For Your Eye Holes: Pretty Clouds

New groundcover: Trailing Lantana

First, let me start by saying excellent name. When I tell people I am planting lantana they are always curious to what it does and why I am adding it because it sounds exotic and exciting.

“I am going to Lantana.”

“Lantana and I went for a ride.”

Sounds romantic, right? Lantana just sounds like some sort of adventure. I bought this plant specifically for it’s name and found out later that it is useful. Moments like these I like to pat myself on the back.

Regardless, Lantana is not just going to be beautiful with purple and white blooms but she is also very useful. When deciding where it plant her I had a bit of a dilemma because allegedly she spreads like a bad virus. I am surprised she is not a member of the mint family.

They are able to spread so fast because eating their leaves can be poisonous to most animals. They are beneficial in a butterfly garden and are considered useful honey plants. These are things to keep in mind when I plant things. Yes, I like bees but do I want them close to my house?

I need more pollinators attracted to the area but I do not want them at my front door making hives.

Also I like to have monarch butterflies close. I grow a big chunk of our property in these ugly weeds for them. I like watching them flutter around while I plant things and water things

This is, of course, is Trailing lantana and is not useful when you are starting a herb garden but keeping plants like these will benefit your garden in other ways.

So I decided to plant it on this mound that was sitting next to my autumn sage and my ligustrum. I thought this was a good place because it is where I have planted my other bee and hummingbird attractors.

I do know i have seen hummingbirds over there and they are loving these plants that are being planted. I figure if I plant it over here it might deter other animals from destroying anything over here.

Plus, I really enjoy the ground cover aspect. I hate the ugly brown grass that grows over here. I was a multicolored green oasis, but it takes time.

I am very impatient, but I know that planting small things like this will surely invite pollinators to my property. In two to three years I will be adding bee hives, but for now I would just like to invite them closer so that they are able to prepare for my fancy new bee hives that I am saving up for.

Again, I bought more than two so that they would have a homie to spend their time with. Together they will create more lantanas and we will attract all of the bees and butterflies.

Zone 8a: Apples

Good morning, some things you should know before we hop into the list. Apple trees produce in three to five years, they prefer full sun, and require fellow trees to assist in pollination.

1) Anna Apple– this is a hybrid of the Golden delicious apple. This was specifically bred to with stand less chilly weather. They are red and green or green and yellow apples.

2) Beverly Hills Apple– these are blushy red apples and they need 300 chill hours (which led me to learn more about chill hours per plant)

3) Pink Lady– these ladies mature late and require 200 to 400 chill hours. They look green and red tye dye and are allegedly delicious.

4) Fuji Apple– they grow well all the way up to zone 9 which is neat. They have a sweet tart taste and are red apples. They are popular at the grocery store. This tree is not drought tolerant.

5) Dorsett Golden– growing in 5 to 9, with less than 100 chill hours this yellow green apple does well planted near the Anna Apple. The have fruit in June and July, which is awesome.

6) Mutsu Apple– this one ends at zone 8, it is not a drought hardy apple tree. Fun fact, this is a great pie, cider or other sweet things like jams and jellies. This tree blooms in September or October. (Layering your apple trees means you can have them for the majority of the growing season in our zone)

7) Pixie Crunch– looks like the kind of apple a witch might entice you with. They are a lovely bright red. They end at zone 8 but are great if you can keep their soil moist. Evil step mother approved

8) Gala Apple– another popular store bought apple and pollinates well with other Apple trees. It also ripens in September, which is a nice fall addition.

9) Granny Smith– this tart apple is more than just a great color, it also fits inside our grow zone. Another fun pollinator, and a fun fact: it originated in Australia.

10) Red Delicious– yes, the one and only favorite of the grocery store does grow in our zone. I am excited because this is my daughter’s favorite apple to take two bites from before forgetting it and running off to play. This one needs up to 900 chill hours and might do better near the colder part of the property. It also makes me nervous because it feels safer in zone 7 even thought it is listed for zone 8.

Please keep in mind that I do this blog for myself to narrow down which apple trees I want to plant on my property. I have a lot of land to fill.

Regardless, this is a great start to finding out the apple trees that are right for my homestead. Thank you for reading this far. Have a great day.

Garden Update 2020: August 25

I think the picture above is broccoli or lettuce. Either way I am pleased to see that there are sproutlings. I see some clusters, but in my defense I planted quite a few in each spot because some of the seeds were question mark seeds.

Zucchini? Cucumber? Squash? I suppose we’ll find out when they start to make vegetables. I did group them together and I am glad to see they are shooting up. I think they are doing a little bit better than my pumpkins- which I planted August 1st. These were planted on the 12th? Or maybe the 8th? I can’t remember honestly, it feels like so long ago.

We have corn, but I feel like it should be taller. I am a very judgemental gardener. I am staring at this corn as though it were 2ft too short.

These are my pumpkins. We bought some stuff to put around them in order get them to look less yellow. They seem to be doing fine. I think they have a 110 day period before they fruit. It makes sense it would take a little bit longer to get them to work.

My other row of pumpkins. Now I had some real concerns about this row. It drains much quicker than the other side and my soil is so tough it doesn’t hold water for long, but with aggressive watering I think they will make it. Fingers crossed.

Are those baby radishes? I planted these babies on August 15. We had so many radish seeds that it was awkward, but any rows that did not produce on the 8th or 1st and here we have tiny things.

I do believe these are Brussel sprouts. I do not know for a fact. This is only my second growing season and in the spring I was a murderer. It happens. This time it will be different. Hopefully, they fight for survival.

I think that is a random pea plant, but I am not one hundred percent sure. I just want to let you know that I am terrible at the whole naming stuff and keeping up with it. Then again, I think that is half the fun- the surprise of finding out what it is when you start to get some vegetables on the plant.

We got a few bean survivors. I am thankful for anything my dogs didn’t eat. It turns out that it is pretty common. Thank goodness for the few plants we have, hopefully they survive the rest of summer.

Zone 8a: Ten Odd Plants

So i went to the Almanac and starting looking into what will actually do well in my area. Yes, I would like some sort of mutated version of Permaculture, Agroforestry, and pretty things that attract bird and bees and things to my property.

Yes. I would absolutely love to have exotic fruits and vegetables that make people say oh-la-la, but I truly want to produce enough to feed my family and not get mad at the birds for trying to survive.

My losing battle against a blueberry bush

I often have to remind myself that nature happens. So, after long debate, I have decided that I was fewer plants that will not survive well. Also did you know that a grown blue berry plant can drink anywhere between 10 to 20 gallons of water a day. Each source is different but they all tell you blue berries require a lot more attention.

My juniper bushes are doing well. I just added fresh dirt to it. She was young when I got her and she has not given any berries. My other juniper was murdered by my dogs. I feel successful because this one doesn’t have any brown on it. I call that a solid win.

I can do a lot of apples, that is on the list and there are a lot of kinds of apples that grow in Zone 8a.

Blackberries are doing amazing. I have first hand knowledge that grapes do as well. Online they say pomegranate, persimmon, peach, apricot, pear, banana, and citrus. There are tons more.

Here is the list that I have came up with and found grow here (that I never thought and I find to be a little Odd):

1) The Arabica coffee plant- this plant is responsible for sixty percent of coffee production. It is a shrub and takes seven years to full mature.

2) The Camellia Sinensis plant- is tea, but it is pretty clear you should be careful of which one you get and make sure that it fits into your zone needs. I thought that was pretty cool. It isn’t cold resistant, but with extra winter care it can be an amazing addition in zone 8.

3) Ginger – and to be clear I mean Zingiber officinale, the edible ginger. These are tiny plants that usually don’t grow taller than four feet. They do better in zone 9 to 12, but you can grow them in 8a. Fun fact: if you let your ginger grow for 2 to 4 years you’ll get flowers on your little plant. As you know ginger is a useful plant and a great spice too.

4) Sassafras tree– is not just a tree with an amazingly cool name. This tree also has many uses. The roots can be a tea and the twigs and bark are edible. I don’t know if they are delicious, but I have never had sassafras tea before. Sassafras is also a spice and can be added to dishes.

5) Peppercorn– this is a perennial vine and it is marked as 8b, but with care anything from 8b can be grown in 8a. Here were are some fun facts about the history of the perennial. I just want black pepper and it just seems cool.

6) Cascada Hops– they are vines and have launched the modern Craft beer revolution. It allegedly grows fast and produces earlier. They don’t need anything special because their zones are 3 to 9. Make some beer or wine.

7) Yerba mate– it can be brewed similarly to tea. It can get huge at 28 ft tall and has uses (not including shade).

8) Turmeric– in zone 8a we are in the low end of growing zone. It says 8, but we all know that means 8b. We are a little cold

9) Red Leaf Tea plant– full of antioxidants, this is like the tea above but this one is equally amazing and a specific breed of the one above. They are drought hardy and fit perfect in my zone

10) Star Anise– starts growing in zone 8 and ends in 10. In our zone it’ll need full to partial shade but it is a fun, uncommon thing we can grow in zone 8a

So at the end of the day I want three of each. I am excited to get some of these growing.

I am still looking but this is a great start.

Why Marjoram?

Marjoram is cold sensitive. This herb has the potential to be perennial in warmer temperatures. This plant is a close relative to oregano and in some places they call it oregano all together.

Another member of the mint family, Marjoram is similar to oregano but a bit milder. This is another spice and tea; marjoram is also used as a garnish.

Marjoram has been used for common colds, runny noses, and digestive issues. Early research does indicate that is could be useful to assist with asthma as well- when paired with a medication.

There are a lot of health warnings for long term medicinal uses, but many are generic ones. The one that stands out to me is the one that talks about preventing clotting.

I like marjoram as a spice, I have never used it for medicinal purposes but I do enjoy it. Allegedly it smells really good, but I don’t have any that are big enough to put my face in. (Like my lemon balm. I love that stuff)

You can tell by the leaves it is definitely relayed to the mint family.

This is my first time, but I think from now on I will definitely go HERE so that I can see the side effects. It is good information. I put te link directly to marjoram as it is the relevant topic but please feel free to look into the warnings on your herbs.

Although it is nice to know all of the wonderful things that your herbs can do it is also good to know the negative effects as well. Turns out this plant could mess with some medications. Be careful when you are trying stuff out to look cool.

Mixing things unnecessarily could have side effects that you won’t notice until later. Always speak to a doctor if you are on medications. I do enjoy knowing what my plants do, but frankly- I am enjoying having them.

New addition: radio red salvia or autumn sage

Radio red salvia is pretty. I bought it because it has great red flowers. It likes full or partial shade which means it will do well near my baby fig (do do do do do do).

It is also known as Autumn sage and is drought resistant (which is good in Texas). It is fragrant and it attracts bees and such.

I bought these with two other plants, I’ll put those in another post. Just like all of the other plants I had to buy two of each.

There are a lot of posts that say these plants attract hummingbirds. This is something I can definitely get behind. It is known for pulling pollinators into your garden with their bright red flowers.

I am excited to see the humming birds humming around.

My Zone: 8a

Good day fair citizens. Doing research about my blue berries has led me to dig deeper and find out wow, blue berries need a lot of water and that I need to find out more about Zone 8.

It is fun to Click Here and find out where your land lands on the chart. Do not get me wrong, I am hip. I am in Facebook groups. I’ve seen people put 7a and 8b but I didn’t know.

For all I knew they could mean literally anything and at that point I wasn’t interested enough to investigate. I probably should have done this sooner.

Frankly, at this point we all see that i am just flying by the seat of my pants on this and have started way too many projects that I work on here and there as I can.

Here are some things I learned while I was snooping around about my new land status:

First, I knew that zone 8 consisted of temperatures from 10 to 20 degrees as the average minimum temperature. Zone 8a is just 10 to 15 degrees. I didn’t know why they split those were split up and if being in different subzones might change what i am planning on doing.

Second, I had no idea that the zones were from the typical low temperatures. I figured it was more of a yearly average. It was my confusion.

Third, the temperatures can dip below during harder winters but that is generally the colder temperatures of each season.

Finally, some genius pinpointed our first frost dates. Ours is October 11th to October 20th (for us it’s actually towards the end, but I’ll start documenting our first frost from here on out to get a more accurate account. The last frost falls between March 21 and March 31, which is cool because I did not know any of this information. If you want to know about your frost dates go HERE. It has information that might be helpful.

I have quite a bit more reading to do now that I know what I am looking for. Having doing a little more research into my particular zone has made me have a whole new outlook.

Yes, having fancy plants is nice, but there are so many great things that thrive in my hardiness zone. One thing that I have noticed in life is to work smarter not harder. I feel that with this new information I will be able to do great things with my fresh canvas. Maybe this information might be helpful to you as well.

Update: ornamental peppers

I am doing something wrong. I have non idea. I added some stuff to make them feel better but they are just not liking the time of transplant.

I have asked around about it and they have told me “suspected” causes. I wish there was a cure all. Maybe I am doomed to kill all year 0 plants.

Although I read up on the plants before I planted them I suppose I have a lot to learn.

Also, I suppose that 12 hours of sun is not nearly enough, either that or we are watering them weird. They are still producing (my kids like them). Unfortunately, the more I do the more I am concerned that my dogs will kill them.

If and when i find out more information I will share. I just don’t know what I am doing wrong. I will do more research and follow up later.

Garden update: August 20

My corn has been growing like crazy. It is still a struggle to keep my dogs away from my beans, but they aren’t really messing with my corn.

We are working on getting a pen made for them since they can’t just leave my plants alone. Regardless, updates on my fall garden ahead. There have been mistakes made and a few challenges but everything didn’t die and I see that as a win.

Pumpkins because all of my peas died

That is right, the picture above has only pumpkins becayse every single pea died. No peas this year for our families fall garden. I am angry for two reasons A) I want plants to live because I will it to happen B) peas are my absolute favorite vegetable and I was really looking forward to eating them this season. You win some. You lose some.

Corn around one week ago

Now I threw out decoy seeds for me corn and it seems to be doing fantastic. 🙃 I am truly pleased with the turn of events that led to that picture. I was so excited I texted a picture to my friends and my husband. “Look at my corn.” I felt good about it until is saw my other stuff.

Corn the next day

I keep getting so excited. Especially when they have little baby corn growth spurts. Not to be weird but I can’t wait to eat you.

The whole garden

Some stuff has come up. I just only know how to recognize corn as a baby. I am ninety percent sure that on the outer right column that is going to be my squash and zucchini, which was probably not the best idea, but it happened that way. Then there are Brussel sprouts up front and some broccoli in back.

This was yesterday (August 19th)

The corn have exploded. I am so excited. My dogs like to walk through them because they have short legs and it itches them. I am always yelling at my dogs. I am sure at this point my neighbors think I am a psychopath. I am greatly considering putting them in an enclosure is sad. Evee and Gillis listen when there aren’t other dogs around to encourage them and my kids don’t let them out without supervision.

Pumpkins to the right are doing great

They are growing, but i am sure they get a little bit of stress where they are. I am just excited that something is growing.

Up close of my corn

Ignoring all of the bad (too many too close together), that is a lot of corn. I am really surprised that one small bit grew so much. So when you cut out the other corns it looks like I am successful. I am kind of successful but I look forward to doing better next year

Did not name anything, so this is Fred and his cousins

I should have marked the garden but when I tried cutsy popsicle sticks (like a facebook group suggested) my dogs thought they were toys specifically placed out for them to play with.

My semi successful garden August 20, 2020

I will look back at this 10 years from now and cackle like a witch. It’ll be good to see how far I have come.

New creeper: Asian Jasmine

Yes, when it comes to buying plants I do have a problem. I cannot fix the problem because I like the problem. It is not a problem for me.

Asian Jasmine has many names but that is the one on the tag. So, we are just going to go with that one.

Of course we got a companion plant

This baby can grow up to twenty feet tall or six meters. These gentleman will climb my porch and turn it green.

These plants allegedly have white or cream flowers and they smell like jasmine. I am excited about that.

This is no doubt to lure unsuspecting pollinators and although I do not want them near my house I do like Jasmine. After all I do have a daughter with the middle name Jasmine. They will always remind me of her and how she is moving away to have adventures.

I need to stop buying plants because I am gonna miss her. If it continues next year we may not be able to walk and she won’t have even left yet.

At the end of the day I feel like I will enjoy the ground cover around my pepper plants and it will add another lovely green.

Since the back 5 acres is reserved for my bushes and fruit trees I will be able to add the pretty stuff to the front.

Have you seen this corn?

Now I am usually the first person to get excited about anything plant related. The thing is I am really excited right now.

You see back in March my parental unit gifted me 10+ year old seeds. I planted different packages of beans (ones bought by myself and others this year and the ones that my parents handed me that had been lost in their infinite freezer).

As you can see my beans

The three rows to the right were planted with those freezer seeds. Sure, my dogs and the birds most likely got rid of a lot but I don’t understand how just one would make it. So, I assumed (like any rational human might) that planting these corn seeds – as they came from the same freezer – would do around the same.

Freezing seeds is not a terrible idea if they are frozen and stored properly. The majority of the bags that I had received had been opened and were held closed by rubber bags. All seeds were then placed in “freezer safe ziploc” bags. One of the tips is that you should date your bad- this bag had not been dated. I was just given “more than ten years old”.

When Freezing seeds the bags need to be completely dry and I am not quite sure if they took any preventative measures. The ziploc did have a lot of air in it though, so I am unsure if there is a freshness guide to go by. Regardless, the beans did not work out for me and I had to look into different options.

So when I went to plant my three rows of corn I just planted everything triple. (There is still a lot of corn left over.) Too many seeds were planted, honestly. Because of my birdie problem I also threw out decoy seeds all over my rows so that they would stop picking at my other seeds (this is because they dug up my others and I was just trying stuff out).

I am not a wise woman. I did not honestly think throwing seeds out would help. If anything I thought it might make things worse and attract the birds to my garden. I figured it would give some of my developing plants a chance to live.

This morning I woke up to find that maybe there is wisdom in my decision after all. I am actually excited. There are so many that took root that I am concerned with how close they are.

There is a picture at 5:30am with my flash on. Did you see all of those little sproutlings? There are so many. It is exciting to see that so many survived my poor gardening skills.

So, I suppose the decoy seeds worked, kind of? Regardless that is a lot of corn and i am excited to see how it all turns out.

New plant: Primerose Jasmine

Before we planted the primrose Jasmine

Primrose Jasmine is a lovely viney thing. It has zero uses according to Wikipedia other than looking pretty and smelling fragrant.

I hate buying plants that don’t have uses but my eldest child’s middle name is Jasmine and she will be going to college…

I got so sad thinking about how she is about to be a senior in high school.

I couldn’t help myself, plus the flowers are yellow. Birds love Primrose Jasmine, so maybe it will distract them from my garden.

So after buying two, because i always buy in pairs. It’s my thing. If I am going to be shoving them into a wild jungle I have to make sure they have a friend.

Anyway, so I looked into these beautiful plants and I got this brilliant idea. I get those quite often and it requires a fair amount of work.

I will make a wooden archway and try will grow over it. I plan on putting up a lot of fencing especially after the year I have had with nature.

I am sure that it will flourish in clay and that is what we have. Since it is only good at smelling pretty maybe I can do something with that.

Also, I looked and no one told me if these flowers were edible. I don’t want to try one because they might be poisonous, but I do because I didn’t see that they weren’t.

After we planted the primrose Jasmin. It looks pretty 😍

Who knows? Regardless, I have planted the Jasmine in my garden and shall not purchase anymore of this particular breed. Just because I want a food forest.

Don’t get me wrong it will have it’s perks. The flowers are yellow and thats my mom’s favorite color. It is a Jasmin plant and I have a daughter with the middle name Jasmin.

Plato approves of the Jasmin and often rubs up against it until I spray him with a water hose.

It won’t be long before I buy more plants. Stay turned for more adventures.

Why Lemon Balm?

We should first begin by saying: why not lemon balm? This plant smells delicious. I don’t know a single person who didn’t stick their face in my lemon balm after a small whiff. It smells like a sweet lemonade.

I attempted to make tea but it turns out you need quite a few leafs to make a good hot leaf juice. We plan on planting more in the future so that I can make real tea with honey.

Lemon balm is a small perennial herb where I live and it is beautiful. It has lovely green leaves and did I mention it smells like heaven? Allegedly it will stay growing (just not as well and die back a bit) during the winter.

I am excited to see how that plays out. The lemon balm that I am currently growing is my tester plant.

I love the color learbes of lemon balm. As you can see we should probably add nutrients to this lemon balm as some of the leaves are starting to color.

Lemon balm is known to assist with anxiety and insomnia. There are other benefits, of course, Such As digestive support and brian stuff. It is more than just a tea.

Lemon balm is more than just a tea and can be made into ointments, tinctures, and balms. There is a lot of Information out there and plenty of Things to do.

The lemon balm is to the right

Lemon balm is a bee attractor. A leaf can be chewed to freshen breath. Lemon balm can be made into a bug spray- which is neat. I don’t know how it would keep bugs away it smells so good.

It seems like lemon balm is a must have in next seasons garden. I know if this winter goes well I will be planting a lot more lemon balm. I can’t see a downside- there was a small note that people with underachieving thyroid should speak to a doctor before using large amounts of lemon balm tea.

I am not an expert. I am a simple plant lover who likes that her plants are not dying.

Get lemon balm.

My garden: August 12

This is our rogue zucchini. It grew out of our burn pile. Those seeds came from the remains of my zucchini bread. The fruit rarely ripens but that is because I purposely neglect this plant. My kids don’t want me to burn the burn because of the random zucchini plants that are growing out of it.

This is one of the few zucchinis that we have gotten from our rogue plant.

Next we just bought Lantana. We got like four of them and we don’t know where we will put them at.

Lantana is kind of invasive so we are nervous about planting it.

Bell peppers are still growing. I am excited everytime we see one growing.

Those are pumpkins above

These are green beans.

We have some green beans that are growing but only a few the rest are being eaten by birds 🐦

Finally there is my big crop of corn which is being attacked by birds as well.

Who knows what will survive the birds and the rabbits. We will find out.

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