I need some encouragement and guidance. As we Texans know, it can be tough to garden here. I live in northern Hays county, and on my particular patch of caliche we have received exactly .15 inches (not 1.5, but .15) of rain since the end of June. Also, I had surgery on my foot recently so hobbling on crutches so can only do very limited watering. We planted a few young trees last winter, including a bur oak, two bare-root peaches, a Mexican plum and a Texas redbud. They all loved the rains in the spring and grew like crazy. When I do water, I am giving these guys a slow soak every 10 days or so just to keep them alive until they establish. Other than these trees, I'll water the perennials if they're not too far gone, and kissed the annuals goodbye. My question is, for those of you in a similar situation, what have you had to let go? How do you decide? also, is it worth starting new annual seeds under my plant light (zinnias, morning glories, cosmos) in preparation for the fall rains and cooler weather? Thanks!
Time for reckoning.
I always direct sow MGs and (toss) cosmos and zinnias and they are warm weather plants so I'm not sure if you have enough time now until fall temps shut them down. Also, they will have to be kept moist to get them to germinate or after they are transplanted.
I'm not really sure about the rest of your post. This has been a wetter year then normal I just water things when they need to be watered.
Keep watering your perennials and forget about annuals, too much trouble, and I don't mess with them.
This fall get some more perennials, and build a good collection of drought tolerant plants that will take the crazy weather.
I will be putting out wildflower seeds soon, in areas I water and areas no one waters. hoping winter rains will take care of them. Some parts of my lot I have covered with pond underlayment (super heavy landscape fabric) and a thick layer of mulch. It will let moisture in but cut evaporation way down. I also did permaculture rows of garden soil to direct water sideways across the lot back and forth so more would soak in instead of it just running down the hill and out the driveway, making the most of the rain that falls and any water I put down. I did this even in areas I am then covering with the fabric and mulch (I got a couple of partial dump truck loads 1 at a time from a local tree service for free), so that the moisture penetration will be more effective and my bigger trees will have adequate water.
I will also be sowing wildflower seeds soon, for blooms next spring, Most of my plants are established so by this time of year the only thing that gets watered is my veggies.
If I didn't water a little I would lose my foundation and my trees. At least $60 a month in summer watering. I try to plant stuff that needs watered near where the foundation needs watered, and I do the back of the garage slab with grey water from my kitchen sink.
I usually use seedballs, for just that reason. I have found that mixing the seeds with potting soil helps too. I've had much better germination since the dog keeps the chickens, guinea birds and peafowl away from the house. He is harmless, but thy don't know that. : /
Hi all!! It sure was a nice spring.. lots of rain and everything was really flourishing.. then like you said.. the rains quit!
This year I was limited on my water usage by my inlaws since I had to beg to setup a pool for the kiddos, plus we had multiple injuries in the household, add on top of that crazy work & school schedules, and before I knew it I had lost almost half of my potted plants and some of the less hardy perennials I had really been coddling along!! Also there seems to be an unknown digging animal (I say unknown since I have yet to catch it in the act) that has uprooted a dozen or so small trees I had transplanted. It is digging holes right against the base of the tree, about 4" wide and 10" deep.. what the heck!! Has anyone else experienced this? We saw a possum on the porch the other night.. are they diggers? Only thing I can imagine is that whatever it is, they must be seeking water and can sense the moisture around the root ball of the tree?? Well I've lost all my Eve's Necklace and Mountain Laurel saplings that were just starting to show signs of life again after transplanting.. bummer! I may have my hub set up a game camera and see if we can't catch it in the act..
Sorry to get a little off topic, just frustrating is all.. but to answer your question, I've lost quite a few plants to the lack of water.. kangaroo paw, firespike, various small coneflowers I had started from seed, the tree ferns Joan had given me at RU (I think they were southern wood ferns), all the chrysanthemums are about fried, all my herbs in raised beds died, and I just yanked all but 4 tomato plants.. needless to say, I probably won't have much of a fall harvest at this rate.
On a positive note, some of my plants really thrive in this dry heat, and so I will divide and multiply more of them.. red yucca, spineless opuntia, Texas sage, Mexican petunia, turks cap, lantana, bulbine, sedum, all cacti and agave, daylillies, iris, amaranth, zinnia, jewels of opar, purple coneflower, knockout roses, Mexican feathergrass, fountain grass, milkweed.. they all do good and laugh at consistent 90-100 degree temps. Plus many of them are natives and thats a huge plus!
Hope you have better luck next year, and I second what Josephine said.. don't even waste time fooling with annuals, maybe try wintersowing some in January for next year! Or do like Lisa and Gypsi and get prepped to sow a bunch of woldflowers.. easy peasy and you'll be helping the bees and butterflies who need all the help they can get these days. Good luck to you and hope you can get off those crutches soon!!
Textured - Everyone else has given you good advice. And I know that they will continue to do so. I will say that my turk's cap has gone wild this year with more blooms than I've ever seen on it. My sages are doing quite well. Also the Flame Acanthus is blooming. So are some other perennials. Didn't think anything would survive. Now everything is crowding each other out and I've got to dig a new bed. (I always say that, but this time there's no choice.)
SPWD - fear not! Next spring TxFlowerChild will have plenty of Southern Wood Ferns. They die back over the winter but come back with a vengeance in the spring. And to be honest, a few of mine that were looking good are now looking brown. But some have made it thru the heat and neglect. I get them from my neighbor who has been growing them since the 1950s. They cover about a third of her front yard and even escape to the side yards.
And I sure would like to find a way to get those little rats called squirrels that dug up and gnawed on the liatris you gave me. Then I saw that they ate my sorrel. And have been digging in some of my mints that are in pots. The also beheaded the coneflowers.
I have live trapped one squirrel and moved him to a park. trapping him was an accident, I was after the possum bothering my chickens. I intend to trap some more. The squirrels have little to eat out here in the middle of the prairie, and they are tearing up my pine trees, stole most of my peaches until I netted the tree, and are in and out of the coops stealing the chicken feed, never mind the bird feeder. I will be moving them to a park with more trees less prairie.
A good live trap - I actually have them for the feral cats, I do TNR (trap neuter release) out here, and a cat is a LOT scarier than a squirrel
Holes. Armadillos. Going after grubs. Wont see them/It til midnight hours. Poison the grubs, maybe? But there's a hollow with a hole in it close by for the 'dillo home.
feed the Armadillos Wolf Brand Chili (I corrupted many up at Turner Falls top campsite above the 12 ft cliff)
we just watched them eat the chili actually. it was part of the joy of camping with kids.
to keep armadillos and rabbits out of my more valuable garden areas I use fencing, basicallysplit rail with that epoxy coated wire fencing that has bigger openings at the top and smaller at the bottom.