This year marks my first foray into the realm of veggie gardening in Austin. I had quite a large garden back home in Seattle, but the idea of growing veggies down here in Austin was a little intimidating. First off, the ground is caliche/black gumbo/landscapers red death and the bugs are large and a little bit scary. Second, my yard is tiny and I wasn't sure if I had room to grow what I wanted in such a small space. And third, the weather is really kinda punishing - no gentle rains here! Would my garden be beaten to death by monster hail, flooded out by torrential rains, or fried by the death star above?
Well, I decided to give it a shot. I dug a drainage trench all the way across my yard and out under the fence where it would run off into the street, then I dug out a little section of grass in the back yard near the fence for the garden and removed about a foot down of awful earth (I can't really call it soil or dirt, because it really wasn't either), and I brought in bags and bags and bags of garden soil and compost (my neighbors surely thought I was building that Devil's Table sculpture that Roy Neary built in his kitchen in that movie 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind').
I had in mind that I would create a small, squarish Potager garden in this new planting spot I made. I went out and bought a Texas Persimmon tree and put it in the middle and I planted everything else around it. I strung up twine along the fence at the back of the little garden and planted Scarlet Runner beans along it - which the pill bugs promptly mowed down - TWICE - after which I started them INSIDE and moved them outside. Oh, and I finally discovered that upside down, half-grapefruit trick that worked great at catching those little buggers! Too bad I didn't think of that sooner - before they plowed over every set of dill seeds I tried to plant...and even ate the dill starts I planted....but I digress...
I then planted some yellow cosmos in front of the beans, some Cocozelle Zucchini at the front of the garden (because they are supposed to stay relatively small), and some sweet basil. All of those items are doing pretty well. I also planted some blue Bush Morning Glory seeds and some Red Corn Poppy seeds. The Morning glories are doing great, the corn poppies were mowed over by the birds - TWICE - so needless to say, there are no red corn poppies this year. Oh well, maybe next year.
I also added peppers because that was one thing I had a TERRIBLE time growing back home (I should have planted them in tires to help retain heat up there, I venture) and I thought they would grow great down here. So I tucked in 3 Chili tepin plants around the persimmon tree, and planted a Jalepeno pepper plant, and some type of yellow pepper plant. Those seem to be doing ok so far.
Check it out:
Here is a closer shot of the Zucchini:
I think they are looking pretty good - I was having a mildew problem on the leaves until I tried that old milk trick: spray leaves with a 50/50 milk/water mix - it worked GREAT! No more mildew. I hear horror stories of some sort of bug that burrows into the squash plants here, so far I haven't seen any of those (crossing fingers).
So how dost my garden grow? Well, so far, so good (except for the dill and corn poppies). My little potager garden has survived strong winds (I had to prop up the Zucchini with sticks to keep it in place), nickle-size hail (a few torn leaves), and a few torrential down-pours (that drainage ditch I dug is working splendidly!), a hundred degree day, and relentless pill bug attacks. We shall see how it fares the rest of the season.
As for the rest of the yard, here is an image of one of my new pink rain lilies - Zephyranthes Grandiflora:
And the Geckos are back! These guys hang out on the back porch by the light and catch bugs for dinner. I always have to be careful when opening the door in the evening because they like to scurry inside and then a-gecko-huntin' we go!:
These are Mediterranean Geckos - Hemidactylus turcicus. They are an introduced species and in Texas, are mostly found in the southern third of the state.