Friday, January 16, 2009

Fall Colors

I'm behind on some of my posts that I wanted to get out. We have been having Internet problems. It just won't stay connected for more than a few minutes. Makes posting a real problem. I was told it was from wind damage to an antenna somewhere in some nether region that our signal must pass. It's been getting better as time goes on so here is the post that was supposed to be in late November.

Here on our little acreage we have three draws that go through the property, with the driveway going across them all. It was an expensive undertaking to make a good road across them but does let us have a little more variety in the plant life, from high and dry to almost riparian. It also lets one have better views across and down the draws of the plant, as well as the animal, life. I wouldn't be as happy with a level piece of property.

The overly dry summer made for some good fall color, even though I didn't think it would. Some of the Spanish Oaks were blood red and others seemed to stay with more of a yellow tint.

You can see the combo here.

Even the forest floor was a lot more colorful with these Spice Bush and Summer Grape leaves strewn about atop the walnut leaves.

There was even a little fall color on the lotus leaves in the ponds. With the sun on it, this leaf just pulled my attention to it over the last of my gardens fall blooms.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Raised Beds

Katina, at Gardening in Austin, was asking about the construction of my raised beds. I've had several readers and personal friends ask about them so I thought I would show how they were built. First off I must say I am a known frugalist. I don't know that it's a word but it sounds better than tightwad. I will spend several hundred dollars on a new fly rod but some things just must be done on the cheap. Gardening stuff falls into that category.

When I built these beds, some over ten years ago, I went with what I had and what I know. I had wrecked out, 2"x6" redwood porch decking and I know metal. The metal was scraps from the shop. The total cost of these beds for me was just the cost of a box of screws. Now that's being cheap--uhh, I mean frugal.

The heart of these beds is the corner brackets. They are made of 2"x4" angle iron with eight holes in them. The boards are screwed to the short side of the angle first and then the board is placed on the long side. This keeps the screws on both boards away from the end of the board where it would be more likely to split. By doing it this way instead of just nailing the boards to the ends of the other boards, it keeps the pressure of the dirt pushing sideways to the screws instead of always trying to push the screws in an outward direction. You can see what I mean in this picture. Pretend like you don't notice the Henbit I need to pull.

Not even one bed has gotten loose in all these years. I put plastic down in the walkways before I graveled and it keeps a neat and almost weed free area around them.

The only mistake I made, and to me it was a big one, was to make different sizes of beds. Most of my beds are 3' x 8' but four are 4' x 8' and a few are narrower and longer. You need the first two sizes only. With consistent sizes you can have bent hoops that fit any bed so you can easily install shade or frost cloth. The hoops can be slipped into screwed on cable clamps placed on the sides of the beds. And with the beds being wood it is easy to put trellises up from the sides.

I have built these beds for several friends and my Dad as well. They have worked well for all and I can't imagine anyone gardening any other way.

It's a dragon, no, it's a snake...

I don't know what it's supposed to be but it looks like it should be in south Austin. I saw this out in a pasture on my way to Lampasas. There were no houses or barns anywhere around. I would imagine the dozer track it was made from came off while pushing cedar and was in too bad shape to put back on. Dozer track is very heavy, so instead of hauling it off they made this. What a great idea. It is a real attention getter.