The sun is shining very brightly these days in Central Texas. Though we've had a bit more rain than is usual for this time of year, the heat is pretty much as expected: stifling. But, so long as they get plenty of water, the native plants are pretty ...

Progress

The sun is shining very brightly these days in Central Texas. Though we’ve had a bit more rain than is usual for this time of year, the heat is pretty much as expected: stifling.

But, so long as they get plenty of water, the native plants are pretty happy. Wildflowers are everywhere, the animals all have burs stuck in their fur (oh, the wonders of seed dispersion), and our little pond is starting to be a little less “black plastic” and a bit more “ecosystem.” Ok, there’s still a lot of black plastic. See for yourself how it’s developed over time….

And because I know you really want to take a good look at how things are these days, here’s a still or two from yesterday.

See the lovely water lilies about to open up?
There are even FISH in there, if you can believe it.

There’s still a lot more to do, of course, but I think it’s coming along quite nicely, especially with regard to the sound effect — there’s nothing quite like running water to relax you.

     


Texas natives

I’m sure my cousin thought I was going a bit overboard at the Plant Sale, but the place was buzzing so I certainly wasn’t the only one. I took my trusty wagon — which converts into a dolly and a bunch of other things — and dragged it along to all the tables, picking up lots of things that had caught my eye on the sale list, as well as a few more.

The objective is to fill the space around the waterfall/pond/fountain thingie and make it look less like a black plastic abomination. I’m also looking to expand my literacy about natives in general so I can potentially do some beautification hereabouts — which is sorely needed. I even splurged on a couple of water lilies, which I’m hoping will help me turn the pond into a real ecosystem — slowly but surely.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Wish me luck keeping these specimens alive.

     


The year of living wild

Meep meep! Yes, right in our front yard this weekend.

I’ve been working hard this past week on what I’m calling the “dream garden waterfall/fountain/pond project.” After approximately a million aborted attempts (resulting in dead goldfish, among other casualties), a vision that began back in Brooklyn — when we optimistically splurged on a plastic pond liner — has begun to really be realized. Really.

As I pulled the truck around to the garden this weekend, aiming to unload the load of cinder blocks and retaining wall blocks I’d purchased for the project, I hit the brakes when I spied a visitor to our front yard. I wasn’t 100% sure when it was still, but a little movement cemented my original suspicion of what it was.

Please excuse this picture taken from the window of the truck.

What does this have to do with living wild, you ask? In honor of the roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) and everything else that lives hereabouts, I’ve decided to concentrate on adding native plants and building wildlife habitat on our property this year, instead of cultivating vegetables. (Though I’m still tending perennials like the peach tree and the blackberry bushes.)

This includes adding plants to the dream waterfall/pond in the garden, possibly including aquatic varieties and maybe even fish. I’ve been eager for some time to convert our back yard to Habiturf — maybe this is the year. Kicking this off in earnest in a couple of weeks at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s spring native plant sale.

The decision has brought me a great deal of peace, I have to admit, because vegetables need a lot of care and feeding, while native plants are, by definition, easier to grow in this environment. I’ll be working with the climate and soil, rather than against it. This emphasis will also likely result in a prettier yard and garden in general — something I’ve been needing to dedicate myself to for quite a while.

     


Hunting Blackberries

When you buy blackberry plants, they come in what’s called “bare root” form — that means each plant is basically a root and a tiny stem, maybe 2 or 3 inches long. Or at least that’s what mine looked like. They were kind of pathetic. And they didn’t graduate to being much more than that for many years.

Now, look at what has become of the three bare-root Darrow plants I purchased in September 2013:

Poking around yesterday and bringing in the beginnings of our harvest, I made a few interesting discoveries. First, I found a bird’s nest, made mostly of straw, tucked away neatly within the barbed vines.

And then, another bird’s nest — this one made from sticks.

In all of these pictures you’ve seen lots of green and red berries, but where are the black ones? Oh, you have to look around and, inevitably, they’ll be hiding JUST out of reach.

I decided to leave those to the birds. But I was able to pluck a few — standing on a chair, carefully weaving my arm through the vines, and getting caught on the briars all the same. Then, just as I’d think I’d gotten them all, I’d spot another juicy-looking specimen behind a leaf. That, of course, made me wonder how many others I was missing, so I’d peer at them some more, taking new vantage points in hopes of a ripe one catching my eye.

I remember having adventures like this with my grandmother in East Texas, where we’d go off picking wild dewberries and bringing them back (whatever was left, anyway) for a dewberry cobbler. That’s why I planted these — wanting to have my own little surprise moments of discovery. And the blackberries seem to thrive in the heat of our summers.

     

Still here. Really I am. June 2018 edition.

So it appears it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated this site. Oh, so busy. I’ll dispense with the excuses and begin with the updates…

  1. My automatic watering system is no more, through no fault of its own. That’s because a hose-end system like mine is dependent on everything being super tight and tidy at the tap, but I never got it quite right and so, when I left the tap open — so the system could distribute the water — leaks abounded. I haven’t given up entirely, yet, as hubby promises he’ll “take a look” at this over the weekend. We will see!
  2. I’m no longer making bread daily. Oh, if only it were possible. Honestly, my kids are nearly teenagers now and are much pickier about the size of their sandwich slices. It was a great experience and perhaps one I’ll incorporate into our lives again at some point.
  3. My garden, however, is thriving. This year, we’ve got 3 raised beds on the go, and we’re working on: tomatoes (6-7 different varieties), Genovese basil, Thai basil, Japanese Eggplant, onions, sweet potatoes (mostly for the greens), cantaloupe, habanero and ghost peppers (not doing very well, sadly, but mostly growing them for the experience), and a little perennial herb section featuring sage, oregano, thyme and tarragon. Meanwhile, the blackberry bed is growing like gangbusters and the little peach tree is actually bearing 2 or 3 fruits.
  4. The off-brand power-blender is still going strong, although I dropped the canister at some point and had to order a new one from the original seller. Worked like a charm, though, and was thrilled to find the original seller still on eBay!
  5. The baby goats are now full grown and as ornery as you’d expect goats to be. They like to terrorize the dogs, especially a certain little one that has come to join our family recently. I haven’t yet bred our doe, Dulcinea, as I’ve not been ready to commit to a once- or twice-a-day milking schedule, but it’s still a possibility for the future. The short-term goal with the goats is to keep them from eating our house. Easier said than done!

And now, without further ado, some pics of some of the recent action hereabouts.

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