TT Thursday : mysterious plant growing? (Bike charity challenge & weight loss challenge progress)

TT Thursday : mysterious plant growing? (Bike charity challenge & weight loss challenge progress)

grape leaves in my garden, photo by M. LaFreniere, CactusCatz
grape leaves on the vine

So along with my project to try to grow my own food, I’ve been growing grapes. This is like their third year and each year I get some more leaves but not any grapes yet.

Tucson soil is bad. Not to mention, we don’t tend to have a lot of top soil to begin with as there is not a lot of plants holding it down. My mom was fanatical about weeding but we didn’t have any grass with the result that most of our top soil was blown away.

new grape tendrils, photo by M. LaFreniere, CactusCatz
new grape tendrils

To create some good soil for the grapes, I started putting my leftover scraps of veggies and stuff into a bucket, throw dead leaves on top, stir it up some, let it set while keep adding more of both every once in a while with the result that I got some good black stuff.  I threw it on top of the grapes.  The corn leaves and husk didn’t break down but I let it lie on top to maybe mulch it? or at least to add a bit of covering to keep the wind from blowing it all away again.

mystery plant in my garden, photo by M. LaFreniere, CactusCatz
mystery plant in my garden. bell peppers?

It worked pretty well.  This year the grapes look much happier and put out about four times as many leaves as before.  The strange thing is that I have some mystery plant growing out of the leftover veggie soil I made.

I think maybe it’s bell peppers?  Those seeds are tiny and maybe a few were viable.  I won’t know unless they bear fruit if they do.

To try to keep more top soil on the rest of the yard, I’ve been letting things grow to see what they are.  If they are wildflowers, I keep them and if they are not, I pull them.  I did let the weeds grow for a couple of years and it improved things.  The weeds held down the topsoil. The first year almost nothing grew except some weird viney thing. This is the third year and I’m weeding now because I’m starting to get wildflowers and a ton more weeds.

wildflowers growing in my garden, photo by M. LaFreniere, CactusCatz
wildflowers growing in my garden

I did help the wildflowers by planting some California poppies a couple years back in one section.  They are slowly spreading.  Ironically, the poppies were pushed out of the first section they started growing in by some new viney plant. I’ve started pulling the strange viney things so the poppies are starting to come back up.

Some new lovely dark purple wildflowers popped up that lay close to the ground.  Standing a little higher are some sunshiny daisies? and a lovely purple bouquet type. Then some pretty lavender ones on a spindley branch  grew but became a weird bush that took over fast so I’ve started pulling those.

iris, photo M. LaFreniere, cactuscatz
mom’s iris

I know it’s a weird way to create a yard garden, letting things grow to find out if I like them but I figure it’s the best way to get plants that can survive Arizona heat. My parents tried bermuda grass when they first moved here but honestly it takes too much water. I still have mom’s irises and roses. A few rose bushes have died because of the heat last year.

Plants that thrive in heat and don’t need much water is the way to go here but I’d still like some prettiness. I don’t know enough to know if the plants are native or imported. I do have a couple of palm trees growing but I think I may dig them up and put them in pots as I don’t really want palm trees. I also have a mesquite tree growing now and some sort of sage colored bush with sunshine yellow flowers. Two varieties of cactus have shown up.

Not this year but I think maybe next year, I will need to start up a project to identify the plants that are growing naturally in my yard to know what they are and what their uses might be.

orange tomato in my garden, photo by M. LaFreniere, CactusCatz
orange tomato

Along with those, I bought a few pots: a tomato, a strawberry, and a basil. Every year I try growing basil and it does good for awhile and then dies. So different  from Oakland where my basil plant did fabulous.  I think basil does not like the Arizona heat.  I love basil so I am trying again. My mint is doing well but the garlic passed away. These are more California plants than here as they did great over there.  Gardening was so much easier over there. You planted it and it grew.  You didn’t even have to water it much.  With these, I do have to water them.  And when I went to the Santa Cruz mountains, I took them over to Sumiko’s so she could babysit them.

Unlike most people, my herb and vegetable garden is in my front yard so I don’t forget to water them.  A tomato has already turned orange but unfortunately I see a hole so I won’t eat it.  I think that means there is a bug inside. I’ll wait until it turns red and seems totally ripe and pull it to plant it though.  Maybe I can get more tomato plants that way.  Can’t hurt.

So that’s my strange little garden this year.

Bicycle Challenge & Weight Loss Challenge

The bicycle challenge doesn’t start in June but I am starting to ride my bike to get ready. I did fix the flat so I rode it around the block twice.  However the gears are now grinding in a weird way so I think I better take it back to the repair shop. That one where they show you how to make the repair yourself.

What I am happy about is that it wasn’t hard to ride around the block.  I did almost fall over at first — well, the bike fell over but I jumped off.  My balance is not as good as it used to be when I was a kid. No, wait.  Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. The seat was too high.  Once I lowered that, all was good. Well, except for the grinding.  It’s always something, right?

My car died again.  My brother thinks it sounds like the fuel isn’t getting through so maybe the fuel filter? Problem is since I’ve had the car, I don’t walk.  I gained a little weight but have stabilized around 200-205 so the fifty pounds off have stayed off and I have a new set point for a couple months now.  This week, since the car has been out, I’ve walked again at least a mile almost every other day. So… I am thinking about not getting the car fixed for a month.

I need to lose another 15 pounds but am battling a weird mental thing right now.  Part of me thinks 50 pounds off is enough. It’s the half a hundred thing I think.  And another 15 doesn’t seem to appeal as a goal. Maybe I’m like Monk and need to make it a zero like 20 or 30 or 50 pounds.  Since I got the car back and plateaued, I’ve lost my confidence in losing weight though.  I think I’ve just talked myself into not fixing my car for a month.  Time to walk.

The problem is not only did I get my car back but I also got chocolate back. Hangs my head.  Yep, chocolate is back in my life.  It’s like I let all my guards down when I got the car back. I know this on-again off-again relationship is not good for me but chocolate is sooooo sexy. …. Oh, and I’m cheating on chocolate while with carbs. Pasta to be exact.  I loooove noodles.

At least I’m done with salt. I haven’t gone back to that as my taste buds have changed where salt is concerned.  Too much fat too makes me queasy.  I made brownies with a Duncan mix.  I used to think they were the bees knees but it wanted 1/2 cup of oil. Instead to cut that much oil a little, I put in 1/4 cup oil and 1/8 cup butter but I think I should have just cut the oil completely.  It didn’t taste good — I didn’t like the oily taste and the chocolate in the brownies did not quite mask it. I froze the brownies I didn’t eat since I don’t believe in waste but it’ll probably sit in the refrigerator forever (unlike the chocolate caramel Kisses … love them). Why did I make the brownies? I’ve had the box for awhile since pre-diet days and thought I should use it up.  I was trying to clear out the pantry.  Working on clearing out the pantry was not a good idea — that’s when the love affair with pasta restarted.

Apparently I have succeeded in changing my taste for salt and fat but sugar and carbs still need work.  I am still addicted to those two. With the car down, I’m starting to do better there too.  I’ve made my garba… um, ok, some of you say don’t call it that so throw-all-the-veggies-in soup and have been eating it every other day. One day, I nestled some pasta in a large bed of spinach so it was almost disguised as a salad, lol.  Some people sneak out at night.  I sneak pasta into my salad. Hmmm.  Beginning to think I need a wilder life.  Okay, maybe not wild but I definitely do need an adventure.

Oh well, that’s not the main thing. Focus. The main thing is the bike. Losing that weird grindy sound and riding further and further every day.  I am doing the Great Cycle Challenge for cancer research in June. Two people have donated so far (thank you, thank you) and I’m committed to cycling 25 miles in June and raising $50.   I’m almost halfway to the fundraising goal and I think endurance wise too.  I’m excited about doing this.


You can use the Amazon search bar to do any search at Amazon like I did for “grape plant”. I like the results. When I tried “grapes”, I got back soda and the dvd “Grapes of Wrath”. I preferred the plants. The photos with the luscious grapes on the vine gives me hope that maybe someday my grapes will give me fruit too.

Amazon disclosure: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.” This has no effect on your price. You pay the same price you would normally.

photographs by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved.

7 Replies to “TT Thursday : mysterious plant growing? (Bike charity challenge & weight loss challenge progress)”

  1. Your gardening style sounds awesome! The mystery plant looks like a cucumber or squash to me. I wish you all the best on your Great Cycle Challenge.

  2. I find dieting hard to follow strictly, worked at manual labor much of Saturday, and to replace all the calories I burned–my hands were shaking!–hit Jack in the Box–‘nuf said. It did save my life, I am convinced. Had a supermarket coupon for two free donuts, got them and ate them both! Now back to usual grind. Still off the chocolate. I bicycle now and then. I got an old girls bike so I don’t have to throw my leg over the bar! As far as planting goes, I like to plant things I dont have to take care of. Slugs usually take care of vegetables. Fruit trees are the best, but how much fruit can one man eat when everything ripens and falls at once?!

  3. The flowers are so pretty. I had the same problem with my tomatoes last year. It would look like a good one until I checked it over and found a hole. Very frustrating. Hope you have better luck with more tomatoes.

  4. Those wildflowers are beautiful. I think it is great you have kept the weight off. I have so much to lose and no energy to exercise.

  5. Wow I stopped growing vegetables as the ants ate everything tonight I have noticed they have took over my flowers. Well done to you for trying different things. As for the cycle challenge 25 miles that’s a lot. I would sponsor you as im a breast cancer survivor. Chocolate sometimes I need chocolate but I can do with out. I usually have a low calorie hot chocolate drink. Good luck.x

  6. The Iris is a lovely colour. The mystery leaves look like a different variety of grapevine leaves. Maybe it self seeded and is a throwback to original stock from years ago. I am not sure about all varieties, but bell peppers usually have narrower leaves.

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