This is my garden.

Enjoy it, play nice, and don't forget to stop and smell the flowers.

Master Gardener Intern Project

Posted By on February 19, 2016

IMG_4350I am working on a square foot garden at the Vegetable back yard garden at The Fort Worth Botanical Gardens in order to show how anyone with very little space can enjoy fresh vegetables. I will be taking photos and videos to show step by step how we are going to do this and you will get to see the trials, tribulations, and the rewards. As I learn I will share so that you can learn with me. So here starts our journey.

A week ago we enlarged a bed filled it with soil and compost. This week I am doing more research and am going to get string, nails and bring a hammer to do the grid.

Butterflies and Wisteria

Posted By on June 24, 2013

Butterfly drying out after emerging from its cocoon.

Butterfly drying out after emerging from its cocoon.

Today I got to see for the first time a butterfly unfolding and drying out. I wish I had gotten to see it emerge from its cocoon but I was a little late. My cat was very interested too, but thankfully I was able to get the butterfly to climb on my finger so I could take it to a safer spot. It was so amazing to watch as it dried and stretched its wings. After watching it for awhile I went back to watering my garden.

A single Wisteria seed pod.

A single Wisteria seed pod.

Now I have also noticed that my wisteria that my husband got me… ummm… about 8 years ago when it was only about knee high now has seed pods. I’m excited and waiting for it to mature to see if I can start seedlings from it. I start my day at 6 am every morning mainly because we are on a water restrictions and its hard for me to take the heat in Texas so all gardening I do is done by 10 am. The garden is amazing, and I guess my main goal for next years garden is just to be better then this one, and to work on my companion planting.

Getting ready for fall gardening

Posted By on June 13, 2013

Little baby squash.

Little baby squash.

Yes, that’s right, it is time to start planning for your fall garden. My tomatoes are still green on the vine, and flowers are all in bloom. I have looked up my zone and the best time to plant for my fall garden. I will start my fall tomatoes next month, indoors and in pots and planters where they’ll be safe from the scorching Texas summer heat.
Today I started some more kale, rhubarb, and poppys. Last week I started my button mushrooms. Mushrooms are a new garden product to me, and I’ve still had no luck but I have not given up. I have already been enjoying a harvest of spinach, kale, squash, herbs, and green beans. Last week I used old coffee grinds on half of my garden to see how it works, and so far I like what I see.
Happy gardening!

Happy gardening!

Sunshine and new days

Posted By on May 3, 2013

The garden looked awfully barren last fall.

The garden looked awfully barren last fall.

It is the day after our last freeze warning (fingers crossed) and we did not lose any plants. I feel truly blessed. I have never been able to spend this much time on a garden or had one this size. It has taken my husband, his mother and myself to start this from scratch. We have removed sod by hand, moved soil in, toiled, and worked. I have moved rocks that I have hand picked from the back yard so many times I can’t even keep up. We have created new beds, mulched, watered and planted more.

It's an explosion of color!

It’s an explosion of color!

Great!

We are done right? No this is just the beginning, and that’s whats great about gardening. Everyday brings a new adventure. I have found plants that reseeded themselves. I have found plants that I thought were gone come back and others left by birds. I have gotten too many plants so that I could lose some, which does happen. Gardening can be a gamble. Don’t take it personally. Roll with the punches.

Its going to be a good year. I have no idea whats going to happen, but when you do organic gardening you don’t fight with nature, but play with it and smile. I enjoy seeing what my lizards, toads, lady bugs, and snakes are up to knowing they are my garden buddies. If I were to use pesticide I could not enjoy this. Today I am going to be thankful that my garden is basking in this great sunny day, and I’m going to walk the garden smell the roses, and look for my garden helpers.IMG_0322

The wonders and frustrations of gardening

Posted By on May 2, 2013

Gardening is also a good excuse to get kitschy things from the local nursery.

Gardening is also a good excuse to get kitschy things from the local nursery.

For me, gardening brings me peace. It is a way of meditation. Oh, I also love getting my fingernails dirty and planting seeds that someone had discarded as too old or infertile.

I expected these tomatoes to be safe from frost when I planted them. The month of May is full of surprises.

I expected these tomatoes to be safe from frost when I planted them. The month of May is full of surprises.

Then I get to watch them grow, water them lovingly, knowing that soon I will make beds for them to thrive in the sun. To drink the rain, and to weather the storms, come hail, wind or cold. I have protected my plants from more freezes then I can ever remember. It’s May 2, 2013 and tonight it will freeze in about half of Texas and maybe here. I watered deeply, but the wind is to strong at this point for me to cover them.

So I will hope, and wait to see what awaits me in the morning.

It’s All Coming Up Roses (and various other plants as well :-)

Posted By on April 29, 2013

The insanely beautiful purple passion flower

The insanely beautiful purple passion flower.

My garden is doing fantastic! With the warmer weather, everything is blooming. We have a magnificent passion floer vine, and I have tomato plants that the birds planted in various spots throughout the garden.

We have gotten our fall seeds and started them inside under the lights where they’ll have time to germinate without the oppressive heat that defines our Texas summers. So far, the weather has been very nice.

Another passion flower bud about to open.

Another passion flower bud about to open.

April 6th Gardening

Posted By on April 6, 2013

Larkspurs (Delphinium elatum) set on either side of a hollyhock (Alcea rosea).

Larkspurs (Delphinium elatum) set on either side of a hollyhock (Alcea rosea).

I have been enjoying free classes on gardening at one of our nearby nurseries, and this week’s class was about shade gardens. I find that it’s very important to grow what works in your area. Too many places sell plants that are not meant for the local climate zone. Additionally, what is a perennial down south here in Texas may not be a perennial farther north. Some plants that are labeled as “full sun” are really meant for more temperate climates. “Full sun” in Texas is far more sun than “full sun” in Vermont for example.

Carpet Bugle (Ajuga reptans does well in part to full shade.

Carpet Bugle (Ajuga reptans) does well in part to full shade.

After the class, as I’m sure the clever nurserymen had planned, we picked up a few things to add color and texture to our garden. The next stop was at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden where they were having their yearly plant sale. The only rule, enforced by my husband, was we could only buy what we could carry. With 3 of us we still got a good amount of plants. I concentrated mainly on our shade garden, my mother-in-law was working on adding to the butterfly wildflower garden, and my poor husband just trying to keep his wallet intact. I caught him grabbing a few pepper plants though, and he surprised me by buying us a membership to the Botanical Garden. Now I can volunteer there and hopefully learn even more.

Aquarium April 5 2013

Posted By on April 5, 2013

My little green shelf coral just below a large bank of pulsing xenias.

My little green shelf coral just below a large bank of pulsing xenias.

I just want to start out this post by saying that it is amazing to watch the coral and fish in my little aquarium. Soft coral and fish have so much personality. They speak to you in their own special language.

Our soft coral (Pulsing Xenias) let me know when they need more calcium by the way they move. The hard coral lets you know the same thing when their color fades.

We are at our maximum load of fish I think. With a 60 gallon tank, the seven fish, our sea hare (Aplysiomorpha), cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis), arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis), and two emerald crabs (Mithraculus sculptus), there isn’t much room for more critters. We also have a red scallop (Lima scabra) and lots of snails. I have found that its very important for the balance of the tank to have a great cleaning crew.

My cleaner wrasse, Nibbler, cruises in front of a mushroom and more xenias.

My cleaner wrasse, Nibbler, along with a Cardinal and my arrow crab, Rocky, all pose nicely for a photo.

Always talk to your supplier before adding more flora or fauna however. At this point its not a good idea for me to have star fish due to the number of scallops, clams, and other mollusks I’ve already got in the tank, not to mention the fact that we have a large amount of living coral.

Twice a day I feed the tank frozen brine shrimp. The water is tested weekly and changed about once a month or so, with fresh water added to keep the salt levels at about 1.024. I find that this hobby has my husband and I working together as a team watching it grow and change.

Oh and yes I name my fish…

Good Friday 2013

Posted By on April 5, 2013

Tiny little hailstones leave tiny little holes in the leaves of my Begonias.

Tiny little hailstones leave tiny little holes in the leaves of my Begonias.

I woke up 1am to hail! The next day I found all my begonias that I had painstakingly rooted by hand with (luckily tiny little) holes in their leaves. I lost a few tomato plants but I planted 50 plants for a reason. Out of the 50 tomato plants I planted, I’ve still got more than half.

That's a LOT of mulch. I might have gone a wee bit overboard.

That’s a LOT of mulch. I might have gone a wee bit overboard.

On the bright side my husband got me cedar mulch. A lot of cedar mulch. 14 cubic yards to be precise. So when its not cold and rainy I have been able to cover my flower, herb, and vegetable beds in about 3 inches of mulch.

Because I have seeds still coming up I have to lightly mulch with only about a half a inch so that the tiny little seedlings will still come up through the layer of cedar mulch. My goal this year is to have the best garden I have ever had, and it’s quickly turning out that way. I’m also really working on doing my first true fall and winter garden.

Last week in March 2013

Posted By on April 3, 2013

The tomato bed covered up with inexpensive bed sheets.

The tomato bed covered up with inexpensive bed sheets.

Well, we had two nights with temperatures just a bit below freezing. This meant that I got to learn how to protect my baby tomato plants. I used six bed sheets, some clothes pins, and some rocks along the edge of the raised bed to keep the sheets to the ground.

One of my baby tomatolings.

One of my baby tomatolings.

Lesson #1 I lost 4 plants the first night. They were touching the sheet and the leaves froze.

Lesson #2  If you get a freeze like this, leave the tomatoes that you think are dead because if the roots and stem are alive it will come back. I lost my begonias that I had planted a week earlier (well they are coming back from the roots now 2 weeks later, but they’re much smaller).

Overall I will still plant early next year. These plants that are in the ground now were all started in December in the greenhouse. Next year I will just be better prepared to protect them from early frosts once they are outside.