>As the Veggies Ripen- Episode 4

>The Fall veggie patch has really made up for the failure of the spring tomato crop. The cooler nights have spurred the tomato plants on to bigger and better production. Check out this Jetsetter tomato plant- it’s a monster. This thing is sprawling into the aisles and practically grabbing my kids and pulling them in whenever they go out to the garden with me.

My cupid grape tomato and Brandywine are also doing quite well in this weather, although it will be a tight race to ripen everything on the vine before a frost hits. Here’s one of the Brandywines fully ripened. And they taste incredible. Definitely a better performer in Fall, as I got zilch from this plant in Spring. It just got hot too fast.

In other veggie news, my Bianca Rosa eggplant continues to produce. Thanks to my mom, I have been making Bharta, a yummy Indian eggplant dip. The color of these eggplants is just gorgeous and the taste is very creamy. Definitely one I would grow again.

My fall planting of yellow crookneck squash is producing. This one was sliced and baked last night covered with one of the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Even though Jack said he didn’t like “the yellow stuff”, he ate a good amount of it. He loves anything that comes fresh from the garden. Especially the grape tomatoes. The kids eat them like candy.
Unfortunately, the planting of the patty pan squash never got off the ground as something ate the tender young plant as it was emerging. Same with the malobar spinach. I have been noticing nightly sacrifices to this mysterious thief, as you see in this picture. He loves to nibble the bottom halves of hanging ripe tomatoes. The good news is that I have a large enough crop that I won’t be too upset with losing a few tomatoes. But I regret losing an entire crop of the Malabar spinach. So last night I set a Havahart trap with the tomatoes as bait. Was still empty when I checked this morning. Great, not only do I have a hungry thief, he’s smart too!

>Ch ch ch ch changes…

> Last Sunday was my birthday. It was a great day and I got plenty of fun gifts- homemade cards from the kids, yoga sandals from my mom. And a gorgeous rangoon creeper from my in-laws. I have never seen one before, byt my MIL saw one at Barton Springs nursery, growing in the ground, and decided I (and she) had to have one. So she ordered two. Here is a description from online:

Quisqualis indica is a evergreen (in warmer climates) creeping shrub that can reach as much as 70 feet in tropical climates. Rangoon Creeper flowers throughout the summer with fragrant blossoms (especially at night) that open white, darken to pink and eventually red. This plant needs support for growing and is very useful in covering fences, trellis supports, and walls.

Another name for the rangoon creeper is Drunker Sailor. Yeah, I’m not sure either. But these flowers, they are so cool. They come in bunches and they change from white through pink, all the way to red, so you will have different color flowers in a bunch. Plus the fragrance. I am totally a gardener driven by her nose. That’s why I like moonflower and jasmine so much. And Rangoon creeper smells like, well, a cross between orange and banana. I decided it had to go outside of my bedroom window.

And what does that mean? Moonflower massacre. I know, I love them too. But I have two posts with moonflower and they will soon die in the cold weather. So I’d rather remove one and get the creeeper on there to settle in before cold weather.

So in I went with the shears and man, was that vine wrapped around and around. I filled up an entire large garbage can with the moonflower. And then popped the creeper into the ground behind the post so it could start to settle it’s roots in. It will freeze to the ground once frost comes, but should grow back in spring.

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>October Bloom Day


Here we are, one day past bloom day and I’m tardy. I just couldn’t get any pictures yesterday because it was raining. No, I said raining. R-A-I-N-I-N-G. I know, hard to believe since our September was one of the driest EVER RECORDED. Seriously, I was breaking out the sticks to start doing rain dances and other shit to get some water from the sky. But then, it just opened up. And rained. All day. Non-stop.

So here we go…
Everything is revived and cheerful in my garden today and I have some nice blooms. But the show stoppers are the plumey plants (is that a word?). The ornamental grasses. Gulf Muehly, Adagio Miscanthus, Ruby Crystals.

And I love some of the unusual forms in the garden right now. My dwarf pomegranate has both fruits and flowers hanging on it, like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

And my clematis, I swear, every bloom is a different color. This is a plant that has followed me from house to house, in rain and drought, in pot and ground. Who knows what mutations have occurred.

My moonflower continues to produce flower after flower, opening at night and perfuming the air. Here they are waiting for the darkness to come and trigger their opening.

Not pictured here but topping off my “unusual shapes in bloom” is Grapes of Gomphrena, which looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book, and Turk’s Cap, with it’s little turban-shaped flower.

Hope your garden is in bloom.

>Level Orange Arachnophobia

> John and I were watching the debate last night and something caught John’s attention out of the corner of his eye. Next thing I hear “Holy sh*t!” and John jumping off the couch. Seems a little tarantula had joined us to watch the debate. John scooped it into a bucket and brought it back outside.

It’s one thing I have had to get used to out here. The deer eating plants I can handle. But finding scorpions and tarantulas inside your house is another level. And they’re not all babies.

Like this one
that was crawling up the side of the house. Or the big tarantula that came scurrying towards John one night as he was working in the garage. And they are FAST.

The scorpions I heave learned to deal with calmly, simply grabbing a bottle of Clorox spray cleaner and giving them a spritz. They curl up and die within seconds. Don’t give me any crap about it either. I’m an insect wimp and there will be no samaritan-carrying-bug-outside-for-good-of-mankind action if I have to do it.

But those spiders? No way, Not even in my ballpark. I think I even signed a pre-nup that stipulated “Spouse will not expect Bonnie to touch, rescue or squish any spider. All responsibility for such actions shall remain completely with the spouse. “

>I’m not the only one who loves tomatoes!

> After the loving rains of yesterday, I went out to the vegetable garden to see what was being coaxed into ripeness. I was thrilled to see my first Brandywine tomato had started to turn. That was enough for me, so I picked it to let it continue ripening off the vine in the safety of the kitchen. Away from hungry critters. Because guess what I found next…

duhn, duhn, duhn!!!!!!
This was a low hanging fruit in the middle of a giant tomato plant. I just barely saw the hint of red and reached in to grab it. I knew the moment my hand closed on it, that something was wrong. No, something was missing. Like the entire bottom half of the tomato!

But I managed to get quite a few ripe, WHOLE tomatoes this morning, so all is not lost.

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>I was out in the garden the other day. I had just missed the morning light that is so kind in photos but wanted to shoot a few things in bloom. It was only when I came in and looked at the shots that I saw I had shot all yellows and oranges, super-bright from the afternoon sun. I mean, just put on your sunglasses now, before you get blinded by these shots.

First, my climbing rose. Seems a bit leggy this year, but who can compare with last year when we had a 6 month-long Fall and no summer.

Next, my zinnia, all multicolored, but I love the light oranges with their orange center. These have reseeded every year since I moved in, a kind pass along from the previous owner. Drought or showers, hot or really hot, they make their appearance.

And finally, Esperanza. First year in my garden and they are looking wonderful. Big clusters of yellow flowers. These can get tall, up to 10 ft, so they are in the back of the big bed. A perfect backdrop.

Now, please go rest your eyes and thank them for letting you see lovely yellows.

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>Yet another pathway

>Well, this is certainly the year of the pathway for me. And while my newest addition certainly was not as intense a job as the others I built this year.

My newest path was to be simple stepping stones going across the new native/adapted bed. The stones themselves are all from our property and have been sitting in piles in the unplanted portion of the bed as well as beside where my husband parks his truck, to his great delight. Some cool-er weather- just in the low 90s- inspired me to get to work on this project, so I cleared away the mulch and dirt from the intended path and set about laying the stones.

Parden the dirtiness in the picture, but by the time I was done, I was so hot and a bit sore from bending over and picking up rocks that I just could not stomach bending over to brush dirt off of each rock. You understand, you’re a gardener. You like dirt, right?

Thanks for understanding.

>Save the Veg!

>I entered my vegetable garden the other day and knew immediately something was wrong. My tiny sprouts of squash that should have been on my right were…gone. And a new addition had been created- a hole.
“Arrrrrrrgh!” I yelled. This was not what I needed, just as the cool weather was giving my veg and me a break and allowing us to get along. Who was this newcomer? I have never had this issue before??

Then I saw another.

This one going under the fencing and into the cinderblocks. But still not clear way to escape through there, so I’m not sure what the plan was for the digger.

Further down, my squash had taken a beating- or should I saw a biting as parts of the sprout were gone. At least some remained and I could hope for continued growth.

I continued to see holes the entire length of the garden. That evening, I fortuitously received the new pair of dog grooming shears that we had ordered in the mail. I immediately went to work to give Ginger her final grooming of the summer. And I took that big pile of dog hair and spread it all around the veggie path, hoping to give a little scare to whatever is intruding and digging holes.
Thanks Ginger, for taking one for the team!

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