Friday, May 23, 2008

A Fabulous Day

Ed and Tatiana filming our new tomato cages.

If you had told me three years ago that I would be taping a segment of Central Texas Gardener and speaking about vegetable gardening as if I knew something about the subject, I would have thought you had inhaled too much manure.

But there I was on a slightly overcast Thursday morning (the best for filming! said Linda), talking about the Green Corn Project bed on Lady Bird Lake. Talking about how people have embraced the garden--every time I go water it, I meet more people who have been following its progress and worrying about it, especially after the strong storm a couple of weeks ago. Talking about how my plant failures make our new gardeners feel a little more confident that if I can succeed, so can they.

CTG's fabulous producer Linda Lehmusvirta and GCP's executive director Meagan O'Donnell. If you look closely on the lower left, you'll see the calliope and Ichiban eggplant I gave Tatiana and the jalapenos I gave Ed.

Linda made me feel so at ease that I think I wasn't nervous. Only time and a TV viewing will tell for sure. My talking head portion was just one of a three-part segment on Green Corn Project. I missed the taping of our garden at Travis Heights Elementary. I was busy making sure that the Lady Bird Lake bed sparkled. (I also recruited my husband to run down to the bed with me and spread more mulch before his morning meeting.)

The third segment was a taping at Joan's garden. Joan is a new Green Corn Project gardener but not a new gardener. I'll tell you more of her story later, but in short she was a darling. Being a true gardener, she offered us seeds from her pink poppies. She and Linda have become fast friends.

Joan wisely uses as much space as she can to grow her own food. She cuts large plastic barrels in half to use as raised beds. One of my favorite planting places was her okra strip in the heck strip out front. I will definitely have to go back when the okra is taller.

As if the CTG taping weren't enough, I spent Thursday afternoon in my last class for the National Wildlife Federation's Habitat Stewards program. I really need to write more about this fabulous program put on by the city of Austin, in conjunction with NWF. And now that the class is finished I hope to have more time to do so!

In brief for now, the classes were held around Austin: Austin Science and Nature Center, private yards certified as wildlife habitats, Zilker Botanical Gardens, the Center for Environmental Research at Hornsby Bend, the Parks and Recreation Department, the First Unitarian Universalist Church, and the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve.

We learned about selecting trees and plants for wildlife; we learned about bees, birds, and butterflies; we learned about Dillo dirt and biosolids (really, it was interesting!); we learned about invasive plants and trees; we learned about water sources for wildlife; and of course, we learned how to get our yards certified as a wildlife habitat.

You can also push that certification and become a Best of Texas Habitat. Its guidelines are a bit more stringent than the standard NWF certification, which is why the city is going for it with its installation of a habitat at the Parks and Recreation Department headquarters on Lady Bird Lake.

PARD hopes to complete the project by this fall. Now that I have a little more time to tend to my own habitat, I plan to add a water feature--a simple birdbath for now--so I can get my yard certified. I know some of you have already had your yards certified, but if you haven't, now is the time.

The city of Austin is trying to
become Texas’ first National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat, and to do so, we need more yards to be certified. The city is also sponsoring a Habitat Challenge, with prizes for the neighborhood that certifies the most yards and conducts a invasive plant removal. For more details, click here. The challenge started May 1st and ends October 1st.

I'd love to hear what y'all are using for food, water, cover and places to raise young, as well as your sustainable gardening practices.

I feel like I've still got a bit of a hangover from all the gardening excitement of last week. I'm sure a holiday weekend, a Green Corn Project benefit last night, and the need to finally finish my wine-bottle garden edging has nothing to do with it.


  1. Wow, wow and much going on!
    All good! You are inspiring me to get out there and put my complaining self on the line and get involved! It is so very easy to complain about our city's lack of _____ (fill in the blank) would be better and easier for me to volunteer.

    Thanks for the nudge!


  2. Way to go, Vertie! I am so excited to see you on CTG. Do let us know when it airs.

    And you are right about Linda L. She's wonderful and knows how to put you at ease.

    I've certified my yard as a wildlife habitat too. It's easy to help Austin meet its goal, and I encourage everyone to do it.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for what you're doing to help beautiful Austin and encourage gardeners.

  3. How exciting to be part of the show and also part of those special organizations, Vertie! The Green Corn Garden on Lady Bird Lake sounds just wonderful.

    Let us know when your segment is televised, please! And it's so cool that like Pam, you now know Linda L. For most of us in Austin she's a familiar friendly face and a well-known voice.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. Wow! Way cool! You're doing some great things with the Green Corn Project and I'm glad that CTG spotlighted you.

    Thanks for reminding me about the Habitat Garden challenge. I need to see if I can qualify and get my neighbors involved. I know I'm provide an excellent habitat for toads, lizards, raccoons, and squirrels. I just need to look into the program again and see what else there is to do.

    Congrats, again.

  5. Thanks for the well wishes, gardeners. I am very proud of how GCP helps so many people and have so enjoyed getting to know our gardeners.

    The current plan is for the episode to air in November, but I will definitely keep you posted.

  6. All of those projects sound so cool. Be sure to let us know when to watch CTG.

  7. The lily is a blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis.)