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Keyhole Gardening Review

Last week there was an article about Key Hole Gardening in the Dallas Morning News.  Read it  here.  In my opinion it did not elaborate enough on our beautiful efforts to teach Dallas County citizens about this garden survival method.

Annette teaching Keyhole Garden concepts.

Annette teaching Keyhole Garden concepts.

Our garden is located at 2311 Joe Field Road in Dallas, 75229. We share Dallas County property with the county’s Automovie Service Center and have been making gardens and teaching opportunities at this location since 2005.

Our aim is  to teach Dallas County residents sound horticultural practices combined with a heart for our natural resources.

We harvest rainwater to water our gardens and use drip irrigation.  Keyhole gardening uses less water and has naturally become a component of our education.

Another view of our Keyhole Garden

Another view of our Keyhole Garden

For an extensive education about Keyhole gardening, please review Annette’s writing on the subject.

As gardeners and stewards of our patch of dirt at 2311 Joe Field Road, we will always strive to present the less intrusive ways of gardening using the least amount of water and no pesticides.  Our gardens and our hearts thrive with this approach and through this blog and our classes, field trips and harvest to table presentations, we want to share what we have learned with you.

Thank goodness for the rain last week which filled out 2-2500 gallon rainwater harvesting tanks with water for our gardens!


National Lemonade Day-May 5, 2013

Lemonade With Mint

Mint or Lavender LemonadeMake a simple syrup in a saucepan – ¾ cup sugar, ½ cup water, ¾ cup packed fresh mint leaves (for lavender lemonade substitute 1 ½ tablespoons dried lavender flowers for fresh mint). Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, & cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat & let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a sieve, catching liquid in large measuring cup, pressing mint leaves to extract liquid. In large pitcher, combine sugar syrup with 1 2/3 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 4 cups ice & 4 cups water (or more, to taste). Pour into glasses or Mason jars (I had 1 pint size; we filled them half-full w/lemonade, then added ice cubes), garnish with lemon slices & sprig of mint. Makes 6-8 servings. Note: I doubled this recipe and served it to our volunteers after our field trip with West Dallas Community School on Tuesday. Refreshing-just like being with kids in the garden.


Recipe from The Dallas Morning News

To read more about National Lemonade Day, click here.

Mosquitofish: The Little Fish That Can

This summer, residents of Dallas County have seen a record number of cases of West Nile virus, a serious and sometimes fatal disease spread by mosquitoes. The County has tried to slow the spread of mosquitoes by fogging neighborhoods with insecticide and even spraying from airplanes crisscrossing the affected areas.  Who would have thought that a small, dull-grey fish saddled with a genus name Gambusia (derived from the Cuban Spanish for “useless”) would play an important role in controlling West Nile?

Here at the Demonstration Garden, our small pond is stocked with these one to three inch fish (and one gold fish!) that are enthusiastically contributing to “natural” mosquito control.

Field Trip Participants from Grace Academy Searching Our Pond For Gambusia

Gambusia affinis  is more commonly known as mosquitofish because of its affinity for consuming large amounts of mosquito larvae.  It is estimated that adult females can consume 100 mosquito larvae a day and can eat more than their body weight a day (and they don’t even get fat!!)  Young are born alive and a female can give birth to about 60 babies, several times a year.  Mosquitofish can live in relatively inhospitable environments such as those with low oxygen concentrations and high temperatures.  This means that they can live in small, un-aerated ponds and, importantly in the war on West Nile, stagnant, unused swimming pools.  Many cities, starting in 2008 in California and now in Dallas, are using mosquitofish as mosquito control in stagnant ponds and ditches.

As with anything, one can get too much of a good thing.  Native fish in a stock pond or lake, and even goldfish and koi in an ornamental pond, already eat mosquito larvae.  The introduction of mosquitofish outside their natural range has proved damaging to smaller native fish because of the mosquitofish’s aggressive nature and competition for food   Still, the little fish, that in Russia helped eradicate malaria and has a monument dedicated to it, is one of several weapons for West Nile control in Dallas.  Who knows…. this little fish might save your life.



Dividing Iris At The Demonstration Garden

There are many paradoxes in gardening: bury something so it will live, divide to multiply, prune to bear more fruit.

We have a trove of blue Iris at the Demonstration Garden and it is time to divide them. Watch this video to learn the art of  satisfactory Iris division: 

 Our Iris  were purchased from the Iris Society of Dallas Public Sale. This year it is scheduled for September 15, 2012, from 9am to 1pm or until sold out at Northhaven Gardens.

Dig further into Iris information via the Dallas Morning News here.


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