Category Archives: Yard Work

Murphy, Corn, and the Beds

I planted a bit more corn and beans.  Then I saw this through the window:




Even though Dora HAS dug in the beds, it looks like the major culprit is Master Murphy.

Amazingly, a couple of corn plants survived.  I need to adjust my approach to the yard, planting and pups.  We’ll figure it out.  Mostly I think that it’s the newness of the beds.  Both pups like to dig to nowhere, so the beds are attractive.  Murphy also enjoys dirt baths regularly.



What a Day!

I got up early and got everyone here fed and out to potty, and then it was off to the Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale.  I had been planning to go to this for a year, and as it happens, Roberto promised that the two trees would be my Christmas present (I’ve got to get around to ordering the rest of his).

I got to Robertson Stadium and UH a little before 9:00 a.m. and there was already a very long line.  (I had arranged to meet Roberto and Bar there.)  I got in line and a very nice lady was asking people to fill out invoices on clipboards.  One rather rotund, senior, paranoid guy refused.  The woman simply stated that he wouldn’t be able to buy any trees without it.  I wonder now what happened with him.

Just as the line started to move, I saw Roberto up ahead.  And the line moved quickly.  It wasn’t like other lines, where you stop and start.  Once it started, we were on the go.  R called Bar, who was parking her car, and we caught up with her around the bend — R kept saying, “we’re coming your way!” and we did.

When I first walked up to the line, I had a face-palm moment:  why hadn’t I asked Roberto to bring his dolly (named Salvador) to haul our purchases?  Several people had either dollies or trucks or little red wagons — which I found out later were being rented.  I thought — we can carry the two little trees I wanted to buy. . .

After I filled out the invoice, some other very helpful person (there were tons of them) gave me a map to the sale.  I knew exactly what I wanted, based on this book (which was the greatest present ever!!!!!! also from Roberto!!!!!):  a persimmon and a tangerine.  They were in different places.  We scooped up Bar and then went straight to the persimmon — my first priority.  They were in HUGE pots — maybe 30 gallon ones.  I panicked.  There was more than one variety.  I pulled out my gardener’s bible.   All I could think was:  hurry up idiot.  I found the part about which persimmon to buy, and left Roberto there to get one — after finding out that they were pulling them out of the big pots one by one.

Bar and I headed to the tangerines.  Which to pick?  We consulted the book again, and I turn to the page that said “the Pong Koa is the best fruit tree you can plant in Houston” or something very authoritative.  And there they were!  Bar went back to help Roberto, and I picked out a Pong Koa — not the biggest, not the smallest, not the fanciest, but just the right one.

Then I headed back to the persimmon area.  Roberto was holding a bare tree about 4 foot tall with its root exposed.  He said we need a bag to put it in.  Once again, a very helpful young person got us a bag, put our tree in it and added some straw, which they had there in bales.

With our two trees in hand, we consulted the map and found our way to the check out.  It was all very organized and we went the cash route.  Along the way, young people, including a very young boy (very confident), filled out our invoice, stared it, and checked it again.  One older woman tried to sell us the book I already had, as well as a membership, but otherwise everything was smooth, courteous and efficient.  As we left, a woman at the exit wished us “Be Fruitful!”  It was only 9:35.

A friend of mine is in town from New York, and we arranged to pick him up and go for brunch.   He’s Japanese, very funny and wonderful and just saying — used to comment on this blog until he got addicted to Facebook 😦

We went to Croissant-Brioche in the Village — which has the best French onion soup.   It was crowded when we got there, but we quickly snatched a four top and everything was cool.   Good friends, good food, good conversaiton — you just can’t beat it.

Roberto said that while he was waiting to get the persimmon, he over heard that it should be planted today.  I wasn’t quite ready, so we parted ways from brunch, and I took my friend from New York back to where he was staying.  I returned home to build the raised bed for the new persimmon.

I’ll have pictures tomorrow, because, by the time I got home and got the tree set up, it was getting dark.  It was a lot of work, but I think the finished product is good.  I put two rebar stakes in and tied them loosely with some strong cloth cord even though it seemed pretty stable — we’re supposed to have thunderstorms tomorrow, so I don’t want it waving around in the wind.

The most amazing thing today — though that might just be a timing factor — the Tree Sale was pretty darn amazing — was how easy it was to trim the bricks for the raised bed I built.  I had never done it before, but just following simple instructions, I was able to cleanly trim two bricks.  I was all like, “damn that worked like it was supposed to.”  It says everything about having the right tools for the job and following instructions.  That’s one of my strong points, I think.

Today was a very good day.  It was exciting, fun, and satisfying, spent with friends and kittens and the earth and promise of things to come.  There’s nothing better than that.

I Need to Put Something Up

It’s been a long week.  I had hoped to post some pictures today, but I just enjoyed the outside kittens instead — and worked in the garden.

Big Guy (formerly known as SGWK) has taken to eating wet food for dinner.  He does fight with himself an awful lot.  I thought about filming him.  I can’t help him.  He is the old man of wild kittens.

I worried that Harry would be the recipient of Big Guy’s aggression, but that has not been true.  Big Guy tolerates Harry and even the three little kittens who still come around.

In the end, the only fighting is Big Guy with his own mouth.  I think it is difficult for him to eat.   Maybe it’s his teeth; maybe it’s his health.  I still think that the only time I will have the chance to pet him will be when he is dead.

There are three little kittens that I need to trap.  I think I could do it after big guy and Harry have had their wet food.   The bigger problem is finding their mom.  I think I saw her today, and if I am right, she is pregnant again.

I may need to talk to my second over neighbor — the kittens seem to come from there.  I don’t know.

I’ve planted cucumbers and sweat peas.  I hope they make.  The okra is producing slowly but surely, and my fight against the ants that have tried to destroy all my okra continues.

There were fewer stink bugs on the tomatoes and the plants have pushed through for a third round, so perhaps letting nature take over will work out now or next year.

Tomorrow, the front yard!!!!

The Brisket Experiment

Tomorrow, while watering the new lawn and the different garden beds in the back yard, I will attempt to BBQ a brisket I bought last fall.  I’ve had it in the freezer since then.  I put it down in the fridge last night.

I crushed some white pepper seeds and mixed that with some kosher salt.  I brushed the 2.5 lb. brisket with mustard and then sprinkled the pepper and salt mixture evenly on both sides.  It’s in the fridge marinating.

I’ll get up early in the morning and start the water and then build a fire.  I’ve only ever used pecan.  I’ve got a big tree in the back and let a sapling grow long enough to get some 2 inch chunks when I cut it down.

I start my fire with some twigs, leaves and newspaper.  Once the fire is started, I add increasingly larger bits of pecan.  As the larger branches start to burn out, I add the thicker chunks from the sapling.  I should have a good smoldering grill in less than 30 minutes.

The brisket needs to grill for about 3 and a half to four hours.  I’m terrible about taking the lid off the grill to take a peak, but I will try my best to start a fire that will keep me from doing that tomorrow.

While the brisket is going, I will work in the back yard, in the hope that I will see Junebug.  She wasn’t around at all today and Harry and I are worried.  Perhaps if I work in the back she will show up.

I’ve got to build trellises for the new cucumbers to grow on and then plant them.  I’ve got to build another bed and plant squash.  I’ve got to plant the sweet peas in the first beds, and I’ve got to plant the sunflowers in pots.  Cleaning the garage and planting a few more sunflowers will round everything out.

And that’s just the morning 🙂

Right now, with the exception of not seeing Junebug, I really do like my world.  That’s a big exception though.

Long Day, but Worth It

Today we had the front yard sodded.  It’s about the size of a postage stamp, but the pups love it, so when I saw a Google ad for one pallet installed for $169, I couldn’t resist.  The company is Heights Hauling and Landscape.  (Note, that’s NOT the company advertising on Michale Berry’s show, timmeh.)

It all worked out just like the owner Jeremy said it would when I spoke with him on Monday.  We aimed for today, and R and I cleaned the yard up this morning — which also took about and hour and a half — as I had predicted.  As I told R, “I know my crew!”  Jeremy arrived with one pallet and pieces around 5:00 p.m. and they got to work scraping off the weeds and grading the ground, adding organic gypsum  (for the pup pee).  They worked around the beds and left space around the orchid tree for me to mulch (which I will do tomorrow).

It cost about $400 and it was worth it.  Sure, we could have made a hundred trips to Houston Garden Center, hoping to get enough sod to fill both cars if they had it, and then worked hard to grade the ground  (I wouldn’t have thought of the organic gypsum) and it would have taken us weeks if not months.  This way it is done, and all I have to do is water and take care of it.

And speaking of watering.  I started that first — before I let the poor barking barking barking pups out.  Little Junebug the Outside Kitten was very interested in this “watering” thing.  She settled in just on the edge of the sprinkler’s reach.

I let Dora out first.  Bird dog that she is, she had to do quite a bit of smelling.  She peed and pooped and I used a poop bag to scoop it up right behind her.   Then it was the two “we no like change” pups’ turn to go out, and true to form, Tammy said, “Nothankyou.”  Murphy had a “Buddy” pee on one of the posts from the old deck.  (A Buddy pee is when he goes for so long his leg gets tired and starts to droop.)  I cleaned after him, too.  I’ve got to get into the habit!

I put Murph in the house and went out to move the sprinkler.  When I later tried again and got Tam and Murph to go out, Junebug had moved to the new sprinkler edge.  What a funny girl!  Neighbor loaned me one of those wave sprinklers and I thanked him profusely.  After letting the water go for a bit longer and laughing at the pooped pups (all three), I went out and set up the neighbor’s sprinkler on the other side of the yard.  Checking on it out the front window about 30 minutes later, I see Junebug just inside the front yard, just on the edge of the sprinkler’s reach once again.  In another 30 minutes, I saw her snooping around the orchid tree, and in 30 minutes more, she was back watching the sprinkler.  Often when I come home from work, she hops over the fence from the front yard.  I think she does it 1)to make Dora crazy and 2)because she can.  It’s one of the many reasons I love her so much (and why she worries R 🙂

I’ve got to water it heavily for the next three days, and then twice a day for the following three weeks.  I’ve also got to keep the pups off of it as much as possible, which means walkies!!!!!!

I wasn’t planning on doing this for vacation, but happy accidents sometimes work out.  YaY!

(Pictures tomorrow)

Some Video Links Plus Added Rants

I don’t get this. He doesn’t really say anything and his pronoun references are completely vague.  It looks like someone in the GOP lower levels is trying to push the NJ gov for prez.  What about Rick Perry!!!!1!!1!1!

Sarah Palin gets put on the spot.  I can think of quite a number of people more qualified to yap about the oil spill.  Michael Berry isn’t one of them.

White male Seattle idiot police officer punches a young black woman in the face. Commenters say she deserved it.  It’s hard to watch.  I don’t think I could have stood there and just recorded it. Cops can just be criminals with guns.  One Bellaire cop shot a pro baseball player and got off — nothing happened to him.  Michael Berry blamed the baseball player’s mother for the shooting.  FAIR ENOUGH?

Related:  Pasty white boy gets ruffed up by 68 year old.  The same people showing there “balls” about a cop punching a 19 year old black girl get misty-eyed and cry Assault!!!!  Assault!!!!! when it’s one of their own.  These people are insufferable.

Lastly, I am SICK of pasty white people telling African Americans that this that or the other is their problem.  As I have said again and again, why can’t all of the pasty white concern trolls take a look at their own poor white folks and fix that?   Michael Berry and Bill Bennett need to quit acting like they’re black and get with taking care of all of the poor whites.  Wouldn’t that be novel?

Pasty white guy wants drug testing.  Who is going to pay for that?  Does the Utah Senator have some interest in a drug testing kit company?  Does the Utah Senator have a problem with people who are down on their luck?  I’d like to see him submit to a drug test on the teevee first.  Dick.

Lastly, I’m about ready to build a Mexico City style wall around my damn house.  Someone put the nicely bundled vegetation I had ready to go for next month’s green pick up by the city in my recycle cart, destroying the very expensive new freaking green yard waste bag I had ready in the process.  Whoever it was left my recycle cart in the middle of the driveway, too.  Oh, and whoever it was, cut up my Lantana, too.

Dicks — all of them.

Day of the Peas

Out of the three first Burpee growing trays — only the peas have really made it so far.  Lesson learned, I think.  With the batch that I have in Burpee trays now, I will transfer them to little pots with organic potting soil  after a week or so.

Anyway, here are the pics from what I did yesterday, mostly:

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Plan for Tomorrow

While I have at least a couple of posts in my head, I can’t quite get beyond my plans for tomorrow.  Saturday is supposed to be rainy, so that’s the day I will clean house, grade papers and write blog posts.  For now, my mind is on just how much I can get done in the yard.

I did some research on bean and pea trellises.  I will do a mix of cedar pickets, jute and sticks.  First though, I’ve got to prepare the bed.  The stinky fertilizer goes in, and that will aerate the bed.  Then I’ll build the trellis.  The peas will go in one bed and the beans in the other.  The radish sprouts will go with the peas and onion and mesclun will go in the second (larger) bed.  To finish those beds off, I’ll cut and install some plastic fencing — just to deter the outside kittens from pooping or peeing in the bed.

Next, I will make space for another bed.  I’ve got enough cedar planks to make one, but no organic soil upgrade.  I think it will be ok because I will screen enough of the existing yard soil to fill the new bed and then mix in the organic fertilizer.  This bed will be for the squash seedlings.  If I’m still able to move around, I will plant the herbs in the beds with the lemon tree and the blackberries.

Since the new Burpee stuff I ordered hasn’t come in, I will just plant more in the little pots I have with the remaining organic potting soil I have.  At this point, I’m thinking peppers.  I didn’t buy any pepper seeds, but I saved some from jalapenos I bought.  It’s worth a try.

The tomatoes, sunflowers and moon plants won’t go outside for another week or more.  The tomatoes will go into both the contraption I got for Christmas and in pots in the backyard.  I want to put the flower in the front.

Speaking of which — I got a rain barrel today.  It’s something that I have wanted for a year.  It will catch it’s first rain on Saturday.  I think I may get one more.

Perhaps people like me write about doing this sort of thing a lot when we do it for the first time and then it just becomes a routine and not worth writing about anymore.  That’s what I get from poking around the interwebs.  It’s a little different for me, since I know it will take more than one year to get this together, and it is part of an ongoing upgrade to both the house and hopefully the well being of the pups and outside kittens.

“Not guilty, because puppies do these things.”

Two things that come together:  Murphy dug up the Pom in the front yard and Roberto has been cataloging some cartoons.

The Culprit

I bought a Pom sapling.   Roberto and I made a bed for it.  We thought about fencing it off but didn’t.  I came home to find the sapling left with only one tiny branch, pulled up out of the ground 😦  I re-potted it, and thankfully it is still ok.

(Maybe this quick intervention will save the Pom from the lemon tree’s fate.)

Often I use my own life to teach my students.  It makes the content real for them.  I had used Murph having an accident as a way to teach past perfect.  So, now my students know Murph.  One morning last week, out of the blue, one of my students asked me, “what did Murphy do yesterday?”

As a matter of fact, Murphy had dug up the baby Pom tree.

Roberto has been cataloging the cartoons of Charles Barsotti, so he brought a couple home.  Barsotti has an entire series called “The Pup.”  The title of this post is from one; the other has a pup with a tear and his mom saying, “I can get another sofa pillow, that’s not what hurts.  What hurts is my loss of faith in you.”

With Murphy, I got another bed, another couch and chair.  But another POM?!?!?!?  No.  We are saving that Pom and yes, I have a plan to turf the yard, though it will restrict Murph’s running around like crazy.

Perhaps Roberto’s time will be spent walking the pups around in addition to gardening!

Just to record it here — next year, I want a peach tree.  Or maybe two.  Or maybe a peach and an apricot and maybe a plum.

Very tired — weekend edition

My toothache from Friday has relented, and now I am stiff and sore from working in the yard.  I’m old — which explains a lot.

Things are coming together for the most part.  I got two bags of City of Houston mulch.  I think I need a couple more.  Roberto and I got the the Pom tree planted in the front yard and Robert did some strong work to get the lemon tree in the back yard.  And I have figured out the exposed screw problem on the front bed.

I usually can tell from who is in the front yard when Roberto arrives.  This morning was different.  A mid-size dog with a collar had a tiny little Chihuahua in a mating grip and she was screeching.  I tried to scare him off and he dragged her down the street.  I walked the male back home and then we tracked down the little puppy girl.  We told a young girl what happened and warned her to tell her parents.

When I first started publishing pix on this blog, I tried to make everything look the best I could.  I know where I am in the economic spectrum, so no chopping anymore.

I worked on Saturday to get enough dirt for the lemon tree and made sure I bought all of the supplies we would need.   I also made sure we had lunch for Sunday.

Here are some pictures of what happened today.

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