Thursday, January 30, 2003
Pea Planting. today i planted the four remaining pea sprouts (one had succumbed to some sort of wilt or fungus). no space left in the raised bed, so these sprouts are in the bed along the east fence in the backyard.
i got creative with some stakes and made a four-sided teepee for the future pea vines to climb. and i solved the problem of how to secure the sprouts so they don't flop over before they have a chance to wind around the supports -- tie them up (carefully) with strips of shredded paper. i use a shredder for old bills and such that i don't want to put in the trash and then mix the shreds in my compost piles (also good to add a handful to the bottom of the kitchen scrap container -- keeps the daily coffee grounds from becoming a dense mass that must be scooped out). i actually came up with the paper tie idea shortly after planting out the first six peas and it has worked very well.
speaking of peas, the survivor pea has three pods and continues to bloom.
Happy 1st Blog-Day! garden spot is one year old today. here's when it all started.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Crinum Bloom. lo and behold, the cut crinum has bloomed. so, now i know that they can bloom after cutting, even if bloom time is three days away.
as you can see, there are five small flower buds, only one of which has bloomed so far. this scape came from one of the in-the-way-crinums that i dug up from the area around the side door and relocated behind the garage early last year.
the older, undisturbed crinums have much larger blooms with many more per scape.
Saturday, January 25, 2003
Combating the Cold. i've managed to preserve my three remaining pentas by covering them with cardboard boxes the last few nights.
we were supposed to have overnight temperatures in the low 20s earlier this week (i think it actually only got as cold as upper 20s), so i went ahead and cut the flower scape from the crinum. it's now in the kitchen windowsill and continues to progress -- it may go ahead and bloom after all. or maybe not; it's still several days from opening.
i also put extra mulch in the raised veggie/herb bed and everything there still looks good. even the baby peas.
four of the five erlicheer narcissus have flower buds (one of them has two buds).
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Seedlings Everywhere. i've been trying to combat the cold weather by separating flower seedlings and putting them in pots. in addition to the five peas i still have inside, i now also have an obscene number of shasta daisy seedlings, a bunch of forget-me-nots, and a smattering of bee balm. oh yeah, and some miscellaneous herbs.
i'm running out of warm, suitably lit, cat-proof places to put all my seedling trays. the breakfast table and the desk in the sunroom would be perfect, but that is dedicated cat-lounging space. i'd have to close the doors to the sunroom to keep the cats out and they'd be mighty upset about that.
there is a plant stand in there, but the two out-of-(easy)-cat-reach platforms are already occupied by potted gardenia cuttings and i can only balance one seedling tray on the very top. the five peas, a couple of pots of daisy seedlings and my two columbines (i thought they were too cold outside) are occupying that enviable spot. a smallish tray with a pot of four tulip bulbs, half a dozen pots of miscellaneous herbs and half a dozen miscellaneous flowers are on top of the stove (except when we're cooking) and the big tray with the remainder of the flower seedlings (36 tiny pots of four seedlings each) is on top of the fridge.
so far i have resisted creating an actual seedling laboratory -- i.e. dedicated shelves with growing lights -- but i see that in the future. maybe not this spring, but definitely at some point.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Damage Update. the giant caesar lettuce appears fully recovered from its initial sorry state. in fact, i think it may look a bit better than it did before the cold spell. it's now a deeper shade of green, more like what the burpee pictures look like. (note: i didn't buy these seeds, they were included as a bonus packet with my order last year.)
i overlooked the lantana and crinums when i did the damage report on sunday. the lantana got a bit crispy around the edges and some of the crinum foliage is decidedly mushy, but i expect all to recover.
i'm a little sad about the crinums since one of the back-of-garage plants had just put out a flower scape a few days before the temperature drop. it hadn't developed enough for me to cut it and let it open inside and although it hasn't turned to mush, i'm not sure whether it will be able to bloom.
speaking of plants and cold weather, donald burger has freeze data for houston plants on his gardening site, which, if i'd thought to review earlier, might have prompted me to protect the pentas.
Planting Peas. yesterday afternoon i planted six of the pea sprouts outside. they have gotten too tall to stay upright without support, so it was time for them to move out.
three went around a small tomato cage rescued from a neighbor on trash day; three went around a teepee made of stakes.
as of this morning, all were still alive. however, we have another cold front coming through tonight. i'm more worried about wind than temperature since they haven't yet had a chance to wind their tendrils around the supports. i'll have to try to gently secure them somehow.
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Bye, Bye Pentas. arrgh. i was overly confident. most of the pentas (pentas lanceolata) have perished in the cold. to be honest, it didn't even occur to me that i should try to protect them even though i knew in the back of my brain that they are "tender" perennials. hopefully, some of them will come back from the roots. i've been so happy with these plants that i'll definitely buy more in a few months, regardless of the recovery rate.
as it turns out, the ixora are hardier than the pentas. to look at them, you'd never know there was frost on the ground this morning.
how cold was it? i'm not sure, but it's about 32F now, so i would guess the overnight low was in the upper 20s. that's pretty nippy by houston standards.
as for the some of the other plants:
i don't worry about bulbs, shrubs, trees. it would have to get much colder for them to suffer.
- all but one of the mexican firebush (hamelia patens) got zapped, although i am fairly confident they will recover from the roots as they did last year
- the red salvia is done for, although the mealy blue salvia next to it looks decent; the pineapple sage looks fine
- the giant caesar lettuce looks pretty bad (i'm surprised by this as i thought lettuce was frost-tolerant), but the black-seeded simpson lettuce looks fine
- the rosemary, sweet lavender, greek oregano and parsley are unscathed
- the cilantro and the remaining pea vine look a little tattered, but should be okay
- the mexican heather (cuphea hyssopifolia) is looking scraggly, but i know from last year that it will also return from the roots
i took the picture below earlier this morning. note that the very dead penta is flanked by two still-living pentas, one of which is actually blooming.
Friday, January 17, 2003
Renegade Gardener. the renegade gardener's 10 tenets of renegade gardening are absolutely worth reading. so is the rest of his site. (link via cold climate gardening.)
Sugar Snap Sprouts. the peas are progressing very well. they're now between six and eight inches tall. i'll probably plant them outside within the next week (weather permitting). burpee has vital statistics for the sugar snaps.
the lone surviving pea vine is still hanging on and has a couple of pea pods developing.
Hibernation. garden spot has been quiet these last few days due to hibernation brought on by particularly cold temperatures (by houston standards, that is).
yesterday afternoon i did move all the potted plants from the deck into the garage. this included a bunch of rain lilies (those dug from the yard last summer and fall, plus the ones i bought last month and haven't decided where to plant); "morton" the meyer lemon; "heloise" the hibiscus (heloise has actually been in the garage for at least a month already, sometimes i remember to water her a little); "alan" the aloe vera; "sally" the schefflera; the two columbines i bought along with the aforementioned rain lilies; and a pot with a couple small representatives of the still-unidentified iris.
i did nothing for the various and sundry plants that are in the ground. most should be able to take the cold. most susceptible are probably the ixora in the front bed, but since i'm not really attached to them and would just as soon replace them with something else, i've left them to fend for themselves so far (actually, they've recovered very well since i refound them). if they deserve to live, they will.
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Bulb Update. the bad news is that i still haven't finished planting all my bulbs.
the good news is that many of the bulbs i have planted are coming up:
planted nov. 1 - five of the six crocus sativus have sprouted, along with the two tulipa saxatilis next to them
planted nov. 3 -
planted nov. 10 -
- all 18 tulipa saxatilis around the backyard pine are accounted for
- the five erlicheer narcissus by the front door have all sprouted; three of them are about six inches tall, the other two only emerged in the past week
- four of the five leucojum aestivum under the carolina laurel are up
- along with all ten wisley blues, which have actually been up for a few weeks
- nine of the ten wisley blues under the backyard oak have sprouted fairly recently (last couple of weeks), and two of the three that i planted in the iris bed under the sunroom window have come up
- three of the five l. aestivum planted under the oak have appeared (it's entirely possible that the other two have also sprouted, but i tucked these bulbs into the liriope that circles the oak and it's hard to find things until they get some size)
Friday, January 10, 2003
Flower Seeds. encouraged by the sprouting herbs and peas, on wednesday i put flower seeds -- bee balm, shasta daisies and forget-me-nots -- on damp paper towels for sprouting. checking them this morning i saw that a few daisies and forget-me-nots were starting to sprout.
i tried direct sowing these flowers a few months ago; unfortunately, almost two weeks of rain shortly afterwards apparently did in the seeds. there are a few unidentified sprouts in the spots i seeded; i'm leaving them alone for now in the hope that maybe they are survivors and not just weeds.
Potting the Peas. yesterday i put each of the sprouting peas in a little newspaper pot - eleven total. they have now moved from the top of the fridge to a tray on top of the plant stand in the sun room, theoretically out of the cats' reach. the trick now is to remember to water them (without overwatering).
the sole surviving pea vine has two flowers today.
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Perishing Peas. i'm down to one sugar snap pea vine, but it's still flowering occasionally. the handful of peas i have harvested were very, very tasty. and now i have another dozen sprouting inside.
i think part of the problem i've had with the peas is due to not providing enough support for the vines. they have a tendency to flop over if they aren't secured to something and then they pretty much choke when the vine is compressed. i'll provide better support for the new crop and see whether that helps.
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Starting Seeds. in a fit of boredom friday night, i started seeds using the "damp paper towel" method. thyme (thymus vulgaris), greek oregano (origanum vulgare), lavender (lavandula angustifolia)*, winter savory (satureja montana) and sugar snap peas. the peas and some of the herbs are now sprouting.
i've also been poring over various seed catalogues and planting guides for houston, planning my upcoming seed purchases.
*lavender is notoriously difficult in houston due to the summer humidity, but since i already have the seeds, i might as well try. a few weeks ago i bought a sweet lavender (lavandula heterophylla) that is allegedly more suited to houston. it's in the raised bed and is quite happy so far, but the real test is still to come.
Friday, January 03, 2003
2002: The Garden in Review. (in no particular order)
New Garden Blog Links. i came across a couple of great new garden blogs* while perusing the links on notes from pure land mountain - greenZoo: walks in a botanical garden and wild west yorkshire.
- plumbago is virtually no-care and provides lots of beautiful foliage and flowers for most of the year
- i do have to trim it back a couple of times
- the two that get more sun bloom more freely and grow more quickly than the one that is in mostly shade
- crinums are also great plants for the lazy gardener, and although they can be a bit stingy with the blooms, they're worth it
- very easy to separate the offsets
- the downside is that a happy crinum will produce a lot of offsets that tend to travel far and wide from the parent
- star jasmine has beautiful, fragrant flowers for about two weeks; the rest of the year the vines just grow like mad and it's a constant struggle to keep them under control
- gardenia and mexican heather cuttings root easily in water
- pentas are excellent for many months of blooms (even in part shade) and will attract hummingbirds
- liriope is hard to kill
- elephant ears will sprout from the smallest sliver of root
- planting new transplants in july / august / september and failing to water regularly is a sure way to kill anything
- squirrels and birds "harvested" more figs than we did
- the sickly 4-inch rosemary has exploded since being transplanted into the raised bed
- raised beds may not solve all your problems, but they'll take care of a lot of them
- nandina stakes will root if stuck in dirt
- monarch butterfly caterpillars can eat every single leaf of the butterfly weed and it will still grow back
- parsley is a must-have for the winter months
- two 4-inch transplants have kept the two of us in all the parsley we need
- it seems to grow even better when regularly harvested
- once i got it started from seed, the cilantro has also been a very good winter choice
- lettuce seeds really do need light to get started
- pineapple sage blooms to provide welcome color late in the year
- species tulip bulbs are much smaller and easier to plant than "regular" tulip bulbs, but it still gets tedious after the first 25 or so; daffodil bulbs are huge and a major pain to plant
- don't let darin plant things without supervision
all three of the above are well worth your time.
*they don't call themselves "blogs" per se, but as online journals / diaries they count as blogs for my linking purposes.
Thursday, January 02, 2003
Potting Gardenia Cuttings. today i finally got around to potting the gardenia cuttings that have been in the windowsill since august. these will (hopefully) replace the previously potted gardenia cuttings that succumbed to cats and lack of water. i have my fingers crossed that the shock of being in soil after 4+ months of being in water isn't too great.
the "parent" gardenia has recently started new growth, including what look suspiciously like flower buds. unfortunately, i expect most / all of this growth will get zapped by cold.
New Books. darin got a meyer lemon for christmas; i got some new books:i also got a subscription to garden design and a renewal of my organic gardening subscription.