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Sunday, April 4, 2010

You know, I think things ARE bigger in Texas

I've lived in Austin for a year now and there are still a few things that make me pause. Well, not the cockroaches, they make me run for a swatter.

It's mostly the climate; it's just so warm here compared to the Northwest. In the garden I am perpetually lagging the recommended planting dates. (It's just so WRONG to plant squash and sweet corn in March.) If it weren't for my handy chart from the Master Gardeners, I'd never get anything in the ground on time. Here the price to pay for being late is that you don't get a harvest before the summer sun fries everything to dust. I had it easy in the Northwest where the grace periods were much longer.

I'm not complaining. This place is literally exploding with growth right now. Overnight the wildflowers carpet the roadsides with a complete riot of colors. The redbuds erupt into the most exquisite pink clouds only to be rivaled by the white of the Mexican Plums. Butterflies and birds are everywhere. It really is a celebration to spring. Almost makes me want to turn pagan and run naked through the neighborhood.

The vegetable garden is also just amazing. My garlic, onions, Swiss chard, kale, second crop of radishes, beets, spinach - everything has just taken off. I planted the same variety of Oregon Giant Snow Peas that I do every year, and here they really are gigantic.
In Oregon, I was very lucky to have them reach their mature height as stated on the seed packet before they dried up and I had to pull them. Here they are three feet tall and are just now starting to bloom. It's not the soil or any sort of different cultural practice, it's totally due to the warmer nights. I have cabbage planted in the same bed, and I don't know if I am going to be able to get the row cover over my hoops to keep out cabbage moths. Maybe the huge peas will fool them and they will fly off to plague someone else.

And then there is the fruit. How can it be possible that I have bud break on my apple trees and cantaloupe sprouting at the same time? My citrus trees have recovered from the freeze and are blooming now too. I just noticed that one of the oranges has actually set a little tiny orb. Huh? It's like I'm a symphony conductor - all the instruments are playing at once and it's up to me to bring out the music.

My garden and this climate have also changed the way Ed and I eat. We continue to lose weight as we stuff ourselves with vegetables and grilled meats. Our fat and wheat consumption has really plummeted, plus we get out and walk more. We discovered that I now fit into Ed's old jeans and shorts, so I have a much wider selection of gardening clothes than before! Plus, did you know that men's pants have much deeper pockets? We women get short-changed on everything.

Of course, today it is raining and 80 degrees. I went outside and had to gasp for air because it is so steamy. But the plants are happy and therefore, so am I!

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