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Front Yard Food Forest & Pruning Prep!

Yep, we’ve gotten a little spoiled over here in Central Texas with recent mild winters. Then, coldest temps since 2011 blasted us out of smug complacency. Despite unexpected brown around my garden, this narcissus cheerfully rises above the flattened.
Paperwhite narcissus in cold winter Central Texas Gardener
Only time will tell if my firecracker ferns return from the roots.
freeze damaged firecracker fern Central Texas Gardener
Many people lose native Barbados cherry, but I never have. I’ll cut it back in late February. It needed pruning anyway! Beyond, bay laurel covers for its temporary disgrace.
Barbados cherry freeze damage with evergreen bay laurel Central Texas Gardener
I deliberately planted spuria irises in this spot that hosts native plants that go brown to the ground every year (but return). Mushy crinums are routine, though they’re putting out new growth thanks to the warm days (not good!). Daunted daylilies just need a trim and some dividing!
frozen crinum nipped daylilies winter spuria iris Central Texas Gardener
Agave celsii got a little nipped as did nearby Iris ‘Nada.’ I’ll cut back the iris later and leave the agave alone.
Agave celsii and Iris Nada  freeze damage Central Texas Gardener
Daphne’s Plant of the Week, silvery Yucca pallida, is hardy to -10.
Yucca pallida no stalk yucca Central Texas Gardener
It works just fine on my clay soil (albeit amended over the years) to tantalize me with its ever growing bloom stalk in late spring.
Yucca pallida flower spike Central Texas Gardener
I love this yucca for its silvery tones, even in part shade to dappled sunlight. In this garden at BELO at UT, it needs little maintenance and certainly very little water (though they handle rain bombs just fine).
Yucca pallida colony walkway part shade Central Texas Gardener
Another thing I love: Yucca pallida doesn’t form a stalk and colonizes to maximize your buy. Find out more.
Yucca pallida Central Texas Gardener
Since pruning is definitely on our priority list, this week Julie Clark from Stronger Than Dirt, an all-women maintenance team, puts us on the right track.
Tom Spencer Julie Clark pruning tips Central Texas Gardener  WEB
First, don’t start just yet unless something’s driving you nuts. Certainly, we can cut Turk’s cap stems to the ground. And I’ll cut my Hamelia patens to just above the ground soon, since it won’t pop new growth until the soil warms up.
dwarf Hamelia patens winter dormant Central Texas Gardener
But with our radical swings from cold to heat, February’s a better bet to get busy. Get Julie’s tips on evergreens, perennials, roses and grasses.
lantana and Lindheimer muhly Central Texas Gardener
John shows off some mighty fine tools to make the job easier. Using pruners that are too small can twist and damage bark, rather than leaving a nice clean cut.
Pruning tools John Dromgoole Central Texas Gardener
I’m a Felco fan for my hand pruners, since it’s easy to replace parts that wear out.
Felco prune and replacement parts Central Texas Gardener
Sadly, Kathy Bartsch will ultimately need some folks with chainsaws to handle her cedar (Ashe juniper) trees.
fungus on ashe juniper Central Texas Gardener
For several months, she’s noticed a yellowish growth that’s a tough, rubbery consistency. Daphne diagnoses this as a fungus that’s now feeding on the interior of the tree. Find out more.
deadly fungus cedar Central Texas Gardener
On tour, when Ben McConnell and Steph Hengle turned their front yard into food, the neighbors stopped by for dinner!
front yard food stand Central Texas Gardener
front yard vegetable garden and farmstand Central Texas Gardener
In their (former) Bouldin Creek neighborhood, Ben dug out truckloads of rocks to create berms, enriched frequently with compost, vermiculture castings, and lots of underground earthworms.
stained concrete path front yard food garden Central Texas Gardener
permaculture good soil front yard food garden Central Texas Gardener
An essential part of his permaculture philosophy was directing flooding rainwater on their sloping lot with berms and swales that follow the yard’s contours. “That’s one reason for the berms, is to be able to capture and store that water and all the swales that are behind the berms to slow down that water,” Ben noted.
front yard food garden water control Central Texas Gardener
permaculture front yard food garden berms and swales Central Texas Gardener
Two cisterns collect rainwater.
rainwater collection patio front yard food garden Central Texas Gardener
Even in a small front yard food forest, they’ve got room for 18 different fruit trees, along with two pecans. They’re even growing grapevines on their front porch trellis.
Front porch grapevines Central Texas Gardener
Since nothing goes to waste here, when Ben dismantled a wooden patio structure, he turned it into raised beds, benches, and compost bins.
grapefruit tree recycled wood raised beds cistern front yard food Central Texas Gardener
To allow their dogs (and now ducks) front yard access, Ben built an open slat fence and entrance gate arbor. Its design lets neighbors engage, but keeps Ben and Steph’s pups from strolling the ‘hood.
homemade fence front yard food garden Central Texas Gardener
homemade fence entrance arbor front yard food garden Central Texas Gardener
Then they expanded the family with gregarious Indian Runner ducks, raised inside when tiny ducklings.
pet duck Bouldin Food Forest Central Texas Gardener
Ben built onto their patio stone frame to make a raccoon-proof home for them.
secure duck house front yard garden Central Texas Gardener
After Trudie and Mr. and Mrs. Quackenbush frolic in their pool, Ben nourishes the garden with its fertilizer-enriched water.
little duck swimming pool Central Texas Gardener
Although they shared harvests with neighbors, many asked if they could buy more. So, for a few years, Ben and Steph held a popular Saturday morning farm stand where everyone swapped recipes, planting tips, and neighborly chat.
grapefruit marmalade herbs front yard food stand Central Texas Gardener
In November 2016, Ben and Steph held their last farm stand. Breaking ground once again on a 150 acre spread near Temple, they’ll be able to supply even more local food to tasteful restaurants.
dog at front yard farmstand CTG
Follow their latest adventure @bouldinfoodforest.

And many thanks to Freejay McCloud for the music!

Watch the whole story now.

And many thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

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