A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Fall is Coming

I took a much-needed leave of absence for the last month or so.  The hottest month of the year in Central Texas is August, so there was little I could do in the garden besides try to save a few plants that burned up in the hot, dry weather.  Now that the hottest weather has passed, I’ve managed to get outside the last couple of weekends to survey the damage, pull up unwanted plants and do a little maintenance.

The veggie garden is all but finished for the summer, but I still have some peppers and tomatoes that should be producing through the fall.  I have some broccoli in the ground now for the fall/winter garden.  I do have plans yet to get spinach, carrots and lettuce in the ground as well.  I can’t believe it’s that time of year again.  Last spring we were lamenting the fact that we would have no more fresh spinach and lettuce for awhile and now it seems it’s come around so quickly that I’m a little behind.

yellow and green bell peppers and cayenne in the back (not visible)

broccoli!

I certainly intended to be ahead of the game at this point, and indeed I was a month ago.  I sowed several broccoli and spinach seeds inside, but – due to neglect – they suffered and I decided to let them die off.  I bought broccoli transplants instead.  I made sure to put them in a different bed this season as it is recommended to plant them in the same place every three years.  The spinach I’ll sow directly as soon as this week – the time is right now.  The carrots will soon follow and then I’ll do successive plantings of lettuce through the winter.  I can’t wait until I get them on my plate!

The herb garden suffered a bit through my neglecting it the past month.  Then we received such a torrential downpour from the leftover tropical depression that the plants just looked downright ugly.  I harvested what I wanted, then ripped up the remaining plants and threw them onto the compost pile.  Fire ants had moved into the bed, no doubt relocating from some other spot due to all of the rain.  Having the garden bare was a good time to kill them off using several pots of boiling water.  I think I succeeded in killing most of them off, as is evident by the piles of red carcasses!

flat parsley, chives and oregano

In the meantime, I have more chives, parsley and oregano going, but I need to find some thyme as well.  I don’t plan to grow any more sage in the herb garden, and instead have expanded on the chives and oregano – and hopefully thyme (all the local nurseries were out).  I use those three herbs more than anything  – well, those and rosemary, but I have the rosemary planted elsewhere.  The basil plant grew so large due to my continuing to trim off the flowers that the weight of it finally tipped it over following the heavy rain.  I pulled a good six cups of firmly packed leaves off of the one plant and made pesto.  I have a tub of fresh pesto in the fridge that we’re eating on (we put it on some homemade pizza the other day and it was outstanding!) and another tub frozen in the freezer for later use.  I still have so many dried basil and sage that I can seriously provide for our needs for the next year or two, provided they stay fresh.

Butterfly garden

The butterfly garden is not disappointing me.  In early March I landscaped the area and dropped several plants in.  Now they have taken over the spot and are putting on a good show.  The verbena didn’t suffer at all through the summer and I’ve had to trim it several times to maintain a nice, compact bush.  The Texas lantana is sprawling out everywhere, especially now that I’ve cut back all of the fennel (which, by the way, is now growing back!).  The fall aster is gearing up for its fall show, with a beautiful display of lavender flowers.  The black-eyed susans look like they’re done for the year, but I’m still hoping they’ll come back this fall.  There are a couple of new flowers, but the foliage looks pretty bad.  The trailing lantana continues to push outward across the gravel walkway and will need to be cut back … again!  It has not stopped flowering since March.  The far end of the butterfly garden is in desperate need of re-spacing.  I’ll have to transplant the salvia greggii and the zexmenia, which has been overcome by the indigo spires and copper canyon daisies.  I’ll most likely have to move the rosemary, as well.  Since the tarragon didn’t make it through the summer, I now have room to move it over.  I’ll wait another couple of weeks to do that.

blooming milkweed (from cuttings) and verbena

indigo spires salvia and copper canyon daisies (right)

trailing lantana and four-nerve daisies (foreground)

whirling butterfly gauras

fall aster staring its fall show

zexmenia with a couple of blooms

Texas lantana and fall aster

thyme walkway

And the milkweed is doing well, too.  The largest suffered through the heat and dropped most of its leaves, but it has since rebounded.  The other cuttings are really flowering now.  Those that I started from seed are getting larger.  I was worried about them for awhile.  I had to water them literally every day to keep them alive through August.  The ground was so dry that a huge crack opened up along the entire length of the bed.  I lost a handful of the forty plants I had because they fell into the crack!  I put down some fresh dirt, mulched with compost and that seemed to work, but it wasn’t until all of the rain the past few weeks that the crack has filled in and the plants have taken off.  It’s almost time for the monarch migration.  I don’t know if they’re far enough along to generate much interest from them as they migrate, but there is always next year!  I was shocked to discover a couple baby monarch cats on them today, … so, we’ll see!  Despite my expectations, it looks like they ARE going to flower this year, even though they typically do not the first year from seed (which surprises me since I planted them in July!).    I have also harvested a hundred or so seeds from the cuttings that produced pods.  Perhaps I can get them going next spring …

milkweed bed grown from seed

milkweed plant

the cluster at the top indicates they will bloom soon

baby Monarch caterpillar!

I also ripped out all of the spearmint.  I wanted them to flower, which they did, and because of their invasive tendency, I decided to do away with them.  I pulled them up a couple of weeks ago, which was no easy task – they’re roots and runners sprawled in all direction.  Yet, after two weeks, there were no signs of them coming back to life, so I decided to plant a couple Turk’s Cap plants as well as Autumn Joy Sedum.  We needed more red in the garden anyway.

Turk's Cap (rear) and Autumn Joy Sedum

That’s all the updating I have for now.  I’m off to the nurseries to see what I can find, then I have a day cut out for me.  I’ll be brewing some more compost tea and doing some transplanting and trimming.  I’ll be back with some updates in the next few days, so thanks, in advance, for checking back.  I’m sorry, once again, for my absence the last month or so!

If you don’t mind, leave me a comment and let me know what you’re up to in your garden!

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Comments on: "Fall is Coming" (15)

  1. Your butterfly garden is so lovely!! Due to the layout of our backyard, there’s a lot of shade so I’ve had trouble with a lot of the flowers I’ve tried. We still have tomato plants producing and we’re seeing some decent green bell peppers too! Our eggplants have also done pretty well. We’re trying to learn from our mistakes this year and plant more of what was successful and why our squash (for example) was not…

    Thanks for the lovely pictures! I am looking forward to seeing those monarchs when they grow up!

    • roundrockgarden said:

      I’ve been unsuccessful with all of my cucurbits for three seasons! It’s pretty frustrating. This time around, powdery mildew got them all – squash, zucchini and cucumbers! I’m glad to hear your tomatoes and eggplants are doing well. I’m the only one in the family that really likes eggplants, so I haven’t tried them yet. Good luck finishing up the season!

  2. The mornings have been so pleasant, and last evening felt so heavenly–almost cool! It feels like coming out of hibernation to me. I have been assessing the damage done in the garden, with weeds and grass out of control! I love your fence row of Milkweed–they are coming along nicely. Your Lantana and asters are a great combination.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Thanks, Jenny! I caught a whiff of a wood fire yesterday morning, which always makes me think of fall. At the park today, I saw a few leaves falling already and all of it tells me that autumn is fast approaching. I am SO looking forward to those cooler 50-degree nights. I just wish we could get more of them as I’ve had my fill of hot weather (even though I’ll take this summer over LAST summer any year!).

  3. It’s all looking so beautiful — I’m very jealous of your milkweed. Mine suffered this year while I tended to other areas of the garden, though a bit perseveres. I’m determined to get more milkweed growing all over my yard.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Thanks, Meredith. I’ve got another seed pod forming that I should be able to collect soon. Want me to send you some seeds? :)

  4. I like your gaura…mine does not look good at all! It used to be one of my favorites. I think I might need to move it to get more sun. Wow…all your milkweed! You are smart to plant a lot of it because they eat it so quickly. Mine needed extra water this summer, too!

    Do you sow your poppy seeds, pretty soon?

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Good to see you again, Amy. Yeah, before planting the gauras, I read somewhere that they do best on the south side of the house or fence line, so that’s where mine ended up. I’m happy with how profusely they bloom, but I think I did them a slight disservice by planting them under the eave of the house. The rain drains off the side so heavily that they sort of lean over!

      Not happy with just a few milkweeds in the garden, I thought I’d do something buffet-style! COOOME AAAAND GET IIIIT!! :)

  5. I must say I am impressed by the evident lack of weeds in your garden and everything is looking really tidy. I bet those crops are taking off after all this rain and relative cool.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      They are liking the cooler weather and moisture, especially after not even a drop the whole month of August! I’ll let you in on a secret: I trimmed and weeded, THEN took photos! :D Appearances can be deceiving! It took me two hours with the hoe and down on my hands and knees pulling up bermuda grass to clean up the milkweed bed again. OH, and the neighbors love to let the morning glories go crazy and they’ve spread all over the neighboring fences. It took me awhile to pull those up as well, which had wrapped around several of the milkweed plants! I think they’re pretty and the sphinx moths really like them, but they’re too invasive!

  6. I love your path to the butterfly garden! And the thyme between stones. I can’t get it to grow worth a darn. You’ve got lovely plants! I am so way behind, too, on the fall veg garden. Hope to tackle it this weekend. The lettuce and spinach wants cooler days, anyway. On the tarragon, was this the Mexican mint marigold? The “official” tarragon doesn’t work well for us, but that perennial does and it tastes like tarragon.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      I lost one of they thyme, but it looks like it’s starting to come back – there are a few sprigs of fresh green leaves coming up. I think they benefit from not being too hot, which is why I put them closer to the house where they will be shaded from the afternoon sun. You know, it was Mexican Mint Marigold. They were covered in web worms and spider mites and then just didn’t make it. I was really looking forward to enjoying them both as a flowering plant and as an addition to my herbs. I think I’ll try it again, but maybe put it somewhere where it can get a little less sun?

  7. Beautiful butterfly garden Joseph! What a sweet little Monarch instar! I cannot wait to see your Milkweed fully grown. ;>)

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Glad to know I got it right this time! I was out in the garden yesterday evening and found a handful more. They are much bigger than this little guy.

  8. Glory Hayman said:

    Fantastic blog! I actually love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the information are well written. I am wondering how I can be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which should do the trick! Have a nice day!

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