Automatic Renewal

The last time I was away from home, I came back to a killing freeze.  Most of the plants had to be cut back.  In this climate, many plants usually stay green for the winter. The Automatic Garden looked hopeless. I spent many hours cleaning up, reevaluating and moving plants around.  I walked the garden several times a day checking on the plants’ progress and watching them grow inch by inch.

Recently, I had another trip and this time I came back to a much happier reunion.  While I was away, it rained and the days heated up.  The Automatic Garden did its job and not only filled in, but put out blooms.

The faithful perennials of Black and Blue Salvia and Shrimp Plant came back bigger and better.

Butterfly Weed wasted no time and quickly bloomed, allowing a passing Monarch to leave her eggs for the next generation.

I had seeded a few annuals, along side the reliable garden staples, for some early color. Spring is an anticipated a time of renewal and the Automatic Garden did not disappoint.


Dirt Bath

The planter on my patio table has been constantly  dug up.

Dirt from the planter is flung all over the table and floor.  What animal was doing this?  Naturally, squirrels were the first suspect.  I even put red pepper on the dirt.

One day the culprit was finally revealed.  It was none other than my Carolina Wrens, Frick and Frack that have been taking a dirt bath in the planter.  The first time I witnessed the bath, one of the Wrens enjoyed the dirt for quite awhile and ended with a grand finale of throwing dirt high in the air.

I caught them again and was able to snap a quick photo through the kitchen window with my cell phone.  Frack enjoyed the bath while Frick watched from a chair.  I didn’t get Frick  in the photo.

 


Homegrown Salad with Gluten Free Dressing

It is picking time!  I harvest first thing in the morning, as the weather is heating up and the lettuce gets wilted in the afternoon.

The first picking produced enough salad greens to make dinner.  I carefully cut the oldest leaves and let the others mature for the next meal. Below is a great recipe that is naturally gluten free and tasty for everyone.

Homemade Gazpacho Dressing

3 Tablespoons tomato juice I buy a six pack of small cans of tomato juice and will have it on hand for future salads.

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon extravirgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 garlic clove minced
Combine ingredients and stir well.

Salad

6 cups of salad green – Homegrown is best!  And store bought is good too. Also, the salad ingredients can be halved for a smaller salad.

2 diced tomatoes

1 diced cucumber

1/3 cup of feta cheese

1/2  orange bell pepper diced  (or what ever color you like)

1 small bunch of green onions chopped

1 (16 ounce) can of cannellini  beans rinsed or any white bean

Toss ingredients into a salad.

I like to serve the dressing on the side, as I usually don’t finish the salad at one meal.  The dressing is strong and only a small amount is needed per serving. It is great for any salad.

*Check out my blog category “Gluten Free” for more easy GF recipes with everyday ingredients.

Adapted from Cooking Light

 


A Texas Tradition

It is that time of year when every Texan heads out to hunt for Bluebonnets.  It becomes pandemonium along the highways as everyone stops their cars and jumps into the fields to make a picture.

We found a beautiful field full of blue on a road away from the busy highway.  You can see how big the field is by the people off in the distance. Kids, dogs and adults were being photographed to preserve a perfect day with our beloved state flowers.


Hanging On

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My huge Split Leaf Philodendron took a big hit from the freeze and lost nearly all its leaves.  It is the third time in its life that this has happened. The large Philodendron was put there to hide the utility pipes and boxes. But, once the leaves were gone, I noticed something interesting the plant was doing.  Take a look at the two aerial roots that have looped around the pipes, hanging on for more stability.

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The root didn’t stop there.  About four bricks up it continues along the wall and behind the utility equipment.

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Next, the root rounds the corner.

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And into a weep hole.  What next?  Plants always amaze me.


I Shall Have Lettuce

I had to give up my vegetable garden years ago, as the only ones enjoying it were the animals that came into the yard day and night.

I miss fresh lettuce and I’m determined to grow some.

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The first step was to elevate the lettuce to keep the rabbits out.  A tall planter was purchased.

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Next, squirrels had to be thwarted from digging by covering the plants with picnic tents.

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The tents keep lizards out too.

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Finally, the tents had to be tied down so they wouldn’t blow off.

Yes, I shall have lettuce!

 


Spring Clean-up

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A killing freeze descended on this part of the country and for the Automatic Garden, it was a blessing in disguise.  I had been away from the garden quite a bit last year and many chores went undone.  The Automatic Garden did what it was designed to do and kept on growing, propagating and reseeding, resulting in a interwoven tangle of plants.

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The freeze gave clarity to what needed to be pulled, transplanted and cut back.  I have been spending hours everyday getting the garden in shape.

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Other chores included filling in a hole dug over the winter by some animal, which was probably an armadillo.  It was much more work than it looks and the dirt is heavy clay. The extremely strong gingers were able to push their way through the pile of clay and the dirt had to be carefully removed.

Volunteers had to be rounded up and replanted into their places in the garden. There were many, but free plants are a good thing.

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A scant few flowers have begun to bloom in the garden.  Most years have flowers blooming all year around, but the freeze knocked back almost all of the winter flowering plants. This red canna is a welcome sight.

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Drimiopsis maculata unfurled its spotted leaves and sent out flowers in no time.  The plant is a great substitute for hostas in the South.

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The climbing rose is blooming and dripping from a tree.

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Pink Flamingo Celosia  usually stands three feet tall before blooming, but this one couldn’t wait.

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The Shrimp plant came back from its roots and the few blooms were welcomed by the Buff-bellied Hummingbird that has wintered here.

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The Bottlebrush has perfect timing providing food for the arriving Ruby Throated Hummers and the honey bees that are living near by.

Bit by bit I am seeing my hard labor paying off and I have high hopes for a beautiful garden this summer.