Saturday, May 19, 2012

May Flowers--Lilies

We are getting quite a collection of Lilies now.  Our son's girlfriend has been giving us Lilies every Easter for several years now.  We have a cluster of Lilies in the front Daylily bed and in the Iris bed in the backyard. This year they were quite showy!  I love how the bloom last for at least a week or more.

Garden Angel

In other news...for Mother's day I went shopping for some yard art.  Above  is my sweet garden angel.  He looks like he is saying, "Grow, plants! Grow!"  Hopefully he will have some nice influence on my Circle Garden plants!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May Garden Update--Harvest and Crop Rotation

Upper Left--Squash blossom, peppers, tomatoes
Middle Left--Overall view, squash plants
Lower Left--Overall view, tomatoes are starting to make!
Because Pat and I attended an out-of-town graduation this weekend, the garden needed attention on Mother's Day. There were weeds a-plenty to poke and prod up out of the soil.  Even though moms should take their day off, I am certainly glad I did that chore!  There has been a steady drizzle of rain Sunday evening and Monday evening until now.  From the sound of the gentle rain now, I am thinking--or hoping--we have had at least an inch!

We are still harvesting beets.  Since the weather is cool, especially at night, the beets seem to be fine with hanging out in the soil until we are ready to eat.  I made another beet salad last night, and I do believe the beets are getting sweeter and sweeter.  I have started to use some of the onions, too.  They have fallen over, but are still green.  Only a few have bulbed out and not by much.  It is too shady under the Bradford Pear.  We also harvested some squash.  The squash and zucchini have been kind enough to only put off as much as we can eat in a week.  I am pretty sure that trend will not continue.  A friend of mine shared a nice zucchini bruschetta she made.  I am thinking--come on new recipe!!

Other crops in the garden include some purple-hulled peas.  They are beginning to show signs of life.  The potato tops are beginning to thin away meaning we will harvest the new potatoes around June: just a couple of weeks away!  The carrot tops look pretty, but there are no signs of filling out.  We may just leave them there for aesthetics!

Pat's duties are to harvest the cabbage and pull up the Swiss chard and collards.  Then he plans to plant some okra. He is waiting until it warms up some, as okra seeds prefer warm soil.  I know my momma will be looking forward to some peas and okra soon!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May Garden Update: Corn!

The corn has tassels!!

A lot can happen in the garden in just one short week.  I was going to post this collage last week, but was too busy.  Even though the corn has tassels, at the time I only saw one tiny corn emerge.  Take a look at the lower-right picture, and it can barely be seen.

Now take a look below!!  Not only do we have corn, we have a least one ear per stalk.  Some might say that doesn't seem very successful.  But for our very first time at growing sweet corn, Pat and I are tickled.  Not to mention, it's very hard eating this bounty, even when we do give it away!  One ear per stalk is very manageable.

That is one nice-looking ear!
We did get about 1.5" of rain since May 1, which is a true blessing.  We are beginning to lose the war against the drought since April rains were almost non-existent.  The rain outlook for the rest of the week shows a 20% Monday and Tuesday with temps in the 80's.  Come on double portion!

Happy Mother's Day 2012

"Happy Mother's Day" Means More

"Happy Mother's Day" means more
Than have a happy day.
Within those words lie lots of things
We never get to say.

It means I love you first of all,
Then thanks for all you do.
It means you mean a lot to me,
And that I honor you.

But most of all, I guess it means
That I am thinking of
Your happiness on this, your day,
With pleasure and with love.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May Garden Update--Herb Garden

The Herb Garden Grows
I stepped outside early Sunday morning and the familiar sight of a garlic in bloom caught my eye, so I had to shoot some pictures.

Herb Garden Highlights:
Everything is green and lush.  The hot days are causing the oregano to lie down somewhat, but it always does that. As the tarragon stretches toward the sun, it too, falls down.  The Mexican Mint Marigold is mounding nicely and I expect some gorgeous blooms soon.

The Basil is absolutely beautiful this year.  It is a deep green, compact, and the aroma is so delightful.  Pat noticed a voluntary tomato plant coming up.  He probably committed a novice-gardener mistake--which is not cleaning out the previous soil completely before planting.  We'll see how this one does alongside the Basil.  As much as we love to cook with Basil, I'm pretty sure the tomato plant will have plenty of room to give off some mid-summer treats.

Finally, I have a picture of our last Iris bloom.  Not exactly an herb, however, it is blooming nearby!

Other herbs pictured:  Dill and Cilantro.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bloomin' Trees & Shrubs

White Antique rose
The first wave of Knock-out roses and Antique roses are coming to an end.  Pat and I dead-headed 3 rose bushes this past weekend.  The other bushes are starting to wind down, too.

Red Knock-out rose
I managed to get another good shot.  The recipe:  patience + overcast skies = maybe not perfect but good enough to make me a happy photographer!

Desert Willow blooms
The Desert Willow suffered a setback last summer.  We lost one large limb, but this spring we're budding and blooming daily.

Texas Sage
I wasn't too concerned about the Texas Sage until I easily snapped a branch.  Then I got to thinking that it hadn't bloomed at all during the recent rains.  Finally blooms appeared last weekend!  I think she'll be okay.

Esperanza Yellow Bells
This year's blog theme is hope and double portion.  The Esperanza is beginning to show its lovely yellow flowers.  Hope renewed!

Everyone else's Oleander is blooming like crazy.  Our Oleander is always last, but I see blooms on the horizon!  Plus the bush is very lovely this year and shaping up nicely.

Almanac Update for April 2012

We didn't see as much rain as I was hoping for.  Officially, we only had about 1.66".  I think we got around 2.0" at the house.  Sadly, there is no rain in sight for the 1st week of May.  We are getting a little antsy and desperate for an inch or three.

The temperatures have been very mild at night, but 80° to almost 90° every afternoon now.  Still, around 5:30 to 6:00 relief comes in cooler temps and/or a nice breeze to cool us off.  We still haven't turned our A/C on.  We try to make it until June 1 every year.  As allergies and old-age sets in, we usually give in around May 15th.  I'm hoping we can at least make it to Memorial Day weekend.  We'll see!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Asparagus Fern Update

It's been almost a year since I divided the Asparagus ferns, and they are doing quite nicely:

Small pot--it is broken, so this one will find a sturdier home soon.

This one is out by the garden in a clay pot that was spray-painted
black at one time. Funny!

This one is on the porch and is going crazy!!

The foliage is looking a little lime green, so I will probably ask Pat which fertilizer to use.  Maybe an Ironite, just to get it going green.  The one on the porch looks deep green, but that was the camera flash.

Here is the link to the previous post showing how to divide Asparagus fern.  Not for the faint of heart, but well worth it!

Here are some other ferns that Pat divided last year.  I'm sorry, but I don't know the name of the fern. Happily, new growth is emerging!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beets, Beet Salad & Lettuces

Nothing like fresh!
This week marks the end of the lettuce-growing season for the Boney household.  We've cleared the row for okra and whatever else Mr. Pat will plant.  The beets are filling out nicely.  Last weekend I made some beet salad, and this weekend I will make some more.  Neighbors and friends will be surprised this week with a small harvest.  Next weekend is already very busy, but I know I'll have to make time to pickle some more beets. We have a lot of beets in the garden, still!!

Other weekend tasks:

  1. Plant 2 more Salvias--Hot Lips and 2 more Guaras!  I am so excited to be planting some more Guaras, plus--the Guara I thought we had lost to the drought has come back!  We'll have 3 now!
  2. Fertilize container flowers
  3. Dead-head knock-out roses
  4. Harvest some collards and squash for supper
  5. Pick at a few more weeds and grasses

Beet Salad Recipe

Wash beets well, removing all the dirt.  To cook, I like to clip the greens off, leaving about 1 to 2 inches of the stalk.  I do not clip the root until after they have boiled. I boil the beets until fork-tender then toss into ice water until completely cooled.  The skins slip right off, and I slice right away.  Be sure to wear an old t-shirt because beet juice stains quite nicely!


I make a type of balsamic vinaigrette.  I like 1 part red wine vinegar to 1 part balsamic vinegar.  Last time I used basil, but I think I like a little fresh thyme better--about 1 to 2 tablespoons.  Add some crushed or minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well. Whip in 1 to 1 1/2 parts olive oil (or more if you like...I like my dressings vinegary).  When I'm finished I have enough dressing to coat the beets well, but not completely covered.  Probably about 2/3 to 1 cup of dressing.

Pour dressing over beets and slice some onion into rings.  Put all into a bowl with a lid that snaps tight.  Shake over the sink until well-blended (when I don't shake it over the sink, it winds up on the floor or all over me!)  Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or into the freezer for about 30 minutes) to chill well.

This is good the first day, but fantastic after about 2 or 3 days in the fridge.  This will keep about a week in the fridge.

Monday, April 23, 2012

100th Post: Nostalgia

Trusty wheelbarrow

Sometimes in the midst of working it is easy to forget some of the things that help you get the job done season after season.  The wheelbarrow full of dead vines has been a part of the family since the early 80s. My mother gave Pat this trusty tool when we planted our first garden in Abilene, Texas. Since then it has had flat tires repaired and replaced and new handles.  It once was a bright, shiny red.  Now it's a true faded orange.  It cracks, groans, and pings sometimes, but it is always there to make the load light.  Thanks friend!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Beautiful Butterflies--2012

I love my butterflies.  Here are a few action shots.  Please understand, butterflies do what they want...not what the photographer wants!!  Many are upside down, but perhaps...I am upside down!


I think this is Hackberry Emperor.  Makes sense...we have some
Hackberry trees in our yard!

Red Admiral--they are everywhere, literally!

Gray Hairstreak--a gorgeous little butterfly, but very shy.  Rarely opens
her wings for an inside shot!

Love the duo shot of the Red Admiral!

Future butterfly on the Tarragon!

Future butterfly on the Oregano!
This has to be my favorite butterfly post ever!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Over Clover and Other Garden Updates!

It felt good to get out in the yard today and yesterday, even if it was only for a short time.  I did my best to weed the circle garden for the second time this season.  As the title suggests, I now understand why gardeners don't like clover.  Clover belongs in a pasture where it's bound to be eaten and not in a flowerbed. Nevertheless, it was easy to pull up, and the circle garden looks fantastic again! 

Blackfoot Daisies--April 2012
This picture wanted to stay here--so I stopped fighting it!!
Below is a look at the circle garden last year when Pat and I had cleaned it out.  At the time this picture was taken, it was Spring Break of 2011 (March 17th).  At the time I felt silly labeling everything we planted.  Little did I know just how helpful it would be to keep a record.  Thankfully, I'm using it now to help me figure out just how much we lost and was able to keep due to the drought last year.

New plants added to Circle Garden March 2011
The plants that existed last year were:  Gray Santolina; Daisies; Daylilies; Turk's Cap; Salvia; Thyme; Russian Sage; Mexican Petunias; and Society Garlic.  The only established plants we lost to the drought were all but two small patches of Gray Santolina and the Daisies.  Pretty remarkable considering Pat and I barely watered this bed last year.

The new plants last year were:  Pink Guara (lost); Blackfoot Daisy; Bat-faced Salvia; Copper Canyon Daisy (we lost the one labeled in the picture...there was another one that we planted between the trees) all are survivors of the drought!!

Below is a current picture of the Circle Garden as it is today.  What a difference a little rain makes!  By the way, please pardon the photography.  During the week I have to shoot when I can, and the setting sun is directly in the path of this garden.  It casts a nasty glare over everything.

Circle Garden--April 2012
A close up of one section:  Love the Thyme!  I pruned it back severely last year
and look at it now--gorgeous!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Irises 2012--Take One

I have a gazillion pictures of our Irises this year.  The Louisiana Irises under the Bradford Pear are especially stunning.  The show has only begun.  More to come!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dragon Wings and Such

Pat doesn't understand why I want to put tons of plants into one container.  I suppose I have Pinterest and other gardening blogs to blame for that!

Pinned on Pinterest--Photo Credit:  Daryl Mitchell

Combining plants in a planter adds interest and beauty.  Although, I admit I am still quite a novice at the art.  Last year I designed a container arrangement in a beautiful green bowl, shown below.  Unfortunately, the drought and heat got to the new plants, and only the spider plant survived.

Spider plant, Angel wing begonia and other plants
in green bowl--July 2011
Here is the 2012 version.  I've added a succulent and Dusty Miller to the spider plant.  I'm sorry, but I don't know the name of the succulent.  It's a little annoying when plants are not labeled at the garden store and no one knows what they are, but I'm willing to give just about anything a try.

The angle is a little off, but the spider plant is growing well, Dusty Miller
is in the background, and the succulent is doing well in the
foreground.  I already know I'll have to transplant the spider
at the end of summer.
Here is another container garden for 2012--and it's my pride and joy!  I have crammed this planter with Dragon wing begonias, money wort (I think), Dusty Miller, and two baby spider plants.  May the fittest survive...the rest will be plucked up and re-potted or composted!!

Dragon wing begonia container--2012
Finally, just so everyone knows I really do some gardening around the yard, I made Pat take a picture of me.  I'm laughing because I know it's a horrible picture!

Boneygirl--the Southwest Gardner!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Lettuce Harvest: March 31, 2012

The garden is growing great, and the lettuces and beets are coming on strong!  Following is a harvest how to/what not to do when harvesting lettuces.

This weekend the lettuces are growing like weeds, so a large harvest is in order.  Here is what the row looked like before I started:

Dragon Kale; Radishes, Lettuces
When I had plucked my last lettuce out of the ground, Pat said:  "Don't pull it up by the roots, clip them so that they are easier to clean."  Okay, all I have to say is, where was he when I began???  Following was the method for this week I'll try it his way.  We'll just see which is easier!

First bucket of lettuces
I gingerly clipped off the roots of each bunch.  Sadie helped herself to the discards, and then tried to eat the harvest!  Naughty dog!  What I should have done was go ahead and remove the long stems at the same time because after I rinsed everything, I found there were long leggy stems that still needed to be removed.  I'm so doing this differently next week!

Second bucket of lettuces
Sink soak to remove dirt
Finally finished after 2 hours!
Once the lettuces soaked awhile in the sink, I rinsed them again and laid them out on tea towels and paper towels.  Then I snipped stems again.  The snipped stems were composted.  Our harvest this week was 3.5 gallon-sized bags of cleaned lettuces; 1 bag of Swiss chard; some dragon kale, 3 radishes, and romain lettuce leaves.  We shared one bag of lettuces with the next door neighbors.  I will probably give mother a bag tomorrow.  Next week I imagine I will harvest about the same if not more!

If there is a better method of harvesting lettuces, please let me know!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Once In a Lifetime

I was beginning to doubt my ability to shoot anything decent in the garden...until today.   It's either dumb luck or being at the right place at the right time with the right lighting.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad I decided to go out and get a few snaps of the camera!

Knockout Rose with Rain Droplets--2012
Late Tuesday afternoon a front blew in and brought some much-needed rain.  I know a lot of folks are already tired of the moisture, but memories are fleeting.  By this time last year, we'd barely registered over 3" for the year.  Today we get to add another inch bringing the year-to-date total to around 13".  We're still on the double portion roll, making up for last year and getting our normal rainfall for this year.  I especially love this photo because there are still rain droplets from early this morning.  The land is truly repairing itself every day and the abundance in the garden is breathtaking! More posts will follow.  Until then...enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Double Portion

Knockout Rose with a friend
This year has started off with a double portion blessing for sure!  So far this year we have received just under 12" of rain, and half of that has occurred this month.  The garden is growing rapidly, flowers are budding, bees are humming, and life is good!

The Irises are putting off blooms.  Tons of leaves are 'wrinkled' indicating that a bloom is in the work.  The Iris leaves are taller than they've ever been in the past.  I'm looking forward to a real nice show!

We didn't think the Vitek we planted last spring made it through the drought.  But it's budding leaves like it had been watered regularly in 2011.  It is tiny, but I'm excited about the prospect of a good growing season this year.

Not the best picture, but the lettuces are taking off rapidly.  Pretty sure I'll be taking salads to work next week.  We also have collards, Swiss chard, dragon kale (delicious), cabbage, beets, and onions in this picture.

Tomatoes, corn, squash and zucchini are in this picture.  Off to the side is a bed of potatoes.

When the garden looks like this, it's easy to count one's blessings!!