Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vegetable gardens.....

are one of life's greatest pleasures, as far as I am concerned.

I always had a big problem with my vegetable garden, in that I had rows and rows, and I fought the weeds like crazy. It is difficult to control the weeds, when you are looking at multiple 40' rows!

Talk about depressing!

So, we put in a raised bed vegetable garden.

Not a great picture here, but it is old. Do digital pictures deteriorate on Photobucket? It seems that my old ones are looking a bit.....OLD!

Anyway, this is what we started with. We have added several beds, but it is basically the same layout.

We used to grow everything! I am guilty of planting things I will not eat, not even in a dream! But they are interesting to watch as they grow, so that is how I justify spending my space on them.

The fence behind the big mailbox is used for beans, peas, cucumber, or even small watermelon and cantaloupe. If you use old pantyhose to create a sling for the fruit, cantaloupe and watermelon do very well on a support.
Also, you don't have to worry about finding 'Mr. Snake' in the foliage. As a rule, you don't.
I never have enough room to grow everything, so I find ways to expand my area. I use tires to grow tomatoes. Bobby cuts them and turns them inside out, and I paint them (or leave them black). They last forever, and a tire provides excellent protection in the early cool weather of spring.

This is one of those things that I grew but had not planned on eating. It is cardoon, a relative of the artichoke, and it is BEEutiful! This one got to be 12' across, we called it our dinosaur food.
The artichoke didn't get so big, but it grew wonderful artichokes!
I grow sweet peas on the arbor in spring, then plant something like birdhouse gourds to grow in summer. That way, I have a shady spot to sit, when it is really hot out there.
I am working in my garden now. We have cabbages, a few cauliflower left, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard, onions, lettuce, spinach, and a few cool weather herbs like dill, cilantro, comfrey, and parsley. Some people have put in tomatoes, but I am waiting for this last little cold spell that we are expecting tonight before I plant mine. Yesterday, I planted corn, radishes, more lettuce, and peas.
I love to stand in the garden and graze on snow peas! I don't even need salt!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oh, the pretty flowers.......

I mentioned this rose in another post.

It is Queen Elizabeth, and she is growing at the Service Building, across the sidewalk from where our Rain Garden is going in.

She is a pleasure to see. Just BEEutiful!

In my yard, I have this plant that I just dig and dig and dig and cannot eradicate. It is called primrose jasmine, and I have one large one left that we are going to have to remove before we can put in our new porch. I noticed yesterday that it is starting to bloom. It has these little yellow blossoms, and before I know it, the whole bush will be yellow! It is gorgeous in bloom, but it only blooms once a year, and is so aggressive and such a space-hog that I can't leave it in my yard.
The first harbinger of spring for me is this; I am thinking it is flowering quince, but it never has grown. It is about 8 or 9 years old, and it isn't any taller than 3 feet. When it blooms, it is gorgeous, but it too only blooms in early spring. This one, I can forgive.

More on the Native Plant/Rain Garden.....

Another workday at the Native Plant/Rain Garden, and we accomplished a lot! One step at a time!
Here you see part of the crew. I never can get them all. Peggy runs from me, every time. You can click on the picture to see a larger version.

Bobby felt so much better after going to the Dr. that he volunteered to work this morning. He is great at lining us all up and organizing us. LOL, that is what he does for a living, it is good that he is good at it.

The big difference is that we usually are a band of women that he has to keep in line. It is more better for him, I think. He likes these ladies, thinks they are great. We need a few more men in the MGs.

The one with the big smile is friend Sonja. She is always smiling like that. The one in the red shirt is Cindi, and she is one of our new Master Gardeners, certified this past December.
If you get a magnifying glass, you can see Peggy in this picture. She is the one on the left with the grin on her face.
The last thing he always does is to patrol the area, checking everything. I used to think he was checking to see that we had done it all correctly, but now I think he is just looking for any of his tools that we might have laid down somewhere.
The gorgeous yellow flowers are bulbine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Goodness! I'm thinking Spring might be here soon....

The sun is shining. It is mildly warm, getting into 70's. A bit of hard rain on Saturday night, but dry since then.

Jean, over at 'Seed Scatterer', (see my list of places to go) identifies daffodils as her favorite bulbs. I think alliums are my favorites. Bobby helped me plant about 300 alliums on Sunday. They are going in a little late, but I took a chance on them for this year. They will come back next year, if they don't bloom this year. I got such a good deal on these, that I am willing to wait. These bulbs were given to me.

We planted roses, and more roses. 'Mango Blush', 'KnockOut', 'Peggy Martin's rose', 'Fourth of July'.

This is 'Peggy Martin rose'.

We planted lilies- 'StarGazer', 'Black Beauty', 'Commander-in-Chief'. and a crinum, "Mrs. James Hendry". We planted echinacea, purple coneflower, and daylilies.

This is Asiatic lily, "Commander-in-Chief"

We planted about 50 daylilies, of all description. I love daylilies.

We dug up roses, and potted them. Five called 'Caldwell Pink', (above), which is now found to be the old 'Pat's Pink'. This is a pretty rose, very tough, and great as a small hedge or partere rose. It will root anywhere the cane hits the ground. I only planted ONE of these roses, and this is not the first time I have dug them up. It reminds me of the old 'Seven Sisters', except that it bloom all the time, instead of just once a year.
Most of my roses are antique roses. In our climate, with all our heat and humidity, antiques are the only way to go. Also, if you are a lazy gardener like me, they are almost trouble/work free. I don't have to spray them, as they are resistant to disease, and they tolerate drought and flood equally, I think.

I am positively dizzy, thinking of all I can do if the weather holds. Easter is so early this year, it makes me fearful to do a lot of things, like cut everything back. I can't feed yet. I am going to content myself with planting things I can cover.

I have about a cajillion seedlings up! And my porterweed that reseeded last year is back. This is the blue porterweed, and I also have RED!

We weeded and raked, and pruned and dug. It was work, but a real labor of love. I love Spring!

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm Late! I'm Late!

I seem to be running behind on EVERYTHING!

Bossman laid out of work due to sickness last Friday. The first time I have ever seen him not go to work on a work day, and I have had him for 18 years. He just doesn't miss work! So I know he was about to expire on me. I forced him to the Doctor's office, and I think he is on the mend now.


He is at home today, due to President's Day. Dumbest thing I have ever heard of, a construction crew getting an unpaid holiday for President's Day.


My washing machine quit on me a week ago, and I thought I was going to have to go buy all new clothes, as we were running out of things to cover our persons. I have laundry piled up EVERYWHERE! The lid switch had come apart, so DH put a little hot glue on it, and wired it up with a couple of those electrical thingies that cops use for handcuffs too, and it was good as new. My old washer was almost 30 years old before it died, and we had to put it to sleep then. This one is only a couple of years old, and falling apart already.

I didn't get to post blooms on GBBD, and I have pictures of the NPG/Rain garden, but have not had a chance to edit or post them yet. We are making good progress there!

So, I am behind. I will get there, I just need a little time to get it done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where in the Blooming World am I?

Why, I'm in Texas! The only place for me!

We are in Jackson County, Texas, with Edna being the County Seat, and a hub of activity. We are in the Gulf Coast area, about 90 miles north of Corpus Christi, 100 miles south of Houston, and we can't go much farther east. We are in zone 9a, about 35 miles from Victoria, Texas. This is "Texas Revolution country", and Jackson County was one of the origional 23 counties formed in Texas.

We garden year 'round. I am growing veggies right now- cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, onions... Brussel sprouts.....(I hate eating these vegetables, if they are cooked, but I love to watch them grow). I have lots of flower seedlings; Poppy, snapdragon, calendula, sweet peas, viola, pansy, and dianthus are all showing their pretty new foliage. Things are leafing out and putting on buds- a dangerous thing. Peaches for one, are budding, and if we get a freeze, which we could (easily),we will not have fruit this year. My confederate roses are leafing out and they are just gorgeous. I just wish they would wait awhile. Hibiscus' is also leafing out. That might die if it gets cold, unles I protect it.

We have nasty black gumbo for soil, but we can grow anything in it. It is among the most fertile of soils, just doesn't have much air in it. Slick when it is wet. Hard like a brick when it is dry. I figure I am going to use some of it to throw some bowls one of these days. Our primary problem with our soil is that it is very alkaline. That is hard to fix.

We have a nice Master Gardener group here, and I am involved in that. We are always doing some project or another. Right now, we are working on a Native Plant garden, with a Rain garden incorporated into it, in partnership with the 4-H kids. It is going to be fun, planting this. Collecting our plants will be fun too.

This is a very rural environment. Even in town, it is 'country'. We don't live in Edna, but in a small community about 10 miles away, if you take the back roads. We do have a post office, where we live, but no mail delivery. We have to go to the post office to collect our mail. It is o.k.

In Edna, we have a WalMart, an HEB grocery store, several florist, mexican resturants, Pizza Hut, LOTS of attorneys, about 5 banks, and goodness knows how many churches! Maybe 8 churches? or more. We have a hospital district- did have two, but that is a sore subject- and we have lots of good doctors come in on a weekly basis from Victoria, about 25 miles.

Important to me, we have a good hardware/lumber yard that will usually give the big BOX stores a run for their money. I love to buy lumber, and hardware, paint, glue, whatever.....

We are actually almost on the bay, but the way things are laid out, we have to go around about 17 miles to get to the salt water to fish or whatever. That is fine with me. We also have hurricanes around here, too, sometimes.

Lots of ranching, and farming here, so we have good feed stores.

Our county is very generous to us. They maintain a brush site, where we can haul all kinds of refuse, and they grind it up for mulch, which eventually turns into compost that they will load for us, free of charge. We also have a cotton gin close to where I live, (a few blocks) where I can get all the cotton gin trash that my little heart desires. It has been composting there for years, and is BEEutiful!

This is a good place to live. I invite y'all to visit, when you can.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Native clematis

This is the little native clematis that we are going to grow on the trellis at the Native Plant Garden. Clematis texensis is the botanical. It is a sweet little flower, purple bells. This is the red one, like they have at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

I think we should have one of each. At least.

Ah! Progress!

This is where we started yesterday. We had the flagstone delivered last week, and it didn't get removed by anyone wanting a free flagstone patio. I was surprised, really. I have little faith, sometimes.

Anyway, we got all this done in 3 hours, with 7 people working. Maybe it is better that way, not so many people to get in your way. We were walking over each other as it was. LOL
The fence posts are cemented in the holes, and we need to top the holes with soil now. Next week, we will put the fence boards on and top off our arbors at each entrance. The short fence posts will be cut to 30", the arbors will be 7', maybe a little taller.

The flagstone is not finished, only laid out. We will level it next week, and do the work between stones. Some will be filled in with crushed limestone, some with soil and small steppable plants. It is a good look, and everyone is always tickled to see how it grows, even though it is abused.

The rose in this picture is an old Queen Elizabeth. She was about 7' tall until a month ago. We gave her a good cut and she has taken off, and is now blooming beautifully, with lots of pretty foliage. I love it when a plan comes together.

The gap in the pathway is allowance for our dry streem bed, to carry water from the downspouts to the rain garden retention area. We are going to have a wooden bridge there; not an arching bridge, but a flat one, just high enough to clear our rocks in the stream.
The extra flagstones will be used to fill in the pathway, and we will use it under the bench, along with some crushed limestone. Nothing will go to waste here.

This garden is 67' long. You don't realize it until you look at it from this angle. I just can't wait to get it planted! If you notice, there are some wide, plain spaces between the windows. We will be building rough cedar trellis' to be installed in those spaces, to fill that in. We are going to grow a pretty little clematis that is native to this area on one. I know it is native to this area, because it grows wildly in my yard! It has pretty little purple bell blooms.

This was taken from the street side. The tall posts on this end will be cut to a 4' fence. We wanted to separate the Native Plant/Rain Garden from the rest of the landscaping, so this taller fence will do nicely.
We are excited!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Is Spring Sprung?

I bought the first flowers of the year today!

We went to WalMart to purchase drugs for puny bossman, and they had plants!

Lovely petunias- 2 flats, one white, one pink
BEEuteful begonias- 2 flats, one bronze leaf, pink flower, one green leaf, red flower
Perky marigolds- 2 6packs, orange and yellow

They had pansies, violas, lots of different colors of petunias, cyclamen, geraniums (very dear!), and a few other things I can't remember. The ones I bought are what I always buy this time of year. They will stand a frost if it isn't too cold for too long.

I will start planting pots tomorrow. Well, maybe on Monday, we are working on the Native Plant Garden tomorrow afternoon.

Oh, yes, we are having a warm spell right now. It has been in the 70's for the past week. Today, it was 78 degrees. Perfect!

I has stuff growing....

Cabbages, for one. This is good cabbage! I use it in salads, shred it with carrots, and mix it with green cabbage in slaw. The green cabbage is more usefull, as the red seems to not be very appealing in all dishes. I don't know anyone who likes cabbage rolls from purple/red cabbage.

See the little violas there? I love to plant flowers in my vegetable garden. I plant them all year, until we finish the year with zinnias, planted in August or September.

I don't know what daffodil this is, but I don't care. I love them. The green things on the ground behind it/under it are weeds, I also don't know what they are. I am just pulling weeds like crazy. It seems awful early for this daffodil to bloom, but the jonquilla have bloomed already.
Last, but not least, I have Swiss chard, 'Bright Lights' growing! This is the pink, but we also have the brilliant yellow, pale green, and ruby red. I know it is edible, but I don't eat it. I just like to grow it because it is pretty. If anyone wanted it to eat, I would share. Just the stalks have the pretty colors. They look at home in the vegetable garden and in the flowerbed.

This year, we are going to have all our peppers in the flowerbeds, or so says the bossman. Right.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


How 'bout them GIANTS?!

I don't follow football anymore, was not the least bit interested in this game. My team, when I do pay attention is th' Bears. I don't know why, I just like th' Bears.

Anyway, this game was great! All I heard all week was the Pats were going to win, the Giants didn't have a chance. I tuned in every once in awhile to see the commercials, and finally stayed around when Manning was trying to connect with that last TD.

You have to feel bad for the Pats, but I know those Giants deserve the win!

We worked on the Native Plant Garden/Rain Garden this afternoon. Got the flagstone delivered and sort of separated/laid out for the pathway and bench area. We have this wonderful bench to replicate somewhat- this picture was taken at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. The 4-H girls who went with us wanted a bench like this, and we had the perfect carpenter to build it. He was a trustee with the County, and a very talented woodworker. He is no longer with the County, however, and we are looking for a person who will 'volunteer' to build this bench for us.

We are only going to have flagstone under it like this one has whatever that material is.....I think it is decomposed granite, but I am not for sure. That is where the decomposed granite comes from to here, so it would make sense.........

This coming week, I am going to get 2 Trustees to come dig fence post holes for us, so we can put our fence up. It is only going to be 30" high. Not tall enough to corral anything, but just a deliniation of where the garden stops. I just cannot wait until we start to plant in this garden. People think we are going to have a pond, but we are going to plant that low area just like any flower garden. I have seen rain gardens with lilies growing in them, and they were just beautiful.

The Trustees are a big help to us. Most are guys who are in for child support or DUI. No violent stuff. They have always been very nice, very willing to do whatever we ask of them, and very polite. We always send off for cokes for them, or milk shakes. The guys who come to work with us would rather be outside in the flowerbeds than stuck in that jail.

I went and had a bunch of tests done last Thursday. Tests for blockage in my arteries, for osteporosis, diabetis, and blood work for all kinds of things. One thing that I was very happy about was my cholesterol is down by 30 points! It was 207 the last time I had it done, about 6 months ago. I have since started to be more aware of what I am eating, and I am getting a lot of exercise. I go to Curves 3 days a week, and walk for 30 minutes a day for 3 days a week. My cholesterol is 177, and I was just thrilled. Now if I can get it down to my size 8 #, which was 117... LOL. Now I hope the rest of the tests turn out so good.

Size 8 was a long time ago. I need to get rid of those clothes. I don't think I will ever fit into them again. Heheehe.