Rain

By my last check of the rain gauge last night, we had 3.35 inches of rain. This morning we had clocked an additional 0.83. So our total for last night is over 4 inches of rain.

Today, we haven’t had any rain. Right now, in the early evening, the sky outside is blue and lovely. Tonight we are not due for rain, though that is always subject to change. But tomorrow we have about a 40% chance of rain. Friday and Saturday we have 84 and 90 percent chance of rain. So we will have wet days ahead. By Sunday the chance of rain will fall to about 25%.

The nice thing of course with this chance of rain, is that our temperatures will fall also. Friday our high will be just below 80, with the lows in the mid 60’s. Hopefully this means we have begun the cooler days and nights of Autumn.

And with that cool down we begin the next growing season. Welcome to the growing reality of Central Texas.

Fall is here

Autumn has begun. Hallelujah! The weather is changing, at least for central Texas. The sun is still shining, but at least the temperatures are changing. We finally have cooler weather. Bearing in mind this is Texas, it means our daytime temperatures are in the mid to high 80’s. Okay, that may not be cool temperatures if you like in say the north East, or northern part of the USA, but here, that’s a cool down. Autumn also means our night time temperatures are lower, mid 50’s. Again this in central Texas so you have to bear in mind our summer temperatures are much warmer than that.

But in honor of autumn I have begun cool weather crops. Last week I put in peas, carrots, bok choy, beets, and some lettuce. The peas have already sprouted.

We have rain in the forecast this week, and the new seeds will enjoy it I’m sure.

I”m also working on eliminating some of the grass in my back yard.

Because my yard slopes slightly, I need to know how it slopes and where it slopes. I don’t want to eliminate the slope. The entire property drains from the front yard down and out the back yard. Since any water will drain out the back, past the metal fence to the greenbelt, I don’t really want to lose that drainage ability. I need to keep the drainage intact.

At first I was thinking I would just put mulch in the back yard, but I reconsidered that. If I attempt to put mulch down, when we get a hard rain, something this area gets, the mulch will just wash away. So just mulch is not what I want to do. But I am considering the possibility of rock and mulch, or just using rock. Rock would have the advantage of allowing water to flow though to the greenbelt area behind.

Once I decide what I want to do, and what I want where, etc., then I have to decide how to actually do the work. Rock may need, probably will have to be, ordered and delivered. The mulch is yet to be determined. How much mulch will I need, should it be more like bark chips, etc.? That will depend on the actual design of what I choose to do.

One of the “designs” I am considering is to put mulch on the sides of the yard by the wood fence. But I need to make sure that will not cause the wood fence to rot quickly. I could mulch areas where things like trees are planted. Then put rock in between the mulched areas. But in order to keep the mulch from moving and being washed away, would it make sense to put rock in the area by the metal and wood fence, for drainage?

So why do I want to make changes to what I have, you ask. Well part of the reason is where the raised beds are makes mowing behind them impossible. They are just too close to the metal fence in the back. I have the same problem with some of the areas where plants are by the wooden fence lines.

The back two rectangular areas are the raised beds. The metal fence is behind it. The two shorter sides have wood fencing.

This is not to scale but it gives you an idea of what I mean by the area behind the raised beds is too narrow to mow. I measured it and that strip is all of 23″. That makes mowing behind it difficult. It usually has to be weed whacked. Such is the problem.

Yes, I could pull out all the beds, move out all the dirt, then replace everything. That would be a lot of work. And I’m not sure its really worth it. Of course, who wants to really have to worry about mowing such a narrow strip?

I think leaving the beds where they are and either putting rock or something else that doesn’t need to be mowed, and will allow water to drain out of it will make much more sense. I’ve even considered the fake mulch mats back there. Just something that will keep grass from growing, and allow water to drain. I don’t need to grow anything back there. I only walk back there to work in the beds, pull veggies, weed the beds, etc.

So my search for what to do continues.

Here comes the heat

Yes, it wasn’t that long ago we were worried about our cold weather. This week, starting Wednesday April 7 we are due to hit 90 degrees. And we will spend 3 days at 90 degrees. According to the weather station I listen to, that is a week early on average for this area.

So welcome to the heat of Texas.

In anticipation of the summer temperatures here, I just had a pergola/deck cover installed over my outside deck. It looks like it showed up just in time. They are still working on the pergola, they delivered the wood and stained in on Thursday last week. They didn’t work Friday as it was Good Friday. But today they put it up, with just a bit of work to still do.

I am having a product called Polygal put on. We’ll see how I like it. I’m not quite sure how to describe it since I haven’t yet seen it. I’ll let you know what it is, and what I think of it once it gets installed.

Its snowing

By 10 AM we had a mix of snow, frozen mix, and rain. Shortly there after, it became snow.

Its now after 2pm, and its been snowing now since almost 10am. At 10am it was a mix of snow, rain, and more like a frozen rain. By 11 or so its been all snow. And it hasn’t stopped snowing. Sometimes its been light, sometimes much heavier. Even trees are getting covered and holding the snow.

Tomorrow should be warmer, even though tonight may get down to 26. And by Wednesday we should be up to the low 60’s.

This is central Texas weather.

UPDATE: We snowed from just after 10am until about 4pm. It may not seem to be a lot of snow compared to other areas, but here it was something of a big deal. This area is not known for snow, so its not something most people are prepared for. Did we get a lot, just less than 1 inch I would say, but that would be just for where I am.

It has left houses, yards, trees covered in snow. The streets in my area seemed to melt most of the snow away. There’s still some slush, but it didn’t look too bad. I still would not want to have been driving in it, but I don’t know how to drive in snow. The issue we have now is tonight is supposed to get colder. So will it freeze and leave us with a layer of ice over streets, overpasses, etc., that remains to be seen.

My funny issue has been my dogs. One was willing to go out into the snow, but the other one was not. I expect tomorrow, if it warms up I will have to make sure they both go for a walk. Today was a strange day as far as they are concerned. But overall they’ve taken the snow okay, even if not great.

Still cold

We have had an honest to goodness rain and cold front event. Even though we had 2″ of rain the other day, yesterday we got an additional 1/2″ of rain. And cold weather, as in almost freezing nights cold weather.

Today, New Years Day 2021 it is blue skies, clear, and still a bit on the cold side. Where the forecast says we are going for a high of 52, with these clear skies we are also going for a low tonight of freezing, 32 degrees. We have a light breeze and I don’t see us getting anything in the way of clouds to keep us any warmer than that tonight.

I have covered my lemon trees, at least those I can, with green “planket” cloth, and two trees have lights in them to help keep them warm. Those are outdoor incandescent type Christmas lights. The incandescent lights provide a bit of warmth, LED lights don’t. Since my covered patio area stays warmer, since its covered, I have moved some plants back toward the house to keep them warm.

So the yard is doing okay. I do have a few things to do to it, figure out some planters that just didn’t work (not sure why they didn’t), and I need to pick up more soil and more landscape pins, those things are handy, and I’m already getting my 2021 seed catalogues. So it’s already looking like its time to start thinking of what to plant for this year.

Everybody, welcome to 2021.

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday was a our typical hot Texas day. Actually it was hot and humid. There were even spotty rain.

Today it was warmer at 9AM than it is at 4PM. This morning when I let the dogs out it was in the 80’s. Now its in the mid-upper 70’s.

And we’ve had a few downpours. At least they are not long lasting, but we’ve had some rain today. Actually we went to Home Depot for some items and while in the store it began raining. It was just pouring outside. When we went to the checkout, we headed to the area where you exit out to a covered loading zone. This way one stayed with the items, the other made it to the car and moved it to the covered area. Much more comfortable than standing in rain trying to fit everything in the car.

And they are saying we can expect rain for the next few days. We could even get rain through the weekend. Its not a continuous rain, it comes in showers. So we’ve had times with rain, and times without rain.

But the yard and garden are much happier with both the temperatures and the water.

And yes both my beets and the broccoli seeds have already sprouted. And both are under the shade cloth.

We got rain!

Saturday morning we were lucky enough to actually get that much wanted cool front. With it we actually got rain. We got 1-1/2 inches of rain here at the house. Much needed rain. The other nice part of the rain, was we did cool off some. Not for long, but a couple days of just below 100 was much welcomed relief.

I’m sure the yard will be so much happier that we got some rain. We also have an unusual weather condition coming up. There are two storms headed our way, Laura and Marco. Marco, I think, is expected to make landfall today somewhere near New Orleans. Laura is expected to make landfall in a couple of days. What will happen with either remains to be seen, but rain is in the forecast, probably Wednesday or Thursday. I’ll keep you posted.

the dry spot

As I mentioned before, I had these two raised beds put into my yard for growing my veggies. Even though I haven’t had as much success this year as I had hoped, I’m keeping positive as I get to know my yard better.

But the reason for this image is to point out the consequences of my choice. This is not about good or bad choices, this is just about the learning process. When we purchased this house it had a front and back lawn with installed sprinkler heads. That’s the good news. The land was already graded to allow for water drainage. My beds don’t seem to impact the water drainage. BUT, the beds do impact the sprinkler heads. The sprinkler heads do not pop up high enough to water beyond the beds. The heads do pop up, but the water can’t quite clear the beds. Consequently I have the dry spot in front of the beds where the grass is dying.

And if you’re wondering why there is green grass on this side of the beds, its from the drip watering system inside the bed. It sprinkles just outside the bed too.

Now I don’t have a problem with this, I can water the area easily. That’s why I have a hose with a sprinkler head. Its actually on top of the piece of wood to keep it level. It kept falling over whenever I turned the water on, so I put it on a piece of wood to keep it more stable. It does work on my yard.

Eventually, maybe next year I will see about what to do about the sprinkler heads. I’m sure there must be a way to get them to pop up higher, even if I have to get new sprinkler heads that do that.

But the whole point here is, if you make a change, it may impact something else. Just be aware of that, even if you didn’t foresee it. Most things are fixable. My problem here, the dying grass area, is not the end of the world. Its fixable, and even a small fix as far as I’m concerned. But I personally will accept I have to fix this in order to keep my garden. Having my garden matters more to me that this drying grass spot.

But that’s just me.

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.