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Posts from the ‘Garden’ Category

Yellow flowers and Tomatoes

yellow20flower-mWe live in an old house that is now over 100 years old. It was built to withstand hurricanes and so far with the exception of a few roof tiles being blown off, has done just fine. It was also the home of a gardener.

There were the remains of a green house built onto the side of the garage but the grounds are filled with jonquils and snowdrops and crepe myrtles.

Then there are these little yellow trumpet flowers. They litter the front sidewalk like petals strewn in front of a bride—now days that is Dora happily doing her daily job of fetching the newspaper. We always looked to see where those flowers came from.

Now we have found another location for those flowers–the backyard where the vine has taken over one crepe myrtle and is vying for space with the wisteria.wisteria-m

And in other news, I ventured out …cautiously….to Tractor Supply to get some tomato plants and one bell pepper plant. Hopefully the plants are what the outside sign said they were, people tend to pick up things and put them back in the closest spot rather than the proper one—but they are indeed tomato and pepper plants—and if successful we’ll be quite happy.

No photo of them–they are hiding on the front porch in the shade awaiting transplant later today.



Peas and Lettuce and a Lemon Tree

Being of Midwestern stock and of the rural variety, a garden was a regular part of life. Each January the seed catalogs would appear, brightening up the dull gray, white and black of the outdoors to visions of summer with outdoor activities not associated with loads of extra clothing. We tended to forget the mud season otherwise known as mud season and of seasonal floods with wagers about whether or not Stark’s Sporting store would flood again this year.

Everyone planned their garden about the same way, a row of zinnias (they grew fast) and marigolds (to keep away the rabbits and deer) and then tomatoes and carrots and lettuce and peas and sweet corn and green beans and squash or pumpkins. Maybe one or two experimental vegetables that looked so fun in the catalog

Now on the Gulf Coast of Texas it has taken me awhile to adjust to our four season gardening. Lettuce was planted in December and was slow to sprout but now I have it in abundance. lettuce-m

Peas were planted in January–had to plant twice, the seeds kept coming to the top of the soil. There isn’t enough to make a meal but as garnishes and as dippers for the spinach dip I made the other day, perfect


And then there is the lemon tree


This little tree produced a dozen lemons the first year and we were delighted; the next year triple that and since then so many lemons.


The blossoms this year are plentiful and fill the air with a delightful scent—the bees are working that tree along with the clover—plenty of honey to process in the near future.


Staying Busy

fallen20blossoms-mWhile some people are parked in front of their computers doing virtual tours of museums and dairy farms and checking out books from the New York Public Library, I’ve worked on our taxes (not done yet), cleaned floors ( a never ending project with two dogs), gone to work (careful to stay the required 6 foot distance), canceled airline flights and conference attendance (internet access is not reliable enough to do much of anything consistently ), re-glued up some wall paper, matted some prints, took apart a beehive( with husband) and made three splits–we’re both crossing our fingers hoping they will queen themselves, and now back to working on those UFO quilting projects.

Tired of being mostly indoors—I worked some on the never ending vines that creep up along the house and smother the azaleas—-and took a nice leisurely walk around the neighborhood to capture some flower photos. I live in an old neighborhood so there are also some wonderful old houses to photo..they all smiled for their picture. And then there are the odd bits of things I find interesting–the texture of rusting metal on the side of what used to be an ice house.

Here is the link for the photos—there are previous years photos as well—so for those of you who are looking at snow–please don’t be too envious. It will soon be baking hot here.




Satsumas and a change or two

satsuma20ripening-mSome years ago we planted a satsuma tree in our front yard—actually Lee planted it for me as Toby had dug it out of its container at least three times as I had hoped it to be a surprise birthday present for my husband. The tree miraculously survived and has produced satsumas in abundance last year. This year it does not seem quite as loaded down. Last year, we would pick a dozen or so and think we had picked the last of them….until we ate all of those and went out again and found a dozen more. We ate fresh fruit for nearly three months!

There are a few that seem to be ripening now and the branches need propping up….along with an abundance of lemons on another tree out at the shop. I froze lemons one year and used them to make some absolutely wonderful lemonade. I also made salted lemons which I pureed, some with dill from home-canned dill pickles and some plain—used over chicken or fish with a bit of olive oil. It is supposed to be good on Lamb as in Moroccan style cooking but lamb is not something easily found in the grocery stores here.

Along with what passes for fall here, we are trying to do a few repairs and updates around the house. One involved rehanging wallpaper that had come undone with the humidity here—and then some electrical repairs. Living in an old house means some odd a light switch at the door that turns off an outlet but not the overhead light.



Some things do come in tiny packages.

This little flower must like the old rice paddy wetness of the shop backyard.


And then there is okra. I haven’t been very successful the past two years. I did well when they were in raised beds, but they are not so happy in containers (easier on my back and fewer problems with San Augustine crawling into the beds. Toby did a fabulous job of digging out the dirt for me to replace it—but the grass was more tenacious and determined than I could ward off.


One Lane Road and Two Orchid blooms

People ask me if I am still working. Could it be my hair which mysteriously and when I wasn’t looking became mostly gray? Or is it because I should volunteer to do something?

The credit union and bank think I should continue to work–they seem to put their hand out expecting something every month. Of course, one of the things happens to be my new truck—Big Mack.

Big Mack is bright red–candy apple red(yay)  but an automatic (groan) but a diesel (yay) and extended cab (too long) and made of aluminum (yay I can lift the end gate without thinking I am lifting weights at the gym) and great big side mirrors(yay while driving and a nightmare when parking).

So I should probably post a picture here—and I will but not today.

Today Big Mac and I went to Galveston. This means a ferry ride off Bolivar Peninsula. Going means a drive along the gulf with the waves splashing over the barriers and then a one lane road as the inevitable summer road work is carried on. This was my view.


And I could have been a bit aggravated over the wait and the smell of all that asphalt but this is what I could see out the side.


There is just something calming about watching all those waves and the occasional pelican or sea gull flying by.

I rode in the middle lane–plenty of room on either side of me—and watched dolphins playing in the water, dancing around a trawler, pelicans diving, sea gulls overhead looking for scraps of bread to be tossed.

The doctor visit–the reason for the drive was so-so—I can’t say I am impressed by the academic knowledge—perhaps it is because they do not expect any of their patients to give a cogent history.

On the way back, I was crammed in between an oversize semi and the interior of the ferry—I had exactly six inches on the driver’s side and four inches on the ferry side—not so happy to get a scrape on those wonderfully sticky-outy mirrors without the automatic fold in feature.  I could see a few grackles wandering underneath the semi–it was hot–and no breeze–blocked by that truck—-

However, in my dining room is this orchid. It blooms every summer around this time. But this is the first time I have seen two different colored flowers on the same stalk–a dark purple and a light lavender. The blooms last a long time and every time I walk past it, I smile.img_2066-m

And just to clarify—Big Mack is also a F250 but my first car/vehicle was my gold F250 always referred to as ‘THE F250″. It has 532,000 miles on it—and my husband has claimed it—so it is still in the family and should last another 2 or 3 hundred thousand miles–maybe some new tires along the way and the occasional oil change.



satsumas-mThree years ago I bought a satsuma tree.

I brought it home in anticipation of husband arriving back home so he could plant it out on Highway 90.

Toby thought that tree in a pot must have had something wonderful hidden among its roots. She dug it out of the pot three times.

Lee, who mows the yard for me, happened to be there when I was trying to pick up the tree—again and repot it. He was laughing. I gave up on waiting to plant it elsewhere and asked him to plant it somewhere that was a good spot–and not where Toby could dig it up.

The first year we had a dozen fruits.

The next year two dozen–we cherished them–saved them for special occasions.

We had a hard frost last winter and were afraid we might lose the tree–along with our Meyer Lemon.

But we have had bushels of fruit–we became so spoiled–just run out to the front yard and pick a half dozen, when those were gone, go get more.

Starting in October, we have had fresh fruit from the tree. I’ve picked several dozen lemons, given away some, and then there were no more.

But as soon as we mourned the loss of the fresh fruit, blossoms appeared. Branches are heavy and need propping against the promised fruit.satsuma20tree-m

And the lemon tree?

Covered with blossoms with bees eagerly working away.bee20in20lemon20flower-mlemon20tree20flowering-m




Lettuce and Peas

lettuce-mWhile working on the apiary yesterday, I checked on my tank garden.

The tanks are conveniently elevated for my back, but have the disadvantage of not draining when overwhelmed with Noah’s Ark level of rain. One tank was flooded out–but one tank has a healthy crop of lettuce nearly ready for harvesting.

I have a few peas–not as many as I would like—but still a few fresh peas will be added to our dining pleasure.a20few20peas-m

My northern relatives are taking photos of birds in bare shrubs in backgrounds of snow; I am thinking that I didn’t remember my bee suit as being that hot—and sinking three or four inches into the mud.

April showers came a bit early this year

peach20tree20closer-mEach morning I get up, look out my bedroom window, hoping to see vistages of sunshine. But the last few weeks have been gray, drizzly, foggy, and COLD!

My Wisconsin relatives think that it is always hot here and our houses are warm and cozy. This house is designed for heat outside, not cold outside—and I wear slippers and robe and each sitting area has a set of afghans or quilts to wrap up in.

But then there are the flowers.

Azaleas are in full bloom. Ditto the peach tree–and maybe I will get some peaches this year. We picked the last satsuma three weeks ago—we had become quite spoiled–want some fresh fruit, just go pick one or two off the tree.

I still have lemons to process–maybe I’ll make some marmalade–there are still dozens left on the tree. Again, so spoiled.–want a fresh lemon–just go pick one or two.

I understand another major snow storm is forecast for this weekend—for all my relatives and friends who live in the icebox regions of our world–perhaps you can enjoy these blooms—and spend a few minutes looking through your seed catalogs which somehow always arrive in mid January.

Here is the link to the azaleas and peach blossoms.



Marigoldish Scent

My mother always planted a row of Marigolds and Zinnias in her vegetable garden along the edge. Zinnias are easy to grow, proliferate wildly and show a variety of colorations. Marigolds on the other hand are always bright orange and gold; their scent being repulsive.

Rabbits and deer do not like marigolds. They will eat potato plants, tomato plants, and love lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and all the other vegetables you plan to grow in your garden.

I tried raised beds here in Southeast Texas where the local soil will harden like fired piece of pottery if insufficient rain–and if there is sufficient rain glues itself together. And San Augustine grass loves to crawl across the top of it, engulfing your preferred vegetation.

I did fairly well the first couple of years, then the grass invaded and despite my best efforts dominated the raised beds. I also had a few back surgeries making leaning over to the ground challenging.

My next attempt was stock tanks filled with rocks and soil. The first year rain was adequately spaced; this year not so. I have revised my watering system several times–this year a soaker hose with a timer.

Marigolds have flourished in these stock tanks, my tomatoes had their leaves completely eaten twice; the okra have produced enough for a couple of gallon bags in the freezer but not nearly as productive as past years.

Most gardeners always hope for a better year—next year—but here in Southeast Texas we get to have a winter garden….in the North, we could only drool over the seed catalogs which always seemed to appear in January–the dead of winter when the only green thing to be seen were winter jackets.marigolds20view20two-m