That's poison ivy, strong competitor for top place as my very least favorite gardening hazard. Now that the temperatures have dropped from the upper nineties to the mid-eighties, I'm prepared to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Actually, I should say "roll down" my sleeves. For areas like ours, where mosquitoes, fire ants, and poison oak and ivy run rampant, long sleeves are advisable. You can still be bitten, obviously, but every bit of defense helps.
I was happy, thrilled, really, to work in my garden over the weekend. I pretty much boycott it in August. It has to fend for itself. But this past Sunday, I had a blast! I spent the afternoon weeding, deadheading, trimming. I need to plant seeds, but I ran out of daylight. I have decided to have food growing all over the backyard this fall and winter. I will give the raised beds another chance even though they receive only partial sun. I've also created lots of empty spots in the beds and hedgerow by pulling half-dead or obnoxious annuals (and even some irritating perennials.) I added organic fertilizer to all the beds and intend to sow vegetable seeds.
To my surprise, a lot of people who live in areas of year-round gardening don't realize they can grow vegetables year-round. I've met many gardeners here in Texas who sadly declare they're going to give up gardening because their, oh, cilantro failed in summer. Cilantro is a cool season herb! But the fact is that lots of vegetables that grow in mild summer climates are also well-suited for mild winter climates. It would be wrong to say "mild is mild" in this case; some seeds or vegetables need specific temperatures to grow and thrive. But there's a lot of elbow room.
I'm going to try to grow radishes again, of course. They are the easiest of all vegetables to grow, a great intro to vegetable gardening for children. But I haven't had any luck with them in my current garden. I don't know if it was due to a lack of nutrients, sunlight, or both. But I love to eat them, my favorite being the French Breakfast radishes. I also have a packet for a pretty radish called "Miso".
As for the rest, I am really excited to try growing leeks, another favorite thing for the kitchen. I also have lettuces, kale, chard, spinach, fava beans. . . My biggest worry right now is that, since I'm going to sow them in the flower beds, the lawn guys might flatten them. I'm not sure how to prevent that catastrophe.
In the meantime, the roses are gearing up for a beautiful Autumn.
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes. Even then, it’s often not necessary to engage.
As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.