Monday, November 29, 2010

Threat of frost avoided

Wonder what makes a person run out with all their sheets and old towels to the yard? It is the dread term "frost alert" or "freeze warning." Usually there are a couple of false alarms but you just don't know if it will be a miss or a hit so out to the tender plants I go. Of course, this time the weather took a pass but the dry wind was a real thing to deal with last week. I would hate to lose the tomatoes, peppers and  eggplant while the warmer weather drifts in and out over the next few weeks. Some of them will come into the "green house" and some will have a portable hot house dropped over them. I am thinking of keeping 2 of the cherry tomatoes out by the lettuce and just covering them if it gets chilly with the hot box from PVC and plastic. The NZ spinach is going crazy so hope it keeps liking the cooler weather. Rain barrels are still supplying the water but I am ready for a bit of rain to replenish them. I replanted the red leaf lettuce to pots and put it into the green house as the bugs or squirrels just won't let them alone but the bibb lettuce is doing fine in the garden.

Lots of "putting by" this morning! I am liking the NZ spinach better and better! I haven't steamed any until this am and it does not cook down very much, unlike regular spinach. Was able to put up servings of the rainbow chard, NZ spinach, beans, hungarian hot peppers, habbenero peppers, egg plant and have spinach and lettuce for dinner tonight. I cut some of my cherry tomatoes and brought them into the house to ripen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tricking the squirrels out of the seedlings

Not too pretty but it is being effective in keeping the squirrels from eating all the lettuce and spinace before we can. Each seedling is getting transplanted into a plastic collar made from 1/3 of a 2 liter soda bottle or used styrofoam cups with the bottoms cut out. The nicest side effect is they are acting like mini-terrariums so the seedlings are growing well. I have moved any trays of starters inside to keep them growing until I can transplant them (now if the cats will leave them alone!)
I have tried interplanting the lettuce with the carrots in their bins too and so far, so good.
The spinach, chard, broccoli, and caulifower are growing great and not being attacked. None of the peppers or tomatoes are being targeted either so we are slowly picking those.
I need to plant a bed of peas soon, just need to figure out which place to put them. I hope to use them as both a food and cover crop this year. We will see. It is still not very cool and it is mid November.
We will get enough NZ spinach for a quiche today--next year I will plant 2-3 times as much of this as it has been a real producer!
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wells Branch Gardening group discusses soil sampling and planting with native plants

Having 2 guest speakers worked well for the group to get information on how to do their soil samples and where to send them. Janet Church even brought the sampling bags and applications to submit them. She had information about sending samples for organic sampling as well. Apparently A&M not only does the sampling but sends a list of recommendations on what to do to correct deficiencies. 

Shelley Palmer brought a number of booklets to help homeowners plan the kind of landscaping they would like to install and information on a grant from the city that defrays the cost of implementing the change from turf to less thirst landscaping. Catch is that you have to remove 500 or more sq ft to qualify. At $20-30 per 100 sq ft plus the water savings it is something I certainly am considering. I wish we had known about this before we converted the side yard to a wandering walk this spring and put in the 2 walks in the backyard with just borders to water. Tripling the perennial bed out front too would have been to include in this type of project. To check the program out go to: City landscape program
Next month we'll meet to discuss landscape plans and winter plantings.