Monday, March 19, 2018

Inch by inch

Nancy's question yesterday led to a picture walk around our five-acre homestead in hopes of providing some answers.

Our land was choked with brush and cactus when we arrived in 2010, much like this undisturbed back corner ...


We have spent the past eight years clearing brush in hopes of encouraging the return of native prairie grasses such as little bluestem, sideoats grama, and yellow Indiangrass, with much success. It has all been done with hand-held tools (clippers and loppers), no herbicides ever ...


The debris is then put in rows of compost that act as berms to slow flood waters along vulnerable areas ...


plus a cover of dead leaves, grass and/or wood mulch to keep things dark and damp ...


After a couple of years (we are patient), we take off the dried-out cover, put that at the bottom of a new compost pile and congratulate ourselves on the resulting soil (hard to see, but there's a 2-3" mound of soil here) ...


The rock gardens are in closer to the house and Don's current project involves  taking away all the brush from a rocky area ...


while leaving desirable plants like this thimble flower and mealy blue sage undisturbed ...


unearthing loose rock for a planting bed ...


that can be filled with GeoGrower's Thunder Soil ...


then planting natives (here a bush germander) ...


and finishing the whole thing off with a covering of GeoGrower's Magic Mulch ...


plus the occasional wire cage as needed because deer-resistant doesn't mean the critters won't take a taste at times ...


Needless to say, there's a lot of sweat equity in our landscape, but what's good for the garden is good for the gander (not to mention the goose).

15 comments:

Nancy said...

Wow! So much dedication and hard work! I'm impressed :) Looking at these pics, I think how it must smell so good there! What is your elevation? When I lived in No NV we were at 4500ft, high desert. I loved it there so much.
PS Tonight upon coming here and seeing "I'm Going to Texas" as the pages opens...I think what a lovely name this is...You are always going...open, learning...going :) Goodnight xo

Liz A said...

Nancy - Hmmm, maybe I should tweak the blog title to "I'm Going IN Texas" ... ha! And yes, the smell of freshly laid soil and mulch ... there's nothing like breaking into a compost pile to find that we have created rich new earth, unless perhaps it is seeing the grasses and wildflowers that grow from it the following year.

As for elevation, our property runs from 1015' down to 994' ... a 20' drop which is why we need berms to slow the water down during heavy rainstorms. I also learned early on that we live on the 98th meridian, considered the dividing line between the rainy east and the desert west. Hence it is that I have stitched two of what I hope to be a series of cloths entitled "Land of Flood and Drought."

Thanks so much for coming by ... I am likewise appreciating your current ruminations about keeping and tossing on the Pomegranate Trail ...

Mo Crow said...

love seeing these photos of nurturing your land, encouraging the wild spirits of place
namaste

Liz A said...

Mo - in one of my long-ago garden posts you warned us away from landscape cloth ... belated thanks for that!

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

i could look and look at these forever, never tire of them...
and think how now i am finding self in similar motion, though
the brush is so large, so thick, the fallen trees...
I wish so much i could post many pics...
Thank You for this, Love,

Anonymous said...

your sweat equity is paying off! nothing better than making dirt!

Liz A said...

Dee - we’ll invest double the sweat when we hit the triple digits of summer (as early as May, as late as October)

Liz A said...

Grace - I’m hoping someone will come up with a photo work-around for you (and Alyssia) ... I do miss looking over your shoulder

Sue McQ said...

So good to see the land "developing" in the most appropriate way. Good for you and Don!

Peggy Mcg said...

New commenter here.. inch by inch.. my new motto.. love seeing all this spring, keeps my faith that soon here in MN we too will enjoy green again soon.

Liz A said...

Sue - we have to give a tip of the hat to Mother Nature, who graced us with half an inch of rain last weekend followed by sunny days in the 80s!

Peggy - welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment. I made my first trip to Minnesota last June and needed a jacket! But what a beautiful place it was and is!

Hazel said...

Such knowledge and patience! I'm in awe of both, and in love with the rock garden.

Liz A said...

Hazel - thank you ... when we moved to a Texas 9 years ago we knew next to nothing about the plants and critters. Learning and then internalizing the rhythms of the land has been a wonderful journey

Fiona Dempster said...

I so loved this wander round your block Liz - you are being rewarded for all the hard work. It is grinding and good to be a part of place, to learn its rhythms and its moods. Continue to enjoy!

Liz A said...

Fiona - we are fortunate to be able to garden year round ... the only downside is the pollen, which is ever-present