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!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hope Renewed #3: More Signs of Life

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
...a time to plant and a time to uproot,
...a time to tear down and a time to build,
...a time to keep and a time to throw away....  
                                                                                                 Ecclesiastes Chapter 6


Every day there are new signs of life which is so encouraging.  There are many reasons to celebrate!

Pat has been busy removing dead trees, including an old Redbud tree in our front yard.  There are no fewer than six Iris blooms, and many more to come.  The grape vines are sprouting new growth.  The sunflowers will make a comeback.  Our Desert Willow (bottom left) suffered a setback, but it is leafing out.  We have several small Redbuds that are showing their color.  The Rock Rose (center) and the Knockout Rose are strong as ever.  There is a 70% chance for rain on Monday, and we need it!  Finally, instead of tossing out the Dad Boney's old grill, Pat has re-purposed it as a planter.  I'm hoping to add to the collage soon!

New planter out of Dad Boney's grill.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hope Renewed: Weeds and Such

Healthy Dandelion
Who would think that the onslaught of weeds would be a great thing in the spring?  I suppose that during a drought, anything green is a welcomed sight!

Some might say that weeds are a nuisance; however, the definition of a weed according to the folks at Homestead Heritage is: any plant that man hasn't found a good use for yet.  One main benefit of having a few weeds around is biodiversity. The early yellow flowers of dandelions are the first flowers bees go to when gathering pollen in the spring.  Varying types of weeds bring in varying types of life which can enrich the soil and keep the ecosystem healthy.

Yet there comes a time when looking at a scraggly weed is tiresome.  Yes, we've pulled quite a few out of the flowerbeds, but we have left the majority of weeds in the yard as a temporary erosion control measure.  The drought all but obliterated our Bermuda grass, and anything that will grow in the sparse areas to help hold the soil together is a welcomed sight.  As the Bermuda fills in, it will choke out the weeds like it always does.

We have a healthy crop of clover this year, which also brings the hope that all is well with our tiny part of the earth!  Every year, I notice that our clover will hang on in some spots and die out in others.  I so enjoy seeing it rebound every year, though!  This year the ground cover seems to be especially healthy.  If I thought we could keep it growing through the hot summer, I'd definitely have clover over grass.

Herb Garden
Pat cleaned out the herb garden, but the important thing about the herb garden this year is it seems to be revived.  The flavors of the herbs are more intense.  The thyme is so tender and aromatic.  The oregano is lush and green.  The tarragon is under control right now.  My kitchen garden is such a joy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hope Renewed

After not posting for over several months, the logical way to start this post is with an apology for not blogging.  However, with the worst drought in history, the only news to report since my last post was a tiring...still no rain.

Hope renewed--patches of Bermuda  grass appear.
The worst drought in Texas history occurred in 2011 and in some parts of Texas, the drought actually began well before last year.  According to the drought update, my location is still under a severe drought stage, while most of Central Texas has improved to the moderate stage.  Click on this link for statistics on the worst drought in Texas:  2011 Texas Drought Statistics.

Yes, we have had losses: mainly our trees.  I have taken many pictures of my Bradford Pear tree (below) and even devoted a post to it.  We lost it, and my heart is breaking over it.  During the drought, we were told to water our trees.  But living on 5 acres with the majority of the acreage covered with trees, that wasn't feasible.  In addition, our water comes from Lake Belton and the prediction was dire for our water supply, so conserving water was the only logical option.  Below is a current picture of our Bradford Pear with a link to my previous post.

She will come down and will be a post for a birdbath soon!
So far this year we have enjoyed over 9" of rain.  According to the 2011 Texas Drought Statistics we need at least 15" of rain to recover from the drought.  However, I'm thinking we actually need that plus our regular average rainfall to completely recover.  We are well on our way, but we cannot afford for the rain to stop anytime soon.  

Our other Bradford Pear survived the drought because
it was near the garden.  We watered the garden as
much as possible last year.   The rest of the property was
in survival mode.
Future posts will be devoted to how the land has survived the drought and all the good things I've seen around our place...including a garden!