Hakurei Turnips: First Garden Take of the Spring

Hakurei turnips just pulled from the garden (2-17-14)

Hakurei turnips just pulled from the garden (2-17-14)

Two or three warm days make it feel like spring is here.  The grass is noticeably greening up.  Even here in southeast Texas, where the temps normally come back up after a few cold days of cold, we’ve had a long winter of bundling-up.  I know our mostly in-the-50s days and down-in-the-30s nights are not that bad compared to those in some other parts of the country.  I spent a good many years lasting through cold Kansas winters, so I can appreciate not having to scrape windshields and scoop off driveways these days.

The below 30s and accompanying freezing rain and sleet we did have on a couple of occasions have interfered very little with the veggies that I planted at the end October out in the small garden behind the garage.  The perky leaves of the mix of greens and the glistening tops of the carrots and turnips seem to be almost showing off here in the middle of February.

The carrots and the traditional purple top turnips probably won’t make for some time, but this next weekend I intend to cut a batch of the greens for a wilted salad.  This evening, though, I couldn’t resist pulling up four of the Hakurei turnips.  Right now, some are about the size of a big radish.  They are sweet and crunchy with just a little bite, as I verified by munching them down once they were washed and the tops nipped off.

I get most of my seeds on line from Johnny’s Seeds.  I don’t mind giving them a plug because I’ve gotten the seeds very quickly and the packs are a lot fuller than those you get at the big box stores.

I’m eating a lot of store-bought veggies these days, but it’s sure fun to have a bit of the home-grown taste of these turnips.

Spring Blooms Brighten Up an Early Saturday Morning

The first amaryllis to open sings a spring song and is backed up by a chorus of bright day lilies.

The first amaryllis to open sings a spring song and is backed up by a chorus of bright day lilies.

Spring mornings can be delicious, especially if they fall on a Saturday.  After the much-needed rain of this past week, this morning was a good one to take a peek at all the plants in the backyard, which I did early this morning, getting my slippers and cuffs of my fleece pants wet from the dewy grass.

These tiny cherry tomato blooms foretell more good things to come.

These tiny cherry tomato blooms foretell more good things to come.

Giant salvia ready to attract bees and butterflies.

Giant salvia ready to attract bees and butterflies.

Delicate green pea blossoms await the morning sunshine.

Delicate green pea blossoms await the morning sunshine.

These fire spikes have made it through the cold months and continue to liven up the yard.

These fire spikes have made it through the cold months and continue to liven up the yard.

This angel-wing begonia brightens up the patio year after year.

This angel-wing begonia brightens up the patio year after year.

Now That April Fool’s Day Has Passed, It’s Time To See How the Garden Is Growing

Annie is always ready to assistant in checking out how the garden is growing. (4-2-11)

When it becomes garden time, this blog could be one of the most boring in all of the blogosphere; however, my little patch helps keep me on an even keel, so I like to add a pic here and there just as a record for myself of what I planted when and how things are growing.

It’s just been about 2 weeks since I put in the last photo, but the entire plot looks so much greener.  The lettuce is still going gangbusters, and most of the beans have started on their second set of leaves.  I didn’t over-plant this year, so I’ve had to go back and drop in a seed or two in places where the originals didn’t sprout.  I have a total of 7 tomato plants and 4 sweet peppers, not counting the 1 volunteer tomato that I discovered a couple days ago; it probably came from the compost that I added last winter.

I need to get in and hoe out the chickweed and elm tree sprouts that would cover the ground if it weren’t for the vegetable plants; however, unfortunately–or fortunately–we have had enough odd showers to keep the garden soil a bit too moist for that task.

The neighbors across the street are having a garage sale, which they started preparing for before 6 AM.  Of course, Annie couldn’t stay settled with the commotion, so we’ve been up since that time; quite early to get up on a Saturday, but I’ve gotten the back patio swept of most of the remaining oak leaves and the nasty pollen crap that they put out in the spring.  I love my shady oak tree, but keeping the patio clean is an almost never-ending story.  Oh well, just like my garden, the patio with its shade-covered pergola is one of my favorite parts of my house.

OK, yes, it’s Saturday, and now 10 AM; it’s time for a shower and out to take care of any number of errands.  Tomatoe cages, for one.  Definitely need more tomato cages.

Spring Begins! It’s Time for Planting and More Garden Updates

Spring, and it's time again to record the growth of the garden. As always, Annie ready to check things out.

Today is the first official day of spring, and these fingers that have been pulling, digging, and clutching rakes, hoes, and shovels for most of this beautiful, long weekend feel a bit reluctant at the keyboard.  The front yard is raked clean of–what-is hoped–the last oak leaves.  There have been a number of trips to various lawn and garden centers for soil, mulch, and both flowering and vegetable plants.

The fresh, often-overcast weather has made all the outside work much more pleasure, than labor.

The trunk area of the new, smaller hatchback has proven just the right size in order not to overbuy on any one trip.  Therefore, it hasn’t been a big effort to get the mulch put around trees or plants put into the ground.  More trips means more breaks in between.

The outings have given me a chance to drive on some roads, though not far from where I live, I’ve never taken before.  It’s amazing to find lanes in wooded areas still not taken over by housing sub-divisions.

One road that I do take frequently crosses what I have just discovered is called Langham Bayou.  I’ve never stopped before. but the blaze of yellow flora both around and in the water made me chance the rough little side road to take the shots that you can see in the new banner and sidebar.

It’s also time again to start recording what’s happening in my kitchy, little garden.  I planted lettuce, onions, and beans on New Year’s Day.  Unfortunately, the tender beans didn’t make it through January’s freeze, but I have been having fresh salad almost every evening for more than a week.  I’ve replanted the beans and set in tomatoes and a variety of pepper plants.

I’m hoping the much earlier start will help produce more before the hot summer comes along.

The Plot Thickens, or Why Do My Fingernails Have This Much Dirt Under Them?

Rough little garden plot and tools--a guy can never have too many tools!

I have nothing but good things to say about Daylight Savings Time.  Getting home from work with still more than a good hour of useable light makes the entire evening seem longer.  Having a yard and being able to plant what I wanted was one of the big reasons that getting a home of my own was important to me.

The plants in all the pots that suffered from the move and then the colder than usual winter are now beginning to look like they are enjoying their new place, quickly putting out new shoots and bright blossoms.  I’ve also added  bedding plants in the neglected bed on the sunny side of the house.  It’s amazing after throwing quite a bit of money at Lowe’s for some great looking plants, how sparse the bed still looks, but I’m hoping they’ll grow and spread.

Far in advance, I’d picked up a variety of flower bulbs,  gladiolus and irises, and they are now shooting up green spikes from the pots.  I still haven’t conquered the moles.  So far I’ve gone the repellent route, trying to avoid sinking spikes filled with poison down into the yard where Annie plays and sometimes nibbles at the tender green grass.

Along with the flower bulbs, I found that I had purchased (maybe even back in December or January) some onion sets.  The smallest amount I could get was a plastic bag of 80 of the small starter onions.  I finally decided that maybe I could make a try at a small vegetable plot behind my garage.  There’s a space of about 12 feet by 20 feet that with care and a lot of mulch might finally work.  But I was determined to get the onions put into the ground.  Even though there were roots from a tree that the back neighbor had cut down, digging up the soil wasn’t all that hard.  It’s very sandy, and like much of the Houston area, it’s not very far down until you start hitting clay, about 10 inches down, where I was digging.  I mixed in some rotting leaves and raked over the soil, dug a small trench, and dropped in the onions.  For good measure, I covered most of it up with some more leaves.  Only a few days after I had put in the onions, my co-worker kindly gave me a couple of squash plants.  I’ve put them into the ground too but dug a hole and put in some good shovelsful of potting soil.

Will the trellis be an incentive for this little squash plant?

The little squash plants are growing new leaves, and today when I went out for the obligatory inspection–lo and behold–there were two onions sending up little slivers of green, seeming to say, “Hey, this may not be the best soil, but we’re going to try out best.”  In answer, over to the spigot I went, ready to give these new little green guys and all of their plant amigos a drink.