The Wildflower School moved into a wonderfully wild 8.5 acre homestead. Its taken everything NOT to start building and planting this spring. We are holding back, watching the land, the plants, the critters and getting to know my space. Texas gardening is tricky and must be done right to not be constantly redoing your work and feeling overwhelmed. Our homestead has varying soils, but mostly sandy loam. Gardening isnt about what you plant, its about the environment you create to plant in. In other words, here is the BEFORE blog post. Stay tuned to see how we use various techniques to create beautiful gardens. The steps I have taken to prepare to plant in Bastrop County, Texas are:
1) sit and watch the land
The way the light moves across the space. The way the water moves with rainstorms and where it runs off. The way the critters move. What critters I see and when I see them–insects, and animals
2) assess the soil and amend
The soil is gritty, easy to dig with a layer of red and yellow clays about a foot deep where I want to plant. I plan to add fertility in the form of compost and manure and begin with sheet mulching an area by the wellhouse for our school’s learning garden. Luckily my neighbor with horses has offered manure!http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth130272/
3)plan for protection.
We have lots of burrowers, predation and STRONG SUN to think about. Since the soil is easy to dig, the larger fenced garden by the well house will have additional buried bricks around the edges to protect from burrowers, and the fence will be 8ft tall to prevent deer from entering. When planning zones, one thing to remember is to make your gardening as easy as possible, therefore my food and culinary herbs will be as close as possible–with overflow in the larger garden further away. Around the main classroom and teaching space, we will begin with container gardening on the protected back deck, until we have built beds. I am planning kitchen beds around the front deck so you can walk outside and pick food. I am also planning some areas in the garden that I can drape shade cloth over easily since we are prone to drought and the sun can actually burn veggies out
4) sketch and resketch
I created initial designs of where things may go, including paths, the orchard, our chickens and soon–bees!
My husband and I will start to envision this and may change our minds a few times, and ask for opinions, etc.
before we begin anything that cant be undone easily
Great resource for sheet mulching: http://www.patternliteracy.com/books/gaias-garden/how-to-the-ultimate-bomb-proof-sheet-mulch