Saturday, August 21, 2021

Frog Toes

 I once heard that we'll know the land is no longer sustainable when we stop hearing the frogs.  I'm happy to say we have a very large and loud population of frogs and toads at the cabin. Last night, I met 4 toads who have taken up residence under the faucet on the rainwater tank. I haven't seen him lately, but there's a very loud and very green tree frog who lives under the trim on the cabin. He left his toe prints all over the window this morning.

Starting a Garden in a Shady Yard

Global warming coupled with a pandemic seems like a recipe for a food crisis to me. Central Texas has been very rainy this summer. It's good for our area, but in some cases too much rain harms crops. So does drought and fire. I've decided not to take food for granted. I'm going to try to grow a vegetable garden in our very shady backyard in Austin. 

I've always avoided it because nothing really thrives besides the grass and trees (and the grass is spotty). But I've made up my mind to try. I took a couple of 12" rods and set them 4 feet apart where I think there is more sun. I need a few hours a day to grow spinach, and probably lettuce. I watched the sun move across the rods and added up how much time they were in full sun. I put the garden where the sun shines the longest.  I need to talk to a local gardening expert to figure out if anything else will grow in that spot. And it's an odd, not visually symmetrical spot. 

You can see from the photo that the grass is struggling. I observed two things. First, I realized the dogs know exactly where to get the most sun in our yard. And guess, what? It's where the grass is thick and healthy. I got to work, cut my landscaping timbers in 4 foot sections, stacked, secured with 12" nails (they were a bitch to drive through the timbers with a framing hammer; even after I drilled starter holes), and filled it with organic dirt and compost. 

I'm not sure it's a success, but Birdie immediately started eating the compost. If the dog likes it, it must be good dirt! I'm going to work it for a few weeks, and sow seeds in September.

Is There a Seed Shortage?

The answer is no, but yes. Seeds are still cultivated, but packaging and shipping depends on a few things. 
  • Workers - staffing shortages due to Covid slows the process for getting seeds to consumers.
  • Covid increased demand for seeds.
  • Seed suppliers have to predict demand a few years into the future. Nobody predicted Covid.
Here's a quick read for Southern gardeners from the South Carolina Grower blog. This is good stuff to know. Along with timing of supply replenishment, I also learned that seeds don't last forever. They typically only hold their efficacy for a year of two; depending on how they're stored. If you look at a seed envelope, you'll see something like this stamped on it:

"For 2021"

I was so excited when Tammy told me that we had a ton of seeds in a drawer. I found them, and I saw "For 2017" stamped on the packets. As soon as I saw that, I figured they were no good. Otherwise, why would they have that? Welp. I've learned why. 

Although I'm setting a goal for a fall/winter garden in my shady yard, it may be spring before I plant, due to the difficulty in finding seeds. I saw some seeds online that are supposed to be 15 - 40 different varieties, but I'm so skeptical, I think I'll buy them in-store. 

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