Saturday, June 30, 2012

Creating an herb garden to accent the yard

 We have been talking for a year about doing some kind of plantings around the oak tree at the corner of our front yard but have spent way more time on the other beds. I did put stones around the tree and put down weed cloth topped with grass clippings and some weedy grasses. Last weekend we finally put down a load of compost/mulch and got it spread out. Suddenly it was plain that if I grouped all the herbs there that they would help water the tree and get a bit of protection from the blazing sun and heat we started getting this week. 

I wound up moving the plant stand too so it would be closer and open up the path area to the chairs a bit more. This may be our permanent grouping or we may move things around a bit more. I'd like to pot a couple of the coleus to get a bit more color in the area but need to monitor the sun a bit more yet for that.  I am getting lots of comments from people walking by on the garden and the mix of flowers and vegetables. The bamboo teepee is attracting a bit of attention now that the malabar spinach is climbing well.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garden Guild visits Boggy Creek Farm

She had some very interesting perspectives on things including early blight on tomatoes. She says every year some of the plants get it. It is the climate as much as anything. she leaves the plants alone and just keeps picking until the crop is done--in another few weeks here. her plants look like mine--some brown and dying leaves and branches and lots of growth still, blooms and fruit. She plants in long rows --kind of in hills with valleys between. she runs drip line down the row along the stem and waters when the plants are newly transplanted and until they set fruit then hardly at all. she does have clay soil under the composted and organic soil she has built up over the years. Squash and melons are blooming and setting, she seems to have some bees.

I didn't see peppers but she had them for sale in the tarped area out front.  She did have okra, sunflowers, eggplants and melons. She kept telling us that people put on way too much nitrogen and to not pull the plants out after the season but to just cut them at the ground, chop them with a hoe, add a bit of sulfur and gypsum, and plant the next crop between them to use the nutrients that the plants have brought to their root area. It seems to be working for her and she has had the concern for nearly 40 years now.

It was interesting that she started raising chickens for the droppings and sells the eggs to pay for the feed, adding the droppings to the brush/leaf/compost pile she builds and uses.
Boggy Creek Farm is at 3414 Lyons Road, Austin TX 78702.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Adding compost for mulch makes garden look spiffy

 We are so lucky in my neighborhood to have access to free compost to use from our yard waste. I am also very lucky to have a husband that does not mind helping shovel and haul it home in buckets. This morning we brought home 15 buckets to increase the layer of mulch from scant to 2-3" in the mostly flowering part of the garden. It will be better than the mulch in that it has nutrients too.
The native hardwood bark mulch is also $2.35 per bag instead of the free compost so it gets spread a bit thinner. I have been using shredded leaves, chipped small branches, and the neighbor's lawn clippings along with the mulch.
We probably need another 10-15 buckets of it to finish the front and some for the back too. Good workout too. Sure made things look nice this morning as I gave every plant a good drink to settle it in before our temperature hit 96 this afternoon. This week is the first time I have had to use city water to water the garden. I still have a bit of rain water in 5 gallon buckets that I am saving for the few potted tomatoes.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Heat happy plants coming into their own

With all the 95 degree days we are having my heat thriving plants are coming into their own, blooming and setting fruit that we are really looking forward to. Not to say anything bad about the greens (especially as they are responsible for my recent weight loss!) but they have been very productive for a long time. It is nice to see the eggplant and peppers of all kinds on their bushes. I am growing both kinds of eggplant this year-Black Beauty and long purple. The many pepper plants are thriving in the shelter of the converted greenhouse giving us a few peppers every day from one or another of the plants.  Putting row cover cloth over our GH frame is giving a great sheltered place to grow them. We have Anaheims, small orange and red sweet,  jalepenos, habeneros, sweet banana, poblano, and giant red sweet. Now for some new recipes. 
As you can see I am adding lots of mulch to keep the soil mosture in. I have been reading the pros and cons of this method and it is sure food for thought.  We have been discussing how to expand or continue the design in the front shade garden. While I have added begonias and inpatients I am still looking for more ideas there and for the walkway.

Wish the cucumbers and squash were doing as well--getting squash borers on many of the plants that the pill bugs let grow. I have an organic spray by Green light with  Spinosad  that is highly recommended so I have hopes otherwise, it is grow bags for us this summer. I have looked at homemade organic treatments to keep the plants healthier but haven't needed much this year. 

I have lots of New Zealand spinach growing and finally put up a tee pee for the Malabar spinach. Cannot say enough about planting the varieties that are recommended for our area. 

I was intrigued by the new SF garden on our tour and need to investigate the soil mix Steve and Karen are using to produce the stunning amount of vegetables in such a small raised bed. I am also looking at how best to maintain a great level of nutrients that matches what I want to grow or when to supplement. Lots to think about before fall.