09. February 2014 · Comments Off on Gardenville · Categories: Domestic

Garden - Early AprilI go through this every year about this time – sometime after Christmas – yet well before it becomes time to turn on the AC again. That is, that time to start thinking about what to do in the garden this year. The yard of my little suburban house has gone through a number of changes since I first bought it; there was nothing much of a garden at all, actually – just two Arizona ash trees in the front, a huge mulberry in the back, a wisteria on the back porch which was only in bloom one week out of the 52, a bed of of English ivy filling the narrow space between the walkway to the front door, and in the back, hugely overgrown mounds of Chinese jasmine. All of this scenic garden bounty was wrapped up in a sweep of St. Augustine grass. Which, because it is the cheapest to purchase is the grass that the original owner planted.
The ivy was the first to go, then most of the jasmine, one of the ash trees … and bit by bit the grass replaced with plantings and hardscape. For a good few seasons, I had a number of rosebushes, and later on some native plants intended to attract humming-birds. Of late, I have wanted to have as much edible garden as possible, through a combination of raised beds and hanging containers,
since the actual soil is about the consistency of the clay they make adobe bricks from. It’s heavy and sullen when wet and nearly as hard as a baked brick in the dry – and there is actually only about eighteen inches of it, over a layer of caliche which must go to the depth of the outer mantle, if not to the earth’s core. If I had known at first what I know now, I’d have had someone come in with an earth-mover, scrape up ever scrap of the clay and bring in a couple of truckloads of the good garden soil. Too late, now. But at least on average, the yard has looked quite pleasant and attractive in spots, given a good year, a mild season and a certain length of time since the most recent catastrophe (various dogs, a particularly vicious hailstorm and some hard freezes) … well, not so nice. It’s a work in progress, of which the best that can be said is that it is as good as or better than about three-quarters of the houses in the neighborhood. Of course, the best three gardens in the ‘hood are what I am shooting for. Maybe I will make it there someday – although I fear that I will never be able to have huge and sturdy bushes of lavender, such as grow on the hill below my mother’s house.SideGarden
At the end of last month we had the tree-guys come and prune back the enormous mulberry tree in back, which had gotten first overgrown – to the point of shading almost the entire backyard – and then many of the longer branches were dead. They cut out all the dead stuff, allowing sunlight to spill in again – and took out the photinia by the front door which had turned the front porch into a cave. Last week, we saw some sapling fruit trees on sale at Sam’s Club, and took a venture on two of them; a plum and a peach, for the newly-sunny spot along the back fence. Lowe’s also had thornless blackberries and seedless grapes – so I took a chance on those, too. I hope to be able to get them to grow on a wire trellis on the back fence. Time will tell, I guess. Over the next month we’ll be renewing the raised beds with new compost and fertilizer, and getting everything ready to go in March. That is the last chance for frost in South Texas – and with the mulberry trimmed back, the raised beds will have an even greater ration of sunshine. I’d like to grow more of what we eat, since the stuff fresh from the garden tastes so much better. We had a good-sized garden plot behind the house where we lived in Utah, and I’d go out in the late afternoon and pick whatever was ripe to have for supper.

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