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Posts from the ‘Garden’ Category

Making a Mess

I had planned to schedule ‘messy days’ at my shop as part of an art group.

But then Covid-19 delta variant came along—and that was just too risky for me.

But I did play a bit.

I bought a turkey roaster from Walmart—specifically for eco-dyeing.

I picked up a few leaves around the shop; layered them on water-color paper, turned on the roaster, let it cook for about an hour and a half; turned it off–and then waited—impatiently!!!

I took the paper out–removed the leaves, and let the paper dry over my clothes drying rack—found at Treasure House—my church’s resale shop—for $1 again impatiently waiting for the paper to dry.

And here is the result.

The roaster comes with a rack with handles—so you can lift out your turkey or other roasted item easily. However it left lines on the paper—I’ll have to look for some flat ceramic tiles to layer the paper on so as to avoid those lines.

Still a fun project–and I’m ready to try some more…..trees and shrubs and plants beware!

A Raspberry Patch and a few Nettles

My parents planted two grape vines on the upper edge of their garden along with some raspberry bushes. They also planted the same in the house they had ‘in town’ and my Dad, knowing I liked raspberreis would pick a small bowl for me each morning for breakfast when I was there helping him with his finances.

The patch on the farm was wildly over-grown with a few small trees—and the first year, a brown thrush had a nest—and was not happy when I tackled the pruning and thinning.

The grapes have never produced–the most has been a handful of green grapes half the size of currants—and since I am not fond of grapes–and they are not producing—I pruned them back to the ground—in July. The vines and smothered the raspberries to the point that there were only four canes. Major unhappiness on my part!!!!!

I wasn’t really sure I would be returning on this trip–and not sure I would have the time—it was a three day project in July—-

Here it is when I started.

and here it is when I finished;

All that green—NETTLES! It was a warm day and although I usually work outside with long sleeves–I took off my jacket-shirt—and got lots of stings from those nettles. The tan stuff piled up is corn fodder—it will take me thirty years to get rid of all that corn fodder in the hay mow====I’m not sure why it was put there—but I am using it as mulch.

Look at that lovely green stuff on the right—all of it new canes—so I will have a bumper crop of raspberries next year—and some more nettles to pull.

And here is what it looked like in July—all that green is grape vine.

Of Thistles and Queen Anne’s Lace

While farmers and livestock owners do not particularly like thistles, I have always thought they were some of the most loveliest of plants. The purple blooms against the dull green leaves provides a perfect contrast. They are considered noxious weeds to be dug out whenever possible along with multiflora roses planted many years ago as directed by the government to control erosion.

Then there is the delicate Queen Anne’s Lace. I’ve never seen it cropped by cattle and so it remains on the fence rows untouched along with the thistle. Finches like the thistle seed; thistle seed being a component of commercial bird seed mixes.

It was too early in the season to see finches working the thistles; maybe I will return later this summer or early fall and catch a glimpse of them.

Sorting Out and Pressing Matters

When two people have multiple interests and they all involved collecting things—whether it be digitally or physically, there comes a time when sorting and discarding must happen.

I’ve been working on finishing up physical projects but then there is the mess on my lap-top with dozens of photos, files, and documents. I seem to get lost in the file cabinets of lap-tops and end up with several similar documents/photos—-and now I am struggling to find things.

This part of Texas has the capability of flowers nearly year round. For someone accustomed to the black, gray, white bleakness of the long Wisconsin winters, it is not surprising I take a lot of flower photos.

This was last year in July.

back of garden shed with banana plant on the left

And here is another view of those flowers.

And at the same time I was working on the Quilt Show’s block of the Month. There were a gazillion double nine-patch blocks to be made with the individual small colored squares finishing at about an inch.

That wooden thing was my grandmother’s. She had a full set of fancy dress-making/tailoring pressing items–this one was for pressing the corners of colors but also serves as a weight for pressing. I never thought of her as a fashionista but her mother-in-law was a fancy seamstress and so she might have done this in the spirit of competition. For her high school graduation, she had to hand sew with French seams a very fancy white blouse. Somewhere I have a photo of that—somewhere—I’ll find it—some day but not today.

Rhubarb and Orchids

One day I remarked to my father, that I wished I had some rhubarb. He looked at me and said—if I put up a notice in the bank (town of 300) and left my truck in their parking lot, I would have a bed full of the stuff by mid afternoon. In the days when produce did not come from South America year round, rhubarb was the first fresh produce we would have in the late spring/early summer. Strawberries followed soon after and the two made a great pairing in pies and jams.

However, rhubarb tends to be a Northern thing—it is tart and requires a lot of sugar.

I have several bags of neatly cut rhubarb in my freezer and decided to make a crisp—also seems to be a Northern thing–for the local Orchid Society June Ice Cream Social. I expected to bring most of it home—-but I was surprised and pleased to have almost three fourths eaten by the members and a request to take the remainder home with them.

We joined the Orchid Society several years ago, having bought an orchid for my husband’s birthday at our church fall bazaar. The folks in the group were friendly—and so knowledgeable–we enjoyed our time with them. The pandemic has been hard on all social groups—and so it was especially gratifying to be once more among a group of friends.

I wandered through the conservatory and the potting shed—both very hot–even for me. There were a few orchids in bloom—and I took a few photos—-of the orchids–not the ice cream or the crisp’s empty dish.

Freezing Sunshine and Pink Snow

In February this part of Texas endured what seemed like a century of cold weather and limited power. My laptop has a battery and I was able to write some–but never posted it to my blog. As it is now time to ‘spring clean’ I thought I would clean up some of my drafts; adding to them in some cases.

I wandered around our yard this morning and took a few photos. It is once again the time of the pink snowfall; the azalea blossoms of pink and white falling to the ground and resembling small drifts of snow. It is later this year than previous years–probably because of the interlude of cold, stopping everything in its tracks.

pink snow

And here is one of those valiant pansies–we have purple and yellow–so cheery.

How can anyone not smile and be joyful when you see these pansies?

And then there is the amaryllis—we have two bulbs–both in full bloom with another flower stalk on one.

And now—here is what I wrote in late February. It is hard to believe we are wondering if we should turn on the AC; but we are all hunting up replacements for all our frozen shrubbery and citrus. We have not pulled up our satsuma or Meyer’s lemon–still hoping but fairly certain they did not survive.

February 2021

The sun is out today and the temperature outside is pleasant enough for folks to resume their daily walks. The chicken has been returned to her chicken coop although I must say she was not a particularly tidy house guest. Toby and Dora were curious about the closed downstairs bathroom door–as that was their favorite place to sleep. Although they both have nice thick fur, neither one wanted to stay outside for very long.

Our jonquils are sad wilted green leaves, the satsuma and lemon tree have brown crispy leaves and branches–we will have major pruning occurring soon. The arugula and peas also are sad wilted greenery.

But the pansies hiding securely under a dog-food bag and a hive body survived and are still blooming—a ray of hope for us all.

Watching my Peas (and lettuce and radishes)

It has taken me several years to understand the cycle of four season gardening here on the Gulf Coast of Texas. A week or so ago, we had frost. A skim of ice floated on top of the puddles in our driveway–there is a broken watermain underneath that constantly drips—this is the fourth time that main has had a leak; one year I had a bubbling spring in front of my house and a huge variety of songbirds used it as their drinking fountain.

But I digress.

Planting peas and radish and lettuce several weeks ago while my patient husband set up a new watering system, there is always a bit of anxiety waiting for those tiny seeds to sprout.

After delivering a bag full of satsumas–a small handful of kumquats and a lemon–not so many of those this year to our youngest son, we stopped by our garden. With all of our recent rain, we had standing water in many places but I was rewarded with lots of sprouts.

peas and radishes next to the tank wall

Lettuce sprouts are still so tiny but then their seeds are the size of grains of sand.

The bananas at the side of the shed did not like the freezing temperature; but they always seem to come back. I am hoping we had enough cold weather for the new pear tree to set blossoms this next spring—the apricot tree has been a huge disappointment—bought from a Master Gardener’s sale as a peach tree, we have harvested two apricots despite hand fertilizing and putting a bird net on top.

But we should have a bountiful crop of lettuce in two months and peas shortly after that. Radishes are for husband and he likes both the tops and the globes.

And how does my Garden Grow?

About ten days ago, we spent most of a day putting together a new watering system for my garden—truthfully, I worked on cutting down some weeds and brush while husband put together the system. I planted lettuce and peas after filling the tanks with more dirt.

And now there are tiny seedlings all sprouting. In about six weeks or so we will have fresh lettuce for our table.

And hopefully, the cold snap approaching us will not be too cold—although they are protected to some extent by the tanks. Sunny days means the metal of the tanks heats up.

It is always exciting to see those sprouts appear–a tiny miracle.

Elephant Garlic

The first time I tasted garlic was in garlic bread at a youth church spaghetti supper while I was in high school. Since then, garlic has been one of my favorite seasonings. I had never attempted to grow it though, buying the fresh bulbs at the grocery store. And within the past few years, there have been jars of peeled garlic available—so much easier than peeling off that papery covering and mincing the clover.

Fortunately, my husband has been successful in growing elephant garlic–in Wisconsin and here in Texas. Much to the delight and amusement of the neighbors in Wisconsin, he would dry braided strands of arlic in the cab of his truck—looking like he was preparing for an onslaught of vampires.

And then there are the blooms. I had seen onions go to flower creating a pod at the top; and I guessed garlic would do the same.

And if you have never seen a garlic blossom—here is one.

it took two or more months for the flower to form and then bloom–an item of interest for the mail carrier and the UPS driver.

How does My Garden Grow?

As someone who grew up in the northern climes of Wisconsin with long winters enhanced in January by the arrival of the seed catalogs, it has taken me more than a few years to become accustomed to a place where things grown year-round—-and lawn-mowing as well.

The first time i planted peas….in the middle of May, I was informed that everyone else was pulling up their plants as Gulf coast weather was entirely too hot for them to continue producing—and there were no tomato sets in the gardening stores.

But I have learned.

Today we are picking satsumas from the tree in our front yard and sharing the with others. The lemon tree did not do so well this year but I still have plenty of frozen ones for lemonaid and pickled ones for flavoring chicken and fish. And then we set up a new watering system for the late winter/early spring garden.

Radishes and three kinds of lettuce and some peas have been seeded; the tomato that somehow survived two hurricanes and the hot summer weather has a few green tomatoes on it—but I pulled up the okra as it is now far too cool for it to continue podding. Okra flowers are so pretty with their deep purple throats and creamy outer petals—and now with an abundance of okra, we have experimented in using it in unusual ways–it has proven to be a great addition to pizza—and no, it is not slimey.

Broccoli has persisted through the summer and re-seeded itself—it is one of the bees favorite flowers as the pollen is high in protein–needed for all those baby bees I expect to have in the early spring.

Now comes the hard part, waiting until I see those little sprouts appearing—but while I wait I can have a satsuma.