Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Gardening in Late Winter 2015

On February 18th, George & Martha returned to our yard!  I believe this is the same Mallard pair that stayed in our yard about 2 months last year. 

We struggle to keep them out of the pool.  We just ran them out again - they quack complaints.  They are making do with puddles in the yard.

 The honeybees were out this week and buzzing around the rosemary during the warm days. 

On early February 23rd, an ice storm hit here in North Texas with temperatures plunging to 25 degrees for over 24 hours.  The question now is, will the new cool season garden survive?  Note how the herbs in the center circular gardens survived the ice with no problems.

Last year in 2014 was the first time we ever lost our cool season garden.  I attributed the loss to the overnight drop in temperatures of over 60 degrees.  This time, the temperatures are cold but the temperature difference was not so great.  I'm hopeful that the garden will survive.

These are pictures from the next day, February 24th, I have hope that the broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, and cabbage will recover.

 It looks like the onions will make it!

 My other concern was that the broccoli plants were attacked again by the bunnies last night.   They eat the plants down to the nubs.

Anger and frustration.  We are talking about getting another rat terrier pup since Festus is getting blind and deaf and can't keep the bunnies run off.

In the meantime, our trusty owl will have to do the job.  We repaired the hole where we think the bunnies were getting in.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Planting the Cool Season Garden for 2015 and Getting Ready for This Season's Purple Martins

The week of February 8th, 2015, we are planting the cool season garden according the TX A&M Planting Guide.  http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/earthkind/ekgarden14.html

To start off the new planting season, we added mushroom compost to the beds and worked it into the soil.  Then we had to buy new soaker hoses this year.  The process of laying it out so it doesn't kink can be tedious.  We used metal staples to hold the hose.  We made them out of 12 gauge galvanized fencing wire.  Each let of the staple is about 6".

The manifold at the end of each raised bed where each hose is attached.

We purchased 400 feet of soaker hose this year.  We tried a new kind that, according to the tag, has a longer life.

The other end of the beds with the newly laid soaker hose.

We purchased 4 bunches of yellow onions.  We went with the 1015s.  We always have good luck with yellow onions.  After harvesting last year, they have lasted us through January.

We use a magic marker to make the holes for the onions. 

We plant the onions so the roots and about one inch of the onion are in the ground.

 The onions are planted and look good.  We planted them approximately 3" apart.

 We bought a flat of broccoli, red cabbage, spinach, and swiss chard.  We also got a parsley and a thyme plant to be planted in the middle herb garden patch.

We left the flat in the garden the night before we planned to plant them and some little peckerwood bunny nibbled our broccoli!  We went ahead and planted them but plan to replace them.  We checked the fence to find the holes in the fence where the bunnies were entering.  So irritating.

Merlin & Festus kept us company while we were planting the garden.  Note that Festus is on the lookout for bunnies.

Here is the start of our herb garden.  The trailing rosemary is now in full bloom.  The asparagus on the top has not started sprouting out of the earth yet.  We have parsley, chives, and thyme.

All the cool crops are in the ground now.  The artichokes overwintered in the top of the circular garden.  They are coming out now and looking good.

First view of the planted cool season garden.

Here a picture of the other side of the newly planted garden taken at sunset.

Our large rosemary bush in the front yard is in full bloom right now.

And finally - it is time to clean out the Purple Martin house for the new spring season.  According to the migration map for 2015, the Martin scouts will be coming through about the 2nd-3rd week of February here in North Texas.  First we lowered the gourds on the pole for easy cleaning.     http://www.purplemartin.org/scoutreport/

Next we take the plastic gourds off the pole and dump out last year's nesting material and brush them out.

We add some new nesting material to each gourd. 

We then raise the gourd tree back on the pole to wait on the arrival of this year's Purple Martin  families!