Last Day of February Gardening

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I put some replacement tomatoes out to replace the early ones that I sacrificed. This young guy is sharing space with some tender Romaine lettuce. I have several varieties of lettuce going now. Romaine, Buttercrunch, Red Leaf/Red Sails, Black Seeded Simpson as well as a little spinach and red Swiss Chard.

The chard does very well here in Houston. Kind of a surprise. In fact the red was still edible into mid summer Iast year so I decided to plant some more.

I have a lot of ever bearing strawberry plants and use and use them as ground cover. Over the course of the season I gather enough to make some strawberry jam. I made about 12 jars last year and just now finishing off the last jar. Can't wait to gather up some more and if it goes well the 50 new June bearing plants may offer up some more! I added some new blackberry palnts yesterday, a thorny variety to add diversity to my thorn-less 3 year old plants. 

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Agressive Gardening Kills Two

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Well did that title get your attention. Yes sir, aggressive gardener Bishop Decker in his quest to have the first home grown tomatoes on the block is guilty! He set two tender, young and innocent tomato plants out a week ago taking a big chance…. Alas, Celebrity and Big Boy succumbed yesterday.

They were observed  early yesterday morning with a light coating of frost. They were bravely standing tall and erect but as the frost melted the injury became apparent and they passed quietly. They did not die totally in vain. They have become an important part of the compost pile so that their brief and tragic life can aid others. May they rest in mulch!

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Looking forward to Summer

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Sunflowers always remind me of summer. As much as I dislike the humidity that comes with a Houston summer I sure like to see the plants just jumping up. This variety of sunflower grew to over ten feet in height. Wish I could remember the name of the variety…..maybe I saved the seed packet. I will probably plant a few this spring…

I think next weekend will be warm enough to put some more seeds in the ground. More lettuce, green beans, beets, cucumbers maybe either direct seed some peppers or buy some plants. My early tomato seedlings all passed away so I put one Celebrity and one Big Boy tomato plant out yesterday.

I expanded my strawberry patch and got immediate feedback on the expansion from my lovely wife. It wasn't all that pleasant but once they take off I think it will pass her inspection in the "visible" yard. My veggies have to remain tucked away and out of sight.  I put in 25 Honeoye and 25 Ozark Beauty June bearing varieties yesterday. I have a lot of established everbearing strawberries but they tend to be on the small side. Hopefully the new ones take off and fill in nicely as well as bear a lot of bigger berries.

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Worms at Work

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It is not as gross as you think. My wife has 3 cats and some squirrels that hang out in the backyard, I have my worms. They are my "pets" if you will…. I feed them, house them and look after their welfare. Isn't that what pet owners do? They aren't much fun but they seem to be on the job 24/7. Every time I check on them and feed them they seem to be busy.

Here is the Rubbermaid bin… probably a little large . I did a little web surfing and hit on this link that looked like an inexpensive way to start raising my little friends.


After I picked up my bins at Lowes and drilled the holes I ordered the little guys.


I just ordered the worms from this site above but it is loaded with all kinds of things to get you into vermiculture….. a fancy term for worm farming. Now it will probably be months before I have some of the good stuff for the garden but I will be patient.

This a close look at the surface – they are there but just hiding – they don't like the light. Sometimes I find a few up the sides of the bin where it is a little warmer. I keep a blue tinted light hanging a few feet above the bin at night to keep them above the 50 degree range. I keep the bin in an unheated garage right now as my bride says they can't be in the house… She let's me keep my beer fermenter in the house right now – 5 gallons of Farmhouse Ale is the current batch fermenting. I wonder if worms like the trub from the wort boiling. Hmmmmmmm. I won't push my luck. 


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Thinking Forward

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Can't wait for summer's harvest. I was scrolling through some pictures and found this one from last summer. The small Juliett tomatoes were wonderful and abundant. They also did well during the heat. I keep planning and planting in my small patch. I really need more room because the melons really spread! 

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Back in town after a…

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Back in town after a few days in Midland, TX. Cold up in the West Texas region and also very cold by Houston standards and too wet ….. My little ones need a little more sun and a few more degrees to jump start their growth.

My red leaf lettuce is doing ok…. just need some more sunshine and a few more degrees to put some size on. You can see some of the snap peas in the background. They are the ones that survived the Houston deep freeze in January. The snap pea seeds planted a few weeks ago are bravely popping up so I should have some good eating this spring.

My tomato seedlings took a hit when I brought them outside a week ago for some better sun. The wind whipped up on the tender stems and I lost most of them. So, back to square one getting my own into the ground. looks like I will need to buy some started tomatoes and maybe have some summer plants for late season tomatoes.

Side shoots - broccoli
Broccoli -
Compost Bin

My little dab of broccoli has been tasty. I cut a few of the tops… just enough for one meal and left the plants in place to see how big the side shoots will get. I have heard they develop into some nice small and tender heads.

I have  couple more like this central head developing and can't wait to harvest.

I get good plant growth for most everything I harvest because I add lots of compost. I built the double compartment bin from downed fences after hurricane Ike in 2008. It is amazing how much can be put into the bins….. a full year of leaves and grass clippings compost down to 5 or so wheel barrow loads of good rich plant food.

The ground is way too wet but the beds are a bit raised and getting taller every season.

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Start of Blogging – Bishop’s First Post

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I have been wanting to give it a try for about a year and a half. Being semi-retired and just working part time I should have plenty of time but just never found it (really the answer is did not make the time). I got talked into opening a Facebook page a few weeks ago and it has not been anything I want to devote much time to so I thought I would try this.

Gardening, i.e., growing a few good veggies has been a passion for many years. So, I will start there. I was finally given a patch after hurricane Ike to have as my own spot in the back yard. It is not ideal from a sun perspective as well as being a tad damp…. but it is mine. I salvaged some fence from the Ike damage and screened my patch to my wife's delight. She has even provided a couple of cutesy touches and I gave he the pleasure of post the signs near the entry.

I expanded the square footage a little this past fall and crept out in the yard with 4 blueberry bushes….. I took some heat but I think they will not be an eyesore in a year or so.

This was June, 9 of 2009. Things are looking green. The sunflowers became 10 footers, the green beans were wonderful, the cucumbers huge, tomatoes ran wild, peppers galore and the cantaloupe were large but bland.

I will try some new tomatoes this year, Brandywine, two types, Arkansas Traveler and Oxheart. I will plant a Juliette variety of plum tomato shaped like a small Roma and at least on Celebrity…. does well in the heat.

My blackberries look primed for a good year. They are three years old now.

Another couple of weeks and I can direct seed the beans and cucumbers without too much concern.

It has been a wet and cold Houston winter and as much as I love the cool weather, it is hindering my planting.  Can't have my cake and eat it too!!!!!
Valentines weekend is coming up – I need to plan the garden efforts and something to let my wife know how much I cherish her tolerating my whims in the garden and elsewhere!


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The winter vegetable patch.

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Looking into my veggie patch just a couple of weeks ago in January. Bought an arbor that helps keep the appearances up so my wife doesn't call the garden an eyesore.

The broccoli and lettuce survived the big Houston freeze and most of the snap peas came through ok.

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