After the frost and a few more cold nights we started more plants indoors and visited The Natural Gardener. This is a garden shop and demonstration garden West of Austin out in the country/suburbs. It is a magical place where you can learn from Austin gardeners the methods of organic gardening that work in this climate. We learned about the soil types in our area, and bought native and hearty plants that will grow in this drought prone climate!
We loved the plants and demonstration gardens, they made Dave jealous. We re-bought Tomatoes, and basil, and filled our trunk with Hill Country Garden Soil. The soil is not what someone who is trying to grow Biodinamicly should be buying, we should be making our own soil with compost. We are not, however on our own property and the house we are renting was built essentially on a large rock. We have no soil it was all scraped away and lugged somewhere else. So we are lugging it back to our little garden beds so we can grow our own food, have some meaningful work, and create a lovely environment for ourselves, the birds, bees, bats, and squirrels.
The demonstration gardens at The Natural Gardener
Iris in the display gardens at The Natural Gardener
Beautiful Poppies at the display gardens at The Natural Gardener
Roses Back at the house
I hope to have pictures of the plants and trees we bought and brought home, and the beds planted with the renewed beds and pots. I am thinking of decorating the beds and pots any opinions or suggestions are welcome.
We had a late march frost that killed some of the plants we bought at the garden sale! We covered them with cloth, and plastic but Three cold nights in a row, killed some of the tomatoes and basil we bought. We still have strawberries but the broccoli didn’t make it either.
We dug up what died and are replanting. This is an unusually cold Spring here in the Lone Star Sate. Our hopes are still high that we are done with the frosts, and freezes for the year. We have big plans for this little garden!
We got some free compost and mulch from the village, and we are filling pots for our trees and herbs, We will plant the herbs right by the back door so I can have them for cooking! It is strange to have such a small space to garden in, after having a very large garden in Illinois. We don’t need all the food as our kids are on their own. But still four or five tomato plants seems tiny!
I hope when we get our land we will be able to plant a market garden to suppliment our income and keep Dave busy. We will need help then to build the soil and get set up. Maybe we will hire some students from the local college to help dig and build and turn compost. Or maybe we will figure out how to garden without stressing out our bodies. Or maybe we will get stronger!
The rain came at 12:00 AM on the tenth of march just as the almanac said it would we are no longer skeptical. We are ordering one of our own. We don’t have a rain barrel yet so we put buckets under our downspouts. We want rainwater for our plants because it has more nutrients and nitrogen in usable form than anything else you could put on your garden. Our plants thrive, seeds sprout, and the little grass we have greens up as soon as you get a good rain!
We put a few buckets where we could catch any spill over from the gutters and keep the gush of water from washing away the ground under our fence. We plan on planting plants to soak up any water, using their roots to help hold the soil in and soak up whatever rain we get. It seems to come all at once or not at all here in Austin!
Then we water with the rain water as much as we can! We hope that the rain will be coming often enough to keep the plants through the hot dry summers here. We will use city water and drought hearty plants and shade cloth if necessary, but some years you can’t beat drought!
Strawberries always grow at ground level lots of crawling on hands and knees to harvest, weed, and plant these delicious berries. We didn’t want to live without them so they went into the highest beds. Easy harvesting.
The second bed gets broccoli and some spinach. The rest of the beds will be planted with plants from the Austin Organic Gardeners plant sale. Sunday the 17th we will be going to Tim’s plant sale, in Kyle. Tim is an organic farmer who also saves heirloom seeds, he has an organic orchard too. We will be learning a lot from Tim about gardening in the Hill country.
Then of course we water, water, water, and pray for rain. Tim says the almanac he uses calls for rain on the 10th of march. We are almanac skeptics but we may become believers yet!
Dave and I joined the organic garden club as soon as we got to Austin. We knew gardening would be different, in Austin we went from a climate zone 5-6 to a climate zone of 8 A so we don’t know what to plant when. Also they are in a drought, so we want to plant what is well adapted to this area. The gardeners at the organic club are very nice and friendly, and we have already been invited to visit a gardener’s home garden. They call her the bulb whisperer, her yard is a wealth of native and adapted bulbs. It is absolutely beautiful!
The plant sale had all heirloom and adapted plants and we even bought cookies and talked to all kinds of gardeners who are interested in growing organic and native adopted plants and living a sustainable lifestyle! The plant sale is the only fundraising event for the Austin Organic Garden Club, so we were happy to have so many sales.
Dave and I also bought plants at the plant sale for our garden. We tried to pick the healthiest and best plants for our garden and hope we don’t kill them with our inexperience. We are enjoying our garden so far but it will be and adventure!
Spring comes early in our new garden. This was taken March first, the leaves are in bursting out mode, and we are seeing more and more birds. My camera doesn’t take good pics of birds but I will get a new camera soon. The pear tree was bare and old looking when we first got here, we didn’t know if it was alive or dead and thought we might have to prune off a lot of branches to get it to bloom but look at it now!
The nights are cool here down to 40’s or 30’s but it warms up to 60’s and 70’s in the afternoon and we even had 80’s over the weekend! This is very pleasant and we are still adjusting, it is hard not to think maybe it is too early to plant vegetables, but the truth is that we are too late for onions shallots potatoes and carrots which are planted in January around here!
This is a gardeners paradise, if we can figure how to mitigate the heat and drought we have some ideas. We want to use shade cloth, drip irrigation and plane old shade from the pear tree so far the pear tree plan is coming along!