Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

September 1, Austin Urban Garden – Stress and Success September 2, 2010

With this lingering heat, parts of the garden are struggling to get through each day.  The Corn in the Three Sisters Garden, has been looking pale and tired, although most of the stalks are making corn.  Setting cobs?  Since the other two sisters flew the coop, the beans and pumpkins, the garden isn’t getting nitrogen from the beans.  And corn needs nitrogen.  So I picked up some fish emulsion and hand watered the corn with a diluted mixture.  I also threw some worm castings on top of the soil, because I have an irrational belief that worm poo fixes everything.  We’ll see.  But for now:

Heat stressed corn

corn cobs growing

The peppers are doing fine, but do look a bit stressed in the heat of the day.

Peppers hanging in

The tomatoes in the garden are waiting for less heat to fully thrive.

Garden Tomatoes look puny

Butternut Squash or Cucumber?

This is either butternut squash or lemon cucumber.  I planted both and can’t tell the difference.  Whatever it is, it is happy.  Hoping for the butternut, but if life hands me lemon cucumbers, I’ll make lemon cucumber pickles again.

The broccoli seeds are up.  I need to thin them a bit every day.  I never know how they all show up in one end of the garden.  Watering, maybe.

Broccoli seedlings

The Black Seeded Simpson lettuce has sprouted as well.  I really hope it cools off, or it will be too hot for this lettuce.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

There are some strange things sprouting in the potato bed, although I’m not sure any of them are potatoes.  Still waiting.   They might be compost.

On the Herb Patio, the Bay Laurel, which sat as a barron stick for a year, has sprouted a friend!  This will be fabulous for winter soups and stews.  I love Bay.

Bay for Winter

The garden winners of the day, strangely, are the tomatoes in the Earthbox.  They are the healthiest and heartiest of the whole lot.

Tomatoes in an Earthbox Surviving the Heat

So, it’s still hot, but I’m ever hopeful for Fall weather, and a more and more productive Fall and Winter garden.  The Fall and Winter garden are my favorites.  So abundant and with such good food.


Three Sisters Garden Update – Corn! August 22, 2010

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In this oppressive heat, I’ve pulled up plants that didn’t yield much food, because it wasn’t cost effective to continue dumping gallons of water on them.  I’ve been focusing lots of my attention and water on the Three Sisters Garden, which I planted as an experiment to test the legendary practice.  So far, the corn has done great, although it curls up in the heat of the day, which makes me cringe.  The other two sisters, pumpkins and beans, are not faring so well.  Every morning when I water the garden, I look for signs of corn silks, which is the first sign of corn cobs forming.

Three Sisters Garden

Corn silks

And today, there were several!

More corn silks

They are small now, but I’ll be watching like a doting mother for more to appear, and as the ears grow.  I’ll treat the silks with mineral oil to keep the worms out, and with any luck and lots of love, there will soon be corn!


Dog Days of Summer – How to protect the garden August 14, 2010

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By this time last year, after prolonged record setting heat, I had pulled up most of my herbs because watering them was such an unpleasant chore.  Now, they are mostly safe under the shade of a pecan tree on my patio, and I’m still watering them every day.  The tomatoes in the raised bed are still looking good. I think I got some particularly heat resistant varieties, mostly Valley Girls.  Still, this morning, I improvised some shade cloth from burlap and covered the most exposed tomatoes up.  It reminds me of the straw hat that will adorn my head this afternoon when I deliver soil in the heat of the day.

burlap shade cloth

The corn in the Three Sisters Garden is now setting tassles!  The other two sisters have mostly given up their fight through the heat.  I’m watering the corn, and everything else right now, every day in the early morning.  The corn also gets a misting in the heat of the afternoon.

tassles on the corn

The lone watermelon is growing every week. I’m not sure how big this variety is supposed to get, because I always lose the cards that say all that important stuff, but it looks healthy nonetheless.

Ever Growing watermelon

I planted two tomato plants in an Earthbox, hoping that the constant supply of water provided to the roots would help them through these final (hopefully) horrid days of heat.  They look as good or better as those in the raised bed.

Tomatoes in Earthbox

The serrano peppers need no protection, and are setting peppers faster than I can keep up with.   However, the pimiento varieties I bought the last couple weeks at the farmer’s market did not tolerate the heat at all and gave up the ghost rather quickly.

happy peppers

Sorry for the foggy pictures.  I’ve got a gazillion people coming to my house this weekend and I was impatient with the camera fogging up, so I just rolled with the bad pictures.


State of the Garden, Surviving the August Heat August 7, 2010

The last week of 100 degree temperatures has stressed some of the garden plants, yet some seem unfazed.  I’m watering pretty much every day, and spritzing the plants in the heat of the afternoon.  The Lemon Cucumbers look horrible, but there are so many flowers on them, they are covered with bees.  Basically, at this point, I’m leaving them in for the bees.  The Purple Hull Peas are gorgeous, and seemingly sprang out of nowhere.  They will be ready to pick when about half of the pod has turned purple, so very soon.

Purple Hull Peas

The one Celebrity plant I left in from Spring, looks like Hell, but true to form, is still setting fruit.

Celebrity Tomato

I also have another watermelon. This one is from a different plant than the last, and is a different variety.  It’s very cute though.


The peppers, of course, are happy as can be and getting hotter by the day.  Heat begets heat, so they are fiery.  I’m going to make homemade Siracha (not spelled right) with the Thai Chiles.

Thai Chiles

The Three Sisters Garden is having mixed results.  The corn looks fantastic, but shows signs of stress at the heat of the day.  The beans and pumpkins are not doing as well, and I can’t predict their outcome.

Three Sisters Garden

The lemons and limes are ready to be picked, I just need to decide what to do with them so none of these precious gems go to waste.


No sign of the potatoes yet, I’m keeping that site slightly damp.  I planted them deep and they are slow, so I’m not looking for signs of life for another couple of weeks.  Hopefully not until it is cooler.

The tomatoes I put out a couple weeks ago are hanging in and a couple have flowered.  I’m pleased with the garden as a whole, but wish this horrible heat would end soon.

Here’s the big garden:

the big garden overall


Three Sisters Garden – Update July 31, 2010

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The Three Sisters Garden is coming along. Not all of the beans came up, but those that did are starting to wrap their way around the cornstalks.  The pumpkins are up as well.  The corn looks amazing, much better than my previous corn, probably because there is so much more of it, and all the seeds were planted at the same time.  I think its absolutely gorgeous!  My picture could be better- I was outside with wet hair, in my robe, taking pictures, and a bunch of runners came by, so I snapped the photo and skeedaddled.

Three Sisters Garden


Fall Garden Coming Along July 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 10:55 am
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After spending several hours yesterday, amending the soil, turning it, and shopping at the Natural Gardener, my Fall Garden is underway.

I planted Valley Girl Tomatoes, a variety called Big Red, which I’ve never heard of, and a couple called Solar Set.  I gave the still producing Celebrity a haircut, and a shot of Rabbit Hill Farms Buds and Blooms.  I also planted 4 Butternut Squash Plants, as well as some more Jalapenos and a Mucho Nacho Pepper.

Fall Garden taking shape

I attempted to pull up the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes in the 4×8 bed, but found that the Lemon Cucumbers had claimed the entire plant as a trellis.  What a huge mess, but the lemon cucumbers are coming on strong, so I hate to disturb them.  I decided to let them make cukes for another couple of weeks, then pull out the whole mess and plant the potatoes there.

cucumber tomato mess

The Three Sisters Garden looks good, I think.  The corn looks great, but the beans and pumpkins don’t seem as happy.

Three Sisters Garden

And, the 1 watermelon is growing slowly.



State of the Garden – Planning for Fall July 20, 2010

Normally, I’m a sloppy gardener – I don’t plan ahead very well, I just plant whatever strikes my fancy at the time.  I’m horrible at labeling and not much of a rule follower.  In an effort to get a little better about that, and make sure I have available garden space in the upcoming months for the things I really want to be eating, I sketched out the current state of the garden.

july garden

I have not decided whether to plant more tomatoes for Fall, but will leave the Celebrity in as long as it continues to produce tomatoes.  The tomatoes in the 4×8 bed are on their way out, and I’ve left them in because the cucumbers are using them as a trellis.

The Three Sisters Garden should be done by late October, so I’ll reserve that garden space for onions to be planted in December.  That was easy.  The watermelon should be ripe in another 3 weeks or so, by mid-August.  I need to put a Fall Crop of something in that space, that will be ready before onions go in.

Potatoes get planted in August, so I think I’ll reserve the West 4 feet of the big bed for those.  It has been resting for about 3 weeks.  I’ll need some space for lettuce and broccoli which need to be planted in August as well.

So much to think about!