[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
I have to find the software before my camera can attempt to upload photos to this temp laptop, so this is a pathetically picture free entry, which is why I've been delaying it.

I really hate talking gardening without inundating you with pretties.

Maybe I can come back and add the pictures later and it will look like a real entry. ;)

Lucy has been spotted multiple times in the neighborhood. If there were some way to catch her I would, but alas.

The chicks are grown enough to be in the pen now, but so tiny compared to Top Chicken, who is still my most reliable layer despite being a year older than anyone else in there. The bantams, Fluffy Buffy, Tiger, Nana, and Raven, are adorable in their difference, and absolutely frightened of everything except people. Rooster is huge, but has not yet crowed, so we'll see. Rooster thinks sie is a duck; plays in water and walks on the female ducks. Little Red thinks that Rooster is the bestest thing EVER. They are inseparable, they even sleep together. 0.o

The ducks need their own entry, because watching multiple marriage, fowl style, is just hysterical.

The tomatoes are doing well. I've gotten four large tomatoes off the Patio tomato, the Roma has a ton of fruit on it, several of which are starting to ripen, and the various heirloom tomatoes are looking good. I have baby tomato plants doing fairly well in my kitchen window, taken from the...thing...the little branch that tries to grow that you pull off...I forget what that is; I've been putting the ones from the heirloom varieties in seed starter mix and seeing how many want to become new plants. 8 so far are looking good. No idea whether they are Mr Stripey, Homestead, of Black Krim though, because I don't label things sufficiently. ;P

I think I have proven the fact of companion planting. One bed has two tomatoes, a Black Krim and a Homestead (I have four Homesteads, two Black Krims). Those two tomatoes are INSANELY tall. I've had to tie up the cages, because the plants were tipping over the cages and crushing the other bedding plants. Why are those two so tall and such a darker green then their compatriots? I strongly suspect it is because there are two basil plants and a tansy in that bed. Tansy to keep away insects, Basil to make nightshade happy. There will be more basil here soon. Oh, no! Don't throw me in that brier patch! Anything but that! (A reference the current generation of children will not get-along with clapping to save fairies).

The peppers are doing well. I've harvested several banana peppers already, and have lots of bells on the plants getting big. The beans have a few *tiny* little beans growing out of previous blossoms, 4 or 5 that I noticed today. I'm still harvesting some arugula, though it does keep blooming in the heat so it is a bit more tart than usual. Fortunately I like that.

The blueberries are suffering. .The rain barrels are empty now, so they are getting hose water. They do not like it ("or it gets the hose again" just floated through my head). Our water is EXTREMELY alkaline. :( Various suggestions and internet searching has me now putting the hose water into an empty rain barrel to about half full, letting it sit for 48 hours, then dumping in a bottle of apple cider vinegar just before I water via soaker hose. That seems to be helping a bit, as they have some tiny new leaves coming in again. ~whew~ May be able to save them yet.

The squash and zucchini and the volunteer plants have TONS of blossoms all over them. I really hope things get fertilized so we can see what the volunteers are. :P

The potato plants are finally starting to peek up a bit. I have some more to throw in and then it is time to cover them again. :P

Mental note for for future: Do not plant anything next to the chicken pen that you aren't growing to feed *to* the chickens. It just does not work.

Other problem seems to be spider mites and some sort of tiny white mites which are attacking the tomatoes and *decimating* the marigolds. I have made up a garlic and pepper tea, and we'll see if that helps. ~crosses fingers~

Strawberries are doing well, though now that the tomatoes are high they are very much shaded. :)  Okra is just sad. Like a lot sad and very tiny. And the beans by the back are being eaten by something...I suspect something that roams the night since I've now had several mornings of "huh, I now have one less plant than I had before, how annoying is THAT!?!".

We bought mallard deritive ducklings at Easter. Yes, that was dumb. Dang they are fun though. It has yet to be determined whether they will go straight to the freezer at adult weight, get their wings clipped and go loose in the yard, or have a ramp built and be encouraged to enjoy the creek while still considering our yard for nommy treats.

They really are fabulously fun. We have the play yard set up and a casserole dish has been temporarily made into a pond so we can sit in with them and laugh at how ridiculous they are.  Looks to be a Mallard (Jane the Strange-Peaches duck), a Peking (Sunny, Monkey's) and a...something that looks like it is a mix of both, with pink AND black on both bill and feet. That would be Peepers, my duck. Monkey likes to hunt pillbugs so that Peaches can hand feed the ducklings. I prefer to sit until a fly lands on me then lean slowly forward until the mallard, Jane the Strange, notices... she eats the fly right off me. I find this amazingly satisfying for some reason.

The whole thing strikes me as odd...like adopting a kitten when you don't want a cat. At least we can eat them when they get bigger though. Try that with a kitten and you get in all sorts of trouble. ("If you're so evil: Eat. This. Kitten!")

The lack of rain has been hard on just about everything. I do not enjoy living in the Sims game.

rosebud;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!;!
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Woke this morning to puffy eyes and sneezing.

Thanks, trees.

Decided this was not going to change my plans to work in the yard.

So there.

Today's accomplishments:

are behind the cut, with pics )

[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Let's see, this morning I went to the garden center, list and cash in hand. Shopping without my son is not as fun, but it is easier to take the time to FIND all the things on the list. :P

So now I have the rest of what I need to roof over the chicken pen (finally!) and finish chick proofing the bottom half, as well as a plunger to replace the one the gnomes ran off with.

I also got what I needed to plant blueberries. Four varieties: Alapaha, Premier, Tifblue, and Climax (hehe, climax, heh). All rabbiteyes, so they should cross-pollinate.They are now planted in 4' x 4' beds in the side yard, with plenty of organic peat mixed in to the soil. As soon as I finish testing the soaker hose there, I'll mulch over it, and take pics.

I've laid out and tested the soaker hose for one of the south side beds, but I've got it weighted down and am waiting for the sun to soften it up and unkink it before I mulch over it. Otherwise it will be like playing whack a mole.
more...with pics! )

Beans!

Oct. 10th, 2009 01:04 pm
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Worked a tiny bit outside in the omg-it's-cold this morning. We put up a  temporary top to the end of the chicken pen (the garden_ladies motto: better half ass than not at all) to give them some dry area the next time it rains. (I was very worried about my ladies last night, all damp from rain when the temperature dropped like a stone).

Then we poked around the garden. This has definitely been a "live and learn" sort of year.

*The tomatoes on the side of the house: nothing. no blossoms, no fruit. The ones in the driveway: working their asses off.

Lesson learned: Sometimes if something isn't doing well, you just need to try a different spot. Don't be so attached to your chosen location you aren't willing to start over.

*If you have quarterly pest control on your house, please note that certain plants will not appreciate what happens if you spot ants inside and the pest people treat the outside perimeter of the house. While the okra doesn't care, many kinds of squash will be massively unhappy with the results.

Lesson learned: next year, most plants get put at least 6-8 feet from the edge of the house, to allow for pest treatment.

*Many of the plants are doing better now that the heat has dropped off and the rains have come, even in the face of weird temperature fluctuations. Meanwhile some friends had a garden doing much better than ours which was semi-shaded by grape vine. And another acquaintance in town had much better luck than we did with his tomatoes, basil etc....and was using a steady drip irrigation system. 

Lesson learned: Summer in Texas is now harsh harsh harsh. Very high temps and months on end of drought are not what even "Texas adapted" plants are used to. Since I personally think we are seeing the effect of global warming, and not just some once-a-decade drought, perhaps it is time to start adapting some techniques from traditionally harsher climates (I tend to think Africa, b/c I'm most familiar with some of the systems tried there) during the summer.  Hopefully we can take a shot at semi-shade gardening next year, as well as a more steady drip irrigation system.

*I have spent this year thinking of myself as the "money management" for the garden, and GS as the "effort and expertise". Perhaps it is time to renegotiate. I say this because, quite frankly, we are looking more and more like a long term sort of affair (crosses fingers and knocks on wood to distract self from inner commitment-phobic panic)....and because this morning I took great joy in helping her pick beans from the garden, and wasn't bored and antsy while she talked about the squash, melons etc. I think I would like to be a bit more hands on, and not just in the "I do the fencing" sort of way. Add in the fact that our budget has shifted in such a way that if we *want* to have money for things, we are going to have to work together to achieve that goal.....and, well, might be time to take another look at our assigned functions.

Lesson learned: just as in a garden, a home and a relationship can often function better if everyone's roles aren't too strictly segregated.


And now, the beans!



[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
And all our energy has been going toward getting ready for that. When we get back, the chicken pen becomes the priority again so we can get our chickens out of LT's yard. ;)

The plants are growing, but we haven't gotten any more produce yet.

We have gotten enough rain I haven't needed to turn the sprinkler system on yet, and we managed to arrange a barter deal with our neighbors to mow our lawn in exchange for baked goods, so that's taken care of until we get the conversion finished.

I expect we'll make some more big steps soon, despite have more kids-in-the-house time during the summer, if only because a deer helped me total my car and so we'll have a check coming in about a month that can fund some more yard changes. Our current plan is to try NOT replacing the car, and see if we can just get gryphynshadow's car running well again and manage as a one car household.

So what's going on in your yards? Anybody got garden or patio plant updates to share? :)
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Just a quick post so I'll have this here for later, since one of our goals is to harvest rainwater.

F=footprint of roof (which is equal to square feet of ground covered)

R= average rainfall per year, in inches

to convert cubic feet to gallons, multiply by 7.5

So, according to food not lawns by H.C. Flores, who apparently got this formula from Toby Hemenway who wrote Gaia's Garden (I note this because the formula doesn't actually make sense to me, so I can't confirm it's right):

7.5(FR/12)=gallons per year of water that your roof can catch.

According to this site, our area gets 40 inches of rain per year. (srsly? ok). Let's say my roof covers 1800 sq ft (which isn't actually accurate, since that is the square footage of our home's living space, and we also have guttered roof over the garage, but close enough for now)...

Therefore 7.5[ (1800X40)/12]= (where the heck is my calculator....brb)

ok, here it is.

Holy @(%^#@%(@*#&$

*ahem*

So that would be roughly 45,000 gallons of rainwater we are currently not doing anything with.....huh. Yeah, I'd say it would be worthwhile to put rainbarrels on our list of "good stuff to save for sooner rather than later". Yup. yes. absolutely. wow.

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