Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The rainy month of January

Tuesday again and it's raining again. This is the third Tuesday in a row that we've had rain. Is this a new trend? I could live with that!

So far today we've gotten at least 1.2 inches which puts us close to 6 inches for the month. Our average in a normal year is around 4 inches, but, of course, we didn't get that in a single month last year. I'm liking this year a lot better!

The combination of the rain and the mild winter weather has brought spring peeping over the windowsill in my garden. Everything is greening up nicely. I've already started pruning my roses even though the usual time to do that is still a couple of weeks away. It seems silly to wait though when they are already putting on new leaves and even new flower buds.

I also did the initial pruning on the muscadine grape vines over the weekend, although I still need to go back and prune even closer. The vines do grow rampantly during the summer.

Yesterday, we visited our local feed store and picked up some red potatoes for planting. I got them into the ground yesterday, before the rains started, so they've been well watered today, as have the radish seeds I planted.

On Sunday, we had carrots from the garden for our lunch. They are tender and sweet, some of the best I've ever grown, I think. I prepared them using a glazed carrot recipe, but they hardly even need the glazing. Nevertheless, here's the recipe:
1 lb. of carrots
1/4 cup of orange juice
3 T. of brown sugar
2 T. of butter
Salt to taste 
Cook the carrots in a pan with water on top of the stove until fully tender. Drain the water. Add the other ingredients and cook on top of the stove for a few minutes. Five minutes did it for me. Serve and enjoy.
Carrots may be my favorite vegetable to eat - if not #1, they are certainly high in the top 10 - and one of my favorites to grow. I almost never have a failure with them.

In addition to the potatoes and radishes that I planted yesterday, I also planted a few dill seeds in my seed starter tray under the grow light. Most of the seeds that I've planted there have sprouted and are doing well and I'm going to have a lot of new plants for the garden in a few weeks.

The dill is mostly for the black swallowtail butterfly. I had a good number of them in the yard last year, one of the few types of butterflies that were relatively plentiful in the garden in that drought year. They do love dill, as well as parsley, carrots and other members of the parsley family. I saw one in the garden again only yesterday. Tomorrow, rainy January will be a pleasant memory and it will be February. Time to get ready for the coming of the butterflies.

 Black swallowtail caterpillar on fennel, another favorite of their host plants. 



  1. I bought a fennel plant once just because it had caterpillars on it. We kept it in a old aquarium until they cocooned and hatched. My kids loved it!

  2. The rain has been fabulous, hasn't it? I've started doing some pruning on roses and some semi-woody perennials/shrubs. If we get a February freeze, and it kills them, I have plenty of seedlings coming up to take their places!

  3. Love those caterpillars, Kim! And they are a great way to get kids interested in Nature. I think kids have a natural affinity for caterpillars and other creepy crawlies.

  4. I'm feeling pretty confident that we are not going to get any prolonged freezing temperatures to damage our plants this winter, Cindy. That's why I feel pretty safe in getting on with the pruning. If I'm wrong - well, it won't be the first time!

  5. Well I've been trying to get brave enough to go ahead and prune the roses. Think I will get the shears out as well. I've masses of strawberries, blooms and babies...a late freeze wouldn't be nice for them. Would love a few sweet extras this season. Hope we have a good dewberry season too...since they did horrible last year. The hot sun popping out today ought to really get some seeds germinating!! Love your Cat!!! Our minds are caterpillar connected ;) <3

  6. I need to plants some dill and fennel. For the first time ever, I planted fennel last year and I had several caterpillars on it. They ate it down to a nub! Then they disappeared and I looked to see if I could find their cocoons but I couldn't find them. I hope the birds didn't get them.

  7. I plant a number of herbs in my garden mainly for the benefit of the butterflies, Jayne. I do use them in cooking, too, but, in truth, the caterpillars probably consume more than I do! One wonderful thing about growing herbs is that - other than the occasional caterpillar munching on them - they are mostly not bothered by insects.