Photo taken at the Garland Community Garden - W. Brand and Naaman School Road 

Wire Container Gardens

With wire container gardens you can garden until you die if you want.  With this garden design people in their 80’s and 90’s can still garden.  If you can walk or get about in a wheelchair you can garden following this method.  If you are a busy person with little time to garden, you still will have enough time to garden using the wire container method because there is little to no weed pulling and very little time spent watering.

Purchase or Build a Wire Container

1. Purchase a Wire Container

(The really EASY way is to purchase wire mesh compost container such as the one show in the photo.)

2. Make a 3.5 x 3.5 foot wire container.

  • 14 feet of wire mesh three feet wide
  • 5 zip ties
  • 5 six-inch pieces of wire
  • 4 rebar 4 feet long


  • Small sledge hammer
  • Wire cutters
  • Measuring tape

Build the wire container

Choose a sunny spot in your yard.  For markers, find four rocks, or tiles or bricks.

1. Place markers at the approximate four corners of a square with 3.5 feet sides. 
2. Use the tape measure for indicating the exact distance of 3.5 feet and move your markers accordingly.

3. Pound each of the four rebars 12 inches into the ground at each of the four corners.

4. Wrap the wire mesh around the outside of the four rebars.

5. Secure two ends with tie wraps and wire.

Use five-foot rebars.  Drive them a foot into the ground.  This will leave a foot of rebar over the top of the wire mesh.  In January you can duck tape cardboard over each of the four rebars (so the rebar won’t cut plastic sheet) and lay a heave gauge clear plastic over the entire bin, securing at the bottom with duct tape and you have a greenhouse to start plants for the spring.


Fill the wire container with growing medium.

Materials for growing medium:

  • Four leaf bags of brown leaves each bin
  • One five-gallon bucket with lid filled with spoiled raw produce
  • Enough hay to cover the top surface of the bed. (It’s a good idea to get a small bale of hay and keep it nearby.)
  • Rotten logs (not totally necessary but good addition).
  • Water
  • Composted soil (about 10 gallons) – Purchase a medium bag of garden soil or mooch some compost from a friend’s pile.

  1. Put the logs/wood in the bottom first if you have them.  Logs are good especially if they are rotten as they will hold and release moisture.
  2. Put a layer of mulched leaves on top of the logs.  Hay is also good.  Some say it contains a lot of seeds but Ruth Stout wouldn’t agree.
  3. Water thoroughly
  4. Put a layer of green manure (green leaves spoiled fresh produce (no meat or cooked veggies) on top of the brown.  You can also add rabbit or horse manure. 

One of the best things about rabbit manure is it doesn't need to be composted. Rabbit manure is organic matter and improves poor soil structure, drainage and moisture retention. ... Rabbit manure is higher in nitrogen than sheep, goat, chicken, cow or horse manure. Plants need nitrogen to produce strong green growth.

  1. Continue layering and watering each layer until near the top of your container.
  2. Top off your container with about 6 inches of garden soil or composted soil.

Install transplants and plant seeds

Now for the fun part: You don’ t need a shovel or a hoe.  You don’t need to make your back sore bending over.  All you need is about a six by six inch square of garden soil for each plant.  Scoop out a hole in the top of your garden plot.  Imagine it as a pot for your transplant.  Put some of the soil in the hole. Insert the plant.  Put a little more soil around it to secure it.  Water.  Repeat for all transplants.  The process is similar for seeds as well.  When finished. Use hay, straw or wood chips to mulch around the top and give one final water application.

Maintain Wire Container Garden

Like all gardens you should check it daily—if for no other reason than to make yourself feel good and accomplished.  During the first three weeks after planting, stick your finger into the soil up to about the knuckle of your middle finger. It should be moist.

After the plants have a good start and your seeds have grown their first set of true leaves, you may only need to water once every two weeks.  Here is another test:  When it is really hot, towards the end of the day you can expect your plants to droop.  However, in the early morning if they are still droopy, they need to be watered.

Moving Plants Around

Another great feature of these beds is that if you want to move a plant over to make room for another one, you can do this in a matter of seconds without harming the plant.  Make a hole in the bed with your hand where you want to move the plant.  Then using both hands scoop gently underneath the plant down to about the area where you think the roots will be extended and lift up and transfer to its new spot.  Fill in the hole you left with some soil and put your new plant in there. 

Replenishing the Soil

As time goes on you will find the level of your garden sinking.  Use your hands to dig in places between the plants and insert a mixture of brown organic matter and spoiled produce.  Make sure to cover well with brown organic matter such as leaves or hay.



Strawberries planted in a wire mesh compost bin - Garland Community Garden

Gardening the Ruth Stout Way

I’ve known of Ruth Stout’s methods for years.  Ms. Stout was known as “The Mulch Queen.”  Ruth Stout was born in the United States in 1884. As early as 1920, she realized that all traditional methods of working with the soil (digging, weeding, watering, plowing, hoeing) could be replaced by simply adding layers of hay on the ground. She wrote about this particular organic approach from 1953 to 1971. Stout emphasized the simplicity of her methods, and the way the gardener benefits from extra free time and rest. It’s easy to see with the titles of her books: Gardening Without WorkI’ve Always Done It My Way, and How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back. 

I’ve also known how composting works—at least for a small-scale garden. If you have some partially rotten (untreated) wood, lay on the bottom.  You put a layer of brown organic matter such as leaves, straw or hay (about four inches high) a layer of green (about two inches high). A thin layer of fresh produce such as carrot peelings, cabbage gone bad in your bin, rotten tomatoes, etc. Then start all over with a layer of brown organic matter and continue until the compost pile is as tall as you want.  If you do it this way, you do not have to turn the pile.  You make holes with your hands in the pile about 18 inches deep and 8 inches in diameter, fill with rich soil, and insert your transplants or your seeds.

The missing element to Ms. Stout’s method is an enclosure for the compost.  I like an enclosure because it discourages animals, makes it easier to tend your plants as you don’t have to bend over, and it looks nice.

You want a wire mesh enclosure so the compost can “breathe”.  With a solid enclosure, heat will build up within the pile and it may get too warm for your plants.  You may also want to make a wire mesh cylinder for the center of your enclosure to increase the aeration.  You can also use this cylinder to continue to feed your bed by tossing rotten fresh produce into it (covering each time with hay or other brown organic matter such as leaves so you don’t attract critters).

How to make your own wire enclosure:

As you can see from the photo (and in person if you visit the Garland Community Garden) I’ve used some wire compost containers that we donated to us.  However, you can make your own enclosures easy enough:  1. Four rebar about 4.5 feet tall 2. Steel gauge wire mesh. --  Mark off equidistant four spots to form a square.  Drive the rebar into the ground at each of these four points.  Wrap the wire mesh around the rebar, folding at the corners.  Use tie-wraps to connect the wire mesh at the final corner.  Make your wire cylinder (about 10 inches in diameter and a little taller than your bin) and place in the middle.  Then make your layers.


1. a bed that is easy to tend
2. a bed that requires little watering
3. a bed that grows great edibles
4. a bed that is easy for people in their 80’s and 90’s to tend.

NOTE:  To make my garden bed even more carefree, I will slide cardboard (about 6 inches wide) around the sides to prevent grass or weeds from growing along the sides of my bed.  Thus, no weed-eating for me.  After the first planting you won't need to add composted soil to each plant.  Just add about a four inch layer of composted soil to the top before planting and more hay and organic matter as needed.  (Always cover the ripe material with the brown organic matter.)




Saturday APRIL 6, 2019

Garland Community Garden

Brand & Naaman School Road

10 AM to 3 PM

NOTE:  If raining in the morning may be postponed until the Afternoon.
If raining in the Afternoon, stop by from 1 to 4 PM on Sunday April 7.



TOMATOES—70 small seedlings for sale $1.00 each
MINT – 20 pots of mint $2 each

BEE BALM – 20 plants for your pollinator garden. Perennial $2 plant
SUNFLOWERS - $1 each

MEXICAN TARRAGON – great perennial addition for your herb garden Lovely yellow blossoms from mid July to late October Leaves used as seasoning on chicken and fish.  Only four plants at $4 each

ASTER – beautiful perennial blooms August to October  $2 a plant

OBEDIENT PLANTS – beautiful perennial flower- This herbaceous perennial plant is up to 4' tall and blooms from late summer to early fall 1 ½ months



KALE $2 plant

ARTEMISIA  $2 plant




I was down at the Garland Community Garden today--didn't find a four-leaf clover, but I felt lucky nonetheless.  it was a beautiful day and I was heartened to see six gardeners working away.

Earlier this morning I helped some folks unload horse manure down there and went down to check on our tulip bed which i part of a citizen science project tracking climate change in North America.

The tulips were planted on January 8, 2019 according to instructions we received from Journey North. All 50 tulips we planted came up.  The first ones began to emerge by February 11.  By February 22, all 50 tulip bulbs had emerged.   March 2 saw our first bloom.  By March 11 all 50 were in bloom.  Today I took the final snapshots shown below.  On March 17 all are in full bloom--almost read to shed their petals.

March 17, 2019

March 11, 2019


North Texas and Garland in particular is a great place for growing edibles the year round.

Here are a few plants that I’ve had great success with.  This list is a tiny, infinitesimal example of the possibility of growing green year round.

 1. Austrian Winter peas

Austrian Winter Peas--The ultimate "win-win" green for a North Texas garden--even if you don't like to garden in the Winter.  This lush plant makes a beautiful lush nitrogen-fixing cover crop that you can even eat.  The leaves are tasty in a salad or in a stir fry.  All you need to do is scatter some seeds and forget it.  If you want to eat some, that's fine too.  There will be plenty left to turn under in the spring.

(Pisum sativum) annual – These are a proven keeper for our North Texas area. They make an excellent cover crop to enhance the quality of the soil as they are nitrogen fixers and they meet one of my basic requirements for all plants—easy to grow.  I don’t like to fuss around with plants.   They are also known as field peas, one of the oldest domesticated crops, cultivated for at least 7,000 years.

Here in North Texas you can plant them anytime from mid-September up through the end of February.  Depending on the year they will die out in the spring (March or April).  They do not like the heat but are a GREAT plant for your garden for the winter the leaves and young stems are great in salad and some folks like to stir fry them.  I planted some seeds at the Garland Community Garden in mid December and they are thriving a month later.


2.  Cardoon

Cardoon at the Garland Community Garden.  I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person in Garland who eats cardoon.

(Cynara cardunculus) perennial We have been successfully growing cardoon down at the Garland Community Garden for over a year now.  Found in the wild along the Mediterranean, from Morocco and Portugal to Libya and Croatia, cardoon is a thistle that tastes like a bitter version of an artichoke with small, prickly flower heads. You can only purchase cardoon at high-end grocery stores.  Unlike an artichoke, you eat the stems, not the flower buds. The edible part looks like a celery stalk.  I like to eat the stalks raw. The stalks require some preparation even before eating raw.  The outer skin of the stalk must be removed and then the stalks soaked in water before consuming. Soak a day ahead covered in the refrigerator.  They can then be dipped like celery sticks into hummus.  A traditional Italian way is to dip them in anchovy paste.  I like cardoon because it is a perennial that looks good in the garden from October through May or June.  In the heat of the summer it fades away, only to return again in the fall. 


3. All kinds of Greens:


Turnips gathered from my garden this morning.

Mustard Greens, turnips, bok choy, kale, broccoli and arugula are some that I grow successfully in my yard as well as at the Garland Community Garden.  And of course there is rosemary—always beautiful green year-round plant for your garden. As far as root crops go, I have the best of luck with the smaller varieties.  With carrots, the shorter the length of the carrot, the better they do in our heavy clay soil—even if it has been amended.  Muscade and  Nantes Scarlet are two varieties of carrots that I’ve had great success with.


Pigeon pea and pea pods from bush in a pot in my front yard.  I gathered them this morning.  As you can see, the pods are short and narrow, containing on average five small peas, about the size of a lentil.

SPECIAL NOTE ON Pigeon Pea-  (Cajanus cajan)

Although not totally winter hardy, the pigeon pea another lovely showy plant for your vegetable garden or patio from mid-April until the first killing frost in November. Since its domestication in the Indian subcontinent at least 3,500 years ago, its seeds have become a common food in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It is consumed on a large scale mainly in south Asia and is a major source of protein for the population of the Indian subcontinent.  The pigeon pea is a lovely plant for your garden.

We have grown this extremely drought tolerant plant at the Garland Community Garden where they grew up as small trees/shrubs about 7 feet tall.  They make lovely flowers, loved by pollinators and last from June through the first killing frost.  In warmer parts of the world they are perennials, but here in North Texas they are annuals.  Although they can be grown in a large pot (one plant to a pot) and brought inside when temperatures drop to below 32 F. (I know because I did that in 2018 and 2019)

The peas in the pods from our species are brown and similar in size to a lentil; however other species also make green and yellow peas.  The plants are quite productive; however, it’s labor intensive to shell the peas as they are so small and grow no more than five small peas in their pods.



Once again Loving Garland Green, stewards of the Garland Community Garden, are participating in Journey North’s international citizen science project with tulips to measure climate change across the globe. On January 5 at 4PM they planted 50 Red Emperor Tulip bulbs.  Garland is now officially on the Journey North's map as Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green recorded the planting of 50 Red Emperor bulbs at the Garland Community Garden on Journey North’s website. Hundreds of people across the Northern Hemisphere plant tulip bulbs in Test Gardens. They will record when and where tulips will emerge and bloom in their own gardens and across the globe.  The database of this information will in turn help scientists in better understanding the impact of climate change.

Tracking the Spring Season

The database of this information will in turn help scientists in better understanding the impact of climate change.  When citizen scientists report from their garden — planting, emergence, and bloom — the record appears on the Journey North Test Garden map. One garden at a time, tulips emerge as the map tracks the wave of spring across the Northern Hemisphere.

Opportunity For Learning

This citizen science project is also a great opportunity for learning for school children.  At least one local Garland elementary school, Parkcrest Elementary, is participating in this project at their school.  They are planting tulip bulbs in their school garden.  Along with the tulips there will be an associated curriculum and related lesson plans.  For example, students will dissect a tulip bulb to learn all about its inside story—the specialized plant storage structure that contains everything the plant needs to survive winter and grow in the spring. Members of Loving Garland Green are planning a Tulip event for students at the Garden as well.  This event will take place in mid-February—about the time tulips start peeking up through the earth.

A Few Interesting Facts About Tulips

Did you know that tulip petals are edible? They have an onion taste. It's hard to imagine, but people also made tulip bread and tulip wine. The Dutch are responsible for the breeding of today's tulips and are the leading exporters of the bulbs - around 6 billion bulbs annually.

A period known as "tulip mania" occurred in the1600’s in Holland. It is now regarded as the first economic bubble collapse. At its high point, bulbs were used as a form of currency.

Tulips are sweetly scented! And no wonder! The meaning of tulips is generally perfect love. Red tulips such as the emperor tulips are most strongly associated with true love, while purple symbolizes royalty.


Photo from Carol Currie and Janell Jenkins, Board members of Garland Area Makerspace

Tree of Lanterns of Gratitude - Garland Community Garden, Garland, Texas

The Winter Solstice event hosted jointly by Loving Garland Green and the Garland Area Makerspace was a success.  Instead of stockings, lanterns (made from recycled soda cans) were hung with care at the Garland Community Garden.

In addition to adding lanterns to the tree, visitors took their photos and photos of their children in front of "Garden Wings",, a participatory art installation at the garden.  While we can't guarantee this will make them better gardeners in 2019, it will remind them that we often soar to new heights on wings of knowledge, experience and caring from others.


You are invited to join members of Loving Garland Green and participate in the first Wings for Our Community event.  “Wings” was born as a fundraiser concept for the Garland Area Makerspace. Loving Garland Green, stewards of the Garland Community Garden, are supporting us in testing Wings.  Our idea is to put wings all over Garland. People can pose with the wings and donate money to help manifest a space for the Garland Area Makerspace.

As our concept broadens and becomes more community inclusive, it has occurred to us that any nonprofit in our community can also have their own wings.

Each pair of wings will be unique to the maker/artists, but they will all loosely follow a format of being 8 feet tall and with feathers for their outer edges.  The body of the wings will consist of related objects.  For example, Garden Wings, shown above has various representations of organic matter.  Soon we will have a pair of “Maker Wings.”  These wings will feature people and tools.

The idea behind "Wings" is remembering and recognizing all the wings we are given in the form of people and tools that enable us to soar to heights we might otherwise have never been able to.   At this event, each person who wants to will be given a lantern and an LED candle to put inside the lantern and attach to a structure in the garden. These lanterns are in remembrance and gratitude for people in our lives who have provided wings for us to soar.

There will also be markers at the event for those who want to write the names of these people on their lanterns.


Note:  If it's rained more than an inch in the last 48 hours, park on Kingsbridge and walk down to the garden.


WINGS IN THE GARDEN - a participatory art installation in the Garland Community Garden -- Do something out of your box, even if it feels silly. Many of us are stuck in belief systems that no longer serve our needs.


 We've heard it all before:  "Take new paths.  Step out of your box.  Do things you've never done before. Talk to someone with a different worldview from the one you hold. Take the road less traveled, Read an author you never hear of. etc."  And it's still all very good advice.  When we surround ourselves with only those who agree with us, we limit the development of our intelligence and vision and our potential to fully develop as human beings.  Rigor mortis begins to spread in our brains and our thoughts become crippled as our inability to think in new ways deepens.

Johanna Arendt,, a political philosopher and theorist of the 20th century described deeply held ideas that we no longer question as "frozen thoughts" that blind us to any idea that does not fit into our world view.  We need to remember that a world view is a philosophical and not necessarily a real view of the world as it is.  We need to seriously examine our beliefs at least once a year.  We can do this by merely finishing these sentences again and again:  I believe that ________.  I believe this because___________(how did you come to have this belief in the first place? Really, where did it originate? With your parents, with a friend?  Force yourself to think of one exception to this belief. This is not true all of the time because...........  This belief serves me because as long as I believe this I can__________________

If you have trouble getting started, think of some emotionally charged topic for you.  For example I believe that all white people______ or  I believe that all black people______  i believe that all Republicans __________  I believe that all Democrats___________.


There are other ways to jar oneself out of an ossified belief system that no longer serves you or the people around you.  Allow a few people with different world views into your life.  Have conversations with them.  Make a conscious effort to seek out exceptions to one of your deeply held beliefs.  


When a nation has a leader who surrounds himself entirely with only those who agree with him (or who at least say they agree with him), then people get the “my way or the highway” leadership of a self-absorbed dictator.

Cases in point: Kim Jong-un doesn’t allow anyone to disagree with him; nor does Putin; nor did Franco; nor did Hitler.  Unfortunately our own President seems to follow their example as there is a long string of people he has appointed, only to fire when they disagree with him.


“Those who called themselves patriots introduced that new species of national feeling which consists primarily in a complete whitewash of one's own people and a sweeping condemnation of all others.” -- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Another name for this kind of “patriotic” thinking is Nationalism. If we are so busy glorifying our nation we may become blind to the part our nation's leadership and foreign policies of the past played in destroying another country and that perhaps reparations are owed.

For example, read the history of US military meddling in the politics of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. We are not innocent bystanders in the destabilization of these nations. Our leadership has been working overtime at it for 50 years up to and through today.  For example, Soto Cano Air Base (commonly known as Palmerola Air Base) is a Honduran military base 5 mi (8.0 km) to the south of Comayagua in Honduras. It houses between 500-600 U.S. troops and is also used by the Honduran Air Force academy.

What the USA has done in these Central American and South American nations is just another version of what we did to Mexico by destabilizing their corn market in the 1990’s with our heavily subsidized corn commodities and NAFTA trade agreement that drove 2 million Mexican farmers out of the market and into the maquiladoras and also illegally into the USA. Whose fault was that really?

And again people do not wake up one morning, put on their flip flops and decide to walk over a 1000 miles away from all they’ve ever known as home unless they are truly faced with what they believe to be a life/death choice. Think about it from a personal view. What would it take for you to pack up, leave your home and travel over 1000 miles practically barefoot to a place you’ve never seen before and perhaps don't even speak their language?

These people are at our gates because they feel they have no other alternative. If we slam the door in their faces, our nation takes one giant step backward from what it means to be human. This is not my idea of how Americans are supposed to act.  

Americans need to unfreeze their thoughts and open their hearts.  Our nation has a food sustainability index of 124% .  This translates that we have enough food to support 24% more than our current population.  In numbers, this is approximately 80 million more people. In addition, we need young immigrant workers to help support our aging population and declining birthrate.  We need to start thinking and turn off the automatic pilots of our false belief systems that are supported by cliches, campaign rhetoric and what in many cases amounts to hate speech.

Our best interests as a nation can indeed be tied to the best interests of the migrants at our gates in Tijuana.   


Monarchs mating in the Garland Community Garden - October 8, 2018

Photo by Jane Stroud

According to information from the University of Minnesota, mating monarchs can remain together for 16 hours or longer, and it is only at the very end of this period that sperm are transferred.

The tiny beginning - Monarch egg on underside of native milkweed leaf. Only about four days later it will be a caterpillar.- Garland Community Garden  -  September 26 - Photo by Liz Berry

Females lay their eggs most often on the underside of the leaf where the caterpillars  when they hatch cannot be seen by flying birds and insects from above.   A female Monarch will lay up to 500 eggs--one at a time. The egg is translucent oval-shaped and tiny.  Compare the size of the egg to the thumbnail of the person holding it.   

The total time frame for one butterfly’s life cycle (one generation) is about 6-8 weeks…egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. It grows inside the egg for about 4 days. It then munches milkweed and grows as a monarch caterpillar (larvae) for about 2 more weeks. The caterpillar’s life inside the chrysalis (pupa) lasts about 10 days and its wonderful life as an adult butterfly lasts from 2 – 6 weeks.  Monarch butterflies may take as many as five generations to make it from Mexico to southern Canada and back again.  The last generation of Monarchs each year that migrates to Mexico live up to five months.  They are the ones who make the return trip to the USA and Canada and these are the ones who make the first generation of the new year.

However, the oldest monarch we know of is  Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.  Born on April 26,1926 Elizabeth Windsor is the oldest monarch in history, at age of 92.  She took the crown on June 2, 1953 when she was 27.   :)


Monarch Caterpillar - Rescued from the Garland Community Garden - September 20, 2018 

Caterpillar in the photo above is in its fifth instar.  The intervals between molts are called "instars".  After this one has eaten his final full of milkweed leaves, he will crawl to the underside of the lid above him, assume a "J" position and begin to transform into a pupa.  The total time for being a caterpillar is about 14 days.

Now the Caterpillar has morphed into beautiful green pupa.
Photo courtesy Jane Stroud

It will take the caterpillar about 10 days inside the pupa to transform itself in a beautiful Monarch butterfly.

Tagged female monarch, ready for release. - photo by Liz Berry
Charlie's Garden -Perspective I

Tagged female monarch, ready for release. - photo by Liz Berry
Charlie's Garden -Perspective II

Tagging and Rescue

Members of Loving Garland Green rescue caterpillars from the Garland Community Garden and also from our own gardens at home.  We put them in well-ventilated plastic containers and then tag and release them when they mature (eclose) into Monarch butterflies. In the wild less than 5% complete the life cycle from egg to butterfly.  When rescued and allowed to develop in a protected environment, 95% are able to complete their lifecycle.

Our nonprofit organization also tags monarch butterflies in the wild as they pass through our North Texas area on their way to the Mexican highlands.  Information on these tags assists researchers from Monarch Watch in learning more about the Monarch.  In the past 26 years over 1.5 million monarchs have been tagged.

(Note:  in the photo above, tags for seven Monarchs were already used.)

People who see a tagged butterfly dead or alive are requested to contact Monarch Watch and report the sighting. Ideally the butterfly is netted alive and the tag code recorded before releasing the butterfly.  Even if the Monarch is not alive, please call and report that as well.

First Line:  Email address for Monarch Watch.
Second Line:  Name of Organization 
Third line: telephone number
Fourth line:  a unique alphanumeric code identifying the monarch. 

There will be only one code for each monarch tagged.  The people tagging have record sheets where they record the code to identify the butterfly, date it was tagged; sex as F or M; whether it was reared or tagged in the wild; City, State and Zip.  When they have completed their tagging efforts (usually by the end of October) They send this information to the researchers at the University of Kansas.

 Come Visit the Garland Community Garden and You can be a Monarch too!

Get a friend to take your photo as a monarch.