Friday, March 21, 2008

Vegetables on Lady Bird Lake

Between hardware and software updates chez Vert, lots of gardening, and a holiday, I'm far behind on my blogging. I've got a few posts to make but will start with the one I'm most proud of.

As part of Green Corn Project's tenth anniversary, we wanted to find a public gardening space to celebrate our ten years and to show the general public what we do. Most of our organic food gardens are in the front and back yards of families and individuals. Neighbors, friends, and families see these beds, but it's difficult for the general public to see them.

In February I saw the signs around Lady Bird Lake (I have to force myself to call it that; I love the name, but Town Lake comes out of my mouth almost before I can stop myself) mentioning an auction of the garden beds around the lake. Town Lake Trail Foundation leases the beds for one year as a fundraiser to help pay for their other improvement efforts around the lake.

Through a combination of GCP funds, private donations, and one generous anonymous sponsor, the bed became ours.

This is how the bed, on the north side, just west of the Pfluger pedestrian bridge, looked in February.

This is how it looks now, from a slightly different angle:

(The sage plants in the top photo were much larger on Saturday than they were in February. They were divided, and some replanted on the upper tier of the bed. The miscanthus just visible on the far right found a new home in my compost bin. The city is beginning to consider this grass invasive, which is why we did not transplant it.)

With the help of some great volunteers, we double dug the space, about 4 feet by 28 feet with one redbud in the middle, added cotton burr compost, and planted the starter vegetables donated by Big Red Sun.

It was great to be out there working when so many people walked, ran, and biked by. Some stopped to ask questions; most didn't break stride but still yelled out their "thanks" or "looks great" as they ran past.

We've planted tomatoes, eggplants, hot peppers, Aztec corn (seeded along the wall), two kinds of oregano--regular and variegated, two kinds of basil--lemon and curly purple, and creeping thyme.

Like all projects, this one has not been without its challenges. I need to go check on the bed this afternoon make sure that the tomatoes survived last night's cool temperatures. I still need to make and add our garden marker. I really hope that no critters, especially the terrifying nutria, decide to visit the bed.

And the biggest challenge will be watering this bed. We chose this site because it is one of the few irrigated beds on the lake. Or it was one of the few irrigated plots, until condo construction north of Cesar Chavez necessitated turning off the irrigation, indefinitely.

So if you are passing by and the plants look a little too spent, please feel free to water them, or to send me a note to let me know. I am working on getting a group of volunteers to help out with the watering.

I hope this post has now jumpstarted my efforts to finish an article on the bed for Edible Austin. The issue won't be out until June, but due to publishing schedules is due tomorrow. Eek!


  1. Neat project. I've seen the volunteers plots down at the lake, but I've never seen them sown with vegetables.

    Say it ain't so about the invasiveness of miscanthus grass. I just discovered its beauty last year, and I don't know if I could give it up!

  2. Ours is the first and only with vegetables! I checked on it last night, and all seemed well. I spied on the folks walking by the bed, and was happy to hear "cool, tomatoes."

    The city has to approve the designs for the beds. Our garden neighbor to the east tried to include miscanthus in his plan and was turned down.