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.

Update on my eyebrow lift....

Well, it's been about 6 weeks since my surgery and I'm happy to report that everything seems to be healing nicely and the scars are starting to fade/relax.  They'll always be there, but they don't bother me and I'm so happy with the lack of that dark shadow on my right side now, it just doesn't matter.

By the way, I'm using a product called "Scar Fade" that the doc recommended and it seems to be working.

So, I'm back to my real life now and don't have to go back to see the surgeon until January for the final checkup.
No more Frankenstein stitches!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Who's Responsible....

9) You are responsible for yourself.

No one is going to live this life for you. We all know a talented 40 year old living in their mom’s basement. Get out and do something with your life.
-----20 Brutal Truths

Fall/Winter Garden Log -- October 5, 2017

My poor sweet Gypsy peppers....I cut them back months ago, and they came back real strong, then the chickens got into the garden and completely stripped them. They grew back (surprisingly!) and then it happened again. I know, I know. I really need to check that garden gate, but these and the sad tomatoes were the only thing growing in there, so I wasn't really going out there much.  

Well, here they are again. These 6 plants have the WILL TO LIVE! I just finished mulching and fertilizing them (after this picture was taken), so they will probably look even better in about a week.
 These are the mystery green sweet peppers I had potted up that were supposed to be Bishop Hat (hot pepper) but obviously there was a mix up somewhere. These are quite good, so a happy accident.
Mystery solved. I made the mix up. These are Beaver Dam peppers. 

This past weekend I pulled out all of the hot peppers that were in my potted garden.  These were the Aji Golden - I pulled them all up, harvested the peppers, and gave the plants to the chickens. They proceeded to completely strip them down. 
I also pulled up the Aji Angelo which were still green, but I'll use them anyway.  
The Violet Sparkle was repotted for the greenhouse - I gave it some new soil and fertilizer, and I repotted some plants that are supposed to be a small sweet orange pepper. We'll see what they turn out to be. Ha! 

Then yesterday John and I made our first ever hot pepper sauce! It was fun to work on this together. I cut the peppers in half and de-seeded them using a grapefruit spoon - the serrated edge works great to remove those seeds and membranes. We used this recipe but John added cumin, cilantro, onions and apricots.

The garden is coming along - small chard, carrots, spinach, and kale plants are starting to show up. Not much germinating with the lettuce.  I may need to seed again. Sigh....
I've had a few little tomatoes starting to turn, the Japanese Black Trifele and Blueberries are about all I'm hoping to see in the fall.  I started a tomato plant for the greenhouse called Green Grape. It's coming along.
The cabbage and broccoli starts that I planted a few weeks ago are really growing well - they're all looking great.  Of all of the cabbage seeds I started only one cabbage plant survived and I planted that one today.
The pineapple continues to grow!

Close up of the pineapple - weird!
And this is why you don't get too close to the pineapple plant -- look at those serrated edges. Ouch!

The Brown Turkey fig looks fabulous, this is the one I started from some cuttings I purchased last fall.  
And speaking of cuttings, all of the berries have grown and flourished. I think these are the black raspberries.

I've been a little worried about this Warren pear tree -- it's not been taking the heat and dry weather well, but now that we've had some good rains, I'm hoping it will pick up. 
I brought the little Truly Tiny banana trees down from the pool deck and added some new soil and fertilizer.  They really did just fine on the deck all summer, even through all that heat.  Pretty little ornamental banana trees.
And those crazy mulberry trees are starting to put out a few more berries.  They just keep chugging along!
We're so happy to have gotten some good rain the past week - about 4-1/2 inches in total. Everything is greening up again and John is having to mow the grass again. Nice problem to have!