Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Eggplants

So I have decided that eggplants and bell peppers are a great garden-type vegetable investment.  Here we are, middle of November, and all of those plants are still cranking out vegetables.  On top of that, they are big, healthy plants that take up a good space in the garden.  I pulled 5 peppers for a King Ranch Chicken Casserole and also grabbed a BIG eggplant off the vine this morning, and still left about 5 eggplants and a ton of peppers still out there.  With a freeze looming soon, I have no doubts that these will soon disappear.  Still, it's been a nice long run this year.  Those (and my prolific jalapeno plant) are definitely on the list for next year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This weekend we got two moderately sized eggplants from the garden, and made grilled baba ghanouj with them. Basically you grill the eggplants on a 400 degree grill, turning frequently, for 30-45 minutes, until they are black. Then after letting it cool some, add the flesh to a food processor with the following ingredients and blend until smooth:

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup tahini paste
2-2 1/2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 handful flat parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Cumin, salt, pepper to taste

Serve with pita and enjoy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Easy Plant: Jalapeno Peppers

Last for the month in the series of relatively easy plants to grow in Texas is this lovely guy, the Jalapeno.

I have grown these from seeds, and they are pretty easy to do, but generally I don't need more than one plant, and a six inch tall Bonnie plant is about the same price as a pack of seeds.

The jalapeno can easily be grown in containers (as shown here), it produces a ton of peppers if it grows tall enough, and can survive dry heat (even if the begonias I had planted around it at the base did not all survive.

Jalapenos will flower small white flowers with triangular or almost diamond shaped petals, and then will fruit.  The fruit turns red when it ripens, but you can pick them whenever they are large enough and green all the way until they turn red.

If you do decide to grow from seed, you can always remove the seeds from one of the jalapenos you harvest and dry them out in a small bag to save for the following year.  Often, we end up removing the seeds anyway to cut down on the heat from the pepper (remove the seeds and membranes and the pepper tames down quite a bit).  If you do start from seed, it's a good idea to start indoors (and I might try next year starting some inside with a sub-irrigation pot made from 2-liter soda bottles.

What you can DO with 15 or 20 jalapenos is up to you.  As for me, I always save 2 to make my annual batch of Jalapeno Pale Ale.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Easy Plant: Elephant Ears

One more in our "easy plant" series here, for hot summers, it is difficult to beat Colocasia, more commonly referred to as Elephant Ears.

We have had several varieties of Elephant Ears year after year, and I love the lush tropical image they give.

Pictured here is an interesting variety, called "Upright" because the leaves point up instead of down.

Also in our garden we have "regular" elephant ears, though at 3 years old, they need to be replaced since they did not do well after this year's winter, as well as "Black Magic" with purple foliage and another one this year called "Kona Coffee" which has brownish stems and green leaves.

Super easy - grab some bulbs in April and get them in the ground in May or so.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Easy Plant: Butterfly Bush

The butterfly bush is another easy plant for Texas, if you have the space for it.  As you can see ours in the center of the photo, they can get quite large (that fence is six feet tall, and you can see the butterfly bush blooms from the other side).

Since this photo was taken in late summer, the garden is looking a little ragged, but the butterfly bush still thrives through the heat.

The other nice thing about the butterfly bush is that in addition to the long, cone-shaped flowers, it actually works and works well to attract all manner of butterflies to your garden, as its name implies.  We have seen at least ten or twenty types of butterflies swarming the bush to get the sweet nectar.

Also pretty amazing is that we bought this butterfly bush from Michigan Bulb, who shipped it in a very small pot, and by the next summer, it was already this size!  The success and size of this plant has led me to think we may be adding a second one on the other side of the planting area to balance it out.

Ours is a "Black Knight" which ended up quite a bit lighter purple than I thought it would, but it is still really attractive.  Next on the list will be either a "Rainbow" or an "Empire Blue" which we may order in time to get this fall.  We shall see!

Maintenance note - you WILL have to chop this bush down in the winter.  It gets HUGE!  I take big pruning shears and cut it back by about half in mid-winter before new growth starts in the spring.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Easy Plant: Cannas

As part of my "ridiculous amounts of things to put out on the web in the month of August" ongoing project, I thought I would write on the Garden Blog here about some of my favorite easy plants to grow in your garden.

Living in Texas, I have found lots of plants just die and drown in the heat, and some work very well but not at the times they might thrive in other parts of the country.  Still, there are some plants that are very easy to plant and work with, and can greatly help your landscape.

One of these are the common canna flowers.  Every year I forget that these wait to bloom until July and August, and carry through with beautiful reds into the late summer.  The large foliage also gives a nice tropical flair to your yard.  I have a small spot on the side of the house that we call "the grotto" where I keep my tropical plants, and cannas are a large part of that.  I have found that year over year, it is helpful to keep augmenting the canna bulbs with more and more.  Last year's bulbs will come back, but perhaps later and not as vigorously as new bulbs.

The ones pictured here are "The President" - large red flowers that last a week or two and then slowly die off (like these are doing).

Cannas are easy to plant, just get some bulbs (either at your local home improvement store or from a grower such as Horn Canna Farms) in the spring, then dig a hole about 4 inches deep or so, drop the bulb in facing upward, and cover with dirt.  Then water it in and leave it alone.  Horn's has a ton of varieties selling for about 3 for $4.20 or so, which makes it very affordable to pick up several varieties.

So next Spring, grab some canna bulbs and by next summer, you'll be looking at flowers just like these.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

After some rain

We got some much needed rain the past two days, but it did beat up the garden a bit. It did encourage the coneflower to bloom, though.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Garden in bloom

Here's what the backyard garden looks like this morning!!!

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, June 7, 2010


Pulled three Cherokee Purples and one of the others off today - too late on the purples, though - heat already split them. The regular one (that looks green) should be fine in a couple of days.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, May 24, 2010

First daylily

First daylilies started blooming today! About 40 more to go.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Butterfly bush

First blooms opening today...

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bell Peppers

These are the orange variety... Not yet orange.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Finished staining the adirondack chairs and table this weekend. Despite some back-slat spacing issues and some squaring problems on one, I think they ended up OK.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Late to the party

This random different kind of iris bloomed this week, long after the others are gone. Also beginning to bloom: blue salvia, onions (big white ball of flowers), and I see the beginnings of blooms on the butterfly bush.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Some End of April Updates

As April comes to a close, here is what is going on at the end of the month:

During the month, I did the following:
  • Fertilized the grass with Neil Sperry's All Nitrogen Fertilizer
  • Started mowing regularly at pretty low height
  • Applied Image to kill Nutsedge and Annual Bluegrass in the yard once bermuda started growing
  • Planted Annual color in front and back beds (need more in front beds)
  • Planted sunflower seeds and have various sprouts growing
As far as vegetables I have some small bell peppers already forming, and no tomatoes yet, but the tomato plants are HUGE and blooming!  Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Got the first of the Cherokee Purple tomatoes coming in!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tomatoes blooming

Both tomato plants started blooming this past week. Looking forward to some delicious tomatoes soon! And really interested in the Cherokee Purple ones.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Hops

Here are my cascade hops plants climbing the trellis twine...
No, they don't grow sideways, that's just the picture (and unless I install Picasa to edit (sometime) it will be sideways - sorry!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The ballerina hawthornes started blooming this morning. If you look closely you might see an oak tree needing removal as well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Here are my two tomato plants in the homemade sub-irrigation planter.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Here is a picture of one of the easiest plants I have found to grow in our landscape.  It's called Wormwood Artemisia.  When I planted it, it was in a simple 4 inch pot, and now it has grown HUGE!  This is a picture now, which is cut back by more than half over the winter.  Last fall it covered the daylilies (to the right) and reached all the way back to the tree trunk.  Highly recommended if you are looking for a simple silver foliage plant.  (You can also see where the grass suffered from too much artemisia shade last summer - I plan to keep it trimmed within the border this year).

Warning:  You HAVE to keep this thing trimmed back, or it MAY become a bit invasive!!! But if that's what you want, that's what you get!


Had first iris bloom on Thursday, followed by two more over the weekend. Hooray blooms!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April planning

Lots to do in April...

Fertilize (going to use all-nitrogen fertilizer)
Plant annual flowers in front and back beds and pots
Mow and bag
Overseed lawn in late April
Spray grassy weeds
Continue to spray broadleaf weeds
Apply Image later in month after green-up

Let's talk about March!

OK, so March has come and gone, and a good bit of things happened in our yard in the March timeframe.  So let's walk through what has been done and what is upcoming...

In February, I trimmed the rosebush and the butterfly bush back quite a bit.  Also, in late February planted a set of red onions in the garden.

Beginning of the month:

Applied a crabgrass pre-emergent to the lawn.  This year I used Dimension by Green Light.

I also planted an upright elephant ear bulb.  After doing so, I learned that I may have done that too early.  Recommended time for elephant ears and tropical bulbs is closer to May.  Oh well, we will have to see whether it comes up or not.

Mid month

Mowed the lawn for the first time.  I dropped the blade down two notches and bagged the clippings.  Man, that is a nasty and messy messy job, but resulted in a reduction in the dead grass and encouraged the green-up of the bermuda.

Trimmed back the Russian Sage quite a bit and trimmed the Salvia plant to the ground.

Cleaned out weeds from beds.

Applied Broadleaf weed killer with 2-4D.  Need to re-apply as necessary, probably will try to do some this weekend.

Cascade hops started growing - ran new support threads in a "half-christmas tree" spoke configuration

End of month (after last frost - March 20)

Moved citrus trees outside after temperatures stayed above 40 degrees consistently.

Started planting.  Here we go:
Planted bell peppers (some red variety, Valencia Orange, and a gold variety).
Planted two tomato plants in an experimental sub-irrigated planter (Cherokee Purple heirloom and 444 hybrid)
Planted begonias in the front bed around the tree (got two flats of 50 from Calloway and had several left over to fill a pot in the back)
Planted begonias in a  pot
Planted jalapeno plant in center of begonia pot
Replaced 3 back pots
Repotted spike grass
Repotted Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic, Sage, and Oregano
Planted Sweet Basil and Cilantro in the herb garden pot
Planted eggplant in the garden - probably needed to wait on this one a little, but I got carried away.
Planted sunflower seeds in the garden along the back fence.

Phew!  That's a lot.  I may have done even more, I don't know.

Time to follow this up with an April planning post!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rosebush sprouting

Rosebush started sprouting leaves last Sunday (may have been earlier - couldn't tell for the snow).  We are supposed to get some snow again next week, so we shall see.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Everything is dead

Well, that's how it feels.  With cold temperatures in the teens this week and wind chills of zero, this is not a week where I would think about gardening all that much, but there is some much needed cleanup work to be done.  So here are some things I completed in the past week:

Pruned rosebush
Cleaned up dead elephant ear, canna, hibiscus, and persicaria foliage
Trimmed some tree branches from dormant trees
removed dead plants from pots

Some things I need to do:
add mulch
trim some more branches
kill weeds in dormant bermuda lawn
clean up other dead plants and beds
Plan some garden additions or landscaping changes