Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun With Names

I've been having fun exploring the White Pages "Names" page.  I learned that my name, Gale, was most popular in 1957,  and is going out of style (0% of babies and teens have this name...which probably doesn't mean NONE have it, but just such a small amount it didn't register).  Alas...well, maybe my grandkids will help change that *grin.*

They also have name stats listed by state.  My name seems to be most popular in the midwest, per capita.  But it has the most listings in California, Texas and Florida...which I find funny since I lived in two of those states, but then, ALMOST ALL NAMES have more listings there just because of population!

Here's the most popular names in California and Texas...


Most Popular First Names in California

Most Popular Last Names in California

  1. Garcia
  2. Hernandez
  3. Lopez
  4. Martinez
  1. Smith
  2. Rodriguez
  3. Gonzalez
  4. Johnson

Last name

  1. Garcia
  2. Smith
  3. Martinez
  4. Rodriguez
  1. Hernandez
  2. Johnson
  3. Williams
  4. Jones

Not surprized that Maria and Garcia top the charts in both states.  Most of the names were the same in both states, though the orders were different.  I've put the different names in BOLD.

And, just for comparison, here's a NON-WESTERN state:


(Names shared with NEITHER Texas or California are bolded)

I also found hilarious the LEAST POPULAR names from 1910 to the present:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wildflower or Weed?

Thanks for joining me on my continuing hunt to find out what grows wild in my yard and whether it's edible or useful (or a pest that causes of allergies, has prickers, etc.).  Today I want to look at two plants that Ty at the Texas Garden Web Forums helped me Identify. I was hoping they'd have some useful properties (other than looking kinda pretty) but can't find anything about them being edible or medicinal, and their seeds have been described as "annoying balls of velcro" that get  stuck in pet hair (joy.)   These is not a native...but European plants that found its way here and took over.

PLANT #1:  Torilis nodosa
(Knotted Hedge Parsley)

First, the one I THOUGHT might be carrots....

You see, year before last I left some seed packets out accidentally and they blew across my yard.  The next spring I had two carrots grow in a corner I hadn't planted them.  Then after a fire in my backyard hundreds of what seemed to be the same carrot plant sprouted up where the fire had burned.  Here's a picture of some:

What I Thought Were Carrots

I was all excited.  But alas, I think I got excited too soon.

Because here's what my full grown carrots look like (and several more of these did pop up, which is cool):

Actual Carrot Leaves

But this is what the hundreds of little plants grew into...

Torilis nodosa (Leaf Pattern)

As you can tell, it looks very different than the carrot.  While it started with the same sort of lacy rosette of leaves the carrot has, the stem soon split apart into branches and the leaves stayed the same size.  It has flowers that grow on the stem near the leaf nodes, not up at the top like Yarrow or Queen-Anne's-Lace.   The root smells sort of carrot-like.  I can tell you already it's invasive.  Man, I wish these had been carrots!

Plant #2:  Probably Torilis arvensis
(Spreading hedge parsley)

  It's root's also smell carroty, and it has similar leaves, but the flower grows at the top, more like like Yarrow or Queen-Anne's-Lace.  Actually, it VERY much like Queen-Anne's-Lace except the top flowers are smaller and lack the leaves right under the base of the flower shown in this illustration.

 Plant #2

Plant #2 (Blooms)

I am pretty sure this is Torilis arvensis (Spreading Hedge Parsley).   It's root's also smell carroty, and it has similar leaves, but the flower grows at the top, more like like Yarrow or Queen-Anne's-Lace.  Actually, it's VERY much like Queen-Anne's-Lace except the top flowers are smaller and lack the leaves right under the base of the flower shown in this Queen-Anne's-Lace illustration.  As it's name suggests, it's invasive too (but it's at least prettier than the other one).

Oh well.  Time to get the weed whacker out again!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What to Plant in April in Texas

1. Cantaloupes, 2. Collards, 3. Corn, 4. Cucumber, 5. Cushaw (and Pumpkins) 6. Eggplant, 7. Melons (honeydew), 8. Lima Beans, 9. Luffa, 10. Malabar Spinach, 11. Okra, 12. Peppers, 13. Pumpkin., 14. Snapbeans (19), 15. Southern Peas, 16. Summer Squash, 17. Sweet Potatoes, 18. Swiss Chard, 19. Tomato* 20. Watermelon

*On tomatoes plant transplants (too late to plant from seed)

These are some plants which are great for planting in April here in Texas.  I've been learning all about the best time to plant different plants from a book called Month-to-Month Gardening in Texas, which not only shows when to fertilize, aerate your soil, tackle weeds, etc.. But, if you just want info on what veggies and herbs to plant each month, you can also get that information online at one of the resources listed here.). 

I found the photos for my mosaic on Flickr, and the photographers were nice enough to offer up for use through Creative Commons (click on the links to see the photos larger).  Yes, the Sountern Peas (ie cowpeas) in that picture are blighted (that was just a hard one to find, so I took what I could get.)

I'm linking up at the gardening linkies at Garden Club Thursday and...

(Post recycled from last year).

Texas Gardening Resources

Useful Texas Gardening Resources

Here's some online resources for gardeing in Texas:

For Finding Planting Times 
General Resources
Regional Resources
Wildcrafting Resources
      Recommended Books

      Month by Month Gardening in Texas: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All YearMonth-to-Month Gardening in Texas is an excellent book for anyone new to Texas.  It helps you learn what to plant when, when to fertilize (and what fertilizers work best in Texas), and much, much more.  If you didn't know that there were veggies you can plant in the middle of winter, or that there was such a thing as cool season and warm season annuals, or are finding that the things you did to help your garden thrive somewhere else aren't working here, then this is the book for you!  This is my MOST RECCOMMENDED gardening book for newcomers to Texas!  See my full review here.

      I'd reccomend anything by Howard Garret, but especially his books on organic gardening, such as Texas Organic Gardening.  I read several of his books the summer I worked at The Herb Market in Carrollton, and they were all excellent.

      Monday, April 16, 2012

      Today's Flowers - Garden Bloom Day

      What's blooming in my garden?

      First, what was planted (by me)...

      Gazania rigens - African daisy

      Flowering Chives

      Morning Glory



      Those my neighbor planted...
      (creeping through the fence)

      And these nature planted for me...

      One Texas Bluebonnet
      (Literally one, in the smack dab middle of the yard,
      but I want more so I'm mowing around it.)

      Some Texas Dandelion (a lot more than one)

      I don't know what...would love to know!
      The flowers look similar to wild carrot,
      but they are at every leaf intersection
      down the stem, and much smaller.

      (Oh no...I found out...a weed!)

      Another mystery weed/wildflower

      Dakota Vervain 

      Texas Vervain

      Wild Evening Primrose


      Friday, April 13, 2012

      Sky Watch Friday - Flora and Fauna, From a Bugs-eye View

      1st Trio:
      Wild Primrose

      2nd Trio:
      Bolting Oak Leaf Lettuce

      3st Trio:
      Wildflower - Unknown
      Flowering Chives - Just budding
      Flowering Chives - In Bloom


      Sky Watch Friday
      Blooming Friday
      Pink Saturday 

      Thursday, April 12, 2012

      Plant Identified: Bowlesia Incana

      This plant is Bowlesia incana, common name hoary bowlesia.  According to wikipedia it is a member of the parsley family and a native to South America and the southeastern and southwestern United States.

      According to debndal at The Garden Forums it does NOT have any spines or burrs and lasts two winters long.  She didn't notice any flowers on hers, but wikipedia says it grows yellow-green flowers appear in the leaf axils, and the tiny inflated fruit is only 2 millimeters wide.  (Which explains why you might not notice any).

      Now, you know I had offered a giveaway to the first person who correctly identified this.  Weel, I had asked about this and a number of other plants both here and on The Garden Forum and THOUGHT no one had been able to identify it yet (thus, the giveaway).  Well, I was wrong.  Somehow I actually missed the VERY FIRST POST on The Garden Forum in which pkponder identified this plant!

      So, here's what I'm doing...I'm going to give away free seeds or a postcard to everyone who posted here.  Since I only have one Carl's Jr. Coupon and don't want to waste it, I selected a few people who gave the most helpful answers and am giving it to the first one of them who claims it.

      Thanks all!

      Linking up, among other places, at Garden Club Linky

      Wednesday, April 11, 2012

      Eating the Weeds - Plantain (Not the Banana)

      Plantain (aka White Man's Foot, not the banana) has taken over the center of my yard...

      It's growing so thick it looks like grass...only now (unlike the picture above) it's sending up seed pods.

      Well, those seed pods are suposedly edible, so taking advice from the video below I decided to try some sautéed in butter (I added a little lemon pepper)...

      Not Impressed! Phet!

      The taste was not bad, but the texture, was, well, very weedy.  Even after cooking it had a "feathery" feel.  So, unless I'm lost in the wilderness starving, I won't be eating these again.  Not the pods at least.  The VERY young plants (you have to get them before they grow hair) are not that bad in salad, and I still may give the seeds a shot, though I doubt I'd have the time or patience to do this...

      Plus, the seeds, I gather, can have a laxative affect (they're related to the plant used in Metamucil), so I'm thinking eating them in that amount may not be a great idea.  I might try the seeds as a topping though, like poppy seeds or sesame.

      And I also want to try making a salve out of the leaves (one of this plants various uses is as a pain killer...nice for bug bites I've been told).  Theres a bunch of other uses for this plant, which you can learn more about here.

      But for now, I had my older boys take a whack at the seed pods with the weed whacker.  There are more plantain plants in my yard right now than I'd ever use, and though they look nice and green and lush now, they'll die off and look ugly mid summer. 

      Tuesday, April 10, 2012

      Tornado Update - How to Help

      Dallas, TX Tornado - Home damage 15 tornadoes blew through Texas last week, yet amazingly only 17 people were injured and no one was killed (Praise God!).   However, over 800 homes and businesses were there's still a lot of people needing help.

      You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, or visit to donate an amount of your choice online.  The North Texas Response and Relief Network is also accepting donations, which help with supplies for their clean-up work.

      Places where you can donate in-kind gifts like canned food, diapers, toiletries, etc. are listed below:

      Mission Arlington is in asking for donations of non-perishable food and toiletries.  210 W South St Arlington, TX 76010

      Dallas Fire Department (April 6 - 11)
      North Texas Food Bank

      Go to the Forney Recovers Website and click the "I Want to Give" button and then click "Donate Items."   

      Go to the Blackland/Royce City Recovers Website and click the "I Want to Give" button and then click "Donate Items."

      There's info on ways to volunteer below.  Please do not just show up in affected neighborhoods as parking capacity is very limited and homeowners need roads clear so that insurance companies and approved contractors can gain access.

      To Lancaster:  4/5/2012 to 4/13/2012
      To Royce City:  4/10/2012 to 4/14/2012

      For more updated info on ways to help, visit the following sites:

      North Texas Response and Relief
      Arlington Tornado Recovery Update Page
      Blackland/Royce City Recovers Website 

      If you know of other resources that should be included here, please let me know in a comment below.

      Photo at the top of this post was of Tornado damage in Dallas, and was provided for free non-commercial use under Creative Commons on Flickr by StateFarm.

      Tuesday, April 03, 2012

      Bluebonnets and Tornadoes - This is Texas

      I had my Wherever Wednessday post all planned out this week. I usually talk about quirky Texas stuff and a lot of it is the stuff I DON'T like about Texas. This week I was gonna brag on one of my favorite things about Texas, namely this...

      The gorgeous color-fest which is Texas spring!

      But Texas spring also brought something else yesterday,
      namely this....

      Texas Tornadoes!  NOT one of my fave Texas things.

      But they are amazing.  Though I am horrified at the damage they cause, these storms leave me awe-struck too.  I have to admit I watched that video several times gobsmacked that wind, just wind, can pick up a semi like that.  I was thankful to learn no one was in it. 

      The tornadoes that came through Texas yesterday missed us  (we did get some golf-ball sized hail though), and no one we know was hurt, thankfully...though my sister-in-law's car got hail damage  (she didn't say how badly...just said "We're ok...our car, not so much.")

      Anyways, hope you all are doing ok out there.   If you weren't affected yourself and want to help out those that were hit, Charity Navigator has started up a list of places to donate and you can find a list of places to voluteer, bring canned goods, etc. here.  And, please,  if you know of any other food or clothing drives or anything like that in your area, let me know and I'll share it here.

      Oh, and if you like poetry, you might want to check out the poem posted yesterday at Red or Gray.


       Stay safe ya'll.
      This is Texas