Supplies you need (in addition to leaves, grass cuttings and a little soil or compost): a bottle to mix and spray equal parts of Coca-Cola, beer and Ammonia. The GB sheriff elf and frogs are optional but a little magic couldn't hurt and might even help this process.  Note:  The elf has his fingers crossed behind his back.


I was talking to Gene Rodgers yesterday. (Gene is one of my neighbors, member of Loving Garland Green, husband of Margie, great inventor/tinker, green thumbsman and my endless resource for innovative garden improvements.  Gene is a retired mechanical engineer so just about all of his inventions turn out well.)

Gene is often telling me something I never heard of before and yesterday was no different.  He told of a process that he had learned about on the Internet to turn leaves, grass cuttings and vegetable scraps into compost in just two weeks.

Those of us who have managed compost piles in our yards over the years realize the full enormity of this claim.  Most compost piles take six months or more to convert to soil.  Even compost in tumblers will take two or three months.

Here is the process:

1. Spread a layer of dry leaves on the ground.

2.  Mix equal parts of coke, ammonia and beer in a spray bottle and spray over the dry leaves.

3. Spread a layer of green matter (grass clippings for example)

4.  Spray this layer with the concoction.

5. Spread a layer of compost or soil.

6. Spray this layer with the concoction.

7. Build as many layers as you like in this fashion.

8. When finished, cover the pile with a tarp.

9. Wait one week.  Then remove the cover and mix up the pile.

10 Cover the pile again and wait one more week and VOILA!  Compost!


 Below is a photo of my compost pile all covered.

Stay tuned.  We'll take a look next Wednesday, April 30.

Then the final viewing will be Wednesday, May 7.  At that time, providing the claims are true, we should have compost.


Leon Smith of Keyhole Farm has generously donated one of his keyhole garden kits to Loving Garland Green for installation at the Garland Community Garden located at 4022 Naaman School Road here in Garland, Texas.  Keyhole Farm is located in Clifton (southwest about 2 hours from us).

Leon is currently getting ready for Dr. Deb Tolman’s* keyhole garden tour set for the end of the month. If anyone wants to see their gardens in person at other times, please let Leon know in advance of your approximate arrival time so that he will be sure to be around. Sometimes he is away running errands, etc. and would like to visit with guests.

His cell phone number is (254) 652-9483 and he can be e-mailed at

Here is an opportunity for a local Garland nursery:  Call Leon (be sure to tell him that Loving Garland Green and Eat Green DFW sent you) and tell him that you want to carry his hand-tooled Keyhole garden kits.



*Dr. Deb Tolman is one of the leading experts on Keyhole gardens.  She has more than 30 years’ experience in academic research and landscape design plus extensive training in the plant sciences, economics, and environmental education.



If you are interested in Dr. Deb's 2014 tour: 

Keyhole Garden Tour & Lecture 
Join us for a tour of 20 keyhole gardens in Bosque County. Tour will include:  #1) an entertaining and informative presentation by Dr. Deb at 2:30 at the Bosque Arts Center; #2) a special screening of the Keyhole Garden DVD at the recently-remodeled historic Cliftex theatre; and #3) a peek at the Silo Project. 
Maps and tickets will be distributed at the Citizens Bank the morning of the Tour.  Rain or Shine.                    
Friday, April 25th                    9:00 to 2:30                $40/person 




Current Watering System for Raised Bed at the Garland Community Garden:  a five-gallon bucket of water attached by flexible tubing to four ollas buried in the bed.

Underground watering systems that water the roots of the plants conserve water and assist forgetful or busy gardeners in keeping their gardens growing.  Some estimate this method of underground watering uses up to 50% less water than the traditional top down methods.

Members of Loving Garland Green may install 55 gallon barrels for each raised bed.  The barrels will have lids to prevent evaporation and to prevent mosquito breeding.  Instead of watering our beds, we will "water" the barrels--perhaps every 10 days or so.  This will conserve water and will enable us to keep track of how much water is actually needed.

The 55 gallon barrel will serve as the resevoir for underground ollas buried in the garden.  The ollas are connected by flexible tubing which in turn is connected to the resevoir. Ollas are an ancient manual watering system whereby unglazed clay pots with lids are filled with water, buried in the garden, and then manually replenished when the pot is dry. Roots of the plants seek the water as it seeps through the sides of the pot.  


Ed Browning and Cary Majors, members of Loving Garland Green, assist Jack Morgan in planting seeds while Jack's sister, Erin, patiently waits her turn.

Welcome to the Garland Community Garden  - 4022 Naaman School Road

The Welcome to Our Garden sign was purchased by Board Member Charles Bevilacqua from Alston's Old Home Place, a local Garland antique store located at 212 Seventh Street.  Charlie will bring it to all Loving Garland Green official functions. In addition to organic gardening, we encourage citizens to buy local at locally owned businesses and locally managed chain stores. When you shop at a chain store located in your city, 2% of the Texas sales tax on taxable items you purchase goes to the city where the chain store is located. This sign will be a reminder to support local.  Speaking of Local:  All the mulch featured in the photo below was given to us by the city of Garland.  Support your city, support yourself and your family. 

If you are interested in supporting the efforts of Loving Garland Green to grow our local economy, please call us at 972-571-4497. You can also visit our website for information on donations, sponsorship and membership. Loving Garland Green.  



Four Raised Beds Installed at the Garland Community Garden

The installation of the first raised beds was completed yesterday!  Loving Garland Green members all congregated at 4022 Naaman School Road to install a 4' x 7' raised bed.  The larger of the four beds is divided by twine into 28 squares and each of our members brought a plant or seeds for planting.  

The three smaller beds are each two-foot squares--made from untreated pine that we were given. In them we planted sunflowers, corn, marigolds and blackberry vines.  In a few weeks we will install the trellis for the blackberry plants as well as a trellis for the cucumber plants in the larger bed.


Gene Rogers, one of Loving Garland Green members, has designed a drip watering system that we are experimenting with--or I should say "Gene is experimenting with."  Ollas are filled with water and then connected with small hoses to a larger reservoir which for now is a 5 gallon bucket.  

Gene Rogers, Loving Garland Green member, connecting Ollas with tubing for underground irrigation.

 Perhaps in the future we will install a 55 gallon reservoir for each garden plot.  That is another design Gene, a retired mechanical engineer, is working on--free-standing rain barrels.  Of course, the design would be a mosquito safe design. When needed, we would have a bucket brigade to bring water from home.  However, with appropriate rain harvesting techniques and given the annual rainfall here in Garland, there is more than enough water to nourish a garden for every family in Garland.  The rooftop of a 1,200 square foot home has the potential, given our annual rainfall, to yield 26,000 gallons of water annually.

We have not yet officially applied for water service for the garden.  At least for now we are experimenting with the option of not being connected to city water.  As part of our mission to inspire and encourage Garland residents to grow their own food, we want to provide examples of creative ways to garden and produce more food from smaller spaces and with more self-reliance.  

Initial watering system at Garland Community Garden.


More Scenes from Yesterday's Happy Opening of the Garland Community Garden

Loving Garland Green members converge before planting begins.  At the right are clay pots to be used as ollas, an ancient manual underground watering system, in this raised bed.


Burgi Bartlett, one of the very active members of Loving Garland Green, plants 16 radish seeds.  If you visit the garden five days from now, be sure to look for sprouts.  Radishes are fast and reach maturity in 21 to 25 days.


 Margie Rogers, a Loving Garland Green board member is directing the placement of a tomato cage.  In the middle of the photograph, laden with camera equipment we have Anita Opel, our treasurer.  Photographs of Anita are rare because she is most often behind the camera.


Jeane Shortsleeve, one of the great recruiters for Loving Garland Green, getting ready to plant some of the Red Bell Peppers she brought to the opening of the Garland Community Garden.



 Cary and Regina Majors, Loving Garland Green members,  survey the 4' x 7' bed.  (Cary is an officer of our board.)



Ken Dyer, Vice President of the Board of Directors for Loving Garland Green, plants sixteen onion plants.



Among the plants installed in our garden was this heirloom tomato (shown above) which is especially developed to be hearty in drought conditions.  This plant was donated by Nancy Lovett, an active member in the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club--an organization that has been in existence for 21 years now.



Join Us for Our Next Big Garden Adventure


KeyHole Garden

While most of our gardens will be raised square foot beds ( 4' x 8'), our first garden plot (about 1/20th of our total space of 17,000 square feet) will also contain a Keyhole Garden.  We plan to construct this 6 ' diameter garden the first weekend in May.  The walls of the keyhole garden vary.  The ones which are more permanent are built from stone. Some, like the design above, can be purchased commercially as a kit.  Our design, due to our license agreement with the city, will be more like the illustration shown above.  Keyhole gardens are another water-efficient garden design.  Typically they are a circle six feet in diameter with a wedge cut out of the circle to provide access to a wire container in the center of the circle.  Leaves, vegetable table scraps, banana peels, etc.  are put into the center wire container to nourish the plants.  Very little water is needed to maintain these kinds of garden.

Texas Coop Power recommends the soil is developed thusly according to Texas Coop Power:  Layering is proven to enhance soil health. Layering suggestions: wood on very bottom, next cardboard, next a bit of compost, next petroleum-free newspaper, manure, worms, wood ash, straw, topsoil. Repeat, compost, straw, topsoil or some such combination until you reach desired height.




I stopped by the  Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club organic plant sale yesterday.  They offered vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, pass-alongs and hard-to-find plants. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday April 12 at 1316 N. Floyd Road, Richardson. 

This garden club has been in existence for 21 years.  To find out more about them, please visit their website at Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club.  WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR HERBAL HARVEST will be the topic for their Thursday, April 24, 2014 meeting.  Join them  to hear Joy Lilljedahl of the Herb Society of America.  They meet at REI on 635 and Welch.  Refreshments 6:30, meeting start 7pm.

Loving Garland Green strongly supports organizations such as the Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club.  The Garland Community Garden has two plants in our new garden that came from this group:  our sunflowers and an heirloom tomato.




Gardening is a great experience for people of all ages and from all walks of life.

If you enjoy learning, then I highly recommend the experience of gardening because you'll never be able to learn all there is to learn about gardening--regardless how young you may be.  In addition to learning, you will also develop a heightened awareness and respect for the connectedness of all living things.  Truly, gardening is an amazing experience and the wonderment of it is ongoing.  Following is a recent story of my ongoing experience at learning from the garden.

Among the hard to find plants, at yesterday's Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club sale, I saw Larkspur and purchased four small plants.  I can remember as  little girl planting Larkspur in my grandmother's garden.  

I wondered why we don't see Larkspur featured in the plant selections at local nurseries. After searching the Internet, I found my answer:  All parts of Delphinium, commonly known as "larkspur", are toxic to humans and animals causing skin irritation and severe digestive discomfort (even death) if eaten.  Death is through cardiotoxic and neuromuscular blocking effects that  occur within a few hours of ingestion.

I didn't bring larkspur to be planted at the Garland Community Garden. However, the plant kingdom is filled with toxic plants. A few that I can name off the top of my head include the  Poinsettia, Oleander, Morning Glory and the fast-growing castor bean plant. It's good to know the ones that are toxic to animals and humans--especially if you have children or pets who might gnaw on them.

It's also good to remember that all plants, like humans, have a reason for being. Somehow we are all interconnected and fit into a grander scheme of things. Take the Larkspur, for example: Despite its toxicity, it used for food by the larvae of some moth species such as the Dot Moth. And those "nasty" moths--where do they fit into the scheme of things? Moths are excellent pollinators, picking up pollen with their legs and wings and depositing it on flowers they visit.


Eight days ago the mulch pile for the Garland Community Garden looked like the photo above--a pile about six feet high.  Today, it looks like the photo below--spread evenly and ready for raised beds.  With the space currently covered in mulch, we have room for 13 more beds.  After these beds as built, we plan to beg the city for another load.  Sometime in the coming weeks we will spread about three feet of sand between the mulch and the border of the licensed area for our garden plot.


Today Margie Rogers and I worked six hours today spreading the mulch.   Here is a photo of Margie below.  Thank you Margie.  Charlie, Robert, Jeane and Burgi also worked earlier in the week speading mulch.  Thank  you all too!

Not only is the mulch spread, the first raised bed has been built and Loving Garland Green is ready for our Installation Party tomorrow morning (Saturday April 12 at 11 AM).  Below we have a photo of Burgi Bartlett and Ashley, a newcomer to Loving Garland Green.  They are installing the strings that will mark off the planting squares for the square foot garden.  This first bed will have 28 square feet of planting space.  Tomorrow, members of Loving Garland Green will each bring a plant for one of the squares.  Gene Rogers, one of our members, will bring four ollas that will be planted and used for water conservation.


Nancy Lovett stopped by today to drop off some plants and to offer encouragement.  Thank you Nancy!  By the way, be sure to attend the plant sale the Dallas Garden Glub is holding. The Greater Dallas Organic Garden Club will host an organic plant sale, offering vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, pass-alongs and hard-to-find plants. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 1316 N. Floyd Road, Richardson. For a partial list of plants for sale, see  I'm attending!


Charles Bevilacqua, member of Loving Garland Green begins installation of a raised bed

Yesterday, members of Loving Garland Green installed two more urban gardens.  These gardens were installed in South Garland at the homes of Marie Mathes and Sandra Dinkins.

Jeane Shortsleeve (Member of Loving Garland Green) and Marie Mathes view Marie's finished 4' x 8' square foot garden.

 Sandra Dinkins and Liz Berry (Member of Loving Garland Green) stand beside Sandra's finished square foot garden.


Chickens from Eric's yard. 

Note on Eric:  Eric is Sandra's neighbor.  About a month ago he attended one Loving Garland Green meeting.  Until that time, Eric had never heard of Square Foot Gardens, but I showed Eric the ones in my yard and loaned him my copy of Mel Bartholomew's book "Square Foot Gardens". In less than a week Eric built a square foot garden for his family and it is now filled with thriving vegetables. Word of good things spreads fast.  Currrently Loving Garland Green has three more urban gardens to install.  To find out more about our program, visit the home page for our website. Loving Garland Green 


These urban gardens are part of our mission to register 50,000 urban gardens in Garland by the end of 2015. No, of course, all these installations will not be done by members of Loving Garland Green, but we do anticipate installing several hundred gardens over a period of two years. ;Our program, Another Urban Garden, is designed to raise awareness of all the benefits to be derived from gardening and thereby encourage more residents in our community to join in. Participants in our program are required to keep crop records of their harvests and are encouraged to send in photos as it progresses. In addition, we ask them to pass their gardens forward by encouraging another resident to plant a garden.

Here are a few of the benefits of increasing the number of urban gardens in your communiy:

  • Increased food safety.  Food grown organically means safe, healthy food for you and your family.
  • Increased food security. Food grown locally increases chances of its availability and reduces the susceptibility to disruptions to market delivery (such as natural and man made disasters). Today, most of the food in grocery stores is shipped on average from 1,500 miles away. Furthermore, as part of their efficiency model, most grocery stories only stock their shelves 3 days out before being replenished. As a result of this model which is still followed today, after Katrina, grocery store shelves stayed empty for weeks and people went hungry.
  • Increased monetary benefits for residents and businesses in the local economy.  Urban gardens create new markets and strengthen existing markets.
  • Increased sustainability and self-reliance. Urban agricultural gardens such as those advocated by Loving Garland Green, follow agricultural and food system practices that do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their food needs. Sustainability of the food and agriculture system is increased when a diversified agriculture exists and when members of a community have more input in building that food system.
  • Increased community awareness and bonding.  Gardening is a common bond that makes it easy for people from all walks of life to talk with one another and share ideas.

Kenneth Wicklne, an avid local gardener for years, and a friend of Loving Garland Green sent me some great old posters of victory gardens.

Frederic Cooper, 1917. US Food Administration.

Uncle Sam said it almost 100 years ago and he is still right.


L. Mallory 1917 New York Department of Health

Advice that is still appropriate today.


Now here is an army I would like to see people enlisting in.
This poster from Stecher-Traung Lithograph Corporation 1939



(Mexican Tarragon from Charlie's garden October 29, 2013)  Tarragon will be featured at the Garland Community Garden opening Saturday April 12 at 11 AM.

Tomorrow several members will be installing two urban gardens in south Garland--one at the home of Sandra Dinkins and one at the home of Marie Mathes.  Look forward to photos and updates of that event here on Eat Green DFW tomorrow evening.



Loving Garland Green Members, Jean and Charlie, spread mulch at the Garland Community Garden

Then, of course, there is the big installation coming up this Saturday at 4022 Naaman School Road.  At 11 AM we will begin installation of the first raised bed at the Garland Community Garden.  At our meeting on Monday evening members of Loving Garland Green chose plants for the foot squares of our raised bed which will measure a total of 36 square feet as it is four feet wide and 9 feet long.  My plant selection for two squares is Mexican tarragon--a great and fragrant herb that begins blooming now and continues until the first hard frost.


More Urban Garden Inspirations from Loving Garland Green Members:  Margie and Gene Rogers

Bubbles (my rat terrier wonder dog)  and I meandered across the street this afternoon to see the progress the Rogers are making with their urban garden.  It continues to expand and expand. Just look at one of several square foot beds in their garden.  I know where to come after the romane lettuce in my garden gets eaten.

Examples of permaculture and repurposing of items abound in their urban garden.  Take a look at these two repurposed containers:  Below is an old toilet sprouting plants out of its tank in the midst of a circular iris bed.  Among the iris Margie has also planted vegetables.

A sea shell shaped sand box and swimming pool is reincarnated as the container for an herb garden.  In the foreground we have an old tire also living a new life as a plant container.  In the background is one of several of their raised beds.

 Speaking of containers, Margie loaned me a great gardening book that I highly recommend: The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible  by Edward C. Smith.  This book is packed with 262 pages of nothing but helpful information showing you how to grow your own fresh organic vegetables in containers no matter where you live with less digging, less weeding and less watering. Almost every page has beautiful color photographs of various containers and plants.  Among many other techniques, the author shows you how to build self-watering containers. Toward the back of the book he features 100 pages with a plant devoted to each page which features a photo of the plant, and tells the reader how to pick the pot for the plant, how to grow it, when to harveset and eat it, and how to keep the bugs away from it.  Edward C. Smith is also the best-selling author of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible.

As I've mentioned before, you don't need a back-forty acres to grow lots of great food. You can grow a bounty of food in pots, tubs, and other containers. Last year I grew the worlds greatest tasting cantaloupe from a pot and no less then fifteen eggplants from a container.  Below are photos I took last September of my eggplant.  It grew in a repurposed plastic trash can.

 Margie is growing potatoes in a container this spring.


Definition of Treated Wood as referenced in this article:  Treated wood refers to wood industrially pressure-treated with arsenic and chromium (chromated copper arsenate or CCA). Copper acts as a fungicide, arsenate (a form of arsenic) acts as a pesticide, and cromium binds these chemicals to the wood. The pressure-treating process involves applying these chemicals to the wood and then subjecting the wood to high pressure.  On December 31, 2003 the US wood treatment industry stopped treating residential lumber with CCA.  This was a voluntary agreement the industry made with the EPA.  CCA was replaced with copper-based pesticides except for some industrial uses.


Note:  Loving Garland Green will not be using treated wood at the Garland Community Garden to make the frames for the raised beds as that is part of our agreement.  



Those Most At Risk

From all the research that I've read, the greatest hazard from this treated wood is endured by workers who treat the wood day after day in factories where it is processed, and those who handle it at lumber yards day after day. Again, this is my opinion. Each individual will have to make their own determination. In case you haven't noticed, we live in a "buyer beware" environment that behooves all of us to pay close attention to the products we purchase and use.

Arsenic, one of the components of CCA, is a known human carcinogen.  Thus it could be argued that reduction of any exposure to arsenic is advisable.  But when estimating the risks that a chemical can pose, one should consider two main factors: toxicity and exposure. (Of course, the health and age of the person exposed are also key factors with children, the elderly and the infirm being more susceptible to harm from exposure to toxic chemicals.)  Toxicity are the harmful effects the chemical may cause.  Some chemicals are more toxic than others. Exposure is the dose received.  Of course, the smaller the dose the less the harmful impact on the organism.

Types of Arsenic: Organic and Inorganic

If carbon is part of the combination, then the arsenic is considered organic.  The arsenate used in wood treatment is inorganic and is more likely to accumulate in living tissues and impair metabolism.  Organic arsenic (carbon based) doesn't appear to do this and we excrete most of it before it does any harm.

We typically eat from 25 to 50 micrograms of organic arsenic a day. (A microgram is a millionth of a gram.)  Low levels of arsenic are in everything we eat.  Shellfish is one common source of organic arsenic.

How Much Inorganic Arsenic Can we Ingest Safely?

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta, we can ingest up to 0.3 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per kilogram of body weight per day and not be harmed. The average American woman, who weighs 132 lb. or 60 kg., would have to eat more than 18 micrograms daily all her life to see any ill effects. Before you get alarmed, remember this is inorganic arsenic we are talking about, not the organic types predominant in our diet. And, an ATSDR spokesperson pointed out, 0.3 microgram is a low estimate for the maximum tolerable dose.

Precautions to Take When Handling CCA Treated Wood

Refer to this EPA information sheet.


If you do choose to use pressure treated wood in your garden there are some precautions you can take:

  • Once a year apply a penetrating type coating to the wood.  Oil or water-based stains that can penetate the wood are recommended.
  • Apply a ground cover such as sand or tire chips around a child's playground set built with pressure treated wood to minimize exposure to arsenic that leaches. Arsenic readily washes through ground covers to the underlying soil.  (Of course, at some point in time the soil may need to be removed if the playset is removed and the soil is exposed again.)


Inorganic arsenic can also be in soil as a leftover from the days when arsenic was an approved pesticide. If you have any doubts regarding the quality of the soil in which you are growing food, get the soil tested.  Here is the link to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service--a great source for those of us who live in North Texas.