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Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Gardening

I don’t want to jinx us and say that spring is here, but it sure was an awesome “spring-like” weekend. What a difference a week makes. It was just last weekend when we were down in the 20s and two weeks ago the city practically closed down because of the threat of ice.

Ah, but that’s all in the past. This weekend, the peach tree is blooming.

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The blueberries are almost blooming.IMG_2040

The vegetable beds are cleaned up and planted another round of broccoli and spinach.IMG_2043

The “to be planted” pots have been pulled out from the corner of the back porch, so they can start to get a little more sunlight.IMG_2037

The first of two fountains is running again.IMG_2046

The new beds are just about ready to be filled with dirt next weekend.IMG_2038

And…the arbor is out of it’s box and in its new home. Yay! I’ve accomplished one of this years goals! IMG_2039

Speaking of my 2011 goals. Here’s a status update:

1. I volunteered my garden for the local garden tour. It will be on May 7th as long as they get enough volunteer gardens. Now on to the other goals, so that I can be ready for the tour.

2. The first two rain barrels have been ordered and are shipping out tomorrow. Can’t wait to see how they work.

3. Finish building the new beds…almost there.

4. Redesigning the front gardens. Not even close to starting that. Although, I have been dismantling them by moving their edging to the backyard to finish up #3.

5. Stop excessively buying plants. I haven’t truly been tested on this one yet. I do have a lot of fruit trees waiting to be planted, but that’s part of #6.

6. Add more fruit trees. I bought a 3 in 1 plum and a Tropic Snow peach at the fruit tree sale. The peach is in the ground, but I still haven’t planted the plum. The 4 blueberry bushes I bought are potted up and already blooming. I am also adding 4 new citrus trees, but it is still a little too early to put those in the ground.

7. The arbor is done!

I am very happy with the progress so far. And with the weather warming up, it is sure to be a busy few months.

Fundraising Sale at Green Bank

On another note, there will be a fundraising tree sale on February 26th at Green Bank. You may have seen some information about this sale if you read some of the other Houston area blogs. I find this sale interesting for a couple of reasons. First, is that the beneficiaries of the sale are high school environmental clubs that have banned together to form Green Team America. They do service projects both in their local communities and as a group. Their projects include tree plantings and swapping incandescent bulbs for CFLs, among others.

Secondly, one of the sponsors of the sale, Apache Petroleum, has insisted on only having native trees at the sale. The original list of trees that I saw from them included Chinese Pistache (an invasive species from China) and Crepe Myrtles (which grow abundantly in Houston, but are native to China). They told me these would be removed from the sale. I’ve since noticed Vitex on their list, this tree is native to Southern Europe and western Asia.

If you don’t know a lot about native vs non-native plants, it is something worth considering when you are landscaping your yard. I am not a purist, but I do think that you will have better luck gardening the more native species you plant and you will attract more native wildlife.

Before going to the sale, you might want to check out the Texas Tree Selector website from the Texas Forest Service, it contains both native and non-native species. Experts from the forest service will be at the sale to answer questions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

This will be my dreariest post since I started participating in Bloom Day last April. Since January’s bloom day, we have had about 8 days of freezing temperatures, that my folks is not enjoyed by a semi-tropical garden (in technically not a semi-tropical city).
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This petunia along with about 50 other potted plants hid out on my back porch with some Christmas lights during the freeze.
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Of course, the peach tree needs some chill hours in order to fruit, so it is quite happy. It has been in the ground for less than a year, so despite the flowers, I will not be letting it set fruit this year.

There may not be many flowers in the garden right now, but there is much work to be done to prepare for spring vegetable plantings, fruit tree planting, bed building, and the list goes on and on. So, here’s looking forward to March!!

To see more Garden Blogger Bloom Days, check out May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Birds of the Week

I’m not much of a bird watcher. I always have bird feeders out, but I don’t know what I’m feeding other than blue jays, doves, cardinals, a bunch of little brown birds, and hummingbirds when they’re in season. I’m much better at identifying plants than identifying birds, but this year the goldfinches have caught my eye.

I’ve put out thistle for them before, but the only time I’ve had much luck is when I buy it from Wild Birds Unlimited. I actually made the trip out to the west side of town to buy bird seed and the goldfinches have paid me back by spending a lot of time at the thistle feeder.

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The folks at Wild Birds Unlimited told me the way to know if your thistle (niger) is fresh (which is the only way the goldfinches like it) is to put a little between two sides of a folded paper towel. If there is a little oil on the paper towel, then it is fresh.

They have also been eating from my regular feeder which has Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess blend.
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I added another thistle feeder for them today. Hopefully they will find it tomorrow.

Here’s are some of my other visitors from this week.
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Blue Jay
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little brown birds :)

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doves
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more little brown birds :)
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perhaps a House Finch? eating safflower

I know I mentioned Wild Birds Unlimited a lot in this post. That’s just because my birds really like their seed. I am not being compensated in any way for mentioning them.

Also, it may not have escaped your attention that my last two posts have been about wildlife and not about gardening. Well, what can I say? I’ve been taking it easy lately and it has been really cold outside. (when I say cold, keep in mind that I am from Texas)

However, this weekend was beautiful. I cleaned out the vegetable beds to get them ready for spring planting. I pruned the 3 in 1 peach tree, which is a whole other story. I also planted my new Tropic Snow peach tree and attempted to dig up an oleander to make room for my new 3 in 1 plum. But, there was a small matter of a nearby gas line that made me think twice, so that is to be continued after the gas man comes and marks the line.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nest building

It’s curious the things you see while daydreaming out the window. My banana trees all have brown leaves strewn about them, especially after this past week’s strange freezing event in Houston. And, I’m guessing this squirrel is building himself (or herself) a nest.

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Cool, this stuff should make a great nest.
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My babies are going to love this stuff.
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Hey, give me my nest material!
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Almost got it.
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Well, I thought I had it. What's going on here?
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Err, Come on! Let go! (worth clicking on this one to see his stance)
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Finally got it. Well, part of it. I'll be back for you!
I think I watched this guy for about 10 minutes.