Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Spring 2015 Vegetable Garden is Planted - Purple Martins - Fire Ants

I'm happy to report that so far we have 10 purple martins that have taken up residence this year (5 pairs).  We have 7 gourds left although I noticed a house sparrow family has also moved in.  Hopefully some more martins will move in.

 The martins constantly trill while hanging out at their gourd tree which overlooks the raised garden beds.  Here is a link so you can listen to their songs.  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Purple_Martin/sounds

We planted a variety of tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers this past weekend of the spring equinox.  

The cottontail bunnies are taking over the yard.  My little rat terrier can't catch them anymore - he's getting too old.

 A view of the entire garden this year.  The edge of the raised bed in the foreground hasn't been planted yet - we will plant it with bush beans, squash and zucchini seeds.  We'll also plant those seeds in the remaining areas of the center tiered beds.  The peach tree is covered in pink blooms now.

 Uh-oh - look who got caught in the garden!

 Here are the cool season vegetables - spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, and cabbage.  These were planted in early February along with the onions.  They all withstood the freezing the temperatures well - the bunnies however are doing their best to decimate them.

 We put in 4 bunches of onions this year.  They all survived the freezing weather and super wet conditions from all the rain we've had in March.

The artichokes came back after a freezing winter!

 I planted two types of garlic - regular size and elephant.  I got both garlic bulbs in the produce section.  It is a lot cheaper to purchase them there than in the garden section.  I took a chance that the bulbs were not treated to prevent them from sprouting.

The asparagus is starting to come up now. 

 We have a lot of catnip that came up volunteer from last years seeds.  My kitties love this.
 The grape hyacinths are blooming now.

We always have Kildeers visit the yard - they look like they belong on the shore.

We poured a large stock pot of water on an fire ant bed in the raised garden bed.  Even though several gallons of boiling water was poured on the mound, there were enough ants that survived to bring all the dead ants to the surface!

I can't imagine that enough ants actually survived to do all this work?

Here is a close up shot of the dead fire ants.

We planted marigolds throughout the vegetable garden.  I've read that they deter insects - however there is conflicting information on it.  Even if they don't, they add some pretty color to the garden.   

And finally, this year I've noticed huge flocks of grackles moving into my neighborhood.  They always squawk in the trees behind my property.  I usually see large flocks of them in downtown Dallas, not here, in what I consider a more rural area. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Equinox - 2015

We have had a lot of rain so far in March.  The backyard is a soggy mess.  However, the fruit trees are in bloom now.  The Almond (pink) and Pear (white) trees are looking very nice.

The almond blooms are especially lovely now.

The Pear blooms are also showy.

The Peach tree is also in bloom now. 

This is my first and only daffodil bloom so far - I have been very disappointed in them.  I'm not sure why they have not produced this year. 

Note the fallen yaupon holly berries on the ground.

The front porch is spruced up a bit now.  Bearded iris and daylilies are coming up in the foreground.

Colorful petunias are cool season annuals.

 I found some beautifully colored snapdragons this spring.  Another nice cool season annual.

On to the vegetable garden.  We purchased tomato, bell pepper, and jalapeno pepper plants this week.  We didn't plant them immediately because of the weather forecast indicating potential hail.

The onions and garlic are growing well.  They withstood the snowy and icy weather last month like champs.

The herbs made it through the winter well.  Even the artichokes on the top tier are coming out of it.  Trailing rosemary, parsley and chives are in the back tiered garden.  Oregano is in the front.  

The broccoli, cabbage, spinach and swiss chard survived the snow and ice.  However, the bunnies are doing their best to take them out. 

And finally, a male cardinal is looking for a girlfriend this spring!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring is in the Air - Mid-March 2015

We have had an unbelievable amount of cold weather including ice, snow and now rain for mid-March.  I'm ready for Spring!  It seems to me that the Carolina Wren who came and sang outside my window this week was ready to announce that winter is over too.

Our peach tree is now covered in big fat buds.

Here is a close up shot of the buds - ready to burst into bloom any day now!

 Jonie is out searching in the water logged soil for bugs - note the Louisiana Iris are starting to come up now.

Henbit, a wildflower (weed) is coming up and blooming in the yard now - this is definitely a cool season plant.  The tiny blooms remind me of salvia as well as an orchid.

 Dandelions are also blooming now.  I haven't identified the tiny blue wildflower (weed) yet.

The true harbinger of Spring - Crane flies are now out and about - I usually see them on my back porch clinging windows and doors.

The Almond tree is starting to bloom now!  I'm crossing my fingers that we have no more freezing weather.

The pear tree is also starting to leaf out now - lots of white blooms will soon spring forth as well.

 Bearded iris are starting to come up too.

And finally, the Daylilies are also coming up now too!