Northerners who move to Texas, especially the coastal and southern parts, are usually amused and disgusted by the reactions we natives have to any temperatures that fall below 50 on any given ‘winter’ day. The last couple of ‘blue northers’ we’ve had in the last week or so has provided ample opportunity for good-natured ribbing and just a bit of mockery, with arctic fronts finally reaching their fingers into our latitudes and sending those of us not used to extreme cold into a kind of bewildered state of affairs.
Not only has Texas been in dire need of water, but the more coastal/southern portions have not seen severe winter weather in well over 20 years. Oh sure, we had that fantastic freak snowfall that covered the south by southeastern portions of the state as well as northern Mexico on Christmas Eve back in 2005, but for us Texans that was a matter of looking at our wrists and shrugging “yeah, ’bout time we had our 100 year snow storm.” But true “blue northers” have almost become a thing of the hazy past for us on the Gulf coast, something you annoy the current millinnial generation with rehashings of what it was like when you were young. “Why when I was your age, we had to hunker down and wait for those winds to finish screaming over our house…”
Put those winds in a 90-100 degree temperature range and package into a nice swirling ball of rainclouds, we’ll give it a name and throw it a party.
Anyway, January always seems to be a month of recovery for me: recovery from the onslaught of Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas, recovery from as-yet-to-be-accomplished marathon baking of cookies, cakes, and treats; but the month never quite escapes without the first tinges of spring fever creeping into my thoughts, no matter how blue the norther or well-stocked my pantry. When those seed catalogues start showing up in my mail box, I start stalking them. It’s therapy!
That’s my reason and I’m sticking to it.
What’s even more enticing this year is that we are in the completion stages of purchasing about 23 acres of family property on the prairie edge of East Texas. It has taken us a while to get to this point. A desire for a bit of earth bigger than the corner of a postage stamp has been with hubby and I since we started talking matrimony. Two years ago, we had a five year plan in place to put ourselves in a position to buy the land we dreamed of. As fate would have it, hubby’s family provided us with the perfect opportunity – – three years early. So we’ve been scrambling to make the necessary…*ahem*…arrangements, and here we are, waiting on an appraiser to finalize the sale. Once that’s signed, sealed, and delivered, there will be a massive transition put into effect. With a fallow cattle pen behind the house that hadn’t seen cultivation in several decades, you can well imagine how my spring fever has been jump started.
So here’s the lineup I’ve got in store already. I ordered the following from Baker Creek Rare and Heirloom Seed Company:
- Jubilee Bush watermelon
- Moon and Stars watermelon, yellow variety
- Purple Hull Pinkeye Cowpea
- Bohemian Cowpea
- Butter King lettuce
- Old Homestead (Kentucky Wonder) green bean
- Golden Bantam 12 Row Corn
- Country Gentleman sweet corn
- American Legion poppy
- Mammoth Grey Striped sunflower
- Anise hyssop
- Moldavian Balm Dragonhead
- Free bonus : Lemon Squash
I have been told that watermelon grows famously in the red soil of the county where we will be living. This shouldn’t surprise me as Hempstead is just ‘down the road a fur piece’ and those watermelons are a kind of well known secret in these parts. Purple hull peas are also supposed to be prolific. This is a favorite of mine, as they are not regularly sold in either the local nurseries/garden centers, or the produce section of the store. I don’t know if its because they’re no longer fashionable or if the ‘furriners’ that have been moving into the area are just not familiar with this Southern favorite. But they have a sweet green taste that are unmatched by any other pea crop. I’m looking forward to sitting on the front porch and shelling them. I bought a second variety called Bohemian, brought to America by Czechs from Prague in the early 1800s.
I bought a more common lettuce type to grow, a variety that I hope will bear up to Texas summers, but I am also purchasing (from a different source) a variety known as Crawford lettuce, one that has apparently adapted extremely well to Texas. I remember my father introduced me to this lettuce several years ago but I never did take it up as a crop for my own garden. I really wish I had. If you’re interested in this variety, you can write to the folks who have curated this special little lettuce here.
The part I’m really excited about is starting a new herb garden. I have planted anise hyssop every year that Ive had a garden because the leaves make the best natural sweetener and add a nice anise flavor to iced tea (if you like that sort of thing.) And the bees love anise hyssop, as they do poppies and balm. Since hubby has been making noises about setting up an apiary, I’ve been trying to think of various plants that would encourage bees to hang out. I’ll have the usual basil, thyme, and sage on hand – the previous owner had planted a rosemary by the old well, which has grown into a very large bush, but I am always looking for exotic plants to try out. I havent quite decided where I will put the herb garden. There is a nice little landscaped square by the house that would be ideal…if it weren’t for the fact that I am already imagining a tall white pergola in that spot.
And then there’s the issue of where exactly am I going to install the labyrinth I’ve always wanted…?
See what happens when spring fever starts to climb?