Sunday, October 5, 2014

Playing "I Spy" in the garden

There were tell-tale signs in the garden this morning..

    I learned last year when I saw my tomato plants, 
                   minus their leaves like this, 
                what I needed to be looking for ...

They are sneeky little things - 
well, actually not SO little, but 
you have to really look to see them!
They are good at camouflage.
I read that if you go out at night with a florescent light,
you can spot them more easily. According to Wikipedia,
 "Using an ultraviolet light source of 375 nm and viewed behind a blue-blocking 
filter (yellow or amber filter), a tomato hornworm fluoresces in bright green 
while a tomato leaf appears deep red/amber.

When you see the leaves like this, you need to go on the hunt for these caterpillars.
They are voracious eaters and they'll strip your stalks clean! 
Ask me how I know! (see post from last year!)
Now that the weather has gotten cooler, I'm hoping to get a new crop
of tomatoes before the 1st frost in Central Texas.

Yes, that's YOU I'm looking at!

In my opinion, 
the only good tomato hornworm 
(no, I didn't take a picture of the smushed ones!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's "Fall Ya'll"!!

It must be September! 
Every year about this time I walk out in the garden trying to remember where I planted them. These red lilies never fail to surprise me!

It must be my forgetful age ... I'm always surprised by Joy!

Growing up, my dad called these 
"Schoolhouse Lilies" 
because they always appear 
in September.

The bulb is extremely hardy, 
surviving even our hot, 
sometimes dry summers. 
But after the 1st rains begin 
in the fall, they come back 
year after year. 

These particular bulbs came from 
my Dad's yard that I dug up after he died. 
I feel a special bond with him every time they bloom. 

This pretty, white coral vine started blooming 
several weeks ago and gets showier by the day!
I planted it last fall and babied it through the winter, 
covering over the root ball with a bucket 
every time we got a hard freeze. 
It was slow to grow but I don't mind a bit. 
It's so nice to have something new blooming 
after the heat of summer has passed and 
other summer flowers are starting to fade.

These little cuties we always called "Rain Lilies"
The leaves have been growing in my vegetable garden all year - 
looking like a garlic plant.
But today when I went out to look, the flowers had appeared!
How did I miss seeing them before now?

And last, but certainly not least, 
is my dwarf Barbados Cherry!
It has started blooming Again! 
I looked it up and found out 
that it blooms, not only in the Spring, 
but again in the Fall!!

In the Central part of Texas, 
we may not have the oranges and golds 
of our northern neighbors, 
when we think of a "Fall Garden" 
but September brings a flush of new blooms
and they signal "Autumn is Coming" to Me!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

No shortage of bees here!

I'd heard there was a shortage of bees nowdays. 
Maybe due to pesticides? 
Maybe fire ants? 
(they blame everything on the fire ants!)
But I was out in my garden this morning 
doing a little clean-up, 
getting ready for planting my Fall garden. 
I decided I'd have to wait until the early evening 
due to all the bees buzzing around my garlic chives.

They came for the chives and stayed for the okra!

In fact, they were gathering nectar from all over the garden!
Do I need a bee box now?
Honey on toast - YUM!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Gardens Don't Take a Vacation!

What do you do with your vegetable garden when you leave to go on vacation?
I should have thought ahead and told my neighbors to come over and pick anything ripe. But honestly, I figured that it might not rain while I was gone and I didn't want to bother anyone with having to water for me. Since my irrigation system needs work, I also didn't want anyone coming over to find dead plants in my garden.

But, thank the LORD, it must have rained while I was gone ....
the okra didn't know it was supposed to take a vacation ! 

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out what to do 
with foot long okra!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Veggies are Hiding!

Who Knew?

I had been so enamored by the beautiful display of the zinnias in this flower bed, I had forgotten all about the eggplant I planted behind them in the same bed this year.

I just wanted something to grow up my garage-sale-find garden obelisk and back in the spring, a friend had given me a starter plant of eggplant.
All along, in the shade of these beautiful leaves, an even more beautiful veggie has been growing!

Now, how does one cook an eggplant? 
Especially when you only have one of them?

Here's the recipe I received from a website called "Dr. Mike" @
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled
  • 4 egg whites
  • Fat-free Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • 1 cup of low-carb marinara sauce
DIRECTIONS Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut into ¼ inch slices. In a shallow dish, beat egg whites and 4 tablespoons of water until foamy. Dip eggplant slices into egg whites, then into fat-free Parmesan cheese, pressing cheese into eggplant. Place eggplant on prepared baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray and sprinkle with garlic powder. Spray vegetable cooking spray over eggplant slices. Back 30 minutes at 400 degrees, turning eggplant over after 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Cover with 1 cup of low-carb marinara sauce. Bake for 20 minutes, or until eggplant is piping hot and sauce is bubbly. Makes 2 large servings.

What other vegetables have I forgotten to check on?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happy 1st Day of Summer 2014

Summer has officially arrived
and my garden is in those lazy, hazy days of growing ....
Here's a look around the yard to see how everything is doing:

What a happy flower bed greets me when I pull in the driveway!
It's come a long way from the ugly hedge of bushes that were growing
there the 1st year after I moved in: Here's the "before" picture -
Hedges trimmed with a "Buzz Cut"

Overgrown hedges since I don't own a Buzz-Cutter
(removal of right bush had begun since there was  no growth underneath them to trim back)

Here's that flower bed today!
Checking out the veggie garden: the okra pods seem to grow overnight!
 I think I could actually stay out there and literally watch them get bigger.

I planted 6 different kinds of tomatoes this year and they
seem to be finally setting fruit nicely ...

The oregano obviously loves our Texas heat -
it's spreading out way past it's brick paver boundary.

This cute red wheelbarrow was sitting on the side of the road
begging to be taken home and loved once again ... and home it came with me!
The begonias are quite happy blooming here along with
a cypress vine that is coming back from last year -
Don't you just LOVE perennials?!

The ajuga I planted started as a small starter pot and look how
it has spread! I'm so happy to find a plant that can grown in the shade
of my oak tree overhead. What is that other plant blooming alongside
it? It has blue flowers so I decided to let it grow. Is it a weed?
I let "blooming weeds lie" :-)

And last but not least, my Mr. Sun face
 that I found at a garage sale this summer for $.25 
He's hiding the orange utility pole that's lurking
behind the wooden pallet. That's why He's Smiling!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Finally Finished - My Re-Purposed Wooden Pallet Potting Bench!

Now THIS is cause to celebrate!!

Last Fall, I decided I would like to try to build a potting bench, with a sink for washing garden vegetables. I researched them on Pinterest and decided I could make one with old, discarded wooden pallets. Since I didn't own very many tools and had never built anything like this before - I had NO idea what I was getting into.
(check out my prior post dated November 2013 for pictures and details of pallet demolition)

Here is the bench before adding the sink ...

But today, putting the finishing touches on it, I am SO very proud of all the work I did and how much I learned from the project.

If this is the last time I ever use a scary circular saw, it'll be fine with me! I was so glad when I made the last cut and could safely put the saw away in the garage. I'm giving thanks to God that I still have all my toes and fingers! And I now know you need to wear earplugs when cutting with a circular saw!
They are LOUD!!
The sink was found at our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and couldn't have been a more perfect fit. The back piece (where I will put my garden tools and supplies) was a part of the pallet that I had cut off and used all along as a saw horse to make my other sawing cuts. That piece and I have a history now, so it was fun to put it to use on the bench and gives me a few little cubbies to store tools.

The only thing left to do is hook it up to a hose when I want to run the water. That, as well as getting some vegetables growing that need to be washed!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Who needs a gym membership when you're a gardener!

Peggy Martin rose

I'm looking forward to the work week so I can get some rest :-)
Gardening is exhausting work but the results are sure worth it!
Cinco de Mayo rose

I reworked my tomato bed with more composted soil, hauled and spread 10 bags of mulch around the yard, sawed off the gutter and almost got my rain barrel finished (another trip to Lowes for screws and washers),

 re-potted 2 bushes, pulled weeds, tied up my climbing rose bush to the fence, and re-hung the bird feeder to confound the squirrels.

I don't know why I signed up 
for a gym membership!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Spiral Herb Garden - "How to Make one" Step-by-step

I'm doing a "Happy Dance" since today I finally made a spiral herb garden!

I had seen several versions of these garden designs on Pinterest last year and decided to start collecting green and brown bottles (and having friends collect them for me) to use in making mine.

I especially liked the design I had seen on the blog post:

I didn't have enough bottles to use for the whole spiral yet, so for now, I used
petrified wood pieces to complete the design.

It was a fun and easy project and can be finished in a day - provided you have been saving your glass bottles instead of recycling!

Here are some progression pictures of how I made this.
If I can do it - anyone can!

1st - lay out your spiral design with stones

2nd - put down newspaper or cardboard, overlapping it at the edges to kill the grass underneath. You could use a shovel and take it out, but the cardboard works and saves lots of time!

3rd - I used a large clay pot planted with mint for my tallest center planting. The pot should help keep the mint from over-spreading it's bounds. This pot was set on top of another brick, to give it the extra height. I've heard that the height should be about the same distance as the width of your design.
4th - Begin adding dirt to build the walls, reinforcing them with the stone or bottles.

5th - When you are happy with your design, add plants!

Mine was planted with spearmint, tarragon (Mexican marigold mint) which has cute little yellow flowers, dianthus (for added color), dill, lemon balm, curly leaf parsley, basil, and thyme.

This little garden, right outside my kitchen window, makes me smile :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy 1st Day of SPRING!

It was a balmy 75 degrees today in Central Texas and was it ever hard to stay inside and work!

Unfortunately, the freeze we had a few weeks ago did my sweet peas and Barbados cherry bush in and I just don't have the heart to cut them back yet. Wishful thinking?

But the Bradford Pear trees are putting on a show and my white Cemetery iris are blooming like they have for almost 100 years (they came from an older lady's garden then passed along to my Dad and are now blooming in my garden!) Don't you just LOVE hand-me-along plants?!!

I'll get out this weekend and take some pictures but I wanted to wish everyone a
Happy 1st Day of Spring!