Friday, July 10, 2009

Fertilizer Friday!

Yay - another week comes to an end, and another Fertilizer Friday finds me feeding my plants. Be sure you check out our hostess, Tootsie, for a look at her beautiful garden and the gardens of all her friends!

My veggies are just growing like crazy. My yellow squash has gotten even bigger this week, I think eclipsing my zukes. Nice big bloom ready to open!

Blooms getting ready to come up on my zukes. Should I be concerned about these leaves??

The hanging bell pepper plant had two blooms this week. One doesn't look like it's going to make it, but the other looks good today. This plant has really surprised me - the fertilizer has really done the trick.

That's is for this week. I hope to come poke around in everyone else's FF posts over the weekend. Hope everyone has a great Fertilizer Friday and a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nothing like waiting until the last minute...

I've may have mentioned (maybe I'm thinking of my other blog...) that my husband and I are in the early stages of possibly building a new home. Part of this process will include selling our existing home. It's cute, well kept, and was updated throughout just three years ago. The market is sagging, but I'm hopeful we've got enough to offer here that it will sell.

Hubby and I started discussing a few days ago that we probably ought to spend a little time and money in some landscaping to help with curb appeal. We've done absolutely nothing to the exterior of our home in the three years we've owned the house except replace the roof and dig up two dead trees. We've planted nothing, done no weeding, no trimming of bushes, and no watering to our yard. Remember - I am a very new gardening enthusiast, only very recently taking an interest in my yard. My husband' thumb isn't black, green or otherwise - for him, it's about money. He's tight with it, and hasn't considered the yard a valuable place to spend it. This arrangement worked fine for us until a) I decided I wanted to dabble in gardening and b) we found ourselves in the position of worrying what OTHER people thought about our yard.

So, here we are in the dog-days of summer in Texas - in an especially warm and dry summer at that - thinking of what we need to do to spruce up our space. And I'm so clueless that I don't really know where to start or which plants would have a running chance at surviving transplantation in this weather. I think first we'll need to get a sprinkler and be willing to spend a few dollars a month reviving our grass. Hubby picked up a new weed eater yesterday (his died a while back in the middle of trimming along our fenceline. I wasn't convinced of the coincidence of that at all.) I perused what was left at Wal-Mart's plant selection: not much, and even less that looks healthy. There is one other nursery here in town that I will likely go check later this week.

Okay, here is where I embarass myself with photo confessions of just how neglectful we've been.

Front and center of my house. It's an 80's ranch style. See my dead grass?

Left angle: there are overgrown shrubs flanking the front porch (read: 8x3 concrete slab).

Here is a right angle showing the right-hand corners of the house.

Here is a close up of the overgrown shrubs, or in this case, the absence of one. It was dead when we moved in but we never removed it.

Here is another shot of my gangly rose bush I posted about a couple of weeks ago. This shot was taken then, so it does look slightly less dead now that I've been fertilizing it, but I've learned it's too late to prune it for this summer, so there it sits in all its leggy glory.

Go ahead - you can feel sorry for my yard. I do too. Too bad I didn't take an interest until now.

So my questions for you, oh wise garden gurus: what would you recommend for a fast, inexpensive make-over? Fast because we will likely be putting this house on the market in the next month or so, and inexpensive because we only want to invest as much time and money as necessary to add curb appeal. I don't want to labor or dump a lot of money into something I won't be able to enjoy myself. I'll save that for landscaping my new home!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fertilizer Friday

Happy Fertilizer Friday everyone! Be sure you drop by Tootsie's blog to admire everyone's well-fed gardens today!!

Okay, last week was my first, and I am a believer!! My veggies LOVED their food so much! By mid-week I could already tell a difference. Wow, wow, WOW! I found that Friday couldn't get here soon enough this week so I could treat my babies to another round of Miracle Gro.

My yellow squash has just about doubled in size over the past week or so! Even the one that had been eaten up is doing so well!

For comparison's sake, this was the squash one week ago! Can you say WOW?

My zukes look hardy and healthy! I see a bloom or two starting to come up - I don't know if it's really ready, but I guess we'll find out.

Again, zukes one week ago. [big grin]

My hanging bell pepper really had a good week. It's suddenly got so many new leaves and a small handful of tiny peppers starting. Should I pinch these off too and wait for the next round? The bell peppers in the tub also have new growth, but not as much as the hanging pepper.

My only real disappointment for the week is my tomatoes. The one bloom I had last week never opened up and seems to be turning brown now. And not another bloom in sight. Phooey!

And another beautiful rose! Now that I'm paying so much attention to this poor rose bush, it's all I can do to ignore how badly it needs pruning!

My impatiens sure got leggy this week. I need to read to find out if
that's one I should prune to help it keep its shape.

That's all for this week. I can't wait to see what another week will yield! I'm heading over to Tootsie's place to check out everyone else's gardens!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Peeling Bark

I have two crape myrtles, one at each of the west corners of my house. One is really good sized, and the other is rather diminutive. The smaller always blooms a good month ahead of the larger but both are just gorgeous in full bloom.

I was taking a walk through my yard, as I do now some days to take note of growth and conditions of the various things growing in it, when I noticed something about my larger crape myrtle. What do you make of this?

I have never noticed this in the three years we've lived here, but it's entirely possible I just never paid any attention to it in the past. Do any of you know - is this peeling bark normal for a crape myrtle? Or, is this the sign of a sick tree?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Impatient for impatiens...

About three weeks ago I planted impatiens from seed (see this post) in a large clay pot on my front porch. I had been so thrilled to find seedlings had popped up just days later. Well, those 11 or 12 seedlings turned into 24 or 25. Yes, in case you're wondering, I planted the whole packet of seeds in that pot. I plead ignorance, but in my defense, I didn't expect so many to come up anyway. And, when they did, my plan was to weed out the weakest and smallest so that the the healthiest would have plenty of room to grow.

Well, less than two weeks after my planting, suddenly one morning as I was watering I discovered that something had come along and eaten 80% of my seedlings. This literally happened overnight. I was perturbed and baffled because I couldn't see any obvious offenders. I sprayed and hoped for the sparing of the remaining seedlings.

As of yesterday, I felt sure the bugger who'd been munching hadn't been back, but it also appeared that what meager seedlings were left would not survive the shock of the massacre. They were wilting and starting to shrivel. Maybe I could have continued to nurse them along, but I confess that I am just not patient enough for my impatiens.

So, yesterday being my go-to-town day, I stopped and made a little purchase, and now, in the former resting place of my once-prolific impatiens, you'll now find these:

Welcome, little Red Wax and Olympia White Begonias!!

- it is the end of the planting season here in Texas. Selection is limited, especially in the partial shade varieties, which of course Begonias are. I got these for half-price, and if they make it,
YAY, and if they don't, I won't be shocked. I also recycled the potting soil, so if something in the soil is what killed my impatiens, these may suffer the same fate. I guess then I'd know for sure, wouldn't I?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Woohoo! Jackpot!

My husband and I are in the early planning stages of possibly building a home. This project encompasses much time and thought throughout my days (and nights.) Besides browsing countless home plan websites, I have also been collecting interior design and decorating ideas. There are endless offerings on the web, but I have a certain appreciation for hard print in a book or magazine as well.

A friend of mine gave me a stack of some of her Country Home and Southern Living magazines she'd already read, so I started there. Then, I dug out two or three years worth of Better Homes and Gardens that I had already packed up to sell in our next yard sale. In true OCD fashion, I started files for each category: kitchen, bathroom, window treatments, flooring, fixtures, etc., and filed away the pages of the magazines featuring examples of ideas I liked. As I carefully studied each page for details and delicious design, I had an epiphany! I discovered, for the first time, the "Gardens" in Better Homes and Gardens. And I hit the jackpot.

I truly believe before my recent interest in gardening, those pages of lush green and vibrant colors had been completely blocked out. The breathtaking yards full of life had gone unnoticed as I flippantly turned past in search of a good recipe or photos of a majestic restored farm house. How thrilled I am to suddenly have dozens of magazines full of garden eye candy to scour over and enjoy. I get to love my magazines all over again! **blissful sigh**

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Two weeks since planting my veggies...

... and I have some good news and some bad news. Let's start with the good news, shall we? How about a little before and after?

The pictures above are from the day my gardening assistant (my mom) and I planted. This is my zucchini (I see lots of gardeners call them zukes - who knew!?) There were two seedlings and I planted them in one of three large round tubs I purchased from the flea market. Did I mention I only paid FIVE DOLLARS for all three? I brought those babies home, drilled some drainage holes in the bottom, and voila! Containers for my veggies! Here's a garden-dummy moment for all you gurus to laugh about: when I bought the seedlings, I deliberately chose some with blooms. In all of my excitement to grow vegetables, I assumed having blooms meant the plants were in some way closer to bearing fruit. Of course, as it was pointed out to me by a friend's very garden-savvy father, that in summertime in Texas, if you're foolish enough to plant this late, you've got to at least make your plants THINK it's not late. That meant I needed to pinch off those blooms so the plants would focus their energy on growing rather than blooming, because as small as they were, they weren't really ready to put out any fruit. I've also put my container in a spot where it will only get partial sun and will be in the shade during the very hottest time of the day. This, again, is to try to fake more spring-like conditions.

And now, two weeks later, here are the 'after' pictures.

So, have I convinced my zukes to grow?? You betcha!! They have not bloomed again since about the fourth or fifth day after planting but instead have really filled out nicely with lots of new leaves.

On to the less-good news. Below you'll see planting day for yellow squash. My squash has had a tough go of it thanks to The Very Hungry Caterpillar I discovered last week (see this post.) Before I figured it out, the little critter completely stripped one of the two plants bare.

So, two weeks later:

Either because of, or despite this set-back (the caterpillar), these plants haven't had the growth that the zukes have. They're not in bad shape, just not growing at the same rate. I am encouraged though to see that the squash that was eaten has started to put out new leaves again, so maybe it didn't suffer too much shock. Time will tell if it makes it afterall.

And now the bad news. I planted in the third round tub two green bell pepper seedlings. My mom also donated her empty Topsy-Turvy planter for a third bell pepper seedling. Here they were two weeks ago on the day they were planted:

Here they are today.

I need to research about bell peppers to see if I can glean any clues as to why they've not done well. I can't see any detectable growth on the two in the round container, and have only just found one or two new leaves on the hanging planter in the past day or two. If anything, it seems like the hanging pepper plant has just kind of drawn itself up, which makes it look thicker, but really I don't think it is. There is clearly something amiss, but in the end this is all a big learning experience for me, so my objective is now to figure out what is wrong. By next year, I'll be a little more experienced and a lot more in-the-know.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My first Fertilizer Friday!

It's Fertilizer Friday! What's that, you ask? You can visit Tootsie here (or by clicking on the picture below) to see all the happy flowers and plants who are well-fed every Friday.

I'm excited to be joining in the fun this week for the first time. This morning I added a little Miracle Gro to my watering can and fed my plants. I don't have many flowers to flaunt because my garden is so new and because most of what I'm growing are vegetables, but I can see lots of growth so I'll flaunt what I got.

Here is the tiny emerging bloom on my tomato plant. Color me clueless: does this mean it's about to begin bearing fruit??

Here is my zucchini - I will post (eventually) from the planting of it so you can see before and after, but trust me, this baby is growing. I planted so late and it's been so warm here, so I pinched off several blooms it had in the first week, but now, since doing so, it seems to have really taken off with growth.

This is the poor rose bush I posted about a couple of weeks ago. Look at this beauty! It know it's leggy, but it's too late to do anything about that for this year. I've been feeding it, and it really seems to be revived!

My lavender was almost dead when I planted it. The grower just gave it to me in fact because it was on it's way out. I've just watered, fed, and given it plenty of warm sun -which it loves - and there's new growth for it too!

Lots of brand new leaves on my impatiens. The flowers are mostly gone right now, but they bloom again every few days so I'm not worried about that.

Yay! Thanks for visiting my first Fertilizer Friday! And thanks Tootsie for getting me regimented about it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

If you have had young children in the past 40 years, you may be familiar with Eric Carle. Before I was a SAHM, I taught both the second and third grade. I am overly fond of good children's literature and I would consider Carle among the best of the best.

So, should I be flattered that Mr. Carle's very own leading larva from his best known book made an appearance in my garden this week? So flattered that I'd overlook his near annihilation of one of my squash plants? I think not.

Over the course of about two or three days, Mr. Hungry Caterpillar cleaned off every last leaf on one of my plants. Of course, I blame myself because, after deduction and speculation, I spent those couple of days assuming I was being visited by something much larger. I had even cast blame on that cute little bunny I met a week ago. I'm so clueless that I never thought a BUG could do that kind of damage in so short a time. Finally, on the third morning, to my horror, I went out to find the plant completely stripped of every last leaf. I then noticed the second squash plant showing the same signs of destruction on it's biggest leaf. It suddenly occurred to me to turn that leaf over and WHOM DID I FIND?? Mister Hungry Caterpillar himself, munching and wondering why I'd bothered him.

In case you're wondering, this doesn't end well for our loathsome larva. If only he'd decided that would be a good day to build a cocoon. But, alas, he made a smorgasbord out of my squash plant, and I was done catering. He had officially had his Last Supper.

After a day or two of intensive care and recovery, I'm happy to report that the demolished squash plant has already put out three new leaves. I may not have killed it yet! *Whew!*