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January 2019, Week 2, Making Grow Lists & Checking Them Twice

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
January 5, 2019

As we start another new week, at least the nicer weather makes planting time seem a little bit closer. That's probably not a good thing as we're all chomping at the bit anyway.

I've been working on the lists of things I want to grow this year. So far, I've about finished the cool season grow list, the warm season grow list and the flower list. I haven't even thought about herbs yet, but then most of my herbs reseed so there's not a lot of seed-starting that I have to do with herbs anyway. I'll probably have the lists done by Monday or Tuesday.

To make a grow list, I sit down with my seed box, and take out the appropriate seeds, pulling the packets I want to use this year. Then I divide them into piles by category and make a list on notebook paper. After that, I ask myself what is missing, and then I go and order the varieties I want to grow and add those to the lists. It sounds easier than it is because once I'm online, I see many more things than I have room to grow, and this is when the revising and revising and revising of the lists begin. Eventually I end up with lists that please me, but there's always compromises, like...if I put carrots here, then where will the potatoes go? And, if they go there, then how many can I fit into that raised bed? That sort of thing.

I don't plan out a garden on paper like....corn will go here, beans will go there, etc. I used to do that, right down to each square foot of space. The way I do it nowadays is that on the day I am going to plant, I walk out into the garden with a ziplock bag of the seed packets I'll be using (or flats of plants I started from seeds as appropriate) and I just start planting. I just listen to the voice in my head and do what it tells me to do. Everything works itself out. For example, the corn has to go someplace where it will not shade shorter crops. The vining plants have to go in beds with trellises (or beds to which I will move trellises) or they need to be planted where they can climb the garden fence. Everything else just finds its own spot in the ground somewhere and it all works out, largely because I've been doing this for so long that I know all the different options or planting combinations or whatever. Of course, it works out because, after all these years in this same place, I also know how long the grow list can and cannot be. I cannot list more things on it than we'll have room for. So, really, this past week and this coming week with the grow list and seed ordering---that is it for me in terms of planning. After that, it is all about starting seeds indoors as appropriate and then waiting for the right planting weather outdoors to arrive.

Sometimes the grow lists look too long even to me, but I do a lot of intercropping and succession planting, so in the end, it all gets planted but it all isn't growing at the same exact time. If I planted all the beans and southern peas on my grow list at the same time, they would fill up the front garden and not leave much space for anything else. Still, most of the beans have to go in fairly early so they can form beans before the weather gets too hot. I found a ton of snap beans from last summer in the freezer a couple of days ago, and I don't even remember harvesting them, snapping them, blanching them and packing them all away in freezer bags. I know I did it though because there they are. I must have been cooking too many southern peas and too few snap beans because the peas are going to quickly and we're not using the beans quickly enough. This is what happens when you open the deep freeze and grab the things closest to you. I need to slow down, take my time and grab different things a bit more often.

One of the hardest things in placing the garden seeds and plants in different spots is deciding which sacrificial lambs go into the spaces in the garden most likely to be hit by herbicide drift when everyone else is out spraying their property. I wish this wasn't even something I have to worry about. So many things got hit by herbicide drift or volatilisation last year that it might be easier to list the ones that were not hit. We had plant damage and/or death to these: okra, tomato plants, bean plants, collards, broccoli, lettuce, zinnias, watermelons, muskmelons, potato plants, pepper plants, marigolds, pineapple sage, gomphrena, datura, asparagus, comfrey, squash, salvia, bat-faced cuphea, catnip, catmint, basil, and hollyhocks. I bet I forgot some things, but you get the idea. Forget the idea of building a wall at our southern border---I just want to build a wall around my garden (not gonna happen).

I cannot think of many garden chores to do this coming week. I suppose if the snow, sleet, ice or whatever brought down trees branches and twigs, a person could walk around and pick them up. We didn't even get that icy stuff but the big pecan tree near the front garden is shedding a boatload of twigs and limbs, so I have some cleaning up to do beneath that tree.

I might venture into the garden shed. I've barely set foot in it since the first freeze and now might be a good time to check on everything in there just to make sure no varmint of any sort has found their way into it. I do have seed-starting soil-less mix and supplies in there that I'll need to bring up to the greenhouse at some point.

I don't think any of my tools need to be sharpened, but it wouldn't hurt to check them, especially the pruners and the lopping shears, just to make sure they're all ready to go.

What I really want is for the stores to have gardening supplies in stock so I can shop. I like to garden shop until I drop. Until I'm horrified by how many things I haul home as I wonder where I'll put them. Until....until....until. Hmmm. There's nothing in Gainesville to shop for yet, but I wonder what's happening down in Denton or Southlake or Fort Worth? Would I go that far now to garden shop. Nope, probably not. That's what I want to do, but it is too early.

Also on my list of things to do this week is to put on the boots, grab a weapon in case we might encounter any dangerous wildlife, and walk around our almost 15 acres, going all the way through the woods to the back property line to see how everything is looking. We don't even do this during the warm season any more because of all the venomous snakes, but it is a nice little trek to make in winter time. For those of you who cannot picture 15 acres, picture 15 football fields and you have an approximate idea of the area we'll cover. We do have nice wildlife trails through the woods, so it usually is a pretty easy trip, barring encountering anything like big fallen trees (usually elms as they are the weak link in our woodland) or wild pigs. I hope this is a good time to do it. Except for the big creek, all the smaller creeks usually are dry in January so they are easy to cross.

Comments (69)

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Rebecca, I hope the nerve ablation gives you some lasting pain relief. Wouldn't that be lovely? Best wishes to you for a speedy recovery.

    Nancy, If you're going to use the Fusion spray paint for plastics, I found it to be somewhat satisfactory. It goes on well if you hold the can close enough to the plastic as you're spraying and it dries really quickly. It did not hold up as long as I had hoped. Maybe for 2-3 years and then it slowly wore away or washed away or whatever you want to call it. I wonder if it lasts longer in a summer climate that is not as brutally hot as ours? I noticed they now have a spray-on plastic primer as well, so maybe they are trying to address the issue of the paint's staying power. They didn't have the plastic primer back when I used the Krylon Fusion paint to paint cat litter buckets, feed tubs and some old plastic flower pots.

    With those tomatoes, Brown Berry is sort of similar to Black Cherry, but the flavor wasn't as good. Ditto with Cerise Orange Cherry---sort of like SunGold but inferior to it. Bull's Hearts produces nice, meaty tomatoes with very few seeds but in the years I grew it, it did not like the heat and didn't set many fruit per plant. It is a late season type and most late season types just cannot set fruit early enough to beat the heat down here in southern OK. YMMV up there. I haven't grown Black Vernissage.

    Cats will be cats. When we have a cat missing at bedtime, I check the garage, chicken coop, garden shed and greenhouse, and usually find it locked up accidentally in one of those. Not always, though. Sometimes they are just out there playing or whatever and don't want to come in. If the night is pretty chilly, they usually regret that decision to stay out all night and come indoors absolutely thrilled to be warm, safe and fed when morning comes and I open the door and call their name.

    That's so nice of y'all to clean up everybody's downed limbs.

    The warmth has been a nice respite from the cold, but now we are going back to colder weather and I am glad. It just never is good to have all the plants and creatures waking up in January instead of March-April because January is too warm.

    The jonquil foliage will be fine. Mine sprout in January every year, though they do not bloom until February or March.

    Jennifer, Fruit trees have to have a specific number of chilling hours (hours between roughly 32 and 45 degrees) every winter in order for fruit set to be achieved. The problem is that every time our temperatures go above 60, that messes up the chilling hours so you have to subtract the numbers above 60 from the total accumulated hours between 32-45. If it sounds complicated it is. If winter is colder overall but not below 45 that often, you still can get fruit set if there are a lot of hours between roughly 45-55. I am not sure why. Luckily we don't have to track our fruit tree chilling hours because research has done that for us. So, you can check the map in the attached link and see roughly what your area's chilling hours are in an average year.

    For my part of OK, the erratic weather works against the trees setting fruit for obvious reasons. Often (but not always), we start accumulating chilling hours in Nov-Dec, and then we get a burst of warm weather in January that starts messing everything up. If Nov and Dec were cold enough to accumulate a lot of chilling hours, some trees already will have met their chilling goal and will start to bud and bloom when warm weather hits in January or February. This usually means the flowers or fruit form too early and freeze, and then there's no crop. In a good winter (or as good of a winter as we seem to have any more), the stone fruit trees won't bloom until March or sometimes April and in those years, our odds of a good crop are a lot higher.

    For our state, chilling hours probably officially range from about 900-1000 down here along the Red River to 1000-1200 further north, but there are not a ton of trees with those high chilling hours. There are some peaches that have high chilling hours, like Reliance, Redhaven and Contender. It is harder to find plums with high chilling hours but, ironically, even though my plum trees have lower chilling hours, they tend to produce more reliably than the peaches with higher hours do. With each type of fruit and even each variety, many variables come into play, including the age of the tree, so to me getting a harvest from tree fruit in OK is a crapshoot. I don't grow apples or pears so know very little about their chilling requirements. I'm just about over it in terms of growing any fruit trees at all. We just aren't having enough chilling hours at our location any more. I used to get a good stone tree harvest once every three years, a medium harvest once every three years and no harvest once every three years. That has changed. Now it is a good harvest about once every 4 years and sometimes no harvest at all the other three years. I think I am done with all tree fruit except the native sand plums. I don't grow pome fruit---in general they are harder to grow organically so I just don't bother with them. Fig trees, ironically, are more reliable than the more common fruit trees, and they tend to produce every yea, though some years are better than others.

    As for clean houses, I agree with you. Everyone would like to have one, of course, especially if they are expecting someone to stop by, but no one that I know necessarily has having a clean house as their top priority. I think that is okay. Well, I'll take it back a little bit. I have some friends in their 80s who think their house has to be spotless all the time, so maybe it is a generational thing? My aunts were that way, but they are mostly all gone now and the two that are left, along with my mom, all are extremely fragile (late 80s age-wise) and not able to clean. I don't know who cleans for my aunts, but we pay my niece to clean my mom's house weekly and to make the drug store-grocery store run for her. When I stay focused on cleaning house and it is clean from top to bottom, I love how it looks and I truly wish it looked that way all the time. The reality, though, is that I settle for just having the downstairs that way even on the best of days, and the upstairs never quite achieves the same level. Maybe I just run out of energy by the time I reach the upstairs. There is a clean house and then there is a holiday clean house too, when everything really is dazzling. I achieve a holiday clean house for probably three occasions: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Fourth of July, because those tend to be the holidays when folks come to visit. Well, there's Mother's Day too, but it is during gardening season and the weather is nice and if I have to choose the garden or cleaning house for Mother's Day, I choose the garden. (grin) The rest of the time it is just old everyday clean, and during gardening season, no one had better stop by. The garden likely will look great, and the house likely will not. I think that when I reach the end of my life and look back at all the wonderful years, I will not be sitting or lying there thinking I should have cleaned the house more. I'll be remembering all the things I truly enjoyed doing and the people I enjoyed doing them with.

    Tim and I both are much better in this stage of our life in terms of cleaning as we go and keeping the clutter picked up and put away. I wouldn't want to be in our 20s or 30s again when we let things slide more. I remember that I'd be cleaning house like a crazy woman when I got around to it, and Chris, who was a pretty young child, would ask "who's coming over?" He'd already figured out at a very young age that there was the everyday house and then there was the cleaner-because-company-is-coming-for-dinner house. lol. I regret nothing. We did the best we could then and we do the best we can now, and we just don't worry about it. My SIL mops her floor daily. Well, good for her and more power to her (I love her dearly, but I am very different). I'm never gonna be that kind of a housekeeper. I care if people see my garden looking messy. The house? Not so much.

    People who absolutely, positively must have spotless floors at all times get on my nerves a little bit, and probably more so out here in the country than it did when we lived in town. First of all, floors are meant to be walked on. Feet walk on them. They aren't dinner dishes. We don't eat off of them. So, yeah, the floors are rarely spotless and I do not care. It bothers me more if I have a weedy bed in the garden than if I have a messy floor. : )


  • luvncannin

    I am thinking about starting plants just in case I get in time and if I dont then I can sell them. I need to focus on the future garden wherever it may be.

    I was cleaning out the raised bed and I still have swiss chard from last year growing. I thought it died weeks ago. Such a nice surprise. I am going to water and then dig up my iris collection. I almost threw away all the old pots I had yesterday completely forgetting I need them for the iris. I offered my desert willow to a friend but apparently she did not want them.

    My spinach and lettuce did not make it thanks to the neighbors cats. They must have thought it was nice of me to set up that litter box for them. I am not fond of cats but I do like hearing yalls adventures. Sophie traveled well with me over the holidays. She is such a good girl I guess I will keep her. I was going to try to rehome her to people with kids who can play and run with her but she kinda like me and we get along well. I need to go thru my seed inventory and order a few things.

    I grew black vernnisage last year. It was very sturdy seedling and began flowering early but after transplant I have no idea what it did. I am sure they did not keep records of the trials because they didn't want anything except celebrity and sweet 100.

    I prefer the colors and shape variety of heirlooms and less traditional hybrids.

    I sold all my lights and bulbs last year for a song so I will have to get a couple to get me going this year. I got a few flats with holes but no solid trays. I will have to stock up on a few things. Happy planning everyone.

  • jlhart76

    With all the mud I have to sweep or spot mop daily (sometimes multiple times). Otherwise our house is an even bigger mess than normal. Of course with dog sitting we have a built in excuse for why the house looks a mess. Three black labs plus white tile and beige carpet equals a nightmare.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    I was struck by two things in the cleaning comments, people in their 80s and clean floors. Mom was in her late 80s. I realized that she wasn't a whole lot cleaner than me, just better at hiding it. One house she had what she called a Fibber McGee closet. She was so irate when some one who visited opened that closet where she had shoved all the clutter. In the last decade she quit hiding it. My dad's mother had a dusty, cluttered house, and a fantastic garden. They didn't have indoor plumbing untill after I was born, so maybe lack of water drove her cleaning habits.

    Clean floors: There is a British show on OETA called Last of the Summer Wine. There is a character who keeps her house spotless. Her husband works on cars and always looks greasy. When he comes in the house she lays down newspaper on the floor for him to step on.

    Rebecca, Asian greens grow well here in cool weather. Most will get bitter when it gets hot.
    I hope the ablation helps!

    I wish we were closer Kim, I would take your dessert willow.

    While we have lots of dog hair, the mess is because the dog wants to chew up tissues. She doesn't eat them, she makes spit wads which she then allows to fall out of her mouth some place where I will step on them bare foot.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I was so giddy today, it's good we weren't around people. I would have been so annoying to ALL of you. GDW took off about 9:30 to continue cutting limbs at the vacant house. It finally dawned on me 45 minutes or so later. I grabbed a couple big garbage bags and made my way up to where he was. I kinda put all the junked chairs, planters, crap around the house in order or hid it around the corner of the house. Then made my say to Whitehorn Road and down a couple hundred feed, picking up litter. When we were talking about grabbing garbage bags,. said I was gonna get a couple, and he asked why. I said cuz they'd fill up quickly. He sad, "NOOOOO, you'd have to walk quite a ways to fill one up." Garry was wrong. I was right. Just that short area I covered filled one big garbage bag. YUCK. WHY are so many people such PIGS!!!???

    Dawn, we are NOT nice to do this. We got tired of that empty house making our neighborhood look bad. And we don't like litter on our roads making all of us look bad. One of our neighbors from 1/2 mile or so down the road stopped to visit. He said we were good people. We said we were not, we were tired of looking at it. He laughed and said, "Well we all were. But the rest of us kept saying, 'Wish someone would clean this up.'" I said yeah but the rest of ya don't live 3 houses down from it.

    At any rate. Garry and I truly had a ball doing this today. And when I was done with my litter pickup, went back, helped him load up the last of his cut up branches and we unloaded them nearby at the dump. Truly. . . it was a blast! Polished the day off by stopping at the Marina and saying hi to everyone. Hadn't seen them since the first of October. Now GDW and I feel like that empty house is "our house," in a way. You know?

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Madge and I went to three Farmers coops after we visited mom. The fresh seeds are not in stock yet, but we bought some supplies anyway. I got a large bag of potting soil, armenian cucumber, golden jubilee tomato, siberian kale, and paris island lettuce. We were looking for some organic soybean seed, but found none. I told Madge that if she wanted regular soybean seed we could go ahead and buy a 50# bag, which she did. I am concerned what may be on these seed, but she cooked some just to play with. I dont think she is going to use them for her project. I did take a bite of them and they taste better than any soybean I have eaten ( may have been the round up on them). I think we will toss the cooked beans and plant the rest in the wildlife garden. I also ask about Iron and Clay peas, but was told they would have to order them at about $65 a bag, which seemed a little high compared to the $22 we paid for the soybeans.

    Kim, I wish you lived close to me and could use the 3 or 4 acres of wildlife garden for your garden, because I am getting unable to care for the extra area. I have cut back to about 1500 to 2000 sq ft of garden in my yard and that is more than I need. The wildlife garden is mainly a soil improvement project. I will try to end up with something that will re-grow each year.

    The nursing home call about midnight and told me that mom had fallen again. I wish I was still able to care for mom at home. I have not gone to bed yet, so I need to hit the sack and try to get some rest before I go to check on mom. They told me she was okay but I want to go check on her anyway. She just will not ask for help when she wants to do something, and the staff seems slow to get there when you turn the light on. I am sure they are low on help.

  • luvncannin

    Larry I wish I lived closer too. I am trying to work out some details but I feel strange about these plans. I just want to garden and that overshadowed my judgement drastically last year. I hope your mom is okay. My mom fell thr other day turning her Walker to quick. My sister wont get the Walker out of the car for her says mom needs to keep her strength up and then mom fell. Ugh. I wish I was there to help.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    It is traumatic when our parents can't take care of themselves! When my parents were hospitalized last year, I was so frustrated at the slowness of the staff. They are probably under staffed. I am lucky my sister lives close and can take care of my dad. But she has the family affliction of bad hips. None of us could pick up someone who fell. Larry and Kim, I hope your mothers are ok.

    I'm working on grow lists and purchase lists. Nancy said her hardy lantana came from a dangerous place. Almost Eden. It's true, very dangerous. Hardy hibiscus, lantana, many things. I could run up a bill there. I think of lantana as being drought resistant? I have a place the hose wont reach, against a fence with weeds on the other side. I'm thinking if I planted them there maybe I wouldn't see the weeds, but wouldn't have to water. But then I have to keep Ron and the city from destroying them. May not be worth it.

  • Megan Huntley
    Larry, you’re right, nursing homes are far too short staffed and the pay is low so they struggle to keep anyone, especially the ones worth their salt.

    Kim sorry your mom fell too. The devil on my shoulder is concocting plans to go get your sister drunk and then make her lift weights so she’ll understand the difference between balance and strength... so I can only imagine how frustrated you must be. Re:plans. Trust your instincts.

    Wanted to share this screen shot with the handful of people who will understand. This reminder popped up on my phone as I was leaving work last night...
  • slowpoke_gardener

    Kim, I wish you could be with your mother also, it has been such a blessing to have cared for mom in my home for 3 years. Before she moved in with me I would go to her house 2 to 4 times a day to care for her and my step dad ( they only lived 1/2 mile from me).

    Madge went to Wal mart this morning and bought a 10 oz pack of soybeans, frozen in the shell for $1.74. I have never tried to shell any after they have been frozen, but I have read that they are still hard to shell. Madge was raised on a healthy diet and still wont eat a lot of stuff that I eat. She even makes what she calls "Nut Meat", but counting the labor and material she puts in it we can eat steak cheaper. I do admire the effort she puts into following the Old Testament dietary rules, but I like to sin every now and then and eat some pork, shrimp, or cat fish.

    Madge still may try to use the soybeans that she cooked. She said she ask if the soybeans were treated with anything, and was told they were not, they even had roosted soybeans, I think they were used in some type of feed.

    I am ready to just get back to normal gardening, the soybeans I planted last spring were out performed by the pea or bean seed that George gave me by at least 10 to 1.

    Madge just brought me a patty of what ever she is making, I had still rather have steak, shrimp or pork, maybe even possum, but possum is hard to come by. Wal mart wont carry them and they have run most of the other stores out of business.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Kim, There is a lot here that never died or that froze briefly and grew back. My crinum lillies look like they think it is March or April. I am volunteers in the garden that are common in March or April, not in January. We just haven't had enough good cold weather.

    Jen, I do sweep daily, but I don't mop daily unless it is raining daily. The dogs jublilantly wear in all sorts of dirt and mud when they come inside---their that dirt is a badge of honor. We only have the three dogs left now, so it is not as bad as it was when we had a few more dogs. Some days I feel like all I do is clean up dog and cat messes and dog and cat hair. That's the price we pay for having our beloved fur babies. The only room in our house that has carpet now is the grandkids' room, because I wanted them to have a little softness if they fall off of (or jump off of) their loft bed and bunk bed. I prefer a hard surface that is easier to keep clean to carpet.

    I agree that white tile and beige carpet are bound to be a nightmare with all the dogsitting that you y'all do. We once had white tile in our home, but now it is a wood-looking medium gray and brown. It looks like old barnwood and I love it. I still have to sweep and mop just as often, of course, but the dirt does blend in a bit better in between sweeping/mopping.

    Amy, Our friends who keep their houses so clean? They are farming and ranching women who I am sure developed the habit of constant mopping because their husbands constantly were tracking in mud and stuff every time they came indoors. Those same men keep their tractors and barns so incredibly clean that I cannot comprehend it.

    Our dogs don't have a thing for paper, but the cats do. They love to claw and shred toilet paper, paper towels, newspaper....just whatever they can get their claws on.

    Nancy, Does the eyesore house not belong to anyone? Why would someone not care more about their property? It boggles my mind. There is a house like that up the road from us a bit. It is a mess. When you are driving by, you have to guess if they are the messiest people in the county or if maybe they are having a yard sale. Hint: it is not a yard sale. I feel sorry for the neighbors who live on either side of them as they cannot possibly be happy about the situation.

    We have a constant issue with people throwing trash out their windows as they drive up the road. It makes me crazy. I clean up the stuff they throw on our property, or Tim picks it up while mowing the bar ditches, but I am not going to go pick up the trash thrown on property that is not ours. It would be a never-ending job. There was an old guy, probably in his 80s, that used to walk up and down the road picking up aluminum cans to cash in. He did it for many years, and it got to where he covered a really vast area. He told me once that he had health issues and the doctor told him that walking would be good for his health, so he just started carrying a bag and picking up the cans. It sort of snowballed and became his hobby, and he liked the small amount of extra cash he got when he recycled the cans. I don't think he is with us any more.

    Larry, I hope your mom is okay after her fall. The stores here don't have enough to please me yet. Oh well, that will catch up with us eventually and then they'll have more than we need or want. My mom is getting frail and falling too. She is about to turn 90 later this month and it is increasingly hard for her to go anywhere.

    Kim, What is it about gardening on your former FIL's place that is making you have reservations? Is it just because of what happened to you last year?

    I have to be honest with you....if your sister were my sister, I'd be so aggravated with her! I just cannot believe she won't take the walker out of the car for your mother. There is only so much an elderly person can do to keep their strength up, and I don't think that refusing to help them makes them any stronger.

    There isn't much new here today. Dandelions are blooming in the yard and in the garden. I am sure the bees are thrilled to have them.

    I had the garden gate open so the chickens and cats could go inside. Well, the two dogs (Princess and Ace) who sit in the office bay window (on the backs of 'their' two recliners) and watch over everybody and everything outdoors were getting hysterical and barking their coyote bark, so I ran out the front door and found deer about to venture into the garden. Really, at this time of the year I wouldn't mind it so much, but then once they make it into the garden, if they see someone coming, they panic and forget there is a gate through which to exit so they start running and trying to jump the fence, damaging it in the process. I hollered at them while they were just outside the gate and they took off, but I couldn't close the garden gate because cats and chickens are in there. So I pushed it almost closed, but left it open just enough that the domestic animals inside the garden can squeeze through the gate to leave.

    It was really different this morning to wake up to freezing temperatures after waking up to temperatures in the 50s and 60s just a couple of days ago. It is good that the cold came back---we need more cold to slow down everything that is trying to grow, bud or bloom at an inappropriate time. I'm not looking forward to the rain. They say another 1-1.5" for us, mostly on Friday. Well, good. We wouldn't for our big mud puddles and small lakes of standing water to get dehydrated and dry up or anything like that. Maybe I should ditch gardening and start growing fish and crawdads.

    This excess rainfall needs to stop. All the tomato plants are supposed to go into the back garden this year for crop rotation, and the entire back garden is grade level. The last thing we need is for it to stay too wet to plant. You cannot even step into it right now without sinking ankle deep in mud. Obviously that is not good.

    And, fire season is starting, and it isn't our fault. We're getting notifications of people beginning to do prescribed burning on their ranches. I was hoping they'd wait until the soil dried up. It is so wet now that when they lose control of their prescribed burning (and some of them always, always do), and it becomes a wildfire, our firefighters will not be able to drive into the fields to fight the fires. They simply cannot--they'll end up stuck in the mud. So, they'll have to either park on the roads and wait for fires to come to them or get out and fight fires on muddy ground on foot. This is incredibly hard to do, tiring and time-consuming. I dread this time of the year. Once it starts up, we usually have no peace until approximately April. I'm also allergic to smoke, so am not a fan of having constantly smokey skies from all the prescribed burning.

    The latest garden catalog to arrive is John Schleeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds. It is a very attractive catalog with nice illustrations and great descriptions of varieties, but I simply don't need to order anything else so I'm trying to not get too excited about any of the varieties they sell.


  • jlhart76

    Amy, the Edmond dog park has an xeriscape demonstration garden and it has lantana. Based off of that, I would think it's drought tolerant.

  • hazelinok

    I'm working, so just skimming right now. But saw Dawn say that she got a John Schleeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog. I got one too yesterday. It's the first time I've received one from John Schleeper. Do y'all have an opinion about their seeds, etc.? I haven't ordered seeds yet.

  • Megan Huntley

    I'm at work too, daydreaming about the garden and want some input on compact basils. Thinking in edible landscape terms... I'd like a variety that I could grow in glazed pots and keep pruned to look more like a mum that isn't in bloom yet. At least that's the latest daydream. Recommendations? Thoughts on likelihood of success in a 12"+ container - either glazed or plastic, no terra cotta.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Megan, There's a lot of more compact basil varieties nowadays. Most of them have little leaves (they remind me of boxwoods in that respect) that are, in the basil world, often referred to as fine leaves to distinguish them from the larger leaves of standard varieties. Here's some of the small ones:

    Greek Dwarf Basil (Baker Creek): about 6-10" tall

    Aristotle (Nichols Garden Nursery): This is a fine-leaved type, similar to Spicy Globe. Gets about 10-12" tall.

    Dolce Fresca (Park Seed) Is a larger one, but fairly compact as far as spread goes. Maxes out around 20" tall.

    Spicy Globe (Park Seed and many others) Max height around 12-15"

    Bush Basil (Park Seed, I think, I didn't go verify) Compact mounding type plants, great for pots. About 8-10" wide.

    Summerlong (Burpee, new at Burpee in 2019 but I know I've grown it before so it isn't completely new) About 10" tall and 6" wide.

    Pluto (Harris Seed) Gets about 7-8" tall, has those small fine leaves.

    Piccolino (Johnnys Selected Seeds). Gets about 6-8" tall. Similar to Spicy Globe about half the size. This is JSS's replacement for Pluto.

    These all would do fine in 12" pots. Some of the smallest ones likely would be fine in 6-8" pots as long as they are watered regularly.

    Jennifer, Their seeds are fine and the catalog is lovely. It is not as wonderful as it was when it was a privately held company run by a family that loved gardening quite a few years back now, but that is what happens when corporations buy up small seed companies.

    Lantana is drought tolerant but does appreciate water ever now and then. Mine did get crispy and drop leaves during last summer's drought, but I noticed it in time and watered them and they came back strong with new growth.

    Y'all, I don't want to sound like Paul Revere spreading the alarm across the countryside but Spring is doing its best to break out here in southern OK. This really is not good. It is too early. In the garden and yard today: fruit tree buds starting to swell and it is far too early; dandelions and henbit in bloom somewhat early; dill volunteers sprouting in last year's tomato bed; dianthus in bloom (not unusual as it tolerates cold well, but the amount of new foliar growth on them is shocking); Laura Bush petunia volunteers everywhere, and some of them are up to 4" tall already (this is not normal); Texas bluebonnets sprouting in the front pasture near the driveway. This is not completely unusual but is very rare. Normally they either sprout here in November and overwinter as tiny rosettes hugging the ground, or they sprout in March or April---not in January. Chamomile is sprouting all over the asparagus bed. I rubbed the leaves so I could inhale that delicious scent. These tend to sprout sometime between February and April depending on when we start warming up. Poppies have sprouted and have formed 2-3" rosettes of leaves that are hugging the ground. This is early. Often I don't see them sprout until April. Other plants that never went dormant or which froze back briefly but then rebounded are getting pretty tall now. The crinum lillies are a couple of feet tall, with freeze damage on some of the uppermost parts of the plant. The Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina' is a couple of feet tall and growing rapidly now. The verbena bonariensis is forming flower buds as if it thinks it should bloom now. I think it shouldn't but it didn't ask me. The rosemary and lavender have tons of new growth which will freeze back soon on a cold morning. I could go on and on but I am sure you get the point. I am not ready for all these types of Spring activity in January and suspect it won't last.

    We won't even talk about all the mosquitoes, moths and other tiny creatures that fly into the house when we let the dogs go out and then in again after dark. Early moth activity usually correlates to early cutworm activity in my garden....not at the same time, but if we are seeing moths in January, we'll have cutworms in March.

    Some of the perennial salvias have plenty of green foliage. They look odd, like they forgot to freeze back. There is a ton of songbird activity, but we feed the birds, so we do have a lot of birds in winter. I just think we are seeing more of them than usual. Maybe because winter has been mild.

    We have a lot fewer deer than we had prior to the opening of deer season. I suspect the hunters got a lot of them, but the few that are left are very, very hungry and standing out there waiting for me to come feed them when I walk outside.

    There are some things about January that I love. Seeing kids, lambs, foals and calves in the fields with their mommies is one of my favorite things about January.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    WOW, Dawn! It does sound like that. I'm flabbergasted! We have nothing like that. Thank Goodness! I see that for up here AND down here, we'll have cool weather the next 5 days. Fine with me! But nothing like last winter's lows in December and part of Jan. I THINK our lowest this year has been right at 20.

    We also don't have insects yet.

    I spent today looking at possibilities for patio containers. I'll certainly spray paint all the cat litter buckets, but will intersperse them with others, too. I was also looking for container flowers and cam up with trailing lantana, black-eyed susan vines of one color or more, angelonia, pentas. . . . still thinking? Any ideas, the rest of you?

    It was too chilly to be out today working, and that was fine with me. Not feeling good today. Perhaps just OD'd yesterday with being outdoors.

    Amy, I'm finding lantanas are among the very easiest of plants to grow in MY yard. Yes, drought resistant, but what Dawn said. Iris. Daylilies. Verbena bonariensis. Hollyhock zebrina, lantana. Easiest ever. Which is why I'm ordering four more lantana from that dangerous place. :) White trailing, Spreading Sunset and 2 more Miss Huff.

    I ended up deciding I do not need to do any winter sowing, even. I'll grow a few annuals on the grow cart, otherwise nothing. It's like this is a gardening vacation year.

  • Megan Huntley

    Oh my gracious, Dawn! Why can't all the seeds be sold by the same place because goodness knows I want to grow them all now. And the reviews aren't helping, not that I would expect you to provide a list of anything but the best, but I'd hoped to find some criteria to select only 1-2. So far that's not happening. Ahhh, dilemmas!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Megan, Well you didn't say you wanted them all from one place. You have to be specific with me. So.....in order to get the most possible varieties of some of the smaller forms of basil from one retailer, you need a serious herb company and that leaves really only one option....Richter's Herbs. Their shipping can take several weeks, so order soon and then be patient. When I have ordered from them in the past, I think it took 3-4 weeks for the seeds to arrive, but I had great germination rates and was very happy with the quality of their products.

    Here's the more compact varieties they carry (prepare to be blown away by how many they have): Globette (4-6"), Pistou (8"), Aristotle (10"), Marseilles (10"), Floral Spires (10" and highly ornamental), Gecofure (12-14"--unique because it does not have the little leaves), Dolce Fresca (12-20"), Spicy Globe (12-15"), Persian (15"), Magical Michael (15"), Medinette (12-14" and has medium sized leaves). Since most of those are littleleaf basil, if you want larger leaves like in a Genovese type basil, the most compact variety they offer is Geniale. And, for a big globe basil, they have Green Globe (20-28") which would look awesome in a larger pot. Their seeds usually are a bit more per packet than the seeds at some other places, but being able to order all you want at one place and only play one shipping charge could offset that.

    Nancy, The weather is freaking me out---especially seeing the Laura Bush petunias so large already. I fear all of it will freeze. No problem though if all the volunteers pop up too early and freeze. I am sure there's plenty of seeds of those in my seed box and I can resow as needed.

    This morning it hit 28 degrees here officially at our Mesonet station, but only fell to 32 degrees at our house. What saved those errant volunteers from freezing this morning was that we weren't at 32 for very long. We stayed at 33 a long time and didn't drop to 32 until about 8:30 a.m. (weird in and of itself). Tonight our dewpoint is low, so the temperatures have fallen like a rock since sunset. This usually means we go lower than forecast, so I am expecting a cold morning tomorrow. I have to resist the urge to put up low tunnels and start trying to protect all those young volunteers. I need to just go with the flow. If there is a price they have to pay for sprouting so early, then so be it.

    I said that fire danger was cranking up, largely because landowners were beginning prescribed burning. So, today, there were two "accidental" fires....one was a burning pickup that set grass on fire, and the other a prescribed burn that got out of control and burned down an abandoned house. Luckily, neither of those were in or close to our fire district. I listened to the traffic on the fire radio, grateful we weren't out there. (I know, I know, I have a bad attitude about all that and need to work on it.) The older I get the more I hate the way the winter fire season intersects the winter seed-starting and spring planting season.

    Today I noticed a puddle had dried up. Don't laugh. It was a big puddle about 5' in diameter near our back steps and walking around it was getting old quickly. The main driveway puddle (for those of you who remember Augustus the turkey, this was his favorite splashing/standing puddle location) probably will dry up tomorrow. Other big puddles are within days of drying up. I'd be excited about that if we didn't have substantial rain in the Thurs-Fri forecast.

    The garden pathways are fine now in about 80% of the sloping front garden. Only the bottom NE corner of the garden still has too much moisture. The really thick layer of mulch on the pathways has helped a lot as far as allowing the paths to not be big mud pits this winter. Tons of winter weeds are sprouting in the mulch. I need to do some weeding tomorrow. I think it is our last good day for a few days, before the rain gets here.


  • Megan Huntley

    Dawn, thank you so much for the recommendation of Richerts, though I didn't mean to put you to work I really do appreciate it.

    Things have dried enough for us that we opened the doggie door so Jack can run around the yard today but we have about an inch of rain forecast for the next 24 hours, so over the weekend, I'm sure we'll have to close it up again. On the whole, it has only created mud issues a couple times since it was installed last spring, even though it lets out into one of the wettest spots in the yard. However, it's been months of problems starting in late August when the neighbors moved out because the handymen working there afterwards left the faucet dripping on that side and didn't return for a couple months. Ben eventually shut the water off at the street since the house was vacant and called the city. They must have contacted the property manager because when the workers returned just before Thanksgiving they finally shut off the drip. Then it seems like it started raining as soon as it all dried out.

    Our tile in the space where Jack comes in from the garage via another doggie door is very porous, travertine inspired tile that was the popular contractor grade stuff when the home was built circa 2000 with grout more like porous concrete. I rarely mop it because it does no good. No mop can get the grime out of the pores and groves. My cousin recently moved into a house with the same tile in the same condition as mine. She and her mom spent over a week on their hands and knees with nylon scrub brushes and Softscrub getting it into pristine condition. I am simply not willing to do that when I know it will be back to this condition in a matter of weeks. The same tile is carried into the kitchen with something smaller but similar on the kitchen backsplash. Oy. I really do need to buckle down and do the Softscrub treatment in the kitchen because it makes the kitchen feel grimy even when it is freshly cleaned.

    Well, that's enough lamenting of the mud. Have a great day!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Megan, Not a problem and I was glad to go over to Richter's to see if they had what you needed. It was good to see that my instincts about them were right. I have to stay away from their website and catalog or I'll order a ton of herbs for which, honestly, I have no space. They just have so very many things there and it is fun to try new varieties.

    I am trying so very hard to be grateful for the rain because so often in summer we do not have it, and it always is good to have soil moisture replenished. It is hard, though, to appreciate rain when it has been pretty steady and nonstop since September. I had to chuckle at the evening news when our local TV met mentioned last night that Lake Texoma's water level, which has been high for months, has started to fall.....it fell an inch yesterday. So, that's progress, except for the fact that rain is in the forecast for today and tomorrow.

    I really want to put large stepping stones and river rocks or something along the dog's main pathway in their dog yard. That is on my Spring To Do list. Oh, and adding a thick mud rug to their back porch where they enter the house at its NW corner. I already have one at the front door, which we rarely use since we park in the back and come in the mudroom door on the back SW corner of the house. So, all I need to do is hose off the mud-gripper type rug that is on the front porch and move it to the back. I'll do that this morning while I'm thinking of it.

    We had a doggie door but had to give it up. The dogs weren't the problem. A cat who was a really good hunter was the problem. His name was Moose and he loved to hunt and kill. That's not all. He was a good provider, so when he killed a mole, a gopher, a baby bunny, a bird or whatever, he brought it into the house through the dog door, then went into the kitchen pantry and lined up his kills on the floor. I was not amused. His hunting got harder after the first few months here because the wildlife became aware of him and began to avoid venturing too close to our house, but we sealed up the dog door and never have used it since. That's probably a good thing, because I fear the coons, possums, etc. would have found their way in eventually had the dog door remained in use.

    I think the ultimate solution for porous tile and grout floors is to seal them with an impregnating sealer. It is amazing how well it works. When we redid our kitchen and laundry roomin 2016, we installed new tile floors. Once we were finished installing the floors and I had washed away all the grout haze and such, I sealed the floors with Miracle Sealants Company's 511 Impregnator Sealer. Then, in 2017 when we put the same tile down in the mudroom, I sealed those floors too. I had researched long and hard and read tons of reviews before buying this product. I applied two coats of it, letting the first coat dry for maybe 24 hours before applying the second coat. It was so easy and so worth doing. We haven't had any problem with anything getting past that sealer and staining our tile or grout. Of course, since your floor already is stained, you'd have to do what your cousin and aunt did and clean it really well to get the stains out, then let it dry, then apply the sealer. But, if you need to put up with those floors for a few more years before you replace them, this might be a good solution for you. We have friends who had new tile put in about 5 years before us and they had a lot of trouble with those floors (which since have been redone) so I was doing tons and tons of research, trying to prevent any problems with ours. So far, so good....knock on wood. The 511 Impregnator Sealer is labeled for use on natural stone, tile, slate, ceramic tile, quartz and grout surfaces, and it has a 20 year warranty. Regardless of the warranty, I intend to reseal our floors every few years just to be extra cautious because it would be easier to head off any future problems by doing so instead of just crossing our fingers and hoping. Even with a warranty, it would be a PITA to fix a problem with the tile after the fact.

    Now that I know some cool-season and warm-season volunteers are popping up in the garden, I have to check it daily to see if they are alright. Despite a low of 30 degrees, they all look fine this morning. One thing I noticed today is that my gladiolus bulbs have sprouted leaves. Not little tiny leaves down close to the ground. Nope, nope, nope. They are pretty much full-sized and almost full-height, despite enduring temperatures in the 20s and 30s the past couple of weeks. They aren't standing fully upright, and are sort of droopy, likely because of the overnight lows. All this early sprouting is blowing my mind.

    Have a great day yourself, Megan, and everybody else too.

    Amy, If you see this, I just want to add that I hope Ron is feeling better.


  • dbarron

    Well today or tomorrow should see the end? (don't swear) of the seed shipments destined for my mailbox. I have 6 pots stratifying in the icey weather we're suppossed to have for the next couple of days. Hopefully they get enough cold to sprout by March or April. I was really surprised that almost none of what I ordered required cold stratification, usually it seems like almost everything does. And I wasn't consciously selecting against that.

    I'm enjoying seeing the spring foliage lycoris (spider lilies) sprouting up. I have six species (chinensis, longituba, radiata, sprengeri, caldwellii, and squamigera) which give me yellow, white, red, pink, with some shadings with purple on them. My aunt absolutely hates them because the old fashioned surprise lilies (squamigera) spread and reseed all over her beds, but I never had that problem and love the sudden surprise in mid summer to fall as almost overnight 18 inch flower stalks burst into brilliant bloom. I also often overplant them with other things so that other plants appear to be bursting into flower.

    I also see some species tulips in leaf, and some crocus greens, but my daffodils for some reason aren't yet (even though they're often the first).

    'Major Wheeler' honeysuckle has almost opened blooms on it, probably next week I'll have half a dozen clusters opening (spotty but existent). It manages to have some flowers pretty much every month of the year, which is quite amazing.

    My sweet bay magnolia is just starting to lose a few leaves, preparatory for march/april budding and new leaves, followed by May and June blooms.

    Indoors, african violets are reacting to light changes and budding. My easter cactus (echinopsis hybrids) have small buds, I have several orchids blooming and budding. My meyers lemon has several premature (it shouldn't be blooming at it's size..and I'll be removing them soon) small blossoms forming.

    Everything is starting to feel spring, is what I'm trying to say.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Dbarron, do you have the lycoris in partial sun? I think I'll start some this fall.

    It is NOT really looking like spring here. That's good.

    The eyesore house. Dawn. It must belong to someone, since the light outside was always on. (I say that, but just noticed while we were there working, it's not! Maybe the bulb burned out. I found some paperwork on the rickety small table next to the door. Found out the name of the people who lived there. From 2009! One of the people around here said they heard it was in probate. Can't believe it's been in probate from 4-9 years! Can't find any trace of the name of the guy who lived there. Interesting. I even check obits.

    I notice it when you all talk about the mud that goes on and on after a rain. And I just shake my head. Our place is SO different, with all that massive rock underground--plus we're on a large slope. Maybe we need a lot more rain than you, since it runs off/soaks through so quickly. Having said that, we've had perfect rain this winter so far.

    I've not grown angelonia or pentas before. Are they easy to grow from seed, or would you all just buy some? Are they common at Lowe's and other nurseries? And--do they do well here?

    I was just visiting the Pinetree Seeds site, and they have lots of potatoes, if anyone is looking.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Thanks, Dawn, Ron IS feeling better. We went for a followup at the urgent care yesterday. The important thing is his oxygen stats improved greatly. His lung x-ray showed improvement, too, so new antibiotics are helping. We both still cough. It is not the rib wrenching coughs we had before, but I feel we should not expose anyone yet. I need to go see my dad. We have business to deal with. But I cannot take a chance of giving him this crap. He has a cancerous growth on his ear that has to be dealt with. Of course they can't do it in Bartlesville, so he will make a couple of trips to Tulsa.

    It was a nice day yesterday. 2 of my dogs spent the day trying to catch the squirrel. Honey is trying to figure out how to climb the tree. I've seen her jump up and grab a low branch in he teeth. Yesterday she would stand on the camper shell we used as a chicken shelter (was a dog house before chickens) with front feet on the tree trunk. She is a long dog, she gets pretty high up. Squirrel better not get cocky, because she will have him in a heartbeat. Buddy (son's dog) just stands there barking....for hours!

    Nancy, don't over do it!!!

    I find varieties of things I want and then go look at Sample Seed Shop to see if she has them. Very often she does. She has Spicy Globe and one called Fine Verde that are compact and a dollar a pack. Also Fedco and Victory are places I check. Fedco has spicy globe, but my heart skipped a beat at a purple one called Round Midnight that is going on my purchase list.

    I have not done this on tile, but I used the method with a product called Red Out to get red soda out of carpet. It would be tedious, but MAYBE less so than scrub brushes. You dampen a white towel and iron the area with a steam iron. The iron causes steam to "shoot" into the floor and supposedly the dirt comes up into the towel. It could be augmented with a shot of steam type iron. I've been thinking about trying it in my kitchen, but getting down to the floor is not something I do easily.

    The only thing I'm sure is alive in my flower garden is tansy. There is NO SIGN of comfrey or zebrina. WTH. If it can't be killed, give it to me. I am convinced there is something poisonous buried under that bed. I may change it to annuals. Seems like things grow 2 or 3 years and then die. You think I'm paranoid, but there were trees and rose bushes there when we moved in that died. I used to blame the city and their herbicide, but they seem to have quit spraying in the drainage ditch. This neighborhood was a cow pasture before houses were built in the 70's, I don't think there would be any reason for the land to be poisoned. It makes me wonder if the contractor buried something there.


  • jlhart76

    We used to own a piece of property. Dad's grandpa bought it with 4 other friends as a series of businesses (the 1900s version of a strip mall). When an owner died, their interest in the property was passed equally to their childern. Over the years, everyone else has forgotten about the property except us. In short, we can't sell it because we don't own it outright, and tracking down all the owners would be costly. Dad finally just stopped paying taxes on it, told the county to take it. So now they can't do anything with it legally until they try to locate the owners, so it just sits there rotting away. Every so often someone starts complaining that "whoever owns that building should have it restored, it's a historical landmark" and dad tells them he'd gladly pay them to take ownership of his part. Could be your abandoned property is something similar, origonal owners died and the inheritors don't want it or don't know they own it.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Yep. . . I agree, Jen. It's the only thing that makes sense, really.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    dbarron, We are used to a lot of erratic winter weather here in our part of the country, but this is the first one where I've seen some of these plants growing like this in January. It might not seem so odd in late February or early March but for early to mid-January it is just bizarre.

    I hope the colder weather meets your seeds' stratification needs. No ice is expected here--just cold rain. The good news is that when the U. S. Drought Monitor Map came out today, for the first time since June 2016, it was totally white. No part of OK is in drought or even abnormally dry. It was almost odd to look at a clear map with no colors. In fact, Arkansas and Louisiana looked the same way, and even in Texas, there's only a couple of small patches of drought areas left. Someone on one of our OK gardening-related FB pages mentioned their citrus trees this morning.....I love when citrus trees are in bloom. The aroma is just heavenly.

    You know, we get so excited when we are seeing signs of Spring, and who can blame us? But, and this is a big but, there is something crazy about seeing them before we're even halfway through the month of January.

    Nancy, Well perhaps the eyesore house is owned by someone who is/was out of state? We have a lot of homes here that are sort of that way---often the owner is in a nursing home and the family cannot do anything with the house until the owner dies and it goes into probate, so the house sits there untouched and unchanged. Sometimes it is more a matter of the family taking forever to do probate, and in those cases I wonder if it is because there was not a valid will that could be found? There's also other ways property gets 'stuck' like Jen mentioned. Occasionally, it will happen that the owner of the property was killed by a family member who then was convicted and sent to prison. This can really tie up the property if that convicted murderer is left a share of the property.....the family cannot easily settle the estate and move on. Here where we live, it seems like lots of families settle things informally and just divide the property between themselves informally, without going through probate. Then, one of them dies and the rest are left with a big tangled mess that can take years to work out properly.

    I've always envied people with rocky soil because it does drain well, but there's other drawbacks....like farming or gardening with all those rocks. Obviously, raised beds are the answer but lots of people try to avoid building raised beds because of the expense involved. Personally, I'd spend the money any day of the week to build raised beds if it meant I wouldn't have to endlessly dig rocks out of a garden area.

    Angelonias from seed are very slow, even slower than petunias, so I gave up with them. Pentas are quicker, but it still takes quite a while with them. When I grew pentas, the tersa sphinx (so cool looking!) just devoured them. It was a real conundrum. I didn't want to kill the sphinx caterpillars, but they literally ate the pentas down to the ground, so I no longer plant pentas here. Both angelonias and pentas are available as transplants. I think I see pentas more in the normal springtime and angelonias a bit later as they are real heat lovers. I used to buy angelonias at either Lowe's or Home Depot in 9-packs and they weren't overly expensive, though they were more expensive than your typical 9-pack bedding plants. Well, I guess they figured out that angelonias were hard to grow from seed which meant more people would be buying them, so they started selling them as single plants in various sized pots and it cost so much more to get 9 of them than what I spent back when they were in 9-packs that I just stopped buying them. I will say that of the two, angelonias are the better bet as nothing ever ate mine.

    Jen, I bet there's a lot of situations like that everywhere, but especially out here in rural areas where none of the kids or grandkids, nieces or nephews want to move. A lot of them hang on to the property, but never lease it out or sell it, so the houses and barns just sit there getting older and older, gradually falling down.

    Why is it so cold and icky today? I wanted to weed part of the garden but don't like the cold, so all I did was briefly check on all the plants there.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Your post just showed up, Amy. Weird. My comfrey died back too, but I'm sure it'll spring back one of these days.

    I DID overdo it. Oops. I feel better today. But was absolutely shot yesterday. :)

    It IS cold and icky today. I've been outside briefly several times to make sure it's still cold and icky. It is.

    Thanks for the info on the pentas and angelonia, Dawn! I am not interested

    in having tersa sphinx pets! And I read elsewhere that angelonia could be slow. I might try a pack, but then be ready to pick some up, too--if I can find it this summer. If I can get them started one way or another, they should reseed, right?

    I wanted red salvia last summer, but the ones at the nursery weren't very tall, and I thought they'd get lost in the bed I wanted them in. THIS year I want the short ones, to put in containers. The only one I could find was Bonfire. That is, the only one I could find from nurseries that had other things I wanted.

    I have plenty of packets of greens, herbs, other veggies and not at all excited about ordering more.

  • hazelinok

    HI Everyone. I just saw a post from Amy in between posts that I read earlier. But didn't see Amy's post earlier. Weird.

    So...we've been without heat at work. Finally, we are supposed to have it back tomorrow. Thank goodness for space heaters. NOW, our home heater isn't working. sigh.

    I'm thinking about making my grow list tonight. It's mostly made...but I need to get organized. I do want to start lettuce and greens seed soon.

    Other than that, I have nothing garden related to talk about.

    The chickens have started laying better now. I had to buy a dozen eggs last week...and a dozen a week before Christmas. During November and December, we were only getting 1 or 2 a day. This week, it's been 3 or 4 a day. Making progress.

    Okay...maybe I'll work on that list now.

  • hazelinok

    I have a question. Are JetStar and Super Sonic seeds easy to find in stores?

  • Megan Huntley

    On the probate subject Nancy, even in a best case it took years for my Grandpa's probate to be settled just because it was so emotionally difficult for my grandmother to deal with. I'm the administrator of an estate - 5 years in - and no end in sight. I hope and pray to close it this year, but I'm not getting my hopes up. After this long, I'll be happy if it ever closes. Anywho... as a result, I have very little doubt that the house in your neighborhood could be in probate that long. It is an exhausting process for the administrator and sometimes you just have to say uncle and live your life. Trusts are the only way to avoid this chaos but most people assume that's only for millionaires.

  • Megan Huntley

    Back to the plant/seed talk. I'll pay the same for shipping from Richters regardless of how many seeds I order so if anyone wants to piggyback on my order, just let me know. All I ask is that you reimburse me for the seeds - don't worry about shipping/mailing costs. I can take payment through Facebook messenger for those who are friends with me there or Paypal. I'll be putting in my order sometime tomorrow.

  • jlhart76

    Hey Megan, you mentioned wanting to grow vorlon tomatoes. Got a few seeds I'm sending you.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jennifer, I am not positive if you'll ever find Supersonic or Jetstar on any of the seed racks in stores near you. I do not think I've ever seen Supersonic on a seed rack down here. I may have seen Jetstar once or twice, but generally it is not commonly seen on seed racks. Most seed racks have the same old same old top twenty or top thirty varieties favored by the typical home gardener nationwide.....you know.....Better Boy, Big Boy, Big Beef, Brandywine, Beefsteak, Celebrity, Early Girl, Patio, Fourth of July, Lemon Boy, Roma, Sweet 100, Rutgers, Yellow Pear, etc. Sometimes when Seed Racks first arrive in stores, the Burpee seed racks will have a handful of Burpee's latest releases that are only in the catalog in general. Once those few packets of those varieties sell out, there are no more, so they often are gone the first week. That's how I first tried Brandy Boy---it was on the seed rack in the stores the second year after it was released, but I hardly ever see it on the seed racks now. I think the seed companies want to force serious gardeners who want to try other varieties to buy directly from them. And, realistically speaking, there is only a limited amount of space available on seed racks and they have to try to offer enough of every commonly-grown veggie, herb and flower to please everyone.

    I order tomato seed packets strategically, figuring if I am careful not to waste seeds, I can make one packet last 5-7 years and that matters since I grow so very many varieties. Still, I hate some of the higher seed packet prices we have to pay when we order online, so I try to buy what I can locally. The problem is that seed racks often arrive relatively late in stores and I get tired of waiting for them. Burpee has some seed packets, though not all, of newer releases priced at $6.99 and $7.29 this year. To be honest, I cannot imagine anything they could put in their catalog that I'd want to grow badly enough to pay that price for seeds.

    I hope y'all get the heat back soon. I don't know what is worse--when the air conditioner goes out in the middle of the summer or when the heater goes out in the middle of the winter.

    Megan, I guess we were lucky. Tim's parents' estate was pretty much settled in less than a year and most of it was settled within the first 6 months (it just took longer to go through the house, figure out what the kids and grandkids wanted to keep for themselves, stage an estate sale to sell the rest, etc.), but they had written good wills, had an experienced executor, etc.

    Nancy, You're welcome. I already grow lots of the shorter salvias, so I am going in the opposite direction this year....I ordered Yvonne's Giant Salvia. I had a seed packet of it that someone sent me years ago, but somehow it got lost. I also ordered candle tree from the same vendor so I can grow both of them together along a couple of sides of the garden fence....maybe the west fence line and the south fence. I am trying to shake things up in the front garden since I am moving tomatoes to the back garden this year. I really don't need any new flower seeds this year as I have plenty, but I get bored with growing the same old same old things and like to have something new each year.

    Amy, I am glad Ron is feeling better and I hope that you are too. The endless cough does seem to be a hallmark of whatever is going around this year. I've never known so many people to have the cough hang on for such a long time. And, based on pollen counts and the friends I know who have cedar allergies, I'd say cedar pollen season started a couple of months early (back in November here) and still is going strong. A lot of the trees here are so heavily loaded with pollen that it is just ridiculous, and I am blaming the heavy autumn rains for all that pollen.

    Who knows what may have contaminated that spot where you cannot get things to grow? We have found many buried things here on our property that made me glad I wasn't trying to garden there. I once dug up two big concrete slabs out of our back yard that were buried about 12-18" beneath the soil. They were long and slightly larger than a casket, leading Tim to briefly fear I was digging up two burial vaults. lol. They probably were concrete bases from an oil jack that was on the property in the 1970s and prior to that. I had to use a pickaxe to break them up into chunks I could lift and remove. It took me a long time. Eventually we had a hand-dug lily pond in that spot, and I loved it until 2011 when the cottonmouths moved to the lily pond after all the creeks and ponds dried up. We fought them there for a few years, and finally gave up. No matter how many we shot, more kept coming in those drought years of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. So, we filled in the lily pond with hugelkultur materials and it is a flower bed now. I miss the water lilies, but I don't miss the venomous snakes and I sure don't miss the horrifying sounds the frogs made as the cottonmouths were eating them.

    It is cold, icky, gray, cloudy, and the rain is coming through in little bands. At least this will be relatively brief---the rain here is expected to mostly end by 4 p.m. with only a couple of widely scattered bands possible through midnight. So, maybe tomorrow will be sunny, albeit cold and wet. We will have the girls tonight and tomorrow so we'll have to amuse ourselves and them indoors.

    Y'all know how we get garden fever? Well, Tim is getting chick fever. Luckily the chicks are not in the stores yet, but I know he'll buy a dozen or two when they arrive. Aurora will love it. She is a chicken-loving little girl. I'd be happy with the small flock we have now, and I seriously think that if we get more chicks, the free-ranging will mostly halt and they will be confined to their chicken run for safety reasons. There's just too many coyotes and other predators around. As more and more land develops around the casino down in Thackerville, it feels like more and more of the predators are being pushed north in our direction as we have many more predators now than we had 5, 10 or 15 years ago. The hawks are so bad right now that yesterday the chickens spent much of their time hiding on the front porch. Today I am keeping them in the coop so they won't be out in the cold rain. Yesterday they were out in the garden with me, digging and scratching blissfully on what was just a semi-cold winter day., but when I left the garden, they did too---literally following me to the front door of the house. I am planning to start some cool-season veggies seeds Monday, but otherwise am playing the waiting game here.


  • dbarron

    Dawn, you're the anti-hawk scarecrow and they know it (lol). Or chicken whisperer maybe ?

  • Megan Huntley

    Dawn, We had problems last spring with Kites taking swoops at our dog. In past years, they've gone after humans, even drawing blood on my husbands head once. Last summer, I went to the store and grabbed a half dozen shepherds hooks then scattered them through the yard in a pattern that would have required fighter pilot skills to navigate. It could be purely anecdotal but we didn't notice them diving at Jack again. Maybe something like that would help protect your flock from the hawks?

  • jlhart76

    Spent my break time skimming Richter's. Big mistake! I found dozens of things I'd like to grow.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Hahahaha, you silly, Jen! I have NOT succumbed. I checked it out yesterday, but that reminded me I had to order the lantana, and when I finished with that decided I'm too broke to look at Richters. Maybe today I'll feel richer.

    Brrrrr.............. I know it is a miserable cold gray rainy day for all of us. The thermometer on the back porch says 32 here (which I believe) although it is a big 37 in Wagoner. I see it's 38 in Owasso, Amy. Garry and I were in town this morning and when we got back just after lunch, we both settled in our recliners for warm-up time. The cats and dog and both of us took a little siesta and it was fine!

    Trying to wrap my mind around the shepherd hooks, Megan! LOL That reminds me. I have two wonderful shepherd hooks I moved down from Mpls. There is no way to get them into our ground. I tried them everywhere. Smack--rock. The only way would be to unearth rock in a couple desired places, remove it, and then place the shepherd hooks. So far I've thought I have better things to do with my time.

    Ran into a lady who gardens this morning. She said a small garden because they live on a rock ridge. I said, "Yes, we do, too." She asked, "Do you live at Whitehorn?" Hahaha. It made me feel very good about all the big lasagna beds scattered around the yard. That's the ONLY way I could have those beds.

    Now perhaps I can visit Richters for a half hour before I fix dinner. Cheers to you all--stay warm!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    dbarron, I think our chickens think they are people and should be allowed to come indoors. That is why the love to loiter on the porch---so they can try to sneak inside when one of us walks in .

    Tim is the one the hawks should fear---a hawk swooped down and grabbed a guinea once. Tim and I were about 20' away and saw it---he ran, grabbed the guinea and wrestled it away from the hawk. The guinea was fine and only lost a few feathers, but the hawk never swooped down and tried to grab a bird right in front of us ever again.

    Megan, We have a gazillion trees. We have a gazillion shrubs. The chickens have a million places to hide and I don't know if shepherd's hooks would make much difference since we already have so any impediments to a hawk's flight that are taller than the shepherd's hooks. Hawks are annoyingly smart. I've had them come land on top of the chicken coop and sit there waiting to pick up the next chicken that comes along.

    We have kites all over here and they've never bothered us or our birds. Neither has the occasional bald or golden eagle that flies over every now and then. The kites have a thing for snakes though. When a snake is making its way through a pasture, the kites fly over it, track it, make a lot of noise and just generally warn you that it is coming. I watched them track one all across the neighboring ranch, the road between it and out house, and our front pasture. As the snake neared the garden, the kites backed up and some blue jays took over (must have had a nest nearby that they were protecting). Those blue jays screamed, flapped their wings right over the snake's body as if trying to fight it, dove at the snake, etc. When the snake started to come through the garden fence, there I stood, so it turned around and left. I just laughed. The birds love our garden, perhaps because I feed them all winter, and they resent when anything else, like a snake, thinks it is coming into "their" garden.

    Once I came home exhausted from a long wildfire only to find what I thought was a dead chicken in my yard with a snake wrapped up in it or under it. I called one of the firefighters who lived up the road and also had just arrived back home, and he came down to help me kill the snake. I stood there and watched the snake because I knew if I went indoors to get a gun, it would not be sitting there waiting for me when I came back out (took me a while to learn that one when we first moved here). So, my friend gets here, tells me he'll shoot the snake so we can retrieve the chicken's body so the dogs won't get it. He shot the snake. He went up close to it (I never had gotten closer than 10 or 12') and asked what sort of chicken it was. I told him to look at its belly---it had to be a Buff Orpington based on the color. He started laughing and said "No, I'm pretty sure this thing is a red-tailed hawk." When he went to pick up the snake, he also picked up the hawk because the snake was caught in the hawk's talons (which we couldn't see prior to that, or we both would have known we weren't looking at a dead chicken's bloated belly......). So, the hawk apparently swooped down to grab the snake and did so, but then the venomous snake struck the hawk and killed it first, but then was entrapped in its talons. That's probably our craziest hawk encounter here, but it isn't even our craziest wildlife encounter. It is always something. I blame the wildlife here for every gray hair on my head, and there are plenty of them.

    Jen, Richter's is addictive. I love their paper catalog. I can look at it for hours, but I don't let myself because otherwise I'll be buying seeds I don't need, and have no space for in terms of growing them. One of my favorite weird plants was grown from Richter's Seeds. It was milk thistle. I was having so much trouble with coons getting into the corn patch, so I planted milk thistle, which is very prickly, all around the corn patch like a moat, and those prickly plants kept out the coons. I was so happy about that. Milk thistle didn't really survive for long here. Some of it died out every winter. It was great in a really dry year, but the really wet years are hard on it in anything less that sharply draining sand. They were cool and bizarre-looking plants.

    Nancy, It isn't a very good day to be out, is it. I'm staying warm by staying indoors.

    I was so good today, y'all. I cleaned house, even though cleaning the floors in this weather really is nothing but an exercise in frustration. I'm always happy going into the weekend with a clean house. It somehow manages to stay mostly clean over the weekend, maybe because we're gone so much running errands and such. I didn't do any gardening things at all. I haven't even walked down to the mailbox, but I guess I'll do it now, in the rain (this is when the 300' long driveway is a huge PITA) so I can bring up any mail we might have before dark.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    So, I came back from the mailbox with one seed order delivery, the weekly newspaper, Tim's Firehouse magazine and.......(drum roll here).....the Richter's 2019 Herb and Vegetable Catalog. I was greatly amused that it arrived when we've just been discussing it. The cover is gorgeous in shades of maroon, yellow, green and white, with the featured plants being Chocolate Cosmos, Sunset Yellow Agastache, Shell Ginger, Fireweed and Chocolate Daisy. It is a 96 page catalog this year. I am pretty sure you can request one on their website if you want one.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    It’s been 39* and raining here for 12+ hours. While I’m thrilled that the drought is busted, this is the kind of weather that makes autoimmune bodies ache unbearably. My back procedure went well, but I’m still sore from it and I won’t feel full effects for a couple weeks. I can’t imagine gardening right now, but certainly will have to check out Richters catalog. Think I’m going to curl up with some hot tea and watch LivePD. Tomorrow there will be time for laundry and the house routine.

    Stock. The flower. Do we get too hot for it? Lupine?

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I haven't even tried either of these down here, Rebecca, because both do pretty well up north. I'll be interested to see what Dawn and the rest of you have to say. Lupine are the practically the Wyoming Bighorn Mountains state flower, as there are fields and fields of them. So I assumed they wouldn't do well here. Now if they DO, I want to know! :) I started phlox two years ago and it promptly mildewed. Of course, it was pretty wet. But mildew. . . . not a fan of mildew. And a lot of things do mildew here. How many others of you have grown stock or phlox successfully, and how many lupine growers?

    I'm so glad the procedure went well, and so understand the wet weather effect on autoimmune bodies and aching. For me, it's the arthritis. Thankfully, only gets me in the wrists and hands so far.

    Of course if some of you remember what I grew last year, you will get it when I say I OD'd on growing things. Yeah, I'll concentrate on greens, carrots and beets, if I grow nothing else. I AM doing onions, potatoes, got my garlic in, the tomatoes and a few peppers. Flowers and herbs. . . more just wait and see what happens, though will plant a few. Frankly, not all that much for me to get highly geared up for this year. :)

  • hazelinok

    Y'all have been chatty.

    Thanks, Dawn, I was trying to avoid shipping fees. Oh well. I'll just order those two packets, and like you, they'll last for a few years.

    Yay! New chicks for you, Dawn. I love the name Aurora. Sleeping Beauty was my favorite at age 7. Can you make a chicken yard that is attached to the coop/pen? One that they can hang out in when you're out on the property? But they can stay in their pen when you're not out or home or whatever. That seems to work well for us. While I'm at work, they have to stay in their coop/pen. When I'm home they can go to their fenced yard.

    Rebecca, I hope you feel better soon. Enjoy your tea and down time.

    Okay. Okay. I'm going to look at Richters website now.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Rebecca, I am happy your drought is gone too, but sorry this dreary weather contributes to your aches and pains. I am hoping for warmer, drier weather for all of us, but not sure when we are going to get it. January always seems like the dreariest month to me.

    Stock will grow here, but it is pretty picky, and I have better results from it when I plant it in October or November which is the same time here in my area that you can plant pansies, flowering kale, flowering cabbage, dianthus, and snapdragons. Stock is not only a cool-season plant, but it is a bit pickier about the cool weather than some other cool-season plants seem to be. For example, dianthus goes in and out of bloom cycles here pretty much year-round, whether the temperatures are high are low. Stock doesn't do that. Stock blooms when the weather is cool, period. I believe it has to have temperatures in the 60s in order to set flowers and bloom. Once your temperatures are hotter, then it is pretty much done. If you can find some transplants in flower or ready to flower and plant them in early Spring, you can get a few weeks to a few months of bloom from it if the weather cooperates. I like stock but don't plant it often in Spring as we get too hot too early down here most years. It also tolerates cold less well than the other plants I mentioned above, so may need to be covered up in the winter and early spring on nights going very far below 32 degrees. It will tolerate some light frosts but not real heavy ones.

    Lupines? I haven't tried the ones that grow in northern parts of the country as I don't think they'd do well in our hot summers but I grow the kind of lupines that God gave us....Lupinus texensis, aka Texas bluebonnets. They either are perennial here or reseed in our clay, and some years we get big stands of them and other years we have smaller stands. Our clay really is too dense for them here at our house and I knew that when I planted them, but I figured that maybe if I was foolish enough to sow the seeds and plant them here, then maybe they would be foolish enough to grow and bloom at least a little bit....and they do. I also have grown the red-flowered variety of Lupinus texensis called Alamo Fire and it does pretty well here. In our area, all kinds of Texas bluebonnets do better from seed sown in the fall than in the spring. The bluebonnet seeds have a hard shell and sprout sporadically over a period of a couple of years. I do see fairly large (maybe one gallon, maybe two gallon) pots of Russell hybrid type lupines in stores each spring. They have them around the same time they have delphiniums in bloom in large pots, so maybe in April. To me, these are the kinds of things you buy, bring home and plant for instant impact, and you do so knowing they are likely to be relatively short-lived in our heat. If you don't expect them to thrive and flourish in our heat and can be content just to enjoy them while they last, I don't see anything wrong with buying them and planting them. I suppose they could be a big disappointment if a person bought them thinking they would bloom all summer. Yet, you never know---what if we had a cooler than average summer and they did bloom and survive? Cool summers aren't common here, but we had one in 2015.

    Nancy, I've grown Drummond's Phlox here and it did okay, but not well enough that I continued growing it. Drummond's Phlox is one of the smaller varieties and it needs well-drained sandy soil (which I really cannot give it). As for the taller garden type phlox, there's a handful of heirloom types that thrive here---we had someone in our neighborhood in Ft Worth whose home was just surrounded by the old magenta-flowering one grown back in the 1960s and prior. I don't know the name of it. There's a few of the taller garden phlox, like the variety "David", bred to be mildew-tolerant, but I haven't grown any of those.

    Jennifer, We have a fenced chicken run. We always have had one. I wouldn't have a chicken coop without one. I believe our run with the only coop now in use (we have four coops, and each has a fully enclosed chicken run) is 10' x 20' and it is fully covered in sturdy fencing, including a fence type roof. The chickens are fine when they are in it, but they hate being confined because they are used to free-ranging. I think that if they never were allowed to free-range, they wouldn't know what they were missing and they'd be content to be in the chicken run. We have lost more chickens to predators in the last 5 years than we did in the first 15 years, and I'm just done with that. If we buy more chickens, they are not going to be allowed to free range because it really is just setting them up to eventually become some predator's meal. Our predator problem probably is 20 times worse now than it was when we moved here. As land a few miles from us continues to develop, the wildlife gets pushed upriver to us. We have to change how we manage our chickens, or there's no point in having them any more. Tim is gone from home roughly 14 hours a day on work days, so he barely sees the chickens except on weekends and he is out of touch with our current reality with regards to the predator issues. I wish we were in a nice, quiet semi-rural neighborhood where chickens can free range and be relatively safe within their own yard, but we live in a wildlife jungle. It would help if I could convince him to fence our entire yard, but he hates fences with a passion. I don't know how to have chickens any more without an 8' tall fence around the whole yard.


  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Oh, good grief, y'all had to make me look at Richters. And why didn't we do this LAST year when I was trying to track special things down and all the while, there they were at Richters? And Chocolate Cosmos...$1 a seed. I will resist that, but I am checking out other things (that I don't need). I need to compare prices, because Richters is less on a lot of things.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Thanks for the info, Dawn. I am quickly falling in line with what you've said about plants. . . paraphrasing here. . . you don't have time for prima donnas.

    Well. It looks like we all are having this gray cold weather together. Rain in some places, not in others. We had an inch in the gauge a couple hours ago, so it must have rained a lot during the night. Yesterday it rained all day, too, but only about 5/8". At any rate, you get the idea. Cold and rainy. We are thankful we have a roof over our heads.

    The cats are particularly annoyed by the weather. In and out, in and out, in and out. They keep going out to see if things are better. . . and 10 minutes later, they figured out things are NOT better, so back in. It's sort of funny, really. I am NOT in the mood to clean house, but have no excuse not to. Maybe I'll mop the kitchen and dining and that'll make me LOOK busy. What I really need to so is clean clutter stuff up. And of course what I need to do and what I'll actually do. . .

    I was just trying to locate dragon's breath celosia--boy are THOSE expensive. And I'm trying to decide between calibrachoa and bacopa. . . anyone? And just remembered I don't have any tomatillo seeds and need some. I best not hit the order on this cart for a while. Wonder what else I'm missing.

    Hahaha, Amy! It looks like you're having the same weather we are. Stay warm and dry. Have you all noticed how much more expensive seeds are this year? Also shipping charges. Yikes.

  • luvncannin

    Nancy I learned that from Moni too. Live or die I dont have time to baby and pamper. Lol. First fling I came to I stayed with her and loved this attitude. Although I am sad when my favorite plant dies there's more so its it's okay.

    Like how my phone stutters if I try to fix it I lose everything.

    I am chomping at the bit to get where I am going to be this gardening season.

    I really think the big M corporation just north of me is making me sick. MMost if the times I smell a sickening smell if the wind is not blowing g to hard. Like putrid propane plus something else. Oh maybe chemicals :0

    Trying to focus on new venture will start new thread when I get ideas solid.

    Happy garden

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Amy, If I did not mention Richter's, I don't know why I didn't. Must have been having a senior moment. Ha ha! I only order from them once every few years since they put so many seeds in a packet, so maybe they slip my mind in those years when I'm not ordering anything from them.

    Nancy, I've been there, done that with pampering plants and you know that I just don't do it any more. I kinda feel sorry for the things I grow....after all, I expect them to tolerate clay soil (admittedly, well-amended and raised at least 4" above grade level) even when we have a day with 12+" of rainfall or a month with 24" of rainfall, and they have to tolerate weeks or months of high temps in the 90s and 100s with no pampering. They will be eaten by insects. They may not get rain for a month and, if that happens, they'll be lucky if I give them 1" of water maybe once every week or two during that month. If plants cannot tolerate that, I cannot tolerate them. Yet, I rarely have crop failures...so, there's that. Maybe it is because I've already weeded out weaklings that cannot handle our conditions and produce well in them. And, whatever weaklings I haven't weeded out by then, Mother Nature will handle for me anyway, even if her way of handling them involves plant death.

    There are tons of plants I adore desperately and want to buy the minute I see them in stores, but I don't get them because they've already proven in previous years that they won't be happy here, and I'm not one to keep throwing away money on plants that aren't happy here. Hostas are one of those things I attempted here repeatedly. Our clay drains too slowly, our sandy back area drains too quickly. The summer droughts are tough on them, and so is the heat. If they aren't in a fenced garden, the deer will eat them, and if they are in a fenced garden, the voles will eat them underground and I'll think they are fine until I walk out one morning and they are dead with absolutely all their roots chewed off of them. So, no hostas for me, even though I was totally smitten with the hostas that Tim's parents grew in their backyard (beneath huge trees) in Pennsylvania. I think gardening is more fun when you haven't yet figured out what won't grow for you, and you're all caught up in still trying anything and everything, but then it is a lot less nerve-wracking when you've crossed all the prima donnas off your list and just grow the same old reliable survivors every year. I guess I'm in the less nerve-wracking stage of my life now. I no longer want to grow everything. I just want to grow the things we like that also want to grow here.

    Our cats and dogs are stir crazy from the rain too. So are we humans.

    Dracula is expensive. I have waited for years for the price of the seeds to come down, but they really haven't. I think I bought a packet of 100, figuring that I could plant x number per year and the seeds would last me x number of years. That is how I justify the expense to myself when I finally break down and buy something I've long wanted but totally avoided, hoping the price will fall. Eventually the price falls, but sometimes it takes a long, long time for that to happen.

    Kim, That is horrible about the big M corp, but not surprising given that you reside in such a heavily agriculturally oriented area. Technically, you know, Monsanto no longer exists, having been acquired by Bayer, who said at the time that they intend to drop the Monsanto name. Sure enough, if you go to Monsanto's Wikipedia page, it is referred to as "Monsanto was" and not as "Monsanto is", so I see Bayer has begun their effort to erase Monsanto's name. I am assuming that is because it is not a very well-loved corporation and maybe they think the name change will make people forget Monsanto. It won't.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your next adventure when it begins


  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    SESE has 6 collard varieties I haven't tried. Sigh. Next year - year of the collard. Maybe fall of the collard?

    Kim, I had no idea you were living in close proximity to a plant like that! You need to move! Hope this new adventure gets going soon.

    Nancy, I did notice seed prices went up. Kitazawa may become a luxury. Flowers...can't do that.

    Mud and muck everywhere.

    Is there a new thread that I can't see yet?

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Don't see one yet either, Amy. I guess Dawn is just in shock realizing we are going into Week 3! I know I am, but am super glad. Means not that much cold weather left and means days are getting longer.

    I haven't seen the prices at Kitazawa. . . maybe I'll go peek.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Sorry, I have been busy with our 2 little princesses, planning and throwing a surprise birthday party for their mama, which just ended a little earlier this afternoon. So, I'm here now and the new weekly garden talk post is up.

    After 48 hours with two sweet little princesses, I am completely tired out and will need at least a week to recover. There's a reason young folks are the ones who give birth to and raise young children, while older folks are the grandpas and grandmas who love those kids, and spend time with them, and then send them home. I wish I had the same energy now that I had when Chris was a young child, but I don't.

    Seed prices go up every year or two. They always have. I'm not sure what they are going to blame for the price increases this year. Sometimes they try to blame rising fuel prices, but they really cannot do that this year. With everyone that I order seeds from, I try to order on 2 to 5 year rotations for most things, so I'm not constantly reordering each year from the same seed companies. This seems to work well with most seed companies, but I cannot make it work with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because they always have so many things that I want to grow. With most seeds, I can order enough at one time to last 5 years, and I do, so that I don't have to reorder that some stuff the next year. I am pretty sure that some of the lettuce and greens seeds that I'm planting this year are 4 years old, but I had no germination issues with those last year, so will lose them again this year.

    If you have seeds that won't germinate because they're getting a bit old and losing viability, sometimes you can push them into germination by pre-soaking them in a water-soluble plant food for 12-24 hours (or only a couple of hours for bean or corn seed), Then either sow as usual in a sterile, soil-less mix or in coffee filters or paper bags using the baggie method, and check each day for germination.

    Kitazawa Seed prices, at least for the things I buy, always have been a bit higher, but since the squash varieties I buy from them cannot be found anywhere else, I willingly pay those prices....because what other option is there? Sadly (from our point of view), that is how supply and demand works. They have the Korean squash seed varieties we need and no one else does yet (C. moschata summer squash varieties are the most well-kept secret in the edible gardening world), so we have to pay the price they want if we want to have those seeds. When you're the sole supplier of a variety, you do not necessarily have to be real competitive price-wise. Anyhow, in this specific case, their seed quality is so high that I don't really mind the higher prices.

    Amy, I've grown most of SESE's collards and liked them all. I'm especially partial to Variegated as a winter crop. It seems to start out with very little (almost none) variegation early on, but as the weather gets colder and the plant gets more mature, there is more variegation visible. I like the flavor too. I also like the blue varieties like Alabama Blue (SESE and/or SSE) and Groninger's Blue (Nichol's Garden Nursery), which is almost too pretty to eat. I think Groninger's is a kale/collard cross and it has smaller leaves that are both gorgeous to look at and tasty as well.

    No matter how much we grow, there's always something else out there beckoning to us, urging us "try me, try me". I think that is a good thing---it keeps us busy trying new things, and sometimes finding new favorites.

    The mud and muck is everywhere here too. I cannot tell you where our driveway is going, but it is disappearing.....I mean the gravel and base. It is like it is being sucked underground. It isn't washing out downhill....we don't have piles of gravel and base in the bar ditch like we'll see after a 10-12" rain in one day carries it all downhill. This same thing happened in 2010 and again in 2015, both of which were really rainy years. The driveway sank into the center of the earth (maybe it goes all the way through to the other side of the world) until all the big puddles joined together and eventually became one big long 300' puddle of nothing than mud and we had to have Elvis (no, not that Elvis, he's dead) or one of his sons haul a load of gravel and aggregate base here and redo the driveway. It looks like we'll have to do the same thing again, but not until everything dries out some more. In 2010, things got so bad that we had to park in our own bar ditch, just barely off the road so we wouldn't sink into the mud there, and walk up to the house because the driveway became totally unusable. It is not that bad yet, but it is getting close. I am SO over this rain, and it really irks me, because we'd kill to get rain once or twice a week every week in summer. In the winter? Who needs it? At this point, we don't. The river is up and running big again. What this means for us, in practical terms, is that wildlife pushed up off the fringes of the river bottom lands venture uphill to us and then our wildlife woes worsen.

    I noticed our forecast improves after today, and by Wed and Thurs it looks pretty good, but then real cold weather and and rain/snow are back in the forecast by the weekend. I shouldn't complain, because at least we'll have one or two nice sunny days before the weather worsens again. For January, one or two nice days a week isn't bad.


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