Gail of Green Living


Ready for Fall Garden!

I’m very sure I am ready for Fall!  We had a “teaser” cool front a couple of weeks ago, and another is promised next week.  But the heat returned and cut my enthusiasm for gardening quite a bit. While it was cool, I did spend some time trimming dead limbs off my tomato plants and I think they will be good until we have a freeze.

Free tomato plant

This is my tomato plant I found in my Amaryllis a couple of months ago.  It is producing grape tomatoes now.  Since I never grew this variety before, I will have to assume the seeds came from my compost.

Free 2 Tomato Plant

This is the free plant that appeared in my Cilantro.  I think it’s another cherry tomato variety.  For those who have followed my blog for a while, I promised I would raise no tomatoes this fall.  But I have trouble with that when the plants are just there anyway!  And I have some of the bush varieties that started putting out new growth and blooms!

Bush tomato plant

There is a chance we could have a bumper crop of those nice bush tomatoes this fall!

I’ll update herbs next time.  I even have some to share.   Find out which ones are doing well in my garden in the next post!

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I’m Ready to Know the Answer
September 13, 2012, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Gardening, Green Living | Tags: , ,

Red and Green Bell Peppers

Someone let me know why this happens: one pepper is green, the other red, and they are from the same stem! I used to think maybe it’s because winter peppers are on the bush so long and they turn red after a while. Now, these are summer peppers. Don’t say it’s the soil, because they are on the same stem, same soil, same organic fertilizers…are they fraternal twins? I have a couple of daughters like that!



FREE Downtown Houston Transportation

Greenlink – Free Downtown Houston Transportation

We now have FREE and convenient downtown transportation in Houston!  The Greenlink bus is made in the U.S.A.(!)  by Gillig, LLC., and their plant is energy-efficient using a sustainable process, which includes recycling oil, water and packaging waste, reducing solvent use, using low VOC paint, and using zero-emission machinery.  The structure is made from recycled aluminum with a stainless steel understructure that combats corrosion, which will make the parts last longer.  The seven buses are fueled by compressed natural gas, and produce much less emissions and waste than comparable buses.

Let’s get to the fun part!   Greenlink runs east and west between City Hall and the George R. Brown, and north and south to Pease by way of Smith and Louisiana Streets.  This includes 18 stops near the Theatre District, Minute Maid Park, hotels, office buildings, shops (including Macy’s), restaurants, Discovery Green Park, Toyota Center…oh, my!  This covers the heart of downtown!  Buses run from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, and you should not ever have to wait more than 7-10 minutes for a bus to come by.

I’ve been telling people they could ride the Metro Rail from their new home to downtown to go to a ball game at Minute Maid Park, or they could go to see a Broadway show at The Hobby Center.  I could tell by their response that they are not willing to walk that far in the heat, rain, or whatever weather, and now, there is an air conditioned solution…and FREE!

Now who wants to help me talk them into weekend service?  Check out the map below for route details:



More Odd Couples in the Garden

In early July, I posted about Odd Couples in the Garden, and I continue to find them in this hot, dry spell we are having in Houston.  Since my gardening is confined to containers, I must water every day during this time.

I have the prettiest basil in the pots with my Amaryllis bulbs!  The original basil plant is just on the other side of this pot, and it looks really terrible at this point, but it certainly sent out lots of seeds in neighboring pots to take over!

Bush Tomato

This bush tomato still hasn’t been transplanted into another pot.  I did transplant the other, and it is doing great, and like I suspected, it is a grape/cherry tomato and already has tomatoes on it.  First cloudy day, I promise to transplant it!

Cilantro and Company

This is the pot where I plant Cilantro in the Fall and early Spring.  A seed fell in the pot and the poor plant is struggling through the heat.  On the right, we have a sturdy Bluebonnet starting.  The bluebonnets were next to this pot in the Spring.  And on the left, we have another stray tomato.  I think I’m moving this family to the shade!

Have you adopted any stray plants and had success?



The $5 Impact: The Burnt Orange goes GREEN

University of Texas at Austin

When I think of “green cities“, I think first of Seattle or Austin, Texas.  Their city governments have done a lot to green their communities.  But The University of Texas at Austin had not done so much.  And with over 50,000 students, its population is the size of a small town at least.  The University opened its Office of Sustainability in 2009, but the costs of carrying out the mission were expensive.  In 2011, the student body voted in a “green fee” of $5 per semester and $2.50 for a summer session, added to their fees.  This fee adds over half million dollars for projects.  Here are some examples of campus and campus life changes taking place:

  • Added gooseneck water fountains at high-traffic spots on campus to encourage students to fill their own water bottle.
  • Invasive plants removed from Waller Creek, so that student groups can enjoy the creek as well as monitor it through an Adopt-A-Stream program.
  • The Perry Castaneda Library has installed paper recycling bins inside and outside the library where more than 5,000 students use the facility each day.
  • A vacant lot in East Campus has been transformed into an organic micro-farm to grow fruits and vegetables to serve in campus dining rooms.
  • Students and faculty from the LBJ School of Public Affairs are now recycling and composting at their weekly luncheons.  More than 2,000 pounds of waste have been kept from landfills since this project began.
  • You’ve seen car charging stations; UT has installed a charging station outside the Perry Castaneda Library where students can charge their electronic devices, including electric scooters.
  • Additional bicycle parking has been installed across campus
  • The first large-scale tree nursery has been established for reforestation purposes.  It is located at the Pickle Research Campus.  The student-operated facility has the capacity for over 300,000 seedlings!

These are campus projects and do not reflect any efforts toward sustainability that classrooms, dorms and other campus groups and facilities are implementing on their own.  I can imagine there is a visual impact on the students and faculty that causes them to have a more responsible, sustainable lifestyle when they leave campus.

I think the students must feel they are getting a good return on their $5 investment in a greener campus.  HOOK ‘EM!

Information from the Alcalde, July/August 2012



Odd Couples in the Garden
July 6, 2012, 8:45 am
Filed under: Gardening, Green Living | Tags: , , , ,

Tomato/Amaryllis

I think I have a couple of odd couples in my garden.  This tomato plant has sprouted and grown to a decent size without my even noticing it!  I think it must be a cherry tomato variety, but that’s just a guess.  I know the Amaryllis is a giant red bloom, and the flowers are stunning and dramatic every Spring!

Tomato/Amaryllis

Now, this tomato plant has a more stout stem and is more compact, so I’m guessing it is a Better Bush.  These amaryllis pots are less than two feet apart.  What do you suppose happened to create these odd couples in my garden?  My guess is that the squirrels and birds took their snack from my tomato plants, perched on the side of this pot to eat, and the seeds fell in the pot.

There is not much soil in these pots, because the bulbs don’t require it.  I will try to carefully transfer these plants to other pots, to give myself a headstart on my Fall Garden!

Do you ever have an Odd Couple in your garden?



Summer Garden Teaches Flexibility!

Some of life’s big moments have taught me to be flexible.  Being a parent was a big one!  I had to change habits, ignore preconceived ideas about perfect children, and learn to manage my time better.  Being a real estate agent is another moment, which taught me that I must let my clients change their minds on what they want and need.  I need to manage my time even more, in order to be flexible when my Sellers want me to market their home or a Buyer is off from work and is ready to look for their dream home.  And this year, my garden has taught me to be flexible about my expectations regarding production, the weather, the time I have to focus on it, and on and on.  I continue to learn so much every season!

Basil Seedlings

Basil Seeds

The Basil has gone to seed, but the good news is that some of the seeds have already fallen and sprouted and have started a whole new crop of beautiful basil plants.  Does anyone need some organic basil seeds?

Purple Hull Peas Blooms

Both the Purple Hull Peas and the Yard-Long Beans produced  enough beans to pick, and then, haven’t bloomed again.  The purple hulls just started blooming again last week, and the yard-long beans are just parked in the “staying alive” mode.  Normally, beans and peas are constantly blooming and you can pick some every day, once they start, and this is always my expectation.  I am fertilizing with organic fertilizer every other week, just like I have for a long time.  This is just odd behavior!

Kentucky Wonder Bean Foliage

Look at all that foliage from the Kentucky Wonder Beans, and not a bloom or bean to be seen!  I’ve given it organic fertilizer, water, and still nothing! This is not at all what I expected here!

Better Bush Tomatoes

I had to cover tomatoes with netting this year, because the squirrels were having a feast on them!  That makes it hard for me to have access to them, too, and I finally took off the netting this week, because there wasn’t much for the squirrels to eat anymore.  I found three gi-normous horn worms on this plant.  I guess protecting the plant from squirrels allows horn worms to graze freely without my notice or birds’ access to them either!

Blueberries

Ending on a positive note…the blueberry bushes have put on a lot of new growth, and I am so pleased with the progress.  I look forward to enjoying more than the three berries I ate this summer.  The birds ate the rest!  Next year as soon as blooming begins, the net will go over these precious plants to protect the berries from those hungry Mockingbirds!

Has your garden ever taught you flexibility?