Impulsive Plant Buyer

I am an impulsive plant buyer. I buy plants before I have any idea what I am going to do with them. This muscadine grape was purchased at a big box store after pigging out on local grapes and I discovered that we can grow grapes here. I purchased this plant before I did any research on proper growing methods. It is now living on our porch. Below is a papaya and melon that we “won” at the last organic growers meeting. They too have been sitting on the porch. And finally, today I walked out of another big box store with a petite fig plant that was on sale. This was of course after I watched a gardening show that featured figs. They will live on the porch for at least another week or so but then I will be forced to do something with them. I would like to get them established somewhere before the cool weather sets in.

I have pulled up most of the old square ft garden. Two onions, about 3 carrots, and this homely looking tomato plant is all that is left of the group that started it all. I am keeping the tomato plant because there are two tomatoes just like this one hanging on. I keep hoping that they will ripen and I can say that I got a total of 5 tomatoes before the hornworms ate all of my summer crop. The garden is being simultaneously prepared for fall crops.
This burlap cloth is covering some beans that should start growing any day. In fact, at the time of this blog’s publishing, about 4 have emerged.
Good news is that the second square foot garden seems to be doing great. I had a slight hornworm scare last week but I have since sprayed the tomatoes and plan to continue to spray at regular intervals.

Inventory of the new garden:
2 Winter Squashes
1 Zucchini
4 Corn
? Onion/Chives (sort of just threw a bunch of seeds down)
1 Okinawa spinach (another “win”)
4 green peppers
2 eggplants
4 tomatoes

Garden Failure
I have been wanting to purchase huge barrel like planters for a while for things like peanuts and sweet potatoes. I finally broke down and purchased resin barrels from a big box store about a week or so ago. I took out the plug but ignored the instructions to put rocks at the bottom. I transplanted a very moist sweet potato plant and killed at least two baby potatoes in the process. After one big storm, the result is what looks like a big barrel of crapola. If I am lucky, this thing will dry out and the plant may be salvaged. Barrel number two will have rocks at the bottom to help with drainage.

Nature Watch

Todays post contains mostly pictures from either the yard or trips have I had recently. The pictures focus on bugs, birds and nature in general. Enjoy!

This Yellow Jacket has been buzzing around the bamboo that we now have laying around the yard. I don’t care if he wants to come over to visit, but he better not try to move in.

The Bumblebees love the butterfly garden we created in the front. The bees visit daily to sip on the lovely nectar.

During my visit to my friend’s house in San Diego, I was able to snap some photos of a humingbird. They were dark and blurry but I was able to salvage some to the point where you can make out the bird. This makes me happy because I keep missing the ones that come by my bottlebrush tree.

Honeybees and their other bee friends love the bottlebrush tree in the backyard. They feast on this tree from sun up to sun down every day. When we moved in, I wanted to pull the tree out because I wasn’t a huge fan of them. Now it gets to stay!!!
Finally a butterfly pic from the butterfly garden. This is a Gulf Fritillary Butterfly.

A dragonfly we witnessed while visited the LaBrea tar pits in Los Angelos at the end of July.

A beach bird and some beach crabs my friend pointed out to me while on a nature walk in San Diego at the beginning of August.

LaBrea Tar Pits

During our visit to the LaBrea Tar pits in LA last July, I was able to see some gardening techniques they had on display.
They set up a step like structure where excess water could flow down to lower planters. They have vegetables and herbs planted in here.

Melons were grown on a trellis that also served as a shaded walkway.

Some large bamboo stalks.

Garden Savior

Some of you know that I recently returned from a great two week trip to France (I have at least one set of pics from a Paris Garden I can post at a later date). I expected to see all the plants I started for the fall (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil) dead when I returned. Before the trip, I devised an elaborate watering scheme to water the new plants while I was gone. The plan consisted of a soaker hose and a battery powered facet timer. The plan may have worked but I unfortunately tried to set it up the day before we left for the trip and it didn’t exactly work as planned. When the facet was in the “on” position and ready for the timer it continually dripped water onto the ground. If you know Carlos and I, you know that some affectionately call us tree huggers. This leak was unacceptable and I didn’t really have time to deal with it. I turned the system off and placed the plants under the shade of the Okra plant. I secretly hoped they would survive unattended. You might say, why didn’t I just ask someone to water my plants? The thought did cross my mind but I have a problem asking people for help (other than my husband). So I left my plants to take care of themselves for a little over two weeks. However, not all was lost. Before the the trip okra was in full production and tomatoes were expected soon so I told my aunt to feel free to come steal some veggies. During a visit, she noticed that my baby plants were not looking so good and took it upon herself to water them on a regular basis while I was away. So I have to say that my aunt was my fall garden savior. Without her, we would have a lot less fall crops on the way.

Plants that were saved by my aunt Betty

Before our trip, I reluctantly sprayed every tomato plant, young and old, with BT. When I returned from the trip, the plants were not fully stripped of leaves but there are no tomatoes in sight. This leads me to believe that the first treatment probably worked but has since worn off. Since returning home, I have mutilated two small and two big hornworms. I will be spraying the plants soon. I have too many tomato plants planned this fall to carefully inspect them on a daily basis. When I say daily, I really mean twice daily. A large one I caught this morning had done considerable damage in less than 12 hours.

Okra Party

We are starting to like okra now, which is a good thing considering that the okra is non-stop. I am about to start just one more plant so we can extend the harvest into the fall sometime. I just hope I am not too late to extend the okra party.

New Starts
Since returning home, I have started corn, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, kale, and collards. This along with what I plan to start in the next week or so, should hopefully provide nice fall bounty. The official inventory post vacation was about 11 tomatoes (6 good ones), 4 peppers, and 2 eggplants.

This past weekend I traveled to my co-workers house to get some bamboo. I felt a little guilty about buying the perfect little bamboo sticks from the big box store when my co-worker had uncontrollable bamboo growing in his neighbors yard. Since the bamboo is pretty much invasive and will eventually take over his yard, he had no problem using the machete to cut the heck out of some of it for me. It was a very hot morning and we were all sticky and sweaty after gathering the bamboo. I plan to use the stalks to stablize climbing and leaning veggies. The left over leaves will be used as mulch. Don’t pay any attention to the dead grass in the backyard. We are in the process of replacing all of it with a florida native plant called Mimosa strigillosa .