Wednesday, May 28, 2014

what’s blooming

Century plant (this thing is at least 15 feet tall):

Zoomed-in closeup of the top:

Austrian copper roses:


Jupiter's beard:

Rock rose:



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

weekend update

Rain! Starting Thursday and going thru Monday, we had a series of afternoon thunderstorms that netted us 1.3 inches of rain over the past 5 days. Weird! But good!

Saturday, we went to the Farmers Market, where I picked up 2 basil plants to replace the frost-killed ones from NM Plant Co. and 2 pepper plants (1 Lunchbox, 1 JalapeƱo). Put the basil in the raised bed and the peppers in the side bed Saturday before the rain. Read later that the Tomato Lady recommends waiting to put out peppers until after June 1. Oh well. Maybe I'll rig up another set of foam things like I did for the tomatoes and hope that, plus the south-facing wall will help keep things warm enough.

New basil:


After planting the peppers and basil, Bram helped me hand-pull the Kochia and rub out the little red pigweed/Amaranth seedlings. The weeds are loving the extra rain (and before that, the watering for the grass plugs). The grass plugs are doing fine, if not spectacular. The clover mix is definitely popping. I'm debating whether or not I should rake up the straw, or leave it. Hopefully I can pull up the netting as soon as the clover gets tall enough to cover the straw. I'll be leaving the flagging tape to keep the dog out until things are pretty well established.

Sunday I took a trip over to Plants of the Southwest and picked up some starts: 6 Reiter's thyme; 3 Mexican evening primrose; 1 dill; and a half-pound bag of the Buffalograss/Blue Gramma yard mix. I'll fill in some bare spots later this summer. Dill went in the raised bed with the other herbs.

Dill and other basil:

Thyme went in around the yard flagstones (it's a creeper/groundcover, not edible as far as I know):

Primrose went in along the the little wing/retaining wall. I love primrose and how they self-sow and volunteer about. Maybe they'll establish a colony or something.

Out front, 2 of the 3 beardtongue penstemon seem to be failing. Bummer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

cold snap

I knew I was pushing it. Forecast was mid-30s Sunday night, Monday night. Monday and Tuesday, chance of snow, hard freeze Tuesday night. Boo. So I jury-rigged some foam wrap enclosures for the tomatoes Sunday night. Stuffed them with extra newsprint Tuesday afternoon after work. Seems to have worked. It's supposed to be around 70 the next 2 days, and 80s over the weekend.

Foam tent thingies:

Snow on Tuesday morning:

Oh hai! Tomatoes on Wednesday morning:

Of course, I forgot all about the basil. Rats.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

weekend update

Put in the tomatoes and the flowers on Saturday. Pushing it — we're not supposed to put things out until the 15th. Dug in mushroom compost, set up soaker hoses, straw mulch — the usual. Tomatoes waiting to go in:

Raised bed got the Robesons and the basil. The perennial arugula Bev gave me last year is back, there's a giant volunteer arugula growing out of the crack between the railroad ties and the flagstones, the thyme survived the winter, and we've been eating chives for a month now.

Side bed got the sungolds. There's a big blank space between the tomatoes and the agastache, maybe I'll get a couple pepper starts and put them there. Yeah, that wall crack got big over the winter.

Out front, put the geranium and petchoas in the big pot, the penstemon and sweet alyssum in the front bed. All the perennials I put in last year survived and are coming back.

Elspeth's head is cracked.

Friday, May 9, 2014

what’s blooming

Dakota verbena:

White top (Cardaria draba):



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 nursery trip

So I took off 4 hours in the middle of the day Tuesday for this year's trip out to NM Plant Company with the ever-fabulous Bev, Teri, Aunt Marianne, Mary, and Annie. Yay! No Stacy. Boo! We met up at the SFCC fitness center parking lot at 10:30 and then headed out. I picked out plants for Jim and Stacy's place, to help with the curb appeal, paid, then went back and got my own.

The ever-fabulous Bev:


Teri and Marianne:

The haul for Stacy + Jim (6 red geraniums, 6 coleus, 6 dusty miller, 2 red petchoa):

I got: 1 white geranium and 2 purple petchoa for the front door pot; 3 scarlet beardtongue penstemon, 2 purple and 1 white sweet alyssum for the front bed; and 2 basil starts. Closeup of some of the alyssum:

Here's my final haul:

This was Bev's second trip — she'd gotten TEN FLATS! on her first trip, got five this trip, and swore she was done for the year. Here she is with one of the NM Plant Co. guys, helping her load up her car:

Got to NM Plant Co. by 11:00 and we were all wrapped up by noon. Then we were on to San Marcos Cafe + Feed Store for the traditional post-plant-shopping Ladies' Lunch. Bev outside San Marcos:

Hello from everyone, Stacy! We missed you!

[click for larger ... if you dare!]

Monday, May 5, 2014

weekend update

So, the yard, then. When we moved in, there was a small grass lawn which required the running of the in-ground sprinkler system. Then that crapped out, and we felt bad watering grass that was — clearly — not a southwestern variety adapted to a drier environment (old pic from the real estate listing):

So we stopped watering, and the grass died, and the bindweed took over. Hey! It was green! With pretty pink flowers! Didn't need watering! At all! Of course, it's like the kudzu of the Southwest. It will eat your house. And your patio:

So we started systematically killing it, leaving us with a lovely dirt yard that the dog enjoyed digging holes in. Every year, I bought a bunch of Blue Gramma grass seed (or sometimes the Blue Gramma / Buffalograss lawn blend), always forgetting that watering will germinate every other weed seed in the dirt, smothering any little grass sprouts. Sigh. So last summer and fall, I've been watering, digging under what comes up, watering more, spraying the bindweed and the common mallow (Malva neglecta, also known as dwarf cheeseweed, lol) with Roundup. By this spring, we had a very dead L-shaped patch, facing the raised bed, and up along the patio.

I told you that story so I could tell you this one: I bought a pound of clover seed mix and 2 flats of Blue Gramma grass plugs. Spent Saturday afternoon prepping the yard, spreading seeds, mulching with straw, covering the straw with bird netting, and putting up a perimeter of flag tape to keep the dog out.

Adding mushroom compost dirt + raking it flat:

Yum Yum Mix! Used all of the container Stacy gifted me in prep for her move back to NYC (sob!).

Here's the clover mix:

Clover mix + binder and leftover Blue Gramma / Buffalograss mix from last year:

Seed sowed + raked in:

Straw mulch. These photos are super boring, right? I'm trying to convey the endless nature of this project. Just go with it.

Straw mulch with netting and flag tape. Sometimes the dog won't step over things on the ground, but this did nothing.

Bamboo stakes with flag tape about 1 foot off the ground. Dog could go under or over easily, but (so far) shows no interest. I even tried to tempt her in with cookies. Hey look! I took a "break" and dragged out all the patio furniture! What's Irish and sits in the shed all winter?

Sunday afternoon was spent planting all 144 fricka fracka grass plugs. Rip hole in netting, push straw aside, dig hole, fill with SUPERthrive® (also from Stacy) and water, insert plug, tamp down dirt, re-cover with straw, repeat. Ugh.

6 x 12 cells per flat x 2 flats = 144 plugs

The first row! So not bored yet!

Rows and rows and rows and rows and rows ...

The finished planting:

Oh also, while cleaning up, splashed muddy water all over the (old) digital camera. Feel free to send all your good wishes, healing white light, and other assorted woo this way.