Monday, June 22, 2009

Yes, it's a Sunflower!

There's another one growing nearby, too. I have never been able to grow sunflowers from seed, in spite of trying really hard. Yet they fall out of the feeder and thrive! Go figure!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Great Zinnia Mystery

You may have read about my giant zinnia.

I saved the seeds. A great, big pile of seeds, and then planted them around in various beds this spring. I wrote just the other day about the strange color of one of them - it was more red, where the original was bright pink.

Here is what has come up around the flagpole the past few days:

Here's another from the back garden. It's darker, but closer to the color of last year's original.

Here's the thing. The saved seeds came from ONE plant (see entry in the link above). ALL of those flowers were the bright, hot pink. Is it possible that the saved seeds could produce different colored flowers? I searched around on Google today, and all I found were a few people who noticed their saved seeds produced a different shade of the same color. No one, that I found, had completely different colors.

But that ONE plant came from a packet of mixed seeds that I just dumped into the flagpole bed on a whim. Is it possible that some seeds lay dormant for an entire year? That the different colors of flowers are from old seeds - not the ones I planted there this year, saved from last year's plant?

I don't think that could be possible. Why would they have sprouted right when they should have (based on when I sowed the seeds)? Also I would expect some to be miniatures as were in the packet. These are all large.

This is exactly the kind of thing that will drive me crazy until I figure it out. Help!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Today's Pick

Here's what I harvested today.

We have cherry and grape tomatoes, snow peas, eggplant, cayenne peppers, sweet and red onions (those were planted to provide green onions, not bulbs, so the bulb growth was a nice surprise), a Creole tomato, basil, tarragon, oregano, thyme, and parsley. Now to fix them for supper! Yum!

Here is the flagpole flower bed now. The zinnias are growing nicely. I saved the seed from last year's plants.

Please click the link to read about it from last year. Then come back here and tell me I am not blind and these flowers are a completely different color? Well, at least a different shade of the same color family?

This year's Zinnia:

Last year's Zinnia:
Yes, I am sure the seeds came from the above plant. If you read the story, you already know they were all from the SAME one plant. Can't wait to see what happens to the next batch!

Here are a few more finds in the garden today:

Now, here is a stupid question... When I saw this tall thing growing (below, and on the left side of the above picture) I didn't think it was a weed, so I left it alone. I thought it was a zinnia. I knew I hadn't planted one there, but there have been others sprouted around that I figure were spread by birds or wind. But today I took a closer look and it sure is no zinnia. What is it? Is it a sunflower?? That would make sense - it's right under the bird feeder! I think it looks like one, but I guess I won't know for sure until it blooms (I am no sunflower expert!).

Finally - a Deep Thought for today. "If you want to see the butterflies, you have to let the caterpillars eat your passiflora". (Just please leave the healthy red one alone....OK babies??).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Long Overdue Update

My first "homegrown salad" of the season...onions, tomatoes, basil, snow peas.

In one of my last posts I said it was about to rain.

I think it did rain, then. Probably a pretty good rain. I don't remember it too well, because it's the last real rain we've had! Yes, while rain falls profusely upon other parts of the country, we are in desperate need.

My SFG has not seen a real rain since I finished it. A few scattered sprinkles, and city water from our hose. That's it. I'm positive everything would be doing much better with real rain - it always does. But I guess we're not doing too badly.

So far I've harvested grape and cherry tomatoes, snow peas, one cayenne pepper, and one eggplant. My green onions are doing well, and some of them have even grown fairly large bulbs. The basil in the SFG is doing great, although what's in the actual herb garden is not. The cucumbers are growing well although the one fruit that set AND grew, died pretty fast. I have since tied them up and they seem to be doing better.

Now, please do a rain dance for our area??

Gaura lindheimeri "Whirling Butterfiles"

The Waterfall garden is looking great!

Something is eating my patio tomatoes.

I love to eat these right off the vine, mmmm

My audience

Rose "St. Patrick"

Lemon blossoms...

...and young lemons

Sweet 100s ripening on the vine

Japanese eggplant. I harvested it 3 days later.

View into the "Secret Garden". The photo doesn't do it justice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


It SHOULD NOT be allowed to frost in Zone 8/9 in April! Especially after I just got all the veggies planted!!

They're covered, anyway. Hoping for the best...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Better Day!

Today I spent most of the day working outside. The weather was glorious, the temperature and humidity comfortable. I got the side garden (next to the sunroom) all cleaned out, the Meyer lemon tree pruned, ready to plant a few things and mulch over it. I can't wait to get back out there!

Also, with the help of hubby and Kid #3, we got the SFG box filled! I bought some more transplants to put there, including Sweet 100 tomatoes, and some more herbs. I may put the herbs in the SFG box because I don't know what's going on in the herb garden. Maybe it's too full? Maybe the dirt stinks. I don't know, but I'm leery of risking it. I got some flowers to put here and there so I can finish up the far half of the back garden.

After that, the major task is to work on the near half. That's my view from this desk, and why I didn't do it first is beyond me! Maybe because it's mostly grass and will be harder to clean out. But it's a small area, so I need to just dig in and do it (no pun intended :P).

It's supposed to be rainy tomorrow but hopefully I can get out there and do a few things. I'm feeling much better about it all now. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009


I am seriously rethinking this Square Foot Gardening thing.

I'm a fan of the box, and the method seems to make sense. But I can't deal with this mix! The MIX is far and away the biggest pain in the rear associated with this thing. There must be an easier way, right? Some sort of mixer thingie I can rent from Home Depot? Similar to a cement mixer?

Today alone I spent TWO HOURS trying to mix up the goods. What I have to show for it are a sore back, dirty feet, out of supplies, and only got about a third of the box filled.

Planted....but I have to do something to hold that dirt in right away.

Oof! There is really SO much more I could have been doing with two hours in the garden this morning. Not to mention inside the house!

So - how important IS the mix? I'm really thinking I'll just fill the rest of the box with plain old-fashioned DIRT. It's not the expense of the stuff - it's the work involved. If it took me two hours to get a third of the box ready, it will take me four to finish, according to my admittedly lacking math skills!

In other news of the day - check out these herbs I had just planted in the herb garden.


The thyme I planted at the same time is doing fine, the basil is not growing much but it's not dead (it's already flowering, which seems to me a bad sign for such a small plant and this early. But it's not dead.). I have no idea what's wrong with them. I put another parsley in the waterfall bed for caterpillars to munch - it is growing tall and bright green. Another I put in a pot - all bought and planted on the same day, by the way - it's doing fine as well. The rest of the herb garden looks great, but is all stuff from last year.

It's very discouraging at the moment. I have too many big jobs on the plate at once, all of which have to be at least worked on now, if not finished. It's overwhelming enough that it takes all the pleasure out of it. :(

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hummingbirds are Back!

We weren't sure when the hummers would be back so we put the feeders out on Sunday evening. Yesterday we had several hummingbirds! I'm looking forward to another good season. Hubby is looking forward to taking pictures with the new camera. :)

Old post about hummingbirds, with nectar recipe

Monday, March 30, 2009

Garden progress, 3.29.09

Here's what we did this weekend. I say "we", but I really mostly mean hubby and kids.

We built a new fence to block off the SFG area:

The main SFG is to the right. I want to move the clothesline and use the other side as well, but until then I'll just add a few things.

The gate for the new fence was once in the arch. Here is the arch now:

That rose is a "Joseph's Coat" and it's covered with buds! I can't wait to see it in full bloom, but for now here is a closeup:

On the right side of the arch, in the herb garden, there is a maypop vine (everything in the herb garden produces something edible). Turns out it's a host plant for the Gulf Fritillary caterpillar and they tore it up last year! But apparently it's coming back:

On the end of the SFG box we put in some cucumbers:

For the experimental plastic garden box we (thanks, hubby!) made a tomato cage:

And some of the flowers for this week:

I have two of these; they were here when we moved in. They grow very tall - should be visible over the fence pretty soon. I don't know what kind they are. Dark red, and fragrant.

The "rose corner"

The vinca vine doesn't bloom often and it's not showy, but I like it.

And finally, the zebra "cactus" that lives in my sunroom. I have collected zebra items through the years (not so much now that I'm in declutter mode) and bought this on a whim.

The long spike has an interesting little flower:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Square-Foot Solution?

We're going to enclose the small area of the yard where we built the SFG box ASAP. That will solve the dog problem, but in the meantime I wanted to get some of what I bought into the ground. Keeping in mind that Mel says it needs to be 6-8 inches deep, and can have a solid bottom, I am experimenting with these:

The boxes are 7 inches deep. The mix settled a bit so I will add more. So far they seem to be doing fine. The onions are so close together because we planted them too late to get big bulbs anyway, so we're using them as green onions (in which case they can be planted that close together). The tomatoes are grape, and need to be staked soon. There are a few extra onions in the box with them, but they needed more space.

It's kind of an expensive option to do too much with, and not very pretty, but it seems like it will work.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shaping Up

It's really starting to shape up, now. Racing the coming rain, I spent a hard hour this morning - then, of course, it cleared up after my shower! But it's looking good.

Today I planted the Mexican Heather and dwarf mondo grass along the walk to the gate. There is already heather between the other side of the walk and the sunroom wall, and I love the way it looks. It's so far out for two reasons - concrete farther out than the walk, and it will grow and fill in that space pretty quickly. I put in the yellow rose and maypop vine along the far fence the other day. There are also now Moonflower seeds planted along the perimeter.

I'm still not sure what else to put in this area. I'll put some stones for walking on, but I would like to have plants in the rest of it. I'm really horrible at planning and design, so it will just be totally random. I don't want to hurry, but I want to get it done!

Just beyond the bird bath is a satsuma tree. Around that tree I planted various summer-blooming bulbs.

The stones are under the bird feeder. I want to have something underneath it so weeds don't sprout. Still thinking about how to do it.

The two plants in the right of the picture were also planted this morning.

The seeds I planted in the waterfall bed are sprouting nicely and may even need thinning. I'm so excited! I rarely have luck with seeds. Those are zinnias, blanket flowers, and coneflowers - hoping for butterflies! I put in a parsley plant for caterpillar food. Just the other side of the water feature is where I put the milkweed. They should be happy now.

I was thrilled to see the new daffodil has TWO flowers on it!

I put several herbs in pots - mint and oregano because they need their own space, and another parsley to put wherever (just because I like the look of pots too!). My garlic chives are blooming so nicely right now.

The sun room is the room right inside my garden area. I've been loving sitting out there doing my paperwork. Hoooray for portable laptops! Now the view is getting even better.