Tree Sale, 2016!

The annual BioGardener Tree Sale begins!  We’re a little behind this year, so we’re putting the pedal down to get trees in before the fast-closing seasonal window.  The deets:

1.  Choose Among Trees From the Official List, Including Quantity and Size.

  • Mexican White Oak – The fastest growing of our Oaks and resists Oak Wilt.  Plant at least 20′ from other shade trees or buildings.
    15-gallon – $100
    30-gallon – $240

    Man with Mexican White Oak, 15-gal

    Man with Mexican White Oak, 15-gal

  • Bur Oak – Slower growing shade tree, but worth it especially if you plan to live a long time.  Acorns are great for flour in case of apocalypse, and also make for cool craft times.  Plant at least 20-25′ from other shade trees or buildings.
    15-gallon – $105
    45-gallon – $350
Man with Bur Oak, 45-gal.

Man with Bur Oak, 45-gal

  • Mesquite – Be a rebel.  It’s a weed if your a South Texas rancher but a bullet proof tree in harsh landscapes.  Good for wildlife.  Full sun and give it some room.
    30-gallon – $215
  • Cork Oak – Yes, Cork Oak.  I’ve only seen two of these in my life and they’re probably a million years old but man they’re cool looking.  My hunch is they like water so be aware.
    5-gallon – $55
  • Fruit Trees – Almost all of these are 2-3′ bare-root whips, which start out as wispy sticks but grow quickly into food producers.  Peach.  Pear.  Plum.  Apple.  Fig.  Apricot.  Persimmon.  Pomegranate.  Pecan.  Almost all are grafted onto hardy, relatively disease resistant root stock tolerant of our alkaline soils.  Some need to two varieties and other self-pollinate, look it up or ask.
    $60/each
    or
    $50/each for 3+ trees
  • Crape Myrtles – I am no fan of Crapes but it’s probably good therapy to go against personal preference sometimes.
    15-gallon Natchez – $105
    30-gallon Purple – $180
  • Redbuds –  The native buglers of Austin spring.
    15-gallon – $110
    30-gallon – $250

2.  Email Jeremy your address and list of trees sooner than later, but before FEBRUARY 24, 2016.

3.  Choose the spots for your new trees.  Use whatever you have laying around so we know what to plant and where.  We may visit to inspect the placement and make any minor adjustments if needed, and replace your marker with a labeled pin flag.  If you don’t like our re-placement, just re-re-place the flag, life if too short to worry about small stuff.

4.  We will begin installing immediately.  We will plant in an order that makes the most sense to us.  All trees will be mulched and probably not staked because it’s usually not needed; fruit trees will get a little organic booster amendment at time of planting.  As always, there is no warranty on trees, since we can’t be responsible for anything that happens to them after planting.  See a new tree care guide here – http://bio-gardener.com/2012/01/new-tree-care/

5.  Take Charge.  Sorry, but we just don’t have the time to give personal consultations on selection/placement unless the price is right, but hopefully, there is enough information on our Blog or other websites, including Tree Folks – http://www.treefolks.org/ – to make an informed decision.  Still, any emailed questions will receive a response as quickly and completely as possible.

Thanks for planting!

BioGardener – 2015 Winter Notes

Hello BioGardener Lovers:

I assume most businesses follow some kind of model in pursuit of success.  But daily decisions predicated on some formula is such a bore – give me the poetry of guts and wits over the sterility of procedure and equations any day.

However ambiguous our model and loosey goosey our process, I’m content with the results.  BioGardener is flexible instead of large, thoughtful instead of fast, scrappy instead of mechanical, balanced instead of greedy.   In other words, we’re human.

And like all humans, we make mistakes, and sometimes rely on our client friends to help make us aware of and then correct those mistakes.  That’s one benefit of running a business like a human instead of a machine – the cultivation of relationships.  We believe those relationships are key to making BioGardener a better business.  In a human way of course.

All to say:  thanks to all who value that human relationship and understand that we’re all on the same team.  Thanks for responding with a conversation instead of an overreaction, and respecting us as people instead of tools.  It makes a difference.

Winter Chores

Speaking of tools, winter should be arriving any day now, our favorite season for sharpening blades, tuning engines, welding over tape, and reflecting on another busy year.

For maintenance clients, we typically shift our focus towards leaf management and away from weeds and grass mowing.  We do our best to find something to do while the mowers take a rest, but if you feel like it’s overkill or need a bigger push, please just let us know.  Nobody is under contract – we rely on you to tell us when to back off and when to get huge.  Communication baby.  It’s what the humans do.

It’s a good time to make sure beds are mulched with at least 2-6″ of organic cover like leaves or mulch, and to file the pruners in preparation for winter cutbacks in February/March.  Allow the dormant shells of shrubs and perennials to persist until then to help offer shelter to wildlife during bleak times, give the plants time to reseed, and to contribute to the stark beauty of a winter landscape.

And don’t forget about sprinkler systems, the Kevin McAllisters of landscapes.  Soils are perfectly saturated heading into the dormant season and don’t need much help from anyone in the moisture department.  Turn those sprinklers OFF, or at least set timers on a 28-day schedule if you need to get your money’s worth.

Tips for the Fellers

For all who have contributed to the holiday tip pot for the guys in November payments, many thanks.  It’s a great way to show appreciation for the crew’s hard work throughout the year and is always deeply appreciated.

Winter Schedule

As every year, the guys will take a week of paid vacation around the holidays, which means the schedule gets egged – a rainy fall and lots of delayed installation projects only makes it runnier.  Most likely, we will push regular maintenance accounts back one week, sort of like the trash day slide.  I’m but one man and cannot preemptively alert each individual account to the exact effects, but if something doesn’t seem right just ride it out and allow things to settle out organically in early January.  Or send me an email.  In the meantime, I suggest applying the cost savings towards the larger bottle of lightly peated 10-year single malt Irish Whiskey.  You’re welcome.

Tree Sale

If the Aggies taught me anything, traditional is everything and trees are good.  So get ready for our annual tree sale some time next year, just like always.  Be ready to act though, because our schedule is already unseasonably crowded and I’m already hating spring – a new record for me.

Now go start a bonfire, dance in a moonlit field, manipulate intoxicants out of organic material, and celebrate in all the other ways that only us humans can.  Thanks for another great year of being human!  Viva BioGardener!

Jeremy

The Battle of Creative Forces, and Spring Chores

The two most significant forces of the creative process are Ambition and Idleness, and they are at constant battle.  When one gains advantage over the other, the resulting imbalance pinches the flow of creative juices, stalls out the process, and creates misery.  Look what happened to Hemingway, Plath, and Wouk’s Youngblood Hawke.

Of all the seasons, Spring is Ambition.  It inspires action without foresight, judgement without reflection, work without reason.  Spring does not value Idleness, and for that it will always be a passing fad and will never achieve full greatness.  This year, it usurped its sibling nemesis Winter in a surprise attack, prematurely dethroning the Idle season in typical gaudy fashion.

East 5th at East Side Peddle Pushers

TML @ East Side Peddle Pushers, February 13, 2015

Spring is so urgent – with it’s violent buzzing, dripping, reeking, throbbing surges – as if the world will end when the sun goes down.  Urgency in gardening often negates the entire point of gardening in the first place, but the business of gardening is a different beast.  As slaves to the business, we at BioGardener have no choice but to accept the lashes of Spring’s urgency.  So here is what that looks like for us:

1.  Finish Planting Trees.  I’ve talked to the Turkey Vultures and Mesquites – Winter is preparing to avenge Spring in a late attack this year.  Their wisdom and high soil moisture means we have an extended window to plant trees this year.  We might could deliver and place trees in the coming weeks – but we probably don’t have time to plant them.  Digging holes provides much physical and emotional reward anyway, we wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of that.

2.  Plant Cautiously.  The drought is still on, the lakes are still low, and we are still facing increased water restrictions this summer barring a tropical depression.  But for reasons mentioned above, we’re currently swamped with planting projects through May.  The planting of tough grasses and perennials should happen under the dominion of Spring.  The king Season of Idleness, Summer, will destroy most late plantings with a lazy flick of his eyelash.

3.  Keep Those Sprinklers OFF.  Austin averages 60% sunshine, and I’m pretty sure to get back within statistical norms we can’t have a single cloud the rest of the year.  Still, the dreariness has it’s perks, like low evapo-transpiration rates and no need for supplemental watering for at least the next month, maybe longer.  Now is the time make systems leak-free and efficient, before the heat hits.  We can help with that.

4.  Compost and Aerate in May.  Over-achievers, those bastard nymphs of Spring, are topdressing lawns with compost right now.  Microbial activity in soils is only beginning to stir and most plants aren’t really absorbing nutrients right now – it’s best to wait until Winter has fully conceded.  Aerating and topdressing the lawn with 1/4″ of compost in May is one of the best things you can do for you lawn.  We are holding spaces on our schedule to make room for those who wish to take advantage of that window – please let me know soon so we can hold a spot for you.

5.  Prep the Garden.  It’s time to straddle seasons in the garden.  If you must plant tomatoes, be ready to cover and baby them during that inevitable late spring freeze.  Stay on top of weeds, feed the soil, start seeds indoors, stock up on mulch and organic supplements.

And so it goes.  Spring is here but so is Winter – a perfect balance of the two great forces.  Enjoy the transition.

Idleness

Death in the Garden

Tonight Austin City Council will vote on the recommendation of the Purchasing Office and Building Services Department to turn the City Hall landscape maintenance contract over to a San Antonio based firm.  This will mark the end of BioGardener’s 6+ year run at City Hall, which was designed as an educational demonstration of Austin’s location at a crossroads of three distinct eco-regions found in Texas.

We will not fight this decision.  It has been made clear to us during the last several months of working at City Hall that new City administrators want to make some changes.  It is their desire to manage the grounds as a manicured commercial landscape rather than a environmental representation of Austin’s natural history, which is pretty much the opposite of what we do, and the opposite of the original design intent of one of Austin’s most high-profile buildings.

Orderly, Arranged, Manicured, Sterile – The Future of Austin?

Wild, Free-seeding, Carefree Bluebonnet Seedlings – A Doomed Species?

We don’t regret losing this contract.  Our regret is for the City of Austin.  This story is one more death rattle from the dying soul of Austin, which seems to have more futile ambition than respect for its heritage, more lust for uniformity than for life, more greed than love, more vanity than depth, and a more depleted sense of its own self.

In some ways, I’ve given up my personal resistance to the death of Austin.  But at least through BioGardener, we continue to fight the good fight.  Our strategy is to find those who represent those bits of Austin that make it Austin (though they are harder to find every year), and to try to preserve the essence of Austin in all projects as best we can.  It makes me even more appreciative to those who support what we do and how we do it.   It’s people like them who are keeping Austin alive, and BioGardener digging.

Tree Sale, 2015!

The annual BioGardener Tree Sale begins!  Tree Sale is always a crazy time for us which suits our lifestyle well.  But for those who require the comforts of order and stability, we’ve created a list of procedures.

1.  Choose Among Trees From the Official List, Including Quantity and Size.

  • Mexican White Oak – The fastest growing of our Oaks and resists Oak Wilt.  Plant at least 20′ from other shade trees or buildings.
    15-gallon – $110
    30-gallon – $250
    45-gallon – $390
  • Burr Oak – Slower growing shade tree, do it for the kids.  Bark texture deepens with age, produce massive acorns.  Plant at least 20-25′ from other shade trees or buildings.
    15-gallon – $110
    45-gallon – $390
  • Texas Mountain Laurel – Austin native, evergreen, sun or shade, 15-20′ at maturity.
    6′ Field Dug – $520
6' Texas Mountain Laurel, and a bearded man

6′ Texas Mountain Laurel, and a bearded man

  • Mexican Sycamore – Like our native Sycamores, only less prone to die during drought.  Relatively fast growing shade tree.  Plant at least 20-25′ from other shade trees or buildings.
    15-gallon – $110

  • Yaupon– Austin native, evergreen, bright red berries in winter.  15-25′ tall at maturity, plant in part shade or full sun.
    30-gallon – $220
Bearded man with 30-gallon Yaupon

Bearded man with 30-gallon Yaupon

  • Fruit Trees – Almost all of these are 2-3′ bare-root whips, which start out as wispy sticks but grow quickly into food producers.  Peach.  Pear.  Plum.  Apple.  Fig.  Apricot.  Persimmon.  Pomegranate.  Almost all are grafted onto hardy, relatively disease resistant root stock tolerant of our alkaline soils.  Some need to two varieties and other self-pollinate, look it up or ask.
    $60/each
    or
    $50/each for 3+ trees

  • Cherry Laurel – Evergreen and retro, these are huge but a little crooked or scarred.  But still healthy and perfect as a small screen tree.
    15-gallon – $110
photo 5

Bearded man observing overgrown and funky Cherry Laurel

  • Grab Bag! – We’ve got a mix of gnarly but perfectly healthy trees:  Chinquapin Oak, Burr Oak, Mexican Plum, Red Oak, and Mexican White Oak.  These trees are crooked, asymmetrical, have deer browse scars, or otherwise wouldn’t satisfy those who seek rigid control in the natural world – a sure way to discover unhappiness.  Pick any, and get ready to bring the funk.
    15-gallon – $75

2.  Email Jeremy your address and list of trees sooner than later, but before JANUARY 19, 2015.

3.  Choose the spots for your new trees.  Use whatever you have laying around so we know what to plant and where.  We may visit to inspect the placement and make any minor adjustments if needed, and replace your marker with a labeled pin flag.  If you don’t like our re-placement, just re-re-place the flag, life if too short to worry about small stuff.

4.  We will begin installing native trees this week – fruit trees will be planted early February.  We will plant in an order that makes the most sense to us.  All trees will be mulched and probably not staked because it’s usually not needed; fruit trees will get a little organic booster amendment at time of planting.  As always, there is no warranty on trees, since we can’t be responsible for anything that happens to them after planting.  See a new tree care guide here – http://bio-gardener.com/2012/01/new-tree-care/

5.  Take Charge.  Sorry, but we just don’t have the time to give personal consultations on selection/placement unless the price is right, but hopefully, there is enough information on our Blog or other websites, including Tree Folks – http://www.treefolks.org/ – to make an informed decision.  Still, any emailed questions will receive a response as quickly and completely as possible.

Happy tree season!