Native Garden Project Finished- Woohoo!!

I had a date this morning – with 40 bags of Grade A cedar mulch.  Fortunately I didn’t have to tackle it alone.  My husband opened and poured while I raked and spread.

Just to recap………

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

Next came a back wrenching day with the sod cutter that gave us this….

After setting border

After setting border

Then the native plants were in place and the soaker hose laid down….

The trial run was a success.  Even, drippy moisture.

The trial run was a success. Even, drippy moisture.

And today- ta da!!!- mulch!!

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3" depth the landscaper suggested.  And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3″ depth the landscaper suggested. And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

Here are a couple of closeups….

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Ozark Bluestar

Ozark Bluestar

Here is the complete list of natives we planted: purple muhly grass, prairie rose, hibiscus, penstemon, goldenrod, coneflower, blue sage, joe pye, bergamot, beautyberry, false indigo, Ozark bluestar and prairie blazing star.  And of course, an Eastern redbud tree.  I don’t expect any blooms this year, but everything is still healthy after being in the ground almost two weeks.

So…..on to the next project.  No rest of the wicked.  Since we still had a LITTLE energy left after laying the mulch, we cleaned the old mulch and inches of spilled birdseed out of the old beds next to the patio and spread mulch on them.  Oh, did I mention that we only used 29 of the 40 bags.  There was no way we could have used them all – and I cut down the number from the 50 the landscaper told me to buy.  Then around to the front yard where I planted this is my grandmother’s old washpot.

I lovethe tall Spike in the middle.  Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

I love the tall Spike in the middle. Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

My husband cut the seat out of this old chair in the large bed in the front.  I zip-tied a basket with coconut husk liner, but ran out of potting soil.  I’m not sure what I’m going to plant in it.  There’s  not much to choose from for shade plants.

IMG_1070

This should be really nice with plants “growing” out of the seat.

Speaking of potting soil, I’ve never really found one I like that will hold moisture.  I found this at Organics OKC.  Pricey, but hopefully worth it.

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Lots of good stuff in it. Should have for $18 a bag.

I’m off to email my native plant images to Habitat Hero in Colorado.  Although Oklahoma doesn’t have a local chapter, they are interested in native gardens everywhere.  Susan J. Tweit is one of the founders.  She’s been my inspiration.

So,what else is on the list….vacuum, clean bathrooms (ugh), laundry, fresh sheets on the bed, work on baby quilt….refill tea glass, lay down, turn on Netflix, watch episode of Foyle’s War.  Yeah, I like that list better :).

Simple blessings to all!

 

 

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The Natives Make Me Restless

Forty-five native Oklahoma plants were delivered yesterday! Forty-five!!!!  Guess I lost my head a little. Now to get them in the ground. Feeling just a little overwhelmed and restless to get out there in this gorgeous weather.  It’s an absolutely wonderful day out there – light breeze (okay, so its windy, but after all, this is spring in Oklahoma) sunshine, perfect temps.

Wild bergamot, goldenrod, and friends

Wild bergamot, goldenrod, and friends

Climbing Prairie Rose, Hibiscus, Muhly Grass

Climbing Prairie Rose, Hibiscus, Muhly Grass

Didn’t realize the Prairie Rose was the climbing variety.  Will have to re-think a location for it.  I guess I will have to wait until the irises bloom and wither, then remove some of them and plant the rose to climb up the post of the pergola.  The challenge will be keeping them alive in their plastic pots for a while.

Can’t wait to see the new bed finished.  Got the False Indigo planted last night before it got too dark to see what I was doing.

Okay, back to work.  Have a simple kind of day!

 

Patience with an Attitude

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting – Unknown

I will be the first to admit that patience is not a virture I possess.  Once I make a plan, I want fruition now, thank you very much. My latest test of patience is our new backyard landscaping project.

Image

I posted this picture a while back.

After hours battling a sod cutter and hauling loads of crumbling clay and grass, resulting in sore muscles, liberal applications of ice packs and downing of multiple Ibuprofen, this was the result.

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You get the general idea of the curves.

Anybody want some free dirt ?

Anybody want some free dirt ?

Last weekend, after riding 33 miles in a bicycle fund raiser, my husband helped me haul 65 concrete edgers to the back yard, load after heavy wheelbarrow load.  We hit it again Sunday afternoon and got the last one in place just as it started to rain.

I'm really pleased with the result.

I’m really pleased with the result.

Don’t know if you can see it, but there is a very young redbud tree planted in the corner.

Bloom wannabe.

Bloom wannabe.

We’re living in redbud heaven right now.  The Oklahoma state trees are in their full glory, blooming in colors ranging from light pink to dark fuchsia.   I think the one we planted will be the light pink variety.  I love the lacy airiness of the mature tree.

Our's should look like this in a few years.

Our’s should look like this in a few years.

The blooms stand out against the bright green new leaves and still bare branches of trees around them. They show up everywhere- in landscaped lawns and the natural wooded areas that line local creeks.

Now comes the patience part.  It will be another two weeks before my young native plants can be weaned from the greenhouse at  Wild Things Nursery.

Since we are at a standstill, we decided to take a trip to the Texas hill country. We’ll go visit my Dad’s grave at the little cemetery in Buckholts, stop in at Green’s Sausage House in Zabcikville (don’t you love that name?) to stock up on the best German sausage and kolaches you’ve ever put in your mouth, and then tool up the road to the Walker Honey Farm in Rogers. My parents grew up in this tiny town (population 1000 as long as I can remember) where my sister and I spents weeks every summer, visiting grandparents and cousins and fighting about who got to sleep on the foldout sofa or the rollaway cot. I think the best part of our trip will be a driving tour of the Marble Falls area where the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are supposed to be at peak.  I need a good dose of the Hill Country.  What few roots I grew, I grew there.

May have to rethink the retirement-in-the-mountains plan.

 

 

 

Nature Around Us

“We can grow closer to a place and the life that inhabits it, by deciding to do so.  To paraphrase an old song: If you can’t be with the land you love, love the land you’re with.”

Richard Louv, The Nature Principle

It’s a cold sunny morning and I’m home because my office has closed due to slick and hazardous driving conditions.  Yee – haa! A three day weekend – I’ll take it, thank you very much.

I’ve been reading Richard Louv’s The Nature Prinicple, and while I’ve skimmed past a lot of the scientific studies – the first seven chapters – it has finally struck a cord.  He encourages those of us in urban settings to learn to observe nature around us. So many people think – and I’ll confess I’ve long been one of them- that natural beauty can only be found at the end of a long drive to the wilderness or a nature preserve.  For us, that would be anywhere from 10 to 16 hours in the car to our beloved New Mexico or Colorado mountains.  But, Louv says, there is wildlife all around us in our URBAN dwelling places, that by merely being more observant of what bird, plant and animal species dwell in close proximity, we might be surprised at what we find.

This is what greeted me when I opened my kitchen curtain this morning.  Lovely little bird tracks in the snow.

adjusted tracks

And this is what greeted the birds.

adjusted feeder

You can see where one little sparrow tried to find the bird feed under the 2″ of snow in the feeder.  Must be good stewards of the nature around us, so I cleaned out the snow while our cat kept vigil at the back door.  She SO wanted out to play with the birds.

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I’m so glad we bought the mesh-bottomed feeders. Most of the snow just fell through the holes as I stirred it.  Only the largest pieces are left, but the sun will melt those soon enough.  And this is the sound that greeted my ears when I went out.

I even heard a woodpecker hard at work in a nearby tree.  This is my reward.  Birds lining up on the fence to take a run at the feeder, a bright red cardinal on one feeder and a bluejay on the other.

       Blue JayIMG_0231

The good life doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Clay Pot Irrigation – Part 1

I was recently perusing one of my favorite websites, Little Homestead in the City, and came across a blog post about ollas, or clay pot irrigation.  The whole concept, which has evidently been around for a few thousand years (leave it to me to just be finding out about this), is fascinating. 

The idea is that a porous clay pot is planted in the ground or raised bed and filled with water. Plants are planted around the pot and the roots grow to the source of water.  The water wicks out of the pot through the pores and waters the plants directly to the root system.   A rock (or something like a scrap piece of broken pot) is placed over the hole to keep mosquitoes out.  The pot is refilled as needed depending on temperatures, rainfall, etc. 

According to the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, there are a lot of good things about the method including 50-70% water savings, guards against water stress, does not over irrigate, less frequent watering is required, less weeding since weeds do not prosper as the soil surface remains dry throughout the growing season (interesting!), saves on fertilizer if it is applied as part of the water used to fill the pots (can you put liquid worm fertilizer in there?  must research this!), the soil of the seedbed does not get sealed due to water impact but remains loose and well aerated, and last but not least, clay pots can be installed on undulating ground where surface water runoff might be a problem. 

The Aussies also site some disadvantages such as potential for winter breakage if left in the ground in areas with a winter freeze – definitely a possibility here in Oklahoma and prolonged use is likely to decrease porosity of the clay pot if used in heavy soil. 

Here are a couple of very helpful charts that were on the Australian site.

Sounds to me like the pros outweigh the cons.  As much as I would LOVE to buy the cute ollas found at Peddler’s Wagon, they are a bit out of my price range.  I have three raised bed and will need 4-5 for each.  So after a search for DIY ollas, I made a trip to my local Home Depot for pots.  Let’s just say, I’ll be buying my next round at a local garden shop where I found them the next day for about 1/2 the price!  Here is what I bought for about $45.

Standard UNGLAZED clay pots, saucers, silicone and white paint.   The paint is to seal the part of the pot that sticks up out of the ground to keep water from wicking out the top.  That was a tip I got from someone’s blog that said they learned the hard way.  Sounds like me. 

They were not cheap.  Each pot was $4, saucers were $3.  But I figure if I can get 5 years use out of each pot and with money (and heat stroke) saved from reduced watering, the upfront investment will be worth it.  I also discovered a couple of used pots in the garage that I can clean and use.  One thing to watch out for when buying the pots: I found that a lot of the saucers had what appeared to be hairline cracks and some of the pots did, too.  Don’t know how that would affect the process or the strength of the pot, but just kept looking until I found five pots with no cracks.  Anyway, if I’m paying four bucks apiece, they need to be intact, thank you very much. 

The first step is to seal the saucer and pot together to make one unit.  It takes one bead of silicone on the lip of the pot, squish down, and then a bead around the seam on the outside.  Let dry according to the directions on the silicone.  Mine said 12 hours which was overnight and then some.

It’s not pretty but this part will be underground.  Next came a leakage test.  I didn’t do the test on each pot.  I figured if one sealed, they all did.  Hope I’m right.

No leaks!

Next I painted about 2″ down from the top on each pot as well as the top (which of course is really the bottom of the pot).  The pots will be planted with the saucer down and water filled through the hole.

You can see the water wicking through the sides of my test pot. Pretty cool.

So, this is as far as I’ve gotten.  The weather has been cold and cloudy and the weatherman says we may have one more overnight freeze this week.  I should have already had my onions and lettuce and spinach out, but I’m always slow getting started in the spring.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get the pots in the ground Thursday this week and can show you Part 2. 

Until then, keep it simple, ya’ll.

Almost There

This is what met my eyes when I walked out the door this morning.  Cue birdsong and woodpecker tapping.  The buds are ALMOST open.  In a few days this very lopsided Bradford Pear tree will be in full bloom.  While all the other trees still appear to be dormant, local pear trees – and believe me there are LOTS of them around here – are trying very hard to get Spring underway.  Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any tulips this year.  Must have missed them because they always precede everything else.  Next will be the redbuds – absolutely gorgeous and the state tree of Oklahoma; again, very prolific.  And then the irises.  I love irises.  I have yellow and purple in my yard.  The blooms don’t last long but they are truly beautiful while they last. 

My sedum is beginning to put on some serious growth.  It never really goes dormant here.  I cut it back every winter but there are always some low lying green buds just on the surface.  It made it through the extreme temperatures this winter. 

I think I’ll go to the local nursery today at lunch and buy a few bags of manure to work into the veggie beds tomorrow.  Next comes planting for onions and lettuce. 

I also need to get serious about pricing DIY guttering.  I’ve had two very nice rain barrels for a couple of years now, but haven’t gotten them hooked up for lack of guttering.  It might be a little pricey to get the whole thing up and running, but free water for the garden will be the tradeoff.

 The garden is going to be great this year – I can just feel it!

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Permaculture Dreams

We’ve had some lovely days here the past week or so, and some really cold, foggy ones, too.  But its obvious spring is fighting to make headway and I’m cheering her on.  I’m mentally more than ready to start planting in the raised beds.  I need to add some manure when the weather warms a bit more and really work it in good.  I’ve got my watering system all worked out – I think.  I won’t really know until I get it all in place.  It will mean having some hoses stretched out in the yard all the time, which will be an issue with the One Who Mows, but in my opinion, its worth having to go out and hold some things out of the way.  Actually, what I’d REALLY like to do is get the backyard full of raised beds so there is no need to mow because there is no grass!  I’d also like to take down the tree in the front – how many times have you read that here – and plant fruit trees. 

My problem is that I don’t want to put a huge amount of effort into this place when there is a very real possibility that we may be moving in a couple of years.  I really really really really really want a little land – a couple or three acres to go hog wild with the permaculture thing.  Graywater system, fruit trees, water catchment, worm composting – and so much more I don’t even have a clue about.   When the Kid graduates from college and is hopefully settled for a while, we can make the decision about whether to sell our suburban home and move out a ways or maybe even leave the state.  I’d so love to live someplace within driving distance of some actual scenery of the mountain variety.   But that means a totally different growing climate and pretty much reinventing ourselves – which I’m okay with.  

I found a couple of new websites I’d like to share and a couple of old ones to inspire you to do the small things every day to live more simply, eat better, do more for your neighbor and get in touch with nature.

urbanorganicgardener.com

naturalhomemagazine.com (evidently they’ve been around for years)

bulgarbugle.com (our local food cooperative founder/also a permaculture guy – need to talk to him…….)

southernplate.com – yummy deep south cooking!

thepioneerwoman.com – Oklahoma girl on the farm

and just to inspire you once again – urbanhomestead.org – the be all and end all for urban organic gardeners wanting to live real

another inspiration – dailyacts.org – the younger generation may be getting it right after all!

This one is really cool – hope to able to use their stuff one day soon!  oksolar.com –

Keep it simple, ya’ll