Week 41 Tips for the Zone 9 Garden  

Well, summer is refusing to leave.  It is hard to believe that after the record rainfalls of spring, we are slowly slipping back into a drought situation.  Because of this, take time this weekend to do some deep watering of your trees, shrubs and other perennials.  Below are some more things you can do in your yards and gardens this weekend.

Now is a great time to plant lettuce from seed and shallots.  I grow them together in the beds of my potager.

Now is a great time to plant lettuce from seed and shallots. I grow them together in the beds of my potager.

VEGETABLES

  • Plant greens – Now is a good time to plant spinach and lettuce from seed. I use my Cobrahead Hand Hoe to make a shallow furrow in soil that has been well worked with compost.  I spinkle the seeds and then cover lightly.  Most greens need some light to germinate os do not plant too deeply or compact the soil too tightly after planting.  Keep the soil moist until the plants are at least 1 inch high.
  • Plant shallots –. While it is still too early to plant bulbing onions, you can plant shallots now. I grow three varieites of shallots.  These keep us in onions through the winter and we use their tops in in soups and salads.
My "Crimson Glory" roses are putting on their fall show.  Feed your roses now with high phosphorus fertilizers

My “Crimson Glory” roses are putting on their fall show. Feed your roses now with high phosphorus fertilizers

ORNAMENTALS

  • Feed your roses – Most of my roses are putting on their fall show. Feed them now with a high phosphorus fertilizer and give them regular water until the first freeze
  • Gather seeds – My wife loves saving seeds. By this time some of our zinnias and bachelor buttons are beginning to look pretty ragged.  Sally pulls up the entire plant, ties them in bundles and then hangs them upside down in our garage.  Once they are dry she crushes the seed heads into paper bags, lables them, and them places them in the refrigerator to be used next spring.
  • Plant poppies – Thanks to my wife’s efforts we have lots of poppy seeds saved from last year. Scatter them on the ground and then drag a rake over them.  Water and then forget them.  Wait until April and enjoy one of the most prolific and showy flowers of the spring garden
  • Divide Daylily and iris now – I dig up the entire clump and then beak them up into individual plants. I space my daylilies about and iris about a foot apart.
dividing-daylilies

This weekend is a great time to divide day lilies and iris.

 

I share these posts on Our SimpleHomestead Blog Hop.  Be sure to stop by.  The “hop” has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Tip of the Week – Week 19 in the Zone 9 Garden

Yesterday I heard a meteorologist say that we have a two thirds greater chance of having a cooler and wetter summer than normal.  While that is great news it is still Texas and it is still going to get HOT out there.  I bring this up because even though May is the beginning of harvest time, it is also the first month where high temps begin to be a problem.  Each year I pay hundreds of dollars to have pre-cancerous spots burned off and I always manage to dehydrate myself.  Patty Leander has a great article full of tips that will help you stay cool and safe in the garden this year.  Click here to read her tips.

blog6 Vegetables

While there is still time to plant lima (butter) beans, southern peas, gourds, winter squash and sweet potatoes, May is really the beginning of harvest time.

I am excited to say that we will soon be harvesting artichokes for the first time.  We will also start picking green beans soon.  If you don’t already have green beans you will in the next week or so.  Your green beans should produce until temps start to stay in the 90s.  Harvest often for best yields.  Summer squash should soon be on your plate as well.  Again, pick it early and pick often.

In my opinion, the big harvests of the month are potatoes and onions.  My potatoes still have a couple of weeks to go but my onion tops are beginning to fall over.  My onions have been in the ground since December and I am ready to get them up.  Not only do I need the space for my purple hulls, I truly love onions.   If you have a large harvest, be sure to cure, or dry them before you store them.  Patty and I both have articles on how to properly harvest and care for your bulbs.  Check them both out.

Patty’s article – Harvesting and Curing Onions

My article:  How to Harvest and Cure Onions

poppies-potager Ornamentals

Last week I wrote about how much joy I get from my daylilies.  While that is true, they are not the only thing blooming right now.  All of my salvias have started blooming.  I also have datura, dianthus, crinums, yarrow and petunias that are in full bloom.  All of these flowers are filling my yard with bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  Keep flowering plants well watered to extend bloom time.  Also dead head often to encourage re-bloom.

If you grew poppies this spring, they should just about be ready for you to harvest the seeds.  I collect my poppy seeds each year.  Because of this I have been able to spread them all over my property.  Read more about collecting your own poppy seeds by clicking this link: Remembering our Veterans with Poppies.

I share my posts on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

crinum-bulbisspermum-1

 

 

 

 

Remembering our Veterans with Poppies

Happy Election Day!  As you watch the results of tonight’s election unfold, take a minute or two to remember all of those amongst us who have worn our nation’s uniforms.  These men and women serve (or served) honorably regardless of who was in the whitehouse.  Take time to say “Thanks” to those whose sacrifice gave you the opportunity and ability to live and vote in the land of the free.  May God bless these men and women and may he continue to bless the the United States of America!

Air Intelligence Agency Logo

***This is a slighly modified re-post of an article I did in May.

I am very proud to be a veteran of the United States Air Force (Air Intelligence Agency).  The Air Force paid for my education and taught me the skills that I still use to make a living today.  It also taught me that duty, honor and country are a whole lot more than just three words.  In short, the military is largely responsible for turning me into the man I am today.

In addition to shaping my character, the Air Force let me see the world.  I literally went around the world in my ten years of service.  I saw wonderful and amazing things and I met incredible people.  But of all the things I saw, the thing I most remember and treasure is the November I spent in London.

What we call Veteran’s Day, the British call Remembrance Day.  When it comes to appreciating and celebrating their veterans, the British beat us hands down.  Veteran’s Day is huge to them because war is so personal for them.  Not only did they sacrifice their loved ones to the cause, the world wars literally destroyed their country.  Because of this, each November, the British host a series of events that elegantly and appropriately recognize the service of those that were willing to give the last full measure to the defense of freedom.
 

Crosses with poppies on “graves” in front of Westminster Abbey. Their is a grave on the lawn for every unit that served in the defense of Britian in the two world wars. Photo from http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/elyssa_and_dave/europe2006/1163362140/img_3306.jpg/tpod.html

One thing that stuck with me while attending the various Remembrance Day celebrations were the poppies.  They were everywhere.  On lapels, in wreaths and on tiny crosses that were placed on “graves” outside Westminster Abbey that represented the dead from every military unit (including foreign) that served in the defense of Britain.  The poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance Day for several reasons.  However, most agree that the poppy was selected primarily because of a poem written by Lt Col John McCrae.  Colonel McCrae was a Canadian doctor that wrote “In Flanders Fields” after losing his close friend and student during the Battle of the Ypres Salient in Belgian Flanders.  His poem is a poignant reminder of the pain and sacrifice that man brings on himself each and every time he takes up arms against his brother.  In case you have never seen it before, here is his beautiful work:

Growing Poppies

 

This poppy is very similar to those that grow in Flander’s Fields. I took this picture in front of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers big blu barn

Even though I love growing all of my plants, none of them fill me with so much emotion as do my poppies.  Each Spring they remind me of the millions of soldiers, seaman and airmen that have died in defense of their countries.  They also take me back to a magical few weeks spent in London with my British cousins.   The poppies I grow are deep red singles with black throats and bright yellow centers.  However, if red or single is not your style, I promise there is a color and style out there for you.  Poppies are like roses; they come in every color but blue.

Here is a shot of the bright red variety I grow. Thanks to Carol Ann Sayles of Boggy Creek Farms for sharing them with me

Poppies are so easy to grow.  If you don’t have any, simply order or buy seeds from your favorite source.  They are so adaptable that even if you order from a reseller on the East coast, there is very good chance they will do well for you in Texas.  However, in my opinion, the best way to get your poppies is from a local gardener.  I got the poppies featured here from Carol Ann Sayles at Boggy Creek Farms in Austin.   I also have some red doubles from my buddy Greg Grant.  Since poppies are such great reseeders, everyone that grows them always has plenty of seeds to share. 

A lovely double pink variety grown by my friend and MOH contributor Patty Leander

Since poppies reseed so freely, once you get them established you will always have them.  For best results, plant your poppy seeds in Septmeber, October or early November.  Since poppy seeds are tiny, I put them out in a broadcast manner.  Instead of trying to plant in rows I simply scatter them in the area that I want them in.  Before I scatter them, I run a rake over the area I am going to place them.  Then, once the seeds are down, I run the rake the other way.  Then I water in and wait.  If you want poppies next spring, you need to get them in the ground soon.

My poppies start to bloom in early March and they continue blooming well into April.  By mid-April the flowers have gone and the “heads” that are filled with all of those tiny little seeds are beginning to dry.  The heads that are left after the flower fades are actually what’s left of the plant’s pistil.  As the pistil dries, little holes open up around the top where the stamen were once attached.  These little holes turn each head into a little “salt shaker” that dispenses the seeds whenever the wind blows or the plant falls over.

A great shot of dry poppy head. Notice the little holes in the top that allow the plant to “shake” its seeds all over your garden

If you want to gather and save seeds, simply cut these heads as soon as the holes open.  Shake the seeds into a bag and store for later use.  I have been doing this for several years and I have now been able to spread poppies all over my property.

 While many flowers are used as symbols for something, poppies represent the things I value most; sacrifice and service.  Poppies are easy, reliable, carefree and oh so beautiful.  Plant some now and you will be rewarded with a spring time show of beautiful flowers for years to come!

All of these seeds came from this head

Growing Poppies

(WARNING!  An extremely long and nostalgic post lies ahead.  If you don’t want to hear why poppies, and the British, really matter to this veteran then skip ahead to the growing section)

Air Intelligence Agency Logo

I am very proud to be a veteran of the United States Air Force (Air Intelligence Agency).  The Air Force paid for my education and taught me the skills that I still use to make a living today.  It also taught me that duty, honor and country are a whole lot more than just three words.  In short, the military is largely responsible for turning me into the man I am today.

In addition to shaping my character, the Air Force let me see the world.  I literally went around the world in my ten years of service.  I saw wonderful and amazing things and I met incredible people.  But of all the things I saw, the thing I most remember and treasure is the November I spent in London.

What we call Veteran’s Day, the British call Remembrance Day.  When it comes to appreciating and celebrating their veterans, the British beat us hands down.  Veteran’s Day is huge to them.  I realize this is because war is so personal for them.  Not only did they sacrifice their loved ones to the cause, the world wars literally destroyed their country.  Because of this, each November, the British host a series of events that elegantly and appropriately recognize the service of those that were willing to give the last full measure to the defense of freedom

 

Crosses with poppies on "graves" in front of Westminster Abbey. There is a grave on the lawn for every unit that served in the defense of Britian in the two world wars. Photo from http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/elyssa_and_dave/europe2006/1163362140/img_3306.jpg/tpod.html

One thing that stuck with me while attending the various Remembrance Day celebrations were the poppies.  They were everywhere.  On lapels, in wreaths and on tiny crosses that were placed on “graves” outside Westminster Abbey that represented the dead from every military unit (including foreign) that served in the defense of Britain.  The poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance Day for several reasons.  However, most agree the poppy was selected primarily because of a poem written by Lt Col John McCrae.  Colonel McCrae was a Canadian doctor that wrote “In Flanders Fields” after losing his close friend and student during the Battle of the Ypres Salient in Belgian Flanders.  His poem is a poignant reminder that even though war is slaughter and sacrifice the healing begins when the gunfire ends.  In case you have never seen it before, here is this beautiful work:

Growing Poppies

 

This lovely poppy is very similar to those that grow in Flanders Fields. I took this shot in front of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers big blue barn in Blanco

Even though I love growing all of my plants, none of them fill me with so much emotion as do my poppies.  Each Spring they remind me of the millions of soldiers, seaman and airmen that have died in defense of their countries.  They also take me back to a magical few weeks spent in London with my British cousins.   The poppies I grow are deep red singles with black throats and bright yellow centers.  However, if red or single is not your style, I promise there is a color and style out there for you.  Poppies are like roses; they come in every color but blue.

Here is a shot of the bright red variety I grow. Thanks to Carol Ann Sayles of Boggy Creek Farms for sharing them with me

Poppies are so easy to grow.  If you don’t have any, simply order or buy seeds from your favorite source.  They are so adaptable that even if you order from a reseller on the East coast, there is very good chance they will do well for you in Texas.  However, in my opinion, the best way to get your poppies is from a local gardener.  I got my poppies from Carol Ann Sayles at Boggy Creek Farms in Austin.   Since poppies are such great reseeders, everyone that grows them always has plenty of seeds to share.  If you live in Texas, now is the time to stop and mooch those seeds from your poppy growing friends.

A lovely double pink variety grown by Patty Leander

Since poppies reseed so freely, once you get them established you will always have them.  Poppy seeds are tiny.  Because of this, I put them out in a broadcast manner.  Instead of trying to plant in rows I simply scatter them in the area that I want them in.  Before I scatter them, I run a rake over the area I am going to place them.  Then, once the seeds are down, I run the rake the other way.  Then I water in and wait.  If you want poppies next spring, you need to plant them anytime between now and October.

My poppies start to bloom in early March and they continue blooming well into April.  By mid April the flowers have gone and the “heads” that are filled with all of those tiny little seeds are beginning to dry.  The heads that are left after the flower fades are actually what’s left of the plant’s pistil.  As the pistil dries, little holes open up around the top where the stamen were once attached.  These little holes turn each head into a little “salt shaker” that dispenses the seeds whenever the wind blows or the plant falls over.

A great shot of dry poppy head. Notice the little holes in the top that allow the plant to "shake" its seeds all over your garden

If you want to gather and save seeds, simply cut these heads as soon as the holes open.  Shake the seeds into a bag and store for later use.  I have been doing this for several years and I have now been able to spread poppies all over my property.

All of these seeds came from this head

While many flowers are used as symbols for something, poppies represent the things I value most; sacrifice and service.  Poppies are easy, reliable, carefree and oh so beautiful.  Plant some now and you will be rewarded with a spring time show of beautiful flowers for years to come!