Water Woes.chroniclegarden editor kathy huber wrote yesterday about the serious lack of rain in the houston area this may. we were among the lucky few to get some rainfall on memorial day (half an inch or so), but that's the only rain we've had all month. our most recent water bill was almost three times the previous bill (but certainly not approaching three figures). darin used the sprinklers on the front and back yards two or three times, and he waters the vegetables every morning.
june is typically not a very wet month unless a tropical depression / storm / hurricane moves into the gulf and since tropical storm allison (june 2001) remains relatively fresh in our minds, i'd prefer not to have that sort of rain.
Hot and Dry. it has been unseasonably hot and dry for most of the month of may so i haven't been doing much outside. we did have a bit of rain here monday night -- enough that seven rain lily buds have appeared and should bloom in another day or two.
my two cherry tomato plants are thriving. both plants are a couple of feet in diameter and the 'sweet million' is taller than me. in the last ten days or so i've started harvesting a (smallish) handful of cherry tomatoes every other day.
the first-planted serrano pepper is covered with a couple dozen small peppers; we've also got a couple of bell peppers ripening and a couple of very long, very odd-looking banana peppers. sadly, although the poblano is growing nicely, it isn't setting any peppers. we had the same problem with the poblano we tried last year.
the purple basil (bought 4" plant, separated in two before planting) and the green basil (grown from seed -- yay, me!) is looking / smelling wonderful. all plants are now six - eight inches tall and bushing out. i had fresh basil and cherry tomatoes on my pasta the other day.
Our Owl. one of the best things about our neighborhood is that there are many large, old trees. and lots of trees means lots of birds (and squirrels, but that's another topic).
we know there are owls in the neighborhood because we hear them all the time. but we had never actually seen any until a couple of weeks ago when we were eating dinner outside and an owl entertained us by flying through the backyard several times and perching for a while to observe us.
yesterday evening i was checking the progress of the figs -- lots and lots of fruit, still probably a couple of weeks to ripen -- and heard an awful lot of bird noise.
"great," i think to myself, "the birds are already fussing over the figs. fat chance we'll get any." so i peered through the leaves to see whether the birds were, in fact, already helping themselves to the figs.
instead, i was very much surprised to see a small owl perched on the back fence, behind the fig tree. the ruckus was being made by a couple of blackbirds and a mockingbird harassing the owl, apparently trying to drive it off. the owl was completely ignoring the other birds.
i haven't made a positive i.d., but based on its size -- only about eight inches tall -- i think it may be an eastern screech owl. sorry for the poor photo quality, but once i got within about ten feet i realized just how large and sharp the beak and talons are (despite the relatively small size of the rest of the owl).
Heat Hiatus. it's already disgustingly hot and humid and it's only the beginning of may. i haven't been doing much outside lately, although yesterday morning it was nice enough out that i finally finished planting my pepper plants. i can deal with these conditions, just not so early in the summer. instead, i've been working on various indoor projects.
the gardenia flowers have come and gone. the heat finished off the blooms very quickly. the lilies are done; i need to dig up the ones i'm going to relocate soon.
i pulled out all the sugar snap peas a few days ago -- powdery mildew got to be too much for them, no doubt their decline was hastened by the heat and humidity.
on the other hand, the lantana is thriving and the cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen.
other stuff also happening in the garden, but i need to finish stripping the kitchen wallpaper.