The Texas Garden in August aka Picante’s Inferno

The garden in August is a lesson in survival and non-survival. Miss a day’s watering and your three year old spirea is toast. (Not a hypothetical example). It’s cut to the ground and is starting to leaf back out- that was touch and go though, it was in no way a given that it would survive. But, here’s what is going on out there right now…

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You can’t see all the bees in this picture… there were at least 4. Pickings are slim for pollinators these days so we’re all happy to have the flowers we do.

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Tithonia (the Mexican Sunflower) is over 4′ tall now

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Orange, Red, and Purple… I may pass on recreating that in an ice dyed scarf…

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Mexican Olive Tree- gotta be close to 6′ tall now. The Mexican Redbud is doing great too. If I had Mexican Oregano I’m sure it’d be thriving.

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So the days are past that we sit over here for the aesthetic.

The tomatoes are really struggling. Turns out the curled leaves I was concerned about on the Bobcat and HM 1823 is just the tomato response to extreme heat, so NOT a disease as I originally thought. The cherry tomatoes are still producing- though Sweet 100 is doing better on the volume of crop we’re collecting in the middle of this summer, but the Sungold has set lots of new fruit after a couple of week’s lull.

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I’m already needing a stepladder to harvest- gotta be 12′ these days, but it’s starting to curve back down.

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My buddies- the caterpillars for black swallowtail butterflies. We have 7 right now- how I love them!

Lord it’s so hot. We’re all just hanging in there for fall… which usually hits right around late November ’round these parts…

The Garden in July

The garden got some much needed rain and cooler temperatures for a couple of evenings (80s! break out the sweaters!).

And today, with overcast skies still it’s a good opportunity for some pictures that aren’t completely sunbaked and lost in high contrast shadows. So I give you… the dahlias!

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ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!

Here’s the thing. Just like cannas, dahlias are unbalanced on the foliage to flower ratio- which seems crazy because those flowers are huge. Think waterlily sized. Or hell, you don’t have to imagine it, here is a picture.

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Toddler arm for scale, red chair as the only clean backdrop to be found in the house.

So dahlias are glorious for cut flowers, but man are they blah to weedy looking in the garden. No textural or aesthetic benefit from the foliage, such as with Cardinal Creeper vine, for instance.

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Check out those leaves, will ya? It should have been in a month before I planted those seeds unfortunately… but it’s still being a trooper

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Another by seed addition to the garden, which aside from the occasional zinnia is pretty much a first! My Tithonia, the mexican sunflower

The tithonia, I think, walks that absolute knife edge between coarse and weedy looking. I think its awesome, but it’s right there on the edge. It’s supposed to be 4’x4′ at full size, but is already much too close to the Francis Dubriel rose. I’m the worst at eyeballing spacing. This one should have dark orange flowers, so I’ll keep you posted.

As for the tomatoes… anyone want tomatoes? It’s amazing how quickly things go from: “GLORY BE THE FRUIT OF THE GODS!!!!” To: What the hell are we going to do with all these tomatoes? Throw them at people?”

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HM 1823

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Bobcat- leaves are starting to curl, I don’t take this as a good sign

So of the determinate tomatoes HM 1823 looks to be the more disease resistant. The leaves on Bobcat are starting to curl in on themselves. This isn’t bug related (there are some bugs that do that) it’s more like all the leaves are severely concave but not touching in the middle. Fruiting is still good, but it’s days are numbered.

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Dude.

And the cherry tomatoes are huge. The toddler is overdoing it on the tomatoes on a daily basis, but there will be no scurvy to be found on this ship!

Not all about Tomatoes!

So we had a VERY impromptu garage sale this weekend. Our neighbor across the street has a pretty regular garage sale, and since she was having one this weekend we decided to glom on and hold one ourselves. (we put our own signs up to help draw more people to the street. I hope the god of the etiquette of garage sales is placated by that and is merciful with us.) Can I tell you how much we love garage sales? My goodness- the enjoyment I get from offloading STUFF and people watching- love everything about it. We held one with some friends of ours many a year ago and they made fun of the bag of wine corks I put out for sale, some very serious ribbing was put up with I tell you. And then the joy the next day when a lady declared that her daughter had forbidden her from getting anything for her unless it was wine corks- oh the sweet sweet vindication! Said friends didn’t sell their tuba rack- so take that, losers.

Anyway, so we worked late in the night on Friday to unpack and stage three SUV loads of boxes from the storage room and we donated everything we didn’t sell at noon on Saturday. And as a bonus, we made enough money to replace the 6 patio chairs that were getting dangerously rusted through in parts with new ones. I’ve worried about those old chairs for the past year. The metal on the underside of the front was jagged in a couple places- it was some stitches and a tetanus shot waiting to happen.

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…I was two and my parents didn’t replace some rusted patio chairs like they should have

After the garage sale we took back the empty bins to the storage unit and got rid of about 5 more boxes worth of stuff and organized it. I hope to one day very soon be able to get rid of the storage unit entirely. We got it to put things in to stage our last house while selling it… and then ended up buying a house with no garage and less storage… so there it has sat for three years- full of junk. Hopefully soon we’ll get the carport and storage room up at our current house- we have the slab poured… hopefully soon.

Anyway, after sweating through some serious heat and humidity with all of that, we then gardened and barbecued outside yesterday and then took a walk with the girls in the evening downtown for ice-cream because screw you, sense of reason. So… sitting in bed in cold AC to write a long blog post might be in order this morning. Might.

To the house first before tomatoes! So our router is on a corner of our kitchen counter, and that also is where the phone charger and fitbit charger are. (18,116 steps yesterday, 7 hours, 17 minutes of sleep. I love this thing.) So that corner looks like this:

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That’s actually better than it usually looks, honestly…

And I got so tired of looking at it it now looks like this:

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Want to hide something you don’t like? Have you tried hiding it?

You have no idea how happy this has made me. So the containers are these old tin flour and tea containers my mom had forever, and I don’t know why I love them the way I do, but they’re two of my favorite things ever. And you see that top cookbook? My Meemaw’s copy of the Joy of Cooking, complete with her handwritten notes.

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They’re in cursive though so they might as well be hieroglyphics. Add chick baths? Oh wait, broth… I bet it’s broth

So anyway, I’m pleased with it/myself, but I also will be replacing the important stuff with other, more expendable things because I keep moving them farther and farther away due to a fear that this whole set up is a fire risk. Which, the router has 6 inches all the way around it and isn’t covered on the top but still. I worry.

On to the garden and pets!

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DO YOU SEE THIS GOOD BOY? Walking on the path my god dogs do not get better than this one I tell you

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Remember how I mentioned I may have misplanted the purple horse mint on the front right corner… yeah…

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I had an entourage today on the morning stroll. Some of the new patio chairs in view

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She runs between your feet to throw herself down right in front of you… should have named her Future Broken Hip instead of Lacey. But she’s the 9-year-old’s cat, so it wasn’t up to me

And no escaping without the tomatoes!

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Sungold, 5′ 4″ tall and growing. Turns out it’s an orange cherry tomato which I really should have put together from the name but I totally did not

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Sweet 100

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HM 1823

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Bobcat

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HM 1823 with Bobcat in the background- look at that pretty fruit set!

The two-year-old has discovered these plants are tomatoes. None have been lost to toddler predation yet but it’s just a matter of time. I’ve told her she has to at least wait till they turn red… we’ll see how long that rule holds.

Tomato-paloza May 20th

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Filling in nicely- dahlias really coming in along the back- not that you can see from this shot or anything…

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3rd deadhead of these guys and the May Night Salvia just won’t stop with the blooms. Also, I’m starting to regret the placement of that native monarda (common name horse mint) in the front corner… bit of a beast

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Sweet 100- starting to rain so I couldn’t be bothered to crop out the weedy yard… 4′ tomato cage.

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Sungold- can we talk about the size of this thing in a MONTH? Lord. That’s a 4′ tomato cage and a 6′ t-post.

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HM 1823- I should look something up that happened in 1823. Should. (These are the littler 3′ tomato cages…

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And Bobcat- lookin’ purdy. 3′ tomato cage

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Arty shot of the antique roses- brought inside to save them from getting ruined in the storm. Stupid Coors light can ruining my arty shot…

Of Lice and Zen

Crap.

So yesterday our oldest put her pet mice (named Almond and Honey) on her shoulder and I cracked a joke about “Oh no! You have head-mice!” She laughed. I didn’t- because holy hell. When was the last time I checked your head for actual lice?!

She didn’t have any. Her sister did though. F*****CK!

So it’s laborious nit picking around here. It’s dousing a small little head in burning lice shampoo made out of flowers. Think I’m making that up? The main ingredient in Rid is pyrethrum, made from chrysanthemum blossoms.

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Flowers of louse-y death. 

“A Chrysanthemum by any other name would also totally reek.” These aren’t roses, but it’s not the very worst smell out there.

And so there will be much laundry and bagging up of stuffed animals, and weeks of staying on top of it… hours a night on nit checks. But, it’s an opportunity to sit and talk for uninterrupted time with my child. And besides, all I want is for her to feel better and to take care of this for her- it’s never had me angry or frazzled or super stressed out about whenever we’ve had to deal with lice. There is nothing to be done except slow waaaaaay down and invest the time to fix it. And that isn’t a bad thing, actually- the brakes getting thrown on life sometimes. So, I know it makes for a zippy title, but it is true, I do get quite zen about it.

And so I’ll go through the next few weeks with hands that smell faintly of flowers of death, which makes me feel like a minor Hindu deity in the Indian pantheon. And that isn’t a bad thing either, actually.

I will try to grab those silver linings as they race by, whenever I can…