Award Winning Fantasy with a Twist!
Gardening in Texas is not for the faint of heart. Not only do we have long, hot summers, this past winter, we had a week of snow. Easterners may laugh, but most Texans were not prepared for this, even before ERCOT turned off the power. Our pretty succulents and tropicals didn’t stand a chance.
So over Spring Break, I cleaned up and got the garden prepped. I had to cut down a Mexican Fencepost cactus as its limbs had gone black, but the lemon tree I carefully wrapped every evening for a week only lost its leaves. So something to celebrate, particularly as the Texas wildflowers in the back disintegrated into a gelatinous mass that grass was starting to come through. That bed was going to need another layer of newspaper before replanting!
Poking around, I found the cardboard I’d laid down to smother the grass had not disintegrated. The average time for carboard to break down is 2 months, definitely by the end of summer in Florida. That long, dry summer in Texas? Not so much. Even the snow hadn’t made a dent. But since I was mound planting anyway, I ordered dirt from Home Depot to build up the flower beds. (I actually have a plan – feel free to download this spreadsheet if you’d like one.)
Fresh dirt attracted flies last summer, so the first thing to go in was herbs. They may be great to cook with or turn into sachets or tisanes, but before harvesting, they’re wonderful insect deterrents! You know that saying about how everything is bigger in Texas? Our bugs take it to heart.
Some herbs grow well in shade, so peppermint, spearmint, cilantro, parsley, and oregano make nice house borders. And as it turns out, bats aren’t crazy about the smell either. This is important because the cat seems to think that little furry brown bodies are just the thing to share! She gargles happily as she spits out that sodden lump that’s just playing dead and then cries when I go running to capture it in a dustpan and pitch it outside again.
But the real insect challenge came when I put in bulbs. Turns out raised flowerbeds soaked in snow are perfect pillbug incubators. Enough nibbles will damage plants and bulbs are too expensive to share, so I started looking for an eco-friendly solution. I stumbled across a couple of articles that said put out beer and figured why not? A cup of Coors in an empty cat food can wasn’t going to cost much. The final count was four full cans every day for a week before the pillbug parade stopped and the bulbs sprouted. Who knew pillbugs were such booze hounds?
The fact that my neighborhood possum also came sniffing around was another incentive to ease off the beer. Though there’s nothing funnier that a possum sidling up to your flowerbeds, nose twitching. Beer? Who me? No, I’m not looking for a – drink, you say? Why, thank you!