Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter prep...

Last minute scramble to find last year's plastic eggs for the youngest's daycare. Class Easter egg hunt tomorrow, every family needs to bring 10 eggs. I use left over Valentine's Day kisses and some foil wrapped chocolate daisies to add to the slivers of stickers in the eggs. Perfectly respectable..

For my eldest he casually mentions that he needs an egg with the yolk taken out to decorate tomorrow. When he sees we have four eggs total, he asks for them all. I use two yolks to make blueberry muffins (I can smell them baking as I type) and place the other two in a container for my breakfast tomorrow.

My dining table looks festive, with the real brown and speckled eggs drying in their cardboard carton and the brightly colored plastic eggs tucked into a decorative bag.

No eggs from my chickens yet- Ruby the eldest is a few weeks away I think. The youngsters are growing rapidly, happily perched three abreast on their roost tonight.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Couldn't I just be a farmer?

When I was applying to graduate school, people would ask me what my back up plan was. At the time my response was that I'd become a scuba divemaster if the other career didn't work out. Such a mid-twenties-no-kids fantasy- working in gorgeous tropical locales spending my days floating weightlessly staring at gorgeous coral reefs. I'm sure the reality is wildly different, with cranky customers, uninformed thrill seekers and cold and boredom. I haven't gone diving since I had kids, but I do get to stare at pretty growing things in the garden.. Nowadays I fantasize that if I get too burnt out I'd drop out of the intellectual rat race and plow the earth instead. It is as unrealistic a fantasy as the divemaster one (look at my tomato plants below), but it's awfully tempting on a Sunday evening facing a tsunami of work responsibilities on Monday...

Close-up of the first tomato I've seen this season. It's in the plants in the square foot garden which handled the hail well and look green and lush on their new leaves (though you can see battered spots on the lower ones). Compare this to the saddest tomato plant ever:

It got thrashed in the hail and I was going to replace it and it's equally sad neighbor with a new ones until I saw..

Two tomatoes.. I got sentimental and wistful and thought about babying the plants, but I've decided to call upon my inner stoic farmer and replace them. I want bushels of tomatoes, not two ever-green ones that stay puckered and small because the plant is too brown to grow them big and juicy.  

Happier hail survivors include some chard (love the colors, need to remember to eat them!!)

And lemon balm which was in tatters but quickly grew new leaves..

A couple of poppies got bent but most shrugged it off..

I sweet talked the kids into visiting the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, forgetting that it was their spring plant sale weekend. My eldest happily showed us the "secret pathways" he'd found on a previous school trip, and we stopped and admired views from the tower and views of sunning turtles...

Prickly pear peep hole atop the tower..

Their patience wore thin so I didn't get a chance to either take pictures of them in the wildflowers, nor buy any plants. Good for my wallet, though I'm sure I could have found something wonderful to add.. 

Friday (a free-range day off!) I created a new border bed near the fence in the back corner, which previously sloped precipitously and run off detritus built up against the fence. You get a lot of loose blocks of stone with construction, so I rummaged in the strip behind the bamboo-barrier retaining wall and found enough stones to make a mini-retaining wall along the fence, then filled in the depression with surprisingly good soil (I guess the builders had put the soil from my old compost heap there since it was fairly loamy with many earthworms and less full of clay than the rest of the back lot). I envision it as a raingarden of sorts (it is still at the bottom of the slope), hopefully the plants can handle some runoff when it rains (and some dryness when it doesn't) . The soil should drain well and the rock wall stayed pretty porous. I had visited Barton Springs nursery earlier in the week and picked up the xeriscape plants I posted about before as well as some new lovelies..

Desert bluebells

Copper canyon daisy photobombed by some Four Nerve Daisies. 

I'm frequently cheap and buy little plants in little pots since it gives me room to experiment (the Copper Canyon dailsy is an exeption). After all, the massive rosemary in the front is blissfully happy at 5 feet wide and it started from a 4" pot. When plants fail to do well in my yard I can move them if they live or not miss the $1.50 I spent if they die. The downside to this is that I have to be mindful of spacing the plants well, and be patient as they grow and fill in. This weekend made me impatient (especially with the Wildflower Center visit). Can a person will their plants to grow? Or is it another exercise in Zen patience (which is what attracts me to gardening in the first place)? Plants live. Plants die. In between, you enjoy them...

Sometimes I cheat though.. I couldn't resist a few proper zinnia plants while I wait for the seeds to pop up. After all the butterflies are here now!

This sweet potato vine may look small, but I fully expect it to spill over the edges of its hanging planter ASAP.

Mother nature may have thrashed a few tomato plants with hail, but she also brought the gorgeous rain lilies that thrive in the deserted spot near the front curb..

And in the shady forgotten weedy corner of the back back yard, a spiderwort flower cocks its head at me, looking monkey like..

Hail, drought, construction, weeds? Eh, it'll keep popping up!