The First Garden

The first garden I ever saw was my Great-Aunt Amelia's herb garden. I was four years old.

My Great-Aunt Amelia lived in this big house with a big yard that was entirely paved over. Her house was an old style hacienda thing. It almost looked as half a hacienda; as if she had sold half her property for the other houses to be built in the block.
To enter the house, you had to knock on this very old door that didn't lead you into the half-hacienda but instead it led you into a covered corridor with a room on the side. The other side of the corridor was open to the yard (important detail)
Outside the door of this room, was an ancient rocking chair and what seemed to me at the time, an enormous clay jar.
I remember distinctly that the corridor/room/giant jar area was much cooler than the rest of the house.
My Great-Aunt Amelia lived in this room. My family moved into the half-hacienda.

The striking thing about her room, besides the giant clay jar, was the herb garden growing in dozen…

The Root Beer Tree

I said I didn't want to spend any more money on the orchard. In fact, I don't want to spend much more on the whole garden. My plan was to propagate some of the stuff already growing. I have Autumn's Joy for example. It has bloomed every fall since the day we moved in. I want more of it everywhere.
I have this green-gray cover plant that is near impossible to kill and it spreads like wildfire. I want that in various spots in my front and back yard, preferably under controlled conditions. I have Lilly of the Valley. It has been growing without my help for 15 years. I want more. I even have a poor Honeysuckle that has been clinging to life under the most horrific conditions of neglect. It is time for the Honeysuckle to soar!
I've already spoken about he Rose of Sharon bush (tree?) that has been sending volunteers for years. This is the year the Rose of Sharon regains it's proper place of prominence.
Let's not forget about the Tiger Lilly that showed up one year and…

Zone 5?, Zone 6?, Twilight Zone?

This post is not for people who don't believe the climate is changing.

I want to grow a Persimmon tree. Problem is, according to the back of the little pocket of cucumber seeds I bought at the store, I live in zone 5-6ish and Persimmon trees are only supposed to be hardy (meaning they'll live through the winter) down to zone 7.

However, some years ago, the people at said that my area turned into zone 7 in the 90's. Is it true? Well, how about this, we didn't used to have Armadillos around here and since the 90's, we do. Also, the Canadian geese used to come and leave and since the 90's, they stayed. Lastly, we started getting Bald eagles nesting right here in our fair city sometime around the year 2000. Is this proof undeniable? Well of course not! I know less than Jon Snow does.
And yet...

I know of at least three (3) Persimmon trees living in our city parks. Living quite well I tell you. I have seen them loaded with fruit.

Armadillos, geese, eagl…

A Short One About Plant Miracles

I wish so hard that I had taken pictures for this post but alas! you will have to take my word for it.

I've always maintained that my property is magical. Years ago. when we moved into this house, we brought with us an old dog. She was smallish and going blind. We also brought with us a mid-life, large dog, all 120 pounds of him. Just before the move, while living at the old house with the extremely small yard (really small), the large dog crushed the small dog and practically bent her in half so that when she walked, her rear end was next to her head (really!). Dogs are amazing that way.
The doctor said it was a waste of time to do anything for her. We decided to try anyway. Many dollars later, her rear-end was where it was supposed to be. The doctor said it was all for naught, that she would not be able to walk or run and that she would die as a result. Enter my new magical back yard.

Soon after we moved into the new house, she began to walk. Not long after that, she was running…


I am so excited!

I am finally realizing one of my long-time projects.

I may have mentioned that at one time I grew 100+ tomato and pepper plants. I grew every heirloom tomato I could get my hands on, mostly to see which ones I liked. I grew many different kinds of peppers, including my beloved chiltepin. In addition, I grew potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, radishes, etc, etc; the list goes on and on. That summer, I became a slave to my small produce farm because you see, in August, when the sun in Kansas burns all your hopes and dreams and temperatures hover above 100F, you can almost hear, almost, if you listen carefully, all your plants begging for water. "Water! Please!" they implore; and you must oblige, lest all that work you did in the spring is for nothing.

Now, I have seen people grow thousands of plants. Yes, they grow these many plants in carefully planned operations in covered structures with automated watering systems. These people spend a lot of money and gene…

Working It

I finally got to the thinning of the nectarines this weekend. Thinning fruit is time consuming and I wonder if it gets easier the more you do it. For me, deciding what fruit to thin was what took the longest time. They tell you that in a twelve inch long branch you should leave two to four fruit; the problem is that branches in a nectarine tree are not neat and straight and that nectarines, like peaches, grow in bunches. Nevertheless, I think I did a good job.

You may not be able to tell by the picture but I thinned close to 500 nectarines, leaving, in my estimation, around 200 nectarines on the tree.

While thinning the fruit, it became obvious to me that I shouldn't have neglected the pruning of the tree. For sure at the end of this season, I will prune my fruit trees.

Next I will thin the peach tree which has about the same amount of fruit as the nectarine tree. Again, I wonder if it will be easier now that I have done it once.

This weekend I mad…

Murder Most Fowl

I ventured into my yard after more rain and thunder today to check on the plants. Everything looks good. The peppers are good. The tomatoes are good. The potatoes are good. The cucumbers are dead.
Yes, the beautiful row of seedlings that had sprouted looked like this today:

If you look carefully, there are no seedlings in the picture, just the corpse of what was one of the 10 or so cucumber seedlings that had sprouted a couple of days ago. I suspect birds. I guess I will sow more seeds this afternoon and this time I will try to protect them with some kind of netting.

I also spent a few minutes thinning the nectarine tree. Wow, what a time consuming thing this is!
I barely did three limbs in about 10 minutes. I have thirty or so limbs holding fruit right now. For the top branches I will have to use the ladder. Next I took a quick look at my peach tree. The fruit is not large enough to thin yet but I can see that it will take a while to thin as well. The apple tr…