Garden Pictures

The warm weather has really stimulated some new growth.  Lots of things are coming back, yay!!  My seeds are not sprouting yet though, I’ve moved the flats to a spot that gets sun almost all day, so hopefully that will help.  I have a feeling I may be buying tomato starts this year though…we’ll see. 

I love watching the new sprouts stretching and awakening for the Spring.  We have alot of projects on deck too, not only in the yard but here inside as well.  Two big projects will hopefully be completed in the next couple weeks…I’ll post all about it when it’s complete…we are excited!

For now, enjoy the new growth in our yard.

Peace!

Thank You Tom!

A huge thank you to my dear friend Tom over at Seventh Street Cottage.  Last week a huge box full of plant goodness arrived and I couldn’t be more delighted, or surprised at the amount he packed in there.  Brugmansia rootings, Pineapple Sage rootings, and so many seeds that with what I’ve collected and already have, I am pretty set for Spring!  I quickly got the rootings into soil and will be replanting them into individual pots as soon as I possibly can. 

 

The list of seeds is:

~ Rubeckia hirta – yellows, browns and reds
~ Datura inoxia – White
~ Rutgers Tomato
~ Green Zebra Tomato
~ Yellow Pear Tomato
~ Melampodium
~ German Johnson Tomato
~ Biana di Maggio onions
~ Black Krim Tomato
~ Datura – Triple Yellow
~ Coreopsis – Mahogany midget
~ Pineapple Sage
~ Anise hyssop – Golden Jubilee
~ Brandywine Yellow Tomato
~ Cherokee Purple Tomato
~ Bee Balm – red
~ Salvia splendens “Yvonne” – grows to ever 4 feet tall

So thank you Tom…thank you so very much! 

Peace!

Catching Up…Or, The Many Sites of AmLo Farms

Yes, it’s been eons and I do apologize…but I have a good excuse – life!  Yes folks, the holidays are upon us and life is taking on a whole new meaning around the farm.  So many preparations and events.  The girls are giddy with holiday surprises and plans.  We got to go to our first company Holiday party with J’s work.  That was great fun!  He even won a Wii for the family which was just what our oldest farmgirl had been wanting….haha!  I’m not a huge fan of video games, but this one is actually alot of fun and promotes cooperation and togetherness – usually unheard of in video games.  We only have the Wii Sports and will most likely keep it to that for quite some time.  As a family we are bowling, playing tennis and golfing (this one elicites squeels of laughter whenever mommy’s turn comes up – no folks, I am not a golfer).  We had a great dinner and yummy desserts as well.  The company gives all the kids presents, face painting and horse-drawn carriage rides to see the lights of the town of New Braunfels.  We all had such a great time!

 

The day after the company party, we went into Gruene, Texas.  What a great little town!  We got there just as they were opening up their seasonal market days so the Heritage Riders were there re-enacting the jobs of the Pony Express.  They brought a proclamation from the Governor officially opening the markets days in Gruene.  There are quite a few artists in the area, so the open air market had so much to see.  It was a cold day, so hot cocoa was in order from the local coffee house.  We explored the market and then ate sandwiches at the Gristmill.  It is an old cotton mill turned into restaurant and it was good!  There are probably at least 10 dining rooms, not to mention all the outside patios.  We sat near a roaring fire in one of the several fireplaces in the building and treated ourselves.  Not really having money to spend on things like this, it is extra special when we can.

 
 
 
 
 
  

After Gruene we came back to our town and saw Santa at the library.  Xi was quite shy, but Lola explained how we saw a Santa in Gruene who had a cowboy hat on and how he must be an imposter.  Our library Santa gently explained that he has many helpers and no one is trying to fool the kids on purpose..haha!  That made both of them much happier.

We returned home to garden sadness though.  The night before had been our first hard freeze and we covered all that we felt needed it.  The rest were on their own and were just going to have to go through the seasonal changes.  My father in law explained to me to just leave all the plants looking like they do and not cut anything except the annuals.  From what I’ve learned, the frozen bits on the plants act like insulation for the rest of the plant and keeps the inside protected until Spring.  Right after the last frost of the year is when we will prune everything and hopefully Spring will see an explosion of most of it returning.  We need to mulch, mulch, mulch, which we are in the middle of doing.  Today is warm, above 70!  Wierd weather.  Some things made it through just fine of course, so there still is quite a bit of green going on.

 
Ranunculus are coming up and hopefully growing strong.
 
 
 
 
Larkspur sprouts
 
Brocolli going strong as well!

The days are spent preparing for my favorite time of year.  I love the Winter festivals so much.  The girls put their slippers out for St. Nick on the 5th and woke up to fresh oranges, new Nutcrackers and bendy doll winter sprites.  They were thrilled.

We make all our gifts not only because of financial necessity, but mainly because I do believe these are the best gifts to give.  I love creating things for family and friends, putting love into each stitch or stroke of the paintbrush.  This year the girls are getting their annual sweaters as well as some homemade toys and dolls.  One neighbor gave me a scroll saw and another gave me some really nice wood scraps, so I am going to try my hand at toy making today..yay!   I love the wooden figures from Germany, but cannot afford them.  This way I can make the girls and William some heirloom toys that they can pass down.   We are all decorated, ready to bake, continuing our projects and preparations for Christmas. We are all having fun doing it all too!

 
 
Instead of a nature table, we have a nature wall.
 
This little painting hung in J’s grandparents house and was painted by one of his great aunts or uncles.
Shh..it’s a surprise.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 What are you doing to prepare?  Peace to everyone!!!  XOXO

A Little of This, A Little of That and A Whole Lot of Busy!

I have not abandoned you all, just been on the go for the last couple weeks.  We had a wonderful visit with my darling sister and her family.  My nephew hung with us for the weekend while sis and bro-in-law went to a wedding about 4 hours away.  Mom came up and we had a blast!  Farmgirl’s last soccer game was on Saturday and then the after party, which all the kids loved…who doesn’t love pizza, cake and a playset?  They all got their trophies and talked playdates and next season.  H was having a blast with all the kids and his cousins around.  Later we came back here and had a fun afternoon/evening at the homestead.  The kids did alot of artwork and hanging out.  We were sad to see everyone leave on Monday, but were re-fueled with the visit and look forward to getting together again soon!

The week went by in a blur as I started my holiday gifts.  We make all our gifts and this year I have a long list.  The kids are excited about the upcoming events and preparations as well.  J’s folks came for a visit on Saturday and we were able to celebrate his dad’s 70th birthday with him.  The girls made gifts, but their paper mache’ bowls didn’t dry in time so we’ll give those to him at Thanksgiving.  The folks have just returned from a month of hiking and visiting J’s sister and family in Australia and New Zealand!  I’m in awe of them as they just go go go!  It all sounded like so much fun, and exhausting all at once…haha  Some day I want to take the girls over there.  The photos are just amazing!

I got a little gardening done on Sunday.  Things are finally starting to slow down as the weather gets cooler.  One thing that has exploded in my front garden are the butterflies!  I can’t believe how many we’ve attracted!  Yesterday I counted 7 different types all within a minute.  So beautiful and affirms what we’ve done out there as they obviously are happy.   There are all sizes from large Swallowtails on down to tiny yellow ones that almost don’t look real they are so delicate.  The rest of the gardens are starting to get ready for their long winter’s nap.  I’m really looking forward to what spring will bring…but am excited about gardening in the winter too.  I have brocolli looking beautiful, lettuce, basil, onions, potatoes and beans all still moving forward.  cucumbers are producing too but I’m going to have to start covering them.  I’m thinking about building a hoop house for my raised beds so that some of the plants that don’t tolerate the cold so much have a fighting chance.  We’ll see how that goes!

I’ve finished one of my major gifts for Farmgirl.  Xi’s doll is almost complete too and then I move on to the clothes for her.  Her sweater is on the needles and I found the nicest yarn for her in cotton.  She can’t stand the feel of wool, even a small amount makes her itch so I got advice from my dear friend, Michellerene over at You Just Gotta Keep Knittin’ on a cotton/acrylic blend that works out quite nicely.  It’s super soft and I think Xi will be happy with it.  My sister in law in Australia sent some gorgeous handmade buttons that will be perfect for this project.  I’m going to knit a matching sweater for her doll as well. 

Amidst all this business, J’s cousin (who we are very close to) and his wife gave birth to their beautiful baby girl many weeks too early.  The baby is doing good and while she was only 1 lb 9 oz at birth, is now a hefty 2 pounds at 3 weeks of age.  Poor little thing has had 2 major surgeries already, but the last one seemed to fix her intestine issues and now she’s growing finally.  She was born at 29 weeks, but had stopped growing at about 26.  She’s a fighter though and just precious.  We are going to try and make a trip to see them in the next few weeks.  J’s cousin and wife are my new heroes as their amazing attitude and positive outlook through all of this just shines!  It will be a long road until she gets to go home, but seeing the pictures of mama holding her tiny little girl, and hearing the love in daddy’s almost daily emails just makes my heart swell.  Send lots of good vibes that she continues to grow and thrive so she can go home soon.

So that brings us up to date…just busy.  We are looking forward to the holidays and are hoping that everyone has a warm place to rest and good food to eat.

I need to learn the names of all these butterflies.  This one was sunning himself on the lawn chair in the chill of the morning.
Monarch?
 
The morning sun.  This is the view from the front door.

Where the Zinnias are at home and seem to still be happy.  Lots of flowers on the Green Envy, Polar Bear and Purple Giants.
 
 
Butterfly weed.  Last week there were 2 gorgeous caterpillars I’m assuming will be Monarchs, munching away at the bottom half.  Can’t find them today..hmm…
 
 I am so happy with the way this bed has filled in.  I hope things reseed for spring.  Otherwise I’m doing this same thing again in the spring.
 
African Basil we have had going for over a year now.  It is next to the Mexican Lime and manages to get wrapped up with the tree when we wrap for freezes.  Hah!
 
These guys have been covering my little Passion Flower vine!  I mean dozens of them.  
 
Sedums still going strong.  I’m starting to break off pieces for other parts of the garden.  We’ll be using all different types in the rock wall we are going to build in the Back 40.
 
Mother of Millions
 
And her babies at her feet.
 
A pile of kids relaxing with a movie on a rainy day.
 
Xi and my mom.
 
H and Lola working hard on their drawings.  Notice their matching freckles?
 
Be still my heart….What a handsome little thing!
 
Trying to decide what to work on next.  They had so much fun together…

Peace to you all!

A Gardening Post!

This weather has been fantastic!  Temps in the mid 70’s by day and 50’s at night.  After all the rain we finally had a couple weeks ago, and with cooler temps, the plants all came alive.  I can’t believe the growth, although it’s starting to slow with the cooler nights, but everything is thriving so far.  The last hurrah before the cooler temps start taking their toll.  I did manage to get alot of things done in the gardens over the weekend.  The garden below that used to be the vegetable garden has been completely transformed and I’m seeing a truly sacred space coming through.  I made a path with rocks from our property, planted wildflower seeds and other spring blooming flower seeds, cleaned up the weeds and allowed the area to whisper what it wanted to be.  I’m excited about the transformation and look forward to helping bring out it’s real self some more.  I do have to finish lining the path with more rocks, and then a nice thick layer of mulch on top of that and in the beds.  Once the cucumber plant (looking sad but producing!) is finished I want some kind of artistic garden feature for the middle.  Haven’t seen it in my mind’s eye yet so any suggestions would be appreciated!

We also got our bulbs planted today…daffodils, more freesias and ranunculus.  The kids all helped.  I can’t wait for them to bloom in the spring so the little ones can see their work explode with color.

My raised beds are working wonderfully.  The vegetables are all growing and look very healthy.  One of the tomato plants is just gorgeous, although no tomatoes yet.  Probably too cool now, but I’m going to make a hoop house to cover it and it’s siblings over the winter and see how we fare.  We’ll  see how it goes.  The fun of experimentation makes it worth the effort.

Hope everyone’s week goes by with joy and laughter and lots of love!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Enjoy the pictures!  Peace!

Gardening Photos On A Slow Sunday

First I want to give a shout out to my sister-in-law, Lelo in Nopo, for getting published in the new edition of Fine Gardening! Congrats my dear! Check out her blog.  She’s a Master Gardener in Portland and to be honest, her garden is one of my biggest inspirations.  She’s quite the talented artist and writer too!

Not much to report today. We did get alot of maintenance stuff done today despite the cold rain.  I’m shaking my fist at the Nutgrass Sedge that has been springing up all over…but I managed to get it under control in the front, at least that’s what I’m telling myself.  Loving the weather even while working in it though.  After our horrendous summer, the cooler weather is much appreciated around here.

So cheers for slow Sunday’s!  Here are some photos from the last couple weeks. Hope your weekend is everything you wanted it to be!

Peace!

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar

Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Nasturtiums

Potatoes, Broccoli, Lettuce and Pumpkins (Xi wanted to plant the pumpkins…I’m sure they won’t do much as it’s quite late in the season, but she’s an gardening experimenter like her mother!)

Scarlet Runner Bean Blossoms

Grean Pole Beans

Scarlet Runner Beans starting to run.

Green Pole Beans

Oh no you don’t!  This Tomato Horned Worm made a snack out of my one decent plant I’ve babied all summer.  Fortunately I caught it before it could take the plant down and so the chickens got a tasty treat between him and his brother I found 5 minutes later…hehe
Datura is blooming prolifically!  I love it…

Green Envy Zinnias still going strong, as are their cousins planted in the same bed.  A few of the plants are taller than Xi, not a huge feat as she’s pretty short, but pretty good for a flower!

Velvet Leaf Honeysuckle intermingling with Red Salvia and Purple Fountain Grass.  I love the textures.

Lovely Datura Blossom

Busy Times

It’s been a whirlwind 2 weeks to say the least. With the party last week and then commitments this week, I don’t know if I’ve even had time to breath! Hah! The girls are doing great though and have been enjoying alot of fun with cousins (my sister was in town), friends and summertime fun. They got to go horseback riding on Weds. and I swear Xiola is obsessed now. She was such a natural on the horse too, no fear at all! My friend said she can come out anytime and ride. T will take care of her and teach her all the proper ways to do it. Lola really loved it too but was more interested in exploring the property with her friend..hah. Xi just didn’t want to leave the horse.

After the morning of riding, I took the girls and their other friend to the Hoppin’ House, which is an indoor jumpy house playground. They jumped for over 2 hours and were exhausted by the time it was all said and done. Both crashed right after dinner and didn’t move until the next morning. It was hard to capture pictures of them there as they were running all over. Lola immediately found friends of course and was buried so deep in the jumpy houses that all I got were a few of her back..haha!

My nephew has been hanging out with us this weekend. He’s 15 and so very sweet. He just moved here to live with my brother full time. His mom is in New Orleans. We are so excited to have him close again. He’s been helping J do maintenance on the skate ramp and will help him resurface it as well. He’s also great with the girls and helps me around here. I might just keep him..shhh! And J decided to cut his hair! It was past his shoulder blades when wet, now it’s up to his neck. He looks good!

The chickens decided it was time to thin the pumpkins…you can insert a growl from me here. I had to clean up the bed and then work on the stronger ones that are still hanging on. I am battling borers and am hoping they don’t win. I was able to get alot of the stems covered with good dirt and then fertilized with Rocket Fuel. The cantaloupe vine is doing well as are the pepper plants, nothing is setting though as the temps are just too high. I’m trying to keep everything alive until the Fall in hopes that they start pumping out fruit..so we’ll see. My tomatoes are doing just okay. The plants themselves are healthy and I’ve been pruning for Fall. My bush tomato is pumping out fruit but it’s so hot that it’s taking forever to ripen. We did manage to get 3 good size tomatoes that we just finished eating today however..yum! Jalapenos are growing beautifully, but no flowers. The plants are very pretty however.

I planted more Zinnia, Cosmos and Mexican Sunflowers from seed in the veggie bed yesterday. That bed will turn over into a new flower bed and then the veggies will be grown in the raised beds and the Back 40. I did manage to get the second raised bed built by myself. Let’s just say I’m not a carpenter and have never built anything from scratch alone, so it’s not the prettiest bed but will work just fine. I hesitate to put pictures up just yet though. Hah!

The front yard is looking great and so far the drip is working like a charm. We are going to tweak a couple things but nothing major. Everything is looking happy so far, better than when I was hand watering and I know we are using alot less water.

So that’s a bit of the news. This afternoon we are going to my brother’s and swimming with the kids. Making it an early night. I have one more week off from my child care work and so am going to find things for the kids to do this week. Then starting on the 10th it’s back with my extra kids and then the 24th its full time again. The summer is actually going by fast and I’m really looking forward to cooler Fall weather.

Hope you all are well! I want to send a huge hug to my sister Carol at Happy High Heels. Just letting her know I’m thinking of her today!

Peace!

Xi going down a HUGE slide at the Hoppin’ House. This one was her favorite. Notice her scared face, she loves to be scared. Hah!:


After Xi’s ride was over she didn’t want to get off the horse, so she stayed on her while the horse refreshed himself with food and water:


Xi and her new-found love. She eventually wanted the reins and actually rode with T just walking alongside and Xi controlling the horse:




Climbing up for the big ride alone:


At first she wanted T riding with her:


Lola and T’s daughter, R riding together:


Xi up on the horse for the first time:


Lola having fun:



Waiting her turn:



What do you do with all the leftover cups from a party? Make a tower of course! The girls spent one afternoon for hours just playing with these cups…makes you think about all the money that can be saved from buying toys..hah!:


My girls being happy:


And finally, J with his new shorter hair…he isn’t one for pictures so I don’t have any good ones of his face and him smiling..gotta love the man though!:

The Beginning of the New Back 40

Last month I mentioned how we want to landscape the back of our property and some of the ideas we have for it. We have tried to do things with it in the past and nothing really did well down there. We amended the soil, but not enough and have a caliche rock shelf that runs along there so the only thing to do was to really dig it out. The big hold-up of course, money to get it graded and bulldozed properly. Either that or doing it ourselves, by hand, over a good year or more as there are amazing amounts of rocks and boulders buried back there. Well, fate has smiled down on us. J is designing our neighbor’s house for him and in exchange B has agreed to do alot of the work we need done around here. So today was the first day of the transformation of the back 40. Yay!

B showed up with a Bobcat and proceeded to grade, dig, move rock and build up tiers for my garden areas. We discovered that there was a lot of great soil underneath alot of the larger rocks too, so it won’t be too much to amend and add a layer of good topsoil for us to be in business with planting. We are using the rock we dug out to build dry stack retaining walls, which I will plant all types of sedum in. We will use these new garden spaces for both vegetables as well as ornamentals. The flat, graded area at the very bottom of the property will eventually house a lap pool, but for now a skate ramp is going in. Yes, my girls and their daddy are all skateboarders and a half pipe in the backyard is just the coolest thing for them. Hah!

The sides will be planted and up on the very top will be the beer garden where we will have counters, bar stools, cob oven, and seating all covered with a patio cover which will someday be covered in some kind of vine. We are thinking grapes but haven’t fully decided yet. That will be a huge project regardless and will take us the better part of next year to complete. I’m just so excited we are finally starting to use the land we have back there. And I love the idea of community and bartering, it’s so wonderful to see it working!

Hope you all are having a productive and happy weekend! Peace!

Before:

And the bulldozing goes forward:


Working on the tiers:


It looks so different:


B had a little trouble getting back up the hill, but he made it eventually:


Look at that dark, rich looking soil…makes me so happy:


These are some of the rocks that will make up the wall:


The tiers are taking shape:


Long, dusty, dirty day, but oh so much fun too:


Thank you B!!!!

Finished!

We did it. We got the drip irrigation completed today and I am so happy! We even put little misters to water the grass paths. We calculated that with everything we are using between 180 to 190 gallons of water per hour, much much less than even hand watering. And with everything going directly to the roots, we shouldn’t have to water as often. This heat may prove me wrong, but I’m hoping not. We did all the hanging pots as well. I figure this is a good chunk of time I’ve been given back on days I usually water. Not to mention the conservation and savings we are hoping to see.

Really is satisfying getting such a huge project completed. I was so into working that I neglected to take pictures of the progress, so please forgive me. But I do have some of the after results, so enjoy!

Peace!

Our Pride of Barbados is finally going to bloom!


Drip in one of the pots:


Micro sprinklers for the paths:



Drippers in the large pot and one of the micros in the background:

Halfway There

As the temperatures are rising, we have called it a day on our outdoor project of installing drip irrigation in the front. My father-in-law came down and spent the day helping us design and install our new system. I mentioned before how he’d brought several bags of equipment last week. Well today he brought even more, we are seriously set for some major drip irrigation. I went yesterday and got the DIG starter kit from Home Depot along with an extra 50′ of 1/2 inch tubing for the main line and a couple 100′ rolls of 1/4″ tubing for the drippers themselves. I spent a whopping $35 for the kit, extra tubing and elbows, can’t beat that for a full drip irrigation system! I decided on DIG after reading Caroline’s write up at her blog, The Shovel-Ready Garden. She did alot of research on drip irrigation and really broke it down with her own conclusions. Extremely helpful for this newbie! When I mentioned the brand to my father-in-law he said I was right on track and he highly recommends DIG products. In fact, most of the equipment he gave us are DIG. So with two high recommendations, I think we chose wisely.

We laid everything out and the fun began! After several discussions on where to lay the line and a few stern “Watch where you are stepping!” from yours truly, we were on our way.

My father-in-law was very helpful in teaching me why certain pieces are used over others and the best ways to lay out the line. No question was too dumb, even when I felt I was asking dumb questions. He was very patient and took it slow while J dug the trench for the main line in the walkways and joked around with me about my lack of knowledge. We were cracking up and having fun, all the while working hard and trying to beat the heat that would soon be percolating to unlivable degrees. After getting the main line laid out, J and I worked on the 1/4″ tubing, adding them and drippers to the 1/2″ line laid out. While we did this, my father-in-law cut wire to bend into “U” shapes to hold the line down and fine tuned our placement of the drippers. He took every opportunity to educate me as to why you want water at the roots, how a drip system works, how to maintain our system and gave me advice on a couple plants I wasn’t sure about. We ended up using 1/2 gallon per hour drippers, both in-line and regular, for most of it. We used a couple micro sprinklers in the round Bulbine bed, and a 4 gallons per hour dripper for the lime tree.

We were able to finish 4 beds, about halfway, when it started getting just too hot to continue. Dad had to get on the road and we were pretty much getting tuckered out from the sun, so tomorrow morning will be the final push to get the rest of the yard on the system.

It was a good and very productive day, to say the least! Lola had spent last week with my in-laws taking swim lessons, so her and Xi spent the entire time playing and catching up on what they’d missed about each other all week. It is so nice to see them playing and enjoying each other so much. It is good to know my plants may actually survive the brutal heat. I look forward to a lower water bill and the knowledge that no drop of water is being wasted. We will be doing the same system with our raised veggie beds in the back for fall, and it should be a piece of cake putting that one in now that we know what we are doing. Life just keeps moving forward and I look forward to learning more on my gardening adventures.

I have to say a public THANK YOU to both my in-laws for all their generosity and care with the girls and with Lola this last week. I have to say a public THANK YOU to Dennis for taking his Saturday, in the heat, to teach me something new and make the project fun at the same time. Thank you so much and I love you both more than you’ll ever know and completely appreciate all that you do.

Micro sprinklers in one of the Bulbine beds.


A 1/2 gph dripper in action:



The kit:


Just some of the extras that were donated. The entire picnic table was covered in equipment:


In-line drippers we used in the round front bed:

I’ll take more pictures tomorrow as we progress. Hope you all are having a great weekend and staying cool! Peace!