Monday, September 28, 2009

Turf War

The yard, it is out of control. Have I mentioned that? Everyday, I pick an area and cleaning it up. The side yard was yesterday. There are three antique rose bushes, Sweet Autumn clematis and artemisia along the fence next to our town's lovely ditches.

One of the rose bushes is Dr. Van Fleet, a grandparent of New Dawn. This plant is a killer. It puts out eight foot long canes and roots wherever it touches soil. It has thorns as big as thumb tacks - Not just the poky part of the thumbtack, the whole thumbtack. The artemisia was given to me as Sweet Annie artemisia, WRONG. It is the invasive Artemisia vulgaris now taking over growing in my yard. So I have two killer plants growing right next to each other.

Here is the problem, the Dr. Van Fleet rose bush and the artemisia decided to have a turf war. Literally a turf war, they grew out into the tiny little bit of grass that is left on that side of the house. The rose attacked with its fierce thorns and the artemisia used a smothering tactic. What a mess. Something had to be done to break up this fight.

I waded into the fray and started cleaning up the neglected, shameful mess. The artemisia pulls up very easily and it smells good. The problem is it was covering up the very thorny rose canes. I am wounded, but they are only flesh wounds and the side yard is actually a yard again. The artemisia smells good and will make lovely fall wreathes.

Hopefully, the rest of the clean up will be less dangerous.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blotanical Awards - You Made Me Feel Special

Okay, I am going to have to start paying better attention. Yesterday the lovely Becca congratulated me on the nomination. Did I mention we were tweeting on twitter? I was all, "What?" She went on to tweet that I had been nominated for a Blotanical award. Well you could have knocked me over with a feather because my feeds don't even work over there right now. THANKS BLOTANICAL, I love you.

The nomination is for the Best Texas Blog category. I fully expect to by completely trounced by all of the other nominees. Those gals can write and take pictures. The others are Digging, Zanthan Gardens, The Bicycle Garden , and Great Stems. They are all fine blogs and bloggers.

I am not here to ask for a vote. I am pretty sure I have a snowballs chance in Texas in August to win this thing. But do go check them out and do a little voting if you are registered on Blotanical.

I have already voted so don't try to bribe me;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weeds, Mosquitoes and Hummingbirds

We have had a lot of rain. Now we also have a lot of mosquitoes. The other outcome of all of this rain is an overgrowth of weeds. My yard is out of control. Manly and the Monkeys took care of our tiny front lawn, which is a lovely St. Augustine. The side yards, flower beds, and back yard look like jungles. I worked on the side yard this evening until the mosquitoes ran me off. Pulled about half of the knee high weeds. Did I mention those mosquitoes are as big around as quarters. They hoover right near my face.

Along with all the weeds and mosquitoes, the hummingbirds have arrived. They are floating around the salvia and Turks cap blooms and just make me happy. I wish they would eat the mosquitoes.

As soon as I get this yard back under control I will post some pictures. Right now, it is just to embarrassing.

Happy Fall Y'all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Equinox Brought It

Sweet Autumn clematis, some kind of salvia and Meyer lemons getting ripe.

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Today is the first day of fall and it actually feels like fall here in North Texas. Usually this time of year we have warm or hot weather. This morning it was in the 70's. A t-shirt was completely comfortable. I went to lunch with Mamala and one of the sisters. When we came out the temperature had dropped into the 60's and we needed sweaters.

Hopefully, it will get just cool enough tonight to kill off these mosquitoes.

Happy fall y'all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Practically Perfect Weekend.

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Ever have one of those perfect weekends? This weekend was a close to perfect as I can ask for.

I am off on Fridays, so Friday is the first day of my weekend, but then I have to work on Saturday so my weekends are sort of split up. Not this weekend, but we will get to that.

Friday morning, another master gardener and I went to the Middle School, which is aptly Middle Monkey's school. We met with the Environmental Club's leader and the principle. The meeting was to discuss putting in another rainwater harvesting set up. The leader and the principle were enthusiastic. Looks like another 500 gallon tank has a home.

After that meeting, I went to work at the CSA farm, Eden's Garden, in Balch Springs, Tx. I am a member on a working share. Nothing much is being harvested right now and mucho mulch has to be spread. The farmer, Marie, is a very interesting person. We are in the getting to know you phase and are sharing our stories. She actually asked me, "So, what's your story?" I like that kind of directness. I wouldn't have twenty years ago, mostly because I wouldn't have had a story, but at this age, I've got stories. We both come from large families; her's Italian American, mine mostly German American (but mixed). One of the other working share members showed up with hilarious stories about why the Rooster, Snowball, is a jackass. Apparently, Snowball likes to wander off and get himself in trouble. Very enjoyable few hours or hard work and lively conversation.

Lunch time arrived, and I had to skidaddle as I had a hot date with Manly Man. We took the motorcycle, I now have named Silver, to Dallas and ate lunch at Jimmy's Deli. Jimmy's has the most awesome sandwiches to be had in Dallas. I won't say it is as good as po boy's in New Orleans, or the monster sandwiches at Carnegie's Deli in New York, but still, the best sandwiches to be had around here. It is also a full on deli with lovely foodie treasures on every isle. We were on the motorcycle and could not buy anything, which is probably for the best.

Following lunch, we took a ride through down town Dallas. If you have never ridden through a large city on the back of a bike, I strongly suggest you do it at least once in your life. I was able to really look around at a city I have been familiar with for most of my life. I love old buildings and there were plenty to oogle. I asked Manly to take me to the old court house. If you look at the pictures, you may recognize the location of a national tragedy. Yes, we went down to Dealy Plaza. I have never actually gotten out and looked a Dealy Plaza. I have driven through it countless times, I should have gotten out earlier.

The old courthouse, now a museum, is a beautiful building. I love old courthouses and will be boring you with many more of them. I am actually seeking them out now, instead of just being happily surprised when I accidentally come upon one.

If you look close in the second picture of the courthouse, you can see Manly with the bike. The next picture is of a Segway tour of Dealy Plaza. The tour puttered past us and then looped around about the time we were ready to saddle up and ride off. Then there was the Segway vs. Silver coolness smack down. The first Segway rider declared that her ride was cooler than ours. A few guys back commented on the relative coolness of Manly's helmet vs. his. It was a bicycle bike helmet for Pete's sake. The final man on the tour pointed at Silver and then at his Segway ride, and commented "It just isn't the same." Before it was over, I was laughing so hard I couldn't get on the back of the bike.

Friday evening we celebrated Teenage Monkey's birthday. Mamala made sweet and sour pork. She learned this recipe from a maid who worked for her family while they were stationed in Formosa. This is the real deal people and about the best stuff ever. She did pull the "You need to come over here and learn how to make this before I die or you will be sorry" guilt trip. So I guess I am going to learn how to make authentic sweet and sour pork, poor me;)

I took Saturday off so Middle Monkey and I could participated in the Trinity River Trash Bash. 70 or so middle school and high school kids and a handful of adults split up into teams and picked up trash along the stretch of highway that leads up to our branch of the Trinity River. There were prizes for weirdest thing picked up, overall quantity picked up, and highest quantity of recyclables picked up. We allowed our team to rob the bottles and stuff out of the baseball diamonds trash cans, giving us an unfair advantage. Hey, we kept them out of a landfill.

The weekend would have been totally perfect if it wasn't for giant mosquitoes. I can't get out in the garden because of the awful beasts. All this rain has set up the perfect habitat for them.

Hope you had a great weekend too minus the mosquitoes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Save Some Seeds for the Garden Faerie

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Here are some of my yard long beans and red noodle beans. These were left on the vines long enough to make seeds. I will be saving the seeds for next years garden and also to share with other garden bloggers this winter. Monica of Garden Faerie's Musing will be kicking off the progressive seed exchange again and I am getting ready.

The yard long bean seeds are offspring of the first package of seeds I bought years and years ago. This is the first year I have grown the red noodles. They are a lot of fun and easy to see to harvest. They are also out producing the yard long beans.

Here is a short list of seeds I will be saving for next year.
1. Lemon basil.
2. Collards
3. Angel's Trumpet
4. Texas Star Hibiscus
5. Dill.
6. Parsley
7. Yard Long and Red Noodle Beans (of course)

What seeds are you planning on saving?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why You Should Not Ask Me About Plants

Today, I talked to the reporter from the Dallas Morning News. I feel sorry for people that make the mistake of asking me about plants and gardening. I get so excited I can't get myself to shut up. We talked for more than an hour about fall gardening, composting, soil, my favorite plant and on and on and on. Poor thing didn't know what she was getting herself into. I just loose all control and sound like an obsessive crazy person. I did the same thing to a poor patron at the library last week. All she wanted was a good book on gardening, but she ended up getting and earful. Hopefully, the writer can organize my ramblings and get something coherent out of it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Now This is a Fashion Statement

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This says, "I don't care what the neighbors think."
This says, "Knobby knees are in"
This says, "Gardening is more important that appearances"
This says, "I either need bigger feet or smaller thighs"
This says, "I buy my footwear at Tractor Supply."

Happy rainy day y'all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blessed Rain

We are finally getting good and wet. It has been a hot, dry summer here in Texas. I know those south of us are in much worse shape than we are here. Two days ago it started to rain. This is the kind of rain that farms, ranchers and gardeners love. The rain is falling slow and constant. There is not much runoff,just a lot of soaking in. I have not had a chance to check the rain gaiges, but I know we are above two inches because the rain barrels and overflow buckets are full.

I put my fall veggies in at the perfect time. The cabbage, collards and brocolli transplants are happy and perky. Yesterday I noticed that the beans, squash and corn are all coming up. This rain and cloud cover will help them get off to a great start.

While the rain is a blessing to me. The critters I live with are less pleased. The bunnies are mad about getting wet, staying inside all the time hurts Abby's doggy feelings and the manx are running around the house like their butts are on fire. (I would say tails, but they don't have any). So far the monkeys have not gotten cabin fever, but I bet it won't be long.

I hope you are getting wet if you need it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Step by Step Fall Vegetable Garden Preparation and Planting

I have received a request to do a newspaper interview. I figured I better get my information together before the reporter calls me. I don't want to appear to be a fool, at least not to the readership of the newspaper. Y'all know I'm silly, but the rest of the world doesn't need to know, do they?

Here are the steps to creating a fall vegetable garden in north Texas.

1). If you have not gotten a soil test, have one done. Kits can be picked up at your County Extension agent’s office.
2). Amend the soil with organic matter = compost. Work in 2 to 4 inches.
3). Fertilize according to the recommendations from your soil test. Phosphorus is frequently over used. I use blood meal, bone meal and alfalfa.
4). Select plants. My short list is: Cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, garlic, onions, dill and collards. I also squeeze in one last planting of squash, beans and corn (three sisters) on Labor Day weekend and say a prayer they get to live long enough to make me some food.
5). Water transplants and seeds with liquid fertilizer. I use a fish product or rabbit manure tea.
6). Mulch heavily. I have been using the neighbor’s grass clippings with great results. Shredded leaves make nice mulch as well. I use bark mulch as a last result, because they tend to rob nitrogen while breaking down.
7). Water deeply and infrequently, but do keep the plants evenly moist.
8). Crucifer vegetables are heavy feeders. I foliar feed once a week with a liquid fertilizer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


My monkeys pushed the envelope this weekend and we had to take drastic measures. They left me with a pile of laundry and a stack of dirty dishes that took four hours to clean up. Then they got into a fight. What we had on our hands was privileged boy syndrome because mama has always done the lions share of the work. Manly is not a mess maker. I am sometimes. With my less than stellar housekeeping skills (I once used a rake to clean up their bedroom floor), having me do it all is not going to work.

I restructured the work load and now I don't do the daily dishes or their laundry. Baby Monkey now has to sweep the floors, natural sweep the two rugs and take out the trash. Tonight my house is clean and tidy and I didn't do any of it.

They are not little anymore. They need to learn how to take care of their own space. I don't want my future daughters-in-law to have to wait on them and I am not going to do it anymore.

Housekeeping wasn't really a problem until I went back to work. Even part-time work cuts into housekeeping and gardening time. I am willing to give up the housework, but not the gardening.

They each have a job to do and they better do it or they won't get dinner until it is done, period.

Mama is finished.

Friday, September 4, 2009

That Time of Year Again.

The time has come. I will use this long weekend to plant my fall/winter garden. I bought 18 broccoli plants, 18 cabbage plants and 9 collards. I also started half a flat of squash, half a flat of cucumber and one last flat of black eyed peas (really, this is the end of the black eyed peas) As soon as they are available, I will get two bunches of onion sets. There will also be butternut squash, lettuce, sugar snap peas, garlic, parley and cilantro. Later there will be potatoes. If there is enough rain, there will be a lot of food.

I love to garden in the fall and winter. The weather is usually mild and there is more rain.

This summers garden was pretty pitiful after about the first of July. I always have such high hopes and I am usually disappointed because of the brutal Texas heat. Let all hope for a fruitful, pleasant fall and winter.

Have a great holiday everyone.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Meme... it's been a while.

Here’s a fun Meme that I was invited to by Racquel of Perennial Garden Lover. I don't know what I haven't shared on this blog. I don't seem to have boundries anymore. It has been a long time since I've done a meme.

I copied this from Racquel who copied it from Cameron who copied it from Helen.

There were conditions with this Meme award. In order to participate I needed to:
1. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Reveal seven things about yourself.
3. Choose seven other blogs to nominate, and post a link to them. There are so many good ones, this is difficult.
4. Let each of your choices know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.
5. And finally, let the tagger know, when your post is up.

Here it goes:

1. I can do the splits.
2. I used to travel all the time and I want to again.
3. I have 16 nieces and nephews.
4. They don't call me Aunt Debbi, my best friend's children do.
5. I can keep a secret forever.
6. I used to have a horse named Twinkles.
7. I wear a size five and a half shoe. This bit of unimportant information was suggested by Cinj.

Now, I know this meme is going through the garden blogs like wildfire. Therefore, I pick you all and you choose to play or not. Keep in mind though, I really want to know your shoe size.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ellis County Court House

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I love old court houses. We have some real beauties here in Texas. There are also some really ugly ones. These pictures are of the Ellis County Court House in Waxahachie, Texas. This building is beautiful. It is pink granite and red sandstone. It is covered in carvings. Yes, some of those windows are curved. The court house was built in the 1890's and it has been restored.

The legend behind the faces is that the stone carver was in love with his land ladies daughter, but she didn't love him back. Like it will, love turned ugly, and the faces became more and more hideous.

We spent the morning in Waxahachie. I had to take my mom to get her fingerprints taken so she could renew her real estate license. We had breakfast at the Court House Cafe, a greasy spoon with horrible service and great food. Then walked around the court house. We shopped at a great resale shop and ended the day at a quilt store.

I spent sometime this afternoon browsing through a book on Texas court houses and I plan on visiting more of them. I am already familiar with the court buildings in Denton, Dallas and Brady. Wonder how I am going to get Manly in the truck when he figures out what I'm up to?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Leek Potato Soup

6 New or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into small cubes
1 Large leek rinsed and cut up in small pieces (discard the tough green leaves)
4 tablespoons butter
1 pint half & half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons thyme
salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the potatoes and leek until tender. Return to the pot and add warmed half & half, milk and butter. Blend with a wand blender. Season with the thyme, salt and pepper. It takes more pepper than you would think.

It is better when it is cold outside.

What are you having for dinner?