Thursday, November 2, 2017

October and Halloween 2018 in the books!

I really can't tell you what happened to October.  I think I blinked and it's over.  We had a wonderful trip to the South Texas Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Hondo on October 14th.  We picked a new location this year just to get a little variety (we usually go to the Medina Pumpkin Patch) and it was really a lot of fun! 

They have quite a few more activities there, including some awesome slides the kids just loved, including Max. Also some bouncing pads, horse rides, an awesome corn maize that was lots of fun for about 5 minutes (then I got hot and tired of that!) ha! I think the kids loved it though.  
 Bounce pads were fun, even Max wanted to try!

 A vampire cat!
 Those slides were awesome!
 Meow, little kitty!

 They give you a map of the corn maze before you take off.

 Max had the best transport of all!
 Several big boxes of apples for an apple cannon they had there. What a waste of good apples!

 Observation deck in the middle of the maze

Max had all the fun he could handle! Peace out!

Halloween was great, as usual. We all met at Jeff and Colleen's and had dinner and the kids all trick or treated in the neighborhood. John and I stay at the house and pass out candy while they're gone, which was about all we could manage this year since his arm was out of commission.  
 Commander Max, ready for space!
 Belle, from Beauty & the Beast. Her Nene in Houston made this most beautiful dress.
 Uma, from the Descendents (Disney). KT is drawn to the color teal!

 The Forsythe family
 The Koenig family

On to November!

Crisis Averted, Somewhat.

On Monday, John was out in the barn "piddling" around.  He was using his welder and had it plugged in, and while walking around it he tripped on the cord. Boom! He fell face first into the gravel (and has the road rash to prove it.)  His right elbow hit the bottom of the shovel that was propped up nearby and took the brunt of the fall. 

Off to the ER we went, where they took an x-ray, put on a cast-wrap kind of contraption, and referred us to an ortho a few days later.  The x-ray revealed the bone had chipped and was pulled away by one of the tendons. Possible surgery was threatened. 

Today we went to the ortho and the judgement was that his tricep muscle had indeed pulled a chip of bone away from is elbow. The doc thought it would resolve itself without surgery since John had some improved range of motion already,  and he has to go back in 4 weeks to re-evaluate.  They took off all of the wraps, etc. so I think John was just relieved to get all that paraphanelia off, especially the sling which was irritating the heck out of him.

He's still really sore and has a bruise above one eye, and a road rash on his nose, but he's getting better. I think he was most relieved about no surgery, and so was I!

Microgreen Success - Finally!!

You'd think something as simple as starting a tray of greens would be easy, peasy.  Well, not so much.  My first tray had some success in germination, but then most wilted and died, despite my over wrought hand-wringing and over watering (or maybe because of that!)

The second tray wasn't much better.  This time I added a thicker layer of seed starting medium, but it didn't seem to make much difference.

I'm using a felt underlay, with a layer of seed starting medium on top of that, and then sprinkled the seeds on that.  I start the trays with the cover and then remove it after germination since the greenhouse is pretty hot. I think I can leave the top longer now that the weather has moderated.
This third try has actually become what I'd call a minor success! Pretty decent germination and I harvested a small pile of greens yesterday. Hooray!! They were pretty and pretty darn delicious as a little decor on our salads last night. Crunchy! I think the difference was that I added a kelp fertilizer to the watering, and I've been spraying a fine mist over them daily.  

I'm starting a 4th tray tomorrow and I'm planning to increase the number of seeds, sowing them a bit thicker this time. I'm following guidance from Johnny's Seeds, and to read more about them, an article I ran across today. I'm determined to learn this gardening skill!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- October 23, 2017

I started this post the other day and had lots of internet connectivity problems, so finally getting to finish it.  We're busy getting ready for our first frost this week, so piling plants into the greenhouse and making preparations to cover some of the more tender plants in the main garden.  Most of them can take a light frost, but I know I'll lose the peppers and tomatoes, for sure.

We had some excitement around here a few days ago - our first ever pecans! One of our trees gave us exactly 5 pecans! And they are some very nice pecans, I can tell you! Thin shell, full and delicious pecans. I wish I could tell you which tree this was, it was either a Choctaw, Kiowa or a Pawnee.  I have it labeled, but I keep forgetting to take a look. My memory is terrible.
Hoping for many, many more in the future!
I've picked all of the Extra Dwarf Pak Choy - it was about to start bolting.  I really love these things - crunchy and delicious.  We had half of it in a stir fry on Monday and I'll use the rest as a side this week.  The only draw back to this veggie is that it does not freeze well, so we always eat it fresh. It gets limp and slimy when I try to freeze it. 
The carrots are just looking beautiful - I think they love the fall weather.  These I will cover with a row cover before the frost.  They can take some cold, but get the tips of their leaves blasted with frost, so they need some protection.

The kales are finally starting to look like something - they were so slow to get started, I was getting worried about them.  I'll cover them, but they don't really need it. They can take the cold.  Some people say they get a sweeter flavor after a frost.
There are volunteer tomatillo all over the garden. I've kept a few growing just to see if they will fruit before the frost, but I don't think we'll make it.  They are flowering now and all of them look just beautiful.
The cabbages are all growing so well - they are starting to head up in the middle.  This one is the savoy cabbage, and
this one is the Ruby Perfection red cabbage.   Happy with how these cabbages are doing!
Sadly not too much in the lettuce bed - there are just a few plants.  This is the Salad Bowl Red. It's pretty, but wish we had more.
Around the yard, the Devil's Trumpet Datura is looking these best it's looked all season - the fall temps agree with it.  This poor thing looked like hammered hell all summer, but now it's just beautiful!
You have to get up early to see the flowers - they open in the early a.m. and close when the sun comes up.
Another project I've been working on is the many, many, many aloe vera plants I have.  Too too many. I'm dividing up the pots to get all the babies and Aunties out and repotted (I'm trying to give those away this year again.) Last year we took them up to the mailbox with a note and they were all gone within a few hours! I just don't have room in the greenhouse for more then a few.

See how the babies have pushed the side of the pot out and broke it off? 
The root system on these things is amazing!

Do you have a tree in your yard that you just can't imagine living without?  This burr oak is ours.  It was given to John many, many years ago in a pot by my Aunt Irene, and we brought it home and planted it.  This thing has grown and grown and gives us the most beautiful shade and bonus fall leaves that I use in composting and as mulch around my elderberries every year.  The leaves are just beautiful when they come down - a gorgeous fall leaf.  It makes me happy to see them.

The Chaya Mayan Tree Spinach cuttings are planted and I'm excited to see one of them already starting to show off a leaf!  This is one of my new experiments this year - I got 5 cuttings and we'll see what develops.  They are in the greenhouse for the winter.
My other Datura, the Ballerina, is also looking pretty good and still putting out a beautiful purple bell flower.  I'm hoping it will do okay this winter and come up again in the spring like my Devil's Trumpet does.
The microgreens are doing okay - I'm feeling like they aren't getting enough nutrient from the growing medium I'm using, so I ordered some liquid kelp that I'll try with these.  This experiment needs further study. ha!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- October 12, 2017

I can't tell you how much I appreciate other gardeners and how generous they are.  It's seed trading time on a couple of the Facebook Garden groups that I belong to, and I'm getting ready for next year's garden now. 
 These are heirloom tomato and pepper seeds that I'm ITCHING to try! Oh the fun I'll be having in January in the greenhouse. I can't wait!  I got mostly sweet peppers this time, with a few hot ones thrown in there.
 These were from a fellow gardener here in Texas who's hobby is HOT HOT HOT peppers.  The Facebook group that specializes in peppers - what a bunch of nice people on there. They (and me!) really enjoy sharing our experiences, varieties, and recipes!  I asked for one variety (the Sugar Rush Peach) and he included all the rest of these when he sent it to me. 

I also got some green cotton seeds from another gardener, and he included a few other seeds with the packet in the most beautiful hand-made and stamped seed packets. Some people are so creative. Puts me to shame.  

I'm going to challenge myself to begin serious seed saving this coming spring/summer garden.  I've dabbled in it, but have not been really serious about it - that's going to change!

Out in the garden, the Shanghai choy and the Extra Dwarf baby choy are both doing so well - we used some of the dwarf choy tonight in stir-fry veggies with dinner.  I'll start some new seeds as soon as half the bed is harvested.

There are tomatillo plants coming up all over the garden. I'm pulling them up as soon as I find them, but I've left a few to see if we'll have time to get any fruit. We'll see how long we have until our first freeze.
 Meanwhile, I'm starting some greens in pots for the greenhouse this winter.  Two types of kale, some spinach, and two pots of lettuce, a pot of corn salad, and a new variety of basil (Lettuce Leaf Basil.) They're all sitting out in the potting garden for now, but will go inside once it starts cooling off here.

I started one tray of micro-greens in a tray, also - it's the basic salad mix in the picture above. They're coming up nicely (I had a cover on the tray for a couple of days, but took it off today so they wouldn't cook in the heat.) If they do well, I'm going to try to start a tray every couple of weeks.

John covered the greenhouse for me this week. I bought a shade cover for it when I got it, but we've taken our sweet time to put the thing up. It makes it so much more pleasant in there! He's getting ready to run the electricity and add a light in there for me, and then he'll hang up my grow lights. 
Here is one of my "something new" this next year! I got cuttings for Mayan Tree Spinach. It sounded interesting and perennial, which is desirable. The scientific name is Cnidoscolus Chayamansa "Estrella".  I got 5 cuttings and have potted them for the greenhouse.  

Have I told you lately that the cotton plants just won't quit?! Good grief!  More flowers!
John has been working in the orchard this week - he's mowed and plowed and planted a cover crop of crimson clover in the back. The two pomegranate trees are growing so well, and the Russian mulberry is growing by leaps and bounds. I tell you, mulberry trees are the easiest things we've ever grown.  

One of the pomegranate trees with lots of new growth.