Rob's plants
home garden plants wildlife seed photos
plant sale journal topics plantlinks fun guestbook

Garden journal entry


March 29, 2020. Nearly six months passed between 2019's last post and 2020's first. What happened? Not enough, apparently, to inspire me to write about it. What did happen is that our new puppy, Hippie, turned out to be a lean mean digging machine, and made holes both in the lawn and in the border areas, upturning carefully planted perennials and just generally making a mess. It was disheartening, and for a while I wasn't much motivated to get out and garden. Then the Houston "winter" arrived – that season when there's always something still blooming, but it's at a low level, nothing much happening, same stuff as last year. So the weeds proliferated as I turned my attention to other endeavors. But finally, two things came together to rekindle my gardening spirit. The first was the arrival of spring, with its much greater exuberance of growth and flower – even in this subtropical climate. The garden, which was never really asleep, suddenly seemed to wake up completely and confront me with its presence. The second was the arrival of the coronavirus, and its restrictions on ordinary activities away from the house. The day that the announcement of our county's stay-at-home guidance was imminent (which happened to be the first day I worked from home), I made a quick trip to the local garden materials supply place, for bagged compost and some edging stones, in preparation for a project I'd been eyeing for some time.
Although I've not resumed my seed-starting activities on the same scale here in Houston as I used to undertake in Pennsylvania, I still start plenty of seeds every year, mostly from the annual NARGS seed exchange. I had created a nice little border along our south fence to house the seedlings over the past two years, but found my success rate in keeping them alive to be even lower than it was in Allentown. That's partly due to the hot summer conditions here in Houston – many plants, even those listed for warm zones, just don't fare well in the unrelenting heat and humidity. But I've come to suspect that for many others that haven't thrived, the problem is the opposite: my seedling area is shaded most of the day by the fence that runs along its back. This was on purpose: I wanted to provide some respite from the summer sun to my poor seedlings. But for quite a few of the plant groups I've been trying to grow recently (the rain lilies, agaves, and various other drought-tolerant and/or succulent plants), the lack of sufficient sunshine in their formative seasons probably retarded their growth, making them vulnerable to wetter conditions in winter (and dog paws, too!). So my mission was to create some sunny seedling areas. For that, I had to look on the other side of the garden – along the north fence, where sunlight is plentiful. My faithful readers will remember that I had created a narrow border along that entire fence a little over a year ago. Some plants had since found their way into that border, and in any case it wasn't wide enough to accommodate many new seedlings. So an extension was in order. Over quite a length of the existing border, I added anywhere from 1 to 4 feet of extra width, using my usual double-digging, sod-burying method, with extra compost mix and sand mixed in to build up the border height.The picture here shows only part of the extension, the one with well-defined seedling areas (those of you with sharp eyes may even see the first seedlings are already in). Now I'll have an opportunity to compare seedling survival rates for the two areas. This new one is far removed from the closest spigot, so it will have to contend with some dry conditions from time to time. We'll see how the plants fare – the agaves and sotols will be fine, some of the others may struggle. And that's fine – gardening is a game of trial and error, for anyone who doesn't always play it safe.

Your name

Your comments

home garden plants wildlife seed plant sale topics guestbook journal plantlinks

Last modified: September 09, 2009
Contact me