Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Chaos in the garden and beautiful trees cut down for mulch

Mother Jones has a story on Lousisiana’s Mulch Madness. Louisiana’s swamps are full of cypress trees, which can reach 500 years in age. The interwoven roots of the cypress allow them to withstand the strongest hurricane winds. These cypress stands provide a rest stop to half of the US migratory birds and homes to bobcats, foxes, alligators, minks, armadillos, otters, falcons and more. The cypress stands are being cleared to provide mulch. What’s wrong with this picture?

Instead of using pesticides, shock your plants with electricity. Just try not to fry yourself too. Scientists have found non lethal shocks given to plants increase at least one of their protective chemicals against pests.

Pollution decreases flowers scent. I’m sure everyone saw the headlines but pollution doesn’t really decrease the scent. It decreases the distance it travels making it more difficult for pollinators to find the plants.

I’ve been reading Kelly’s ‘Out of Control’ book and chapter 4 has some interesting information for those trying to restore gardens to a more natural state. Not only is it important to keep down chemical use and plant native plants but the order in which you introduce the plants to a garden will greatly effect the outcome of the garden. All gardens stabilize but plants introduced in different orders can mean the difference between a native flower garden and a bed of weeds. Gardening is a chaotic science. ( The full book is online. )

Vanity Fair has a story on the evils of Monsanto ( can we ever read too many of those stories ? ).  This one focusing on the use of intimidation by Monsanto to keep small farmers in fear of the company.

Brrr. It’s been chilly this week with nighttime temperatures dipping into the 40’s. So far the plants don’t seem to mind.

I had put out regular and time released fertilizer last Feb. after my startling soil test. I figured it’d be months before I needed more. But I noticed a few plants showing nitrogen distress Saturday.  So I dusted off the soil test kit and tested some soil this weekend and already that nitrogen in the soil has been used up!

On a good note it’s only been 3 years and already I’ve gone from solid clay to a few inches of top soil in the areas that I didn’t bring in dirt, and 6″ in the areas I have. Things may get used up fast in warm, humid areas but they also build fast. Remember to use pine mulch if you are in the Houston area, not only to protect Louisiana’s stands but because it is less fungus prone and breaks down quickly to amend your soil.

Finally it is raining squirrels outside.  One or  more of the local rats have found they can get to the second floor window feeder by jumping from a first floor roof.  But they miss frequently.  So I’ve been listening to them drop from the roof frantically grasping at the windows below them only to make a nice ‘thud’ when they hit the deck below.  It almost makes not want to move the feeder.