Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer Watering Tips

It's summer time, which is tough on plants in our home gardens. Here's some great advice from Merredith Giles of the Great Outdoors on how to water wisely.

A few high points:
First, get your plants on a sensible watering schedule. Most plants, even newly planted, should not need to be watered every day, if watered properly. A good watering is long and slow, allowing water to permeate the soil on multiple levels and reach deep into the root ball and surrounding soil. I am often amazed as I watch my neighbors shoot a hose at their flower beds for 20-30 seconds and then tell me they are “watering”. I spend at least 5 minutes watering areas that need it.
If you have a sprinkler system, it should run at least 20-30 minutes per zone, but no more than twice a week. When it gets really hot, I would like to see a short cycle, maybe 5 minutes, to “prepare” the soil to accept water, then a longer, 15-20 minute cycle, to soak in.
If your plant is watered well and still wilts to a full droop every day, perhaps it is not the right plant for the area.
Don't forget, Cherrywood hoodies, that we're under Stage 1 watering restrictions in Austin.

Why are we talking about home landscapes in a blog about a greenbelt? Well, conserving water in our home gardens keeps water in our aquifers and lakes, and watering wisely can lead to less run-off and protects our creeks. It can also keep plants alive better (and more efficiently) to support wildlife that is shared with the Reach.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cabbage Whites

Folks, the cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae) are all over the butterfly garden and the Reach today. Flitter flitter flitter.

This is an awful photo I took with an iPhone of one of them sipping nectar from our new Zexmenia flowers. Caterpillars of this species host on plants in the cabbage and mustard families.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Reach in 1997

At last week's meeting with the city, we were shown photos of what the Reach looked like in 1997. Oh wow, it looked awful - almost like a scar.

Now, it's a lush wildlife wonderland, and that's thanks in every part to the hard work and dedication of vocal neighbors who have advocated for the Reach over the last decade or so. THANK you to all!

What's happened is that the banks are now filled with willows, sycamores, cottonwoods, mulberries and tons of other plants (native and non), because neighbors advocated for the city to stop mowing and chopping them down. Those branches and roots are now providing habitat for wildlife and holding the banks together to prevent further erosion.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great News: City Project Will Not Proceed As Planned

Neighborhood representatives met with City Staff (Mike Kelly, Chris Calvery, George Walker, Mateo Scoggins, and Roxanne Jackson) last night to discuss the planned Watershed Department project.

The City team explained that the Reach - through the determined efforts of neighbors and Nature over the years - is already much more healthy that it was when they originally assessed it in 1997. After performing some comparative measurements and a new assessment, they also found that very little to no new erosion has occurred since 1997. (Pictures and more to come soon.)

To make a long story short, the City Staff reassessed the condition of the creek and have determined that there's no need to proceed with the current plan!

That is not the end of the story, of course!

The two waste water lines crossing the creek must be dealt with, and there are other possible outcomes for the project. City Staff will be present at the CNA Quarterly on May 19 to update the hood. That will also officially begin our NEW process for looking at changes to the Reach, primarily related to the waste water lines. The neighborhood will begin meeting with the City on a monthly basis in July to talk about how they will deal with the waster water lines, how we might decrease pollution in the creek my installing rainwater swales, how we might increase wildlife habitat, and etc.

There will be lots of opportunity for neighborhood involvement and input, and I'm positive that this new direction will be very good for the Reach!

Thanks to the folks who attended last nights meeting and thanks to the City Staff for their willingness to reassess their proposed plan and stop it from moving forward.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mowed Again: Before and After

Before and after photos of the Reach, which was just mowed down again by the Watershed Department. One of these years, we're going to figure this maintenance thing out and have healthy wildflower meadows...

Monday, May 3, 2010


The mulberries are completely off the hook this year. The trees along the banks of the creek are just dripping with ripe berries. Most of the mulberry trees produce deep black berries when ripe, but keep an eye out for the white mulberries whose ripe berries are just a shade pink of white.

I've seen tons of people out there picking berries.

Neighbors: What are you doing with your berries? Leave your response as a comment.

Myself? I made a big ol' mulberry cobbler. YUM.