Revitalizing an Old Flowerbed

Mark and I are slowly tackling neglected yardwork at our home.  Our latest project is a flowerbed that runs along the narrow west-facing side of our house.   We have done absolutely nothing to this bed for the past three years.  And I suspect that the last time this it had flowers in it was back when we lived here almost 20 years ago.

I was eager to make this an early project  for us because it’s located close to where we park.  I wanted to see something colorful and happy when arrived home after a hard day of work, instead of an unattractive reminder of work to be done.  –I also thought this would be a quick and easy project I could use to test out several new-to-me annuals that are supposed to be sun tolerant.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  You can view our YouTube video of this project here.  I’ve included information about the plants we used at the bottom of this article.

How to revitalize a neglected flowerbed:

  1.  Remove old mulch, leaves, and debris from the top of the bed and place in your compost pile.
  2. Remove any dead, struggling or unwanted plants.  Relocate, give away, compost or trash as indicated.
  3. Trim away dead foliage from existing plants.  Lightly prune if needed.
  4. Evaluate the soil.  At the very least you will want to add fresh, quality compost to your existing soil and mix it in well.  You may even want to remove some of the tired old soil and replace with a fresher planting mix and compost.  Be careful when digging around existing plants so that you don’t disturb larger roots.  Cutting through ‘hair-like’ roots is usually not a problem, but damaging larger roots can harm the existing plant.
  5. Evaluate the planting site and determine sun exposure as well as the amount of protection from heat in the summer and cold north wind in the winter.  Also evaluate the bed for soil condition and soil drainage.  Choose new plants appropriate for these conditions.  Proper plant selection will largely determine the success of your gardening endeavors.
  6. Taking mature plant height, foliage and flowering color, and texture into account, arrange your bedding plants in the flowerbed.  When you are happy with the design, plant.  Use a starter mix or planting fertilizer when you pop your new plants into the soil.  Water well.  If bedding plants are ‘leggy’ or overgrown, consider trimming them back at this time.  Doing so will produce fuller foliage as the plant matures.
  7. Mulch well, making sure not to cover the stems or wood of bedding plants, trees or shrubs.
  8. Maintenance.  Keep watering throughout the season.  New plants will need careful attention during the first year.  If you are unable to water daily especially in the summer, install a drip system and a timer.  If you have planted lots of annual color, fertilize at least once a month.  As always inspect your plants regularly for water needs, fertilization needs, insect damage or signs of disease.  Treat any of these issues promptly.

Notes on our video:  The video footage we shot where I explained what plants we were using in our flowerbed turned out to be unusable.  So here it is.  We planted Black Rose Tattoo Vinca, Bordeaux Supertunia and Diamond Frost Euphorbia.  According to the plant tags, all of these purport to have the ability to tolerate ‘full sun’.  I want to see if this means full Texas sun, so planting them in a bed that faces west will be a real test.  After seeing the finished project, I do realize that the bed overall would look best if I had planted a small shrub in between the existing crepe myrtles.  However, we had a hard enough time planting bedding plants between the crepe myrtle roots, that I don’t think we could have made space for something with a larger root ball.

 

 

Mark & Kim learn to YouTube

Mark and I are proof that old dogs can learn new tricks.  After lots of trial and error we are finding our way around YouTube, a new camera and video editing software.  And our marriage is still intact!

As small small-business owners, we don’t have the budget to do much advertising.  I looked into print advertising and realized I could either hire a part-time employee or I could do a monthly ad in a local paper.  I didn’t do the ad.  But I did decide that we had to start being more creative in letting the community know who we are.

I started this blog and learned how to post on Facebook.  We’ve done some store events –super-fun!  And now we’re trying our hand at making videos.  We’re hoping videos can be a way to address common questions we hear from customers.  Our second video is about how to use our Brown Bag fertilizer.  It’s great fertilizer for our clay soil, but -apart from coverage information- there are no instructions on the bag.  Now we can direct our customers to our video to see how we set our spreader when we apply Brown Bag.

We have a bunch to learn.  On the most recent video I was so intent on getting Mark in focus, I didn’t realize I also had the tripod in the shot.  I tried to hide it in ‘post production’ but boogered-up and the tripod pops into frame for about a second.  I’m telling myself that getting content posted is more important than perfection.  I’d never post anything if I waited until I was fully competent.  –I think there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

If you have any suggestions for future videos please let me know and I’ll see what we can do.    (Also, Bo is sad that Mark’s video is getting more plays than his.  You can watch Bo dig a carrot at Gaddy’s youtube channel.)

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Gaddy’s Turns 45! Help Us Celebrate!

With all the changes we’ve made at the store this last year, it’s feels like a good time to pause and celebrate the fact that we’re still here.  Mark and I are proud when we think that Gaddy’s has been around for 45 years and we want to thank the all the people and organizations who have helped us remain an active part of the changing Pflugerville community.

Help us celebrate on Saturday, April 28th by dropping by the store for some birthday cake and meet a few of our friends.  Here are a few of the other fun things going on at the party:

  • A farm-theme petting zoo will be at the store from 10am to 2pm.
  • Jessica from the Reynolds Roost will be at the store with some of her adorable chicks.  Jessica is my ‘go-to’ person when people ask me if I know where they can get some hatching-eggs or healthy chicks.
  • A couple of volunteers and a fantastic horse from the HELP center will be set up outside.  HELP is a non-profit therapeutic riding center for people with disabilities.  The HELP center has done business with Gaddy’s for almost as long as we have been around and we can’t say enough good things about this organization.
  • United K9 dog training will be at the store.  We had a dog food customer who started coming  into the shop with her beautifully behaved dog a few months ago.  It turned out she was in town to learn to be a dog trainer.  And while she has moved back home to start her business, one of the trainers she worked with, Danny De La Pena, will be at Gaddy’s with their dog.  We’re even talking about getting Danny to come teach a class at the store.
  • Thomas Moore Feed will be at the store to promote their wild bird feed line that is formulated specially for Texas.
  • Representatives from Champion Pet will be available to promote Orijen and Acana pet food, the newest dog food picked up by Gaddy’s.

 

 

 

Class: Organic Vegetable Gardening

We’re happy to welcome Linda Burch, Travis Co Master Gardener, to Gaddy’s on Saturday, March 10th from 2-3pm.  Linda will talk about organic vegetable gardening just in time for the Spring garden season.  Join us for some great information on gardening and composting.  And as usual, we have plenty of room, just not plenty of chairs.  Please bring your own folding chair if you’d like to sit.

Call Kim at the store if you have any questions – 512-251-4428.

Here’s the Poop About our Chicken Event

Gaddy’s first ever annual Crazy Chicken Day is just around the corner.  Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 3rd from 1-3pm, then tell all your crazy chicken friends.  You don’t want to miss the inaugural event.  Here’s what is planned . . . so far:

-Rob Cunningham from Coyote Creek Organic farm will deliver two free classes.  From 1-2pm, he’ll talk about what you need to know to raise laying hens from newly hatched chicks.  Then from 2-3pm, Rob will cover topics related to established flock management. (Bring a folding chair for this event, if you don’t want to stand.)

-With super short notice, the Immanuel Lutheran Youth Group agreed to take their Chicken Poop Bingo game on the road and will hold three games during the event.  One game will be before Rob’s 1pm talk, the second will be before Rob’s 2pm talk, and the third will be after Rob’s talk–a bit after 3pm.  (We’re going to be pretty fluid on the times.)  Bingo tickets are $10 each and all proceeds will go to the group’s mission trip to Puerto Rico.  I still have donations coming in, but so far the prizes are pretty awesome. Prizes will be available for viewing at Gaddy’s starting March 1st.

Saori Weaving demonstration by Sarah Gaddy Dauro.  Sarah, my talented sister-in-law, owns a Saori Weaving Studio in Belton.  If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand a weaving or even if you’d just like to spend a relaxing day creating, I encourage you to take a class.  I did and it was like fiber therapy–plus at the end of the day you have a beautiful piece of fabric.

-A representative from Zignature pet food will be here with coupons and free samples.

-T-Shirt door prizes from Gaddy’s.

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-Posters, hats, shirts door prizes from Ideal Poultry.

-Chicks for sale (including some Bantums for this time).

-Sample some of Pflugerville’s best salsa from Beba’s Salsa

-I’ll have information available about Jessica from Reynolds Roost.  Jessica raises Easter Eggers, Cream Legbars and a couple other breeds.  Jessica also sells hatching eggs, but you might need to get on a waiting list for her specialty eggs.

If you have any questions, please give me a call at Gaddy’s  512-251-4428, Kim

 

 

 

 

Stop Spring Weeds, Use a Pre-emergent Herbicide Now

February is the ‘sweet spot’ of the year when it comes to applying pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn.  A little effort now can greatly reduce the weed pressure in your yard later in the season.  Pre-emergents work by drying up weed seeds so they never get a chance to sprout.  The trick is, you have to apply the pre-emergent before the seeds begin to germinate.  And that means, you have to do a little yard work before it is warm enough outside for you to really feel like doing yard work.

We have several pre-emergent options at Gaddy’s.  If you want an organic pre-emergent, we sell corn gluten meal.  Besides being a desiccant, corn gluten is a natural source of nitrogen, the element that helps ‘green-up’ your grass once it starts growing.  Our Fertilome-Hi Yield Grass and Weed Preventer is an economical chemical pre-emergent.  One $15.99 bag will cover 3,500 to 5,000 sq ft.  If you want a product with a pre-emergent and a post-emergent, we sell Weed Beater Complete.

Use a broadcast spreader to apply pre-emergent granules.  Read the directions carefully.  Most pre-emergents need a little bit of moisture to become active.  For example the Hi Yield product recommends about 1/2 inch or rainfall or irrigation.  But too much rainfall immediately after application can lessen the effectiveness of the pre-emergent by washing it away.

When using pre-emergent, think about places in your yard where you want seeds to germinate and avoid those areas.  Don’t apply pre-emergent in a vegetable bed where you want to start seeds next month or in an area of your yard that you want to reseed.  Some pre-emergent can be effective for up to 3 months.  The pre-emergent will not differentiate between the seeds you want to grow and those you want to kill.

Free Chick Event

For a long time, I’ve wanted to host some sort of educational event about raising chickens at Gaddy’s, but I’ve never been organized enough to make the idea a reality during the busy spring months.  This year, Ron Cunningham from Coyote Creek Organic Farm has come to my aid.  Ron has graciously agreed to come out to Gaddy’s and teach a couple of short chicken classes for us on March 3rd.  He’s doing the ‘beginner’ class from 1-2pm.  In this class Ron will talk about what you need to raise chicks.  It’s a great class if you have new chicks or are thinking about getting some.  The second class, from 2:15-3:15pm, will focus on things helpful to know when managing mature layers in a backyard setting.  Come to one or  both classes.  It’s a free event.  We’ll even have some feed and door prizes to give away.  The only catch is–please bring your own lawn chair or folding chair.  We have plenty of space, just not plenty of chairs.

Gaddy’s Partners with Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Looking for a way to keep your resolutions?  Try signing up for a CSA from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.  You can pickup your share every Wednesday straight from Gaddy’s! 

Johnson’s Backyard Garden (JBG) is an organic farm that has grown from a family project in an AJohnson's Backyard Gardenustin backyard to a bona fide farm large enough to provide fresh produce to Texans from Dallas to Houston to San Antonio and areas in between–including Pflugerville!  Mark and I first became enamored of Johnson’s Backyard Garden when we visited their booth at the Texas Farmer’s Market last spring.  The JBG booth was so packed with people and produce, we had to wait in line to get inside.  It was worth it!  Although we had a garden, JBG had grown lots of interesting veggies that we hadn’t even thought of growing ourselves.

If you’ve ever thought of signing up for a CSA, now is the time to do it.  Joining in January helps the CSA plan for and pay for spring.  Plus you get to enjoy some great produce.  And if that’s not enough, JBG is extending a great offer to first-time or renewing members.  Add “getcookin1” at checkout and receive one CSA share free with your subscription.  To sign up click here.

Mark and I are still planting our market garden in the back lot of the store, but this year we are being realistic about the amount of time we have to work in the garden.  2018 is going to be a year of changes for us.  We are in the process of adding to our sales floor and incorporating new shelving into the store that we purchased from Zinger Hardware (so sad to see them go).  This leaves us even less time for gardening than we had last year, so I’m doubly excited to partner with JBG because I want to keep fresh, organic produce a part of our store’s mission.  And, if you’d like to volunteer out in the garden please email me at kimgaddy@gaddys.com.  I’ll be more than happy for any extra hands.

Fun & Functional & Environmentally Friendly

As a person who spends most of their day on their feet, I appreciate a good pair of shoes–and socks.  It’s even better when the socks are fun.  So when I saw these adorable socks by BlueQ, not only did I have to own a pair myself, I had to start carrying their products in the store.

blueQ sock on kim

Not that you really need an excuse to buy these fun socks and bags, but you can feel good about purchasing a BlueQ product for many reasons.  BlueQ uses recycled materials to make their bags, plus a portion of every purchase goes to environmental conservation charities.  Now that’s a great company.

Christmas Tree Care

One of my favorite chores at the store this time of year is to water the Christmas trees.  At least twice a day we walk through the tree area and spray the foliage of the Fraser Firs to keep them nice and fresh and hydrated.  We also keep them under the shade cloth to protect them from the sun.

Once you get a cut Christmas tree home, here are a few tips on how to keep it fresh throughout the holiday season.

  1. When we sell a tree we will cut the base of the tree off, perpendicular to the trunk, before it is taken home.  Keep this cut as it is.  Don’t ‘chisel down’ the tree to make it fit your stand.  Don’t drill a hole into the base of the tree.  And don’t take off bark to make it fit the stand.  The tree will drink in water best from the outermost layers of wood so they are important to leave as is.
  2. Keep your tree in a type of tree-stand that holds water.  Lots of water.  Stands should be large enough to hold about 1 quart of water for each inch of tree trunk diameter.
  3. Check the water at least once a day.  Make sure the water level is high enough that the bottom of the tree is covered.
  4. Keep your tree far from sources of heat like heat system vents, fireplaces, or a sunny window.  Use low-heat lighting like mini lights or LED lights.

Our trees look especially good this year.  We have Fraser Firs in a 6-7ft size ($49.99) and a 7-8ft size ($74.99).  Please let us know if you have any questions.  512-251-4428