Growing Along

zinnias

So, Spring in Texas is rapidly becoming Summer in Texas. The bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush are gone from the roadsides, replaced by Indian blankets, little yellow coreopsis, and Brown-eyed Susans. It goes by so fast, each year I tell myself that I need to slow down and appreciate the beauty while it lasts, but it just zips by anyway. I don’t blame global climate change, I blame getting older. Everything goes by fast.

The flowers in the photo are the very first zinnias that I have ever grown. I am LOVING them as a cut flower– they have great sturdy stems and they last for ages. I have two bushes full of lovely Chrysler Imperial tea roses, and they smell gorgeous, but they last for approximately 3 days and then turn into a browning mess in a vase. I’ve had these zinnias in the vase for 5 days now without a trace of wilting or browning. It’s really nice to have a flower that doesn’t immediately curl up and die once you cut it. If we are going to start growing flowers to sell, zinnias will definitely be in the mix.

It may take some tweaking to get just the right combination of water, soil, and variety, but now that I’ve grown a few plants, I at least know where to start. Growing them from seed indoors really gave them a headstart, and they’re pretty sturdy plants. The Hound of Hell did manage to destroy the end of the rows by digging them up, but before that, she’d upended the little pot we started them in and they survived that just fine. I am pleased. So many of my flower-growing adventures have not survived to even bloom, so it’s nice to have actual flowers to put in an actual vase. There are more out there that I need to cut, too. Overall, very happy. I also have marigolds and petunias blossoming in their pots, which the children claim as their personal plant victory. I guess I’ll let them have it, anything to encourage them in the work!

The squash and cucumbers and pumpkins, ehh, it’s been a bad year for the cucurbit family. Out of all our Straight 8 cucumber seedlings, we have three plants left. The stems were just terribly fragile and our clay soil too tough. The grey zucchini has also been hard hit by disasters– some of them have bad stems (from cutworms or stem worms, I’m not sure) and some of them were eaten. I think it was a rabbit– little boogerheads live in the mesquite-filled pasture behind us and come to our side of the fence for a tasty treat.

We do have some watermelons going, but they’re going slowly. Hopefully, they’ll take off before it gets too hot.

The onion patch is looking good, they’re bulbing up nicely once I went in there and weeded it out. It about killed ME to weed it by hand, but it needed to be done. I am learning, though– I think it’s better to have shorter rows that can be weeded without having to go down through the rows as you work. Sure, it’s not “real farm” standard, but that way I can water everything down before I weed and the weeds come up a lot easier. Then I can weed from each side. As it was, I had to stand and weed the centers of the rows and that just kills my back. Middle-aged farming problems, haha.

The garlic is getting close to being done. Another couple of weeks and it should start turning brown and falling over, then we pull the bulbs up and let them dry.

The tomatoes and peppers are going well, except of course the ones the Hound of Hell trampled and dug up. She’s really a nuisance.

All the kale is finally gone– boy did it smell bad when we pulled them up. A horrible nasty rotten cabbage smell from the stems, but the stems were perfectly healthy. I guess it’s just the variety, which was, of course, NOT the one that I had ordered. We will have to find a new supplier of seeds for next fall, I don’t want the Red Russian kale again. It’s pretty, but the leaf to stem ratio is really bad– small leaves, big stems.

We’ve already been eating yellow squash from the squash patch, though, and the black Spanish radishes are ready to eat. The green beans are blooming, so we should see some beans soon. The grey zucchini is almost ready for the first harvest, and the cucumbers are blooming so will hopefully set fruit. We’ve seen some bees, but not nearly as many as we’d like. Can’t wait to move to a new place where we can keep bees!

It’s really strange not having any chickens. Is it silly to say that I miss my chickens? I do– but not all of them. I think my favorites were the Easter Eggers, oddly enough– they were fairly calm, decently productive, and the kids could carry them around without a problem. I loved my Leghorns, too, but boy were they flighty. Maybe if I had a higher fence!

Summer is coming, but we will enjoy this pre-summer month, as the heat settles in and the plants start producing. Soon enough, it will be so hot that the plants will stop fruiting and just struggle to stay alive. But right now, everything is nice.

 

Planting time

Our seed trays have sprouted forth, so this weekend is planting time for all the transplants. Well, maybe not the cacti that I was trying to get to grow, those are slow starters, but the cucumbers, zucchini, yellow crooknecks, the three kinds of tomatoes, and a bunch of cutting flowers are all ready to go.

It rained some today, so probably we won’t be putting in any new tilled areas this weekend, which limits planting beans to planting bush varieties. I don’t have any fenceline soil prepared for beans yet. Just keeping up with the trays of cucumbers is going to be a challenge! But we need to get those in this week at the latest, as the beans stop flowering as soon as the real heat sets in.

I’m not looking forward to the backbreaking element of the work, but I will be happy to get all these baby plants into the ground. I am really eager to see how these cutting flowers w0rk out for us– I have always longed to have ample bouquets in the house all the time, but of course buying them is expensive. When you’re feeding half a dozen kids, pretty flowers for the table come way after food for the table!

Here’s hoping for a nice sunny day without the wind that was blowing so hard on Thursday or today’s rain. And that everyone keeps their hats on! We’ve already had a couple sunburned necks this year, and it’s not even April yet. But we’ve had bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush blooming since late February, so this year may be a scorcher.