Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Blue Moon

Last night was the Blue Moon, since it was the second full moon in one month. I tried to find out why it's called the blue moon, but with no luck. Last night during our evening walk I looked up at the moon and thought of Neil Armstrong, who died only a few days ago. He was a true hero. I can't imagine how terrifying and thrilling it must have been to be the first human ever to walk on the moon.

Back here on Earth, I'm glad August is finally over and that means it must be cooling down soon! Alas, it's still been in the high 90's most days. We had a weak cold front earlier in the month that made it more like the low 90's and even high 80's for a few days, but it went away quickly.

This Labor Day weekend is also the 1 year anniversary of the horrible Bastrop wildfires. It's a good reminder that at least this summer was not nearly as bad as last summer. No big wildfires this time around.

Out in the garden, the peppers are the healthiest looking plants. They quit setting fruit, but will probably start up again and give a second crop in fall. Which means I'm going to end up with a lot of peppers!

A few of the fall tomatoes didn't make it, and the ones that did are still small. It's just an experiment, so I'm not getting my hopes up too much. If they get some fruit, that would be great, but they might not have time before frost, with how slowly they're growing out there in the heat.

As for the spring tomatoes that I pruned back, it looks like about half of them died, and half of them are starting to grow back, like this one here. I think they're probably more likely to give another crop before frost than the fall tomatoes, since the plants already bigger.

The one honeydew melon I had rotted before I picked it. What a disappointment! The rest of the vines aren't looking too good either. I think maybe this isn't such a good variety after all. Even if the fruit hadn't rotted, it did only set one fruit among four plants. It's San Juan from Native Seeds/SEARCH, and I didn't notice this when I bought it, but the catalog says it's a variety for the "high desert". I'm not completely sure what they mean by high desert vs. low desert varieties, but I think the low desert ones are more heat tolerant than the high desert ones. Maybe from now on I should stick to low desert varieties when I buy seeds from there. They recommend runner beans for the high desert, and I know they don't do well here at all. I grew Scarlet Runner once and got one pod.

This is my tangle of cucumber, luffa gourd, and mustang grape vines, and they aren't looking too good either. The luffa vines look the best, though they still haven't set any fruit. I expect cucumbers to die in summer anyway, so no surprise there. I'd like to find a more heat tolerant cucumber variety that could actually survive a Texas summer, but so far no luck. I am a little worried about the wild mustang grape vine that was already growing there on its own.. It seems to have some sort of fungal infection, with rusty spots on the leaves. I wanted that grape vine to cover the fence, so I hope it recovers.

I was sure the Rattlesnake pole beans were all dead, but it looks like a few are starting to grow back. I found a few still-green vines mixed in with all the dead ones. Maybe I'll get a second batch of beans before frost.
Yes, the leeks are still here. I'm really surprised they haven't bolted yet. I've left them in the garden to see if they'll produce bulbils that can be planted next year. Those are little mini-bulbs that grow out the sides of old leeks, and can be replanted to propagate leeks asexually. I ought to dig some up to see if they have any yet. If it works out, this might be a better way for me to propagate leeks in the garden than from seed.

The basil I planted in the summer is still hanging in there, though in this picture it's very wilted. It's growing slowly, but should pick up in fall, hopefully well enough to make some batches of pesto to put in the freezer. Basil is very heat tolerant as long as it gets enough water. It bolts when it gets very hot, but I just pinch the flowers off (except for the basils I'm growing for seed). Bolting doesn't seem to adversely affect the flavor of basil like it does for some other herbs.

Here's a picture of what I plan on becoming an herb garden this fall. We have a nice patio in the back of the house, and I thought it would be neat to plant herbs along the brick ledge. That way the trailing herbs like thyme and mint will cascade over the bricks, and once we get a table and chairs and start having dinner parties out there, people can brush up against the herbs surrounding them and smell the fragrance. That's the idea, anyway. There's already esparanza there and a couple of rose bushes, but still plenty of room for herbs.  I've been piling leaves and grass clippings up to start improving the soil and choking out the grass and weeds.  On the patio you can see three of my potted herbs that I'm going to plant in the ground. They've been in these pots for a long time, but now that I have my own place they're going in the ground. Herbs always seem to do better in the ground anyway. I'll probably plant these pretty soon. It's a bit too hot and humid out there right now to make me feel much like digging holes, but the first cooler day we have when I have time, they're going in!

And then there's my fall vegetables. I've got mustard greens, collard greens, arugula, broccoli raabe, kale, chard, parsley, dill, and cilantro waiting for their turn in the garden too. Most of them are still small and can stay in the pots a bit longer, but it won't be too much longer before it's time for them to go in the ground too.

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