From “The Bloggess.” I’m a huge fan of her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I can’t wait to get my hands on Furiously Happy.

Source: I’m having a hard time finding the words.


Ten World Cities at or about 30°N Lattitude

For all the complaining I do about how warm it is in Hellahot, Texas, I thought I’d look up other places around the world that are just about as close to the equator as we are. Here are ten:

Good morning from the garden of Eden
Good morning from Basra, Iraq
  1. Basra, Iraq – This port city has a reputation for being one of the hottest cities on the planet. With summer temps regularly exceeding 113°F and high humidity, sometimes exceeding 90%, this seems exactly like the entire month of August here at home. Thankfully, just the month of August.
  2. Jacksonvile, Florida, USA – Another port city, Jacksonville, nicknamed “The River City,” has a humid, subtropical climate with summer heat indices sometimes reaching over 110°F. Like Hellahot, TX, they seem to average one snow day every thirty or so years.wheat-fields-762213_1280
  3. Multan, Punjab, Pakistan – An important agricultural center, Multan produces wheat, sugar cane, mangoes, pomegranates, and citrus. The arid climate makes for very hot summers and mild winters. Average high temps for May through September are well over 100°F.
  4. Cairo, Egypt – Average high temps from May to September run in the 90’s, but record high temps for the area have run well over 100°F from March through October. With the exception of frequent windstorms, and occasional flooding, it doesn’t sound half bad. Actually, it sounds like west Texas.lhasa-479693_1280
  5. Lhasa, Tibet, Peoples Republic of China – A beautiful valley with a semi-arid climate, Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world at 11,450 ft. Sometimes called the “Sunlit City” by Tibetans, Lhasa gets about 16 inches of rain annually mostly in June, July and August. Cold winter temps in January average 29°F and summer highs in June average about 60°F. It may be a little higher and a little cooler, but it reminds me a bit of Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico.
  6. Chongqing, Peoples Republic of China – With a “monsoon-influenced, humid, subtropical climate,” Chongqing is known as one of the “Three Furnaces” along the Yangtze River. Average summer temps are in the 90’s, but relative humidity seems to keep above 80% year long, with wet and overcast winters. Wow! Just makes me wonder how big their mosquitoes get!dead-sea-107944_1280
  7. Eilat, Israeal – This looks a bit familiar: 360 sunny days a year. As a native Texan, I long for cloudy, overcast days and the smell of raindrops on dusty earth. I’ll bet a few people here do also. Average high temps in the summer months are over 100°F. Winter brings those daily average high temps only to about 70°F. The awesome part? Water temps in the Gulf of Aqaba in this port city are pretty warm, ranging from 70° to 80° year round.
  8. Kuwait City, Kuwait – Super hot summers with average high temps over 100°F from May through September with temps over 120°F not uncommon. Super, painfully dry, summers and slightly less dry winters contribute, or fail to contribute, to the 4.5 inches of annual rainfall. And wouldn’t you know it… someone’s gardening in it!texas-physical-map
  9. Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico – I’m so used to thinking of our border with Mexico being south of us… and it is, but it is also west of us. A semi-arid climate in the Chihuahuan Desert, they experience warm, wet summers with about a foot of rain each July and August during the monsoon season. Winters are dry and mild with average lows above 35°F. Chihuahua City is know mostly as a manufacturing town, the state of Chihuahua, however is a large producer of agricultural goods such as nuts and apples.
  10. New Delhi, Delhi, India – A humid, subtropical climate, New Delhi’s hottest months are May and June, with the average high temp during these months over 100°F, followed by the hot and wet months of July and August. The average high in winter is still in the 70’s and the average lows in winter never seem to get anywhere near freezing. I know south Texans break out that one sweater they own if it falls below 65°F here, but when do you get to wear a sweater in New Delhi?

So, why does all this matter? Well, this was just for fun, but there is a gardening lesson to be learned here. When looking through seed catalogs or online for new vegetable varieties to try in your garden, pay attention to the regions that the seed variety originates from. Those that come from regions with a climate similar to yours might have a better chance of succeeding in your garden. Then again… don’t be afraid try anything. This is a learning process!

Control Group Update

Back in August I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I went on and on about how easy it was to grow cowpeas before I realized some of my friends weren’t going to be planting them in fluffy, fortified, store-bought soil protectively cradled in pots. I did a little guerrilla gardening and jammed a few seeds along the back fence. It was not without its drawbacks, but I had some success.

A Full Rotation

What’s this? I’m feeling a bit chilly, and what on earth is this wet stuff on my leaves. Shake, shake… hello, limbs, shake! Okay, fine. I’ll wait for wind.

Where’s the wind? Hello! Fellow plants! Are any of you familiar with this wet stuff forming on our leaves? Nooo, it is not just me. Would you… just for one moment… just look… Never mind, then! Hmpf!

Look, there! Just behind the trees! The sky is reddening, and purpleing. It is the east, and well, it’s the sun! Ahhh… there’s a little breeze, and a drying effect. Nobody wants to get moldy!

And there’s my little friend! Oh, how I adore him! He keeps me warm and I just feel so much stronger and more alive in his presence. Everyone loves him. I can’t keep my eyes off him. I must follow his every move.

Holy mother of… damn, it’s hot! Listen, Sunshine, Light of My Life, I know you’re just being you, but, umm… my leaves are wilting. It’s just too much, my darling orb of fire. For the love of Pete, dim that shit!

Ahhh… I followed you as far as I could, but you’ve hidden yourself from me. I am not saddened. I can still feel the warmth of your presence and evidence of your brightness in the shadows left behind. Au revoir, my simmering slice of heaven. I’ll see you tomorrow, first thing.

He’s so scorching hot, I’m left looking wilted and sad by the end of his visit! Recovery is quick and made even faster by a delicious drink of water. Too bad I’ll have to settle for water out of the hose, again. I wish he would talk to his cloud friends, but I rarely see them out together, anyway.

What’s this? His cloud friends have happened by and they are looking inspired… rambunctious even! They’ve let down some cooling drops and holy sh…. gulp, gulp, gurgle, gulp! Ya’ll are a bunch of over-achievers! Whaddaya tryin’ to do, drown me?! Leaving me bent over the pot staring at the ground is not dignified! On the other hand, that was some delicious water. Maybe you can come by again tomorrow. You know, after sunset…

Clouds are still hanging overhead, but they’re just up there chattering. With Sunshine long gone now, I’m starting to get a bit chilly… and my leaves are wet, again. Everything will be better once I see him again.

No… I am not stoned. It’s for my writing class… really!

Greens and Things!

Looking at the fall planting guide provided by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, it looks like its time to get working on some greens and things. The okra and the peppers and beans are all doing so well right now that I kind of forgot about getting these cool season greens in. I know what I’m doing this weekend! Break out your seed packets or run to the garden store with me, it’s plantin’ time!

  • chard-115336_1280Chard: a beet relative, chard is basically the greens part of the beet without the big root part. Why grow these? Besides being a nutritional powerhouse, it is a hardy leaf green. It takes the heat and cold better than kale or spinach. Some of the recommended varieties for south central Texas are Bright Lights, Fordhook Giant, Lucullus, and Ruby. I planted Bright Lights in the spring and let a couple of the plants stand through summer. They, survived the heat, and seem to have renewed vigor with this nice, fall weather. Either way, I’m planting some more. They are not only tasty, they are beautiful! Not sure how to use this delicious superfood? Try this simple and delicious recipe. Also, just toss ’em in a salad!
  • Collards: a non-heading cousin to cabbage and broccoli, collards are high in fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties. I’ve not grown these, yet, but I’m going to give it a try this fall. My September planted broccoli is doing okay, but the cabbage just won’t take. Hopefully, collards will fair better. Recommended varieties for south central Texas are Blue Max, Champion, and Vates. Want to try a classic southern collards recipe?
  • bears-garlic-474316_1280Garlic: Oh! I’ve so wanted to try planting garlic in my little container garden, but it’s just one of those things where I have to weigh garden space and time-to-harvest considerations. Rumor is, you won’t recognize the deliciousness of garlic grown in your garden as compared to store-bought. Recommended varieties for Texas include soft-necked types like California Early, Lorz Italian, Texas White and Mexican Pink. Oh, and get a move on! Apparently, garlic is popular and quite in demand. Order early from online stores and keep a close eye on delivery dates for your local garden center.
  • salad-621339_1280Lettuce: I never really gave lettuce much thought until I grew some myself. It was just something that added a little crunch to sandwiches and burgers. I know better now. I’ve grown a couple of different types of lettuce, some Romaine-types and butterheads, greens and reds. Besides being crisp and delicious and being comforted by the fact that they’ve never seen pesitcide, I like just being able to run out and snap off a few leaves and leave the rest safely on the plant. I don’t ever have to throw out lettuce because I couldn’t eat it fast enough. Not to mention, they’re pretty easy to grow. Some varieties to try include Buttercrunch, Black-seeded Simpson, red and green Oakleaf, and Parris Island. For containers, try Little Gem. They are tiny and sweet and delicious!
  • parsley-476872_1280Parsley: This is great to have around if you’re a fan of tabbouleh. If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat! It’s yummy and good for you, too. Recommended varieties for our neck of the woods include Banquet, Italian Dark Green, Moss Curled and Plain Italian. Some say the flat types have better flavor, but I think the curly are prettier and give texture to a dish.

I’ll fill you in on any planting that goes on this weekend. Let me know now things are going with your garden in the comments section.

Those I Am Grateful For

This week on Colline’s Blog, she shared a lovely note from one of her students. It reminded me of how wonderful it is to receive a handwritten letter in the mail. So many times, I think about and have full intention to send out a thoughtful letter to a loved one and most of the time I just don’t get around to it.

Folks I wanted to drop a line to this week:

Dad, thanks for driving all the way out here and spending two days fishing an old creek and a new pond with me. I surprised myself, and probably you too, when I found myself in a bit of a pickle with that feisty sunfish and called out for your help. “Dad! This silly fish is not cooperating!” I guess we’re never to old to sometimes need our Daddy.

Sis, I know you’re not terribly fond of the outdoors, but you put up with the heat and the bugs and the “ewww” factor like a champ. Don’t think your efforts have gone unnoticed. Thanks for letting me have my fishy fun!

There are so many more I can think of to be grateful for. You may not know it, but you brought joy to my day and warmed my heart.

Saturday morning

Everyone at home is still asleep and I’m sitting alone at the dining table with a fresh pot of coffee brewing in pure, delicious silence. As you may know, I’ve been working on this writing class, so I feel like I’ve kinda gotten off-topic these last few weeks. The original idea for this blog was to help some eager, but hesitant, new gardeners find joy and build confidence in gardening. I thought of it as kind of a “no-drop” or no-man-left-behind sort of adventure and I still hope it will be.

I’ve spent a lot of time in front of the keyboard these last two weeks and not much time in the garden. It’s probably a good thing, though. Where I lack patience, I’ve inserted blogging. I’ve only had time to check on my garden a few times a day, as opposed to a few dozen. I do feel a little guilty, though. Not just because I’ve redirected my focus, at least temporarily, but because of how much I’ve enjoyed running off on these tangents and how much fun it’s been chatting with new online friends.

I’m eager to get back to the soil. Who knows? Maybe this weekend I’ll treat myself to a few fresh bags of soil and some nice, fresh mulch… and I’ll tell you all about it a new post.  😉