A winter’s promise.

The same day we put in the starts, we kept going. I couldn’t very well leave more than half of a newly turned bed empty! Now there are a lot of options out there for labeling your plants, marking your rows, and otherwise organizing what-went-where in such a manner that you can recall what’s what when it comes time to evaluate who is a Re-do and who is a Poo-poo for next year. My favorite methods are generally simple, geometric, alphabetical, cheap, and biodegradable. If you didn’t guess already – I use sticks.

Why, what do you use?

Stick borders
Sticks marking out different planting areas for different seeds to be sown.

A lot of my gardening enjoyment comes from this very stage of the process. Sprout identification is fun for me. As soon as the first sprig of green appears, I’m guessing what it is and holding tight to the knowledge in my memory banks from past sowings. Part of it is pure nerdy pleasure, and part of it is not wanting to pull a “weed” that would actually be a beautiful, productive, or otherwise enjoyable volunteer. That, and surprises and mysteries are fun!

Lettuce mob
A mob of lettuce sprouts. I sowed maybe…five? varieties of lettuce this year. Some Cimmaron, some Little Gem, some others I’ll remember when they grow bigger…

Peas
There’s no mistaking a pea sprout for much of anything else. I’m holding hope they won’t die in a frost (or be nibbled) before finding the daylight required for a full-on growth spurt, but I’m also mentally prepared to resow during the “proper” time window awhile into the calendar yet.

Carrots
This year I’m attempting to follow conventional wisdom in more ways that rows. “Over-sow and thin” has always felt odd to me. A loss of preciously saved seed. A death of little plants that could grow into food. A waste.
After as many feast or famine years as I’ve had with carrots and lettuce, I’m giving it a go this spring. We’ll see how I feel when it comes time to actually thin them though…

Yarrow
The yarrow is alive! This is my third attempt to time sowing (and remember to water properly) to get these stinkers to sprout. Yarrow is supposed to be a wonderful attraction for beneficial insects, and I’ve sown a decent patch of two varieties smack dab in the middle of the bed.

Beets
I’ve honestly lost track of how old these beets are. I think they were softball-sized last spring? We’re harvesting the greens at this point, the beets having loooong ago gone woody. I’m curious when they’ll finally go to seed…

Beet
In the meantime, I have more (purchased) beet seeds making elegantly hued sprouts a few steps away.

Broccoli
And I think more broccoli…or it could be cauliflower. My brain has lost track of that memory and I don’t yet have the knowledge bank to differentiate between the two sprouts…if there even is a way.

What seeds are you sowing (or going to sow) for your first spring garden bites?

Fall is here.

Fall has started early this year here in Central Texas. Last year we didn’t see temperatures stay below 100 until October. We didn’t see rain until November. This year, the rain has already come. Today’s rain is a steady drizzle soaking the earth, enabling the oaks to soak up their thousands of gallons, the summer stresses to be washed from the shrubs, and the winter growth to start off strong. The rain earlier in the week came light and quick – just enough to wet the streets, muddy the gutters, and dust off the heat.

Fall in Texas is different from the Pacific Northwest of my childhood in many ways. One of the ways that I still am not used to, is the behavior of the trees.

Depending on variety, some trees behave as expected. They have bud break in spring, turn itchy green before summer, find their golden hues in the fall, and drop leaves to the floor with the frost. Others, behave as above with a second bud break. This tree already had its leaves, most of which were lost in the heat of the summer, but it is still driven by the need to put forth its progeny. This bud will break into a few itchy-green leaves, and one bunch of powdery seeds.

Speaking of fall, does anyone know of the best way and time to prune an overgrown sage?

This is a hybrid variety that is growing in maybe six inches of soil depth, with neglectful watering, and still managed to take over the sidewalk in its entirety. I had its twin in the front bed, pruned it back months ago, and it has since died for my efforts.

Also noted in this photo: the strawberries survived and I’m overdue on edging the lawn.

This earlier arrival of fall has helped make up my mind on sowing some cooler weather varieties. Earlier this week I made it into the backyard bed to sow some peas – Golden Sweet and Sugar Ann. The Golden Sweet claims to grow 6′ tall and have purple flowers. I’m looking forward to the little paintbrushes of color in the future. Sugar Ann claims to not need any structure, and I’m going to believe it. It took a few days longer to sprout than the Golden Sweet. Both were up within the week. Now to use the giant bamboo pole DH brought home for me to construct a climbing structure for the Golden Sweet…

Sown yesterday:

  • Garlic – Cheyenn Purple, Silver white, and California Select
  • Onions – Austrialian Brown and Violet de Gamme
  • Cucumbers – third year saved Marketmore 76
  • Beets – Detroit
  • Broccoli – Early Green Heirloom (I’m not sure this is the actual name…) both sown and transplanted
  • Kale – Lark’s tongue
  • Chard – Perpetual
  • Collards – Even’ Star Land Race
  • Lettuce – transplanted a few mysteries. They could be any of about eight varieties.

I was set to also transplant some Amazing Cauliflower…until I started working their bed and dug straight down into a giant fire ant nest. Escaping with a single bite (and no sting) I called it done for the day.