currently in Austin

the show

Pond Society Tour

air date: June 1, 2013

Soothe your soul and fascinate it with wildlife through streams, ponds, and fountains on the Austin Pond Society tour. Kathy Ragan and Karl Tinsley illustrate design styles, settings, and sizes among the many options to see this year. Find out what inspired Georgetown’s Claudia and Ronnie Hubenthal to build their stream and ponds. Daphne Richards answers: can weeds go in the compost pile? Her pick of the week is esperanza ‘Orange Jubilee’. John Dromgoole explains why grafted tomatoes and other vegetables are such a hit.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Stream and Pond Design

In Georgetown, Claudia and Ronnie Hubenthal started designing their stream and ponds even before they bought their house, thanks to a serendipitous find they pinned to their imagination.  Built by Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery, mostly from the property’s stones, it’s a meditative, discovery destination at ground level, from above on their patio balcony, and even from indoors.

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Question of the Week

Can I put weeds in the compost pile?

Weeds can go in the compost pile if they haven’t yet seeded, or their seeds are still green.

Once their seeds are mature, you can put them into a hot compost pile. But if you’re using a cold composting method, it would be best not to.  So, what’s the difference between hot and cold composting?

Hot compost piles are active and cold compost piles don’t decompose all that quickly.  The best way to compost is the hot method, but many people don’t have the time, so they just pile up their yard waste in a corner and let it be.  Organic matter left this way WILL decompose eventually, but it’ll take a while.

And since the pile doesn’t ever get hot, most weed seeds can just sit there and wait it out until you use that organic matter in your garden, where they’ll be happy to sprout and take up valuable garden space, and you’ll have a great opportunity to exercise your biceps hoeing them out.

So if you’re cold-composting, toss the weeds into paper yard waste bags, leave them by the curb, and let the city compost them.   But if you have the time to build a hot pile, you CAN compost your weeds, seeds and all.  Active compost piles heat up to about 150 degrees, which is hot enough to cook most seeds.  In order to build up this heat, your pile needs to be at least 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  There are lots of ways to contain a compost pile, including pre-fab and home-built bins.

The ratio of brown materials to green materials is also important:  2/3 brown to 1/3 green.  Examples of brown materials are leaves and old mulch, while grass clippings and kitchen waste are green.  I highly recommend investing in a compost thermometer, so you can watch the temperature of the pile.  If the pile is decaying properly, the temperature will rise very quickly, and then fall slowly back below 100.  That means it’s time turn the pile.

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Plant of the Week

Tecoma X ‘Orange Jubilee’

Tecoma X ‘Orange Jubilee’

Tecoma stans

Many people call this plant Esperanza, but others use the common name yellow bells, since the flowers are long, tubular, and bell-shaped. The common species (Tecoma stans) has large, yellow flowers, but this cultivar, as its name implies, has orange flowers. The leaves of 'Orange Jubilee' are a deep, glossy green, with a glossy brightness to them. You may see this plant listed as a semi-evergreen, but it will usually be deciduous here in Central Texas. In cold winters, 'Orange Jubilee' will freeze to the ground, but unless it's unusually cold, this root hardy shrub will come back once spring temperatures warm-up sufficiently, so you'll need to prune out all the dead stems. Even if 'Orange Jubilee' doesn't freeze to the ground, you might consider pruning it to about 3 inches from the ground anyway, since that will make the plant fuller, and bushier. This fast-growing shrub loves the full, hot sun, so it would do very well in a southwestern exposure, where you might have too much reflected heat for anything else to survive. 'Orange Jubilee' can tolerate virtually any soil type, and will grow very quickly to over 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. This gorgeous shrub thrives on very low water, so if you're looking for a virtually care-free plant, 'Orange Jubilee' would be a great choice.