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Through the Garden Gate, Monday

Cindy, at My Corner of Katy, suggested to me that we start a tradition of posting a picture each Monday of a panoramic view of our garden, typically from the same vantage point each week. I love the idea, so I can see how my baby-garden progresses and grows. We would love for everyone to join in that wants to, so that we can all share in the seasonal changes and growth habits of our outdoor worlds.

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Cindy has been doing this for several weeks now, and I’m just now joining in. And a day late, at that. I did take the photos Sunday evening, but didn’t get a chance to process pictures until Monday night. So here is my garden, standing at my gate, with my Path of Choices. You can see that it is filled in a bit more from when I did the hardscaping and added a new bed a month ago.

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I’ve been wondering why my plants seem to be behind in growth compared to other Austin gardens. I know of one reason – lack of sunshine. Because of the nature of the trees and houses around me, my southside backyard doesn’t get much direct sun until the sun climbs higher into the sky nearer to summer. Usually in May I can claim one area of the yard to have almost 6 hours total sun off and on throughout the day, which qualifies as a sunny bed. Plants that really enjoy the sunshine just won’t work here, but I can coax blooms from Esperanza and Hibiscus, even if they aren’t as prolific as they might be in more sun. Other parts of my yard will get about 4 hours per day – qualifying as partial shade. But prior to May, I just don’t get that much direct sun, so the plants are slow to get started.

I also end up sometimes overwatering, despite my desire to conserve. Because so many of my plants are new and our drought is so severe, I have to water enough to keep those shallow baby roots growing. But then the clay underneath absorbs all that moisture, and my older plants with deeper roots don’t like the constant wetness. It’s a balancing act right now. And again with the drought, the plants are being watered with city water instead of rain, which doesn’t help the nutrition levels. Last year I lost several plants – some to drying out and some to drowning. You can tell I’m not so good with that balancing act just yet.

However, things are looking a bit chlorotic, so I decided to do a home soil test. Despite compost, seaweed and fish emulsion, my soil is nitrogen depleted. It is clay, after all, with lots of mulch. Both of these things suck the nitrogen out of the soil. And then suck the life out of the plants.

I went to Natural Gardener and picked up John’s Recipe in the liquid form. I’ll spray once a week until things get more established, then back off to every 2-3 weeks. Next season I’m going to have to break down and remove the mulch and put John’s Recipe in the pellet form directly into the soil to keep the soil fertile. And by then, hopefully the plants will have a bit better root system and I can water a bit less frequently.

It will be interesting for me to watch the progress as my soil improves, the sun gets higher in the sky and my plants get older. Won’t you join us?

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