Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
One thing leads to another...
Years ago when we finally took out a large section of St. Augustine grass in the back yard I thought I'd be fine with the chaos, I thought I wanted a wild flower meadow.
Once the flowers faded (so soon!) I put in a few freestyle raised beds. I tried out vegetables, I auditioned flowers, I played around with permaculture techniques. Sure enough I no longer had the previously despised monoculture, but what I mostly had? I mostly had an ongoing mess.
Taking sight lines and sprinkler placement into consideration I lined out several supplemental paths. Those paths were great as far as they went but they were cleared dirt. I didn't want dirt paths. I put in stepping stones as a stopgap (just in case it ever rained again, which at the time, frankly seemed unlikely), but I didn't want stepping stones. What I wanted was a granite gravel path.
At that time we didn't have any clear access to the back yard. Having a truck deliver a load of gravel was out of the question. Our old wheelbarrow died. We got a new one but it had a wide wheel base and the gate in our fence wouldn't even allow it through. Undaunted, I bought and carried in five 40 pound bags of crushed granite gravel. 40 pound bags don't cover much and I knew it wouldn't be enough, but it was a start.
Summer happened. Gravel spreading was not an attractive prospect in triple digits. Winter came and it rained! It got cold, I got cold, and the front beds began to reveal the ravages of neglect. The front beds that everybody drove and walked by. The front beds that everybody could SEE.
By the time I turned my attention to the back bedding areas again every square inch of dirt in between the stepping stones was completely overgrown with weeds. Every time I disturbed the soil or repositioned a stepping stone I unearthed a roiling mass of angry ants.
But I'm nothing if not stubborn. Slowly but surely I eliminated the ants. Minus the attacking hordes I got the dirt paths weeded. I took the five granite gravel bags and spread them out as far as they would cover.
It was a limited success but it was enticing. The finish line for the paths was in sight at long last.
The Hub had sensibly replaced that old narrow gate with a wider one that would accept the new wheelbarrow, but.... We were now having our windows replaced. The equipment and ongoing work meant there was nowhere available for a truck to unload gravel in the front. Unless I wanted to wait?
I was finished with excuses and waiting. Waiting was not an option. Back I went to buy more 40 pound bags of crushed granite. Eleven of them.
The now easily approachable garden beds were ready for their close-up. Stepping around the plastic bags of granite gravel I'd unloaded where my dream paths would be, I began to weed.
I culled. I eradicated. I ferreted out nut sedge. Panicum. Virginia buttonweed. I popped out crabgrass. Common purslane. Dove weed. I dug out bermuda grass. Carpet weed. I pulled out long strings of residual St. Augustine. I yanked and pried and removed every weed known to local gardeners and a few I swear came into being only here and simply to try and frustrate my efforts.
And so it goes, and so it went until, day before yesterday when, working mostly by feel and finishing well after dark, I got eight of the eleven bags of granite gravel spread out onto every one of the readied paths.
I was close. So close. Laughing at the thermometer, ignoring increasingly urgent messages from my lower back and neck, I donned my tattered gloves and tackled the colony of long established weeds in the last large bed.
I have gravel paths. I have weeded beds.
Just for the moment of course. Weeding is never really completed. The weeds in the first bed I cleared out are already showing signs of regrowth from roots I'll likely never get all the way out.
At least now I have a gravel path where I can safely leave those mulch bags. Once I get to the nursery, I mean. With the window guys here I am stuck at the house weekdays and who wants to spend their weekends hauling mulch bags in this heat?
And so it goes....