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If you’ve either been to this blog in the past, or you’re just newly arrived, you’ll note that I haven’t posted a dadgum thing on this blog in over a year. Yes, I’m still alive, and yes, my garden is still alive (even in this hot, dry Texas summer), I’ve just been, well, kinda busy with other things. But not to fret! There is a brand new site that I have created where I will continue posting about my garden and other observations about my life.  So, for your reading (dis-)pleasure, I announce the new and improved, latest and greatest, state of the art, promises to brighten your colors and whiten your whites, FDA-approved (not really, just kidding FDA) blogging site (drum roll please) —

The Half-Baked Gardener.com!!!!!

In it you’ll find some of the same schtuff you’ve come to know and love about this blog – gardening tips and untips, funky yet tasty and healthy recipes, humor, the occasional semi-serious riff, etc., etc. However, I will be expanding a bit on other random observations about my life and life in general, but it will usually be funny, or at least as funny as my current humor writing skills will allow. Occasionally I might get serious, but I’ll try not to be that way for long.

Originally I intended this new site to be a commercialized (read some garden-related advertising, useful gardening stuff for sale, etc.) of this site (since I can’t do commercialized stuff on WordPress.com) and it still might become that, but right now it’s just straight blogging, and I’m not completely sure which direction it’s going – you can read more about this dilemma on the new site. However, I will try to make it as entertaining and informative as I can, and I hope you will enjoy it. And if it does become commercialized, I promise, I promise, I promise that it won’t become obnoxious (or at least as unobnoxious as I can make it), nor will you ever, ever receive spam from me or anybody I might partner with. My (commercial and writing) model is The Bloggess (though not the exact same humor – I don’t know if I can ever hope to be as wonderfully wacky as she is), so if you enjoy her site, you might enjoy mine.

Anywho, enough said! If you want more absurdity in your gardening and other endeavors, I hope you’ll stop by the Half-Baked Gardener and check it out!

-Zippy

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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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Yes, it’s late and I need to get to bed, but since we are well into spring, and I haven’t posted anything except replies to comments, I figure I better give y’all a little update. My friend, Lazy Gardener, was a little concerned that I’d given up on gardening, but as I told her in the comments below, that is far, far from the case! I may even be going overboard!  As a matter of fact, the reason I haven’t posted is cuz I’ve been so busy getting my garden going!

Right now I have two new 4×4 SFGs planted with 2 tomato plants, 3 sweet basil plants, and seeds of lettuce, carrot, thai basil, sweet bell pepper, summer squash, Kentucky wonder beans and borage, and I’ll be adding some garlic and onions as soon as I get a hold of bulbs to plant. And I planted several strawberry plants in containers. I also overhauled the 2 SFGs I started last year, ripping out the make-shift frames I made and building honest-to-god cedar frames (I also built cedar frames for the 4x4s also, all by mah own little self, I’m tellin’ ya!).  I’ve planted malabar seeds from last year’s malabar plants, and I’m excited to see if they sprout. The other SFG will have corn, amaranath and cool soup beans I bought from Seeds of Change, and then I’m going to do an experimental raised bed next to it using the Lasagna Gardening technique and planting some more B-nut squash with more beans and borage.

And then I went nuts and started a big old flower bed, with native, drought-resistant flowers, herbs and fruiting shrubs, like goji berry, Texas wolfberry and maybe blueberry! I didn’t do a raised bed, rather I rototilled the sod and amended the soil. I haven’t planted everything in there yet, but will try to finish planting this weekend, after the (hope, hope, pray, pray) rain that the weather peeps are forecasting to swoop in on our parched soil here in Austin.  And then I’ll be planting an herb bed, also with the Lasagna Garden method. Whew!

Anywho, I’ve taken a humongous leap in planting this year, and hope I haven’t overdone it (or myself), but I am excited to see how it all goes! Will give ya’ll an update with pix and more detailed info soon!

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Look, You're All I Got . . .

Look, You're All I Got . . .

After four days of stuffing myself silly, I’m here to wish you all a Happy Holiday season and to give ya a tiny little update of wots been happenin’ in my little life here in the capital of TX, aka Music Capital of the World. Tonight I was commenting on a recent comment to my most recent post of Oct. 26, and I thought, dang! It’s been too long since I last posted. And dadgummit, I haven’t even posted on my crop o’ greens, like I promised.

I guess like everyone else I got caught up in the elections (Obamarama time, yes indeedy!), and then the Thanksgiving holiday. And in between I got sucked up in a house project to stain the concrete floor in my spare bedroom that is going to become my study, and it’s still not complete yet. As my most recent ex-boyfriend liked to say, that’s been a real horror show.  But oh well! More on that horrific-ness in another post, and yes, I do intend to subject you to a lovely recounting of that punishing work.

In any case, I just finished up a nice Thanksgiving holiday with mi madre, who came up from the lovely metropolis of El Campo, TX to eat a sumptitious T-day feast at Hyde Park Bar and Grille (we love not having to cook and clean, as this has become our new tradition) and go shopping almost every day she was here. Of course, she got all her Christmas shopping done, while I barely scratched the surface, dang it! Mom and I also bought a fake tree from Garden Ridge Pottery and got it up and decorated it, and added other festive trimmings around the house like the Santa and Pig in the pix above. The Santa and Pig piece was something my Mom got my beloved stepfather years ago.  My stepfather had an awesome collection of Santas, and this was my favorite. With my stepfather’s passing last year, my Mom brought this to me to have this year. Isn’t that great? 

Mom and I also got some pictures hung up in the house finally  (I’ve only been in this house 10 months!). So we were pretty busy gals. We had a good time, and we ate too much while she was here. Back to the old healthy diet tomorrow!

In any case, I hope you had a good time too, and will have an even better time as we get deeper into the Holiday season. I’d also like to take this moment to encourage everyone to really, really enjoy this season, and try to contemplate, whatever your faith or unfaith, the true meaning of this time.

I don’t really want to get overly sentimental and trite, and I know for many people this time can be very stressful, and even depressing. I also know with the tough economic times that many are having, that there could be an extra challenge in maintaining the holiday spirit for many. I know for myself that in holiday seasons past I’d really come to dread it, simply because of all the pressures to shop and buy gifts and such.

However, I know that this season I really want to keep the deeper sentiment of this time in my heart and soul and to savor the true essence of this time. This time to me is a time of reflection, to think about this year and even years past, to reflect on the person I have become and am becoming. It’s a time for me to consider what love and peace really are, and how I can truly love others and be a channel for love and peace. This is something I really want to do this holiday season, and I’d like to encourage you to do the same.

I know that there’s some wild and chaotic things going on in this world at the moment, but I know that there are lots of good things going on too, and I’d like to encourage folks to think about that. It’s too easy to overlook the good especially when it seems like the media is beating us to death with news about the economy or the world, but please try and think of it, no matter how small. Savor perhaps your little kid’s gaze of wonder and broad smile while looking at Christmas tree lights. Or for those childless amongst us, enjoy your laughter at your fat kitty as he rolls over to show his tubby tummy while giving you a look that tells you he knows he’s cute (like mine did today). Enjoy these little things. Enjoy your life, laugh, meditate on the essence of this season, know that you are loved and that you are love, feel the life force of love that dances within you and dance with it, celebrate it. This is what this season is all about, whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a pagan, an atheist, an agnostic, or spiritual but not religious, this is what it is all about. Enjoy it and be with it! This is what I intend to do. (and also to finally write about my greens!)

Happy Hollidays!

–Zippy 🙂

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No fabulous gardening news today. If I’m feeling energetic enough this weekend, I may try planting a small circular SFG, though I’m not sure if it’s circular you can technically call it a square foot garden. In any case, I thought that might be nice, though I feel so drained from my (insert pathetic whine here) soul-sucking day job that I may become like my little green friends and veg all Fourth of July weekend.

Ah, if only I could win the lottery! Then I would become a suburban farm girl extraordinaire! Yes, there’s Ms. Zip, in her overalls and Hawaiian-shade hat made in Mexico, toiling joyfully in her SFG veggie beds, gleefully stirring up her compost, picking goji berries from her fabulous goji berry bush. What a happy thought! I’m absolutely serious! My West Texas farming genes have suddenly wakened after 40 something years and have roared forth and if only I had the time (and the money), I’d have my whole backyard and front yard planted in edible and floral glory in no time flat. But the day job kinda gets in the way. While I’m slaving over Excel spreadsheets and telephone and circuit bills at work, fantasies fill my mind of growing gorgeous ripe vegetables of all shapes and colors, exotic and antioxidant-rich fruit, crops of alternative grains, useful plants such as medicinal herbs and soap nut trees (yes, grow yer own soap). ~Sigh~

But that’s OK. I’m getting there, one veggie at a time!

Ah, yes, and if only my homeowners association would allow me to keep a goat or two. I guess I’ll have to be a suburban farm girl without one. Doug Fine, however, doesn’t have that kind of problem, nor does he have a pesky day job to keep him from completely realizing his dreams to be a farm guy. He lives on a farm in NM, and yes, he has cute, adorable nanny goats to provide him and his family with goat ice cream, goat yogurt, and goat milk, in that order it seems (though I think you have to have the goat milk before you can get the other stuff).

Anywho, Doug is the author of a book, Farewell My Subaru, about his adventure in low-carbon footprint, self-sufficient living. He appeared recently on Jay Leno, but I just read about him tonight on Salon.com. And I am soooo jealous! Not because he’s written a book or because he appeared on Jay Leno, but because he has goats — cute, adorable, saxophone-licking, ink pen-chewing, rose bush eating goats! And his own farm, called the Funky Butte Ranch, in New Mexico, for cryin’ outloud. I love New Mexico! Almost as much as Austin!

Oh well, I guess it’s time to practice acceptance — it’s OK that I don’t have my own farm in New Mexico, it’s OK that I don’t even have time to make my own backyard into a suburban farm haven right now this minute because I have a soul-sucking day job, it’s OK that my silly homeowners association won’t let me have any goats, or even any chickens for that matter (a pesky rule about banning “farm animals”) — well, I have to think about that one, cuz those goats of Doug’s are pretty dadgum cute, even if I couldn’t get any milk from them. Maybe I could pass them off as pets, n’est pas? Why, that worked for a goat in my old ‘hood in 78704 — except his owner was only dealing with the city; I gotta deal with a homeowners association. And I doubt my grumpy neighbor, who yelled at me one Saturday morning for waking him up with my weedeater at the crack of 9 am, would take kindly to bleating goats. Even though I live in deep South Austin, they’re just not that funky in this hood. I guess we’re just too close to hoity-toity Circle C!

In any case, check out Doug’s Funky Butte blog at http://www.dougfine.com/. It is a hilarious site — I laughed out loud several times. And of course, he’s got many pix of the afore-mentioned cute adorable goats.

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Here I go, with my first ever blog posting on my first ever blog in the blogosphere! Suddenly, I fear I have writer’s block — but never fear, my idiocy shall overcome all frozen thought! Aha! Well, now, what do we have here in this first ever posting? Well, we shall now discuss why we are here.

Without going into a humongous essay here, I will tell you the reasons for this blog. First of all, I have had a big interest in self-reliant living for some time now, and have done a lot of research on it. Now I am ready to embark on living a life as self-sufficiently as I can, though I must say, I will have to start out rather slooowly — after all, I still work in the 8-5 world, with the 8-5 job and all the attendant frustrations and even pleasures, such run of the mill living so entails. My ultimate goal, however, is to be able to work at home, grow my own food, live off the grid, produce various crafts, live simply and sustainably, and yes, even eco-friendly, lower my carbon footprint, tread lightly on the earth, yada yada yada, blah blah blah. 

I have also felt somewhat pushed towards self-sufficiency by all the so-called economic developments in the world – rising gas prices, food prices, grain shortages etc. NOT that I’m any sort of gloom and doom type, and I’m not looking for the four horsemen of the apocalypse to come riding over the hill any day now (though I suppose some folks are). BUT I do think it’s a good idea to be prepared for whatever may come over the horizon, whether it’s those lovely horsemen, a big Mack truck, or Lady Godiva (either in the form of a naked lady or a box of dark chocolate, take your pick–I’m all for the dark chocolate, myself).

Anywho, this blog serves as a record of my journey into self-sufficiency, and I hope it can also provide resources for others who wish to embark on this path. Like I said, I’ve done a lot of research on all this, with lots and lots of bookmarks, and, heck yeah, I oughta put all those wasted hours perusing the Internet to good use and benefit my fellow sentient beings, right?

So here you have a little idea of what I will be bringing to this blog. First of all you’ll get to see me create a very small Square Foot Garden — this begins tomorrow. There are many, many other topics, however, that I want to explore and share with you, so I hope you’ll hang with me and learn as I go. I’ll put in more about what I want to do in the ABOUT section, but I haven’t written much about that there yet, but you can go there now if you want to get a brief little blurb about ME!

Anyway, that’s all folks, for now! Buenos Noches and thanks for reading my blog! 🙂

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