Storms

Typical central Texas weather, we had hot weather, with triple digit weather on the way. Here is what we had as weather in the back yard:

A few clouds out the back yard
This was the front yard moments before
In a matter of minutes we had half an inch of rain. This is Texas weather.

Heat spell

Central Texas has been in the midst of a heat spell. We’ve had triple digit days (100+), record breaking heat, with heat indexes hitting 110+. Just plain hot!

So what does that mean for your garden? Just try to keep things alive. That’s really the best you can do. Don’t worry about what doesn’t look like its growing, just keep the poor plants alive. That’s all you can do. That’s the most important thing.

Now I’ve lost a few plants. My thyme plant doesn’t look like it has survived the heat. And I think my mint may have bitten the dust. That happens. But I have small plants of both that I can transplant and grow. That’s the nice thing about taking cuttings and making new plants.

Now for how the garden is doing. I put in a drip water system. Its not elegant, but so far it is working. That’s what matters. I do need to make some refinements. I’m noticing some plants don’t appear to be getting enough water.

Right now the drip water runs three days a week, two times a day (morning and evening), for 5 minutes each time (total of 10 minutes a day). So its not running a lot, but don’t forget, my main sprinklers also run 2 days a week. What I have been looking at is the water pattern. I am using sprinklers that water in a 180 or 360 degree pattern, not little bubblers that water an individual plant. So I have to actually look to see where the water hits. Now yes, I may need to change to bubblers, but that is part of the learning process.

Another interesting learning opportunity has been the seed. You might remember I went through my seed and got rid of old seed. I had some seed that had never been opened, they were company packaged in foil packets. Well I put some of that old, unopened seed in the beds. Guess, what, most all of it is sprouting. Some seemed to sprout overnight. I’m sure getting heat and water helped the quick sprout.

But that’s part of the learning process of gardening. If something isn’t working, its your job to be the sleuth and figure out what may be going wrong. If it sunlight, heat, water, just the wrong plant, old seed – you have to figure it out. But I’m happy to say we seem to be on the right track again. Things are growing well, and that’s what matters.

Happy gardening!

Learn your garden

One thing about gardening is you really need to learn your little micro zone. Sometimes people think its sunny, the whole yard gets sun, but that might not be entirely accurate. As I mentioned in a different post, I have a small area bordered by the house on one side, a raised deck on one side, open on a side, and the last side is partially open and partially enclosed by a wall. Because of the raised deck on one side and the partially enclosed portion, this area get both sun and shade. It affects what grows well there, and how they grow. I wanted to show you what I mean.

Pea plant in full sun

The above is a pea plant, think snow peas, that is in the raised bed in full sun light. Now you might think that would be great for the plant. Well, here in July in central Texas, that’s a lot of sun, and a lot of heat.

Pea plant with shade

This pea plant, same seed, was planted after the other one, but it is in that corner area near the raised deck. That means this plant get shade in the after noon. This plant was planted after the other one, and theoretically should be smaller. But its not. Its growing better, is larger, and even has peas on it.

Squash plant from shaded pot

By comparison, this squash plant was in a pot in the same partially shaded area where the well growing pea plant is. You may thing, well its growing fine. By comparison…

Squash plant in full sun

This squash plant was planted after the other one, should be smaller, and have less growth. This one is producing squash, I’ve been eating them. I transplanted the other plant into the same bed as this plant.

These examples are to show how you have micro climates within your yard. You may have some areas with more sun that you expect, and some areas get less that you expect. What you may not have noticed on the small squash plant is it actually had some mildew because of where it was growing. Yes it was in a pot, but it wasn’t in a crowded area, it gets a lot of breeze through that area. But it is an area that does get more shade. And that seems to have made all the difference.

To make it simple to understand, if you have an area where a plant may not be doing well, take a good look at the actual area – how much sun, how much shade, how much wind or breeze does it get. It may not be what you expect. Your plant may do better in a different area of your yard. So you need to actually look and learn about your area. Then you can get a better crop of whatever you are growing, veggies, flowers, whatever.

Things to learn while gardening.

Summer?

Somehow they seem to think we are in summer. Well, the calendar says we are, but the weather is still wonky. We’ve had some days with storms, yet warm weather.

This past week, we had high 80’s and some 90’s yet have gotten over an inch of rain. We’ve also had some issues this week with a dust storm from the Sahara that made its way to Texas. Its left us with a haze in the sky. Its hazy enough to even notice it looking down the street. Its possible to notice the dusty haze on even such a short distance. Yet we had some rain, probably 1/4 inch, today, and about a inch earlier in the week.

As for the garden, its very different from my last yard. My two beds are growing some things well. The raised beds with squash, cucumbers, and melons are growing well. Yet the peppers in the same beds are not. I’m trying to chalk it up to old seed. I’m not sure that’s true, but at least it sounds good. I say I’m not sure its true as some new seed didn’t sprout even.

But I am having some success. I’ve begun harvesting some zucchini and cucumbers. I have learning some interesting things. Next to the deck is a small protected area. This area does get some shade. What’s interesting is that a pot with zucchini in this area is doing poorly, whereas the same seed in the raised bed is already producing. I’ve moved that potted zucchini out by the raised bed. We’ll see if that helps. I do know that the peas are growing well in this protected area. So it may be this is a good spot for lettuce and some plants that need less heat.

I have had some additional problems to deal with. I recently came down with shingles. In my case it has shown up on my face, scalp, and neck. This means it’s rather hard for me to go out into the sun. Luckily I was put on medication to help, and within two weeks now have scabs, so I’m no longer contagious. But I will say scabs on the scalp are not comfortable. Having shingles on the scalp have made washing my hair, brushing my hair, and wearing my glasses extremely uncomfortable. The pain and fatigue of shingles is a very real problem. So having shingles has made it harder to work in my garden.

But I am still plugging along. I’m even starting to think about next years needs. I’m thinking that my front yard may needs some irises, maybe a peony, maybe something else. I’d like to get some color out in the front, but of course I do have problems with deer out front so that has to be taken into consideration. We’ll see.

Storms!

Texas weather has been strange to say the least. Its been warm, then hot. We’ve had temps in the 90’s, then all of the sudden it can change. The Austin area had some strange weather the other week, even an EF0 tornado touchdown in the outer areas of Austin. If you look up the Fujita scale, you actually have to hit winds of 65-85 mph to be classified as a tornado, and that puts you at EF0. At 86 mph you begin to hit EF1. Check out weather.com or another weather site for their information about tornadoes.

But last night we actually got rain. We got over 4 inches of rain. Its just after noon now, and the lightning is getting closer. The skies are dark and I’m betting we will get more rain. I’m not sure what time the rain stopped this morning, but it looks like the ground has had enough time to absorb the water, and the puddles are subsiding.

Last nights rain gauge as seen this morning.

Hopefully after the rain ends, and in a few days I will be able to put up some pictures of how the garden is doing.

With the heat I was able to put in some seeds that have been sprouting. Even though I have raised beds, the weather and temperatures here are different from our last home. We may be close by, not more than a few miles distance, there is a difference in the weather. And of course I don’t have a drip water system in yet. I’m working on that.

I’ll keep you posted. And yes, before anybody asks, the rain gauge is held on the metal post using wire and zip ties. Not the best, but eventually I’ll figure out where I want it then install it better. But not there yet.

Summer?

Texas weather does it again. Just the other night we had thunderstorms early in the morning. As in wake you from your sleep early, and that much thunder, lightning, and rain. But after that lovely weather we are in a warm up.

This morning, by 9 AM it was a cool 57 degrees. But today we are looking at going to a lovely 86, and in the next couple of days they are talking pushing high 90’s. Who knows, those could end up hitting our first 100 degree day, a bit early.

But I was able to get some seeds and plants into the new planter over the weekend. With the rain we got I should be able to have fresh veggies this summer. I put in cucumbers, peppers, swiss chard, I moved some lettuce, and replanted the squash, and put in more carrots. I did harvest the carrots I had before in a pot. They were very tasty. So I decided more carrots would be a good idea.

And we’ll see how the weather plays out. If we get that hot I will have to get a drip watering system in soon. That is one thing I haven’t done yet. So far, only a few days, I’ve been watering by hand.

New beds

Well one new raised beds is in and now up, filled, and planted. The soil in it is a mix of garden soil and potting mix. Its about 8 feet long, four feet wide, and probably at least 12-14 inches deep in soil. I was able to move plants, seedlings really, into the beds. With help, we pulled the carrots and beets out of their pots and put the excess, left over soil into the one unfilled bed.

I was able to move some of the pots, and their seedlings into the new bed. I moved the basil, which was in a felt pot into a regular plastic pot. I also transplanted the oregano into a larger pot. It had been in an old 1 gallon pot, the kind you get when you purchase plants. The new small rosemary also got a new home, a new pot. We just got it a couple of weeks ago, and its one of those small little plants. So its now in a bigger home, pot.

Those pots that have plants that were not really growing well, like the lettuce that was bolting, were just discarded and the soil moved into the unfilled bed. Some things I left alone. The tomatoes were left in the pot they are growing in. But the peppers weren’t growing any, nothing had sprouted, so I just moved the soil into the unfilled pot.

I also transplanted some squash plants into a new pot. I had put seeds into a pot with not the best of soil. Actually the soil felt more like clay. I pulled out the seedlings, moved them to a new pot, and spread the clay soil into the unfilled pot. Heavy clay soil mixed into a large unfilled bed makes it much less of a problem.

The filled bed has now been planted with some seedlings, and with new seed. I put in peppers, swiss chard, lettuce seedlings, carrots, beans, and cucumbers. I still have room in the bed, and I want to put in some watermelon and some cantaloupe seed, but since they take so much room, I may wait and put it in the currently unfilled bed.

But at least now we will have some fresh veggies for this summer, at least hopefully. Now if we can just get some rain when we need it. Then we will be in good shape.

Sorry, its been a while

Its been a wild few weeks. Covid 19, the coronavirus has taken over the world. Its affected social media, news, business, the economy, pretty much everything. Businesses have closed, the economy is down, we are now into social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from each other), schools are closed, and we don’t know how long this will last. Restaurants are not allowed to serve people in the place, they are allowed to either delivery or have pick up service. Hotels have closed, though a few are open. Schools have closed from elementary to colleges. School is out for summer, just a couple of months early. Many of them closed late last month, hoping to have students to do lessons online, but were not prepared for what it would take.

So what does this have to do with my garden? Well, gardening has kind of become quarantine gardens. Think victory gardens for times of quarantine. Here in Austin we have been in quarantine for a while, as in weeks and its due to last a few weeks more. Getting some items in the grocery store is getting hard. Toilet paper, paper towels, some fresh veggies, and cleaning supplies are hard to find. Some of the fresh fruits and veggies get sold out as soon as they get into the grocery store – its called hoarding.

Its strange to go to the grocery store and find no onions or potatoes. But that’s how it is right now. So my poor little garden is becoming important for me.

I have begun raised garden beds, two of them. I ordered side brackets, like braces for the wood. The braces allow 2×8 pieces of wood to be held together. This gives you a good 15″ tall bed. You can easily raise carrots in these beds. Unfortunately due to other problems, I haven’t been able to get them filled. I’m working on that. I hope to fill them most of the way, then put what I have in my pots into the beds. I will need to add one more bed for permanent items, such as the asparagus. Since asparagus come back year after year, and last 12-15 years I understand, I want a more permanent place for them.

But the beds are coming along. As for the weather, its been all over the place. Last week we actually had a freeze warning for our area. It lasted two nights. And yet now we’ve been in the high 80’s, low 90’s. And yet tomorrow we are due for 90’s and thunderstorms. At least we need the rain, its always helpful. The lakes are full so the rain is appreciated.

Storms

Rain at 3 inches per hour downpour

Austin is in rain and thunderstorms right now. This image above is a shot of rain out my back patio. The good news is though this is quite a downpour, it comes and goes. But due to how dry we can be, this kind of rain can cause flash flooding. We are actually under flash flood watch for the next three hours. But we have rain in the forecast over the next 3 days.

Hopefully the next three days won’t all be like this. We may need the rain, but over a few more days, and a little lighter would be nice. But the yard will like it.

Rain

Today I was hoping to get work done in the yard, and we got a little bit done. My yard man came over and was able to get the front and back yard cut. Since he had put fertilizer on the yard a couple of weeks ago, the grass has grown. Its truly been a sea of waving green blades. Unfortunately, its been a sea, with a little too much height to it. If you were as short as our dogs, you could get your belly tickled the grass was that high. Bear in mind they are short dogs, only 11 and 9 lbs, not big dogs. So it doesn’t have to be too high to tickle their belly.

But nonetheless, it was that high. So it was in dire need of a cutting. But now that its cut, it looks like a lovely green yard.

Within about 5 minutes of cutting the yard, it began to rain. And its been raining most of the day since. But that was the most important project we needed done, and we accomplished it. And that’s what matters.

So, no getting the raised bed worked on. That will have to happen next week. To make it all the more interesting, we are due for rain over the next few days. And the fun thing is yesterday and the day before were in the mid to upper 70’s. We even had some 80 degree days. So now we’ve dropped a bit, down to the mid to upper 60’s and we have rain and thunderstorms. Earlier today I listened to thunder outside. So we do have storms here right now.

I say right now as we expect the rain to last off and on for about a week. It will be good for the yard and for the garden.

Speaking of the garden, with the warm weather, and now this rain, some of those seeds I was worried about are sprouting. Even my basil has these tiny little sprouts just beginning. I’ve been picking peas, both snow peas and shelling peas.

The only thing that hasn’t sprouted yet are the peppers. Oh, and since the broccoli is bolting due to the weather, I have changed that pot over to squash. I put those seeds in just last night, knowing that we were due for rain. Hopefully they will sprout soon. I’ve planted both yellow squash, and zucchini. Hoping for a bountiful crop this summer.