All fall and into spring I have been working to add more wild space to my yard. This space on my sideyard is the last spot I had the materials for before shelter in place started. I smother the lawn and weeds with cardboard, and then add layer of mulch. All free materials. I don't use Amazon but people give me their cardboard and the mulch is free from the city. Its made from yard waste. It seems poetic to build native meadows out of the refuse of modern life.
This is very much an experiment. I'll share updates as the plants grow.
I am a big believer in being focused on the longterm. Like years, decades, or centuries from now longterm. Longterm thinking is so important to me that i don't hyphenate it, it is a word to me.
Right now the world is losing its societal mind over coronavirus. It is an awful thing but I am almost oddly unconcerned about it. I am so unconcerned that that lack of concern is concerning to me. It is a disaster without precent in decades. And I am concerned about my mom potentially getting it. Many friends are directly impacted by it.
To me I can already imagine a time when this is just a thing that happened. I've seen enough natural disasters and other outbreaks of diseases that are all now just things that have happened but at the time were all consuming. My mind is already in the place where this will just have been a thing that happened.
I got more flour from Barton Springs Mill, I had run out and missed using it. At first I thought using it would be a fun experiment and then I would go back to using King Arthur bread flour. Once I did switch back I really missed all the character of the Barton Springs Flour. My mix is 90% their premium all purpose flour and 10% their Rouge de Bourdeaux whole wheat. King Arthur makes a nice loaf, but this local flour just has so much more character. And the dough just feels luxurious. It isn't that much more expensive than King Arthur, this is my everyday flour now. Plus, the folks at Barton Springs Mill are super nice!
I am experimenting with the restoration technique. I am laying down cardboard and then a layer of mulch. Then seeding the mulch with a mix of Blackland Prairie seeds. If it works well this will smother the grass under the cardboard, giving the native seeds a chance to get established. Eventually the cardboard and mulch should breakdown, leaving only dirt and native plants.
This is a variation on my usual technique of laying down muslin fabric and topsoil. I have hopes that this will work as well or better. It is cheaper and uses discarded materials. It is my hope that the mulch is harder for the squirrels to disturb compared to soft soil.
I went to my first prescribed burn today with my friends John and Hazel. Burning the prairie replicates the natural fires that used to burn in the wild. Fire is an essential and natural part of the prairie ecosystem. Plus it damn cool.
Don't try this on your own. We were on a prepared site, with trained wildlife professionals and firefighters on site. As the firefighters said, there is no such thing as a controlled burn.
Last week Eric Paulus and I planted a Bald Cypress tree at Circle Acres. I was really happy to get that tree a good home near some water. They need a lot of water, more than I could responsibly give it at my house. I had it for a few years, it was a replacement tree from Jonsteen trees. I had bought a baby Redwood at Muir Woods a few years ago. It died from me overmulching it. Even though it was my fault Jonsteen kindly sent a replacement tree and suggested a Bald Cypress which is found in Austin. In a way this tree had a very circuitous route to being planted in a forest in East Austin. Hopefully it roots well and thrives. Picking spots to plant trees is a funny thing.
(ignoring my finger in the shot, it's an otherwise good photo of Eric in action)
I was so motivated from planting with Eric that I went home and planted a Chinquapin Oak that I had waiting to go in the ground. It is a replacement for the Redoak in my yard that failed last year. Chinquapin Oaks are native to the area, produce acorns that wildlife love, and I read are “stately” trees. I look forward it becoming a giant in my backyard.
Here is some bonus pics of some mushrooms we saw growing on a log.