Archive for August, 2009

My friend Ms. E posted a comment (see here) and asks how well everything in the garden (including yers truly) is handling the stress of this ungodly Texas summer us folks down here in the buckle of the Bible Belt are enduring. Well, as my old boss Betty used to say, “It’s hotter than the hinges of HALE!” – “hale” being the Texan pronunciation of the word “hell”, not that she was referring to healthy hinges  (ya’ know, “hale and hearty”) .

So yes, it’s hot. No, not just hot, damn-tabulous, freakingly, climate-changingly HOT, so hot the word hot doesn’t even begin to describe it. As a matter of fact, if old Beezlebub himself sat out in this heat any length of time, he’d just burst into flame and his ashes would scatter away on the heat-furnace wind. Like I said, it is indeed hotter than the hinges of HALE.

However, Texas gal that I am, I’m a heck of a lot tougher than ol’ Mr. BB, so I will take the heat and I will like it, dadgum it! Well, OK, maybe not like it, but I am managing it. Sort of.  What this does mean is that  I have not been all that energetic gardening-wise this summer. Instead of planting anything new, I’m just trying to keep alive all the gazillion things I planted with crazed, garden-newbie abandon this spring. And that’s a lotta work in and of itself.

So every morning I get up early and water. At first I was watering everything, every day until I started noticing things drooping regardless of how much I watered them. Then I remembered the old saying, water deeply and infrequently. Well, yes, actually I did remember it before it started getting really hot, but I just didn’t think it applied when temperatures are soaring every single freakin’ day into the triple digits with nary a drop of rain in sight. So I watered and watered and watered, and things got, well, a little soggy and droopy.

But now I’ve got it down to where I water the flower bed and the raised veggie beds deeply, while watering the flower bed twice a week and the raised beds every other day ( unless something is withering from the heat) and every day I water many of my potted plants that are outside. So every day I am watering something. It really has helped though to water things deeply and infrequently. It’s just as dangerous, probably more dangerous, to overwater than it is to under water. Most plants can recover from a under watering, but if ya rot the roots from overwatering, you’ll lose stuff.

Bee on Borage Plant from Freenaturepictures.com

Bee on Borage Plant from Freenaturepictures.com

Anyway, y’all probably aren’t reading this to get a pedantic lecture on overwatering, so I’ll just move on to Ms. E’s other question, about the borage plant. BTW, before I answer the question, I just wanted to note that the borage pic on the right is not from my garden — I ripped it off of  Freenaturepictures.com cuz I’ve lost my flash card reader that I use to download photos from my digital camera to my computer, so I’m not able to show you a pic of mine own borage for now. Gotta go to Amazon.com and buy a new reader, dadgum it!

Anyway, as for Ms. E’s question, if ya don’t want to scroll down to see it, Ms. E asks:  “I’m curious about the borage- do you use it medicinally, or in salads?  Or just for pretty?”

Well, I originally planted the borage with my butternut squash last year cuz it’s supposed to help ward off squash-related pests. But last year I planted it too late for it to be of much help to my butternut squash, which, as you can read elsewhere, got decimated by the evil Squash Vine Borer (or SVB). Secondarily I planted it for the medicinal qualities, as it’s suppose to be good for yer adrenals and other stuff, and I figured my adrenals and other stuff could use a little boost. I did try it in some salad, but the problem is ya gotta use the youngest leaves for salad, cuz the leaves, as they get older, develop almost stinger-like fuzz on the underside of the leaf – not something ya wanna run yer tongue over!

The other problem, well, for me anyway, is that the flavor of the borage leaf is kind of a cross between cucumber and pepper, which for some folks would really blow their skirts up (as my old BF used ta say), but doesn’t do a whole lot fer me. It’s a kind of strange taste to me, not that I dislike strange tasting things, mind you, but this was too strange even fer moi. If ya wanna use the older leaves, it’s best to use them as a tea, which I haven’t tried yet (mainly cuz of the strange cucumbery-peppery taste). You can also use the flowers in tea, and some Martha Stewart-type folks like to coat them in sugar and put them on fancy cakes and stuff, but I’m not that talented.

Sad to say, even though this year I planted borage before my butternut squash, I still got the nasty SVB, so I’m not sure how well it works against squash pests, though in borage’s defense I never got the other evil pest, which is the Squash Bug (SB) which eats the actual squash (SVB just eats up the squash stalk which effectively kills much of the plant itself). Also in its defense, even when I got the infestation of SVB this year, I cut off the stem that was infested and kept the other stem which has grown by leaps and bounds and is producing squash, and so far (knock on mah head), no sign of SVB. So maybe the borage is doing its job.

As for pretty, while the flowers are kinda pretty, the plant in totale is not all that gorgeous to me, especially as it gets bigger – the older leaves turn brown and die and, like most of us, it gets kinda gnarly-looking as it gets older. And it really is not doing all that well in this hot Texas heat, which really surprised me, it being an herb and all (herbs usually do well in the heat). I’ve had to water that sucker more than anything else, and by evening it’s still flopping over from the heat. At first I thought I might be overwatering it, but I actually lost some borage that I planted in the raised beds when I quit watering it so much. So it does need a lot of water. However, one really, really good thing about borage – bees LOVE the little flowers and are all over them sucking up borage pollen, and since I’d like to think I’m doing my part to help keep the bees growing and thriving, I’m happy to plant it whether it’s directly beneficial to me or not, cuz we all know if the bees go, so do we. I just wish that planting borage would make it rain a lot and cool things off, but so far that hasn’t happened.


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