Monday, August 20, 2012

Tidying the Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes is a little trickier in Texas, at least it is for me.  Once the weather gets hot and dry, my plants always start declining.  Typically, before the end of August I have some brown crunchy plants.  Also the heat prevents them from setting fruit. 

This year was not much different.  After a wonderful spring where I was inundated with tomatoes, the majority of my plants have once again been toasted by summer.  It finally was time to pull them out.  The only two the made the cut were the Porter and the Sugery.

This is NOT how the Sugery Tomato is looking right now

The Porter had been recommended to me by someone local as a tomato that stood up to the summer.  While it isn't producing any fruit, it also isn't dead, so I'm calling it a win.  The Sugery is also not looking great, but not looking horrible, so it also got a reprieve.

The back two raised beds in the vegetable garden (Ignore the toasted lawn...we don't water the "grass" back here)
You can see here that taking out the tomatoes had left two of my raised bed virtually empty.  All that's left are the two tomatoes I didn't pull and some strawberries and purslane along the edges.  I have a new batch of fall tomatoes ready to plant.  We just need to create a little temporary shade for them so they can get acclimated to the garden.  Hopefully next weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cleaning Out the Coop

 This weekend we took some time to do work on the chicken coop.  As you can tell from the slightly blurry photo below, our "coop" is made up of two open runs and an enclosed coop.

First we need to do a few repairs.  Some of the chicken wire had come loose due to Blue, our large blue orpington hen.  She's rather nervous and when she gets startled she will sometimes fly into the chicken wire.  Due to her rather substantial size, she can pull the staples out of the wood framing.

So after some we did some stapling we dealt with a visitor that has been hanging around.  Tucker has had a few "epic battles" with a possum that likes to call the chicken coop home.  We aren't really interested in starting up a  home for wayward possums, so he had to go.  We basically created some Quickrete "rocks" to stop up the spots where the chickens like to dig and our new friend has been using to get under the foundation.  There are a few other holes that we need to plug up near the ceiling, but that is for another day.

Very classy looking isn't it.  The paper bag will eventually wear away.

Finally we cleared out all of the all straw from inside and hosed everything off.  We have been doing sort of deep litter method of bedding in the coop this last year.  It was pretty dusty and dirty. Fortunately Tucker did  the scooping and I did the hauling away in the wheel barrow.  We're using the bedding as mulch under some trees.

Once it was all cleaned out and had time to dry, we put down some new straw, refilled the waters, and filled up a pan of water for the chickens to cool off in.   I've read that after a big cleaning like this (especially when deep litter was used) and result in a bunch of flies in a few weeks.  I'm hoping that will not be the case for us.  We bought a fly trap to have on hand just in case.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Refreshing Shower

This evening we had a storm roll through.  Lots of wind, lightning, and some rain.  Looks like a lot of rain in this picture doesn't it...

 The rain gauge tells a slightly different tale.  Only about a quarter of an inch.  Not exactly the drenching rain we were hoping for.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cottage Gardens

The final nursery we visited while in New York was Cottage Gardens in Medina, NY.  We stopped here on the way to Niagara Falls.  (Tucker had never been there before.)

This garden was interesting, as it was made up of both a cottage style garden and row and rows of daylilies in a field.

We traipsed through the whole place.  It was pretty hot (especially for New York) but we had a good time and the whole place is really pretty.  Normally they are closed on Mondays, but since the owner had a group coming in the afternoon, he let our little group of two stop by in the morning.

There is a beautiful cobblestone style house on the property, surrounded by cottage style gardens.  While they featured daylilies, they also had vegetables, trees, shrubs and other perennials in them.  I love cottage style gardens.  Especially when they look sort of wild, like things have self sowed all around.

Cobblestone houses are made up of smallish round rocks that were deposited by glaciers.  Unlike other stone construction, these stones are small enough to fit in your hand.  Originally they got in the way of farmers and eventually they started to build with them.

Of course we bought a number of daylilies.  Since it was so hot and sunny I didn't get many good pictures, but Hudson Valley (above) and Karen's Curls (below) are two that are sitting in the backyard currently. 

We had everything shipped and it all arrived looking great.  They were potted up and added to the waiting plants from our other stops.  Most of them have already set out new leaves and we're expecting that they will be blooming in our garden next spring (once we created an appropriate bed and plant them of course).