>Things I Learned at the Fling

>I couldn’t bear to blog about the Spring Fling until I had time to let all of the wonder of the day distill in my mind. Late Sunday night, after the kids were in bed and the house was silent, I sat on the couch with a notebook in my lap. I thought about all of the people I had met at the Fling, the incredibly interesting and smart people that I have known through pictures and words, but now know them as friends. And I tried to recall all of the knowledge that had been handed to me during the event.

So here it is, things I learned at Spring Fling:

1. The white “lip” on each bluebonnet flower is to attract bees to pollinate the flower. Once it is pollinated, the white spot turns red and bees are not attracted to it any longer.

2. The Cochineal Beetle feeds on the Prickly pear cactus, secreting a white substance as protection around her. These beetles, when crushed, contain a vivid red coloring used as dye.

3. The bloom on the Prickly Pear is called the “Tuna”

4. There are other trees known as Live Oaks that are not related to the Texas Live Oak (thanks Karen!) According to Wikipedia, the name comes from the evergreen oaks remaining green and “live” through the winter when other oaks are leafless. Added bonus knowledge: a small grove of live oaks is known as a mott.

5. Skullcap (Leguminosae Scutellaris) comes in purple (the common color seen in most nurseries is pink).

6. Vicky makes a mean lemon/ginger marmalade. Thank you for the lovely gift, Vicky. Is it proper to ignore the toast and eat it with a spoon right out of the jar?

7. The inventories of sacred places and childhood hiding places are similar – thank you Tom Spencer for this lovely thought that kept me pondering over it for 5 minutes and just makes me smile every time I think about it.

8. Blog about what pleases you- keeping your focus on why you blog sets you free to enjoy it to its fullest. Thank you to Carol‘s discussion group on Community in Blogging who reminded me of this.

9. You can know someone for only a few minutes before you know, you just know, that they will be a lifelong friend.

10. Bringing together so many creative and passionate gardeners can create an energy that you can carry away with you. Borrowing one of Tom Spencer’s images, we are gathered stones.

Thank you to all who gathered together for this wonderful event. I will always carry it with me.

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>Gotta post

>OK, I just can’t help it but post. I have just arrived home from our Friday night welcome dinner at Matt’s El Rancho, a great old Austin Mexican restaurant here in town.
What a blast!

We probably had about 40 people at dinner, many more spouses and significant others than I expected. Everyone dove right in when arriving, spotting those of us in the entrance with nametags and we immediately got to talking. And I don’t think we stopped the entire time. I was sitting with Laura, Diana, Nancy and Robin and had some great discussions about blogging, gardening and our excitement about the weekend. We had all of the spouses make up their own titles for nametags. They did quite a good job, including “Labor for [blog name]”, “I lift heavy things”, “I don’t garden, I don’t blog”, and “Financier”. God bless these guys and gals who humor our hobby of gardening and blogging and the crazy mixture that is garden blogging, and being supportive enough to come on a trip to meet people their spouses know, but don’t know face-to-face.

Looking forward to more time with this fun group tomorrow.

>Flingers Ho!

>I’m so jazzed up today because I know a whole mess of garden bloggers are arriving in Austin and tonight I get to meet so many new faces, but attached to names and gardens that I know. What a blast. Final preparations have been made- welcome bags have been stuffed, name tags printed, prizes sorted out, itineries sent. Pam, Melissa, Diana and I have been working hard to make Pam’s vision a reality and it just seems incredible that it is here. And I so applaud Pam for having this thought and getting us all on board, and working her butt off to get it done.

The wildflowers are blooming, we had a refreshing rain this morning and now it is sunshine all weekend! Yahoo!

>Go veggies go!

>My summer vegetable garden is planted. Here in central TX you really have to get things in the ground right after our last frost date in order that the plants get plenty of time to establish before heat might stress them out. It’s strange because you have some overlap with veggies from the late winter -especially since I have them in so late. But here is the rundown for my summer vegetables, with a standard description. (I’ll revisit during and after the season to see how accurate the descriptions were. )

Azoychka Tomato: One of the first to ripen in your garden, this lovely lemon yellow 7 to 8 ounce tomato has a delightful sweetness with just a touch of acidity. Ripening in only 70 days from planting out, it has a delightful yet subtle hint of citrus with a rich lingering flavor. This beguiling Russian heirloom has become a favorite of chefs and tomato lovers world wide.

Jetsetter Tomato: Produces good yields of very flavorful 8 oz tomatoes. Tomatoes turn red when mature and have a very rich tomato taste. This variety matures very early offering those in the South a great early harvest. Excellent in salads or sandwiches. Disease Resistant: VFFNTA. Indeterminate.

Cupid Tomato: Grape Tomato plant, will make you fall in love with its rich flavor, huge yields, and ease of growth! ‘Cupid’ is a very lucky find, and without a doubt the most flavorful grape tomato ever grown! Huge clusters of bright red fruit that resists cracking and is disease resistant. Natural sugars make Cupid a sweet nutritious snack.

Brandywine Tomato: indeterminate, pink fruited, large fruit, oblate shape, some green shoulders, some ribbed shoulders, some cracking, yield can range from how to relatively high, potato leaf, meaty, flavor from insipid to superb.

Yellow Boy Tomato: (VFN)The first lemon yellow, not golden, tomato variety, and still one of the best. Extremely vigorous plants produce large harvests of attractive fruit that weighs 8 ozs. or more. Flavor is outstanding, mild and sweet yet tangy and definitely not bland. Indeterminate.

Japanese Soyu Cucumber: This sweet Asian cucumber can be eaten like any traditional Western variety but also popular in soups, raitas and stir-fries. Long-ridged, sweet fruit, 18″ or longer. Can be trellised for longer, straighter fruit.

Homemade Pickles Cucumber: Arguably the best cucumber available for pickles. Solid and crisp interior-perfect for 1-5″ pickles. Also great for salads.

Scallop (Patty Pan) Blend Squash: Mix contains Early White Bush, Golden Scallop and Bennings Green Tint, all heirloom varieties. Having a slightly spicier, nuttier flavor than other summer squashes, this is a must-have blend for squash lovers.

Early Prolific Straightneck Squash: This old favorite open-pollinated squash is still a favorite- best tasting when harvested at 4-7″, the flesh is fine-grained, thick and firm. If left on the vine, will grow so big that it will affect the orbital spin of the earth.

Rosa Bianca Eggplant: A gorgeous Italian variety with a delicate, mild flavor, creamy consistency, and no bitterness. Considered one of the best by gourmets and gardeners alike. 4-6 in. long, 4-5 in. diameter.

Let the growing begin!


>How sweet it is!

> My strawberries produced their first berries just in time for a milestone…my son’s 4th birthday. His love of gardening has really been developing- he walks the garden with me and we point out flowers, he has planted the vegetables, but his favorite part is harvesting. Eating peas, tomatoes and strawberries straight from the patch. It was lovely to watch him scan the beds and find three red berries and put them in his bowl. And they tasted so sweet cut and placed atop each of the birthday cupcakes we had at dinner that night.

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