Thursday, May 29, 2014

Traveling and not worried about it!

Things are growing well, especially now with the drip irrigation system fully installed and set on a timer. The potato cages have made the potatoes into superstars! They've grown about 6 inches even since the above photos were taken! I'm going to add a shovel full of compost to each in order to promote more tuber growth, but I'm super happy with the results in the potato cages! 

The rest of the vegetable garden have similarly grown a bit since the photo, but you can see the little black drip irrigation tubes running through all the beds. They're doing a great job keeping the plants green and growing! We've got some small veggies on the way soon! 
First Bell Pepper of the season!

The kitten got into the compost, trying to figure out why we're throwing all the perfectly good food in the yard!

I got the irrigation done just in time, as we've been traveling, and will be traveling for the next 2 weeks! We went to the Indy 500, and Lauren loved the track tenderloin!

The tenderloin is a meal just itself!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finally Have Time!

After 8 months of law school, I'm finally free!!! Even in the first weekend, we have accomplished a ton! I got a full mowing of the yard, front and back, even under the brush pile! The brush pile is now two smaller "needs chainsaw" piles, and the chainsaw just needs to be cleaned out and refueled to get all the gunky old gas out of it. We had a good, but very fast and hot bonfire to get rid of the rest of the brush, and may have a smaller one to get the remnants of the chainsaw pile later on.

The garden is looking good! We're already getting tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplant growth, so we'll see if they stay. Only one strawberry plant has survived so far, but I may try to plant some more dormant ones and see if the late planting will survive the heat of the summer. The berry patch is producing like wild! There are hundreds of blackberries ready to start ripening, most from the plants that came with the house! The new raspberries are too young to fruit, but I'm hoping for a good fall season with a few berries from those plants. My transplanted thornless blackberry was cut way back on transplant, and thus only has one flower on it. I'm looking forward to seeing how that one tastes! Finally, blueberries may form on the blueberry bush, but not too many, as the bush is still tiny.

The orchard is looking pretty good. The nectarine tree got scorched by the bonfire, but not badly enough do to permanent damage, just a little leaf wilting. It should be fine within a few days (especially with the rain we've gotten this week). The only tree without ample leaves at this point is the peach tree, but the tree is alive, and must be growing the roots out this year. We may see some foliage by fall, but my hopes of that aren't super high.

I've got an experiment growing in 3 glass cups in the kitchen. I bought the saddest, most wrinkly little organic sweet potato, and am trying to get a root ball growing out of 3 segments of it. I will then plant those segments in a cylinder like the red and yellow potatoes, and see if we can get a good crop this summer! Hopefully, if all these plants grow to fruition, we'll have too much food come July!

Beyond that, we did some major cleaning, inside and out, preparing for a Mother's Day lunch, which was a fun time! We're going to start focusing on the entryway and interior work again very soon! The next step is to tear out the 1/4" drywall that is currently up on the reframed opening in the entryway, and redo it with 1/2" sheets. Further, we'll tear out the bad drywall in the formal dining area, do any termite repairs that are necessary, and redrywall that area with 5/8" drywall.

I also need to spread more fire ant killer, and spray the house for bugs next weekend, so that hopefully we can keep any future insect damage to a minimum. Also, we've been getting some pretty big garden spiders (half dollar size and bigger) up near the house, so spraying for them is a high priority. Thankfully, the frequent mowing has seemed to cut down on the snake problems, so nothing further needs to be done at this point.

We also got a housewarming gift from one of the neighbors, a cover for the attic entry ladder! That looks like it will be a simple install, and hopefully it helps keep the house cooler through the summer here!

All the work last weekend made for some tired people and tired pets!

It was also quite hot! The shade was the only place to get cooled off!

It rained a ton last week! 3-4" worth of much needed rain!

The kitten, however, hasn't quite learned the lesson to look where you leap.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crunch time! (Or the leaves are all gonna go crunchy in the heat)

I'm currently in week 2 of final exams to end my first year in law school, and things are starting to heat up in North Texas! It was well over 90 degrees yesterday, and 85 is about average this week.

After the late freeze in April, I gave the plants just under a month to recover and took stock of my losses. We lost everything out of the garden except for 1 strawberry plant, some corn, green beans, and peas. The potatoes were damaged, but appear to be making a comeback. The berry patch is fine, and all the trees but the peach are looking great! The peach appears to be alive (by the green bark test), but hasn't popped out any leaves. Until my green bark test fails, I'm going to treat the peach tree just like any of the trees with leaves, and just hope that it is spending its first year storing nutrients or something.

First strawberry of the year! (We've since gotten 4 smaller ones)

I ran out to the local home improvement store and picked up a bunch of starter plants to replace the ones lost in the freeze, and was able to find direct replacements for much of what I lost. We'll see how it turns out, but we're both excited at the prospect of good food in the next month or so! 

This, however, means that it is crunch time in the greatest sense. The drip irrigation system is still not finished, there is no sun shade ready, and the trellis is not built yet. These plants are weeks or even days away from vegetable armageddon if I don't properly prepare them for summer!
The ducklings in the pond at work getting ready for the summer

In other news, we've acquired another working cat for the yard! We've been getting a bunch of presents from the existing cats in the form of snakes and other creepy crawlies, and we decided that we need a fully clawed cat to patrol the area and help them keep our property clear of snakes, big spiders, and scorpions. She's not much to fear quite yet, but she's got a hunter's instinct, and the razor sharp claws to follow through! She already got me pretty good with a bite (she's still learning the difference between licking stuff off my finger and biting my finger).

Mrs. Claws, our new cat!