Saturday, January 16, 2010

Plum Dandy

I bought tomato seeds last year with the intent of starting them in my newly erected greenhouse. They never made it - which is a good thing actually. Had I planted them the same weekend as the celery, I would have had to abandon them for my journey to Austin. Instead, they made it into the moving truck with the rest of my stuff, and came 2,000 miles away for another chance to be fruitful - like me!

I've created my seed bed out of some pots I saved from my Texas Sedge project. I filled them with the same soil I use for the raised beds. They will live in the house until they are big enough to transplant out in the cold frames.

I've planted a few seeds from each of these varieties: Purple Tomatillo - okay, not a tomato but it starts with a "T", Plum Dandy sauce tomato, Sun Gold cherry tomato, Glacier eating tomato, and Taxi, a yellow tomato that is supposed to be great for cooler areas. All except Taxi should do well here in Austin.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I've tried to start seeds in the house. I've never lived in a home that had enough light or space for the project. I've thought about getting or making a grow light contraption, but they just take up too much room. And even if that were solved, the cats would dig everything up. The planets seemed to have aligned for me at last. I have some great indirect light off the deck, and Anna has not been at all interested in the dirt. I've had the flat up on the TV tray for over a week now and she's only given it a passing sniff. Now all I have to worry about is Ed knocking it over on his way to the freezer. I have made them both promise to be good. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Frozen Assets

We've had quite a week of cold temperatures - and I am embarrassed to say that I wasn't prepared. Me, Miss-I-have-property-in-Alaska and I-can-cut-my-own-wood-thank-you-very-much. We had several nights in the 20's and two in the teens, plus daytime temperatures weren't exactly tropical. I wore socks to bed all week. And while my toes are still perfectly toasty, some of my plants are just plain toast.
Let's start with the walled in patio. The citrus trees are holding their own, but the banana is not happy. My bird of paradise and pineapple are also both a sickly brown. The tropical hibiscus is dropping all of it's leaves in protest. I don't know if they will recover.

Stuff inside the house was affected too. One of our pipes froze - luckily it didn't burst. Ed got it back to normal with some deft blow-dryer work. We moved some of the leaves against the house for insulation and left a faucet running the next night.

Good thing I hadn't spread them all out in the back. For once my procrastination paid off.

The vegetable garden isn't doing well either. My beets, Swiss Chard, and greens were all hit hard. I put a row cover over the greens so maybe some of it can be saved. Luckily I have installed a cold frame where my kale is happily sprouting, so we won't be without green things to eat for long.

Plants in the front yard are hit and miss. My prickly pear cactus pretty much sums it up though. I've never seen a plant look so downtrodden and defeated. Hopefully it will bounce back and grow new pads.

But summer will come. And when it does, I will be ready with my lessons learned and my yard in a better state of preparedness. I'll need a little rest and relaxation by then. Good thing Ed is making Adirondack chairs out of old fence boards. He's nearly done with the first one. Looks amazing doesn't it? The only reason I'm not sitting in it now is because it lacks, well, a seat! Ah, the projects never end. Stay warm everyone and think spring!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Halloween or freezing temperatures? Both are scary!

It kind of looks like Halloween on my street. White sheets are hung all over the place outside. I'm not sure what the homeowner association policy is about public airing of laundry, but I think it's being ignored in favor of saving plants from the cold.

We're having Oregon weather here in Austin! Highs hovering in the 40s and lows in the 20s or 30s. That's great for my newly planted apple trees, but my citrus trees are not happy. I'm pretty sure I've lost one of my orange trees, but I refuse to lose any of the others.

So far they seem to be hanging in there. Ed or I cover them about 4 pm, then he takes the fabric off as soon as the temperature hits 40. The trees are losing some of their leaves but haven't died back at all. I'm using my floating row cover as the insulator. I've got some clear plastic, but don't want to use it. I'm afraid that it will fry the plants as soon as the sun comes out.

My trees aren't the only thing suffering in the cold. Ed can hardly walk because he is wearing so many clothes. We've been eating a lot of soup and he sits bundled up with blankets. We have a fireplace but it is really just for ornamentation. I doubt it draws properly and who needs a smokey AND cold house. I just turn up the thermostat and make my boy some tea.

Wouldn't you know it. I move here to Austin and it's one of the hottest summers on record. Then comes December and it's one of the coldest. I think Mother Nature is telling me that I can take all the Master Gardner training I want, but SHE's the one in charge. Just like a mom to have the last word. :)