RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Midway Hills Christian Church

More About our Rainwater Cistern Installation Class on October 15, 2015

Consider this an introduction by Dr. Dotty Woodson for our class Thursday.  We are looking forward to installing our rain cisterns at Midway Hills Christian Church and teaching the how-tos so that you can set up rainwater harvesting at your home or office and save water.

Date: Thursday, October 15

Time: 10am-12noon

Place: 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

Who: All are welcome!

Cost: $10 per person

Fall is here, 2015!

October is here and we’ve been fortunate to have  some sunny days, cooler weather, and an opportunity to garden at Raincatcher’s.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we moved from our Joe Field location.

We are blessed to be able to partner with Midway Hills Christian Church. The winter was filled with planning, building, composting and planting trees.

Spring brought much-needed and bountiful rain and the beginnings of our gardens, the transition of the courtyard,  as well as some opportunities to cook for others and share our new location.  

Summer came and the rain slowed, but our plantings were starting to take root and we have had our first harvests. So now it’s Fall, and it feels like Fall  with the buzzing of bees, the flutter of butterflies, the chatter of students on field trips,  and vegetable crops transitioning from summer to winter.

Episcopal School of Dallas field trip studying pumpkins

Episcopal School of Dallas field trip studying pumpkins

The demonstration grasses are coming through, the wildflowers have been prepared and planted and we are setting up the color wheel and planning for the “Under the Powerline” possibilities.  

The Color Wheel is Beginning to Take Shape

The Color Wheel is Beginning to Take Shape

The monumental task of the irrigation is almost complete and the water tanks have arrived and will be installed next week.  Oh what a busy year it has been; many hours have been logged by the Master Gardeners who call Raincatcher’s home.

 I wanted to take time to thank the amazing leadership team who has made this happen in one short year, (or at times very long). Your leadership has inspired us to dream big and then plan to make it a reality, to not be afraid to ask, to join with others in the community, and to share our gifts.  

The teamwork of all who work at this garden has been phenomenal.  We all have had opportunities to be challenged to make this the best demonstration garden that we can offer to the residents of Dallas County.

Starla's Serendipitous Ladybug Picture

Starla’s Serendipitous Ladybug Picture

 The ladybug nailed it!  We love Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.  Come and see what’s going on for yourself.

Starla 

Details about our Rainwater Harvesting Class on Thursday morning, October 15th will be on the blog tomorrow.

 

Butterfly Migration

Exciting things are going on at the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills – It’s now Fall and the irrigation is almost done – thanks to many hours of trenching, laying pipe, setting up the drip beds — the children are coming to the garden and exploring the area we have set aside for wildflowers, learning about vegetables, compost and the flowers that inhabit our butterfly areas — And we have had our first sighting of a tagged butterfly!

While out in the butterfly area, a small round dot was seen on a monarch that was feasting on some lantana. After closer inspection with the help of my trusty zoom lens on my camera, I realized that this butterfly had been tagged for its trip down south this winter.

A Butterfly From Kansas Visiting our Garden

A Butterfly From Kansas Visiting our Garden

Not exactly sure of what to do, I researched information about the Monarch Watch and the efforts to tag them. Turns out the process is relatively simple. Get the information from the tag and email it to the address or the phone number located on the tag, including the Number that is assigned to the monarch, the date and location spotted. I was able to send a picture, but that is not required.

After a couple of days, I received an email back from Kansas University stating that the information was received, but they were unable to tell me where the butterfly was originally tagged because the tagging information has not yet been submitted.   Hopefully we will hear about our little guy making it all the way to his destination — and then back again.

Keep your eyes out and your camera ready for these exciting visitors to our area and our gardens.  You may have a part in documenting their journey.

Starla

ITCHING IN THE BLUEBONNET FIELD

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush

I start itching when I think of wildflowers. I guess I was slow as a kid in linking cause and effect– wildflowers and chiggers– together. I would merrily gather an armload of Indian blanket and pink evening primrose in the field next door, and next thing I knew, I was covered with red dots that itched for a week. When we went traipsing through the fields in Ennis last spring, I didn’t sit in a bluebonnet patch for a picture. We just smiled—standing up.

You can’t help but grin when you see Texas wildflowers. Former first lady Laura Bush, who’s our neighbor at the Raincatcher’s Garden, says, “Spring is my favorite time of year in Texas…The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush that dot roadsides are more than just beautiful, they are indigenous symbols of our state.”

Well, it’s the season to dot roadsides. For us, that’s Midway Road. And we’re throwing not dotting.

The Raincatcher’s Garden borders on busy Midway Road, a six-lane artery running north-south through North Dallas. Next spring, about 20 feet of that boundary will be ablaze with “Texas-Oklahoma Native Roadside Mix” from Native American Seeds in tiny Junction, Texas. Texas bluebonnet, Indian blanket, greenthread, plain and lanceleaf coreopsis, purple coneflower, Mexican hat, winecup and Indian paintbrush plus a few more are in the mix.

Looking Across Midway Road of The Raincatcher's Garden, Wildflowers Srping 2016!

Looking Across Midway Road of The Raincatcher’s Garden, Wildflowers Spring 2016!

Planting in the fall gives seeds a chance to sprout or break seed dormancy. Some seeds need a chilling period (cold stratification). Others have a hard seed coat that needs to be worn down (scarification) before they can germinate. Following nature’s schedule gives seeds a chance to be ready for spring’s warm temperatures and rain.

The first step to spring wildflowers is to simply mow the existing vegetation as close to the ground as possible. Think scalping, but in the fall. Then take a sturdy metal rake, and pull aside the thatch for the compost pile. You want to have bare spots. Again using the rake, lightly till the surface of the soil no deeper than one inch. Any deeper, and you’ll disturb dormant weed seeds which could sprout. Smooth the area, again using your rake, and remove any leaf litter or debris.

Rustle around in the garage and find an adjustable, hand-carried mechanical seeder. Some species have small seeds that are hard to distribute evenly; paintbrush and bluebell seeds look like fairy dust. To scatter the seed, mix one part seed with four parts damp masonry sand, coffee grounds, perlite, potting soil or other carrier. Broadcast half of your seed/sand mixture in one direction. Refill your spreader and sow the other half in a direction perpendicular to the first sowing.

Happy seeds must get cozy with the dirt. The soil helps the seeds retain moisture for germination. The seed should either rest on the ground or at most be gently tamped down with a light stomp. Any more than 1/8” deep, and the seed may not have the energy to push through the dirt. Some of the seeds will be visible.

Opinions differ as to watering the seed. Some experts leave water up to the fall rains. Others, like butterfly expert Geyata Ajilvsgi, lay in soaker hoses. At the Raincatcher’s Garden, we’re going to try a little of both. Our new sprinkler system will be set to water the first few weeks to keep the newly planted soil from completely drying out, as suggested by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. As it gets cooler in the fall, the time between waterings can be longer.

We’re also going to plant some wildflowers outside of the sprinkler spray, and see if the fall rains are sufficient for growth. Wait until at least 50 percent of your wildflowers (of each species) have dropped their seeds before mowing in the spring. Use the highest setting on your lawnmower when mowing to keep from damaging emerging seedlings.

The Raincatcher’s Garden is getting some help planting wildflower seeds for next spring. Fourteen students in the Episcopal School of Dallas primer class have learned the story of Miss Rumphius, whose grandfather traveled the world and retired by the seashore. He asked his granddaughter, Alice (Miss Rumphius), to also travel and settle by the sea—and had one more request. He asked her to do something to make the world more beautiful.

Miss Rumphius gathered lupine seeds and scattered them along the Maine coast, as our visiting students will do with wildflowers along our roadside planting. They have mixed wildflower seeds with clay into little balls and will throw them on our wildflower area. Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, who worked tirelessly to preserve America’s natural landscapes, would be thrilled.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Ann

 

Dallas Morning News Talks Trees at The Raincatcher’s Garden

If there’s a spot in your yard that could use some shade, it’s time to think about planting trees.

Fall and winter are the best time to plant ornamental and fruit trees, arborists say.

“October, November, December — it’s the optimal time,” says Steve Houser, a certified arborist and a leader in the Dallas Citizen Forester Program.

Late-year planting allows roots to get established “before the summer blast furnace,” adds Eric Larner, an urban forestry specialist for Dallas County Master Gardeners.

“Our main planting season is probably November through March,” says Larner, 73, of Carrollton.

Larner helped select five trees planted in the master gardeners’ Raincatcher’s Garden at Midway Hills Christian Church. The garden, which includes a butterfly garden, flowers and vegetables, is designed to show the public what works.

The gardeners planted three oaks — a chinquapin (quercus muehlenbergii), Mexican white oak (quercus polymorpha) and Lacey (quercus glaucoides) — a cedar elm (ulmus crassifolia) and ginkgo (ginkgo biloba).

Notice that a live oak and red oak, two of the most popular trees in Texas, were not included.

“We need to get away from live oak and red oak,” Houser says. They are particularly susceptible to oak wilt, a disease that kills a tree, then spreads through the roots to kill other oaks nearby. Cedar elms are reliable, adaptable shade trees that are drought tolerant and turn golden yellow in the fall.

Larner says a ginkgo is part of the mix to add something a little unusual.

“The ginkgo is becoming more popular because it is drought tolerant and more likely to have fall color,” Larner says.

A ginkgo warning: Be sure it’s a male tree. Females produce stinky fruit, Larner says. “I don’t think retailers are selling females, but you need to check.”

When it comes to shade trees, probably the bigger the better. Trees with a dirt root ball wrapped in burlap are the best, but they are also more expensive, Larner says.

A container tree from a local big-box store can be fine, if it’s carefully selected and planted. If possible, ease a tree out of the container at the store to see if the roots are somewhat vertical or look more like a woven basket.

If the roots are wrapped around the root ball, they will need to be pulled out and even cut to keep them from strangling the tree after it’s planted.

The same guidelines apply to fruit trees, says Larry Stein, a specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Except he likes to plant even later.

“If I had my choice, I’d plant in the winter,” he says. January and February are his favorite time. Bare-root trees, those whose roots are usually wrapped with little or no soil, are more likely to be available. “They are cheaper,” Stein says, and you can see whether the roots are healthy. Often they are found at feed or farm supply stores.

Container-grown trees are more readily available, he says, and will do well if planted carefully. Ideally, fruit trees should be 3 to 4 feet tall. If they are taller, it’s best to trim the central trunk at the top. Side limbs should also be pruned, Stein says. Peaches, pears, plums and other fruits do well in Texas. Apples can grow but are subject to cotton root rot, Stein says.

Homeowners interested in the more unusual can try persimmons. The key, the arborists say, is to pick a tree and plant. The shade, and maybe fruit, will be well worth it.

Karel Holloway is a Terrell freelance writer.

 

Why plant a tree?

 

Trees provide shade.

 

They help clean air.

 

They can lower utility bills.

 

Roots hold soil in place.

 

Trees add value to property.

 

Choose the right tree

 

Decide what kind of tree you want. Will it primarily provide shade? Screening from an unwanted view? Fall color? Edible fruit?

 

Pick the right spot. Is there room for the size tree wanted? Remember to think about how far the tree will reach when it’s fully grown.

 

Will it interfere with driveways, walkways or the home’s foundation?

 

Will the selected tree interfere with power lines when it is full size?

 

Think about the amount of shade it will provide. Will it shade the home’s windows? When it’s full size, will it provide too much shade for grass or flowers to grow?

 

Does it have undesirable characteristics? Is there unwanted fruit? An unpleasant smell?

 

How to plant a tree

 

Select the proper site with appropriate soil type. Eric Larner, a Dallas urban tree specialist, says he ran into solid rock just a few inches down when helping plant at the master gardeners’ demonstration garden. The planters dug through the rock and planted. The tree didn’t do well, Larner says.

 

Measure the root ball and dig a hole 2 to 3 times the ball’s diameter.

 

The hole should not be too deep. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground.

 

If the hole is too deep, backfill with dirt taken from the hole. Steve Houser, a certified arborist, says it’s better to plant a tree too high than too far into the ground.

 

Remove the tree from the container. Make sure girdling roots are pulled or trimmed.

 

Place the tree in the hole and fill in with removed dirt. Fertilizer is not needed. Some compost can be mixed with the fill dirt, if desired. Larner says to be sure to stomp the dirt down so the tree won’t settle too much later.

 

Use a slow-running hose to thoroughly water the tree.

 

Put mulch around the newly planted tree, pulling it away from the trunk.

 

Protect the trunk with a purchased protector or slit the side of a 2-liter plastic bottle and place it around the trunk.

 

Water as necessary, depending on how dry the soil is. Houser says just poke your finger in the ground to see whether it’s damp a couple of inches down. Water if it’s dry.

 

SOURCE: Dallas Morning News research

More information about our tree selection here.

Berm and Tree Planting Video.

How to Plant a Bare Root Tree Video.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/dialog/share?app_id=375853655843043&href=http%3a%2f%2fshare.d-news.co%2fGh5kheK&display=popup&redirect_uri=https://socialize.dallasnews.com/GS/bookmark.aspx?close=true

School Days, Time to Schedule 2015 Field Trips!

Welcome to the RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN OF MIDWAY HILLS

A One-acre Garden Designed for Students to Learn about Nature

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher's Garden

West Dallas Community School Kids Enjoying a Field Trip to The Raincatcher’s Garden

In Our Garden Classroom:

Hold a Chicken

Smell an Herb

Find a Caterpillar

Plant a Seed

Taste a Vegetable Warm from the Sun

Feed a Compost Pile

Students are taught by Dallas County Master Gardeners, Gardening Experts with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension using Junior Master Gardener ® Curriculum aligned with Texas standardized testing.

 

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

Above: Field Trip and Master Gardeners and Visiting Chickens

 

Schedule a Free Field Trip by contacting dallasgardenbuzz@gmail.com or clicking on the School Field Trip Request Form.

 

Location:  THE RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN OF MIDWAY HILLS

11001 Midway Road, Dallas (between Forest & Royal Lanes)

 

 We’ll leave the Garden Gate Open for You

 More information about our Free School Field Trips: page one, page two

Pick a New Landscape Tree

When August does its best to scald North Texas, one is always amazed at the cooling effect of shade. Full sun can be tolerated only to quickly check the mail or move the hose, but one can actually enjoy a shady backyard with temperatures in the nineties.

Gardeners have long done the Tree Shade Two-Step, a dance performed in early morning hours. The only rule is to follow the welcome shade for work in the garden as the sun climbs higher in the sky.

In planning the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, we were blessed with the space to plant five demonstration trees. Trees can provide shade, of course, but when correctly chosen can enhance the aesthetics of your house and increase the value your home as well. We also wanted to pick trees that showed alternatives to the monoculture of red oaks and live oaks planted in Dallas.

Dallas County Master Gardener Eric Larner and I worked in January to pick a Chinquapin Oak, Mexican or Monterrey Oak, Lacey Oak, Cedar Elm, and an ‘Autumn Gold’ Ginkgo.

January Tree Planting

January Tree Planting

Oak wilt is a lethal fungal disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of live oaks and Texas red oaks in Texas. Red oaks and live oaks, probably the most planted trees in Dallas, are highly susceptible to oak wilt. White oaks, however are more resistant to the fungus.

Three of the new trees planted this spring fall in the white oak family: the Chinquapin, Mexican or Monterrey, and Lacey oaks.

The Chinquapin oak, sometimes spelled Chinkapin, Quercus muehlenbergii is tough enough to thrive in the neglect of a nearby post office parking lot. The Chinquapin has distinctive dark-green, saw-tooth leaves. Its narrow, rounded shape and resistance to diseases and pests endears the tree to homeowners. The Chinquapin is a Texas native and designated as a Texas Superstar by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. The tree should be planted in full sun and will grow to 50-60 feet tall and 30-50 feet wide.

Chinquapin Oak Tree

Chinquapin Oak Tree

The Mexican white oak or Monterrey oak Q. polymorpha is another tough, drought resistant tree.   The new growth is pinky-peach color, darkening to thick, leathery blue-green leaves. If cold enough, the leaves turn bronze in the fall. (In mild winters, the tree could retain some leaves.) The Texas native grows into an open spreading shape 35-45 feet tall and 25-40 feet wide in full sun.

Mexican White Oak or Monterrey Oak

Mexican White Oak or Monterrey Oak

The Lacey oak Q. laceyi is a gem in the oak family. The tree matures into a small, rounded shape 20-30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The leaves are peach-colored when young, maturing into a dusky bluish-gray (smoky) color above and a lighter color on the underside. Another Texas native, the tree is extremely drought resistant when established and gives yellow fall color.

Lacey Oak

Lacey Oak

With the cedar elm Ulmus crassifolia, we wanted to include a tree outside of the oak family that is a reliable beauty in the landscape. Instead of a ruler straight leader, cedar elms are known to adopt a wonderful irregular shape. The Texas native is deciduous, its small leaves showing yellow fall color. It flowers in late summer to fall, unlike most spring blooming trees. Cedar elms tolerate our heavy clay soil and grow to be 40-70 feet tall and 30-50 feet wide in full sun.

Cedar Elm Planted at The Raincatcher's Garden

Cedar Elm Planted at The Raincatcher’s Garden

Few trees are as stunning as a ginkgo Ginkgo biloba in the fall. It shimmers with brilliant yellow leaves, then drops them all at once. We planted the aptly named ‘Autumn Gold.’ The gingko is by far the most unusual of our tree quintuplet. Its fan- shaped leaves were part of the prehistoric landscape 200 million years ago, and the tree is often referred to as a living fossil. The gingko is found only in two small areas of China, and seeds are considered a delicacy in Japan and China. Plant only male trees grown from cuttings or grafted; female trees have an offensive smell! (Named varieties are male trees.) A gingko will slowly grow into an oval shape 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The trees have no pest problems.

Ginkgo Tree 'Autumn Gold'

Ginkgo Tree ‘Autumn Gold’

 Come see our new trees at the Raincatcher’s Garden and pick a new favorite for your yard.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Monterrey Oak and Lacey Oak pictures by http://www.wildflower.org

The Color Purple

One of the main tasks at The Raincatcher’s Garden right now is installing drip irrigation.  Our liscensed irrigator, Doug Andrews of Double D Landscapes is at the helm.

Doug Andrews, Double D Landscapes

Doug Andrews, Double D Landscapes

The process of irrigating a large garden like The Raincatcher’s Garden is cumbersome.  Purple has become our new favorite color and the reason is that our future plans include harvesting water collected from the roof of  nearby buildings. The color purple is used to identify pumps, tanks and pipes carrying reclaimed water for reuse. Purple or what looks like a pretty shade of lavender  means non potable or non drinkable water.  At our garden on Joe Field Road we had two large 2500 gallon cisterns collecting rainwater off our large shed. We don’t have them yet for our new garden and will judiciously use city water in the meantime. Anyone want to donate rainwater cisterns?

Purple Tubing  for Drip Irrigation Installed at The Raincatcher's Garden

Purple Tubing for Drip Irrigation Installed at The Raincatcher’s Garden

In the meantime, our plant success  depends on our amended soil, heavy mulch application, and hand watering.  More rain is welcome!

Find out more about Drip Irrigation as taught by Dr. Dotty Woodson, here.

Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas County Gardener’s May Meeting

Did you know that anyone can attend a Dallas County Master Gardener meeting? Tomorrow we are hosting the May meeting at our new garden with the purpose of talking to our membership and friends about the progress of The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

Come so you can hear from our exciting array of speakers: Elizabeth, Eric, Lisa, and Susan. Learn from them, education is the purpose of our garden. We will be sharing detailed plant information tomorrow and on this blog through hand outs created by Elizabeth.   Take a look at our garden plans and tour The Raincatcher’s Garden to understand the height and depth of what we are trying to do on about an acre of land in North Dallas.

Dallas County Master Gardener May Meeting

11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 28

11001 Midway Rd., Dallas 75229

 Program

An Introduction to the New  Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Tours will be offered before and after the general meeting.

 Buds, Bricks & Baskets

African Free Trade Baskets, Leather Handles! Reasonable Prices! We have Fallen in Love with These!

African Free Trade Baskets, Leather Handles! Reasonable Prices! We have Fallen in Love with These!

The Baskets are ideal for gifts or gathering produce from your garden.

Oregano, Phlox, Tomato Starts, Fig Trees, Cast Iron, Coneflower, Great Prices!

Oregano, Phlox, Tomato Starts, Fig Trees, Cast Iron, Coneflower, Turk’s Cap- Great Prices!

Fill up your card with homegrown plants from our member’s own gardens. We have tables of little starts you’ve just got to take home at Sarah’s “cheap” prices.  Plants will be priced from $1 to $5, with a few special items priced a tiny bit more.  Plan on filling up your cart!  Yesterday it was hard for me to pass by the phlox I saw from Susan’s garden!

Bricks make the perfect contribution to the new garden.

Honor a loved one, recognize the special person that introduced them to gardening, or remember a friend or family member with a personalized brick.  The bricks will serve as part of the entry to the Raincatcher’s Garden under the newly reassembled arbor.  Bricks are priced at $50 for a 4”x 8” size or $125 for an 8” x 8” brick.  Orders will be taken at the May 28 meeting with installation later this year. If you would like to participate and can’t come to the meeting, leave a comment and we will contact you.

Cash, checks or credit cards accepted.

A note about our lunch sales: Thank you to the 98 who purchased box lunches to enjoy during the meeting.

To accommodate feeding almost 100 people we had to stay firm with our reservation deadline. Oh, the planning that goes into an assembly of cooks like we have had the last few days! Hope any who missed the deadline for lunches will understand. We will have more events this summer. Subscribe to Dallas Garden Buzz, to get the details first!

Confession: I didn’t sign up for lunch in time, but you can be sure I will be first in line for a fig tree!!

Ann

 

 

Cardboard for Weed Control

At our old garden, we faced the  problem of all other gardens: weed invasion. At our new garden, we are making a concentrated effort to try to reduce the problem of weeds. You may have seen some of our Master Gardeners carrying cardboard from trash picks ups, we even get calls from friends donating “nice cardboard.”

Lisa Hauling Cardboard to The Raincatcher's Garden

Lisa Hauling Cardboard to The Raincatcher’s Garden

We prefer the plain brown stuff, stripped of packing labels and any plastic and broken down please.

We lay it down, overlapping seams, with 3-6 inches of mulch on top. Several layers of cardboard is permissible and  more mulch equals less weeds.  Some say to water the cardboard to make it more pliable. Of course, during this rainy year we have not had to do that.

Cardboard Peeking Out From Under Mulch, More Mulch to be Added

Cardboard Peeking Out From Under Mulch, More Mulch to be Added

And here’s a word about our mulch selection: you can see our mulch looks organic.  We use chopped up tree trimmings, not purchased mulch.  If you are buying mulch (we prefer free), don’t buy the colored mulch that has dye added.

Mulch Close-Up

Mulch Close-Up

Besides cardboard and mulch, what do you need?  Willing labor!

Thank You Judy, Abbe, and Michele!

Thank You Judy, Abbe, and Michele!

Our most recent mulch drop off came from Dallas Arborilogical Services. More is needed to build our beautiful, weed free garden. For drop off information, call the Dallas County Master Gardener hotline, 214 904 3053 and say The Raincatcher’s Garden sent you.

Ann

Pictures by Starla

%d bloggers like this: