Blog posts from March 2011
Mar 29, 2011
Mar 27, 2011
Just a highlight of a few blooms popping out in the new front bed. It's a work in progress...It's the only pre-existing bed at the new house- a crecent shaped bed that sits in front of a concrete circular drive. It's really the main feature of the front landscape. It was full of Bermuda grass, some dead zinnias, groundcover junipers in poor shape and a large row of 30-40 year-old yaupons with trunks the size of large trees! In January, I ripped out everything in the bed, amended with compost, expanded shale and some humus...and started planting. Here's what's pretty so far...
Right now the bed is planted with chard, spinach, cilantro, dill, strawberries, rosemary, rain lilies, roses, tomatoes, echinacea, daffodils, violas and more...even have baby tomatoes on the 'Sapho' plants already.
Mar 15, 2011
Sunday was project day in the home garden...With help from some of my guys, I managed to get the side yard, officially re-named "Fruitopia", cleared. We also planted a number of fruit trees and blackberry plants. Fruitopia is where my two beehives will reside as of next month and it should be the perfect spot for them.
The before shot above: There was a very old Ligustrum hedge planted along the foundation. These plants had probably been established for a good 40 years. While they'd been cut number of times, the trunks were huge. It took about half the day to get them out. The owners that remodeled the house and sold it to us planted a ridiculous assortment of random shrubs and many Leyland Cypress around the house, without amending any foundation beds. We pulled all of them out. They are sitting in pots and up for grabs right now, lol.
We amended the foundation bed with compost and expanded shale, although I didn't use too much because I'm establishing blackberries down the entire bed. They usually don't require as much prep as ornamental plantings. There are about 14 blackberries between the varieties 'Navaho', 'Quachita', 'Brazos' and one other....can't remember off the top of my head. Blackberry heaven! I also planted a Pomegranate 'Wonderful' down at the end of the bed on the South side, although you can' really see it in the photo. That South corner is where the beehives will go. Eventually, I'll also build some pathways and plant a few more ornamental bloomers in there just to pretty it up. But it is a production space.
The fruit trees we planted are:
'Santa Rosa' Plum
'Ayers' Pear on dwarf root stock
'Dwarf Redskin' Peach
'Dwarf Ranger' Peach
'Brown Turkey' Fig
I also have a dwarf fruiting Cherry called 'Dwarf North Star', but I'm going to put that one in a large container on the South side of the back yard. It will only get 8'-10' feet so I don't want it shaded out by the other fruit trees. I plan to prune all of the trees to keep them more compact, but still planted the larger varieties to the North side, staggered down the the shortest variety (the 10' fig) on the South side to avoid shading.
We also ripped up all the randomly planted shrubs around the front of the house. There was no rhyme or reason to what was planted and none of the soil was amended. There were volunteer junipers growing right in front of the windows...even a "pruned" red oak growing right under the roof line. It was basically a hot mess! So now it just looks a little sad and empty, but better than the mess that was there before. There was an original grape vine in the front...I left that to see what it does. Might trellis it over the window.
Eventually, I will build burm foundation beds all around the front of the house, property and the back yard...but the next project is to rework a ton of the irrigation first. We did some of that on Sunday, but things have to be moved, repaired and rezoned. Can't build new beds till that work is completed. So..sad and empty it is, lol. I did do some extra planting in the front sidewalk bed. The herbs, chard, spinach and Iceland poppies are looking pretty right now. There are baby strawberries coming as well. I added some 'Pat Austin' and 'Easy Does It' roses, some new Echinacea varieties and a few tomato plants. Pulled weeds...and mulched.
Mar 12, 2011
After I got back in town from beekeeping class today, I managed to quickly pot up a few patiently waiting empty containers on the front porch.
I love the new 'Black Velvet' petunias so I combined them with dusty miller for nice contrast, then 'Poetry White' Nemesia, 'Techno Heat Blue' Lobelia, Ageratum, and golden moneywort. I haven't yet been through a spring or summer yet in this house, but I have a feeling this front porch is going to stay too shady to support this combo for long. I may have to move them to the South facing patio in the backyard. We'll see as the sun angle changes.
Petunia 'Black Velvet' is a Petunia grandiflora hybrid, so it's best suited to cooler temps here in N. Texas. Plants will thrive February though early June. They won't appreciate July/August heat, but who does?? They can be eeked through summer with some afternoon shade, or replanted in September. Fall planted petunias will often make it through mild winters. Lovely.
I also placed a number of fruit trees and berry plants today...tomorrow I'll be ripping out numerous poorly planted foundation shrubs and planting the orchard in the side-yard...henceforth known as the bee-yard. I'll also be planting a number of roses, tomatoes and some new Echinacea hybrids. More to come!
Mar 6, 2011
Made some progress on the beehives today. Finished getting the base coats of paint on the brood boxes, which I've painted bright green. I plan to paint the honey supers alternating colors of lighter greens and orange...with some additional decorative painting of flowers and bees. Each hive will look different so that the bees know which hive is theirs...I don't think any other beekeeper will mistake these for their hives either! lol
Finished building all of the honey supers and got them coated with linseed oil. They'll have to dry for 3 or 4 days before I can paint them.
We also got 40 brood frames assembled (only 56 more honey frames to go...lol) We still have to pop in the brood frame bases.
In order to get the frames put together more quickly, we built a jig...It takes forever putting these babies together one by one...so I definitely recommend the jig.
Next weekend we'll be dropping off our brood boxes so that they can each be seeded with a Nuc (a frame that containes a queen, workers and drones). Can't wait!