“Starsky and Husk”


My tomatillos appear to be exploding, imploding and generally disappearing inside their husks, Noooo!

What is going on here?  This is the first time I have ever grown tomatillos and at this point I am dumbfounded.

They started out great…

and would get to this stage, but never turn green?  I did read that in a ripe state their color can vary significantly with purple being one of the colors mentioned, but when cut open…

the flesh is mealy and just bland? I cannot image what a salsa would taste like with these used in it.

And now this happens! Shriveled tomatillos and barren husks!

Oh don’t even schtart Goldmember.

The Patch is turning shades of brown once again, cattails are about to rip open at the seams and this bog cypress is about to shed all of its foliage, something it likes to do very fast,

I wish I could say the same about my pecan trees, it seems they just keep shedding for months! My strategy this year is to wait until it is quite finished before the mammoth clean-up.  “Don’t look at the mess..don’t look at the mess..do…”

The leaves on my post oak are also falling at a steady rate.  The post oak’s scientific name is quercus, which is the genus for all of the oaks, quercus stellata. It gets the name stellata because if you look on the under-surface of the leaf with a magnifying glass you will find tiny hairs.

Not now Jeff!

On a post oak these tiny hairs are not uniform across the whole thing, rather they are in little bunches that grow in star-like clusters. Stellata being Latin for stars…pushes glasses high up on ridge of nose, snorts quietly.

The spherical object on the underside of this leaf is not a seed but a leaf gall.  These leaf galls are formed by a variety of insects or small wasps that commonly infest oak trees. Most leaf galls on oak cause little or no harm to the health of a tree.  Galls are abnormal plant growth or swellings comprised of plant tissue, they are usually found on foliage or twigs. These unusual deformities are caused by plant growth-regulating chemicals or stimuli produced by an insect or other arthropod pest species. The chemicals produced by these causal organisms interfere with normal plant cell growth…one loud involuntary finale snort.

I recently noticed some feather grass broomsticks propped up against the base of this oak tree…I can only assume the ESP witches are doing some fall cleaning, in preparation of decorating their rickety house for Christmas with strings of illuminated, inflated gulf-coast toads? I believe they got this nasty interior design idea from National Geographic, I have recently noticed that they are getting it delivered by raven.

James Snyder took this striking photo of a frog that ate a small light bulb. It was featured in National Geographic’s “Daily Dozen”

“This is a Cuban tree frog on a tree in my backyard in southern Florida. How and why he ate this light is a mystery. It should be noted that at the time I was taking this photo, I thought this frog was dead having cooked himself from the inside. I’m happy to say I was wrong. After a few shots he adjusted his position. So after I was finished shooting him, I pulled the light out of his mouth and he was fine. Actually, I might be crazy but I don’t think he was very happy when I took his light away”.

This unusually large chrysalis showed up in the Patch this week, I caught it hanging under my hoja santa plants, well you could hardly miss it!

I believe this is the rare

Argumenti selecthearingus

I will be studying this ones development very closely over the next 15 years or so.

Not all things are sepia though…

This mammoth giant elephant ear


is quite impressive with the light hitting it.  This plant surprised my this year with a remarkable rebound. You may recall that after my “carnival” incident: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2010/01/carnival/ that attempted, but failed, to protect my Mexican lime tree last winter?  It was at this pivotal point that I made the decision to not cover anything ever again, ever…oh no, not me…the large bulb of this colocasia took quite the beating under this new traumatic Patch policy.


Now I know you could have gone your entire lives without seeing these pictures again (just think about that green leaf) but if you recall, It went from a moist elephants foot to a smudged over, horrendous smelling garden treat of rotting flesh…I knew I shouldn’t have pushed on it, but well, I just had to.

The rotten ear, now flat to the ground, formed a hard crust which did nothing for a few months, although that part of the garden had a rather “unsubtle” aroma during this period. When anyone visited the Patch during this dark time, you could tell when they were anywhere close to it from their falling expressions and ashon pallor.

After a few more months of apparent fermentation, I was surprised to see it come back to life, green shoots sprouted forth from the fizzing kimchi. I was impressed.  It sent out some tiny side shoots that I thought were not going to amount to much, but I was quite wrong as you can see.  So if your colocasia freezes and you have the stomach to put up with its unearthly rotting aroma for a while, don’t dig it up, I just bet part of it will prevail.

A recent visit to Copper Rock wholesale nursery…not sure what type of agave this is but I sure do like it!

Wintery illumination in the Patch.

A cardinal in the silvers.

Another tiny Cypress ‘blue ice’ gets planted along the perimeter of the Patch this week.

Final crop of peppers.

I caught these armored centurions huddled together on my porch.

Largus californicus


I recently found this…

and more great rain water collection solutions from a local company that also are addressing space sensitive solutions to harvesting rain water.  Existing rain-water collection barrels are really not that practical, filling up in seconds in our Texas sized downpours. But this on the other hand…

They also look good placed in tandem down these tight spaces.


Stay Tuned  for:


All material © 2010 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

  • Pam/Digging November 22, 2010, 11:14 pm

    Thanks for the link to Innovative Water Solutions. I recognize a couple of those gardens and tanks from various garden tours I’ve been on. I love the big galvanized tanks, but the slender series alongside the house is a great idea for tight spaces.

  • ESP November 22, 2010, 11:27 pm

    Hi Pam. I agree, these slender tanks would be a perfect fit for a lot of gardens in the central Austin area, (including my own), and how good do they look aesthetically!
    Great design, and quite fitting for the average homeowner with limited side access addressed, cannot beat that common problem.

  • mss @ Zanthan Gardens November 23, 2010, 7:29 am

    Seems to me like you waited too long to pick your tomatillos. Did they start out purple and remain purple? Or start out green and turn purple? Whatever the case, I wouldn’t expect them to start out purple and turn green. But maybe yours is a variety I haven’t grown.

    Thanks for the water barrel info–I wonder if that’s the same company that makes the one outside of the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

  • ESP November 23, 2010, 9:54 am

    Hi M.

    The fruit before the purple stage began was really small (lots of space in the husk) and almost white, suggesting to me that they were not mature yet? By the time the peppers were 3/4’s the size of the husk, they would start turning a speckled purple and then…well the rest you know!

    I will check that barrel out when I go to see Harry Potter down there.


  • jenny November 24, 2010, 9:49 am

    I tried toms for the first time this year and I think lack of water was my problem. Even the best ones are rather mealy although I never have tasted them raw. Always use them for green chile pork. I think I’ll just stick to green tomatoes. They are much easier to grow. Right now I have a bunch of them which I will pick today before that freeze tomorrow night!

    Hi Jenny.
    So mine were not the only mealy ones around town! Like you, I do not think I will be growing these again…just too fidgety and temperamental for me, they also look quite scrappy most of the time. Curious, did yours have the purple phase? I suppose I better go out and pick them though mine will most likely end up in the compost bin…after all that!
    Thanks for a great evening J.

  • Germi November 24, 2010, 3:59 pm

    mmmm… tomatillos! I haven’t grown them much, but when I did I picked them when they were still hard and green, because if they get ripe they get too sweet for traditional tomatillo salsa, imo. BUT I think yours are beautiful – so they were eye candy rather then salsa. Still technically “edible”, if we stretch the term and mix the metaphors.
    The Patch is so beautiful! I’m eager to see the annual cattail Festival of Fuzz! Those photos are always so lovely!
    I very much appreciate your experience with your Colocasia – I have a feeling I am going to suffer a freeze in my garden this year, and I have adopted the ESP “no covering” philosophy, even though I am a huge crybaby and will freak out when I see the results of the cold temps on my succulents. But knowing that many things will rebound, no matter how stinky or ugly, will help me to not be quite so hysterical when the inevitable happens. Thank you for setting a mature, healthy example for me!
    Have the HAPPIEST Thanksgiving – my best wishes to all of the inhabitants of The Patch!

  • ESP November 24, 2010, 4:52 pm

    Hi G.

    Yes they looked A LOT better then they tasted! What a lot of fuss and nonsense these peppers have been, last time for me.

    Yes it is getting very close to the cattail fest, I cannot believe that a year has passed since the last wands were waved and the last fluff was inhaled! I will try to get some good shots. The cattail fest and the annual celosia shelling have now become traditions in the Patch.

    So happy and proud you have made the psychological jump to the no-covering policy. Once started down the covering route, it just gets worse…it is an addiction I am convinced – “well if I cover that then I should probably cov”….and so the covers on / covers off drudgery begins and continues until spring arrives. Oh no not me, besides have you ever tried to cover a 60 foot Bambusa oldhamii, it is a dangerous affair, especially if the wind is blowing.

    I will take my freezing chances.

    Wishes administered, have a great holiday yourself G.
    Eat well and prosper.

  • meredee November 27, 2010, 1:05 am

    Your armored centurions might be Bordered Plant Bug nymphs of the genus _Largus_: http://bugguide.net/node/view/93846/bgimage

  • ESP November 27, 2010, 12:50 pm

    Thanks Meredee…You got it!


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