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What's Up in the ABC Gardens
What’s Up in the ABC Gardens

The gardens at ABC have been really lush this spring thanks to all the rain central Texas has received over the past year. In the vegetable garden, we have harvested close to two dozen artichokes from two plants, and we let one go to seed so we can start more plants. ABC staff is feasting on yellow squash and zucchini, the green beans and cucumbers are starting to produce, and the tomatoes and peppers are not far behind. We’ll be harvesting lots of garlic in June and determining which varieties produce best in our climate.

The field poppies (Papaver rhoeas L., Papaveraceae) and antique roses (Rosa spp., Rosaceae) were beautiful again this year and some of the echinaceas (Echinacea spp., Asteraceae) bloomed all winter. In the Human Systems Garden, the chicory (Cichorium intybus L., Asteraceae) grew to 5 feet before blooming, the clary sage (Salvia sclarea L., Lamiaceae) got 4 feet high and 4 feet wide by the time it bloomed, and the blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus L., Asteraceae), which didn’t do anything but look like it was dying last year, is 3 feet across and producing plenty of seed, so we can grow more.

On Earth Day (April 22, 2005), ABC gardener Nathanael “Nate” Sponseller and ABC PharmD intern Grant Sisemore planted 11 trees and shrubs donated by our good friends at Horizon Herbs (; included were cascara sagrada (Frangula purshiana [DC.] J.G. Cooper, Rhamnaceae), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum L., Hippocastanaceae), tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia [Maiden & Betche] Cheel, Myrtaceae), thuja (Thuja occidentalis L., Cupressaceae), black walnut (Juglans nigra L., Juglandaceae), weeping willow (Salix babylonica L., Salicaceae), smooth sumac (Rhus glabraL., Anacardiaceae), cramp bark (Viburnum opulus L., Caprifoliaceae), hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens L., Hydrangeaceae), and two hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna Jacq. and C. laevigata [Poir.] DC., Rosaceae). Nate and Grant also planted a 3 ft. x 30 ft. bed of ornamental gingers (Zingiber spp., Zingiberaceae) and gotu kola (Centella asiatica [L.] Urb., Apiaceae). Throughout the month of April, ABC’s intern from American YouthWorks, Erin Gentry, transplanted hundreds of 4-inch pots of herbs to gallon containers. ABC will sell these plants at the Sunset Valley Herb Fest in October 2005 and at the Sunshine Garden Sale in March 2006.

Our friends from Coyote Creek Farm ( came to ABC in May and sprayed all the gardens, trees, shrubs, and lawns with aerated compost tea. What makes aerated compost tea so exciting is that it provides the soil all the benefits of adding compost and then some. It adds beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes to the sprayed area, thus improving the soil and suppressing diseases while helping the plants access the nutrients they need. It takes much less compost to make aerated compost tea than it would take to amend your gardens, and you don’t have to haul a bunch of compost around in your wheelbarrow. If you are a gardener or commercial grower or just like a nice lawn, and you don’t know about aerated compost tea, you can learn more at

ABC would like to thank all the staff, interns, and volunteers who put so much time into making the herb and vegetable gardens gorgeous this spring. We also want to thank all the individuals and companies who made in-kind donations to ABC. Without these donations our gardens would not be nearly as beautiful as they are. If you would like to make a donation to the upkeep of ABC’s gardens, please visit our wish list at or call us at 512-926-4900 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE 512-926-4900end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

—Gayle Engels