01/09/2023 indoor lights for basil and seedlings

I got tired of competing with cats for limited shelf space with still-insufficient sunlight. So I got a plant growing light from online! I’m hoping it will perk up the sad basils which have been spending too much time in the garage and are a pain for us to tote in and out of the garage and house for sunny afternoons. This is safely away from cats in the guest room. Once the peppers and other seedlings are up, they will also get this good strong light.

12/2022 heavy duty garden cart!!

New boxes. Gram stands on the cart box while Tuqu investigates some pet toys.
Briar discovers some assembly required.
Briar lets humans assemble the cart. Humans have thumbs.
The Chef alarms Shackleton by cruising by. Zoom in on his eyes.
Shackleton actually liked his cart ride once he settled in. He got to look at things and the dog didn’t get near.
Gram was nervous about his ride and left his tail hanging out the whole time.
First test of cart! We moved this rock from the irises to the rainbow garden.
Briar says boring. But leaves are nice to sit in.
Current state of the side yard. Lots of good sticks and leafy habitat for insects.
The front door/garage nook keeps sinking in as the tree roots decay. We moved soil from the backyard mystery berms (a later post will feature this progress) to fill this in.
Needs one more load for this year probably. You can see I raked the top layer of soil that probably had most of the Euphorbia maculata and Melothria pendula vine seeds to the side so I can put that layer back over the top once we have filled it back in. anyway, an excellent test of the cart! A big success!

12/22/2022 big cold and bigger wind

This screenshot from the Oklahoma Mesonet weather app shows that it is currently 7 degrees F with winds 28 mph from the north sustained, and gusting to 38 mph, though at some point the maximum for Norman was 49 mph. It will stay below freezing until at least Saturday.
Hmm Briar sees a dusting of snow. But she was willing to go out! Snow is ok. It doesn’t get in her ears like big rain.
The herb bed covering held. This is in a sheltered corner that faces east (picture windows) and south (plant window).
The cactus planter covering held. it looks like there are still some leaves with some snow on the native sprouting planters so that should be good.
In the front yard, my last minute sheets and concrete blocks covering of the rosemary held up.
The greens greenhouse did not. It was opened right up on the north edge. We had gusty winds up to 35 mph a week or two ago, but I don’t remember what direction it was. This sustained north wind peeled it right open. The plant leaves are frozen solid.
I put three gallon jugs of hot water in and secured the plastic sheeting in with twice as many or more clothespins. But, even though these greens are cold hardy, this may have been too much and too suddenly. We’ll find out on Sunday when things warm up.
Big wind pushed an empty rain barrel over. All the others were fine though empty (to prevent freezing damage) so this one was at just the right angle.
Snow outlined these frog stepping stones that Judy gave me.
I didn’t cover the strawberries this year. They already had a hard summer with heat and drought, so we’ll see how many make it through to spring.

12/21/2022 solstice chill

My Persian friends celebrate Yaldā today, a holiday for the longest, darkest night of the year. Appropriately, tonight the temperature is plunging from the 40s F into the teens and single digits and we won’t unfreeze until probably Sunday!

No insulating blanket of snow is forecast (maybe just a few light flurries), so I moved a bunch of leaves from the patio onto the herb bed to especially protect my oregano and chives, which had a very rough time last winter. I put extra greenhouse plastic over it.
The finished covering.
I tucked the extra plastic around our cactus planter with more leaves, and piled some leaves on the containers with native plant seedlings in them. I suspect they will be fine but containers are not as protected as they would naturally be on the ground.

12/13/2022 greenhouse survives a little storm!

We got 2.5” rain in our gauge yesterday from an overnight thunderstorm! Mesonet had 1.8” at airport in Norman and maximum wind of 35 mph. so we were very pleased to see the greenhouse plastic and clothespins survived intact! Briar stands next to it. Waiting for her walkies.
When we tucked in the trimmed plastic, we poked the corners in so water could drain into the bed. This is the corner Briar was standing by.
The next corner drain looks good too.
The corner back by other beds (behind where Briar stood in first picture) also has no standing water.
And the view from that back corner again looks great! No clothespins lost, the plastic sheeting tidy and crisp over the metal hoops, and minimal puddling of water on the sheeting edges!

10/24/2022 greens survived one night

We were worried the front yard earwigs would eat them all up, but the various greens we transplanted from backyard pots survived the night and seem happy with an inch of rain overnight into this morning! the metal raised bed is surrounded by scattered leaves and individual plant species and varieties are marked by small white metal signs. There’s some bluish bok choy in the front, a more yellow green lettuce in the middle, and frilly scotch blue curled kale in the back next to a tall Fordham giant Swiss chard. Smaller plants are scattered nearby but I’ve forgottten which ones.

09/22/2022 afternoon after work

The backyard sunflowers are quite magnificent at this point.
I don’t see any in this picture, but I saw several bumblebees up on the flowers.
The Salvia azurea are really doing well.
I have a new bunch of Indiangrass sprouting and blooming!
The little bluestem is blooming too. This clump has gotten quite happy in its second or third year now.
Jeanne, Abby, and Mom have been kindly helping me over text to confirm my accidental imports of non native and invasive King Ranch bluestem or “KR grass”. As they bloom and get identified, I have been pulling them.
I’m also continuing to work on pulling the annual, invasive Commelina communis. Unlike the native perennial dayflower, its roots are very shallow.

09/06/2022

The rainbow garden in the morning. Only orange not blooming.
Dinner with garden onions in the quiche and up in the corner, a watermelon salad.
Here’s a close up of the watermelon salad. The feta cheese and balsamic vinegar really helps the bland watermelon. I really hope the next moon and stars actually gets riper.
Tragedy strikes. The scurf-pea got chopped off at the stem. I assume it is too small yet to come back from that.

08/20/2022 fruit tree check-in and pruning

I was going to trim the granny Smith back carefully to see if any life remained in the tree, but it broke right off at the base, completely dry, in my hands. So that one’s a goner. I’m not sure if it was too much water or too much heat. I don’t think it was too little water, as the soaker hose leaks prodigiously near here.
The north star pie cherry died this year and I checked the trunk- no green left. I think it was irregular watering (boo, me) and heat.
The surecrop pie cherry lost all its leaves a bit later, but I found a bit of green as I pruned back its branches. I think this winter we will move it to where the Granny Smith apple was, and then replace the soil in the corten planters and do native calcareous barrens flowers there instead.
Paula found a magnificent preying mantis and it helped us look at clouds in hope of rain.
We pruned the remaining apple and pear trees back. The first summer ones are supposed to be down to three short branches, so it’s especially sparse looking. This is supposed to help them stay small. The two remaining second-summer ones are trimmed back but more branches left in place. They’ll all get pruned again in the winter for structure and shape.