Saturday, August 4, 2012

Can't sleep, might as well blog about garden stuff.

I've got an hour to kill before I have to be at the gym to use the pool, and the gym is less than ten minutes from my house. So, time to get in a quick blog before I gather my stuff up.

It's time to prepare for the Fall garden. Right now the only things producing are eggplant and melons. I've also got a bunch of peppers still ripening as well as green lemons and oranges. It's time in the Houston area to get Fall tomato transplants into the ground. I never started any from seed, so I'll be going to buy some baby plants later this morning from a nursery. The goal is to get the plants going and keep them alive while it's so hot, and then by the time the temperatures drop to where they're able to start setting fruit well, they'll be mature and ready to produce. The problem is, very few plant nurseries actually have the tomato plants in stock when we need them here. Mid-February for Spring/Summer and late July - early August for Fall/Winter. Local independent nurseries are the only ones that consistently have what we need when we need it. The one I am going to today is one of the best in the area. There are others, but I have an unused birthday coupon from them, so that was the deciding point.

My Meyer lemon tree gave me a bumper crop this year, and the branches were so loaded down that they were bending towards the ground. I really didn't see how I could put them in slings, so I did some research. I found that green Meyers are completely useful so I picked about a dozen of the biggest ones off the ends of the branches to take some of the burden off of the tree. I had a couple wedges in some tea yesterday and yes, they are good. They taste almost like a lime but kind of like a grapefruit, definitely sour citrus but not really bitter at all. The zest smells great too.  I was hesitant to pick them, but now that I know they won't go to waste, I'm happy.

I also found an invasive little native vine growing up through the branches too. It's something called a "Guadeloupe Cucumber". Apparently the fruit are edible in the pale green unripe stage, but when they darken they become toxic and can give you a whole world of stomach woes. I'm going to finish ripping out the vines this weekend, and probably taste a couple of the fruit just to see what they're like and if they have any ill effects on my system. If not, I'll save the rest and use them up since they are the color of green grapes. I like the idea of food just sprouting from the ground without any effort.

I just placed an online seed order, and with the seeds I already have, will now be completely set come cooler weather. I ordered some spinach that has a better heat tolerance, some Dragon's Tongue beans, a radish variety that is supposed to be more sweet than spicy, some kale, white/green kohlrabi, and a variety of Italian parsley that is supposed to grow well most anywhere. I've still got Italian style broad beans, plain old green and burgundy beans, carrots, lettuce, chard, beets, turnips, zucchini, cucumbers, spicy radishes, melons, and a few varieties of herbs. When the time comes, I'll buy baby broccoli plants and try my hand at them again. I might pick up a few more pepper plants today too, depending on what the nursery has on hand. Big bell peppers don't do so great here, but hot peppers, little sweet peppers,  and poblanos certainly do!

My Spring annual flowers are all dead from the heat or bolting and leggy. I'll probably replace a few of them for color, but mostly cool weather I try and concentrate on growing all the leafy veggies that would just fry in the heat. Later on in Fall, I'll probably get some more chrysanthemums and such. I have a few I've been babying along in containers and they keep coming back for me. I need to try and revive them again so they'll be ready to bloom when it cools off. All if my ivy is thriving. Ivy will thrive after the Zombie Apocolypse. I don't think I could kill ivy if I tried, unless it involved a flamethrower. If I have a spot I need to decorate a bit and it's in a difficult area light-wise, I just plant some fancy leaf ivy. My pretty little Fuschia hanging basket fried in the heat, even though I kept moving it and babying it and trying to nurse it along. It just couldn't take it anymore. The impatiens are on tall stalks now. Scraggly and leggy. They're in long windowbox type containers. I'll pull them and plant beets, radishes, and turnips there when it cools off. All three do well in that kind of a container.  The begonias are all tall and scraggly too. Time to pull them up and start preparing the containers for something new.

The last time I ordered seeds, I got a freebie packet of little round carrots that I think will grow just fine in a shallow container as well. The carrots are about the size of a quarter gumball, and I'm looking foward to planting them and seeing what comes of them through the Fall and Winter.

That's all the time I have to ramble about my garden. Time to go swim.


  1. I have a friend that starts all her tomato plants (she grows 5-6 different ones) from seed every year. We all save our little plastic pots from the spring annuals we buy for her and in return, she gives us all starts since she plants every seed in every packet and has about a 90% success rate. A bag or two of good potting soil and the grow like mad. Hers are just as nice as the ones in the big box stores and we can plant them as soon as the weather gets past last frost (here in WA), long before we can buy them. I don't think the stores even order them until it's warm enough to plant them. You lose a good 2 weeks growing time and up here, you don't have that time to waste.

  2. I need to try starting tomatoes from seeds and see what happens. Where I live, you have to get baby tomato plants for the spring garden transplanted from mid-February 'till mid-March unless you have very fast maturing varieties or very large transplants. You've got to get them mature enough to set fruit before the weather gets so hot that the flowers just drop. People I know who start tomatoes from seed start around Christmas, indoors in starter pots underneath grow lights or raised up underneath strong flourescent shop lights. I've got a shop light, I just need to rig up chains to lift and lower it as needed. For fall crops, we have to get the transplants going at the end of July - beginning of August, so seeds have to be kept moist and protected from the sunshine. I think I have a place I can try it next year. There are a few local nurseries that cater to local gardeners and have starter plants at the proper times. But they tend to not have a huge selection and the plants get snapped up very quickly.