Sorry for the long lull, everyone. We've been enduring an unusually cold and wet winter here in Dallas -- making NOAA's predictions half-right -- and I try to keep my whining to a minimum during such times, since it really isn't that bad here compared to where some of you are. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, so believe me when I say I know what a really shitty winter is like.
It's nice that we've gotten so much rain in DFW over the past couple of months, however, as some of the reservoirs have actually rebounded to acceptable levels. The Palmer Drought Severity Index for North Central Texas is even registering at "slightly wet". Wow!
I did manage to get to the Community Garden before some really nasty weather hit in January, and was shocked to find the huge purple broccoli pictured at right. The plant tag was gone, but I'm pretty sure it was a 'Violet Queen'. Really beautiful (and delicious...ahem), and nearly a foot across. I haven't been out to the plot since. I expect everything else is dead by now.
Online winter plant shopping has been kept to a minimum this year. I've really cut down on the number of retailers I use too. Annie's, Big Dipper, Burpee, and Bluestone will all get some of my money as a repeat customer this year, but few others will. I'm trying Zone 9 Tropicals for the first time, as they have great prices on a couple of passiflora I wanted. If you have a bad experience with an online nursery, let other gardeners know by leaving your opinion over at Garden Watchdog, a great site run by the folks at Dave's Garden.
It's already time to start tomato seeds here in Texas, but I haven't gotten around to it just yet. My enthusiasm for tomatoes seems to wan a little every year. The plants at the Comm. Garden got really big and did well for the most part, but the naughty mockingbirds love toms just as they're ripening....and when you're not monitoring the fruits every day, the birds tend to have a party in your absence. Also, tomato plants shut down here around July due to the heat, (but usually rebound in September for a weak second crop), so you spend a couple of months waiting for them to wake up. I guess some bird netting will be in order, at least. I'm not trying any new tomato types this year, though. I think I've learned my lesson in the "That's Really Cool, I Wonder If It'll Grow Here..." department.
Not much else is new plant-wise at this point. I've been running two humidifiers in the house almost constantly and have not seen one single spider mite on anything.
For reader "emmat" who commented on my last post about the ZZ Plant: I know ZZ's are supposed to be really difficult to kill, unless you overwater them. They are considered a tropical houseplant, very rubber/jade-like with a water-holding tuber. Mine actually didn't put up a spath (yet) but is sprouting new leaf stems like mad. I guess it really likes its spot next to Capt. Jack...who wouldn't? :)
In closing...I can't wait until Spring. There, I said it!
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