For the past three years, I have been putting in my winter garden the second weekend of October. I was hesitant to plant anything given our “worst drought in Texas history” status. Thus, I decided to go cheap this year by only using seeds, as opposed to a mix of seeds and transplants (you can buy one plant for about $2.00 vs. 100 seeds for $2.00). This way, in case the weather does not cooperate, I would not be out that much money. (And it doesn’t look like it will….read on…)
It felt good to get back in my garden and rub my hands through the dirt and compost. I’m pretty proud of my soil–each year it gets better and better. That is the secret to good crops, you know–it’s all in the soil.
Not only did I go cheap this year, but I went easy. The plants I chose are mainly a mix of greens and herbs, though I couldn’t resist planting beets (which always seem to do well for me) and turnips (first time!). Plants in which you only eat the greens (lettuce, arugula, dill, cilantro, bok choi are some I planted) do not need as much energy as plants that produce a fruit or flower in which you will eat–tomatoes, squash, cabbage, broccoli. Less energy also means less water, which I feel is my only choice right now.
Two weekends ago it did rain. In fact, over 2 inches fell at my house. For the first time since last winter, my rain barrels are full!!!!!!!!!!!!
So that’s the good news. It rained–really rained–for the first time in 7 months. I actually celebrated the occasion in style by taking a walk through Zilker Park and along Town Lake with Dixie by my side. We returned to the house both soaking wet.
But the good news ends there as I read this headline in the Austin American-Statesman: No More Outdoor Watering in Austin by Spring? This article scares the bijesus out of me as I know that this could be a reality awaiting us just around the corner. My grand Cedar Elms in the backyard could die. All my native plants would even have a hard time surviving. And gardening food, forget it. A reader commented at the end of the article that the City should have enacted Stage 1 and 2 water restrictions earlier in the summer; I could not agree more. Throughout the whole dreadfully awful summer of 2011, I questioned why we were allowed to water twice a week or hand-water anytime. Give me a break! It also angers me to think that the City would ban all watering–can you equate watering St. Augustine with native plants that provide habitat for fauna or what about golf courses and community gardens? Are they equal? (I’m curious if Austin’s Sustainable Food Policy Board will take up this issue in the coming months…)
Anyway, its a sad way to end this blog entry, but the situation here in TX is dire. And Gov. Slick Hair Perry, you better keep praying for rain (and for a better debate coach).