Saturday, June 7, 2014


Summer yummies..

Caprese salad with sweet basil, lemon boy tomatoes and and some red tomatoes I can't identify now!

Newly obsessed with shishito peppers.. I got them because they were the healthiest looking plant at Natural Gardener a month or two ago, and they've done well being ignored in the front bed (see the pic below). I picked a handful and sauteed them in olive oil with a pinch of sea salt until they had blistered skins, then set them aside and sauteed the green beans. Goodness- they were amazing- not spicy at all but complex/salty/peppery yummy. I've seen them at the local farmer's markets, too- will be buying more until my plant regenerates!

I did not eat the caterpillar..

But I have just sheepishly realized that I have a huge crop of wild Italian arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) growing in the back back. They're the plants with yellow flowers I was trying to identify a few weeks back. They've sprawled everywhere and I noticed a very arugula-spicy smell when I stepped on them so I tasted them and had my "aha" moment. Edible but very spicy. I threw a packet of wild Italian arugula seeds back there in the fall while waiting for the contractors to finish the concrete retaining wall and fence- then forgot about them completely. Good to know they don't need much water!

Green and yummy..

Wide angle of the back back and front yard.. sorta

Coneflowers, yarrow, buffalo grass, bulbine, dianthus, ponyfoot on one side, Indian blanket and Black Eyed Susan masses amid massive sunflowers on the other. Nicely green, but the flagstones have become overgrown.. Will edit/define later, happy to have some growth for now!

12 foot tall sunflowers. They get scraggly, but shade the chickens well and do so well (and volunteer!) that I've decided to embrace them..

The plants in the front are rooting in, sending up flowers. Nothing is taking over yet, but I have about 5 volunteer Pride of Barbadoses that will need to be rehomed. 

Trial and error zone..

This poor butterfly weed is covered in aphids, and I've been too infrequent with hosing them off to keep the plant looking good. I'm waiting for the beneficials to come clean this guy up, but it may be too late..

Tomato thief...

So I've resorted to this (note the colored duct tape blocking the large tomato..)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Out west (a little ways)..

No pictures of the wildflowers (sleeping kids and all) on the way there, but the roads between Austin, Llano, Fredericksburg and Mason are blazing with Indian Blanket, yellow daisies (greenthread?) and white thistles.. Gorgeous to see mustard yellow fields and everything green again thanks to the rains..

A visit..

We visited my parent's weekend place on the James River, which has swelled with water after the recent rains, much to the delight of the wildlife that lives there..

We saw a late spring burst of color and energy, and it's inspiring to see how many plants manage to thrive there, even in the face of drought and beating down sunshine..

So many thorns (prickly pear and cat's claw), but such beautiful flowers!

Wedged in limestone cracks, claret cup cacti and daisies bloom along..

Sotol, or sawtooth yucca? They are rampant and bloom happily (my boys brandish the fallen bloom poles as swords and pikes..). This one found a crack in a limestone slab..

Salvia Texana or Englemann's sage, found near the river

These guys (horsenettle weed) are reliable, though toxic and spiny and widely regarded as noxious.. Not one to recommend, but the flowers were pretty..

Mossy cuteness..

These guys (need to ask my mother the species) are in a nest just outside my parent's bedroom. The nest has been used every year for a decade..


We even got to bring home native treats!

My eldest rediscovered agarita berries at a visit to the Wildflower Center this spring, and will eat them like candy. They have a sweet/tart flavor and apparently make delicious jellies. We put on thick gloves, laid tarps under the bushes and had a great time shaking the branches and whacking them with sticks to get them to fall onto the tarps. It took a while to sort through the spiders/beetles/spiny leaves and shriveled berries, but we got a good jar of them. I doubt we'll make jelly since he eats them by the handful..

The Mexican plum tree has put out a great crop this year. Many guides say the fruit is too tart, but these fruits have been consistently delicious for eating- firm, sweet (and not too sour!). We took home an armload full. My new tree in the back only has a few thumbnail sized fruits, but I only planted it a few months ago. I'm excited to see how it grows over the next few years..