Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Seedling Update

Lettuce - Looks like Red Sails is the dominate (see the red tinge on the tips)

My first tomato plant of 2012 - This is one of two survivors from the January 5th planting. Not sure what kind yet, but its doing great!

The 2nd plantings (Feb.5th) are still at 100% germination and survival. So far so good! I look forward to planting this batch out in the garden next month and getting started on other plantings!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quick Storage Fix

We recently had a garage door opener installed and for the first time in three years I am now entering the house through the garage (I'm thrilled by this) !!! What didn't change though, was that I am still using my dinning room table as a dumping ground. I typically carry several bags a day and have a tendency to leave them all, plus keys, travel coffee mug and my mail all on our formal dinning room table. Then it collects all week long and before you know it ... I have to push stuff off the table in order to have a nice sit down meal.

For some time now I've been planning to purchase a cabinet or side table as a "home" for all my daily things. Somewhere I can place the mail, notebooks and etc without it looking cluttered. This past weekend, I was talking to my super creative best friend and mentioned that I was looking for the right piece that could fit on a small side wall near the door to my garage. It turns out that she recently visited the Saginaw Goodwill and had noticed a side table with interesting detail....that caught my attention!

Sure enough, after racing over to Goodwill we quickly spotted the table and other than a few nicks on the top it was in great shape with a great price to match! By this point I was thrilled and in full decorating mood. Later that day I picked up a plastic plant pot at Wal-Mart and some blue spray paint to help tie in the blue from the back room. I added some silk flowers, also from Wal-Mart and twigs from my backyard. The clock I already owned, it was purchase from Ross last year. It really came together quickly and cost a total of $27.97 (excluding the clock I bought last year and can't remember the price). Not bad and now my things have a "home".

Monday, February 27, 2012

Garden Plans

While I eagerly await Spring, I've been engulfed in seed catalogs dreaming of all the wonderful flavors. Here is what I plan to grow in 2012:

Tomatoes - Bountiful Gardens Pineapple and Lake
-Plus several other varieties
Yellow Squash - Grew really well summer of 2011
Beans - Pinto and Green Beans
Watermelon - Sugar Baby or Jubilee (whichever grows)
Pumpkins - Small Sugar and a Lumina just because I think it would be cool to grow a white pumpkin!
Alfalfa - To help replenish the soil in one of my beds.
Carrots - Several different varieties
Beets - This is a new one for me
Radishes - Also new

I will probably add to these as I go. The problem is my eyes are bigger than my garden! What are you planning to grow this year?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pinterest Green Onion Idea - Works!

A lot of great ideas seem to come from Pinterst these days. I tried this out after seeing my Best Friend's onions growing. While the green onions didn't take off right away, once they were over the shock they came back strong! So far my green onions have been growing for a month now. I have to trim them a couple times a week since they grow so tall they fall over if I don't.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spring Flowers

- have arrived in North Texas!!! My hyacinths are the first to emerge from their winter home and are braving our interesting weather. These are the same bulbs I thought were tulips a few weeks ago. I've planted tulips,hyacinths and gladiolus in my front garden bed and cannot wait until they are in full bloom.

I am planning a four seasons garden bed for my best friend and I believe I should include some of these for a splash of spring color. I think she will like that.

I really like the concept of a four seasons garden, something colorful and interesting to look at with each tilt. Plus, we seem to have birds here in North Texas year around, I'm still feeding them. A four seasons garden that includes some type of berries could provide additional food to the birds who have flown south for the Winter.

There is a lot of planning happening right now and I eagerly look forward to setting my seedlings out in the garden next month. In the meantime, I am happy to settle for watching my spring flowers come up.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Does anyone know what this is?

My husband brought these home to our apartment five years ago and I have no idea what they are called. They grow like weeds, in fact they took over our balcony planter and managed to out live the company he worked for (where they came from). We moved them in October of 2009 to our new home, planting them in our walkway beds. Sure enough, they came back the next spring! They've proven to be cold hardy and able to survive 110+ degree temps as well as a drought.

I'll admit that I didn't particularly love them at first, they are low to the ground and made a quiet statement with their glossy pink/purple leaves. However, their ability to survive EVERYTHING Texas throws at them has earned my favor. Now I just need a name....

*** UPDATE - I notice these for sale at LOWES, it turns out they are called Purple Queen Setcreasea. Glad to have a name now ***

Dash to March 15th

(WFAA Weather)

Earlier this week, WFAA was talking about a possible McFarland Signature to storm through North Texas sometime next week bringing snow and ice. After a quick review of the weather update, it appears that will not be happening. In fact, I think we just might make it to our last average frost date (March 15th) with breezy spring temps straight through. YAY!

How is your weather?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Garden Bed

Paul was hard at work on the new garden bed #2 recently, look at him work!
I am Blessed to have a husband that volunteers to spend an hour digging in rock hard clay. I plan to make sure he gets plenty of fresh salads and tomato sandwiches this summer!

I've mentioned my heavy clay soil before, but I really think this picture below says it all. I wonder if I could build figurines out of this soil?

The good news is clay soil tends to be rich in nutrients (I think), you just have to break it up enough so your plants can actually grow in it. I've been mixing Expanded Shale into my new beds to add air pockets and keep the clay from compacting again. I've also heard you can use lava rock for this as well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Look what I found.........

While working in my garden this weekend. It looks like this Toad was hibernating in one of my garden beds. I covered him back so he could finish his nap (of course I poked him to verify that he was in fact alive, he was).

I wonder what other wildlife I'll find in my garden this spring.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Perking up Winter

About mid-January I was expecting to get some real winter weather soon and decided to perk up my backyard in preparation! I keep a bird feeder near one of our windows to provide our two cats with some entertainment. They LOVE spending the day watching and yapping at the birds, always posed to pounce (at the window?). So I decided to paint it a bright yellow, although it turned out more of a pale yellow instead.

Since we've experienced a couple of days worth of "Real Winter" it has cheered up my backyard. I think it will look great in the spring as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


One of my favorite things about gardening are volunteer plants - Surprises! I haven't been gardening for long, but in my short time working the ground I have received several surprise volunteer plants. Watermelon, Strawberries, Potatoes, Green Onions and list goes on. Sometimes they're seeds I planted and completely forgot about and other times they just happened to be in the compost and decided to grow.

For example - I was pulling weeds from my beds and happen to notice that one looked very familiar....Cilantro! I do not remember planting Cilantro and had not planted in this bed since May of 2011, but never the less it grew! I did find a packet of cilantro seeds in my seed box, but it is still sealed. Maybe I bought two packets?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seedling Update

I seemed to be sticking to the 5th of each month as my planting dates. My first seedlings were technically a seed viability test for my tomato seeds and occurred on January 5th. Then, I did another planting of tomatoes (I'm attempting succession planting this year)on February 5th. I was in garden mode and decided to try my hand at carrots and lettuce as well that day.

I had saved a couple of different sized plastic trays that could be used as a mini-greenhouse during germination. I've read that the humidity inside the trays helps keep the soil moist which is very important for germinating seeds. Once germinated, I just removed the tops and watched my seedlings grow under the grow light.

Carrots - several different varieties including Hybrid Sugarsnax, Davers #126, and a Rainbow Mix from Gurneys. I mixed them up, so it will be a surprise as to which grow. I am especially excited about the rainbow mix, I would love to get red, yellow and purple carrots.

Lettuce - Grand Rapids, Red Sails, Black Seeded Simpson. I didn't really have a method to placing the seeds. I just dumped out the packets into the starter soil, lightly covered and watered. I believe I may need to thin this lettuce? The nice part is that I can eat whatever I thin.

My tomatoes are getting much bigger. Just look at the one on the lower right hand side! I have a total of about 12 tomato plants growing right now. All different varieties - a Big Rainbow heirloom from Ferry-Morse, an Organic Brandywine, Burpee's Bush Big Boy Hybrid, Bountiful Gardens' Lake which is said to cope well with extreme heat and temperature fluctuations, Pineapple which is also from Bountiful Gardens, Jubilee by Ferry Morse and an Organic Roma from Burpee. I mixed all of these up too, so I'll see what I get. Can you tell I like surprises?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Give it a minute, it will change.

At this time last night it was snowing, and by morning most had melted. Interesting forecast for the rest of the week. Is it really over? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I am preparing an update on my seedlings.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm finally in Zone 8

I discovered last year that my averages temps were much warmer that what my hardiness zone documented. We occasionally bottomed out with temps in the single digits, but I believe that was once in the six years I’ve lived here. So, I quickly abandoned my 7b frost dates and decided that I was going to be 8a instead.

My primary issue was that in 7b, my last frost date was in April. However, North Texas heats up fast. If I wait until April to plant outside (with seedlings) many of my plants would not start setting fruit until Memorial Day, which is typically when we begin to see 100+ temps. Not good! Many plants bolt and cannot set fruit in those high of temps including Tomatoes, Lettuce, Spinach, etc.

It turns out that the USDA recently amended the Hardiness Zone map to reflect changes in average temps and guess what? I’m now in Zone 8 (Its Official).

The moral of this story is to focus on what works for your garden. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a great tool for Gardeners, but if you find your specific area doesn’t align then try something different.

What zone are you in and do you think it is accurate?

Check Here

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tulips are perennials!

(My Perennial Tulip)

I don't know why I believed the bulls-eye symbol on the back of the bag my tulips came in. I've spent the past two years suspecting that tulips are actually Perennials, despite the fact that I purchased them as Annuals. I just KNEW I didn't plant all of the tulips that came up last year and with the warm winter we've had this season I finally managed to prove it!!

Now, after searching this out on Google I realize that many of you fellow Gardeners probably already knew this. No need to raise your hand :)

I can not wait to see how many come back this spring!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Six more weeks of Winter

Happy Groundhogs Day!

So, six more weeks of Winter it is!!! Normally, this would not be something that would thrill me, however considering we've been averaging highs in the mid 60s to low 70s Punxsutawney Phil has made my day (and next six weeks).

What I am truly curious about though is if we will actually have a mild summer?

According to my Farmers Almanac 2012 Long-Range Weather Forecast for Texas-Oklahoma we will have a mild winter and summer this year (so far the people of Yankee Publishing are correct - minus the part about snow). I am also looking forward to the part about "with rainfall above normal in the north" for April and May.

Why does this matter to me?

Typically a North Texas summer consists of highs in the 110 degree range, in fact the digital temp in my car will most likely average 115 degrees from early July through to September. For those of you that garden, you know that tomatoes typically do not fruit in temps that high. So a mild summer equals a bountiful summer for me! It would be the best of both worlds, mild temps + our typically long growing gardeners heart is jumping for joy!

I wonder if Phil has plans this summer?