Monday, June 30, 2008
well, look where I was delivering today...
Those are Texas Longhorns by the way... If you click on the picture, you should be able to see them better, but those beasts were in no way, shape or form interested in getting any pics taken... They seemed to be saying, "Good grief, it's another blasted tourist with a camera... maybe if we ignore him he'll just go away..."
Just over the hill was the delivery "address" We'll call it address to be nice. It's a natural gas drilling site, and I deliver to a lot of them. Those guys always seem to be breaking some tool or other...
But I did see some wild buffalo gourds while I was there...
These are the gourds that the Native Americans used to make rattles and such... supposedly the ancestors of all our domestic gourds. They're awfully thin skinned, but some people use them to make Christmas ornaments. They're about the size of an orange.
Anyway, I actually had a pretty good day!
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Well, the darned Escobaria vivipara has decided to put out another round of flowers... this single bloom is the beginning of the 3rd flush of blooms... lots and lots of buds on both heads of this plant. And some of the last flush of blooms left about 3 seedpods, so we'll see how those ripen up.
Didn't achieve too terribly much today. Did plant a few seeds for an ocotillo. Believe it or not, they will survive up here, although the branches tend to stand up straighter, and they tend to hold their leaves a lot longer... It would be much easier to make a cutting grow than the seeds, but the few that are around in the area are fiercely protected by their owners. Anyway, I planted them in a plastic baggie that I pinned to the inside of a curtain, and we'll see what happens.
I also have a plumeria that is a little too top-heavy in it's pot, so I dug a hole and plunged the pot into the ground today... I have to bring it in every year, so it has to stay potted, but after the cactus fiasco, I'm paranoid of plants falling over...
Looks like I'll finally get to mow the lawn tonight. Last night, I was just getting ready to start the mower when rain blew in... Darn... but it's going to be clear this evening, so I get to mow... Darn...
Saturday, June 28, 2008
well, here's two plants that were never meant to be within 500 feet of each other...
The winter hardy hibiscus is one that I rescued... a neighbor had dug it up and was throwing it out because it was "too big." She was evidently uncomfortable with plants that got over a foot tall... whatever. And of course, a little prickly pear that ended up on the lath house after it got repotted.
Nothing really dramatic to talk about. I want to spend the day lying on the couch like a big gelatanous blob... It turns out that the dispatchers at work are fairly impressed with my problem solving abilities, so they are giving me the orders that they think might have issues. GEE THANKS. And of course, these orders have issues... like being written up wrong, being undeliverable, or the only delivery address being "in the middle of the cow pasture 9 miles west of known civilization."
Trust me, the little bit of time I get to spend in the garden is very theraputic. But, today I have to go to the flea market and get some stuff stocked, and I have to see if I can chase down a heating element for this oven. And I have to get some grocery shopping done. And all that stuff that I just don't have time for...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
These tiny peppers - slightly larger than a piece of buckshot - pack a wicked hot punch and are the wild variety that all of our domestic sweet and hot peppers descend from.
In my yard, the plants are a perennial, coming back up from the root every year to grow to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, although I'm given to understand that there are wild varieties that hug the earth and spread like a ground cover. The fruits are very much beloved by wild birds, in this area mockingbirds in particular visit every morning. Birds don't have the sense receptors to taste hot, and are probably going after the vitamin B.
Further North, the plants can either be grown as an annual, or grown as a pot plant. Further South, with no winter kill, they have been known to grow to small trees about six foot tall in the wild, and up to 15 feet in greenhouse culture.
This is the first flush of blooms and fruit that I'll get this year. This will be followed by a mass of blooms that don't produce fruit, and a further mass of blooms that will produce fruit. This is due to the fact that peppers, along with their cousins the tomato, are NOT pollinated by bees or other insects... the blooms don't produce any nectar to attract them. Instead, they are pollinated by the slightest movement, provided by wind, rain, or passing animals... and then only when night-time temperatures are below 80 degrees. Whether or not the pollination takes place at night, or if the drop in temp creates some bio-chemical change is unclear... But what this means is that here, in central Texas, when our humidity provides too much insulation and the night-time temps barely drop 10 degrees through July, August, and most of September, there is no pollination going on. (All this info comes from PEPPERS; The Domesticated Capsicum, by Jean Andrews, so all you bee people can take it up with the scientific studies that she sited.)
As stated before, these tiny peppers are HOT. Usually within the 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville unit range, which puts them in the company of the Capsicum chinense (habaneros, scotch bonnets and manzanillas) and much hotter than your average jalapeno. Three or four of the tiny things are usually more than adequate for a batch of salsa. Some claim that they have an under taste of smoke or citrus... but all I've ever tasted is hot. In Mexico, this heat is referred to as arrebatado, meaning rapid or violent, due to the fact that's while it's very hot it doesn't last long.
Chile pequins, or peqin, or cliltepin, or bird peppers are the only agricultural product that is still primarily harvested in the wild. The few farms that raise them exist in South Texas and Mexico, where they are usually grown in shade houses, due to the fact that in the wild, the plants usually are shaded by tall grasses. The seeds are primarily spread by birds, and thanks to the local mockingbirds, my plant has put up about 20 more along the fence row, and a few more around the neighborhood.
I've given a few to a friend who plants them in bonsai pots and turns them into little trees.
A quick check tells me that the heating element needs replaced. A quick fix, and while not cheap, it's cheaper than a new oven.
But anyway, I read a book that tells me that some people leave the house worrying and fretting and pretty much determined to have a bad day... and I am going to do the oposite.
I have promised myself that today will be a better day than yesterday...
of course, in aid of this noble pursuit, there may be a few people that have to be eliminated.... but they should have thought of that when they left their house this morning...
I'm kidding of course.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
This is my Cereus Hildmannianus... one of the about 2 dozen cactus species referred to as Queen of the Night, sometimes called Peruvian Apple. (I call it Hildy...)
It's not blooming right now, this is from last year... I'm probably not going to get any blooms from it this year...
I've had the plant for about 10 years, got it when it was less than a foot tall on a clearance table at one of the local nurseries. Since then, it grew to about 4 feet tall, and put out one branch (on the other side of the plant in this pic) and puts out a couple of dozen blooms a year, about 8 inches across and at night. It's not winter hardy here, being only capable of surviving occasional light frosts, so I bring it in every winter and let it go dormant. This carting back and forth is probably why I was resisting putting it in a larger pot... which I regret now, as it turned out to be so top heavy that the last wind-storm blew it over and broke it off.
Before this, it was doing fairly well... It had two more trunks coming up from the base of the plant, both about 3 inches tall now.
Fortunately, the break was just above the branch, so now it's a stump with a foot tall branch sticking out of the side, and a couple of other branches coming from the bottom... in about a year it may have put out more branches from the trunk, so it'll end up fine. As for the pieces broke off... I've cut the growing tip off and put it in a pot to root... and the rest of the trunk, about two feet, has been cut into two pieces and laid flat on the ground in one of the flower beds. I have it on good authority from an Internet search that it will throw roots into the ground, and then start sprouting growth all along the pieces... I'll get anywhere from six to a dozen new plants to break off and root individually... I'll probably end up putting them all into one really huge pot, with the mother trunk in the middle.
But all this trauma may have ruined my chances of seeing any of the 8-inch wide blooms glowing in the moonlight this year...
Tracing the origins of this plant has proved to be a challenge for botanist... It's probably native to South America. The problem is that the plant, which can attain heights of over 15 feet in the right climate, has been grown as an ornamental, as well as for it's edible fruit, for so long that there are no records of it's original native land.
We'll see how everything works out.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
So I'm walking in, ignoring all the annuals, and I pass the cactus table... and we all know how this story ends, right?
well, here he is...
The label says he's a Senecio scaposus...
now, the real question... does anybody out there know what this is? Or what it does? Does it bloom? How big does it get? Anything?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Found these growing by the side of one of the warehouses today... Winecups (Callirhoe digitata) are a wildflower that grows throughout most of Texas... One of my favorites. We're pushing the end of the season, so it was kind of a surprise to see them growing beside one of the warehouses I delivered to today... fortunately I had a few minutes extra to take a quick pic.
Nothing much else today... just another work day for me. Haven't been having many slow days lately, a bunch of the drivers have quit, due to gas prices, which means I'm working a whole lot... since I get paid by delivery, that's good.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I have two varieties here... one was a mistake... Natchez white... Mom gave me the plant years ago and I had to plant it... unfortunately these are one of the huge tree varieties. I know, all the garden writers insist that it's not a tree. But these things can get 25 feet tall and can develop trunks as big around as my thigh, and I call it a tree... It takes constant trimming to keep it in check...
The other one here is Dallas Red... (that's how neccesary Crepe Myrtle is in Texas, we have varieties named after us...) This pic was taken in too bright light, the blooms are deeper and a bit bloody looking... but it's a nice plant, topping out at 6 to 7 feet... This is the plant that I have the egyptian onions planted underneath... I talked about them in a previous post...
I always trim the bottom of Crepe Myrtles out, making them a little more tree-like... this is because I have a small yard and the width of a plant really matters. It also gives me a place to grow annuals underneath, most of which appreciate the protection in the middle of the day.
Very tired tonight. Another 12 hour work day. Came home a cooked what my Grandma used to call a "bachelors skillet"
Turn oven to 450 degrees.
Put empty cast iron pan in oven to get hot...
Cut up 1 onion, 1 small potato and add whatever veggies were on sale at the grocery store this week... Hard veggies cut small, softer veggies cut big or leave whole... Tonight I used edemame beans, frozen sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and a yellow squash... I also can recomend using whole green beans, asparagus, whole mushrooms, eggplant, brocoli (stems and all) literally everything. Except cabbage, which turns to water when it cooks, and most greens will over cook.
add enough olive oil to coat everything, and whatever seasoning you like... curry powder, lemon pepper, cajun spice mix, whatever you're in the mood for. Toss it good.
When the skillet is hot, carefully pull it out and pour in the veggies... then push to one side and throw in a couple of chicken thighs, or any meat you want, keeping in mind that it will end up well done. (you vegetarians can skip the meat...) Put pan in oven and cook 25 minutes. You can give it a stir and turn the meat halfway through, but you don't have to.
Pull it out and eat.
Pretty good, and not that difficult.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I outgrew that, I have a pug dog named MoonPie and two black cats named Phennig and Charcoal Briquette Cat, so my naming has definitely moved beyond Bob, but as soon as I could handle a pocket knife, I, for some reason, have been carving heads on the end of sticks...
They vary, this is one of the simpler ones, just a nice strong nose, brow and lantern jaw. There's a few around that look like skulls, and some that are a little more expressive...
Sunday, June 15, 2008
It would appear that one of the local racoons had decided to pay an unanounced visit, and my cats decided they didn't particularly care for this rather rude interuption to their plans.
This resulted in a lot of hissing, and jumping and bouncing around, and I managed to just catch the racoon running along a garden bench and knocking every pot in his way off... I couldn't do much about it in the middle of the night, but this morning I awoke to cacti scattered all over the patio, and even a couple floating amongst some rather indignant goldfish in the pond. So my plans to go work in the flea market stall are kaput, as I will be cleaning, sweeping and repotting.
99.9 percent of the time, I truly enjoy the occasional visit from opposums, racoons and even the occasional black snake in the yard, but this is a little ludicrous. Wish me luck...
Thursday, June 12, 2008
yesterday was a very trying day... One of my brand new tires went flat, and my jack has gone missing, so AAA sent a guy to help me change it, but he didn't have the right tools, so he sent for a guy to tow me, but after 3 miles they had to charge me, so I told him to tow me to the nearest tire store, where they just put the spare on for me, but there were a whole bunch of people ther first, so I had to wait an hour. But he didn't charge me, so that's cool. Then I went to the store that sold me the tire, and they replaced it for free, and I went home and made muffins...
1 large can of mango puree (usually you have to find this at the nearest Indian market, but sometimes the Asian market will carry it.)
2 white cake mixes
a handful of dried cherries, chopped.
If you can find a small 15 ounce can of mango puree, use 1 cake mix, but the small cans are hard to find.
mix all the ingredients, (do NOT add the oil, eggs, etc to the cake mix)
bake in muffin tins, either sprayed with non stick spray or use cupcake papers... at 400 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes. 2 cake mixes will yield 24 muffins, 1 cake mix will yield 12...
because you don't use the oil or eggs, this is low fat and low cal (there are some calories & fat, but you're greatly reducing them) And they taste good...
Try a 15 ounce can of pumpkin, and a devils food cake mix... that's good too.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
This is in one of those neglected neighborhoods, that existed before the warehouses and factories were built around it. Fort Worth actually has a lot of these little neglected neighborhoods. Little houses with a train track through the back yard, or a fish packing plant across the street... One of the big advantages to living in these neighborhoods, is that you can do whatever you want. The city tries to forget they exist... so you're in the middle of the city
and see a small herd of goats, or geraniums planted in an old commode, or a beer can garden...
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I want to do this. And if my neighbor tried it, I would throw a fit on an absolutely lunar level... but it's nice to think that there's room in the world for this sort of thing... I mean, it's a big country, I think there should be room for anything somewhere...
Well, it turns out that this neighborhood is undergoing urban renewal, and nearby is being bulldozed for condos... so the city has made him reduce that up there to this...
The thing is... before it was kind of cool... One string of beer cans hanging from a tree is, undeniably, tacky, but there is a point where 100 of them become folk art... the breeze through the cans made a really relaxing sursuration, and some of them are cut to spin and catch the light.
Now, condensed and belittled, it's gone back to just tacky.
As for the yuppie condos coming in... hey, this guy was here first... isn't there some sort of Grandfather clause?
Anyway, I was just posting random thoughts... probably one of my wierder posts... but I've had a wierd day.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
and then, of course, at the end of the day, they give me a delivery to the 41st floor of one of those all glass buildings downtown... and so I walk in, grungy, tired, and utterly dishevelled, and all the suits look at me like I'm a bug.
I so love my job.
But I seriously am looking for another job now... after gas cost, insurance, upkeep and stuff, I'd actually be making more money by working at McDonalds.
That ain't right...
sorry, just a kvetch...
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
But I'm taking a day off to achieve things which absolutely must be achieved. I need new tires, as I've pushed these to a point where they're probably not safe, I have to run around and take care of things that I couldnt't do during the weekend, I have to pay some bills... all that crap that piles up and bites you if you don't do it...
Real life is so annoying...
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Cleome, or spider lily, or sparkler plant. This came home with me when I saw it at the nursery... we were talking about it on Julies blog, A Succulent Life... (see link to right) I normally wouldn't buy a plant this size. Half the fun of a plant is watching it grow up, and go through it's changes. But, it was only 3 bucks, so what the heck...
This is a Pavonia hastata... aka rock rose or swamp rose... Now I don't know the why of the swamp rose name, since it survives here with absolutely no extra water in very un-swamp conditions. That's actually why I grow it... the blooms are pretty, but not overly impressive, being less than 2 inches across... but these mini hibiscus flowers are produced by the hundreds, and all summer when the heat has pretty much brought everything else to its knees... each bloom produces 5 seeds. Which spread and sprout... a good amount of time every spring is spent pulling up extra seedlings... but before the heat hits, it produces buds that never open, but self fertilize and still produce seeds... hence it's a little invasive. (by the way, violets produce those self-fertilizing flowers too.)
And of course, a purple coneflower... I started with 2 plants, and they've seeded over the years... there are now 20 or 30 scattered around the yard. Very reliable in the heat, these are the ones used to produce echinacea, which people use to treat colds.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a sporadic blogger at best... got a new battery charger, so here's a better pic of the gardenia...
and here's a hypericum... these were vaugely popular a few years ago... when St. Johns Wort was being touted as a cure for depression... this was sold as St. Johns wort in the nursery trade... actually a cousin with absolutely no herbal use at all... The blooms are interesting, but they don't produce many of themm, and they're pretty much beat up by noon... The plant just spreads around and looks green. Not my favorite plant, but I don't have the heart to clear it out.
And these are "Mother of millions" or "Pregnant plant" A pest further south, these survived the winter here... each leaf produces little plants along the sawtooth edges, there were a couple under the agave last year, and they dropped plantlets that survived down in the leaf litter all winter, and have now sprouted. Interesting, but not particularly pretty, I'll probably leave them for now.