Thursday, December 30, 2010

Garden Update

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a whirlwind every year. The garden is often left to fend for itself. Too much shopping, decorating and partying to be done to leave much time to play in the dirt. Today, I took a tour of the yard, surveying the gardens after the 5” of rain we got yesterday. One thing to mention is that I was wearing a t-shirt and I got a couple of mosquito bites while on my tour.
The cool-season weeds are starting their march forward into the yard and gardens. This is their time of year, they love the cool, wet weather (although today was warm, the high was 76 degrees F with 94% humidity).
Looks like the tomato plants finally succumbed to the cold weather we had earlier this week. I’m grateful for how long they lasted, they were my first successful crop of fall tomatoes.
I harvested more uju kitsus today. I’m up to 32 so far with about as many still on the tree. This was the first fruit tree I planted, it’s so exciting to be able to harvest citrus from your backyard.
The most striking thing I noticed while wandering around was how green the grass is. It is rather startling to see it this green, I mean, it’s December!
The garlic and onions I planted last month are doing well. Although, only about half of the onions survived, it was too dry and I didn’t keep them well-watered. Next up are plantings of lettuce, spinach, radishes, more onions if I can find them, & carrots.
And, we had another hawk sighting. Our second in the last few months and our second in the 7 years we have lived in this house. I think this one is a Cooper’s Hawk.
It is exciting to see these large birds from our living room window, but a little sad that nature is playing out in my backyard, as the hawks (so I hear) are often looking for lunch at backyard birdfeeders.Click here to see our other Cooper's Hawk sighting.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yard of the Month

I don’t garden in my front yard. I mean there are the required foundation plantings, but I really don’t do much in the front. You won’t find one picture of a plant from the front of my house in this blog. The front yard is in the shade of three live oaks, the sprinklers take care of the watering and the plants just handle the rest. Another drawback is that I can’t let the dogs hang out and garden with me in the front yard without constantly keeping an eye out for cats or people walking by. I do have intentions of spiffing up the front, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

So, why am I talking about yard of the month? Well, this time of year people in my neighborhood win yard of the month with their Christmas decorations. When I was a kid we slowly grew our yard decorations until it was just plain crazy. We didn’t have any neighbors, so no one really saw all our hard work, but us. We had a great time creating a bigger and better display every year. So, this is how the madness began.

My husband and I bought our first house when we lived in Colorado, but we never spent the holidays there so I never put up many decorations. After we moved back home to Houston, is when the madness resurfaced. The light show has been growing at our new house for the past 7 years.

And this year, for the first time ever, we won yard of the month!


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

It is starting to look like Fall here, citrus are turning orange, leaves are covering the ground and it’s kinda cool outside.

The pentas are still growing strong. I really like this variety, it’s tall and lanky instead of short and bushy and it has done very well in my garden this year.

This grouping has been blooming almost all year. It is a cuphea ‘David verity’ in the very back, in the middle is a shrimp plant, and in the foreground is chenille plant (Acalypha hispida).


The pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) looks great against the clear blue sky.


This salvia pops up all over the garden, but it’s a long bloomer and the bees and butterflies like it.

IMG_2022This cuphea been blooming most of the year. It is probably either
cuphea ‘Starfire Pink’ or cuphea ‘Twinkle Pink’.

IMG_2023I love the delicate blooms of the Diamond Frost euphorbia. It almost didn’t make it through the hot and dry summer, but it’s happy now.

IMG_2024A few roses still blooming. The knockouts have a few blooms too.


Iochroma cyaneum is showing some signs of frost damage, but the blooms are lookin’ good.

Fruit from the uju kitsu aka a sweet lemon is ready to be picked.

The duranta is still going strong. It has flowers for the bees and berries for the birds.
These black-eyed susans made a comeback (along with the nut sedge).
To all the northern gardeners, I hope you enjoy my pictures without snow covered plants.  Look at it this way, you get to have a gardening off season, a time to rest, a time to contemplate the spring or for you workaholics a time to work on the inside of your house.
Visit May Dreams Gardens to see more Garden Blogger’s Bloom Days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Vegetable Garden Winners

The winners are:
  1. Sweet Millions (tomato)
  2. Lemon Boy (tomato)
  3. Big Bomb (pepper)
  4. Orlando (eggplant)
I planted all of these plants in February and March of this year. They were given one application of cottonseed meal in the middle of summer, but that’s it as far as fertilizer (and no pesticides were used!). They all put on a great show in the spring, survived a Houston summer, and produced into the fall and winter.
IMG_1874Tomato plants in Houston will often get as tall as the cage you have around them. Both the Lemon Boy and Sweet Millions grew up and over the 5 foot cages they are in. In mid-summer after the other tomato plants died, these still had some green leaves and were producing new stalks from the base, so I cut them back to about one foot tall and let them keep growing.
My favorite is Sweet Millions, pictured on the left after I cut it back and it again grew up and over its cage. I’ve picked about 200 Sweet Millions in the past week. Yes, folks that’s right in December!IMG_1884

The first Lemon Boy of the fall crop was picked a couple of days ago. There are a few more starting to blush, but tonight's low is expected to be 35, so they probably won’t hang in there much longer.Why can’t we get one of those weird Houston December warm fronts? I really could use some fresh tomatoes…
IMG_1881I bought the Big Bomb peppers in hopes of recreating an awesome tapas dish I had in Auckland, NZ last year. It was basically peppers stuffed with cheese, but it was really good.
While this one was the right size and shape it was way hotter than the ones in New Zealand. Too hot for me, but my husband loved them. He dried them in the food dehydrator and pulverized them in the coffee grinder. Now he has hot pepper powder for the year.
The Orlando eggplant is amazing. It has been producing heavily all year long. It is about 4 foot tall and almost as wide. Many online sources say you can pick the fruit when it is a small as 2”, but I picked mine anywhere from 5”-8”. IMG_1869
On a side note, I also planted an eggplant variety called Turkish Orange. I have to say, that I was not very impressed. It was growing next to the one in the picture above, but was eventually overshadowed, so I pulled it up. It may be because I didn’t know what to do with the little orange tomato looking eggplants, but I probably won’t try them again.
In the foreground of the above picture is broccoli. My Saturday harvest included broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant…all at the same time!