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260 days!? I didn't intend to take such a long hiatus, and I have visited a few times -- but it's now undeniable that I am pretty unreliable blogger. Apparently, I have too many passions, too many tasks, too much work, too little rain, too much beer, and a few health issues in the family to boot. These are a few of my favorite things!
Here in Texas, it has been hard to spend a lot of time thinking about gardening. Well, that's actually not very true -- I think a lot about gardening, but it doesn't pay to do very much of it. We were not allowed to water which quickly reduced my tomatoes and even my peppers to withering husks. My smallish pots couldn't hold enough water anyway and it was a constant - nearly hourly - battle against the baking sun. So, I pulled the plug and headed for the A.C.
C'est la vie, cold A/C - that's just the way it goes.
From my 260-day-year-old entry, You can see that I was enthused about my pomegranate leafing. It seems that my old Pom burst out of the gates like a young stallion in his reserved hand-stocked corral. However, for such a large and beautiful tree, my previously prolific pomegranate produced only a paltry pair.
Oh, the pain! Oh, the misery! The utter embarrassment as my neighbors recalled my promise to share the bounty this year. The tree was beautiful, but inexplicably failed to produce. I hope this year is better.
I had moderate success last year with cold weather vegetables. My lettuce was plentiful, and my beets looked good, but the edible root was the size of Roseanne Barr's shame (and that'd be tiny).
Speaking of shame:
As I type, my oven interrupts my thoughts rudely, "Beep! Beep! Beep!"
It reminds me that I just prepared a chicken pot pie family using...
C'est la vie, frozen peas - that's just the way it goes.
In any case, the drought seems to have broken and we now have rain, I have gathered a shot glass in which to capture my remaining pride.
Trowel raised high, I square my shoulders, and vow to dance with the one that brung me my last success -- that cute little filly, Lettuce.
Tune in next time for more Rocky and Bullwinkle! Will it be
LETTUCE BE !
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!
It was a nice place. Then I moved in. Sure, the first year I killed the grass - then learned about the need to water grass in Texas. Then I learned about my new neighbor's love of sprawling weed carpets. Now, I like to be neighborly. But as it went, I attacked that carpet on my hands and knees.
Then I mulched the small sliver of side yard as a barrier and arranged some pots in which I planted deer food. By that I mean tomatoes, bell peppers, and serranos. Yes! I said Serranos. Who knew the deer around Austin had acclimated to our fine Tex-Mex traditions?! Had I known, I would have planted cilantro and onions so at least they could whip up some salsa in the middle of the night; perhaps leaving me the left overs to properly garnish an omelet in the morning.
Last year, I tried starting seeds early in a sunny entertainment room. I was pretty excited when I had over 50 plants at 2 inches tall or so. I put them outside under the canopy for an afternoon. It looked like a little Hurricane Katrina came through and blew all my tiny little trees over. Bummer. So I went to the store and picked up a few *plants* and salvaged what I could of my pride.
This year, I took a chance in mid-February and put some lettuce seeds directly outside in my pots. It looks like I cheated old Jack Frost this time. We just had our last hurrah of winter and he could only muster a low of around 50F! Yeah! Hah!
My assorted types of lettuce are about 2 inches tall now. I sowed some watermelon Radish seeds this past week as well. I have a pretty small growth opportunity with my limited sun and small pots - but I am enjoying it nonetheless.
It looks like my planned sunshine-grab for the backyard was a year late and a shovel short. Upon re-evaluation, that spot is not going to support much in the way of vegetables. Booo!
On the plus side, my pomegranates continue to lift my spirits. They look awesome! The leaves are out in full force and I can't wait to see the blooms.
I hope others are having a great start to the growing season.
The first weekend of Spring Break was awesome. The kids were out of school and my collegiate young (almost-)man came home for a stay. We got them all together and headed for the lake for an enjoyable weekend.
Kids will never understand how their mere presence can absolutely light up a parent's soul. OK, he's 20 yrs old - but he's still my little boy. So fun to watch them grow - even while you regret that "The Artist Previously Known as Your Sweet Little hellion, er,Child" has grown on to become someone new. Someone improved; ever slightly more enjoyable and self-reliant. And yet, you still miss that last version just a little.
Suddenly, you find yourself engrossed in a real conversation!
Forget, for a fleeting moment, that his testosterone-addled escapades had once threatened you with fibrulated fits. You see a glimmer of the man who will emerge - perhaps not entirely unlike a larger Punxsutawney Phil - to see what the world holds for his him. And you wish it all for him.
We reminisced a little and he recollected a memory for me. The tale of how he threw the baseball and hit me dead in the teeth from about 20 ft away! Hah, and they say that kids don't remember the lessons that you teach them when they are young!
I seem to recall the lesson was, "Throw the ball directly to my chest! You have to hit the guy on the base to get the runner out!". He was running the old guy ragged. Diving to catch right. Stretching to snag left. Suddenly, his newly bicycle-mobile sister spilled into the gutter about 5 ft away from the old guy.
I looked down. "Slow wreck. No injuries.", I assessed. She was already collecting herself to get back up and go again. I looked up- target acquired. I saw his face 20 ft away looking like he was watching a very long train spill over a cliff. It was all so very slow. I saw nothing else. I was puzzled.
"Why does he look like that?", I pondered.
"Lucky that my little girl just dumped her bike and was fine", said the back half of my brain.
"What was I just doing?", said the front half of my brain.
""Man. he is really scared of somethi..."
[ Insert inexplicable thud-sounding, toe-rattling, mullet-lifting *KERWHOP!* right about here ]
"Ow! Sweet Jesus. Why am I kneeling?!" - "So fuzzy" - "what was I doing?" "what is that buzzing sound?!" "D@mn you, gravity! Leave me alone! I am busy here!"
That is how I recall it.
With a laugh, he recalls that moment as the first time he saw his Dad get rocked. I still think I conducted myself with some small measure of dignity. But I could be wrong.
Ahhhhh kids! When are they too old to spank?
So, if you start a draft and then finish it, when you post it (finally) it will not hit the blog page. It will post to the "current blogs" page for the day when you STARTED the draft version. Correct me if your experience is different. Cheers!
[Original post started in Feb.]
We had a small warming trend down here in the Austin area and I just couldn't help myself. I went and snatched up a few seed packets and a 5 gallon blueberry bush ($20 at Lowe's). I've lost almost all of the sun in my backyard due to shade, except for a medium-sized garden spot right smack in the center.
Sadly, I also lost my beloved old friend, Kimi, who just loved to dig into my garden and lay in the soft, cool dirt. My kids have also grown to the point that going out back sounds like the wierdest idea - Like everrrr.
So, I am claiming that spot of sunlight for my own - near Kimi's resting spot, so she can at least chase the ethereal squirrels away. I picked up an assortment of seeds such as various forms of lettuces, some heirloom (?) red sunflowers, a thornless blackberry, some watermelon radishes, and a few shade loving bulbs and seeds for the bald spot out front. I put a couple of the red sunflowers right out front so the neighborhood kids could watch them skyrocket and maybe enjoy some seeds - if they don't run them over on their bikes. The rest go in the back for my girl & the brood. They always love surprises (after I endure the eye-rolling).
I don't always fit the surburban mold - and yet I don't always fit the pure country mold. Ah well, Who needs molds? It keeps the neighbors guessing.
Plus, I have some awesome neighbors, We enjoy the warmer weather - the better to BBQ with. Oh yeah, I learned to weld this year - much to the dismay of my right eye. Pssh! That is surely why God gave us two of them! Nonetheless I escaped with a mere Ogreific opthalmic event. After seven rounds of cosmetic surgery, you can see by my new Avatar that it turned out well. Well, acceptable anyway. I built a smoker/pit as my first project.
I hope to be a better blogger and have some success this year. I have invested dollars and hope in the spring. In my experience there is a formula that goes a lil sumpn like this:
$$ + hope + sweat = green stuff in your space
Though I have not posted in a year, I have kept track with the GG clan. Periodically reading others posts and plans actually turned my brown thumb green. Sadly, it turns out that it may have just been sporadic bouts of envy! Nonetheless, I was inspired to actually do something in the yard (which, after the last 2 yrs droughts is, in itself, blog-worthy).
Alas, my backyard garden is now non-functional due to encroaching shade trees. Don't hate them because they are beautiful. Hate them because they are too beautiful to destroy for a garden. Hate them because they are haughty about it. There they sit, Like svelte supermodels, smugly swaying in self-admiration, whispering in the summer breeze, "I am beautiful yes no? You love me don't you? It's Texas my dear. You can't live without my shade. Would you like to see your electricity bills skyrocket? Yes, that's right. You need me. You may put no garden before me. Now go and bring me water."
Hating myself just a little, I know they are right. But one day some other yard will come along and treat me right and then where will you girls be? Hmmm???
Too much drama in the back yard, so I trudge up to the front yard to see what I can do.
Well, I've got myself a new neighbor. He loves the X-box. He hates the sun. I am relatively certain that he sleeps in a coffin and drinks blood, but that may just be my own impression. I can tell you what he doesn't do though. That is ANYTHING outside. Consequently, in one year he transformed a beautiful St Augustine lawn into a dirt covered cockle-burr carpet. Once the carpet goes dormant you are left with thousands upon thousands of very hard, very sharp burrs. On the plus side, they are an excellent deterrent to barefoot burglars. We have had zero barefoot burglaries since the "carpet" was "installed". See? There is always a bright side. ;-)
Since we share property lines I must remain ever vigilant against this aggressive carpet of pain. As I crawled around on all- fours ripping the roots out of my newly gifted carpet, I decided that I was at a crossroads:
I've planted a few tomatoes and peppers into pots as my sunlight dwindles in the garden. I've identified a squirrel as the culprit that keeps digging them out! He does not seem interested in the plant, but in digging. Going to have to put some netting on the dirt so he quits that. Tomato probably won't make it.
I had some onions sprouting as well (in the kitchen pantry!) So I planted them. Will they grow bigger? or subdivide into more onions?
Some creeping oregano made it through the Texas "Winter" and the pomegranates have flung out their leaves to bask in the warmth! (YEAH BABY!)
Looking forward to another season.
Well, this year will be different for sure. I have lost my 8x16 raised bed garden (that I sweated over) to the ever encroaching shade of the oaks. Now, in central Texas, one does not complain about ample shade.
.>Unless one is a gardener!
Up yours, Live Oaks! Bite me, Pin Oak! A curse of a thousand beetles upon you! ( Whatever your crappy next-door-neighbor-tree-self is.) I want my sun back!
I want a plethora of peppers , oodles of Onions! A cornucopia of coriander ceded by cilantro! I want buckets of blackberries, a gaggle of grapes, and , on a lark, at least a single butternut squash. Bring back my sun!
You Bastards. You know I cannot in good conscience cut you down! You take advantage of my hospitality; you indulge in my irrigation! Fine. I'm going to go to pot. I will. Yes, I will! Don't test me.
Pots of peppers. Containers of coriander . You can't stop me. Ornamental arrangements of oregano with plumes of onion poking through the dirt like so many soldiers defiantly thumbing their nose at your Light Charge of the Shading Brigade.
Dapples to the left of me, canopies to my right, Here I am! Stuck in the middle with you, Mr Container. Poked into patches of sunlight, perched on precipices - seeking and soaking up the sun, we desperately bond. Catch as catch can in your gravel bottomed pan; so wonderfully drained and tended - tendrils drawn to demure patches of light - you reach for life.
I cheer your every move. and yet...
Pity unto you who find your way under the care of the BrownThumb.
It is Jan 27 in Austin. TX. The weather today made it seem more like Seattle, WA. It was splendiforous!
y. Soggy. Yet denying the call for outright rain, the gray settled over the top of us like a soggy warm wool sweater.
Inside my head, the silent scream of Nature said, "Go! Sit amongst my trees and dripping foliage. Hear my silence. Slow yourself. Hear the beating of your own heart. Soak up my gifts and see the wonders that I will deliver unto you."
So, I went back inside. I sat at my keyboard. I stared at my monitor like it was a minor serpent. I knocked out 15 eMails to 13 eDiots on 3 different I(ck)ssues... and I pondered. I pondered how I might drive my project to completion before the Big Bad Wolf blew the whole freakin' house down casting me into the street where the cold wind waited.
...and then I daydreamed just a little bit.
Just a little bit about how today was warmer than yesterday. How every cold spell must have a warm spell to define it's own right to be declared a cold spell.
Yeah. It's like that...
You can try to deny us. You can try to distract us... but We're coming for you, Winter.
Lock and load.
Say your prayers.
We're coming for you... and you are going Down.
will spring and plants will sprout.
Sun will shine. Fruit will vine.
Berries will turn & peppers will yield their sweet, sweet, burn.
...and we're coming for you, Winter.
Can you hear us?