September 10, 2015
Gardening Game Changers
If you’re feeling a tad frustrated right now, you are so not alone!
First, we got too much rain at once in an unusually lengthy cool and cloudy spring. Then, bam, the rainfall spigot turns off, followed by quickly elevating temps and unrelenting sun.
Good news! Fall perennial planting is just around the corner. I’m thinking ahead to next spring with wildlife friends Jerusalem sage against native coral honeysuckle.
Spring citrus took a little beating. Thanks to Valerie Amaro and Christina Pasco who sent us pictures of their victims. Looks awful, doesn’t it?
Christina’s dachshund Bentley is totally in the clear! (Daphne’s Augie agrees).
Daphne checked in with Texas A&M’s fruit and pecan specialist Monte Nesbitt who assured us that we’re not facing some life-threatening citrus disease.
Monte tags the culprit: mockingbirds! They peck the fruit and then indeed, fungus sets in.
Christina also ran into chomped leaves, but caught the culprit in action this time: a katydid.
Jesse’s troubled citrus leaves are due to spring leaf miners, not a serious concern.
Forrest Arnold from the Austin Organic Gardeners uses caging and netting to keep critters away from citrus and other fruit trees like his peach. Be sure to secure tightly at the bottom to fend off the sneaky ones that crawl under.
Brianne Bersen uses tulle from the fabric store to protect her crops.
Oh, Christina’s doxie Obi Wan recommends planting wildflower seeds in late October to November!
Planting always soothes us. Lemon balm, an herbaceous perennial, calms us even by brushing against its fragrant leaves.
I like this herb for its 1’ tall fluffiness in morning sun to part shade. It often freezes back in winter but rebounds quickly in warm weather.
It’s also prized for its lemony taste in recipes. In teas, it reduces stress and indigestion. In the garden, pluck off a few leaves for on-the-spot aromatherapy! Get Daphne’s tips on growing lemon balm.
And before we head into fall (and hurry up) let’s admire Linda Ofshe’s summer time crinum that finally bloomed!
Now, as you’re pulling your garden gear out of retirement, Jeff Ferris from The Natural Gardener has the ESSENTIAL tool that every gardener needs: a 5-gallon bucket. Get his magic tricks right here.
Gardening organically works like magic, too, so let’s celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Austin Organic Gardeners. Forrest Arnold joins Tom to illustrate why organics have gone mainstream.
Compost is the super magic trick. You don’t need fancy equipment. Turn that food waste, garden prunings and autumn leaves into the best fertilizer to nourish your soil—and your plant roots.
Style up with raised beds, especially if you live on rock or difficult soils—here at Sunset Valley Community Garden.
Give that old boat a new ride, like Sara and John Dunn who turned this one into a cute wicking bed, dubbed the “grow boat.”
In 70 years, the Austin Organic Gardeners has raised generations of young gardeners who want how-to, hands-on details to grow healthy food at home. At monthly meetings/plant swaps and AOG’s annual spring sale, perhaps you’ll meet long-time member Earl Hall who’ll help you get growing.
On tour, how does gardening impact students challenged about high school graduation? At Gonzalo Garza Independence High School, meet the young game changers who head to college, thanks to hands-in-earth science and innovative growing techniques that challenge them.
For 17 years, Social Studies teacher Martha Cason has anchored students through gardening. Her students unite in a design/build team that learns ecology, planting, composting and pruning.
Angelo Sanchez plans to go to nursing school and then start a community garden in a small town to make sure that everyone has access to fresh, organic food.
Taking a lesson from dryland Africa, they built keyhole gardens, designed by student Hunter Botner.
He’s headed to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi for Mechanical Engineering.
Martha’s class helped raise their geese from goslings. “It’s a good way to teach kids about animal husbandry without having a horse or a cow,” she said.
Fabian Solorzano, like all the students, loves tending them. They’re very protective so we had to view them from outside the fence! Fabian plans to make landscaping his career.
An old-style solar panel erected over their housing still pumps enough energy back into the grid to power two classrooms.
Through a Speak Up, Speak Out project, Martha’s class saves even more electricity. The students compost a lot of the school’s food waste, too, along with cardboard boxes and paper to nourish their beds.
Meet these remarkable students right now! You’ll be glad you did.
Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda