I might be a little behind…and a little ahead.

February 26th, 2012. The tomato plants that spent the year giving us over 100 pounds of tomatoes…

2012.02.26 tomatoes

February 23rd, 2014. The tomato plants I’ve started for this year…
image

Tomatoes could conceivably go into the ground in a week, and those babies are likely to be a tasty snack for a snail before they reach any size large enough to fend off attackers.

So DH and I are headed to The Natural Gardener today for a few things:
*Tomato plants
*Pepper plants, because they’re just as far behind
*Drip irrigation! (Maybe, if I can decide how many whatchamathings, dohickeys, and such to arrange)
*Soil food, as both of my compost piles are still cooking.

But in a few ways, I’m ahead of the game this year. I sowed the first round of beans yesterday. Some Tiger Eye and Yin Yang (soup beans) and some Soleil (green). Hopefully being two weeks early on 2012 sowings won’t be too much of a risk, but the extended forecast has some rain, a lot of sun in the 60s and 70s, and nothing lower than 40s at night.

Looking back at posts and photos from 2012, I find myself missing the extra 400 square feet I had that year. My three new beds this year will help scratch that itch some, and DH is talking about building a potato tower as well. I’m glad I ventured into a community garden plot, and depending on the timeline of when we move next and the space we move into, I may join one (a different one) again in the future. For now though, I’ll enjoy the isolation, the quiet, and the energy only from the sun and soil – enjoying my time away from the noise of others’ thoughts.

And then behind again, as I thought I’d posted this last Sunday.

We picked up everything except the peppers, which weren’t in stock yet (but are at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow!) The irrigation has been installed, and the weather forecast checked again so the tomatoes went in last Sunday.

Tomatoes

Nursey tomatoes are usually varieties I know little about, or am not sure actually work well where I am. Beefsteaks explode in the heat before they ripen, for example, and Brandywines need cooler temperature to set fruit than we have by the time they bloom.
These are both new-to-me varieites of Valley Girl on the left and Homestead #24 on the right.

And then the forecasters did what they do and changed their minds. 30 degrees Tuesday night. DH had also moved Bill the Lime Tree outside on the word of the forecasters, so Bill and the tomatoes shared a tarp Tuesday night and were no worse for the wear. In fact, the six inches of rain overnight the following evening really perked those tomatoes up!

We picked up some other tomatoes as well, that I’ll plant this weekend when it’s back to 80 degrees.

And in the meantime, the winter greens are trucking along come dry or high temperatures.
Greens

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Color me touched!

Shannon over at Dirt n Kids gave me an award! I feel so special.

I was really excited to have found her blog. It’s not very often that I find another gardener with a blog who is also in Texas. Nevermind that she writes great posts about her gardens, and her family, and BUGS! (and lizards! and compost! oh, my!) I thoroughly look forward to her posts when they appear in my Reader.

I’m not terribly sure how this award business works, so forgive me if I break protocol. I gather that I’m supposed to share random information about myself now? Let’s see…

  • I’m a fairly private person. As much as “overshare” has become a thing in our vocabularies these days, I would be much more guilty of being an “undersharer” than an “oversharer.”
  • I didn’t know the name of my favorite flower for the first six years it was my favorite flower.
  • My favorite flower is the blossoms on a Pride of Barbados. I don’t actually have one in my yard (yet.)
  • I like bacon more than I think most people do. I probably eat a pound of it a week.
  • Before I gardened, I made quilts. I still haven’t finished the last quilt I made (sorry, Brother and Sis-in-law!)
  • I don’t actually like to eat tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cucumbers, or a handful of other things that I like to grow.
  • I played soccer for thirteen years growing up. I started up again a couple years ago. I dropped it again this past spring. I miss it and plan to start up again in the fall. As my mother said, if I want to do it, I’d better do it while I still can! ūüėČ

As for who bring sunshine into my days?

Marie over at Garden Fresh Tomatoes aka My Little Corner of Rhode Island really does. Not only is there actual sunshine in many of her pictures, she’s so real and full of sunshine herself!

And Claire over at Promenade Plantings also brightens my days! She not only takes great photos, but has a real down to earth (ha!) perspective that I find simply refreshing.

 

 

 

Succession sowing.

There are plenty of things I could stand to do better, the top of that list for what I want to do better is planning my succession sowing. Each year I have the best of intentions, and each year I forget.

I just came across this super-helpful post from A Way To Garden about doing just that!

I’m linking here for reference for myself as much as for helping any of you that may need a little reminder, inspiration, or information on the topic.

If you’re an expert succession sower, how do you remember to do so? Do you add a calendar reminder to your phone? Write it on your kitchen calendar? Just have that impressive of a memory or that much experience that it has merely become habit? Any tips or tricks you have would be greatly appreciated!

For instance this year, I learned that I should have started more melon and squash plants to put in after the beans were done, and more peppers to add after the squash had called it quits.

Brain-free days.

Some days, it would seem that my brain takes the day off. I’m sure most folks have these days. Days where you almost lock your keys in the car after almost forgetting to lock the front door. Days where you walk into a screen door? Days where you just aren’t functioning at your usual level. Maybe you had a sleepless child keep you up the night before. Maybe you have the flu. For whatever reason, on days like these, I do my best to limit my exposure to mistake-making situations.

Today was one of those days for me, so instead of planning how to rearrange my planting plans to accommodate the extra 400 sq ft of garden space I recently acquired (community garden plots are a FANTASTIC use of under-power-line space!) I did simple maintenance tasks outdoors.

I watered our newly planted Mexican White Oak, and my potted things including this fern that volunteered itself in the pot of a rosemary that didn’t survive the summer.

These have been volunteering for months now along the sidewalk as well. I sowed them late last spring, a few tried their might against the heat, but it came on too soon and too strong and they were no match for the sweltering Texas sun. Apparently the more cautious among them remained dormant through the summer and our unexpected November showers brought them out of hiding.

I hear they’re edible – is that true? If they are from my seeds, they’re Fiddleneck ferns. I only hesitate to say they are, because so far they have not behaved like any Fiddleneck I saw in the forests of my childhood. And if it is true, do you saute them? Steam them? Put them in salads? All of the above?

I gazed about the space to find something simple to do. The dandelions smiled up at me. My eyes moved from the unmade bed where the chainlink had come down, the vines had come out, but the short wall had yet to be built. There was no way I was up for building a wall today. I let my gaze wander to the patio. DH has been wanting to build troughs along the perimeter for more herbs and peppers to have nearby while he grills. I measured the patio edges. That was easy. It was also too quick.

Oh, right! Dandelions!

I retrieved my Hori Hori and quickly had it strangled in clay.

It proved to be the simplest of tools for removing dandelions. Easier than a trowel, spade, or hoe (all previously used dandelion-removal-tools by yours truly.) Simply slide into the earth, tilt, hear the root pop, and lift. Dandelions (and thistles) will let loose at ground level if you try to pull them up by their greens. They send down a deep tap root that, if left untouched, will simply sprout another fan of leaves in a matter of days. It’s messier and takes a bit more effort (and tool clean-up) but in the end is less work to get them from underneath.

After filling the bucket twice and emptying it into the trash bin for the weekly collection, I had made a dent in the dandelion population as well as my outdoor time.

I have never been one to mind not having a perfect lawn. Perfect lawns are how some people find their peace. I find my peace in other gardening endeavors. I do, however, notice the weed population in my lawn, and will diligently remove weeds from my lawn before they go to seed. Keeping the lawn at least tidy helps prevent weed seeds from drifting into my vegetable bed. Anything I can do to keep my weeding time down is something that can bump my other gardening time higher, and that makes more time for peace.

Not by any means out of dandelions (I may very well have four more buckets left to remove), my back was done with that business for the day and I set about for something else to do.

That’s when I saw them. Perfect, cheerful, and for no known reason – seeming childlike – my first peas!

I hadn’t grown peas before this winter, and grew them more for the fact that I had received some seeds as a gift than because I was particularly interested in growing peas. Let’s just say my feelings on the matter have changed.

And of course, some things make perfect sense after you see them, but you never thought about them before that moment. I had wondered if peas grew from inside the flower cap, from behind it (holding the flower on the end of the pea), or some other way. I learned today just exactly how the pod emerges from the blossom.

As you may be able to tell from these last two shots, the light was fading fast. It was time to duck inside for dinner. DH had prepared two of my earlier Farmer’s Market finds for a feast of Wild Hog patties from Countryside Farms‘¬†ground feral hog and baby Brussels Sprouts from Engel Farms sauteed in butter and sea salt, with a crack of pepper and hint of garlic. (Engel Farms is also where I purchased the “Rainbow” tomato basket that I saved seeds from.)

After speaking with my dad today, I’m tempted to find some of the younger dandelions, wash them off, and saute them in much the same manner. Apparently you can also make thistle tea? I am still searching for a tea I enjoy…

Promenade Plantings

I’ve been looking for some gardening blogs to follow. One that I’ve found is Promenade Plantings.

The post I linked is a really good one for different seed resources and other organizations around the world.

Thanks to them, I’ve been reminded to check out Seed Savers Exchange and see if it’s something I may want to join.

Anyone out there have any favorite gardening blogs they’d like to share? I’d be super appreciative!