Monday, June 11, 2012

My Psychotherapy

Although many things have changed in our life since our move to Texas, one which never will, is my love of gardening. After all the insanity of the past two months, getting back into the soil was a constant thought on my mind. It does something to my psyche. It gives me back much more than I ever put into it.
So while all the craziness was going on with the move, I planned gardens; lavishly green with beautifully shaded meandering paths through wooden and iron trellises, arches, and Gazebos, and me sitting amongst all this grandeur in the grass with a glass of vine or a Sam Adams! Something out of a Beverley Nichols novel.
What was not in this garden fantasy were Chiggers!
Have you heard of them?    
  Well, if you have never lived in Texas then let me tell you about these little critters called Chiggers. They are tiny little red mites that are practically unseen. They climb onto your clothes while you are outside thinning your Chard,

 watering your Fig,

 or photographing you red peppers;

 your radishes,
or your collards,

 and then they find an area to bite, eat, and picnic at. Once you scratch or wash the affected area, they are sloughed off, but the damage that they do is quite visible and very, extremely irritating. It looks like a mosquito bite, only its itchiness is 20 fold.
After having been bit about 50 times during my first gardening attempt, I immediately contacted a neighbor who told me that the little critter was now living within my skin, which totally freaked me out. Needless to say, after a little Google festival, I found out that they were not "inside" me. However, the hormones that destroy and irritate the skin were still there, and that was what was driving me crazy.  Having 50 Chigger bites all over your body, where no one, much less a little mite should have full access to, sent me into massive overload.            

 Gone now, were the peaceful gardens, the Gazebos, and the Sam Adams.

 I realized that all my gardening would have to be put on hold until these little pests were sent packing. I am an organic gardener, and believe that we should tread as lightly on this earth as possible. However, after trying everything from Diatomaceous Earth, to sprays, only to end up with MORE Chigger bites, ( and Wolf spider bites, but that's a whole other post), I gave in to the scratching.  I called the local exterminator and had them spray their greenest spray to get rid of them.

Finally, one month later, my garden is beginning to take shape. My mother and her tiller have done wonders for the fence edge. Thanks Mom!

 I have finally got some vegetables and trees in. Starting at the far left, we have two rows of  red/green peppers, basil, chard, my lone tomato plant, asparagus beans, mixed mesclun greens, another asparagus bean....and then the nursery where a variety of babies are just starting off, as I got a late start due to the move. In that far right you can just make out the fig tree that moved with us from up north. It was packed away within a  box, in the moving company's storage facility for over a week and a half. Along with about 10 of my favorite African violets.  Sealed shut, from all light and water. It was mid spring when we moved to Texas, and the fig had just started to leaf, and the African violets were in full bloom. So I had concerns on whether they would make it or not. I gave most of my big plants away to my friends and neighbors, but this lone scattering of green, I could not bear to part with. To my great surprise, they did well. The leaves on the fig (Brown Turkey) had all turned white.
But as you can see it is doing quite well. Which made me ecstatic!
The African violets..........

 also did unbelievably well. Although they dropped flowers, they have found the windowsills here in Texas to be quite adequate to replenish those that were lost.

Another new addition to the backyard is the Meyer Lemon tree.
 I would not say he is exactly a tree..... yet....but I constantly encourage him, and reinforce that size does not matter.....only fruit production does!
So there it is....the humble beginnings of my veggie / fruit garden, and the African violet resort.  I hope it encourages you to start something for yourself in your own backyard.
  No matter how small, the harvest brings you so much more than just something to put on your table to eat.

Be well,


  1. Oh, I am so sorry that you had to become so quickly acquainted with our evil chigger population. Are those bites miserable or WHAT? Calamine lotion helps greatly.

    WOW! I am so impressed and intrigued by your fig and violets surviving the move. What a joy to have some of your "babies" come with you.

    And what may I ask are asparagus beans? I will have googled it by the time you see this, but I'm asking anyway.

    Welcome to Texas!

    1., the bites were like nothing I have ever experienced.
      I also could not believe that all my plants made it after being in storage for that long. The white fig leaves were definitely interesting. I wish I would have taken a photo.

      I know you have already Googled, and found out that they are Chinese long beans. They are such wonderful producers. They are one of the few beans I have found that are extremely productive, not picky about weather, or soil conditions, and super-super-easy to grow. ;) If you need seeds, just let me know. I can ship some to you.

      Thanks so much for the Welcome :)

  2. Coming from a country environment here in central Texas, my family always used old time remedies for natures problems. It also seems they are environmentally friendly even before that was a term.

    For your chigger problem you could have sprinkled sulpher around the yard and that would have taken care of the chiggers as well as ticks. We keep powdered sulpher on our pants legs to keep chiggers and ticks off. We kept a sock with the sulpher in it and swat our pants legs with the sock to apply it. It works really well.

    Good luck with your Texas gardening, Bob Pool

    1. Powdered Sulpher? I guess you can get that at some place like Loews? I will definitely try that!
      Thanks so much for the info as my pups are both allergic to fleas and ticks. Will be heading to a garden center this week.

    2. Texans always tell you to get that - the problem is, now you have to choose between the smell and the bites :) But it does work. They also die once the temperatures reach 100 for several days in a row, one reason to crave extreme heat... But, after 3 years here, I really love it, and have kept at least 3 plants alive for longer than a month. The lush gardens I see here and there keeps me trying! If you are near enough, The Natural Gardener in Austin is a good resource, and I have learned that everything garden can be a lot cheaper at Callahans. Good luck!

  3. You have so much growing in your garden! I really want a fig tree -- not sure how they will do in Indiana though......

    1. You can always give it a shot! I had mine up north and just wrapped it up in the winter.