Tag Archives: home gardening

To Mulch or Not…Too Mulch of a Good Thing.

My first house had siding of shiplap cypress. Great wood for building, tough for painting. I often wondered about those bags of cypress mulch at the garden center…seems it really is too much of a good thing…

It seems that in the past ten years or so cypress logging as an industry has taken off. In a recent article in Mother Jones, it was reported that according to the Louisiana Forestry Association, loggers are razing up to 20,000 acres of cypress every year, most of it not for wood for furniture or houses, but for …mulch. And, it is all above board. Supporters say logging provides desperately needed jobs. But at what expense? If the present logging trend continues, it is only a matter of decades before southern Louisiana is obliterated. Then what?

via mygardenguide.com – Wednesday What’s New: No to Cypress Mulch.

So the word is use the pine mulch. It is already grown in plantations. Better yet, recycle your leaves and other yard waste.

Weather Musing…

Ten days into March and the weather feels more like late spring or early summer from my childhood. This week we have seen 80’s over and over again. So far the March winds (which began blowing in November) have kept the house reasonably comfortable. I don’t like to think about what this will mean for summer though.

Last evening my wife warned that the she had heard it would be getting cold again by the end of the week though. The thought gave me hope even as I listened to the dread in her voice. When I went out and checked the forecast though most of the hope gave way to awe…Awe at the weather forecaster who considers the 50’s as cold. I know my wife will be uncomfortable starting her day in the 50’s, even though she loves that temperature when she is standing on a mountain porch with her morning coffee.

It has been dry here for longer than I care to think about. Even when we get some rain it’s never much moore than a dust settler. They are promisin a chance of rain at the end of the week. If it manages to fall here, I’ll start thinking about breaking the new garden. Right now all I would be doing is stirring up dust.

One of the things I’ve noticed this winter has been the nnumber of days when the humidity has been down in the 20-30% range. For this close to the Gulf of Mexico having low humidity even when the winds are blowing in of the water is very unusual…

All over town the azalias are blooming. The bluebonnets on the sides of the highway underpass have been blooming for two weeks already. I need to find out what is happening in Austin County…It might be time for a wildflower pilgrimage.

Is it really “Victory Garden” Time?

My reading on the web keeps coming across a common thread…It’s that over and over in blog posts and comments people are talking about buying seeds and starting to raise vegetables again. It looks like I’m not the only one making the connection. Here is what Verlyn Klinkenborg had to say today.

In August 2004, I wrote a Rural Life editorial about the victory garden movement during World War II, noting that a national crisis had turned Americans — for a few years at least— into a nation of gardeners. Now we are in the midst of another crisis. And perhaps this is the moment for another national home gardening movement, a time when the burgeoning taste for local food converges with the desire to cut costs and take new control over our battered economic lives.

There are signs that some people are already thinking this way. A number of friends have said to me, wistfully, that if things get worse, they’ll just go to the country and learn to farm, as if learning to farm were like studying shorthand or learning to weld.(1)

I started making sure I was set up to receive this years seed catalogs back in November and December. They have been coming in for a month now. I have been spending some of my evening time checking out the heirloom vegetables with an eye toward being able to save seed after harvest. I was even picking up some packets of  greens and herbs as we wandered through the Wally Box this past weekend.

With our weather being so unseasonably warm, I probably should already have some of these things in the ground. Hard to believe I’m worried about being late in planting and it just a few days past Valentines…

As Patry Francis put it in her blog yesterday…

I believe the way we live our lives is going to change–maybe in small, temporary ways, but more likely, the transformation will test us in ways we’ve never been tried before.

I believe that almost nothing is all bad or all good and I don’t say that glibly. I believe that sometimes, the deeper you have to dig to find the bliss, the stronger you grow. I believe that we’ll stop being consumers, and start becoming citizens; that one day soon, we’ll walk outside and see, really see the neighbors we’ve been ignoring all these years. I believe that we’ll plant more vegetables and less grass. And yes, I believe that absent more expensive entertainment, people will READ more.(2)

“Plant more vegetables and less grass”, what a concept. If you haven’t visited Patry’s blog, take a bit of time, wander over and welcome her back to the blogosphere. Her storytelling is excellent.

Speaking of grass, I’ve been reading Editorial – Editorial Notebook – Sow Those Seeds! – NYTimes.com‘s Second Nature and Chapter 3, where he asks the question “Why Mow?” left me wondering if humans haven’t been bred to perpetrate the continuing dominance of grass.

One of the things that is worrying me is the lack of rainfall in my area. It was that very reason that I quit planting a vegetable garden a few years back…After planting and not harvesting much besides weeds for about three years, I called it quits. It looks like it’s time to give it another try though. I do think I’ll do two things though. First I’m going to move the location of the garden closer to the water spigot. Second I need to track down some form of water storage and fix a means of catching at least some of the rain that runs off the roof.

The drough here in Texas even made the international news last week…

The worst drought in nearly 100 years is racking three-quarters of Texas. Much of the state has not had a significant rainfall since August. Winter wheat crops have failed. Ponds have dried up. Ranchers are spending heavily on hay and feed pellets to get their cattle through the winter. Some wonder if they will have to slaughter their herds come summer. Farmers say the soil is too dry for seeds to germinate and are considering not planting.

“The last time we had a drought this bad was in January 1918,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist. “The droughts in the 1950s in individual years were not as bad as this.” Nielsen-Gammon, a professor at Texas A&M, said the weather had been unusually dry for the last year and a half, but since August, much of the central part of the state — a broad swath from just south of Dallas, through Austin and San Antonio and down to Corpus Christi — had gotten little or no rain. Even last year’s hurricanes, Dolly and Ike, did not help, he said.

Though about a half-inch of rain fell in Austin and Dallas this week, it was not enough to offset the 20-inch deficit in rainfall over the last 18 months, he said.(3)

Maybe I should look at updating the old well here on the property. We quit using it a decade or so ago when the city forced us to hook up to city water. Since no one in the family would drink the well water except me, it only made sense to let it go.



(3) via Farmers and ranchers wonder what’s next as drought scrapes Texas – International Herald Tribune.