Friday, November 29, 2013

For the Birds - Not

Have you tried Netting?

You may not be able to see the fine black netting covering this tomato plant (some of it is bunched up on the left hand side) but I went ahead and draped this over a couple of the tomato cages as tomatoes are ripening and the birds started pecking them. Not what I enjoy finding in the garden early in the morning.

Net covering tomato plant to deter birds.

I got a roll of this netting from Tractor supply. It's kind of a hassle to use as it catches on everything but it does work and is reusable. I pulled it out some so it wasn't touching the tomatoes as they can still peck them if it's right on top of them. You have to make sure and get it pinned down all around the bottom of the plant so the birds can't reach it from the ground - birds are very resourceful.

The birds have also found the chicken feeder! We've had it up for almost two years (refilling it every morning for all of the chickens) and the birds never bothered it until recently. Guess they "Tweeted" all of their friends to come over for all you can eat dining. I finally put a cover over the middle of the feeder which seems to have cut down on the "free for all".

Grafted Tomatoes

To graft or not to graft - that is the question.

Below is a tag for the Cherokee Purple tomato which is grafted onto "SuperNatural" rootstock. Have to keep any suckers that grow below the graft removed. The plant we purchased didn't have much of a root system to start with so has had a slow start. It is finally starting to grow some. You are supposed to keep the graft well above soil level.

One gardener told me they planted two tomatoes of equal size, one being a
regular tomato and the other being a grafted one but so far hasn't been able
to tell much difference. Anyone else tried these? How did they do for you?
It's always fun to try something new!

This is our grafted tomato - looking very healthy
but still no blooms as of 11-27-13.
We bought this one at the Texas Master Gardener conference in October.
This is my first experience growing one and can't wait to see how it does.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First Ripe Tomatoes of our Fall Garden - Whoo-Hoo!

Our Felicity tomato plant is doing great - I have a couple other different tomato plants with green tomatoes on and some with flowers only. We'll be planting a grafted tomato plant we got at the Master Gardeners Conference trade show. I've heard of them but this will be the first I've tried.

It's recommended to NOT refrigerate fresh picked tomatoes
as it reduces their flavor and changes their texture.
These may not even make it to the house.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Are You Addicted to Gardening?

Yeh, I recognize a few of these...most of these...all of these...Ok, all of them except maybe one or two...


You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…

  • Your neighbors recognize you in your pajamas, rubber clogs and a cup of coffee.
  • You grab other people’s banana peels, coffee grinds, apple cores, etc. for your compost pile. 
  • You have to wash your hair to get your fingernails clean.
  • When you randomly pull weeds wherever you go.
  • All your neighbors come and ask you questions.
  • When you creep around the garden on damp evenings with a torch and collect the snails and take them to safe place very far away from the garden.
  • You know the temperature of your compost every day.
  • You buy a bigger truck so that you can haul more mulch.
  • You enjoy crushing Japanese beetles because you like the sound that it makes.
  • Your boss makes “taking care of the office plants” an official part of your job description.
  • Everything you touch turns to “fertilizer”.
  • You weed in the rain.
  • You find yourself "deadheading" at Home Depot and Lowe's.
  • Your non-gardening spouse becomes conversant in botanical names.
  • You find yourself feeling leaves, flowers and trunks of trees wherever you go, even at funerals.
  • Every time you trim a bush, you HAVE to use the cuttings to start new plants.
  • You dumpster-dive for discarded bulbs after commercial landscapers remove them to plant annuals. 

You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…

  • You put gardening pictures on your screen saver.
  • You plan vacation trips around the locations of botanical gardens, arboreta, historic gardens, etc.
  • You plant & transplant at night with flashlights & a porch light.
  • You sneak home a 7-foot Japanese Maple and wonder if your spouse will notice.
  • You notice good dirt when driving around town.
  • When considering your budget, plants are more important than groceries.
  • You always carry a shovel, bottled water and a plastic bag in your trunk as emergency tools.
  • You scan CraigsList under Farm/Garden to find new friends.
  • You count earthworms and red worms among your inner circle of friends.
  • You appreciate your Master Gardener badge more than your jewelry.
  • You talk “dirt” at baseball practice.
  • You know what guerilla gardening is and how to make seed bombs.
  • You spend more time chopping your kitchen greens for the compost pile than for cooking.
  • You bring home rocks from vacations to put them in your garden.
  • You like the smell of horse manure better than Estee Lauder.
  • You rejoice in rain…even after 10 straight days of it.
  • You have pride in how bad your hands look.
  • Your “easy” chair is a lawn chair perched in the shade with a good view of the garden.
  • You have a decorative compost container on your kitchen counter. 

You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…

  • You can give away plants easily, but compost is another thing.
  • Soil test results actually mean something.
  • You understand what IPM means and are happy about it.
  • You’d rather go to a nursery to shop than a clothes store.
  • You know that Sevin is not a number.
  • You take every single person who enters your house on a “garden tour”.
  • You look at your child’s sandbox and see a raised bed.
  • You ask for tools for Christmas, Mother/Father’s day, your Birthday and any other occasion you can think of.
  • You go to the back door of the natural foods store and haul away big boxes of veggie scraps to make compost piles.
  • You can’t bear to thin seedlings and throw them away.
  • You scold total strangers who don’t take care of their potted plants.
  • You know how many bags of fertilizer/potting soil,/mulch your car will hold.
  • You drive around the neighborhood hoping to score extra bags of leaves for your compost pile.
  • Customers at the garden centers ask YOU for advice and not the nice ladies with clean hands and wearing aprons with the company name on them.
  • Your preferred reading matter is seed catalogs. 
And last but not least: 

You know that the four seasons are:

  • Planning the Garden
  • Preparing the Garden
  • Gardening~and~
  • Preparing and Planning for the next Garden.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Edible Flowers

This time of year is one of my favorites, when edible flowers like nasturtiums, johnny jump ups and calendula are all in bloom. Thanks to encouragement and stupendous tremendous help from my garden bud partner Colleen, and sidekick Cheryl, we served up a first class edible flower program with tastings that were a big hit.

Our menu consisted of:
  • Secret Garden Rosemary Tea (recipe included in past blog)
  • Sage Cheese Log slices
  • Calendula petals sprinkled over Mexican Mint Marigold butter from Lucinda Hutson's book
  • Alice's homemade crackers and heart shaped breads,
  • Fennel flavored Black Olives
  • Fresh cut Garden Tomatoes with sprinkled with Basil, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
  • Chicken Salad with Grapes, Valencia Orange slices, Pecans (pecans supplied by Valley Pecans, new vendor at the Brownsville Farmers Market by the way) and Nasturtium flowers on a bed of fresh garden gourmet lettuce leaves sprinkled with olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar
  • Deviled Eggs that included herb sprigs of Johnny Jump Ups, Parsley, Violas, Chives, Thyme, Chervil
  • Purple, Cheddar Cauliflower, Romanesco, Broccoli  (which are vegetables of immature flower heads) with Spicy Cilantro Dip
  • and Dark Chocolate Brownies with Johnny Jump Up Flowers and Pistachio Lime Basil Cookies
Thanks to Marylyn for the Sunnyside Garden Gallery setting showcasing talented Brownsville Art League members surrounded by gardens full of birds, butterflies and Alice of Alice's Kitchen for her home made crackers, heart shaped bread and pistachio cookies, Don for the wonderful edible flowering plants, Valley Nuts for the Pecans - all of which are available for sale every Saturday at the Brownsville Farmers Market, TX on Saturday's 9am to noon at 6th and Harrison.

Budding Tastes

Cauliflower (cheddar and purple) and Romanesco are actually immature flower heads. Yellow flowers pictured above are broccoli florets, all from my garden.

Mexican Mint Butter sprinkled with calendula petals, sage cheese ball and fennel black olives accompanied by Alice's Country Kitchen heart and flower shaped crackers and bread were part of the yummy tastings along with Secret Garden Rosemary Tea and items pictured above. A big thanks to Colleen, Cheryl, Marylyn and Alice and all those who attended! It was FUN! and thanks to the Brownsville Herald Brad Doherty and Yvette Vela for great photos. Makes me hungry all over again.