Saturday, November 28, 2009

Watermelon at Thanksgiving.

I picked my second to last watermelon the day before Thanksgiving. I'm going to try to get the last one to make it to Christmas. I've already gotten it ready for the tarp covering to protect it from frost. Wouldn't that be a hoot to eat a fresh watermelon out of the garden on Christmas?

It is a Crimson Sweet, not very big, about fifteen pounds. It tasted great, really sweet. It's the only type watermelon that I've ever had any luck with. After slicing it up, I dug right in. Philip, this picture is for you.

I planted six seeds and all of them came up. They produced several watermelons in the summer but they all got blossom end rot. The vines all died but one because of my chinsy watering. The one vine that is left has covered about thirty feet of fence and has had five melons this fall. The one I am eating started out on the fence but I had to cut the tendril that was holding it and put it on the ground.

I ate the last of the cantaloupe last week. The vine still looks good but there are no more fruit. This great fall has saved the melon harvest. Lyn is still harvesting beans and is canning around four quarts a week. The beans look even better than they did in the spring.

After watching the weather tonight I think it's about over for the vegetable garden for this year. Even with the severe drought in the summer it's still been a good year for vegetables, thanks to the fall.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanksgiving at the Pool house was good this year.

We used to have Thanksgiving with my folks and Christmas dinner with Lyn's folks. After my Mom contracted cancer, Thanksgiving was scheduled as normal, even though she was getting sicker by the day. She just insisted that she could still do it. The day before Thanksgiving she called and said she couldn't do it. Lyn and my sister volunteered to pull something together but she said no. Lyn and I had Thanksgiving dinner at some restaurant in Round Rock and it wasn't all that good.

Lyn told me this wouldn't happen again. Like I've said before, I am a lucky guy. I married a woman that loves to cook and is very good at it. She said next Thanksgiving would be at our house, no ifs, ands or buts about it. My Mom passed away the next February, and my Dad passed away five weeks later. About a month before the big day, Lyn told me I had better start rounding up some people for Thanksgiving as she was blowing it out. She was cooking it all and it was going to be a big meal for just the two of us.

I came up with nine the first year. The second it jumped to thirteen. The third it was fifteen. The next it was twenty two. This year it was back down to fifteen. My sister always comes but Lyn's siblings go to their in-laws. However the last two years Lyns sister, her husband and their two daughters have come. The couple that owns the local feed store are always here as well as several customers of mine. A couple of neighbors come and a couple people that are just regulars at the feed store as well as a couple of friends. Some can't make it some years but make it others. This year we had two newbies. A young fella that works at the place that I buy pipe and his wife came. She is expecting on Christmas day and her doctor had told her not to travel as they had some problems with the pregnancy and should stay close. You can't have an expectant mother to be missing Thanksgiving. Katina of Gardening in Austin and her husband were supposed to come but something came up and they couldn't make it.

The turkey was deep fried.[that's my job] Lyn cooked two pies and a pumpkin cake as well as candied pecans for snacking. My sister brought peanut brittle and Fran at the feed store always brings a vegetable snack tray that is to die for. It's huge. Lyn's sister, Chickie, brought a big pasta salad that is always a big hit. Lyn made fresh green beans right out of the garden and mashed potatoes from ones I had dug in the summer. You can always tell the corn was our corn as it is so dark yellow. Lyn made a new dish this year that was absolutely wonderful. It was sweet potaoes in a hollowed out orange. There has never been any store bought bread in our house so of course there was home made bread and home made rolls.

Like I said, I'm a lucky guy. I have so many great friends, a wonderful wife and great holidays. I hope all your Thanksgivings were as good as mine.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photo Contest

This is my entry for the Gardening Gone Wild photo contest. Growing in a sea of Coastal Bermuda grass that will never die, is a Mullen plant that was able to fulfill it's destiny in this summer to beat all summers. It survived, grew a bloom stalk, produced seeds and died. It is at the end of the line.

You can go to the Gardening Gone Wild site and see all the entries here--Gardening Gone Wild

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blogging Theft, More Common Than You Think

Every one, it seems, has a bed that nothing works in. I actually have two, but this is only about one. This one is in front of the house and to one side of the drive way. It gets just an hour of mottled, early morning sun and then is shaded through the rest of the morning. Some where around noon it is in the blazing sun for the rest of the day. I have planted an enormous variety of plants in it, and all to no avail. I have planned and plotted, bought and potted. I tried to do an interesting mixture of plants, something like Pam at Digging would do. She is really good at her planning and plotting. I, on the other hand, am not so good. Then I started blogging. The ideas that one can get from blogs is mind boggling. I surmised that for one to get the most out of blogging it should be all right to steal, errr, I mean to incorporate other peoples ideas into one's own garden.
Quite a few months ago, Philip, at East Side Patch, had pictures of a garden design that he had come up with for some friends. He, like Pam, seems to be good at this planning and plotting. It was comprised of only two types of plants. That's right, only two. And it looked really good, at least to me. I stole, I mean used his idea to plant my bed. I decided to use plants that I already had and that needed thinning or relocating. I looked around the gardens and picked two that were totally different in texture, color, shape and blooms, but were about the same height.

I chose Daturas and Gregg's Mist Flower. I know what your thinking, that ain't right. The broad, grey-green leaves of the Daturas and the frilly, almost chartreuse leaves of the Mist flower have plenty of contrast and look nice, even with out blooms. It started looking rather fetching early on, you know, before the summer from hell. Then it languished in misery through the summer. But in the last few months it has turned into the bed I had pictured in my feeble little mind. Most people that have come by have liked it as well. Now I am hoping the first frost will hold out until after Thanksgiving so our guests can see it as well.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mixing Work With Pleasure

Mrs. Cole called me last week. They needed a mail box built. It seems the local riff raff have been beating theirs flat lately to the tune of five in the last month and a half. They have land along the Lampasas river just north of Oakalla. That's pronounced O'cally by the locals. I have done a lot of work for her and her husband over the last year. They are some of my favorite customers. They are just wonderful, friendly people and Mrs. Cole loves native plants. She started some flower beds this spring but the drought got most of them before they got established. I dug her a Rock Rose and took to her when I delivered the mail box. She was so excited, you would have thought I gave her money.

She has built what must be the king of bottle trees. I like hers better than any I've seen. Mr. Cole just thinks it is hard to trim around.

She also has more bird feeders than any one I know. The tin around the trees is to keep the local coon population out of the feeders. You might notice a deer in the back ground. They have to feed the deer early in the evening so the wild hogs don't get it all.

They moved here from up north to retire where it is warmer. They have always let me have access to the river to fish since the first time I met them. I had to drag my kayak off a dirt bluff to get to the water. I kept telling Mrs. Cole about all the beautiful plants I would see down in the riparian zone that didn't grow on the higher ground. Early this summer I went up to fish and she had hired someone with a dozer to build a road down to the water so she could see them as well.

There is a little Bequilla bush growing on the sand bar where the road ends.

The last time I was there Thoroughwort was growing on the gravel bar as well.

Ground Cherry was thick in places with their Chinese lantern looking fruit.

Across the river was huge thickets of Inland Sea Oats but I couldn't get close enough for a picture. I did spy a Cardinal Flower on the other side of the river. You can barely see the crimson red of it in this picture.

On a little higher ground was clumps of Marsh Fleabane. It really looks good in clumps of several plants but kind of plain by itself.

At the top edge of the riparian zone was Pigeon Berry scattered through the mottled shade of the pecan trees.

Along with the Pigeon Berry was this beautiful sage with vibrant blue flowers. The plants were over four feet tall. I believe it is Bog Sage but I'm not sure.

This is such a beautiful place owned by beautiful people that like other people to enjoy it. They moved to Texas for all the reasons others do. They have had to resort to signs to keep people out as the trash left by trespassers has gotten to be too much.
Now their mail box is being vandalized so they had to get me to build them a smash proof one.

If your ever on the road between Oakalla and Kempner and see an older couple out picking up trash along the road stop and ask if you can check out the river for plants. They are small in stature but rather large in spirit. Tell them you know me, it can't hurt. I just wish they were being treated a little better here in Texas.