Pray for Rain

Now we Pray for Rain!

We are in a drought in the Loan Star State, the lakes are feet below their normal level and the ground is soaking up anything it can get. We have had hot summers and warmer than normal winters, and every time we see a cloud we remember to pray for rain!That is why we need to plant local varieties and native drought resistant plants and shrubs. This land has always been semi arid and the plants that grow here are able to adjust to the seasons of drought and the gully washing rain seasons. You can’t fight the natural cycles of climate you have to work with them.Image

This system rolled through about 7:30 on a late February day. It didn’t produce much rain just a scattered sprinkle or two, in my area, but tornadoes in Alabama.

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These clouds were so low I felt as if I could touch them. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees while I was taking the pictures! But by noon the temperature was up to 75 degrees and sunny.

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Free Dirt

Free is better 

The local municipal district has a free composted grass and leaf clippings program. Homeowners bring in their grass and leaves, the village composts them and we can all have the dirt for free! The HOA here doesn’t allow chemical spraying so there are no worries about weed and feed ect in the lawns. We are trying this program to see if it meets our standards.

So Dave and I hauled 20 buckets of compost to our beds and filled them up. We will see if the dirt works if it has weed inhibitor in it seeds won’t germinate. I am skeptical. But if it proves to be unusable in the garden we can scoop it out and haul more bags of dirt from the home improvement store. Work now pay off later!

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No more crawling to garden, or really raised beds

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Really raised beds!

We gardened like everybody else in Illinois we dug, and double dug, the soil down to twelve inches, sprinkled compost in and other soil amenities. We crawled on our hands and knees to plant, weed and harvest our beautiful organic vegetables and fruit. ImageWhen we moved to our new location in Austin, we decided to build really raised beds, and here is what we did. First we got some cinder blocks.Image

Then we leveled them. Dave is leveling them using a level isn’t he cute! Well I helped too!Image

Then when all was level we added some boards, we got the boards free when we bought our new washer and dryer, they came with a gift card, so we bought boards! Image

Then we built the first level, we had to make sure that this was level too! You could probably eyeball it but my Dave wanted to get it right! Image

Then we lined it with plastic so the boards wouldn’t rot. The boards can’t be treated with anything and if you use old boards you never know what has been put on them!

Back in the 1970’s people could get railroad ties for free and were building garden beds on the ground with those, we didn’t because they were treated with tar and smelled bad.

We want to eat healthy food and live as long as we can, and enjoy our garden till our last day!

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We made three beds, 16 inches deep, and two feet wide on three levels. The three different levels are to accommodate the fruiting of plants at different levels. Tall beds are for short plants, lettuces, strawberries, green onions, spinach, and other spring crops. Medium beds for medium size plants broccoli, carrots, beans, kale, and other mid size crops. The short bed is for tomato, pepper, and taller plants. The short beds are still raised enough to make weeding easier but not too tall for harvesting Tomatoes. Image

Here are Two levels built.

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Three levels built and lined with plastic.

The beds are eight feet long two feet wide and 16 inches deep. The tallest bed is three feet four inches from the ground the second is two feet eight inches from the ground and the lowest is two feet from the ground. This took us two days to make and we had to carry the boards one by one, ourselves. We hate to admit it but we are not as young as we used to be.Image

This is my chair where I sat between board moves. I am more let’s take a break and finish tomorrow, he is more git er done!

Compost

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The Compost Pile

The first thing Dave and I did in our new garden in Austin is build a compost pile this one is for grass clippings, leaves, weeds, and the other vegetable matter that comes into our lives. Compost is vital for this area because the dirt around here is very poor and we are in a drought, the organic material that is composted in our pile increases the soil’s ability to hold water, and keeps the nutrients in the soil instead of letting them run off which is what happens here when we do get rain. Compost makes soil, soil feeds the plants and the plants feed us, it’s the real circle of life, participate!

We used the abundant rocks in our yard to make a ring for our compost pile, this is just temporary, we will get a rotating composter later, and make compost faster! Dave also used old boards to protect the wood fence from the compost so the process doesn’t eat away the fence!

 

Our blank slate or the before pictures!

ImageHere are the before pictures

We are in a renting situation in Austin we aren’t sure where to roost permanently yet so we rent this place is in a good location but as you can see not a good yard at all. I think they had a dog and only a small bed on the ground where they grew peppers. The peppers grew well but the rest of the yard looks like sand.

We are not deterred however because as you will see we plan to transform this spot with plants and beds. Dave and I will haul dirt and compost to put in raised beds for food and flowers, herbs and even potted fruit trees.