - Green Pearl
  • Parsley - Italian "Gigante"
  • Chives - Common
  • Echinacea - Purple Coneflower
  • Rudbeckia - Goldsturm
  • Foxglove - Mixed Colors
  • Bouquet Larkspur - Singing the Blues
  • Oriental Poppy - Brilliant Red
  • Red Cornflower
  • Carnation Flower Poppies - French Flounce
  • Columbine - Blue Star
  • Shasta Daisy - Alaska
  • Gaillardia - Goblin
  • True Lavender - Lavandula Angustifolia
The beds should be bustling a few weeks from now!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Veggie Transplants & Today's Harvest

Fall is here, and so is the beautiful Texas weather that I live for.  Every moment that I can spend outside in the garden, I do.  

A few days ago, I bought some fall veggie transplants and got them into the ground.  First, I had to clean up one of the beds for the veggies.  It wasn't too difficult, since before South Africa, I had turned the beds and tried to plant some seeds, which never really came up.  I also tore out all the dead marigolds.

Then, I planted the transplants, along with a few seeds.

From left to right I planted:

  • 1 Toscano Kale (transplant)
  • Dwarf Blue Curled Vates Kale (seeds)
  • 2 Gypsy Broccoli (transplants)
  • 2 Calabrese Broccoli (transplants)
  • 1 Marathon Broccoli (transplant)
  • 4 Brussel Sprout - unknown variety (transplants)
  • 1 Long Island Brussel Sprout (transplant)
  • 1 Nautical Brussel Sprout (transplant)
  • Lacinato Kale (seeds)
  • 3 Kale - unknown variety (transplants)
  • and along the trellis - Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas (seeds)
While it may be fall, I still have a few summer veggie plants (peppers and eggplant) that are still producing, so they will stay in the beds until the are no longer fruitful.  Today I harvested the below.  I'm not quite sure why the eggplant turned yellow, but I assume it has something to do with staying on the plant for quite awhile, since this is my first harvest after being away from home for almost 3 weeks.

Harvest Totals (since April)
  • 5 lbs Cherry Bell Radishes
  • 3 lbs Giant Fordhook Swiss Chard
  • 3 lb 5.5 oz Pic-N-Pic Summer Squash (5 squash)
  • 5 lbs 6.3 oz Black Beauty Zucchini (3 squash)
  • 13.7 oz Mammoth Melting Sugar Peas
  • 11.6 oz Mucho Nacho Jumbo Jalapeno (13)
  • 15.7 oz Jalapeno (9)
  • 2 lb 2.4 oz Bush Blue Lake 274 Green Beans
  • 1 lb 8.7 oz Gypsy Sweet Peppers (14)
  • 1 lb 15.9 oz Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato
  • 2 lb 7.5 oz Juliet Roma Grape Tomato
  • 3 lb 12.0 oz Early Girl Tomato (12)
  • 1 lb 10.4 oz Big Boy Tomato (3)
  • 1 lb 7.3 oz oz Bradley Heirloom Tomato (4)
  • 2 lb 2.3 oz Roma Tomato (22)
  • 5 lb 4.0 oz Long Eggplant (21)
  • 11 lb 0.1 oz Black Beauty Eggplant (12)
  • 1 lb 10.2 oz Pablano Pepper (22)
  • 1 lb 2.0 oz Acorn Squash (1)
  • 1 lb 1.0 oz Butternut Squash (1)
  • 1 lb 6.6 oz Spaghetti Squash (1)
  • 1 lb 10.1 oz Green Bell Sweet Pepper (10)
  • 2.1 oz Cayenne Pepper (9)
  • 11 lb 11.1 oz Marketmore 76 Cucumbers (11)
  • 3 lb 7.9 oz Okra (63)
  • 3.8 oz Serrano Pepper (14)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 2014 Blooms

I'm late to the party, but I didn't want to miss out on sharing my September blooms as part of Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens.

Veggie Beds

I have one full veggie bed full of zinnias that reseeded themselves from transplants that I planted earlier this spring.  The new veggie seeds that I planted in this bed before I left for my South Africa trip didn't sprout while I was gone (a little too hot and not enough water), but the zinnias sprouted.  They are so pretty, that I don't really want to tear up the bed to plant veggies.  I'm now planning for this to be my latest fall veggie bed, so I can enjoy the zinnias for a couple more months.

Backyard Beds

There are a lot of plants blooming in the backyard, but I feel like I'm partially cheating, since they are mainly on plants that I just added to my garden in the last week.  Oh well, they still count in my book.

One plant that isn't new that is finally blooming this year is my bougainvillea.  I thought I lost the plant during our hard freeze last winter, but it came back.  It just needed a little extra time to work up the strength to produce its beautiful flowers.

In the shade garden, of the new plants, there are a few that are currently blooming:

Turk's Cap is a reliable late summer/early fall bloomer that adds plenty of color to the garden when not much else will.

The Big Blue Lithrope is also adding a touch of color to the shade garden with its light purple spires.

Along the neighbor fence line, the butterflies are loving the blooms on this Sapphire Showers Duranta.

And I'm loving the glorious smell of the gardenia flowers.

The fall aster is doing its part to attract the bees.

I love the color this purple coneflower brings to the peach tree beds.

The dainty flowers on the Blackfoot Daisy are so sweet.

Front Yard and Courtyard

The blue plumbago has been going strong since the spring and has been one of the fastest growers in my garden this year, with little to no watering.  No wonder why it is considered a Texas Superstar plant!  It has outgrown the space that I put it though, so that means I either need to move it to a new location, or do some heavy pruning.

The Mexican Sage is making its fall showing.

And finally, the Autumn Sage is living up to its name, adding a splash of magenta to the garden as we head into fall here in Texas.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New Bed Plantings

Last weekend, Central Texas had a major cold front come in causing our temperatures to go from the high 90's down to a high of 66 on Saturday and a high of 75 on Sunday.  Perfect gardening weather.  And having just completed my new garden beds, I had a lot of planting to do!  Well, first a lot of plant shopping, and then a lot of planting.  The Natural Gardener, Round Rock Garden Center, and McIntire's Garden Center were some of the local nurseries that got plenty of business from me last weekend!  It was a very successful gardening weekend in my book - getting over 80 new plants in the beds!

Let's start the tour with the front fence bed.

Since this bed is outside the fenceline, it requires deer-resistant varieties.  I wanted to stick to mostly native, or at least drought-tolerant plants.  In the front bed, I ended up with:

  • 2 Blackfoot Daisies - Melampodium leucanthum
  • 1 Thryallis - Galphimia glauca
  • 2 Blue Plumbago - Plumbago auriculata
  • 1 Coral Honeysuckle - Lonicera sempervirens
  • 3 Purple Fountain Grass 'Rubrum' - Pennisetum setaceum
  • 1 Mystic Spires Blue Salvia - Salvia longispicata x farinacea
  • 1 Copper Canyon Daisy - Tagetes lemmonnii
  • 1 Black Knight Butterfly Bush - Buddleja davidii

I know that the purple fountaingrass are pretty cold-sensitive, so I have to treat them as annuals and not expect them to come back next year, but that won't keep me from trying.  I'll plan to give them ample mulch this fall to try to combat the below-freezing temperatures this winter.  I have a little space open yet for a couple more plants.  I'm really hoping to get some apricot globemallow in there, but couldn't find it at any of the nurseries I went to last weekend, so the spot stays open, for now.

Moving onto the center or peach tree garden beds (they surround my Florida Prince peach):

I haven't planted too much in these beds yet, as I plan to do a lot of seed-sowing of perennials or self-seeding annuals in these beds.  But, I had to get started with a few plants, so in Bed #1 (closest) I planted:
  • 2 Gregg's Blue Mistflower - Conoclinium greggii
  • 2 Butterfly Weed - Asclepias tuberosa
  • 2 Fall Aster - Aster oblongifolius
  • 1 Purple Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea
In Bed #2 I planted:
  • 3 Fall Aster - Aster oblongifolius
  • 2 Tropical Milkweed - Asclepias curassivica
  • 4 Purple Coneflower -  Echinacea purpurea
  • 1 Artic Frost Hardy Satsuma fruit tree - Citrus reticulata 'Gremoy79'
Center peach bed #3 remains open and waiting for some fall-sowing seeds.

Along the neighbor fence line bed, I haven't planted much, as I'm waiting to purchase some specific antique roses.  

So far, I've planted:
  • 1 Duranta 'Sapphire Showers' - Duranta erecta
  • 1 Belinda's Dream rose 
  • 2 Gardenia - Rubiaceae
  • 1 Garnet Sash Pomegranate
The deck bed will mainly be an herb bed, but I'll throw some flower seeds in for some pop of color.

In the herb bed, I've planted:
  • 2 French Thyme - Thymus vulgaris
  • 1 Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis
  • 1 Garden Sage - Salvia officinalis
  • 1 Italian Parsley - Petroselinum crispum
  • 1 Triple Curled Parsley - Petroselium hortensis
  • 1 Bouquet Dill - Anethum graveolens
  • 1 Fernleaf Dill - Anethum graveolens
  • 1 Garlic Chive - Allium tuberosum
  • 2 Onion Chive - Allium schoenoprasum
  • 1 Peppermint - Mentha Piperita
  • 1 Spearmint - Mentha Spicata
  • 2 Tavor Artichoke - Cynara scolymus
  • 2 Society Garlic - Tulbaghia violacea
Finally, onto the shade tree bed, which got most of the planting:

Eventually, there will be a hammock that will be tied between the two trees.  I'm looking forward to spending afternoons under the shade trees, admiring all the wonderful plants that surround me.  So far, I've planted:
  • 6 Red Turk's Cap - Malvaviscus arboreus
  • 3 Pam's Pink Turk's Cap - Malvaviscus x 'Pam Puryear'
  • 1 Shrimp Plant - Justicia brandegeeana
  • 3 'Big Blue' Lithrope - Lithrope muscari
  • 3 Hostas hybrids
  • 5 Pigeonberry - Rivina humilis
  • 1 Purple Heart - Setcreasea pallida
  • 5 Texas Gold Columbine - Aquilegia chrysantha hinkleyana
  • 1 Red Columbine - Aquilegia canadensis
  • 2 American Beautyberries - Callicarpa americana

That's all - for now!