Arches

I love my fence panel arches. They’re better than any tomato cage I’ve ever used and they make harvesting cucumbers a snap. They don’t get blown over by the wind or pulled down by the weight of the plants they’re supporting. Once the plants reach the top they become cool, shady tunnels that offer respite from the hot summer sun.

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The one that started it all. My first arch. This year it has pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, and mouse melons on one side and tomatoes on the other.
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The arch at the entrance to the garden. This was the last arch to be planted. It has Japanese long cucumbers, various tomatoes, and morning glories growing up it and squash and herbs growing next to it.
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My newest and tallest arch. This one has a half dozen different varieties of tomatoes growing up it.

 

The plants that I’ve found best suited to growing on arches are vining types of tomatoes, all types of  cucumbers, winter squash, gourds, and vining flowers. Some types of tomatoes (I’m looking at you, Husky Red Cherries!) are too short and brittle to successfully weave through the wire.

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Slicing cucumbers stay straight and clean when they’re up off of the ground.
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Mouse melons always reach the top of arch quickly and dangle down over my head.
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Good tomato varieties for weaving through the arch. These are Juliet, Phoenix, and Yellow Boy.
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The Husky Red cherry tomato is too short and the vines are to brittle to do well on the arch. They would like a nice sturdy cage instead.
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Then and now

No matter how many years I garden I’m always amazed by how quickly things grow. I put a tiny seed or smal plant into the ground and in just a few weeks I have a lush garden.

 

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View from the garden gate
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Bug’s yellow pear tomato.
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Tomatoes
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Peppers and cucumbers
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More tomatoes
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The newest bed, with tomatoes, squash, flowers, and a few herbs.

 

 

 

Blame it on the rain…

Some of the tomato plants are five feet tall. They’re starting to be unruly. I spend a good twenty minutes every day, just tying and bullying them into some semblance of order. The cucumbers have a similar problem, they’re grabbing ahold of anything that sits still long enough and taking off in directions I never intended. I untwist their little tendrils and coax them in to their designated area.

And it’s all because of the rain. We’ve had enough that I haven’t had to water more than a handful of times in the last three months, but not so much that everything is a soggy mess. Thank you, Mother Nature, for making my life a little easier this year.

 

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The t-posts are 5 feet tall.
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Destined to be part of dinner tonight.
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Black cherry tomatoes
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Bug’s Yellow Pear tomatoes.
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Long Japanese cucumber
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Another one
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I thought this would be an Armenian volunteer, but it looks like it’s a pickling cucumber.
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More pickling cucumbers.
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The first Mouse Melon of the year. It’s about as big as my first fingernail and will get about the size of a large grape.
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Ground cherries.

 

 

Summer is here

Springtime in Texas never lasts as long as I’d like before the long hot summer. This year is no exception. It’s heating up and the thunderstorms are rolling in every few days.
The upside of that is that the garden is growing like crazy. Sometimes it feels like I can sit and watch the plants grow.

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Bug was helping me in the garden this morning.

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Radish pods.

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The fennel has gotten huge.

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I grow it mostly fir the swallowtail caterpillars to breed in.

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Everything is getting so tall.

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We're getting a dew strawberries from the plants I put in the barrel planter.

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The spinach is bolting but the ground cherries are thriving.

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Bug's first tomato flower of the season.

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The husky red cherry has the most little green tomatoes so far.

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Juliet is the tallest tomato plant in the garden.

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Moonflower seedling

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Morning glory seedlings.

On the homestead

The garden is taking up a big chunk of my time these days. The weeds are growing like, well weeds. The tomatoes and cucumbers need to be coaxed to grow up the trellises. It’s almost time to pull out the lettuce.

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The first ripe tomato!
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The radishes bolted so now I'm getting radish pods.
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The volunteer Armenian cucumber that came up amongst the spinach and tomatoes.
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My morning glories sprouted!
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The first cucumber of the season will be ready to pick soon.
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The flowerbud and immature fruit of a mouse mellon.
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Lavender went into one of the new beds.
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Corriander seed ready to harvest.
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The tomatoes like the trellis.
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I left one of the thistle plants growing in the garden so I could have these gorgeous flowers.

On top of the garden there’s animals to deal with. This isn’t even most of the animals, only the ones that I managed to get pictures of.

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One of my Easter Egger pullets on bug patrol.
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The puppies were "helping" me harvest radish pods.
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"Are they food?"
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"Is this food?"
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I got my first turkey poults.
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She was supposed to be an Australorp but the red feathers on her chest prove that the bin was mislabeled.
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Ducklings are ridiculously cute.

Mother’s Day in the garden

I love that Mother’s Day is in the spring. It means that I almost always get garden stuff as gifts. This year it was the soil to fill my new beds, plants, and a new arch for two of the other beds.

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Finally filled and planted
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There are two tomatoes, one cucumber, and two zucchini in each bed.
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Posing under my new arch.

My wonderful husband kept all of the munchkins entertained while I slipped out to the garden to get some pictures. I love seeing so many little tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers on the plants and knowing that I’ll get to pick them soon.

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The beautifyl sky I woke up to.
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Black cherry tomatoes
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Husky red cherry
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Champion II
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Juliet
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Husky red cherry plant
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Black cherry plant
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Wittle baby cucumber
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Volunteer Armenian cucumber
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Cucumber flower
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Lettuce
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Ground cherry
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Hungarian wax pepper

After taking pictures it was time to start getting ready for our neighbors up the road to come hang out. Mike went and got some meat for the inaugural run of his new smoker, the kids did some chores, and I made some salads and herb rubs. Once they got here we had a great time, including some time spent throwing rocks into our little pond.

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Morning in the garden

Once the family heads off for the day and everything is quiet I like to spend some time in the garden. It’s peaceful and I’m always a little calmer after getting my hands in the dirt.

My happy place
 
 
I finally got all the peppers planted.
 
 
Lettuce, spinach, onions, and tomatoes.
 
 
MOAR TOMATOES!!!
 
 
Even more tomatoes. One can never have too many tomatoes.
 
 
Yet another tomato. This one is Bug’s.
 
 
Tomato flower buds. I love how fuzzy they are.
 
 
I’ve started training these tomatoes up the arch.
 
 
Mouse melons. They take forever to sprout but then take off quickly.
 
 
Pepper flower buds.
 
 
Tiny baby pepper.
 
 
Half grown pepper.
 
 
The snow peas almost always get eaten right in the garden. They’re the epitome of locally trown food.
 
 
My new addition to the herb bed is pineapple sage. I love to put a couple of leaves into my iced tea.
 
 
The lovage is being invaded by both bermuda grass and fire ants.
 
  

April showers

We’ve had a rainy week here in Central Texas. So far we’ve gotten 4 1/2 inches, with more to come tonight and tomorrow. Everything is lush and green and there are tons of wildflowers. Here are some pictures.

 

Almost 4 1/2 inches
 
 
The sign that warns people when the creek is over the bridge.
 
 
The water is about 3 feet over the road surface.
 
 
Looking up the hill towards the house and garden.
 
 
There are still a few bluebonnets bloomimg.
 
 
The pecan tree is leafing out.
 
 
The jujube trees are recovering nicely from the goats.
 
 
Pecan flowers.
 
 
Lots of little pears.
 
 
The geese were a little too interested in what I was doing, so I had to run them off.
 
 
Lettuce and spinach.
 

 

Snow peas
 
 
My little tomato.
 
 
Strawberries.
 

Chugging along

We have been having a typical spring here in Central Texas. One day it’s 60° and the next it’s 80° , first rainy and then sunny. Luckily we haven’t had any more freezes and most of the plants that got a little frozen around the edges have recovered nicely. Here are some pictures from this weekend.

 

Snow pea flower
 
 
The cilantro flowers are so pretty and delicate.
 
 
A pepper plant that was a little bit frozen.
 
 
This tomato lost it’s top in the freeze but it’s growing suckers to make up for it.
 
 
This Husky Red Cherry is a new variety to me.
 

It’s already got a few tiny tomatoes on it.
 
   
The two new beds where we tried straw bales last year.
 

The view from the gate.

Late freeze

It’s almost a full week past our local average freeze date, but Mother Nature doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo. 

The combination of a cold front and cloudless skies made for a potential garden disaster. After checking the forecast at 11 last night I grabbed an armful of old sheets and asked Mike to help me cover the tomato and pepper plants. With the sheets and a few stakes we got everything covered and then crossed our fingers. 

It looks like gnomes are camping in the garden this morning.

This morning it was 32° and there were ice crystals on everything.

Frost on a piece of fencing

 

Frost on the pea plants
 
 
Frost on a radish seedling
 

I was dreading pulling back one of the sheets, sure that all of my happy little tomato plants would be dead. But no, they weren’t! A few leaves were wilted, leaves that had been touching the sheets, but the plants were all alive!

Just a wilted leaf

 

Completely fine
  
Doesn’t even seem to notice that it was cold out
 

Thankfully this is likely the last cold weather we’ll get this year.