Today marks 30 days in a row without a break from my real job. Partly because of that and partly because I had a chicken coop to finish and an article due to Texas Gardener magazine, I have not had a chance to work on the blog. So today, I am going to post a few random things I have noticed in and around my gardens the past couple of weeks.
First, since I mentioned working too hard, I would like to announce to gardeners around the world — YOU ARE WORKING TOO HARD! I discovered this fact quite by accident. If you look at the pic below you will see a “garden” that is full of castor beans, zinnias, dill, and datura. I think it is lovely. However, I didn’t grow it. This lovely garden popped up this year on top of last year’s burn pile. This “garden” has recieved NO SUPPLEMENTAL WATER, no fertilize and no weeding. The take away? If you want a no fuss summer color garden next year plant lots of zinnias and a datura or two for effect. Back it up with a wall of castor beans and sprinkle some dill in for a filler. Then forget it!
Second, the chickens are consuming every spare minute. If I have not been engaged in building them a palace, then I have been sitting in my yard with my wife watching them. They are hilarious and interesting all at the same time. Any way, while sitting in our favorite spot in front of a bunch of Maximillian Sunflowers, I noticed little globs of “snake spit” all over the sunflower stalks. Ever seen “snake spit”? It is a frothy white liquid that sticks to certain plants and looks a lot like , well, spit. No other way to describe it. Turns out though, it isn’t really spit. It is the frothy protective covering of the nymph form of the Spittle Bug. As soon as baby spittlebugs hatch they start feeding on the sap of their host and using it to make the “spit”. They actually live inside the “spit” until they are big enough to fly away. Turns out the “spit” keeps them moist, warm at night and cool in the day.
My buddy Bruce Leander is a dang fine photographer from Austin. He can shoot anything but he specializes in Texas native flowers. If I ever need a picture for an article he is the guy I go to. I truly believe he has photographed every kind of plant and bug in Texas (and beyond). He sent me these amzing shots of the ugly little bug that lives under all of that “snake spit”.
Since we’re talking “snake spit”, be aware that it is definately snake season again. Last week my wife killed another coral snake in the yard and I killed a copperhead. In addition to that I caught a rat snake that I chose to relocate. So, when you go out in the garden make sure you wear good sturdy shoes and take a stick with you. You just never know what you are going to find under those tomato bushes.
And finally, not only is it snake season, it is tomato season. I have 17 plants and I am bringing in about 8 lbs of tomatoes a day. My poor wife is so busy canning salsa, paste and whole tomatoes. Below is a picture from Harry Cabluck of Austin. Harry is a pretty famous photographer. He is also a gardener and reader of this blog. Check out the pic of one of his harvests and also take a minute to look at some truly amazing photgraphs on his website (http://www.harrycabluck.com/site/Home.html).
Almost forgot to mention the Chickens. Our girls are 8 weeks old tomorrow. They are still adjusting to their new home. Each night I sit with them and help them feel more comfortable. Sally calls me their “rooster”.