01/02/2023 pots and pets outdoors

After last year’s failed veggie seedlings due to root rot and damping off fungus, I drilled 4-5 big holes in all the pots.
I am hoping to start a lot in the yogurt containers and build up the soil around the stems, reducing the amount of repotting for the plants that can root from the stem like peppers and tomatoes and their relatives.
Briar was bored while we did the annual pruning of the dwarf fruit trees.
Shackleton got a leash walk all around the backyard (he’s exploring the prairie here) AND the front yard. Wow!

01/02/2023 Oklahoma selected tepary beans

I have decided to mix our tepary beans next year to cross pollinate and see what does best here with our spring rainy season. This photo shows the general mix with three randomly selected handfuls (the three pictures below). The remaining beans will be eaten! I started with 1:1:1:2:3 mix of blue-speckled, yellow, San Ignacio, Pinacate, and black tepary beans in 2022, planted in same-variety blocks along the south trellis, plus a very small amount of the surviving wild type tepary beans (planted Aaap, Santa Catalina, Sycamore Canyon, and Kitt Peak varieties intermixed so whatever survived best from those) from nativeseeds.org). For 2023 and later (ie this upcoming season), we will plant these together and see what happens.

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!

12/2022 backlog of infrastructure and little babies

Yesterday, 12/31, I finally glued on the rain barrel cap holders that the Chef 3D printed for me! I used epoxy after cleaning both surfaces with ethanol.
Paula got solar powered outdoor lights for Christmas and has used them to make the path to the compost visible! Edit: thanks to Mom for inquiring if we can turn the lights out. Yes we can! It’s important not to pollute the dark with more light than we use at any given moment.
I am hoping these tiny seedlings are the annual bluets that sometimes grow in this part of the yard. Keeping an eye on them.
A tinier potential annual bluet seedling next to the comparatively large wild geraniums. These two pictures were 12/31/2022.
12/28/2022, the Ratibida columnifera rosettes survived the big cold!
Two Verbena halei rosettes also exist and made it!
Finally, and very thrilling, two potential Penstemon oklahomensis seedlings! They don’t appear to be hairy leaves like some other common seedling volunteers. Stay tuned.
Shackleton enjoyed a leashed walk in the same excellent 12/28 weather.
Jeanne kindly sent us some Salaginella riddellii- Riddell’s Spike-Moss. We put the biggest chunk in the rainbow garden (in green of course) on 12/25.
We put a smaller piece of the spike moss in the cactus planter.
12/25 was so nice we also moved some volunteers. This is the big root of a poke berry! We moved those along the back fence where another pokeberry lives. We also moved several ampelopsis from random spots in the yard to along the south fence trellis.
A blackjack oak acorn with a sprout on it! We planted this exciting find (12/24) into a pot on 12/25. Fingers crossed for a spring sprout.
Judy gave us an adorable toad house! I have placed it near the veggie beds. Please come eat our earwigs, toad friends.
12/24 checking the pot containing Sedum nutallii from Jeanne. The sedums seem to have made it along with Verbena rosettes (V. Halei??) and other intriguing volunteers.
Going somewhere! Wow!! Happy briar in the car.
On 12/24 we visited the lake at Lexington WMA. This seasonal creek was frozen solid! The lake was too. Briar wears her hunter orange.
After the deep freeze, only the top tips of the recently transplanted rosemary got frozen. They were pressed down by the sheets. But the sheets protected the rest of the plant!

12/31/2022 turning compost, turning new year

It was a beautiful day yesterday so Paula wanted to turn the compost! I fetched our pitchfork which is from Mom and Dad. The Chef created a new handle and stick for it.
The back, older pile may be ready by spring! Weirdly it was drier, though. We set up some hoses to direct water from the closest rain barrels to both piles now, since it’s not good to leave water in the barrels when it might freeze.
A very fast rollypolley!
Paula adeptly captured this woodroach. It’s a North American native genus! For those worried about roaches in the house, I’ve never seen one in the house. This is an outside only friend, doing its ecological role of nutrient cycling by munching on detritus (here, in the compost- just what we need for veggie waste to be turned into good rich soil!). It’s the invasive and introduced-by-European-settlers (presumably accidentally) roaches that are human-associated, such as the German Cockroach.
The tragic face of a dog not allowed in the compost area. She likes to eat eggshells. There’s also a great stash of feral cat poop down behind the house in the leaves. For Briar’s sake, please keep your cats indoors. She might be allowed a chance at the eggshells if there wasn’t cat poop!!

12/23/2022 feeding our friends

Briar was very interested in the three squirrels.
Shackleton liked the sun, the squirrels, and the chickadees and juncos! Good stuff! I was pleased to see the juncos eating chenopodium seeds and wild sunflower seeds off the dead plants as well as the supplemental bird seeds we put out today for the cold weather. It got up to 19 F.

12/22/2022 definitely no birds only leaves

I put out bird seed since it’s so cold and a flock of a dozen or so juncos visited. They never came when we first moved here- they needed the cover of the wood pile and later the brush pile.
I put the seeds on the stepping stones and by the brush pile especially to make it easier and safer.
Shackleton might have noticed the birds. The birds say any and all movement was leaves! Definitely no birds!! Fortunately for them, this polar explorer is indoors only except on a leash. Much safer for birds and warmer for Shacks.

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.