Like our gardening friends to the north, we Texans have a winter when nothing grows, it’s called summer!!!  Late summer is the toughest on the gardens, the gardener, and very few plants thrive in these here 100 degree days, except Okra.  So, being the smart gardener girl you are, you will want to put the beds to bed.  The following step by step guide makes that bed.  If you need to know what each step accomplishes, the reasons for the seasons (bad pun) are at the end.

1 – Start with overgrown bed, water thoroughly

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 1

2 – Add some elbow grease by raking and pulling weeds, water again

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 2

3 – Throw on any green plant debris and dry molasses, add more water

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 3

4 – Sprinkle heavily with compost or mature manure and Sweet PDZ, water some more

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 4

5 – Cover with bed of straw or year-old hay, water lots and lots

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 5

6 – Cover with very wet brown cardboard, water a bunch more

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 6

7 – Smother with thick layer of mulch, and can you guess? Yep, water, water, water.

Cracks in the Earth at Dawn: Dry Gardens 7

Now the beds can settle down for a long summer’s nap.

  1. Water the bed to moisten soil, make weeds easier to pull, and squirt neck when you get hot.
  2. Clear bed to get rid of roots, any diseased plants, and smooth the ground for following layers.
  3. Green plant trimmings like comfrey or grass clippings, puts nitrogen on the ground for the compost to feed on and with the help of dry molasses sets up a colony of beneficial microbes.
  4. Compost will decompose any wayward weeds you missed, add organic matter to soil, the Sweet PDZ or Zeolite is an absorbent that will hold any residual chemicals, think kitty litter.
  5. Straw or old hay* provides carbon for the composting matter, aerates the bed, and smells good.
  6. Soggy cardboard decomposes quickly, holds down straw, smothers seeds or weeds (especially Bermuda), retains moisture and is a great way to recycle. (Cardboard free at local stores)
  7. Final layer of mulch holds the cardboard, looks very nice, retains even more moisture, and is the last to decompose, thus leaving you ready for fall planting. (Mulch free at local precincts)

Now walk around on that spongy bouncy bed and you’ll realize. ”Hey, this feels like a forest floor!”

And …my work here is done!!!!


*Coastal hay is sprayed with picloram, a very strong and long-lasting residual herbicide.  If you try and plant seeds after using this hay, they will not germinate, sprout, or grow, trust me!!!   Get chemical-free hay or very very old straw for garden use.