“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
When we began this project Memorial Day weekend, it seemed that eight weeks of plastic ‘cooking’ would seem quite a long time.
Until it didn’t. (Where did summer go?)
As the race began for plastic to break down with daily UV bombardment, I was already searching for another 20-yard load of chipped trees. The tell-tale sound of an industrial wood-chipper in the distance usually gets me moving. Thankfully, the neighbors were having tree work done and didn’t want to keep the debris, so I conspired to have it all delivered straight to my driveway.
At the end of their work day, the crew was only too happy to oblige, emptying their truck for free on my property rather than pay a fee to dump at the compost yard.
Free for them and me … everybody wins.
From Their Yards To Mine
Keep it Covered.
If you don’t have something green growing (or plastic keeping things from growing) it’s super-important to cover bare soil with something thick and brown. If you don’t, I can guarantee you grasses and other plants you don’t want will take over.
Green mulch? Pick your weed. Brown mulch? Pile it thick.
Mulching is Nature’s secret to keeping the soil microorganisms and animals happy and healthy. Soil is a living organism, and my intentional killing of grasses with plastic film also sterilizes the soil directly underneath. Using a thick cover of moistened carbon material — leaves, cardboard, or chipped trees watered well — invites the creatures who repair dead soil to come back. They do all the good work, but you have to moisten it well first.
Saturated carbon mulches become a flashing neon sign for the underworld beings: COME UP FOR DINNER! Before long, populations of mycorrhizal fungi and earthworm and soil beetles make their way back in, ready to aid the young grasses and wildflowers planted as they establish.
Goodbye turf grass. Hello pocket prairie foundation!
Dead grass (left), Mulch (right)
I was privileged this month to attend Prairie 201 held at Deer Park’s Lawther Prairie by the Native Prairie Association of Texas’ Houston Chapter. It was a fantastic and slightly over-whelming day of learning all about prairie ecosystems, how to create a healthy environment for insects and native plant species, how to identify these species and propagate seeds from them. I met so many wonderful people who are at least as enamored with the coastal prairie as I am … perhaps even more.
Next month, I begin classes to become a Texas Master Naturalist. It’s high time for me to get real with it already.
Lawther Prairie — History Lesson
Temporary Netted Captives
How many can you count?
(More than 100!)
Live tick (bottom) with dead ones.
It was picked off a classmate indoors. *shudder*
Partridge Pea — Bees LOVE these!
Prairie Blazing Star
Whorled Milkweed — So TINY.
These wild and Texas native species are just a teaser for what I hope will grace our backyard pocket prairie. In the manicured and managed landscape that is the Houston suburbs, a little bit of wild paired with stewardship (on my part) is a great way to bring Nature right on in. As we watch natural habitats get destroyed for more and more human habitat (aka houses, restaurants, roads) it sure feels good to be giving just a little bit back.
The process of nature tends to be slow and purposeful, and though waiting is the hardest part in my own gotta-have-it-now existence, I know this project will be well worth it in the long game.
Plastic film gets pulled, recycled.
10 wheelbarrows down,
only 60 more to go.
Here’s hoping that the unseasonably cool weather Houston is currently enjoying last justs a few more days … before the oppressive heat that is always August arrives on schedule.