Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tonight: Garden Posse Social Club

There's been a change of plans for tonight (Tuesday's) meeting. According to the schedule established last month, we're supposed to be on our second week of gardening at the traffic triangle on the East Side. But, we don't have a tree or a tree box yet. It's more likely that we'll have it next week, so the decision was made to have our social event this week, and return to gardening next week. And it's kind of short notice to stage a potluck.

So, tonight, we'll meet at El Chilito at 2209 Manor Drive at 8 pm. El Chilito is a taco stand on the East Side. It is truly delicious, and pretty darn cheap. The weather should be comfortable to sit outside and socialize, Posse-style, for the night.

See you there!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Guerrilla gardening media

While cruising the internets and thinking about guerrilla gardening, I found this radio show from Los Angeles:

I find the program's style a bit annoying, but that's probably because I'm OCD about radio. But it's quite interesting to listen to what other groups are doing and why they do it, and relate to the universal cause of improving public space. At about 5 minutes in, a pseudonym'ed guerrilla gardener says:

"It's more of a responsibility of the citizens to take some responsibility in your community, and try to figure out how you can make your community better, and not just wait for the city to do it."

Exactly! Apparently the city was thankful enough to have a city council member show up with ice cream (complete with trash bags and wet naps) to a recent dig. That's pretty awesome. Take a listen!

In other guerrilla garden media news, I've received the sad word from Renee at the Statesman that her guerrilla gardening article is indefinitely on hold, for what sounds like various reasons. But there is a Garden Posse documentary in the works, so stay tuned in to the media landscape.

So happy to meet everyone

Hi Y'all,

I just wanted to put up a quick post to say how happy I am to have met everyone these past weeks while Guerrilla Gardening. I consider myself relatively new to Austin and I'm really diggin the chance to find other people with an interest in Austin gardening. As a side bonus, the fact that we are choosing garden plots all over town means I'm discovering new and cool places to go... hello pizza joint across the street from our garden on 34th and Guadalupe!

I also want to say thanks to my fellow gardeners for helping me learn more about gardening. My goal is to turn my thumb green through gardening with the Garden Posse and I'm happy to report that I've got the basics down now (the plant goes into the ground root first).

I'm going to be out of town for the next two weeks, but I'm looking forward to seeing how our gardens are going when I get back. I'll also be ready to get at those social events with a guns a blazin.

When I moved to Austin I told my friends and family that I was coming to put down roots. I love how now I'm not only doing that figuratively, but quite literally. See everyone in 3 weeks!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Last night on the East Side

As it's now officially fall, nights have begun to get darker earlier. It was already dark when we met at Megan's house to begin our second Garden Posse guerrilla garden. We had a good crew of guerrilla gardeners, plus some newcomers who were eager to be introduced to a dig.

A few people generously brought seeds and transplants. I was lucky enough to have a car full - I mean, packed full - of plants, soil, compost, and mulch. Many, many, many thanks to Sam at Shoal Creek Nursery. We had enough plants to have a giveaway at the end of the night, and more left over to add to the 34th & Guad garden.

But back to the chronological order of things. We traipsed down to the site, a traffic triangle handily lit by a streetlamp and almost within spraying distance of a hose we've been given the go-ahead to use. Our plan was to dig a deep, wide hole for a tree - the centerpiece of our garden. There was a problem with that idea. First, as you see with Travis' earlier post, we did not actually have a tree. And as a neighbor came by and emphatically pointed out, we were digging into what used to be a gravel road. Indeed, our shovels and pick-axes were turning up a lot of rocks, crappy soil, and shattered glass deposited over the years. We may have dug down to the 1930's layer of broken beer bottles.

We revised our plan. Megan had the idea of bringing in a fruit tree in a pallet-like box, that could be filled with rich soil and not have to suffer through the glass-laden dirt. So we saved a space for the tree and created a doughnut hill around it, adding the compost and soil. We planted as many veggies and flowers and seeds as possible. We even transplanted a bottle of Wild Irish Rose, which was found growing wild (obviously).

The dig lasted for about 2 hours, and it was a sight to see. A big group of people standing in a circle and hammering away at the hard ground. Particularly because we are not the most diverse group of people (ahem), in a neighborhood that is mostly black, people were very curious about what we were doing. They pulled up in their cars and asked out their windows, "What are you doing?" When we said we were building a garden, they thought that was pretty cool. People came out of their houses, and either offered to help water it, or said they were not about to dig into an old gravel road but encouraged our action.

My favorite comment of the night came from a white woman who drove up to us and said the neighbors had knocked on her door. "There's a group of white people digging down the street," they said. "Are you associated with them?" She said she had to find out what was going on.

So yes, it was a sight, but I don't have any pictures because my camera ran out of batteries. But we'll be back at this garden next week, hopefully with a tree in a box.

Also, several people have mentioned that they'd like to organize more Garden Posse social events. Please feel free! They don't have to be gardening-related, or on Tuesday nights. But they should be potentially fun. Just become an author of the blog and post a blurb about what you have planned, and I will add it to our calendar.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sorry folks, I can't make it tonight, but...

I did buy a packet of native wildflower mix seeds and a packet of seeds of plants that attract butterflies. I shopped for a fruit tree at The Great Outdoors, but only found citrus. They said that peach/fruit trees will come in around January. So, I was going to buy a lime or orange tree but they wanted $40 for a 5 gallon and I can not afford that right now. Next week I am going to go out to the Natural Gardener and look for a peach/fruit tree, but if they do not have any either I was thinking of some cool native tree like a persimmon or evergreen sumac. If you guys have any ideas let me know, but I would like to to keep the tree a native tree. Now, here is a thought, the Edwards Plateau ends pretty much in the Lake Austin/Downtown area and the Prairies and Oaks start up and head out East until they hit the Piney Woods. Should we try and stick to the ecoregion when thinking of a tree since technically we are planting in the Prairies and Oaks, say a post oak, Texas oak, or maybe even a chinquapin oak? Or, we can just go with a neat looking tree from the Edwards Plateau like a Mountain laurel, Tx Persimmon, sumacs, Arizona walnut, TX Redbud...hmmmm. Let me know what you all think AND SAVE A SPACE FOR A TREE.

Again, a peach tree is first priority, but if I can not find one, these were my ideas.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Tomorrow, we move to the East Side

Just a reminder that tomorrow we will be attacking with our second garden, on Austin's East Side. We'll be meeting at Megan's house, a lovely menagerie of pets and materials in the area of Springdale and Webberville. Then we will proceed to a traffic circle and turn it into a garden. Hooray! If you are not on the email list and want to come, please email for directions.

This weekend I spent a wonderful evening at Megan's other gardening project (the hardest-working community-minded gardener in Austin, she is), Quilumbo. It's located not too far from where we will be tonight. The goal of the night was to create a raised bed and a sign for the garden's entrance. With the help of some kids and parents with handy construction skills, we were enormously successful. A bonus point is that it was really fun. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A photographic tour of our veggie garden

Our sign: Large, beautiful, stuck in the ground.

The tepee: Good-looking and functional.

The peas aspiring to climb up the tepee.

Zucchini squash.

The tomato plant's first blooms.

Can someone please identify if this is a weed? We neglected to mark what and where we planted. Besides for the tomato. We know what that is.

Also, Renee Studebaker of the Statesman has a short report on our first mission up on her blog. She posted a couple photos of the Posse in action, as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Last night at 34 & Guadelupe

The nice thing about a guerrilla garden is that even though the guerrilla gardeners move on, the garden continues to grow. I love the idea of the Garden Posse leaving a footprint of growing things all around the city. That, and Garden Posse signs. We finally got our sign painted last night, and planted it firmly in the garden. As I noticed at my bus stop this morning, you can read and admire the words "Garden Posse" from across the street! It's kind of like the Great Wall of China, in some ways - visible from a great distance.

We also set up the tepee for the peas to climb, and between the sign, and the tepee, our little plot's guerrilla garden qualities have gained prominence on the street. (Yes, I will post photos soon.)

The Posse was also excited about gaining some new members, and a visit by a small girl who liked to garden at her school but did not like pizza. She did, however, enjoy playing in the rocks outside the pizza place.

Okay, but the business. We decided our next site will be a traffic triangle near Megan's home on Austin's East Side, near Webberville and Springdale. We'd like to plant a peach tree there. So Megan will be taking charge of site design, and creating a list of needed materials. This is to be standard practice for Garden Posse members who wish to host a guerrilla garden near their homes. And then we'll all collaborate on collecting these materials and planting.

We also discussed Emily's suggestion of gardening the vacant lots on East Riverside, where she was accosted by a man seeking female spit. We decided this would require additional site planning and we would make it an upcoming project. Today, however, I awoke to the news on KUT that there's a neighborhood meeting TONIGHT on a new master plan for East Riverside. The "vacant lots" were specifically mentioned as opportunities for development. Perhaps we should mention that vacant lots are also opportunities for community gardens?

The meeting is tonight in the Travis High School Cafeteria. The City of Austin has more information.

Also, I've put a poll up on the blog to vote on a Garden Posse logo. You can vote until the end of September, and the poll will be part of a continuing discussion on a logo. I think we can agree that polls don't decide anything themselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guerrilla park in Austin

One day, a man named Joe Zamecki got tired of seeing trash stored in the open space behind the fence across from his North Austin apartment complex. This video is the story of the ongoing conversion.

A post on guerrillagardening.org's community board for Austin tells that the project now involves a vegetable garden. Nice!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's not all about gardening

Sometimes, it's time to garden. And sometimes, it's time to get together and eat some food and drink some beer. For the Garden Posse, that time was last night. We gathered in my tiny studio apartment and talked about things that are not gardens or potential gardens. Like Sarah Palin, for example. Sarah Palin is not a garden, nor does she inspire us to garden. She just inspires us - and the entire country - to talk about her.

But anyhow. The potluck was fun and delicious, and I made my first ever panazella, for which the recipe is here, if you're interested in recreating a special moment. And then you can invite us all over to your house to share.

I keep forgetting to mention that someone left a garden temper with a blue handle behind on the very first dig. I put it in a prominent place in my house last night, but again forgot to mention it. Apparently this hand tool is very forgettable. If you forgot it, and you want it back, let me know. Otherwise, I'll count it as a donation and try to figure out how to use it.

So next week, we'll return for the final week to the garden at 34th & Guadelupe. Then, we'll decide where to move our roaming garden posse next. Maybe we'll just close our eyes and zoom in on a Google map of Austin. Or we could make a responsible decision. Who knows? Come and find out.

Oh, and a note on the blog: I've transferred ownership to a new Garden Posse account. Now you can contact us at gardenposse@gmail.com. And now you can also contribute to the blog, when you email gardenposse@gmail.com and say that's what you would like to do. Wouldn't you? But if you are more of the spectator/lurker type, you can request to receive an email every time this blog is updated. Technology offers something for everyone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Garden arts n'crafts

Hey, does anyone want to make a moss terrarium?

It could be kind of guerrilla, you know, taking moss from forests. Maybe later we could deposit them outside fifth-grade science classrooms, so kids wouldn't have to do their homework.

For more nice nature crafts, click here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Establishing the pizza crop and a garden schedule

Last night the Garden Posse returned to the guerrilla garden at 34th & Guadelupe. In the week since it was born, our first garden has begun to sprout. Cucumber and squash seedlings have poked their heads above the soil, and peas and cosmos are making tiny appearances. Our leggy tomato plant continues to signify the vegetable garden, and the flower border is making it all look pretty.

(Photographs will be added here)

I've been watering the garden - across from my bus stop - with thanks to the generosity of Salvation Pizza. The owner, as he helped me wrench the spigot open (it's child-proof), offered that he would be willing to trade us basil for pizza, if we grew a crop in our garden. They go through 4 - 5 lbs of basil a week.

Salvation Pizza is really good. So, I got some basil. We now have a whole basil section of the guerrilla garden. Here's hoping that it will yield a pizza. (The pizza plant! Anyone seen Wall-E?)

We also fattened up the flower border, with plants courtesy of the Shoal Creek Nursery. And Megan and Travis put together a tepee for the peas to climb up. This morning I found it blown over onto the basil, and I had to do a bit of salvage work. Soon that will be anchored down, and we'll have a real structure in our garden.

We were also planning to put up a Garden Posse sign, but the arts n'crafts portion of the evening fell through, as the art shop I was planning to get paint apparently only sells tiny mosaic pieces. So that will get done next week.

Speaking of next week, and the whole future ahead of us, you'll see that we've added an "Upcoming Events" calendar in the upper-right corner of the blog. Last night we worked out a rough schedule on a 4-week cycle.

Week 1 - establish new garden
Week 2 - maintain/expand new garden
Week 3 - do something fun, potentially involving beer
Week 4 - final return to garden

All meetings are Tuesday, at 8pm, unless otherwise noted. The schedule is, of course, subject to change. We're also planning on trips to Blackland Learning Garden, Quilombo Communal Garden, garden art projects, seed bombs, and plant give-aways. So many possibilities! The Posse also spoke of guerrilla gardening bus stops and guerrilla plant propagation.

So next week, according to "Upcoming Events," we'll be meeting at my house for a potluck and sign painting session. I'll be sending more details (such as where I live) in an email. If you're not on the list and you want to be, leave your contact info in the comments.