01/16/2023 creating a special caliche/barrens habitat in containers

Visited home last weekend and Mom and Dad kindly let us take home some calcareous soil from an already disturbed area – the “lake”.
I had planned to shovel the soil but they kindly offered the much easier method of front-end loader. 🙂 We did scrape in a few small little bluestems and other plants that I have kept!
Since the soil was heavy, I carefully moved it into a bucket I could lift, and also searched for those little plants I mentioned got scraped in.
Paula and I put careful layers of soil and water to get it compact in the planters by the front door.
Paula smoothed them nicely and added water.
You can see the plants I found in the background, sitting on the porch. This is the final picture with a dusting of cactus/succulent/citrus potting soil on top.
Shackleton helped me sort the calcareous soil/barrens specialist seeds that Mom gave me.
Here are all the seeds in place with little markers! I also put one each little bluestem in the pot, a possible Oldplainsman in each, and a mystery round-leafed green plant. We’ll see what they become!
I did the two planters symmetrical but mirror images since they are on either side of the porch. Fingers crossed we get some sprouts in the spring!

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.

12/22/2022 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.

12/08/2022 surprises

One single aster flower is still blooming. It’s somewhat sheltered by the garage wall and kitchen wall.
In the cactus planter, I was pleased to find a rabbit’s tobacco seedling in near the juniper leaf.
Here I am pointing at it if you didn’t spot it in the previous picture.

10/16/2022 after 3/4” rain

Heath asters from TX have started blooming.
I think these may be sand lovegrass seedlings. I put them in a lot of pots with native flower seeds as a potential nurse plant.
This is the Muhlenbergia schreberi grass from Abby. It has a fun common name. I wanted to ensure I don’t lose it or mistake it for something like a skinny bermudagrass in the shade.
This is the planter of soil from Jeanne that had a big patch of annual Sedum nuttallii. There are a bunch of sedum-looking seedlings but also plenty of other interesting looking babies too!!
I seeded these cowpen daisies pretty late and didn’t know if they’d come up until next year. Instead, they seem to have noticed the declining day length and have made the world’s tiniest cowpen daisy blooms. This is normally a medium size plant!
At least one Carolina snailseed root from Abby has produced new leaves.

09/08/2022 nighttime only adventure

The Chef wanted to see what was out this week so we took the UV flashlight and checked. Here’s a spider!
It’s beige in regular light.
I had no idea there were hairless bee flies. This one came to the porch light. We turned off the porch light once we went inside so all the critters could go back to their business.
We found three glowing crab spiders. All of them were on insect pollinated flowers, so I wonder if they glow to blend in for pollinators who can see UV? Though on this Salvia greggii, presumably all the pollen is farther down the flower. But we found two on zinnias.
The green striped cushaw squash looks melted!
Escobaria missouriensis cactus spines glow!
There’s a lot of sunflower pollen glowing. You can see how much has fallen off!
This was my favorite picture of the glowing sunflower pollen: just the disk flowers glowing against the dark sky, leaves barely visible.

09/10/2022 rain lily seed pod

The rain lily seed pod has three lobes. It’s still green.
A mistflower in a pot is flowering! None of the ones in the ground are flowering yet.
The showy milkweed that died back earlier this summer is alive!!! Yay desert perennials.
The Mexican sage from Judy has started to bloom!