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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pretty in Blue!


Meet the Plumbago, another Texas favorite. It's an evergreen shrub native to South Africa, and its hardiness makes it perfect for zones 9 through 11. It will bloom almost all year ‘round and is easy to grow. It likes sandy soil and soils that drain well. However, it can and will take over an area if you don’t prune, but on the plus if you prune regularly, this encourages more blooms.

This past winter we had some mighty cold temperatures, at least from Texas standards, and I thought the plumbago had died. A lot of my plants suffered, but the plumbago really took a beating.  It looked like a rambling of dried vines.  But when I began to replace this dead plant in early spring, I could see that the roots had survived and little shoots were coming up from the ground.  This is when I discovered that this is also a great plant for zones 7 and 8.

When we moved to our new home in Texas, we decided on a corner lot which had the bonus feature of having a bigger yard.  However, being a corner lot meant we also inherited a stop sign and a fire hydrant on the curve. The soil wasn’t the best with lots of clay and rock, but I wanted something pretty for the corner to take the focus away from the sign and hydrant. The corner had full-sun all day, and whatever I planted there couldn’t grow too big or at least be tolerable to pruning because of the sign and hydrant. A plumbago was the perfect answer. 

The plumbago is a favorite of mine because it loves full sun and once it is established, it only needs to be watered when it’s completely dry. So if you’re looking for a drought-resistant plant for your yard, this one is moderately drought-tolerant and so very pretty too.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Too Many Tomatillos!



Gardening can be fun.  When we started our first Texas garden, we went the safe route with tomatoes and peppers.  As we got more comfortable, we tried zucchini and onions and garlic.  Then we expanded to peas and butternut squash and tomatillos .

The tomatillo plant is  can be found in a lot of Texas gardens and is native to Mexico. Maybe you've heard of the husk tomato or a jamberry or the Mexican green tomato? Those are other names for the tomatillo. 

The tomatillo pictured above has not fully ripened yet. The fruit itself grows within a paper-like husk and as the fruit grows to about the size of a really large cherry tomato, the papery husk will get dry and turn brownish. Most of the time you will know the fruit is ripe when it starts to break its husk, but not always.

The tomatillo itself is a bit meatier than a tomato and will be white inside. It can be utilized in many ways.  It is commonly fried, steamed, or boiled. In Mexico, people will add it to guacamole sometimes or use them in making "green sauce" because there is a slight citrus-type of aftertaste.

This year our tomatillo plants have really been productive.  So we've been on a path of trying to find new recipes to use them in. 

The best way we've found so far is in making our own salsa.  We started with chopped tomatoes and onions which we've grown ourselves. Then we raided the pepper garden. We used a mix of serrano peppers and habanero. We chopped these finely and added them to the mix. Then we harvested a few cilantro stems (again fresh from our garden) and finely chopped these as well to add to the mix.

Lastly, we add chopped-up tomatillos to our salsa mix, it added texture and flavor. It is ready to eat, but if you can wait a couple of hours, refrigerate to let the flavors marinate together.  

Yummy!  It was perfect with our favorite brand of tortilla chips!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Puppy Training or Training Us?


Daisy Dog has now attended day two of puppy training! She has completed lesson two of six lessons at Petsmart, and we are coming along wonderfully.

One of us though is learning more than she ever thought she would though...me!

I was pretty skeptical when my husband decided to sign us up for this, but I've learned a lot.  Luckily for Daisy, she has too!

She's still learning her name, but the cat chasing and the shoe fetish is disappearing so we're good here.

Lesson two was mostly about walking Daisy on a leash which was really needed.  Her method was either to sit and refuse to budge or the "get the hell out of my way, I'm coming" dash through the store, so we were glad to get some tips.  She was doing better by the end of the lesson! 

Our homework for this week is to practice the walking bit each day increasing the amount each day.  So the first couple of days we're supposed to practice walking down to our neighbor's mailbox without any problems and then each day a little further.

On another front, the dog crate we invested in is proving to be the best $20.00 we have spent in a long time.  We are now able to sleep at least 7 hours without waking up to any messes in the house.

She's also becoming a bit cheesy...look at that pose!  Here she is on the porch with her tongue hanging out cause it was 98 degrees!  We had been practicing her sitting commands, but she got lazy.

I can't say that I blame her....it's hot here in Texas!