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.

Rain again

After two days of nice weather, or at least rather nice no rain days, we are back to rain. Its not bad temperature, we’ve been in the 70’s, but today was another 0.65 inches of rain. We are back to expecting rain for the next few days. We’ll see how much more rain we get, but we are expecting another 3-4 days of rain.

We were lucky here in central Texas. Some of the rain expected to hit us ended up shifting south of us. So it still hit parts of Texas, just not this area.

Some areas, such as Lake Charles Louisiana have gotten about 20 inches of rain so far this month. That’s a lot of rain.

We’ll see how much more continues to fall. I’ll keep you posted.

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.

We survived

The weather event that Texas went through the other week was one for the record books, in many ways. Did people die from this cold? Apparently yes. Not the best outcome. Why did people die? Well, from what I can tell it was a variety of reasons. For some it was literally the cold – they lost power, some for pretty much the entire week. Houses got down to the 30-40’s inside the house. Some had no water for days. The cold, no heat or power, no water, no way to safely warm themselves, no way to get out, and no way to get help – from what I can tell, those were reasons for deaths in this cold event. I’m sure there were other reasons too.

For those that live in cold climates, you may wonder why this was such a big deal. Basically it came down to preparedness. How do you prepare for something you don’t know? If you’ve never lived through an earthquake, all the information you can be told, all the videos you can watch don’t really prepare you for the actual reality. Also you may have expectations. If you think you can just call for help, how does that happen when cell towers are down? How do you charge your cell phone if you have no power? Most people never think about these things.

And when I say people, I’m not just talking about citizens. It applies to companies too. Disaster planning requires quite a bit of thought. If you have no water and you can’t get to a store, what do you do? You can’t use a hose as there’s no water. If you don’t keep water on hand, how do you get water? What do you drink?

I’m not talking about survivalist training, nor having a basement filled to the brim with items just for the end of the world. But most people seem to not understand, nor prepare at all for something to happen. Except things do happen. And no I don’t have any great suggestions. The information is told to people, its available online, there are a lot of ways to find it. But preparing take work, and not everyone can easily do that. Sometimes resources are just not there for people.

I am sorry people died. I was stuck inside too. Alone. And my power went off and on too. So I had to make do too.

But back to the garden. Such was the snow and ice event in central Texas. Now we just wait and see what plants survive. The good news is it doesn’t really look like I lost a lot of them. Most of the succulents took this cold hard and they may not survive. And I think the tomatoes are dead. But surprisingly, a lot of plants seem to have survived. Now its just wait and see.

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.

Winter In Central Texas

Yes, for anybody that wonders how hard it can be to garden in central Texas, today Jan 4, 2021 it is now 75 degrees outside. Sounds wonderful? Maybe if you are in dark cold snowy weather. BUT guess what it does to your garden. The poor plants don’t know what to do. Is this spring, summer, will it get cold? So yes, your lettuce may bolt, your peppers may even start sprouting, but what will happen?

Well, where the temperature will drop slightly, down into the 60’s later this week, we could still get cold 31-30 degree nights later this weekend. And we don’t really have much in the way of rain coming. So you can plant, or at least try, but what will the weather be like next week?

That’s why gardening here can be sometimes a significant challenge. We don’t have an easy to understand winter, nor do we necessarily have cold rainy weather. Water will always be an issue. And once it doesn’t finally get out of the cold, may be next month February, it may go from 60’s to 80’s. That may feel nice, no real cold, but you also miss that slow growing season.

By the time you hit the 80’s, you are now looking at jumping into the high 80’s to the low 90’s. And it won’t take long.

This is the challenge of gardening here in Texas. The seasons may be “short” and you may not have much time to grow what you want. It also means that direct seed sowing/growing, what I do, can be an iffy proposition. Plants may germinate when the temperature is right, but the calendar says its not time. And that is what can make it a challenge – planting seeds/plants at the right time, before it gets hot, regardless of what the calendar says.

Welcome to gardening in central Texas.

Another cold front

We started this morning at a balmy 70 degrees. Now, 8 hours later, 6pm, it is now 53. We are going for a low of low 30’s, we’ll see how low it goes.

In addition its been raining. We’ve managed about a 1 inch of rain today. We’re also due for rain all day tomorrow. We’ll see how much we get.

But its nice having some cold weather. Its good for the plants, and it kills of bugs. And of course we could use the rain.

As for the garden, we spent this late morning turning the beds. We pulled out the old dead squash plants, pulled up the drip watering system, then turned the soil down to about 6 inches. I would have gone deeper but I couldn’t find forked cultivator. I ended up using a long handled narrow spade. I worked with what I had but if I can’t find some of my larger tools I may need to do a Home Depot run. We did put two bags of soil that had been sitting around into one of the beds. We probably need to pick up a bit more soil, but we can do that another day.

Now we need to wait to see what the weather does. The next few nights are due to be around freezing, or just above. Then our days are up back to the mid 60’s to 70’s.

Such is central Texas weather.

UPDATE: by next morning, we’ve had 2″ of rain. We had quite a thunderstorm come through this morning. But its now 2 inches of rain, and we are still raining.

Another cold

Well we had another cold front earlier. We even had rain Saturday morning. We actually had 1-1/2 inches of rain. Its been a while since we’ve had rain. Our drought conditions have currently put us in severe to extreme drought conditions. Rain has not be in our radar for a while. But it was good to get what we did.

Between now and the end of the year, about a week and a half away, we expect to hit a couple of days of 70, but most will be in the 60’s. We don’t have another freeze here on the forecast for the next 10 days, but our evenings will be in the right 30’s to mid 40’s. Maybe we’ll get some rain, but there is not even a 50% chance. So I’m not holding my breath on that.

But such is Texas weather. It was a hot summer, hopefully at some point we’ll get some good cold. But if we do, its not yet.

Winter?

Rumor, actually the weather service, has it we might actually get some cold weather. Where we’ve been 80 or close to it (tomorrow Thanksgiving its supposed to be 76), by Sunday evening we should be down to 37. And Monday evening we may even hit a low of 30. We’ll see if that actually happens, but it would be nice to get the cool down.

The other nice possibility is where tomorrow should be 76, Friday should drop to a high of 64 and maybe rain, and Saturday may bring thunderstorms and a high of 53. For the week after that we should be no higher than 65. That would be nice, a bit of a cool down. We will see if we actually cool down that much and if we stay cool for a few days. And we could definitely use the rain.

But at this point the weather service says we are finally going to get out the high warm temperatures and start our fall temperature cool down, with maybe our first frost of the season. Yeah, provided it actually happens. I’d even settle for chilly nights in the mid 30’s. That would be a welcome change.

Summer/fall

As strange as it sounds, we are in fall. Why is that strange? Because it is the middle of November and we are in the low 80’s. If this were a different section of the country, you might think we were in summer. Except we are a week from Thanksgiving, and this should be fall weather. This is warm even for Central Texas. The only thing that says we are not in summer is the fact that we don’t have longs days of summer sun.

But beyond that, this is autumn 2020 in Central Texas. For reference, my peppers are growing!! Even my squash plants are flowering! I will say with all that has been going on, 2020 has been a strange year.

WHAT KIND OF WEATHER IS THIS!!

Our nights are nice, though some areas have had frost. Here in the Austin/Dripping Springs area I have yet to get even close to a frost. I don’t know when we’ll get a frost, but I’m sure one will be on its way sometime soon. At least I sure hope so.