Sunday, May 29, 2011

More Mulch Please...

So, as I've said, I'm making my way through Gaia's Garden, this time slowly, as I apply what's needed in order to transform my lot, make it more sustainable, tackle problems and consider healing and restoring the soil.

How about this cool old bench? I love Davey's Trees...that's where all this cedar mulch came from, for free! The bench was sentenced to death by mulcher, but I saved it and am having the talented Bob Pool of Draco Gardens make me a metal stand. I also had my neighbor Dana get the same ginormous load for her house so we could mulch the trees across the street at the church. It's become disgustingly obvious that even though the minister apologized and said they would do "whatever was necessary to remedy the situation"...they intend to do NOTHING, and have done NOTHING.

Back to my story...chapter 4 "Bringing the Soil to Life" is fascinating and I'm taking it to heart. This load is just one of several I plan on using. The idea, for those of you who don't get the beauty of mulching, is to pile 8-12 inches, YES that much, to both stop the light completely from reaching weed/seed and to cool thoroughly the ground-bringing the microbes, earth worms and bugs to the surface to begin munching, tunneling, pooping, dying and generally aerating and packing your soil with nutrients while you do...nothing. We are giving one last deep watering before piling the mulch up, then watering the mulch on top as well.
There are fabulous stories about the genius of sheet mulching but I quit getting the newspaper years ago (I'm not a fan of the Statesman, and can read the Times online) and just don't accumulate enough cardboard and other stuff quick Davey's is FREE. Just had to say that again...and here's the way to get some for you:

email Daniel at; be nice, be patient...they get it to you when they can, so know where you want it dumped, and how much.

The next chapter in the book discusses 5 steps to "Catching, Conserving and Using Water." How about this little lake that was the result of the giant mulch pile stopping the mad rush of rain from leaving my property? It would otherwise be wasted down the drain storm system of our fair city...taken out to sea, when we so desperately need to keep this free, clean water. At this point we have 6, 55 gallon drums that go bone dry very quickly...the best place to store water is in rich soil...which we don't have so we mulch...mulch...mulch...


We are planing on digging 3 additional "fish scale" style swales in an attempt to stop the rush at varying intervals...the photo above shows the location of one such swale, yet to be built.

This is the same rain, there will be a fish scale swale in front of this gate, which right now creates a waterfall into the greens garden below.

Here's my loving spouse watching the Crocks set sail in our upper lake. This rain was only 3 inches. The phrase I've taken out of this chapter, that makes the most practical sense is "the cheapest place to store water is in the soil." Storing above ground is expensive, storing in the ground is labor intensive.

This photo may be confusing but, it's showing the far side of the front lawn...missing, yea! We have been letting the St. Augustine die for nearly 2 years...silly, silly grass in the wrong that the Sycamore isn't providing full shade. This is a long term plan to turn the front yard into an edible forest!

And this is what lawn I have left. I recently moved the steppingstones, which led to the church but that friendship is long gone...whereas the path leading to the next door, that the postman, neighbors and I use, is beaten down so, use dictates change here.

We're having a huge graduation party next Saturday for my oldest daughter so the sprucing up of the garden continues, amid transformation. I will try to snap a few photos of the merriment...until next time...happy mulching


Happy Gardening!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three For Thursday...SayyyyygoooO!

I just love to watch a Sago cycas

They're such an old specie...hardly changing for 200 million years now and are related to conifers and the Ginko tree. The new set of swirled leaves are called a "break."
They're like living fossils...

and can live for up to 100 years!

They will occasionally put out new growth at the base...when they decide to reproduce...I hope I'm around to see it happen.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Pink Island

The pink island...with this years tomato crop

So, I'm reading Gaia's Garden...this time, from front to back and taking notes. I have Autumn's graduation party June 4th, then a few trips this summer and when I return, the work will begin...probably in late fall. We need two additional swales dug to stop pooling and waste. One will be under the rose arbor in the back for the new keyhole gardens that will replace the giant Mexican Ruellia massing in the middle of the yard. The other in the front yard extending from the side~greens garden to the walkway in front of the pergola.

When I moved in, the pink island was about 3'x3' and it just kept growing. I pull up and recycle at least the size of the island's that aggressive. Plus it's traveled under the east fence and made a home in my neighbors yard and has to be pulled out of every bed in the yard. I'll take it down to a "C" shape around the Buckeye and the rest will be for food. I'll be employing a slow "sheet mulch method" after cutting down what's there (if anyone wants some of it, let me know and I'll give you a call in the fall before I begin.) This space is perfect for a food garden because it is protected from the West Sun by the American Elm in Summer and has beautiful Winter sun. I'll be facing the entrance directly aimed at the blue gate...from where the hose will come for watering and a second keyhole will be just across the walk.

Anyway, that's what's going on now...observing and planning. The front lawn is dying off without the shade of the Sycamore tree and wildflowers have taken over. I didn't get the trees planted that I'd planned on, now it's a blessing since the plans have been updated. I do need to find a source for native edible trees...I'm looking for che, pawpaw, Mexican plum and juju and will be researching more native edibles to be mixed in with the standard veggies.

I am very excited about the idea and in spite of projected plans to relocate in a few years...I'm soldiering on. I'm loving all the birds and butterflies that are finding a temporary home in my garden and am thoroughly enjoying spending more time, not less setting things up...hoping that one day the plants and arrangement will feed itself (and us) and require less of me and resources...but for now, I must stockpile mulchable stuffs!

I'm only halfway through the book...and still in the "observation" stage of planning. I'm thinking that the transformation will take several years because I work and am using the slowest method of building my soil. That being said, I'd like to put a shout out for organic material...I'm willing to drive out and pick up stacks of newspaper (we don't take it) and bags of "Texas Gold" ya know, oak leaves...but only send me a message if you have enough bagged up to fill my pickup. I'm aiming to turn my plot into an edible forrest for critters and my property and enrich the soil.

I hope you've got something exciting going on too! Thanks for dropping by and as always...

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Two for Tuesday

According to my fabulous Audubon Bird Guide Mikael Behrens who blogs at
Birding on Broadmeade, this first week of May is the best time to catch rare birds in your yard, Central Texans! I caught these two last night at supper time....

Male Ruby Throat flashing his gorget!

Male Painted Bunting

Whose visiting your garden this week?

Happy Gardening!