Friday, December 5, 2008

Phase one - Texas style, or Brrrr!

Carol of May Dreams Gardens told us about all the complicated preparations for winter that they undergo up north before the snow comes and the ground freezes.

She wrote of bringing in bird baths and patio furniture and lots and lots of, well, work.

Here in Austin, the ground doesn't freeze.  But sometimes the air does,and so there are a few things we have to do to protect our plants, pipes and pets (as the weather folks are fond of saying!)

Last night is was 30* at my house.  Brrrr.

The plants were already in the greenhouse, so I took some sheets out to cover my lettuce and my leeks, and I picked all the remaining green tomatoes and lemons.

I brought in an overflowing bowl of tomatoes, probably 80-90 of them, and 25 more variegated lemons.  

While I was picking the fruit, I talked to the plants -- thanking them for their bounty and letting them know how much we enjoyed our harvest.  (It seemed the right thing to do, knowing the tomatoes at least were facing imminent death).  

While carrying the haul in, I realized with horror that the Brugmansia - German Double Pink, was still blooming and I hadn't yet dug it up for potting and overwintering in the greenhouse.

GASP.

So, I put on my clogs and got out the shovel and dug 'er up.  (Boy, did she have some roots for a 9-month old.)  And she almost didn't make it into the greenhouse, she cleared the peak of the ceiling by only about 2 inches!  I hope she survives so I can find a better home for her next year.  Her blooms are a pretty color, aren't they?

I ordered her from ebay (I know, don't laugh!)  

I found her on a google search and fell in love with the picture, so I forked over way too much money for one big 'ol bulb and clicked, "BUY NOW."

She's my first, so I had no idea what to do with her and I just stuck her in a hole where I could see her and where I had some room (and safe from deer).

I put her next to the Datura, as they are similar, but it turns out that was much too sunny a spot for her to be happy.  I watered her by hand daily in the 100 degree heat and she looked very sad many days. 

Then someone (probably a grasshopper) ate all of her leaves all the way up the stalk.  How rude!


There's Tanner, in his favorite perch, watching over his property as I prepare to dig.
I'd hardly call her blooms pink, though.  They are very peachy.  And now they are full of beetle bites.  These little yellow and black beetles the size of lady bugs have been having their Thanksgiving feast on her.  
After being overheated and too hot in the sun all year, she has to suffer the indignities of bug bites just as she's finally coming into her own.  Oh well, maybe it will make her stronger! Ha ha.

But my Christmas Cactus is about to burst into bloom.  Just in time for our humongous holiday party.  Oh, and I made two pans of ginger bars today.  Tomorrow I'm testing out some chicken salad filling in puff pastry shells...I'll let you know how it goes!

15 comments:

Gail said...

Brr...that is cold! Glad you remembered to rescue your Brugmansia! She's lovely. I can't wait to see Phase two ...Texas Style! gail

Diana said...

Phase II is easy - it's shopping! That's what I'm best at. I have been drooling over all these catalogs with their amaryllis -- but boy they sure are expensive. I have one I'm nurturing, but she will bloom much later than the party!

Isaac said...

I've got some really good plants from ebay, too.

ErikaP said...

I'm a brand new Austin gardener. I didn't cover my plants (vegies) last night and the leaves appear pretty frozen this morning. Any chance they'll comeback once they thaw? In the future, is covering them with a sheet enough? Is this the end of the vegetable season for us?
Thanks! -Erika

Diana said...

Isaac - oh, good, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only shopaholic! I think you can find unusual specimens there, though I'm not sure I didn't pay too much for it cuz I have no idea what it's worth!

Erika - welcome to Austin gardening! No, the plants won't "come back" although if the freezes stop for a while, you will get some new growth with our inevitable warm winters here. You can prune them back now, or leave them until late January so they don't try to grow and then get frozen again. Most perennials will come back in March/April again if we don't have a hard winter. A sheet is normally enough for a light freeze like we've had. You should also water the day before - the more moisture they have in their cells, the better they can handle the weather. And don't tuck sheets in tight around the base of plants - you want the warmth of the earth to come up like inside a tent, so cover and hold it down with rocks or whatever (I've even used canned food!) at the edge of the plants at the drip line. Hope that helps...I was thinking about doing a post about all that, so you've inspired me. Good luck with your plants and come back to visit.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Diana, I don't do that much to overwinter things here either, although it's been really cold for this time of year now that I think about it. I enjoyed your story of the Brugmansia's travails. Could those beetles be cucumber beetles?~~Dee

Erika said...

Diana, thanks for the advice on the use of the sheet. Can I probe you further? I have a square foot garden. Do I put a sheet over the whole thing and put the rocks on the edges or do I need to cover the sections individually? Thanks again!

Diana said...

Dee - the might be cucumber beetles, I was hoping you'd tell me because my entomology knowledge is limited! I'll have to check and see.

Erika - the main thing is covering the plants completely, so it's more a matter of how big your sheets are and how easily you can cover them. If it's easier to do sections to get full coverage, that's fine. I used to cover a Sago palm when it got down to 26 and used about 4-5 blankets and sheets just to get it completely covered. It was a pain and never stayed because of the wind, Last year I gave up and realized they are so big that they are cold hearty enough to be left on their own. Thank goodness!

ErikaP said...

Surprisingly, my lettuce leaves appeared to be fine when I went out later this morning. I'll keep watch to see how they do in the next couple of days. Thanks for the advice, though.

Diana said...

Erika - That's good news. It was a very light freeze after all. And many winter vegetables can keep right on growing with as infrequently as we get that kind of cold. Good luck!

Annie in Austin said...

That's a nice peachy brugmansia, Diana - hope it appreciates being rescued!
I have no room inside so planted it close to the house wall and watch it die down outside each winter. Bet you'll have blossoms all winter.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Diana said...

Oh Annie - I sure hope so. Right now it is totally wilted from being wrenched from the ground. I tried to get as much root ball as I could, but it was pretty unceremonious and i think it's suffering mightily. I'm keeping it well watered and warm ... and crossing my fingers that I haven't killed it!

ConsciousGardener said...

I make a point to sing and talk to all my blooming beauties! She sure is a looker! It's amazing how many things you still have producing this late in the year...you must have a green thumb or something...teehee.

getgrounded said...

Diana, I read that I should cut my Brugs back to the ground and mulch over them, so that's what I did. Let's compare notes next year and see which method works the best! And I suppose great minds think alike, because I planted those Datura seeds you gave me next to the Brugs. Do you think the morning sun will be enough for the Datura?

Diana said...

Conscious - oh - I wouldn't make them suffer through my singing, but I do talk to them. But then again, I talk a lot! I can't believe how much is still in bloom - but that's cuz we had Spring for Fall this year!

GetGrounded - I think the Daturas will be fine as long as they get some good sun for a while. They just might not get quite as invasive, so that might be a good thing! I think your Brug is happy tucked under her blanket for a long winter's nap. Oh - BTW - I finally repotted the lovely Bougainvilla you gave me and have emptied your pot. I'll bring it back to you next week if that's ok.