Slugs in June.

“I’ll make you a deal,” I plead, cheerful optimism forced upon each syllable. “You go to sleep and stay asleep before the sun sets so I can have some garden time, and I’ll give you three extra kisses.”

It’s dim, but not dark. Just before eight o’clock. I rush outside. I want to dig the rest of the garlic before it rots where it’s buried. I see an ant sipping the wine of the Mexican Oregano.

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The fading light leaves a squash blossom alit.

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I check on the carrots, long shaded by last year’s hidden sweet potatoes.

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And the leek’s getaway is complete.

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I hear the backdoor creak open. My heart sinks.

“He’s asking for you. Do you want me to bring him down or do you want to go back up?”

I go back up. The irrational emotions flare with each step. I take a deep breath, lower my shoulders, and swallow them down until I’ve softened.

It’s nearly nine o’clock. I haven’t finished my dinner. I nearly sprint out the door, snatch up my trowel, and make a bee line for the garlic. Surrounded by liquefied chard leaves the garlic is doing its best to thwart the hunger that crawls around it, along it, but hopefully not through it.

I send the blade deep into the soil and pry. Each root gives one by one and at once. The soil clings heavy. The roots ching greedily. Tap, tap, tap – some falls. I drape the shoot over the edge of the bed and move on. Another. Slice. Pry. Tap.Tap.Tap. Drape. Again.

The pill bugs scatter. The slugs hold tight. An earthworm seemingly launches from the earth and frantically races toward blind freedom. I watch it a moment. Dropping soil gently down its length, I bury it.

It’s dark now. Ration has yet to return. Dinner is three hours cold. I’m depleted. Unable to find enjoyment in the moments of daylight spent outdoors, alone, I step past the dinner bowl discarded to feed others, tend to others, love on others.

An apple, a knife, and a jar of peanut butter usually does the trick. Here’s hoping.

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Sideways shift.

My main duty these days is laying on my side and not doing things. At least two more weeks of cooking are ideal and my body and this baby appear to be plotting their own plan.

A slow soak of sunshine is necessary to keep the stir-crazies at bay, during which I plot my tender snail’s pace loop about the gardens.

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Somethings are larger than they appear…

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And sometimes I’m glad I have more weeds.

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The carrots are looking more carroty.

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The garlic are a tangled tussle.

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This leek came up all on its own. Having never successfully sown leeks, I can only marvel at its persistence in overcoming my interference.

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A kind neighbor gifted us some fig twigs.

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And in their ancient wisdom (the seeds are well over five years old and have yet to survive my best attempts) the Alyssum has joined the party.

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The difference a month makes.

With DH’s urging and assistance, we hit up our favorite local garden center (Green and Growing) for some winter starts. In past years, I’ve tried starting these myself in June, indoors, to have ready to put out in the fall. This year…was not so much a gardening year. No such starts were started.

We picked up five broccoli, five purple cabbage, five “dino” kale, five red chard, and five golden chard. We also picked up some onion starts, strawberries, thyme, and parsley.

In they went!
Greens
Left to right – golden chard and Tuscan kale (DH calls it dino kale), and red chard. If you look closely, you’ll see the garlic starts (volunteers salvaged from spring’s lazy leftovers) between each plant. Don’t mind the weed whacker’s contribution to mulching…

Cabbage and broccoli
Purple cabbage and broccoli. I don’t often do actual rows of things. This year for some reason, I thought I’d go a little more conventional in arrangement to show off the colors. (And then the broccoli rebelled and wouldn’t fit in a row.)

Then it froze, hard, and we covered everyone up. The sun returned, the sprinkler was reset to a weekly cycle (we’re still on restrictions – once a week maximum), and the holidays came and went.

Golden chard
Red chard and tuscan kale
Cabbage
Broccoli three

The garlic is more noticeable now and we may start nibbling on some greens soon.

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.