Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Blue Sky! the rain has finally cleared out. at one point last night (around 8 or 9 p.m.) we had standing water four to six inches deep in the backyard. i measured it. thank goodness for pier and beam construction. despite the depth of water in the backyard, it never reached the deck (or house). by the time i got up this morning, the water had receded.
Monday, October 28, 2002
Bulb Arrival. my wayside gardens order (six saffron crocus + five "erlicheer" narcissus) arrived saturday. according to ups' tracking site, my john scheepers order has arrived in illinois and is scheduled for delivery to me thursday.
if it ever stops raining, i'll start planting. the crocus are going to go under the sycamore tree in the front yard. it's at the edge of a somewhat steep bank so it drains very well. i haven't decided what to do with the narcissus but am pondering putting them around the base of the oak in the front yard.
i definitely need to protect the bulbs in some way, lest they become hors d'oeurves for the neighborhood squirrels. i think the simplest solution will be to cover the bulb area with a large piece of chicken wire. i want to use a large enough piece that the squirrels won't be able to dig around the edges and still get the bulbs. a "border" of six inches sounds like a lot, but i want the bulbs to be safe. i'm not worried about underground critters (moles and voles), if only because i haven't seen any signs of them. besides, making bulb cages seems like an awful lot of work (i spent all weekend thinking about how i could make my own) and the bulb cages i've found for sale are too big (and would require digging an even larger hole).
the new york times ran a story yesterday on "protecting tulips from beast and weather".
Still Raining. supposedly, it will stop sometime tomorrow. i'll believe it when my yard stops squishing.
Friday, October 25, 2002
Scheepers Shipment. yesterday i received a tracking number for my john scheepers bulb order. they should be here next week.
Houston Forecast: Rain. squish, squish.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Butterflies are Back. i saw a monarch butterfly fluttering about several times this past weekend. i think it was the same one each time (it seemed to be cruising the same path), but maybe there were multiple butterflies.
at any rate, yesterday i found two tiny monarch caterpillars on the butterfly weed by the back door. i think they are second instars, maybe third instars, because i can see distinct bands of black and yellow even though the caterpillars are not even as long as my fingernail (keeping in mind that i have no nails).
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Bulbs on the Way. got an email notification yesterday from wayside gardens that my order is on the way. now, if only it will stop raining...
Rain, Rain, More Rain. it's been raining intermittently since saturday and the forecasts say more is still to come. i think we've gotten at least three inches so far. the backyard is mushy, but no standing water. and my poor compost piles are cold, cold, cold.
at least the crinums and rain lilies are enjoying the rain. two of the "garage" crinums have sent up flower scapes in the last couple of days and should bloom next week. all of the "rescued" rain lilies have put out lots of new growth and i have my fingers crossed that they'll bloom soon, too.
speaking of the crinums, i planted the two surviving crinum "babies" under the cherry laurel a month or two ago and they seem to be adapting well (i.e. lots of new growth). in the meantime, many more crinum offsets have sprouted and need to be dug (escaping from beds into the yard / growing through doorstep) and relocated or given away.
Monday, October 21, 2002
More Bulbs. i placed an order for crocus sativus and narcissus tazettta "erlicheer". and now, i promise not to buy any more bulbs until the ones i've ordered have arrived and been planted.
Saturday, October 19, 2002
Buying Bulbs. i've placed my order for bulbs from john scheepers:i carefully consulted scott ogden's garden bulbs for the south before making my selections, so hopefully my bulbs will naturalize and return for several seasons.
now i am anxiously awaiting shipment, even though i'm not sure where i'll plant everything.
Nandina Stakes. two weekends ago i thinned out the nandina growing on the east side of the house. after stripping off all the greenery (and chopping it up and adding it to the compost pile), i noticed how nice and straight the canes were. so instead of chopping them up for the compost pile i decided to use them as replacement stakes for the peas.
so i trimmed the larger end of the six longest canes to make them pointy and stuck them in the bed next to the best looking pea plants. voila - new and improved (taller, sturdier) stakes!
yesterday i was admiring the pea plants and noticed that two of the nandina stakes are sprouting leaves. yep - the nandina is rooting in the veggie / herb bed. arrgh. i can't / won't pull them out because the peas are now growing on the stakes, so i'll have to leave them until the peas are done.
next time, i'll "age" the nandina canes for a while to make sure they don't root. but i'll definitely use them because they are so nice and straight (and free and renewable...).
Parsley. we used homegrown parsley last night: as a garnish for my couscous and as flavoring in darin's tomato/garlic sauce.
darin pointed out that parsley bunches are three for a dollar at the grocery store, so we need to harvest five more bunches for the plants to have "paid" for themselves.
Saturday Showers. it's been raining on-and-off all day. which is good because the plants were getting a bit dry but bad because i haven't been able to do much outside work for the last week and a half or so. tomorrow will hopefully be drier.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Brrrrr. it's been unseasonably cool here in houston for the last few days. temp was 50ish when i got up this morning.
however, my lone surviving rose seems to be greatly enjoying the cool spell and has put on a spurt of growth.
the lettuce is getting quite leafy and doesn't appear to have been disturbed (yet) by pests. i do think i should have sowed the seeds a little bit deeper; the roots just seem to be barely in the soil.
the two parsley plants i bought and planted a few weeks ago have nearly doubled in size; i think we'll be using some of that this evening. the oregano has also grown quite a bit and is probably ready to be trimmed.
the basil by the back door went into full bloom while we were out of town.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Home Again. darin and i returned last night from a few days in salt lake city for my sister's wedding.
the wedding ceremony was at the university of utah's red butte garden and if i hadn't been so busy with my bridesmaid duties i would have loved to spend more time touring the garden. maybe it's just as well i didn't have time to explore or i would have been tempted by too many plants that could never be happy in houston.
it was nearly dark when we got home last night (and only barely light when we left for work this morning), so i couldn't really check on any of my plants. i could see the peas well enough to know that at least one is about three feet tall and the spinach is sprouting (again).
the cats ate much of one of my potted gardenias but i think it is salvageable. two or three of my latest gardenia cuttings are in desperate need of potting - masses of roots are getting all tangled up and i have to add water every day.
the most noticeable change is that the temperature here in houston is about 20 degrees cooler than it was when i left last wednesday. brrr.
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
 not ongoing, just two or three blooms
- african iris 
- crepe myrtle
- lantana - new gold, radiation, rasberry, silver mound - (the silver mound has been the best performer with most flowers, more compact plant)
- mandevilla 
- mexican heather
- pentas - new look red, new look pink, red variegated, rose
- salvia - blue and red
Saturday, October 05, 2002
Native Plants. today's lazy gardener column in the houston chronicle: native plant movement is flourishing.
Flower Seedlings? tiny seedlings are appearing where i sowed various flowers last weekend. it's too soon to know whether these are, in fact, the intended seedlings, or whether they are only weed seeds that i stirred up.
squirrels stirred up one of the sites, but the seeds are so tiny that i don't think that's what they were after.
Fall Veggie Update, Day 34 / Day 13.
peas: the peas are now over 20 inches tall and in desperate need of better support. next time, i think i'll work on an improved support system but for this crop flimsy stakes and string will have to do.
estimated harvest: november 10
cilantro: a few more seeds sprouted so we now have about six. still fairly small, but each plant does have at least two "real" leaves. today i sowed more seeds to (hopefully) add to the existing cilantro.
estimated harvest: october 13 / november 16 (42 days)
spinach: the lone seedling from the first sowing succumbed to something and only one seems to have sprouted from the second sowing. but i still have seeds left, so i sowed more today.
estimated harvest: november 9 / november 20 (48 days)
lettuce: both varieties of lettuce seedlings are coming right along; this week the giant caesar started getting real leaves and looking like actual lettuce.
estimated harvest, giant caesar: november 10 / december 1
estimated harvest, black-seeded simpson: november 6
Thursday, October 03, 2002
Gardening Books. yay! for my birthday i got the southern heirloom garden. lots of very good stuff here.
i also got motivated enough to venture to the library and check out garden bulbs for the south and native texas plants. these are two books i'd definitely like to add to my (growing) collection.
Heirloom Gardening. one of the many neat things about moving into an older house (1940/1) in an older neighborhood, is that you never know what you'll discover growing: gardenias, rain lilies, african iris, plumbago, crinums, tea olive.
with the exception of gardenias, i'd never heard these plants but now they are among my favorites.
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Sunday Seeds. (playing catch-up on the weekend's activities) on sunday i sowed shasta daisies, purple coneflower, bee balm and forget-me-not in three separate spots along the side (east) fence. germination varies from 10 to 21 days (october 9 to october 20).
this is an experiment, as much as anything else, to gauge my success with direct sowing.