Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Surviving the Ice Storm

When we returned from our tropical adventure in Costa Rico, our flights were delayed because of the severity of the ice storm in Dallas, TX.

When we did get in, it was nighttime, so I was unable to see what my yard looked like.

The next day, however, revealed some real ice, snow and frost damage.

I have been monitoring the effects as the ice has melted with slowing rising temperatures.

One first-year fruit tree whose low branches were inverted, suddenly recovered its form and the branches are pointing upward once again.

Another first-year fruit tree had almost all of its leaves frost-bitten.  But a few were not, and I will watch to see how it rebounds as spring begins in several more months.

A bird bath which was full of ice broke in half.

Many perennials were untouched.  A few species were hit hard, but they always retreat during winter and return vigorously the next season.

It will be interesting to see the longer term seasonal effects on my native plant and perennials yard.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Monday, November 4, 2013

Redesigning in the Fall Garden

There is new growth in the fall garden.

The red salvias survived the summer heat and drought like the perennials that they are.

New green onions are sprouting again from the original cuttings that rooted last year.

The third year peach tree did not bear good fruit this year, although it was prolific, and will need some attention next year.

The three new fruit trees, pear, apricot and plum also survived the summer and are growing more happily in the new cooler weather.

The grapevines survived a second year and were shaded by the volunteer sunflower forest.

Now, I have cut down the dying sunflower forest and am gathering the long stalks to be shredded and made into compost.

I am completing the half-circles of white bricks around the red salvias, green onions and the new comfrey plants.

I am circling the fruit trees with white stones.

The blue salvia has managed to find good growing conditions here and there in the yard and adds its color to the fall garden.

The ever-present and ever-active lemon balm adds its delicious scent as it continues to spread despite my efforts to contain it within circles of white stones.

I am pleased so much is able to thrive in blackland prairie soil and that I am learning how to plant what is good to grow here.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Monday, July 22, 2013

Two-Fold Plan

The first part of my plan is to use the model developed by Aquaponics and Earth.  In cinder block gardens and greenhouse, they use a nutrient-rich substrate which produces the most abundant and healthy growth I have ever seen, even in drought conditions.

The second part is to learn more about gardening in containers with the same substrate.  I will germinate seeds and transplant them into the containers so that I can move them to ideal locations for the amount of sun they require.

My goal is to eat something every day from my garden.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Surprise and Delight

My front yard in blooming with perennials and native plants.  It has taken about three years to fill it up.  I have learned about spacing for more mature plants, and these areas are starting to look fuller.

In the backyard, the third year worked a charm on a struggling coreopsis plant.  It was about three inches tall the first year, about six inches tall the second year, and this year, it took of and is about two feet high and two feet wide and filling out with more branches and beautiful deep yellow-gold flowers.

I bought two comfrey plants at an herbal talk by a Master Gardener a few months ago.  They are taking hold in a garden bed.

And I began exploring container gardening.  My seed potatoes from Missouri have started sprouting and growing like crazy.  I keep adding more soil as the leaves and stems grow up.  I will have buckets of potatoes to share.

I also put two-year asparagus crowns in buckets.  They too are growing.  I have added all the soil I can to their buckets, and the slender stems are continuing to wave high above their containers.

In continuing action, the sunflower forest is back.  It is forming a nice natural “room” where it meets the peach tree.  My new compost pile is enriching an area underneath the peach tree.

It is a surprise and a delight to discover new things happening in the garden each season.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Monday, May 6, 2013

Help on Projects

Sometimes I just can’t get started.

I will have an idea and know what I want to do.

So it is helpful to have someone else around.

Just for community.

I had just such a visit this weekend.

The first project got done through community.

While she visited and we talked, I weeded two garden beds.

They are now ready for mulch and more planting.

Then we took a break and baked Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Bread.

The next garden project was nailing shingles to a 4 x 4 to create a garden edging.

I provided the materials.

She played with the nail gun.

Now I have a sample.

The third project was garden stepping stones.

Since she is an engineer, she read the directions for the sackrete.

I actually measured out the amount of water she requested.

We added more, of course, until we got the desired consistency which I remembered from helping someone else.

We poured three stepping stones in a silicone mold.

My husband reminded me to go ahead and remove it while it was still setting up.

We washed the mold, the wheelbarrow where we mixed the cement, and the trowels.

They stones have set beautifully.

I will make charming paths throughout my gardens.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Front Garden Activities

As my garden begins blooming, it is also getting a makeover.  I have added more blooming perennial shrubs.  Since I have so much pink and red with dianthus and red salvia, and Texas Sage, pink skullcap, Red Turk’s cap and even red lantana (with some yellow), I added more yellows, coreopsis, Mexican Hat, and....something else that is yellow...

My husband brought me the best present in the world, a load of mulch.  So now, many plants which have not had that benefit, will have help retaining moisture.  He unloaded half of it last night, mostly in the dark, while I spread it around.

Today, I have been pulling up plants around the developer’s required one tree in the yard.  Ours is a Redbud and it is blooming and growing so very tall.  Where I used to need plants for full sun everywhere, I now can add some plants with partial sun requirements.

I started two American Beauty-berries last year.  They are starting to put on some growth now.  They will become understory to the central Redbud tree. With our unusually cool weather, I even have pansies still blooming.  The mulch gave much needed support to the Texas Mealy Sage.  It is gorgeous!  The lavender continues expanding.  Surviving Blue Salvia is getting stronger.  I will add some more.  I ordered it again since it is the only perennial sold by the high school baseball team fund raiser and I still need to fill in some more spots.

I plan to pour a rock-like concrete path using a pair of silicone stencils, basically.  As one is drying, you fill up the next one.  By then, the first one is dry enough to release the concrete pebble formation and you can move it ahead and pour it.  I walked that path several times today, pulling and recycling the plants as mulch along the way and deciding how to create a charming meandering path.

After visiting the San Antonio botanical Garden last month and experiencing their amazing Herb Garden, I plan to create an herbal approach up the sidewalk.  The blend of scents was deliciously harmonious even for a sensitive palate.

There will be more happening in the backyard, but I will begin that tomorrow.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Self-Reviving Plants

As I set up more beds in the garden, I considered taking out plants which had not survived the summer drought.  But I did other gardening chores and forgot to get to those plants.

As the Spring progressed, life returned even to plants that I thought were dead.

I have evidence of life returning to two small grapevines.

My raspberries seem to have grown up a bit more and may become plants instead of running all across the ground.

My comfrey has been planted and is reviving.

Two pots with herbs have been moved outside and are also growing once again.

I watered my entire yard by hand today and noticed revival where I did not expect it.

Perhaps I had been too discouraged by what I saw last summer.

And yet, the plants were going dormant, waiting for better conditions.

I am glad to see them.

© 2013 Kathryn Hardage