Saturday, June 29, 2013


The daffodils I planted a few years ago have naturalized and spread admirably.  So I was digging up some stubborn patches of weeds and BOOM suddenly I was looking at a motherlode of fat bulbs:

So quickly googled what to do about this and here's the plan:
  1. Spread them out to dry a bit, then brush off the dry soil.
  2. Put them in a mesh bag and hang them somewhere out of the sun and away from severe heat or moisture.
  3. This fall, plant them.
It occurred to me that I could plop them at the base of a new raised bed, they'd be down below where I generally dig to plant seeds or place seedlings.  And they would add some cheerful pops of color in the fall/winter/spring.  If I do a four-year crop rotation cycle, and then dig out the bed at the end of the four years, that should be a pretty good cycle to dig and divide the bulbs anyway, right?

I googled a bit to see if there's any "companion plant" issues with growing them in with veggies and found nothing.   So, I think it's a plan.

A walk around the June garden

June really is the peak of the Houston summer garden.  Everything's been growing through the warm wet spring for months, and is tall and bushy and producing what it'll produce.  Soon the brutal heat of July and August will be upon us and we will see what survives, and start dreaming of the winter garden.

The newly-created patio beds seem to be doing well.  Along the house here, I have tomatillo, tomato, squash plants soaking up the sun. 
I replaced some pavers with bricks, leaving a little opening for herbs to poke through.  This helps a bit with drainage and looks pretty.  The mint seems to like it.

 A couple of new beds on the patio are fallow for now, filled with compost cooking away to make a nice rich home for next year's plants. 
 Along the fence my little fig tree, planted a year ago, seems to be putting on nice new growth.  Figs are supposed to develop in the little crooks at the tip of new growth and I seem to have a few developing.  Not sure yet when they'll be ready to pick, and we'll see if they survive until I get a chance to pick them.
 Lots of little green lemons on the lemon tree.  Wasn't sure how much to expect since this tree has had a pattern of giving me a great crop every other year - and it produced great last year.  Maybe it's getting more consistent as it gets older?
 Basil, basil, everywhere.  Just got to keep chopping it down to keep it growing bushy and full and inhibit the tendency to go to seed.
 I had oregano in a semi-permanent bed, but over the years the soil level had just sunk as all the organic matter in it slowly broke down.  So I dug out a big chunk of basil into a pot and then smothered the rest of it under a huge pile of compost... another fallow bed to plant in next year.  It seems to have survived the sloppy transplant.
 I never really had good luck with sage in Houston  before and wasn't sure if the problem was the heat or the heavy clay soil.  This little guy in a pot seems to be hanging on barely so it's probably some of both.  Maybe I need to try a shadier spot.
 Beets.  All my beets seem to grow up out of the soil instead of down into it.  Am I not planting them deep enough?  I tried putting some mulch around with a goal of sort of stabilizing the plant so maybe it'll grow down into the soil better.  Pulled the biggest beet and was disappointed at the size of the root compared to the leaves.  I've read that actually root crops do better with less rich soil.  Maybe next time I'll plant in a more depleted bed - something where some greedy tomatoes or brocolli grew last year.
 A cucumber plant growing way up into a pomegranate tree.  Lots of leaves, but no cucumbers so far!  With my luck by the time I get any cukes they'll be too high in the tree to pick.
 Kale and brocolli are supposed to be winter plants in Houston.  No one told mine.  The kale planted last fall is still just perking along, and the broccolli is actually two years old at this point.  It's making tons of little heads rather than the big fat ones you buy in the store, but they're tasty in stir-fry or an omelet.
 Here's the typical little bite-sized broccolli head I'm harvesting.
 I planted radishes and deliberately let them go to seed because I read something their seed pods are tasty.
 They did make lots of seed pods... but I just wasn't too impressed with their flavor.  I think these will be destined for the compost pile.  Wonder if I would see volunteer radishes?
 One of the newest stars of my garden is kohlrabi.  Seems to be pretty easy to grow from seed, you can fill a bed pretty full of seedlings and the biggest will tend to grow while the smaller ones just survive.  Then you cut down the big one and the next-biggest takes off.  One or two plants seem to be plenty to serve us as a veggie side dish (two, actually - saute the leaves with some mushrooms for your "green" side and then the bulb makes a nice cold salad peeled and sliced, with or without dressing.  Or the bulb is nice chopped and cooked into a stir-fry.  Regardless, this experiment will be will worth repeating in future years.  Oh, and no one told the kohlrabi that it's a winter plant, either. 
So that's a little veggie tour of the late June garden.  I've been doing this a couple of years now and starting to feel like I'm learning what I'm doing, a bit.  Now just gotta finish building out the hardscape with good raised beds and pathways rather than growing out of all these pots and plastic buckets, and set up some sort of sensible crop rotation...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And now if a guy wearing a hockey mask invades my kitchen I have an easily-accessible weapon...

My wonderful in-laws gave me one of those magnet strips for Christmas and I finally got around to installing it.  I had one of those wood knife blocks that take up a good square foot of counter space.  Now it's replaced with this:
Nice, neat, easy to get to, and the counter is available and simple to clean.  I think I like it.

And if I'm ever stuck in a nightmare-ish horror movie, backing away from an evil murderer, groping around behind her on the kitchen counter for some sort of weapon... yeah, I have a sick mind.

The inner workings and deep thoughts of ... my doorknob.

The doorknob on our most-used exterior door had become loose and jiggled around distressingly whenever we opened the door.  It wasn't obvious immediately how to fix this - it's all smooth with no obvious screws.  Until I took a close look in good light and saw this tiny little hole:
So I went and grabbed a whole pile of different size screwdrivers including the trusty hex set:
And sure enough, an itty-bitty hex key fit in the hole and loosened the outer knob.  Knob?  It's a lever-style door handle which is a great choice when you're trying to get through a door with armloads of stuff and haven't got enough free fingers to wrap around and turn a traditional knob.  But I don't think doorlever is actually an accepted term so I guess it's a doorknob regardless of it's distinctly un-knoblike shape.  Anyway...
Allowing me to slide the knob off entirely:

 And then the base piece popped off without a whimper:
And there, finally, were the loose screws hiding underneath it all.  A quick tightening....
Then reverse the steps above and Hallelujah!  a functioning doorknobleverthingie.  And now these notes ensure that I'll remember exactly what to do when this happens again in a few years!
Little by little the home becomes liveable again.