Monday, July 30, 2007
Alex decided she was quality control today as I came in from harvesting. Big news, the first melon was a full slip, ready to be picked. I was excited since I wasn't sure I would have any crop at all after the big scare of spider mites decimated the vine. Anyway, Alex proceeded to roll the melon several times back and forth as any good melon inspector will do. Then she plucked a tomato out of the basket to take a closer look and give it the old "test lick". It passed her rigorous requirement- namely that it was bigger than her mouth and it didn't squeek- so she put it back in the basket.
Keep up the good work, Inspector!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Purple heart, one of my favorite plants that spreads wonderfully fast, extremely drought tolerant, and has beauiful oink flowers in the morning. And who can resist adding that kind of color to your beds?
My morning glory, madly engulfing my trellis. I have all this beautiful gree, but no flowers yet. Seems unusual for a morning glory. But I love the way the vines are reaching out to catch ANYTHING else they can climb on.
Another morning glory on another trellis, this one cascading down with flowers, having not caught the next rung of the trellis going across.
And my my wildflower/septic field is finally sprouting again after being mowed down to rid of burrs and poison ivy. But one of the spots we spared had this beautiful remnant of sunflowers. Just gorgeous.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Well, I went out this morning to check on the melon vine, in the 45 minutes between rainstorms, this is what I saw.
Not pretty. I think it looks bad partially because I pruned off so many leaves that were too far gone from the bug damage. But I admit, it still looks oretty awful. I still have about 4-5 pantyhosed melons that are hanging in there. And in checking the leaves, there seemed to be less bugs after my spraying the other day. I sprayed some of the newer leaves today to give them a fighting chance.
And there's hope...
a few new melons coming in, even with the cosmetic nightmare going on around them. Keep your fingers crossed. I'm hoping my spray has given some time for the predators to move in. I saw a predator fly this morning- but where are my buds the ladybugs? Maybe the rain is keeping them hidden.
This is what is tough about vegetable gardening. You start out so strong with beautiful green plants and flowers everywhere. Then the pests get a whiff of your bumper crop and arrive to party. I know in my gardening class they talked about the curve of the pest/predator, that if you just wait when pests arrive, sooner or later nature will balance itself out by the population of pests attracting the predators that will bring the population down. But it's a chance it might be too late and your plants will be decimated. So I'm hoping it's not too late for my cucumbers and cantaloupes.
Have any of the other veggie gardeners out there been having problems?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Rain is really coming down and it's only 8:30am.
Here's our forecast...
We may see a repeat performance of some three to nearly five inch rain totals, just like yesterday, as more showers and storms move across Central Texas. Today's forecast holds the highest rain chance of the week at 80%, with a Flash Flood Watch that now extends to midnight.
Glad I did my Gardening 9-1-1 procedures yesterday, 'cause today doesn't look like an outside kind of day.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
So first I pruned, taking off all of the dead or dying leaves, then carefully taking that pile of bug infested stuff out of my garden. Then I started washing leaves with the hose sprayer. They say that you can dislodge aphids with a strong spray of water, but they don't tell you that your leaves disintegrate as well, ripping and tearing under the spray of the water. Finally I strated spraying with insecticidal soap, just getting down and dirty. I rubbed the backs of leaves to get those nasty critters off. Had water and soap running down my arm as some of the leaves have grown to ther top of th trellis.
Anyway, discovered two melons which has already died as a result. But I still have 4 that are pantyhosed-up onto the trellis.
Next I went after the cucumber vine which is also showing the same signs of stress, but maybe a bit earlier in the cycle. Again, looked under each leaf and sprayed and rubbed the little buggers away. Cut off some leaves which are already past saving. I've already had plenty of cukes, but I'll be so sad if I don't get at least one melon from the vine.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
So, I purchased.
Just supplementing, I reminded myself. I have two beds out on either side of the driveway that I transformed from lawn last year, and the plants I put in the fall haven't filled out as much as I thought, plus some got eaten by deer who conveniently ignore the tags on the plants that say deer resistent! Damn deer, learn to read!
So I bought 4 gulf muehly grasses. I love them in the fall. I have three on each side so this would bring it up to 5 on each side. And I bought 4 Mexican bush sage. I love their blue spires. I had one on each side, which I hated because it looked so lonely. So now, that one has friends! See, it's really about kindness and gaving plants some friends to hang out with so they can party in the rain, be happy, grow bigger and bloom. I'm all about happy plants.
That's rock rose, tiny in the bottom of the picture. I think the deer are using that as their dessert every night. Gulf Muehly is in the back. Mexican bush sage at the top with white lantana behind it.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Something is attacking my melon and cucumber vines and I need your help to ID so I can decide how to treat. I noticed it first on the melon vine, the leaves getting some yellow spots, then shriveling up. I thought at first it was aphids of another bug since I saw things on the back of the leaves, but now I am thinking that the aphids are perhaps a secondary attack from the vine getting a fungus. Maybe a mosaic virus? Researched online at Texas A&M and couldn't find any pictures to compare. I generally suck at insect or disease identification. All the lectures in my master gardening class didn't soak in (I should probably repeat that part of the course every year!)
OK, here are some pics.
Closeup of front of leaf starting to get yellow areas
Looking up at leaves from below, notice these are already browning.
Cucumber vines starting to yellow
Back of melon leaf- kind of crusty and yellow, and you can see some small yellow bugs at the bottom. I thought this is probably the "honeydew" from the aphids.
More crusty yellow developing
Let me know if you have any ideas on what this could be. I just hate it because the melon and cucumber crops are looking so good until this came along. I tried to buy ladybugs yesterday at Red Barn. No luck, they said something came through and destroyed all of their ladybugs about a week back. Ugh!
Friday, July 20, 2007
"It’s possible that heavy thunderstorms could drop up to half an inch of rain by 10 a.m., according to Christina Barron, a meteorologist with the weather service. The rainfall totals will add to what is already the wettest year to date ever recorded at the airport. Since Jan. 1, 36.38 inches of rain had fallen (before this morning’s totals). That’s 19.03 inches above the normal amount of rain seen at the airport and higher than the previous year-to-date record of 32.6 inches, set in 2004."
70 % chance tonight (it's pouring right now), 60% tomorrow. Wow. Looks like the sprinklers go back on rain delay. Yea!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
First, something that doesn't need water at all, a hardy native, Lantana grows all around our property. I love it because of it's multicolored flowers. We also have white lined up along our fence. In drought conditions, this is often one of the only blooms we would see at this time of the year.
Marigold- I have planted around my property specifically around some flowers that deer find tasty. The smell of the marigolds seems to fool the deer into thinking "yuck!" and walking away. I also have them in my veggie gardens, thinking it might turn off some pests as well.
Butterfly iris I have planted at my front door and I have been waiting for a sign that it mikes the spot. The first blooms appeared just in time for this entry.
Pink skullcap, love the name, love the tough-as-nails flower that is drought tolerant and is great to plant in tough areas like along a road where dogs pee on it.
Salvia, a beautiful deep shade of red, in my front bed under a cedar and next to Mexican Marigold.
Creme Brulee Coreopsis, bought it because it is my favorite dessert and I figured anything named that must be lovely. And it is a lovely shade of buttery yellow planted next to the drive where my husbands truck is parked.
Bulbine- never fails, always lovely and unusual to have around. Spreads gloriously but not in an invasive way, just nice and slow.
Zinnias just keep flowering again and again in lovely colors.
And the crape myrtles are just blooming, this one in the back a gorgeous fuschia and bowing down from the weight.
My Texas hibiscus, can easily be mistaken for a marijuana plant without the flower. But comes back every year in a pot (ha, ha, pot...get it) and has dozens of blooms in this gorgeous red.
Variety of roses from the Rose Emporium including Mutabilis.
And my wildflowers in the septic field. We just mowed the field to avoid rampant burrs that stick to the dogs but left some patches of flowers to enjoy.
Also, just found this one. What the heck is it?
(** Added later by author: Thanks to Annie for identifiying my mystery flower as Spotted Bee Balm, Monarda punctata. )
And finally, here is my bizarro artichoke flower.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
The good news is this kind of rain makes everyone a fantastic gardener. You can't help but have your plants going crazy. The bad news is that rain = poor quality pictures so I have not been posting much lately. But today is blue skies and sunny so I wanted to share my veggie garden bounty with you. I'm most proud of a project my hubby helped me out with the other day that I was inspired by Skip Richter, our Extension agent here in Travis county. He suggested using a livestock panel to grow a melon vine on and showed the possibility of making it into an arch. Then you tie the melons onto the trellis with sections of pantyhose with the melons slipped inside. So poor hubby had to haul a 16 ft. piece of cattle panel from across town back to our house and help me set it up. But it is awesome. Some pictures:
Here's the view from the entrance to the veggie garden. Tomatoes on the left and the arch in the back. The red flag just is a caution to not walk into a wire that is holding my tomato trellis from keeling over (love that rain!)
Here's 2 views of the melon vines climbing the trellis.
And here are my 2 cucumber vines...and a view from below where you can see the baby cukes emerging.
These are some of my tomato plants, the first is a Black Krim and the second a Sweet 100 so my son can harvest and pop them in his mouth like candy.
And finally, a watermelon vine which is going crazy right now.
It's not all been success here in veggie land. My corn experiment failed miserably with small, half developed corn emerging. I finally just pulled them up. My strawberries have been enough to thrill a 3 year old who doesn't know any better but hardly enough to top my cereal in the morning.
And my tomatillas! Covered in flowers...but no fruit. I was getting frustrated until last night when I researched on the internet. Did you know tomatillas pollinate each other but can't pollinate themselves. Thank god I just happened to buy two or I would be really upset. But I also learned that they regularly confuse gardeners by taking a long time to set fruit but then suddenly having a bountiful harvest. So thank you internet, I will be more patient and see what comes out.
Of course, I remind you of what part the rain has played in all of this growth. Last year, you found me with few tomatoes and a cucumber vine that was decimated by borers. So I'm just enjoying the harvest while it lasts.