A garden is the best alternative therapy.

About Us

 

 

the herbs, 10/25/09

Herb garden 10/25/09

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This blog was created to document our first efforts at organic gardening in an urban setting.  Our garden is located in the northern suburbs of Austin, Texas, in the city of Round Rock – thus the title of the blog, a title which, although it sounds aesthetically interesting at first, now appears somewhat generic.  Sorry to disappoint, but there is no round rock in my garden – none of any significant interest.  For those wishing to make a trip to this part of the country, however, the city of Round Rock is actually named after a large round rock in the river – so stop by and take a gander.

We decided to start gardening for a couple of main reasons:

(1)  Our garden is an exercise in self-reliance.  On so many different levels, Mother Culture has produced generations of people who rely upon the machinations of big agriculture, finance, industry and retail for the very sustenance they need to live.  In so doing, there are generations upon generations who do not know how to grow their own food – they are cut off from the knowledge our ancestors have passed down for ages.  The long, arduous days of working in the fields to produce meager offerings for one’s family to eat have been replaced by other careers, fast food joints, supermarkets and take out.   Now, Americans consume more than they need and we are one of the leading nations in obesity.   Our garden is one way for us to provide for ourselves and lessen our dependence upon the “system”.

(2) We are healthy eaters.  People think we are crazy when we tell them we eat a 90%+ organic diet and never eat anything out at a restaurant or on the go.   Organic food is more expensive than “conventional” foods, but it is proven to be healthier, more nutritious and better for the environment.  One way to reduce the cost is to grow your own.  So this is what we’re doing.  Starting from organic seed when available, we have prepared raised beds with plenty of organic soil and compost to get our plants off to a good start and produce healthy produce for our family.  This way we can avoid paying money to huge bio-agricultural corporations who poison the rivers, strip the land of nutrients, and grow Franken-foods, and save our health from the products manufactured with artificial crap.

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Ingredients: shovel of compost, 1 cup worm castings in panty hose, four gallons of rainwater, 1/2 cup of molasses - add air..

No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides!

Because this is an organic garden, we do not use any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. of any kind.  No Miracle Gro - unless it is something from their organic line.   Utilizing compost, worm castings, fish emulsion and teas brewed from these three, we’re trying to do things the old-fashioned way with a new twist.   Regardless, we’re cultivating an area where Mother Nature can do a lot of the work for us without toxic chemicals, residue run-off, nutrient depleting synthetic fertilizers and life-killing poisons.  By building up the soil with beneficial nematodes, fungi, protozoa and bacteria, and by adorning the area with attractive flowering plants, we’re preparing a healthy environment for all levels of life to establish themselves and aid in our efforts.

 

Raised Beds

We have constructed growing boxes made of pieces of 2×12 untreated wood nailed together with galvanized nails and reinforced at the corners with galvanized steel braces.   Some of these boxes are 2′ x 2′, while others are larger: 3′ x 3′ and 3′ x 6′.  These “boxes” are really just frames because there is no bottom.  We leave the bottom open to allow worms to get in the garden dirt and work their magic.  The only pre-preparation we do is the removal of sod underneath the box, followed by a layer of hardwood mulch to discourage weeds.  The boxes are then filled with a mixture of organic dirt and compost.

Spring of 2011, we added another raised bed that measures 4′ x 8′ and 6″ high.  We placed this in the sunniest part of the yard and filled it with summer vegetables.

Culinary Herbs

The herb garden is what started it all.  In the Spring of ’09, we built an herb garden using retaining wall stones near our back door.  We purchased some herbs from a local nursery and dropped them into organic potting soil, including: (2) sweet basil, (2) English thyme, (2) culinary sage, (3) chive bunches, 1 marjoram plant, (2) varieties of oregano and, for decoration and smell, (2) curry plants.  Since then, we’ve added spearmint, peppermint, curly and flat-leaf (Italian) parsley and two rosemary bushes.  Spring 2011 we added tarragon, stevia, more chives, fennel and dill.

Veggie Varieties

We love vegetables, so most of our gardening efforts focus on growing them!   We’ve had success with carrots, lettuce, broccoli and spinach during winter.   Last summer was a struggle getting bell peppers, beans and tomatoes to produce due to the extremely hot weather (peppers and tomatoes stopped setting fruit).  We’ve also struggled with powdery mildew on our curcubits (cucumbers, squash and zucchini).

For Spring/Summer 2011, we’ve growing habaneros, jalapenos, bell peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe.

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Honeybee enjoying the Mexican Heather

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Flowers and Native Plants for the Butterfly Garden

In the first year, the yard was colored by a few flowering plants:  1 bougainvillea, 1 hibiscus, 1 lobelia, 2 snapdragons, a handful of alyssum, 1 cuphea and 1 lantana.  That started the butterfly garden fever.

The following spring, I built two additional beds and packed them with flowering plants for our butterfly garden.  Those beds are home for Texas Lantana, Trailing Lantana, Sweet Alyssum, Prairie Moss Verbena, Black-Eyed Susans, Mexican Mint Marigold, Butterfly Weed,  Common Milkweed, Salvia Greggi, Fall Aster, Indigo Spires Salvia, Four Nerve Daisies and Zexmenia.  We also let our parsley and fennel flower and go to seed since they are wonderful nectar sources and host plants for swallowtail butterflies.  In addition to these, I planted a Double Knock-Out rose bush and two Whirling Butterfly Gauras.  Please visit our plant profile page to learn more about all of these plants.

The wildflower patch along the back fence put on a great Spring show of color in 2010 with over ten varieties of Texas wildflowers.  Spring 2011 was disappointing, and rather than let the bed sit empty, I opted to turn it into a perennial bed for the butterfly garden.  Now we have Maximillian sunflowers, Fern Leaf lavender, Mexican mint marigold, trailing lantana, Texas lantana, euryops, cuphea, red pillar salvia, and lobelia growing there.

As another addition last summer, we germinated thirty milkweed seeds and later transplanted them to a long bed along the north fence line.   Several plants returned in the spring 2011, but those that didn’t make it will be replaced by newly germinated seeds and milkweed cuttings.  We should have about fifty plants for Monarchs to enjoy.

Continuing the gardening fever, I put in a small bed in the front yard and put two Texas (Desperado) Sage bushes in there along with fifteen red pillar sage and fifteen lobelia plants.

 

Comments on: "About Us" (34)

  1. Hi, I’d love to see you double-post your entries to Austin Post (www.austinpost.org) and help spread your love of gardening and all the lessons you’ve learned from it. Please email me at lyssa@austinpost.org.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  2. KUDOS !! Great minds think alike. You’re a step ahead of us. Got the house built now the garden. I’ll check back in periodically. Again, good job!

  3. Oh, almost forgot. We’re in Georgetown.

  4. Great post and lovely healthy herbs. I too love to grow what we eat and grow it organically. Someone asked me if I get bugs. I rarely, rarely ever do. I think the good bugs and nourished soil take care of themselves.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Thanks for stopping by, Gloria. And good for you for growing organically! I think you are right about having healthy soil. I have had a few bug problems here and there (flea beetles on my pepper plant last summer and aphids destroyed my squash, zucchini and cucumbers, green loopers on my basil), but you win some and you lose some. The bugs get their share every once in awhile! For the most part, though, insects haven’t been an issue. If they are, usually a good soap/garlic/fish emulsion/red pepper spray seems to work!

  5. Janice Grassel said:

    I love reading your blog and would like more information.
    Thanks, Janice

    • roundrockgarden said:

      thanks, Janice! i try to pass on as much information as i can – can you tell me what additional sorts of info you want to see?

  6. Hi I love your blog. Round Rock has a new community garden you may be interested in. It is just now getting started but you may want to come out and visit.

    If you’d like to come out a visit let me know. We’d love it if you blogged about it. Here’s our website. http://www.UnityParkCG.org

    It is located off of Gattis School Road.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Hey Holli! I checked out your site … I’ve seen the plot on Gattis School Road, but have never been. I will definitely have to come by and check it out.

  7. Great lifestyle choice! It is terrific you are blogging about your experience with organic gardening. Your plants look very happy and healthy! Brava! ;>)

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Thanks for the nice comment. I’m happy to share my experiences … some good, some bad. I’ve found that most of my plants like my care and company. MOST, but not all. :P

  8. Glynis Smith said:

    Hello. I’m Glynis Smith in Granite Shoals & I think my editor will be asking for a one-day wonder story on planting broccoli at this time of year for the Gardening column that appears occasionally in Lake Country Life Magazine, the travel & entertainment insert to The Highlander, Burnet Bulletin & Llano County Journal.

    Each story must be accompanied by an image & I notice you have some nice ones. We don’t have a budget to pay for images, but will always include a credit. The production department prefers 300 KB or better. If you have some comment on any success you have had with a Jan/Feb planting of broccoli, I’d like to quote you as well. Thanks in advance G.Smith

  9. Pittsburgh gardener said:

    I am a member of Dave’s Garden, where I found several entries for thyme plants with non-pink flowers. Sadly however, I can’t find any fellow members with any to share. Nor can I seem to find the plants for sale anywhere. Whilst Googling, I came upon your blog entry “yellow creeping thyme plants”. Is there any chance you collected seeds or could spare some babies?

    • roundrockgarden said:

      unfortunately no, i did not. in fact, i hope to find more locally this year as the other i planted did not fare well over the dry fall and winter. i originally found them at Round Rock Gardens here in town …

  10. Howdy neighbor! My family and I live just down the road in Hutto. We just planted our first “Pizza Pot” this last weekend. Essentially, we took a large (~2′) container and planted: Black Krim Heirloom Tomatoes, Valencia Orange Bell Peppers, Garlic Chives, Compact Oregano, Tri-color Sage, Tarragon, and Genovese Basil. Can’t wait to taste the results!! Thanks for the good info — I look forward to checking back later in the season! :)

    • roundrockgarden said:

      That’s a great idea, Dallas. My mouth is watering just thinking of the finished pie! If you would like a handful of oregano and/or thyme to help make the sauce, look me up. I’d be happy to part with some!

  11. Patricia Hartley said:

    Where might I locate Sedum Autumn Joy (Telephium)?
    Everywhere I tried to buy it sold other varieties of Sedum or sold Autumn Joy which really wasnt telephium. Please contact me at [redacted] if you can help me.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      I’ll try to help as best as I can. It looks like you’re in the Humble/North Houston area, so I cannot really recommend any local nurseries for you. I found my Autumn Joy at a local nursery in Round Rock.

      My first answer was, “Gee, I really don’t know!” Then I looked into this a bit more for you.

      Both “Sedum” and “Telephium” are within the family of plants known as Crassulaceae. Sedum is a genus of that family and is more commonly known as “Stonecrop”. Depending upon where you do your research, sedum is often used synonymously with the genus hylotelephium. Some of my research indicates that “hylotelephium” is now considered its own genus where before it was included within the sedum genus. Either way, telephium is a species of the hylotelephium/sedum genus. In fact, hylotelephium telephium is often used synonymously with sedum telephium. I am unsure what the difference is – if any – and the classification as “hylotelephium telephium” may just be a newer way of classifying the telephium species of plants. It also appears that “Autumn Joy” is a cultivar of telephium.

      Now, isn’t that as clear as mud?

      I think if you are looking for Autumn Joy, you would do well finding the plant by its common name: Autumn Stonecrop or even Sedum “Herbstfreude”. Both are considered
      Autumn Joy sedum. So, without knowing what your local nurseries call the sedum, I hope this helps you in your search. It really is a beautiful flowering plant in the autumn and a great foliage plant the rest of the year.

  12. dwhitsett said:

    Very well done blog with good information. I garden in Abilene where the conditions can be a real challenge. Under current conditions: heat and drought, we are really having a struggle but so far so good. All the best as you garden sustainably and eat healthily.
    Dwight

  13. Where did you buy your bat guano and worm castings? I’ve looked alot of places.HEB Plus used to sell 40lb bags of bat guano,but not anymore.Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Chris – sorry for the delayed response. I bought my large bag of guano at HEB and they also carry small bags of worm castings (I shop at the HEB Plus store in Round Rock that has the Texas Backyard attached to it. You can also find both of these in large bags at local nurseries. Round Rock Gardens carries them and I think I’ve seen them at other local nurseries as well. Good luck!

  14. Peter Dallman said:

    Just FYI..Alaska Fish Emulsion is NOT an organic product. It states derived from organic matter, but it is a Lily Miller product and as I have been told by organic farmers in my area (Hood River, Oregon) is not truly organic. E.B. Stone produces an organic certified fish emulsion with kelp which I use and unfortunately is more expensive than the Alaska product.

  15. Sue McCormick said:

    What information do you have about growing and harvesting Cilantro? In Texas this herb is used in many dishes and we would like to have it in our herb garden. Your site is excellent and I hope you keep it going. It is one of the most informative I have seen for Texas gardening. Thank you for doing the research and posting it for the rest of us to see.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Thank you, sue! I wish I had time to do more with this blog but I’ve left it up in hope that someone will find it helpful! From what I remember cilantro needs to be planted annually and likes medium watering and shade from late afternoon sun.

  16. I was wondering how I could help some black swallow tail catapillars. All summer long have been hatching beautiful swallowtails ; weather is getting colder andthey are just dying. What can I do?

  17. hi

    we have a house in westlake, austin, 78746.. we have deer there .. can you please suggest :

    1) deer resistant plants

    2) plants that need low or no maintenance … but arnet like cactus?

    we are out of the nation and have tenants, but we want to plant .. and make it green .

    thanks
    Mila

    • one more question.. what times are good to plant?

      thanks
      mila

      • Now! You’re good putting most transplants into the ground through May – before the weather gets too hot. They will likely require regular watering until well-established. The Natural Gardener in Austin is a great nursery to check out for local varieties and Texas natives.

      • You can pretty much plant any time of the year in Central Texas. The problem I see most often is that people plant and don’t water enough, especially during warmer months. Certain plants can take a season or two to get really established, during which time you’ll have to water them deeply and regularly. Once established, many will be quite hardy and drought-tolerant.

    • Luckily, here in Texas, we have a variety of Texas natives, perennials and grasses that are deer resistant AND, since they’re well-suited for our area, are drought-tolerant and low-maintenance (and NOT cacti or succulents). A very thorough list of those plants can be found on the Aggie Horticulture site. Not all suggested varieties deter all deer all of the time!

      You can cross-reference many of those (i.e. salvia greggii, copper canyon daisy, rosemary, Mexican mint marigold, lantana, zexmenia etc.) with our own page on Texas Natives and Flowering shrubs. Many of those flowering plants require very little watering once established and may only need a yearly trim to maintain. Good luck!

  18. Heather said:

    Is the butterfly house open on weekends?

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