Saturday, April 3, 2010


It was hot today. Drastic measures were called for. Guess who had an accident before he even took his first bite?


John got in much earlier than I expected yesterday - a great excuse to skip going to the gym and laundromat, as I had originally planned. Instead, we went to Mimas (where we sat next to Ray Wylie Hubbard - who looks a bit like a homeless person), then to the feed store, where I was finally able to nab several kinds of basil.

Lex was due back from a job in Florida that evening, so we headed over to the Austin airport, to pick her up, around 5:00. For the first time ever, in a looong history of airport pick-ups, we got there exactly on time, her flight was exactly on time, and we nabbed a parking spot right across from the door, which ended up being free, since we were in and out in less than 30 minutes. John and I were both, like "Wow! The stars must be in perfect alignment today!"

We had planned to have dinner at Matt's El Rancho, sort of the premier Tex-Mex place in Austin, but found hordes of people waiting to get in. Guess we used up our luck for the day, huh? But wait! A couple of blocks away we spotted Maudie's. "Hey, I've heard good things about Maudie's. Let's give it a try." Great weather. Lovely shaded patio. Yummy food. All for half of what Matt's would have cost? Guess our luck didn't desert us after all!

While there, I realized we were right next to the Alamo Drafthouse theatre, where the movie The Runaways just happened to be showing. We drove by, on the slim chance that there would be a showing any time soon (there was!), or that we would still be able to get tickets for it (we did!). John was still driving around, trying to find a parking spot, so I sent Lex on in to grab some good seats, and I waited for him in the lobby. Couple of minutes later she's back. "Uh, Mom? The only vacant seats are on the front row." Ne-ver-mind.

Sooo, we got a refund, then managed to flag John down just as he finally got a parking spot back behind the theatre. He decided to take the rear exit and cut through the residential area behind the shopping center. All at once, all three of us were looking around, going "OMG. Lex! This is exactly the kind of funky little neighborhood you've been looking for! Imagine being able to walk to the Alamo, Highball, Maudie's and Kirbey Lane Cafe, or being five minutes from Threadgill's and Romeo's and everything else on Barton Springs. And, just look at all these houses full of character, no two alike. Do you see those garage apartments behind some of them?"

No, of course she didn't find her dream place right then and there - that would have been a bit of a stretch, don't you think? But, we did have just the best time ever, driving up and down streets, just looking, picking up flyers, and taking numbers. You never know. Missing that movie may have been the luckiest part of our day!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Those suckers are gettin' HUGE!


Remember what it was like when your first child was born? The way you hauled them to the photography studio every few weeks to get more portraits done, so you could compare with the last ones and see how much they'd grown and changed? Well, that's kinda how I am about this garden.


Now that I have the left side of the courtyard garden all planted up, it's time to move over to the other side of the steps. These beds are much bigger, but not as well-situated for veggies. They don't get as much sun, and there are tree roots and existing shrubs to contend with. So..., I'm thinking I will plant mostly native shrubs and perennials over there - which leads me to a few questions I have for you:

  • I'm assuming that native plants like native soil, and that they might actually be happier if I didn't remove half of it and replace it with the fancy mix from the nursery, the way I did for the veggie beds. But, surely I need to do something to the existing stuff, to help them along. So, what's the best way to plant natives, to get them off to a good start?
  • Can you think of any good shrubs or perennials that also produce edibles? There are a few sunny pockets on that side, out of the shadow of the tree, that are getting about five hours of morning sun right now - maybe more as the days lengthen. Could I get away with something like blackberries there?
  • How do you hunt for Morel mushrooms? I've been hearing rumors about this being a good year for them here, but figured my property was just too open, not woody enough. Then yesterday, in our weekly newsletter from the big blue barn, friend Pamela Arnosky shared that photo above, of the Morels they had found along their creek recently. Suddenly, I'm thinkin' I need to go do me some 'splorin' down around my creek! So, any tips? Morels are pretty distinctive looking. Are there any other fungi that resemble them, but which could be hazardous to my health? Sure hope they don't like hiding in the same kinda spots as those grumpy snakes who are just waking up from their winter naps. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I've never been good about taking notes in the garden, despite knowing how valuable they can be. I'm turning over a new leaf, though, here in the hacienda garden. When you are growing things like tomatoes, which can't be planted in the same spot two years in a row, you simply must remember where they were planted the previous year! It also helps to save the labels, to remind you which varieties you planted - which is why they got stuck to the back of this page.

(click image to enlarge)


I smell grapey-ness outside. That means it must be time for the seasonal change-out inside!

"Mother Nature's palette is a rich resource of inspiration for decorating your home. By bringing the seasons indoors with inexpensive personal flourishes, you will rarely grow tired of where you live." Sarah Ban Breathnach, from Simple Abundance

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


A river of verbena is flowing across our front yard! I know a certain wildflower-lovin' and seed-spreadin' someone who is gonna be mighty tickled when he gets here on Friday.

(click image to enlarge)


I could see my new neighbor across the creek out working in her garden yesterday, as I was out working in mine. Made me feel kinda guilty, for not making much effort to get to know her better. Eventually I got cleaned up and went into town for a bite. The weather has been so wonderful lately, that terrace at Inoz' had been pulling me like a magnet all the live-long day (me and everybody else in town, as it turned out).

As I drove past my neighbor's place coming back home, I noticed that she was still outside. Suddenly I could feel a miniature version of my husband standing on my shoulder, shaking his finger at me and saying "Shame on you Becky Lane!" I wheeled the car around with a groan and went back. As a result, I got to spend an absolutely lovely hour visiting with her, seeing some of her amazing fused and mosaic glass creations, and chatting about our gardens.

So, thank you Hon. Glad I listened to you. (He's back on my shoulder now, hands on hips, saying "For Once!")

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


tucked down in the middle of those leaves? Guess who just about wet her pants when she spotted it? Can you tell, this is my first time to grow cauliflower?

(click images to enlarge)

Monday, March 29, 2010


"If you ever considered quitting your job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book." So reads the jacket of Shannon Hayes' newly released Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but there's a great interview with Hayes, conducted by Lisa Kivirist, in the May/June issue of Hobby Farm Home magazine.

I'm thinking I just might be one of these renegades. I'm neither a bored, unfulfilled housewife in a frilly apron making stupid jello thingies, nor am I a determined feminist, neglecting home and family in order to prove myself in the business world. According to Hayes, I'm part of a "growing, inspirational tribe of women...who share a drive to live simply and frugally, celebrating the joys and blessings of home, family and community." Her book showcases people from a variety of age groups and backgrounds nationwide that share a common goal to sidestep the pressures of our consumer culture and focus on recreating home life, living by deeper standards of relationships, creativity and independent thought.

Hayes herself returned to the rural lifestyle by choice (her family runs Sap Bush Hollow Farm, a grassfed meat operation in the Catskills) after earning her PhD. When she and her husband tallied up the cost of having dual careers outside the home (two cars, childcare, etc.) the numbers just didn't add up, or reflect that which they truly valued. The idea for this book came to her when she kept hearing that local foods, particularly grassfed meat, were a luxury that ordinary people cannot afford (something we fight constantly here at The Bountiful Sprout). However, at the same time, she was noticing more people like herself who were committed to eating local, organic foods and keeping money in the local economy. Since her family was managing to live very comfortably on a very modest income, it occurred to her that the socially conscious, resourceful homemakers might be an unacknowledged national resource and that economic and ecological sustainability could be brought into greater balance if more people came forward with this vocation.

"Today's radical homemaker incorporates both traditional skills and ideas toward home-based self-sufficiency with a desire to contribute to improving our world. No longer viewed as strictly 'women's work,' Hayes interviewed men and women who see homemaking as a team effort between spouses and partners, equally shared between genders. 'The folks I interviewed all, at some point in their lives, redefined what wealth means to them, moving away from the images media and society feed us that more and bigger is better,' Hayes comments."

Have you got what it takes to be a radical? Here are seven domestic skills that play an important role in the successful and satisfied men and women she interviewed:

  • Nurturing relationships - radical homemaking is about interdependence, not independence. "You'd just go crazy trying to do everything yourself."
  • Working with a life-serving economy - minimizing waste, capitalizing on available resources, becoming net producers of goods rather than net consumers, spending money where it matters most and understanding the concept of "enough."
  • Cultivating an ability to self-teach, and raising your children with the ability to self-teach, possibly through home-schooling.
  • Setting realistic expectations and limits - radical homemakers do not have weed-free gardens, spotless homes and model children.
  • Redefining pleasure - true pleasure comes from creative fulfillment, self-expression, self-realization, discovery and growth. It cannot be bought at a mall.
  • Rediscovering the taste of real food - eating locally and in harmony with the earth, trading processed foods for home-grown goodness.
  • Adopting a fearless attitude - "Radical homemaking is not an appropriate life path for everyone, but we do need more of them, as they can be a great force for social and cultural change."

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Here's a toughie: What do you do with family photos that no one wants? We were sorting through the last of my parent's belongings this weekend, and went through most of the stuff with lightning speed. Left side of the garage? Going to auction. Right side? Charity. The pile in and around that chair? Home with Becky,who swore she wasn't bringing a single thing back to Wimberley! But then there were boxes and boxes of photos and memorabilia and history, most of which were duplicates of stuff each of us already has. Nobody wants it, or needs it, but it seems such a sin to just toss it. I used to wonder, when I found stuff like this at flea markets and antique stores, what kind of people just throw out family photos? Now I know.

P.S. I threw in that picture of my brother just for fun. You'd never know it from looking at this one, but he's actually quite brilliant! (and looks a whole lot like our friend Dr. Marc)