Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Plant Identification Of the Week: Red Tip Plant (UPDATE)

Previously posted on 04/26/10-I am trying to identify this plant/shrub.  I planted a couple of these very small about 2 years ago and now it has formed into a type of bush.  I am needing to find out what it is so that I know when I can prune it back.  It has almost covered the walkway onto the front porch, so you have to step over it.  If you have an idea please let me know.  I know some of you will know right off hand, but I just can't figure it out and I forget to check when I am the nurseries.  Thanks in advance for  your help.

UPDATE:  You are a Salvia Greggii, Red Autumn Sage.  It is really time for you to get a pruning.  The great thing from what I have read is that you can prune this plant 2 times a year even though I climate is hot and dry.

Pruning the Autumn Sage in Hot, Dry Climates

Cut back the salvia greggii during the mid summer or the late winter to keep growth under control. Pruning in late winter will encourage the tips of the plant to branch and set a lot of buds for prolific blooming as the autumn sage comes into its most active period of growth. Pruning in mid summer can sometimes encourage a second flush of heavy bloom. On the whole, the autumn sage has a long blooming period, and although pruning in the summer may remove some flower buds, a light trim can often extend the flowering season. You can also use the summer trim to remove any rampant growth from springtime.
Thanks Beverly H. for your help in identifying this plant.  Also, thank you so much for the plant cuttings, depending on the weather this weekend I will have a great time potting them all up.  I really appreciate it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Purple Plumbago (say hello to spring)

I mentioned in a prevoius post that I happened upon some plumbago plants while shopping at Lowes a week or so ago and I purchased 2 of them (to replace the one l lost this winter).  Well one of the plants has actually started to bloom and the other is soon on the way.  I don't know what I love about the plant, I think it is the pretty pastel purple flowers and how it moves in the wind.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Asiatic Lilly

Last year I planted an Asiatic Lilly I bought for myself and an Amarylis that I received from an Aunt for Mother's Day gift in the same location. The plants stayed green then of course with the cold weather withered away. I thought the plants were dead, but I found out later that the asiastic lilly is really a bulb type plant, I was for sure the amarylis was gone, matter of fact I thought both were.

I noticed a month ago that I started see little blades of green appear in the same area where these plants were. I thougt it was grass growing up through the weed barrier, so I paid not attention to it, becasue I would be weeding the bed area soon. Well a few weeks ago these little blades of grass have turned into this

I can't be for sure that it is asiatic lillys producing. I have left them alone hoping that with spring and soon summer they will produce whatever they plan to be. If you have a clue what they are, please drop me a line. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Accomplishments For 2009

I found this list where I was tracking my accomplishments and decided why not post it so that I could look back at it and see what I have achieved and how I have progressed.  It is not all inclusive but the bulk of the stuff is there and it is listed in no particular order.
  • Began container herb garden with a few pots on my small back patio porch and a few on my outdoor table (now turned into my work bench).  Progressed up to other vegetables in pots, started thinking about building raised beds.
  • Built 1st raised bed with husband's help and planted it out with some seeds and pepper plants (pretty good for a first timer).
  • Started composting in a trash can, too scared to try the open spaced composting method due to varmints wanting to visit my garden.
  • Learned about how butterflies are created in your garden (no dill for me, I guess I set up a host plant without even knowing it).  Also learned about tomato horn worms (not my friend at all).
  • Learned that tomatoes (at least for me) are not an easy task.
  • Actually cooked with some of the herbs in my garden for the first time.
  • Completed 15 community gardening hours.
  • Completed 4 charity quilts.
  • Completed Citizen Gardeners program.
  • Completed cooking class.
  • Started a blog (AMAZING).
  • Utilized my digital camera more.
  • Made a body double from duct tape, very crazy experience.
  • Made my first dress, not the best but I would say pretty good for a first attempt.
  • Knitted my first sock, was not too bad after all (the gusset was a little hard to remember, but not bad).  I then discovered I must of contracted "Second Sock Syndrome" because I have not made the second sock.  DANG those needles are small.
  • Completed piecing my 2008 Fire and Ice Block of the Month, still need to put the quilt together.
  • Completed knitting cardigan (first sweater EVER and boy was it a doozy).
  • Purged my closet twice, only to add more stuff and did not apply 1 in 1 out rule, hey I am trying.
  • Started family cookbook of tried and true recipes (this is truly helpful when you have no clue what to make for dinner).
  • Made it through the freshman first semester of high school and marching season with my daughter (very interesting).
  • Reorganized my own space/room, (computer, tv, craft, etc.) painted, put up shelves on wall and in closet, installed sewing table and cutting table.
  • Became more aware of the flowers and plants that I have in the front of the house.  Started realizing that you can't just plop anything down and expect for it to live.
  • Learned what too much and too little water can do your plants and vegetables (dead plants, mildew on leaves, over abundance of mushrooms, etc.).
  • Made jelly both hot method and cold method for the first time after attending a canning and preserving class.  Loved it a lot.
  • Learned what the heat will do to you and your garden (especially with over 50 days of triple digit temperatures).
  • Took first foundation paper piecing class and created several blocks since then.
  • Started to learn what cold weather will do your garden (peppers don't like the cold).
  • Above all, learned that I can do this, just keep at it and expect failures, but also expect the little joys you get at that seed starting to sprout, the first flower bud on plant that is just about to fruit or that flower bud on a flowering plant...Also at the fact that you did it yourself with your own hands and you will soon get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Recyclying in a great way

I came across this tutorial and thought this was very interesting. By recycling a t-shirt this way you accomplish quite a few things, such as:

  1. Help the environment by recycling a product that might end up in a land fill (sometimes even if you donate to a charitable organization).
  2. You teach your children that everything has multiple purposes.
  3. The item is washable and much cleaner that your regular bags (that or not washable).
  4. You can coordinate the bags by color, design, etc. to go with your groceries to make unpacking them much easier.
  5. When you are out shopping, you just look fabulous with a bag that no one else has.
  6. Oh did I mention that you are helping out the environment.

By the way gardener friends, this is a great way to transport your new plants that you just got.

So take a minute to read the tutorial to find out how you can create your one of a kind grocery bag.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chores Completed Today.....

This morning was a very cool and slightly breezing morning.  So I decdied why not get some of your chores done today.  I try to spend a lot of time getting my gardening stuff done on the weekend as I work and I commute to/from work each day so I only get about an hour in the garden during the work day.

I was able to complete:

  • Washed a lot of the little pots (with a little dish liquid and bleach), these will be used to transplant some of my seedlings.

  • Potted up the Blue Crop Bluebbery plants (I picked these up at Lowe's Satruday morning and was amazed at how cute the plants were packaged and you got 2 blueberry plants for $5.00 was originally $10.00, but Lowe's had it on sale).
  • Poted up my new Plumbago plants.  Pikced up 2 of them also from Lowe's yesterday. I was strolling through the annuals to see if there was anything I could not live without (only went their for potting soil). I thought, let me check to see if they have any Plumbagos, I bet they don't and the next ailse over I heard them calling my name, so frekin excited to be able to replace the one I lost last year.
  • Transplanted various types of coleous, 1 rosemary stem (into 2), and 2 spider plant stemps into their own small pot. I received these from a plant propagation class that I went to yesterday at the AgriLife Extension Office of Travis County.  Awesome class, learned a lot in such a short time.

  • Removed a lot of dead leaves throughout the garden.
  • Planted 3 more pepper plants in the pepper bed (these plants I raised from seed, unfortunately the plant tags went missing so not sure if it is a bell pepper or a jalapeno, will know for sure in a few weeks when they begin to fruit).
  • Removed the radishes from hanging baskets, they did not seem to do so well. I have not had a great time in getting these to grow well. I think I need to start them much earlier in the spring (I’m guessing) so they have a lot more cooler weather to grown in.
  • Repotted my plant I got from Home Depot a few months ago, when I took it out of the pot it was growing roots out of the interior pot.  I moved it to this pot and added some rocks as mulchon the top.

Roadside Plant, Intreresting....(UPDATE)

From another freecycler  who has a location in which she keeps horses, I received some cactus and this plant.  I have seen many of these plants growing in fields all around Austin.  I brought it home and potted it up and it flowered with no problem.

The plant now looks like this.  It is now trying to bloom and that is just way cool.  I am quite sure this is not one of those plants that most people go out and buy and put in their yard, but isn't that how most plants started. Ummmm.  My delima is I am trying to find a name for it or find out what family it is in.  If you have a clue, please pass it on.  My goal is to find out what each plant I have growing in my yard so that I can better care for it.  Even if the offical name is not found, if I know the family it falls in, I can at least have a better idea of what needs to be done with it.  Thanks.

Amazing, how fast this plant is growing, the photo above was from 3/29/10, the one below is 04/18/10.

UPDATE 04/16/10:  Thanks to Linda Lehmusvirta and Daphne Richards at Central Texas Gardener they were able to help me figure out what type of plant this is.  They came up with it being in the Euphorbia family.  I did a Google search for "Euphorbia, Texas" and I looked through some of the photos and BAM there it was Snow On the Prairie.  I am so happy to find out what it is so that I can know what care it needs to keep it alive.  It is a ntative Texas wildflower.  Thanks Linda and Daphne, really appreciate it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yellow Bells

I am so excited that my Yellow Bell plant is coming back. It really suffered during the many frosts we experienced. I found out that I brought it into the garage a little too late. I was so excited last month to see a few green leaves hiding in the bottom of the plant. A few months before seeing this, I cut back the dead wood hoping the plant would grow back. I am so glad that I cut it back and did not give up on it and pull the plant. I know that the plant may not be as big as it was during the last summer (see last photo), but we will get there. Can't wait until I see that first yellow flower appear and bloom.

Things Lost Due to Whatever...

Here are few things that I lost either due to weather or my inexperience with gardening. I started really being into gardening the past summer, which we had an excessive number of days of over 100 degree temperatures and we had a strangely cold winter with several freezes and then snow.

Ponytail Palm

O'Leander (had 3 of them in separate pots, since they were overgrown in this spot)

Plumbago (turns out this is an annual, not sure I would have been able to save it by bringing it indoors or not)

Palmetto Palm (this was given to me while volunteering at a local garden)

Coleous (I did not do enough research on this to know that it was an annual and I should have saved a piece of it to replant this year, this was given to me while volunteering at a local garden)

Mexican Buckeye (this was given to me while volunteering at a local garden)

Drummond's Wild Petunia (this was given to me while volunteering at a local garden)

Meyer lemon plants that a  neighbor of mine took from his lemon tree that he has had for over 10 years.

I hope to eventually replace some of these plants and figure out how to keep them growing in my space.  They were all pretty cool plants.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Plants For Texas

While trying to research what a couple of plants were in my garden (because the tags that came with the plants are long gone and prior to my blog, I never kept track of anything), I came across this website. This site is dedicated to plants that have been studied that do very well in Texas. I know I as a new gardener find this list very helpful. I tend to go to a garden center and look for what is pretty and I was only paying attention to weather it was an annual or perennial and whether it needed a lot of sun or water. I was to discover that the plant was not made for my yard and often died along with the money I spent on it and caring for it. I have come to understand that if you want instant gratification, don't always expect for it to be continued gratification. You have to know the basics about the plant and how your area of town will treat the plant. I keep a cheat sheet with me on my phone to ask myself key questions:

Is this a native plant for my area (including zone, especially if you are in a big box store)?
What all does the plant need?
Will it come back year after year (even in your zone and even if it says it is a perennial)?
Do you need the one with all the flowers now or will the one with a lot of buds work just fine?
Where in the yard or in a pot will it do the best and is that area available not just for now, but for in the future?
Do you get your moneys worth whereas it will produce and you can make more plants from the one in the future?

Do you ask yourself other questions that help you decide on a purchase of a plant?

These are just some of the questions that I ask myself, I also try to have an idea before I go what I am looking for. However, every now and again you have the impulse buys. JUST CAN'T HELP MYSELF.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Can You Help Me Identify This Plant?

I will soon have to move this plant as it is being crowded by another plant. It seems to die back during the winter, but pops back up in the spring, very happy about that. I would like to find out what it is so that I can make sure that when I transplant it that I don't kill it. Thanks for any information you could provide.

UPDATE  05/23/10:  You area a Victoria Blue Salvia.  I moved this plant because it was being crowded by a cypress tree that I planted.  I moved it to a pot until the location it would call "home" was ready, however, I lost a few of them.  But it seems that some of the stalks are coming back.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Beneficial Insects In The Garden

I was perusing the web to find some information on beneficial insects in the garden (in hopes to not always using a chemical to combat some of the common pest problems) and I came across this information. I receive their catalog, but never really thought about the fact that you could order beneficial insects. That is interesting. Not sure if my garden size when have me order anything right now, but now I know that lady bugs are not only beautiful, but serve a great purpose in the garden. Also Praying Mantis scare me, but now that I know they to help in the garden and are not there to harm it, I won't be so quick to eradicate them. Being a beginner gardener you have to truly learn by trial and error (no matter how books you read or classes you attend) and through that experience you not only get better at your craft, but you can help others. Pass it on., Praying Mantis

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Taiwanese Boy Sings Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" LIVE

Wow, when I saw this video, I was not actually looking at it, I had it on as background noise and I truly thought it was Whitney Houston.  Amazaing.  Enjoy.

Taiwanese Boy Lin Yu Chun Sings Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" LIVE

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Today....Not A Good Day

Well, I knew that it was bound to happen, but honestly I refused to believe it. For most people who know me they are very surprised about me having a garden, especially one that is as extensive as the one I have. Most would say…are you sure that it is your garden and not your husband, but I say no it is mine and I am 100% the one that maintains it. They would also say… do you go outside dressed in armor, I say I go out in normal gardening clothes, but this year I purchased me a sun hat to prevent any sunburn. Well, I know you are waiting for me to get to the point, but I have to wait.

I grew up with a grandmother who had gardens of various types and sizes. My grandmother was truly an outdoors person and I was not always out there with her to pick up experience (that I now wish I had). My grandmother also had chickens at one time and unfortunately they were not there just for the eggs, they were the meal. I had to have the experience of learning that process. I think that was one of the reasons that I no longer liked being outside in the gardening sense. Also, my grandmother had to take care of animals that came in the garden and especially when she had the chickens and the animals got after them (those with 4 legs and those that slid on the ground) and I for sure disappeared when those times came about.

Well, the reason I am making this post is because today while putting around in the garden and pulling grass that was growing through the fence, I pulled back the watermelon pot and realized that the mulch under it needed to be adjusted. I picked up the watermelon pot and moved it temporarily, I went down to push some of the mulch where the pot would go and what did I see……………………a S N A K E.

It was not a big one so for a minute I thought it was a worm, I did a double take and thought…my that is weird it is very light and a worm is usually darker (at least the ones that my husband has been finding in the yard and putting in my garden). Then I realized something is not right, so I threw mulch on it. I ran to the back door of the house and called for my husband (who was finally having a day to relax without me bothering him) to PLEASE come and see if this was a worm or something else. Well he came out and we grabbed a mini shovel and big one and started moving the mulch to the side and of course we were not finding it and I thought I was crazy, then it appeared. I of course stood real far off to the side (so that I could not see anything) while he investigated it. I asked numerous times what it was and he said YEP THAT IT WAS ONE (see above in caps). My heart jumped into my throat and of course a few tears started to run. That was his queue to play with me and my TOTAL FEAR of this animal. Well about 15 min later of him playing with me (and me not knowing it) and me crying and doing the bunny hop dance he took care of it. It was not a big one, but it was one just the same.

I know this is to be expected, but I tell you it has me worried. I am truly going to try to get over this, but the sad thing is that for the past 2 weeks (before today) I have been having a bad dream of me finding one in my garden, but in the dream I am always bitten by it and I wake up before anything else happens (such as if it was poisonous or something).

Well I hope this is the last experience with this type of thing or if I have to go through it again that it is not to dangerous.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good/Bad Companions For Vegetabls

I came across this article and after reading it I discovered some of the information was new to me. I will have to go out this morning and move the red cabbage and cauliflower that I have in pots from in front of the strawberry bed. I did not know they were not a good match. I am so glad that I had these items in pots and that I have the ability to move them. Just thought I would pass this information along because as I am sure there are new gardeners out there as well as those that need a refresher on these type things.  Good & Bad Vegetable Companions.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sharpblue Blueberry Plant

My husband really likes blueberries and he said it would be great to have one in our yard so that he can pick them when he wants. Considering that he does not ask for too much, I said what the HECK. Now mind you I am no expert at blueberries and I really don't eat them, but I am going to try my hand at it. I have done some research and from what I can tell blueberries requrie:
  1. 6 hours or more of sun
  2. Soil on the acidy side
  3. Protection from birds
  4. Good draining soil

Wish me luck.

Yellow Queen Columbine

My husband and I attended the first Cedar Park Farmers Market on Saturday 03/27/10 and I came home with 2 Yellow Queen Columbine beauties. I stared at them when I first entered the market, but was unsure about them.  So after strolling around for a little bit, I migrated over to the vendor and looked at other items he had for sale, but could not resist taking these home (however I only had enough cash on me to purchase 2 of the 3 plants there). I remebered having a seed packet at home for Columbine, but they were surely not these. Turns out the seed packet that I had was a mixture of various Columbine (Dragonfly Hybrid Mixture). Looking more closely at the picture on the seed packet there may be similar plants to the Yellow Queen mixed in once all is grown. I think I picked a great choice.

The bright yellow flowers are showy and stand out when they are put against a green background.  The flowers look like jet rockets about to lift off it to the clouds. I discovered this afternoon that I needed to move the plants from direct sun (as this is what I had read on the internet was what the plant liked) to a more partial shaded area of the house.  I noticed the yellow flowers were looking a little sad. They are currently in pots and will permantly move sometime next year to the right side of the house where it is mostly part shade. The reason they have to stay potted this year is because on the agenda for next year is to dig out or put in raised beds alongside the house in order to bring color as well as bring beauty to these areas that consist of grass and mechanical equipment (AC unit, gas meter, cable box, etc.). I am so looking forward to being able to do this, plus it will be less of an area to mow.

Leaves....Oh My

My trees don't produce enough leaves for me to use them in my compost bins (better yet...they are so few that they blow out of my yard and away). Thanks to a local freecycler I received 8 bags of leaves for my compost bin. I just have to set up my new weed trimmer so that I can chop these up a little better to make the composting of them go faster. Also, I hope to have some mulch from these for the fall.


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