Archive for April 20th, 2011

Ultra Dry at the Dancing Dog Ranch


Posted by Mikie Baker  |  No Comments »

If you live anywhere in the great state of Texas, you need rain. Not drizzle or a little shower that evaporates before it hits the ground; no you need a week of good, soaking slow rain. Then maybe none of us will twist our ankles stepping in the severely cracked ground.

Well, guess what? Vegetables like rain, too. They also prefer California temperatures. Today, in the middle of April, it is 92 here. That’s when tomatoes quit setting, unless you’ve bought the kind that Texas A&M says will set after 92 degrees. I have, but we’ll see if it’s true or not pretty soon.

Even soaker hoses can’t keep up in this drought

Yeah, you heard me. Drought. There I said it. Now you may think I’m a pessimist, but when it’s in the upper 90’s in April…well, you do the math. June’s going to be awful and by August I may have moved to Maine. Ladies of a “certain age” really hate the heat.

The photo above is my one unplanted bed in The Funny Farm. It’s waiting for the FedEx man to arrive with sweet potato slips from Tennessee. I’ve never grown sweet potatoes before, but Dearly Demented Mom just loves them, so I thought maybe I could keep her in tators for awhile.

Onions bulbing already?

Even the onions are confused. They’re supposed to be ready towards the end of May. The biggest one of these is larger than a professional baseball. When it reaches softball size, he’s coming out of the ground whether he likes it or not.

And I’m pouring the water on everything. 45 minutes a day, every day. That’s just too much water to waste, so I’ve come up with a plan to keep my water bill lower than my electric bill.

Mulch Heavily

These are bush beans and now that they contain a little moisture, maybe they’ll start bushing.

Last year, I managed to get my hands on one of those big, round, giant bales of hay that was already about a year old. Dearly Demented Mom’s VA nurse is a great woman who not only gardens, but has horses, too. She may have to buy hay, but she gets free horse manure which is great for the garden. She donated the bale of hay to The Funny Farm.

Why am I so excited about old hay? Less chance of grass seed sprouting. Of course, with no rain, there’s a pretty good chance nothing will sprout – just like my cucumbers.

All these seedlings have already fried to death

I’ve replanted the cukes, but they don’t seem to want to come. Now that the bed is heavily mulched, I’m going to plant seeds again. A woman with plenty of dill and no cucumbers has gotten a problem on her hands when she goes to can crunchy dill pickles.

Heatwave II tomatoes starting to take off

As I’ve mentioned before, in the hot Texas heat, it’s best to plant tomato varieties that have the words Sun, Solar, Fire or Heat in their names. These types were bred for Texas heat and should set after 92 degrees. We shall see. I had great luck with these last year, but we had plenty of rain and no high heat, so they really didn’t get put to the test.

Look – a bed of Celebrities

One of the classic Texas tomatoes, Celebrities are in most gardens. Since there is nothing “hot” in the name, we’ll see how they do this hot summer. Say, do you think I could grow my own George Clooney?

Mulch, mulch, mulch

Well, that’s my gardening tip for the day. I’ve only got 3 beds left to mulch and though I can no longer breathe from inhaling hay dust, at least my vegetables will stay moist (er). Told you I have the most spoiled vegetables in the Hill Country. Now if I could just find a man to spoil me that well.

Spreading laughter throughout the world…one chuckle at a time.

Mikie Baker