Sunday, April 14, 2013


Well, progress in the yard still continues incrementally.

I am still slowly cutting down the bougainvillea. This is a slow process, not only because it is hard work cutting through thick branches with a hand saw and then trying to pull down 8 and 10 foot lengths that are wound all over, but because I can't leave a large pile at the road, or I'll have to pay for the crane truck to pick it up. So it needs to be done in manageable batches.

You can't tell in this picture, but there are three large branches cut clean through here. But this plant is so wound around on itself and thorny that it is a challenge to pull those branches out. Grab hold of that big one hanging in the middle, plant your feet and PULLLLLLL...

... and there's a chance that nothing will happen. So you cut another and another and try to remove the smaller ones and clear it enough to allow the big ones to pull free. Then you wind up with stuff like this sitting in your yard.

And even after cutting it up and filling a 55 gallon can with debris, you still are left with this mess to deal with in upcoming weeks.

After working on it for an hour or two, I have it down to about a half of it's beginning size yesterday.

And there is the other one I worked on a few weeks ago. I got that one down to about a quarter of it's initial size. 

Once I can get these cut down, I'll try to kill the stumps. Then hire someone to come reinforce the fence, as these devils are pulling the fence down!

And last weekend I finally did something with the bed around the mahogany out at the shed.

I believe that I've correctly identified this vine as Virginia Creeper. It keeps popping up around this tree, and I worried it was poison ivy. Hopefully I'm right, as I will be digging around here a lot.

So I planned where my flowers would go. I got some colorful cosmos to put around the tree trunk, and yellow lantana for the rest of the bed.

While digging around, I turned up some old egg shells from my snake nest that got raided by the raccoons or something else.

I used mahogany shells as mulch in the bed.

In the end, I was left with a slightly more cheerful landscape than before.

(That shed really needs pressure washing!)

Now it's just a matter of keeping it watered well enough to become established. Both of these flowers are considered drought tolerant, I believe. So we'll see how they do. I did this last weekend.

As for my little veggie garden, a couple of the dwarf snow pea plants have suddenly decided to bloom.

My passion flower continues to bloom non-stop. It smells so good!

My new pimiento sweet pepper plant that I got last weekend is full of peppers.

I have a few strawberries coming in. Since putting up some red Solo cups as a distraction, the birds have been leaving my fruit alone.

My sunberries hadn't been doing much after sprouting up a few inches. Then one day I thought, "Hmmmm. They're called "Sunberries". Maybe I should put them more in the full sun!" I think after doing so they began flowering within a week and had grown another inch or two. Now they are continuing to bloom and continuing to grow, probably about 6 inches tall now.

I imagine I would have some pretty small berries if they begin to fruit when they are still so small!

My cilantro is turning into a rangy weed! It's large and flowering like crazy! I may try cutting it back, and see whether I can get anything out of it, or if it is kaput.

My yellow pear tomato continues to fruit like crazy. However the tomatoes aren't my favorite. I need to get some seeds off my mother for the wild tomato she was growing last year. Those things were like candy!

My Better Bush tomato plant is finally fruiting, after remaining almost dormant since the last couple of tomatoes got eaten by the birds. Right now I have four tomatoes growing.

I also bought a little Roma tomato plant last week which is flowering and has one small tomato now growing.
I love Roma tomatoes!

I planted a couple of Big Red Ripper Pea plants here when I planted everything else. These plants have suddenly started to really grow, but have yet to flower and produce anything.

While right next to them are two of the most pitiful bean plants you've ever seen, brown and leafless, with a single Garden Bean dangling.

Now I bought a Papaya awhile back. I hadn't put it in the ground yet, as I figured I'd wait until I got the bougainvillea and the fence done. Well, the other day I noticed all of the leaves were wilted on it. I have to assume that it was due to overwatering, but am surprised, considering it is said to like a "moist" environment.

So I moved it into the sun and it seems to be coming back. We'll see how it does. Then I want to get a couple more to plant alongside it.

And yesterday my mother and I attended the annual fruit tree sale. I didn't buy any fruit trees, but I did walk away with a Dragon Fruit cactus, for which I've had my eye out.

I've never tried Dragon Fruit, but it looks interesting, and it is supposed to be easy to grow and care for. This is what the fruit looks like...
By T.Voekler (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
And this is what it looks like at a Dragon Fruit farm...
By Dragfyre (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Now I just have to figure out what I want to do with my cactus, and how to grow it. It grows up with stalks that get too heavy to support themselves. So you need to grow it on a support like a vine.

Otherwise my jasmine is beginning to bloom. In the next couple of weeks, it will smell so strongly of jasmine around my place that you'll be able to smell it out at the front of the house as you walk up (even though the vines are at the back of the house).

This little self-introduced pothos likes my old ficus stump. I have no idea where this thing came from. It just popped up after the tree was cut down.

My gardenia is looking big and healthy, but a little rangy. I probably need to prune it, if I can figure out what it should look like!

It currently has a single bloom...

...but dozens of buds are just waiting to open. So soon it should be swimming in blossoms!

My next big project, after finishing with the bougainvillea and repairing the fence, is to rip out this old raised bed that came with the house, and the rubber vine growing on the fence behind it.

Then I'll try to clean up this area a bit and turn this into my "fruit" area. This is the sunniest spot in my yard, and it is too hot to grow vegetables. But I think it would be a good spot for citrus and berries. I've also thought of trying to get rid of the grass and weeds as well as I can and then planting some peanuts here as ground cover. But I don't know how possible that would be.

So it all continues slowly. Two steps forward, one step back.

Monday, February 18, 2013

State of the Garden: 2/18/13

The garden is still going pretty well. We had some pretty cold weather last night (I think we got down to around 37 degrees), but the plants seem to have survived just fine. My bean plants have the first flowers showing...

Including my Scarlet Runner bean plant...

I planted some radishes, and they are doing well. The front row were pre-germinated. The back row was planted as seeds. However they seem to be growing at an almost identical rate.

I had a Better Bush tomato ripening on the vine, and something ate it.

Today I found the critter had been back, and had now removed the rest of the tomato from the vine...

...and then started in on the other tomato that was ripening.

I noticed that it was able to determine which side of the tomato was ripe, and only eats on that side. So it reached into the tomato cage and at the ripe side of the tomato, ignoring the green side exposed to the outside of the cage.

So whatever is eating the tomatoes is able to get its head between the bars of the cage, which are probably only 2 inches apart. I had assumed that it was my resident opossum, which I believe is still around, since I can see from the new mulch that I laid down that something is still going under my shed.

I've watched my opossum go under there before, so I know that's his usual route under there. However I also know that he is a big boy, so it's surprising that he'd be able to get his head through the bars of that tomato cage. Of course, it's always possible it could be a rat or mouse. Who knows? I just hope it doesn't continue to be a problem. Especially since I have a yellow pear tomato plant with about a dozen tomatoes growing on it at all different stages of development.

My grapevine is hanging in there, but has something weird going on with it. It seems to be dying close to the ground, but the vining arms are doing fine.

The leaves near the base are turning brown and falling off...

...yet this vining tendril is bright green and healthy in appearance.

Weird. And I saw this guy on one of my bean plants. I don't know whether he's good or bad.

I've noticed that my bean plants have some drying and wrinkling of the leaves on some edges. I'm not sure what is causing it. I'm speculating it could be the warmer weather we've been having, as it seems I'm at the end of the growing season for beans and peas.

My jalapeno continues to grow. Part of me wishes my snacking critter would try snacking on this!

I have two tiny little bell peppers started...

And my passion flower vine continues to bloom like crazy, but no fruit have taken.

My strawberries are still going well. I have a dozen or more now, with the first two beginning to show a little ripening.

My mango tree is showing signs of something snacking on it as well. A lot of the leaves are looking eaten up.

But it has mangoes growing! The strange thing is that our warm weather seems to have caused a couple of blooming spurts. So while I have fruit growing up on top of my tree (where the tree bloomed about a month ago)...

I have fresh blooms coming in down below...

So there's a lot of activity going on in the garden. Now if I can just figure out what to do about the midnight snacker that's eating my tomatoes!