Monday, June 9, 2014

Highlights from the Pond Tour 2014

One of my favorite tour events of the year in the Austin Pond Society's pond tour. For the sum of $15, if paid in advance, you get two full days of touring and more ponds than most people have the stamina to look at. This year there were 20 ponds to view by day and 2 night viewings. Because there are so many, I usually pick one day and try to see as many as I can squeeze in.

S1 David and Barbara. I love, love, love this place. I've been to this pond before. Whenever I visit, I always feel like I'm in good hands. The homeowners are super friendly and really seem to enjoy talking to their tour visitors.

Yes, that's me waving. With all the mirrors, I couldn't seem to get a good picture without something reflected, so I decided to embrace the moment. Hello world! Look at this awesome mosaic toilet water feature!

Oh my gosh! If there's such as place as toilet heaven...well, here it is!

It's not all fun and toilets at this wonderful garden. David and Barbara have their serious side too. Their backyard has a distinct tropical feel, which starts with this weeping water wall.

This beautiful, clear water is deep enough to take a dip in if you don't mind a few toe nibblers.

After your dip, you can clean up in the outdoor shower. 

Then, just relax and take it all in. 

My apologies to S2 Charlie and Carol. I'm sure they had a lovely pond, but as soon as I saw this mass planting of standing cypress, I wandered off to look at their huge garden. 

Past the plantings, I found a fun play space. Three Billy Goats Gruff anyone?

This mosaic wall provides some colorful screening at the very back of the property.

A herd of metal hens scratch and peck for bugs as we bid this garden good bye.

S3 Joe and Karen have a lovely stand of cat tails that attracted my attention right away.

This pond flows around a very inviting hot tub.

This stream is very naturalistic and the flow of water is excellent. I would like my next pond to have a stream, so I think I'll keep this photo in mind. Very well-done.

S4 Betsy has a very pretty and tranquil backyard pond.

Bald cypress will happily grow in standing water.

The little yellow ball shaped flowers of green santolina always have people asking "what's that?".

My favorite part of this garden is the disappearing stream in the front garden near the street. Gorgeous!

The garden of S5 Jeannie and Steven has so much to see! Jeannie and Steven are friends of ours, so I've been to their wonderful garden before. This is my first time seeing their new 10,000 gallon pond and I'm very excited. 

Their first pond alone is worth the price of admission. This pond was built several years ago and was available for viewing on a previous pond tour.

This lotus didn't fully open until the day after the tour, but I think it looks beautiful partially opened like a white rose.

There was no shortage of other water lilies strutting their stuff.

I would really like to have a bog on my next pond and this bog is just what I had in mind. Bogs are natural filters for ponds. It must be working because the water in this pond is crystal clear.

Oh look at that cool bird house tree! I'm so easily distracted.

Back at the pond, the homeowner constructed this clever cover to camouflage the skimmer. The cover is made from pond spray foam that was formed in a shallow impression of ground. The cover was painted using several colors to mimic the the rocks. Kudos Jeannie. You're so clever.

Oh look at that cool bike! Sorry, I got distracted again.

This pond is built to prevent birds like herons from coming along and thieving fish, but it also prevents local birds and wildlife from getting a drink. Problem solved: this little bubbler fills a depression in the rock which provides the local song birds with the perfect watering hole.

Steven treated us to a Cheerios feeding frenzy. Who knew koi loved Cheerios. Those are some hungry mouths!

S7 Laura and David. I had a chance to talk to the homeowner, Laura, at this garden. She told me she dug this pond, mostly by herself, filling one 5 gallon bucket at a time. Impressive and beautiful!

S8 Bruce and Susie's pond is a tropical oasis of lush canna lilies.

Beyond the pond, plantings are more xeric, but still very attractive.

This xeric planting is actually in the front yard close to the street. It's really gorgeous and I love that sculpture too. I think that's one of the cool things about the pond tour; yes, you get to see great ponds, but you also get to see fun gardens too.

If you've never attended the pond tour, it really is a treat! It's too late for this year, but there's always 2015.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Onion Processing

Back around the first week in May, I noticed my onions were starting to fall over. Within a week almost all of the plants had flopped to the ground. 

Many of bulbs were peaking through the soil promising a good harvest. I was anxious to fill the onion bed with my follow on melon crop. The melon seedlings were ready to go, so as soon as the onions gave me the sign, I yanked them out.

I was totally amazed that my onions did not flower this year. We had late freezes in the area which can trigger flowering. Flowering onions put all their energy into producing seeds and as a result have smaller bulbs. This year's harvest looks pretty good.

I like to lay out my onions to cure for about 2 weeks.  The tops should be allowed to fully dry before final processing.

To prepare for storage, I cut off the dried tops and trim the roots. I gently rub the onion to remove the loose and dirty outer skins.

When the onions are ready for storage, panty hose do the job nicely. I fill the legs with onions and hang them in the pantry closet. When I'm ready to use them, I can nip the hose with my scissors and re-tie the toe till next time.

I love the feeling of knowing I won't have to buy onions for many months to come!