Michael Battalio


Getting ready for fall

Not a lot has been happening in the garden over the last month and a half. I’ve mostly just been waiting out the summer. My house has gotten about .75 in of rain since the middle of May, so I haven’t done much gardening. I do have a few things to show. I’ve been on a plant buying spree in anticipation of cooler fall temperatures. I pulled out all the sunflowers from the side perennial bed and some plant waiting to go in. Just some standard plants a purple coneflower, some ornamental grasses, a sedum, gaura et cetera. Admittedly it will take a while for this bed to fill in. I’m okay with that though. I’m leaving that big empty space in for a shrub, probably a torch bush.


The vegetable garden goes well. Again, I’m waiting on cooler temps for the tomatoes to begin setting fruit again (lows above 70 prevent the plants from fruiting). The bell peppers and okra are going just fine. I just planted potatoes, and the pumpkins need to be watered. I planted some lima beans a couple of weeks ago, but only three out of the whole pack sprouted, then two died, so I have one lima bean plant. I believe the culprit is a hoard of rolly pollies. They are everywhere, and I believe they decapitated the young sprouts. How that one lone bean survived I do not know.


I have finally finished the daylily raised bed and am waiting for it to cool down to plant them. We are still getting highs in the 100s daily. I’m going to wait until it at least stays below the low 90s to plant.


Finally, I bought some plants from Yucca Do Nursery which specializes in drought tolerant plants for TX. They were having a sale, and I got a Billbergia nutans, Ctenanthe setosa, Kaempferia x ‘Pink Lace’, Rhodea japonica, and Zephyranthes x ‘Aquarius’ (which bloomed due to the thorough watering I gave it at planting). The common name for Zephyranthes is Rain lily. They flower after a heavy rain. I have some orange ones growing natively in my lawn. I love them.


Summer drought

It’s hot, very, really hot. We had an all time high for June in College Station at the end of last month. It got up to 106. It also hasn’t rained since the 8” we got in the middle of May. I’ve had to water something almost every day. The vegetable garden has just shut down. Nothing is up to producing. I did harvest probably 10 lb of potatoes from my two short rows. That is going to be something I continue planting in the future. I’ve had some of the perennials I planted in March die. I’ve had a coreopsis and a salvia die. Those are both generally very drought tolerant plants, however they must become established before they can tolerate the kind of annual drought we get here in TX. There are still some bright spots even in the middle of July. I have Crinum Lilies scattered throughout the property from the previous owners (left photo). They have done just fine, though their foliage is kind of battered. The coleus and caladiums are also doing well (baby caladium leaf with a water drop on right). The best I can hope for now is to just get to September. I will be reevaluating what to do with some of the beds now that I’ve been in the house for a year. I’m definitely going to have to increase the organic matter content of the beds so that they retain moisture better. That will have to be a project for fall; it’s just too darn hot to do anything now.