Homegrown organic gardening John Dromgoole, McKay Proctor and Freedom Solar's Chief of Marketing Officer, Sherren Harter during Texas Energy Lab podcast recording

The Natural Gardener Returns: Another Week With John Dromgoole

What’s In Season, Sustainability Stump 'Em, and The Natural Gardener's Solar Cashier

Episode 10 | June 26, 2018

John Dromgoole returns to the Texas Energy Lab show to talk with hosts McKay Proctor and Sherren Harter about what’s in season. He also shares insights about the sustainability and energy efficiency of various plants and tells the story of the solar cashier at The Natural Gardener. During the conversation, John puts his broad expertise on display, dispensing wisdom about life and gardening on command. His previous visit to the show gave a comprehensive history of how he came to Austin and discovered his green thumb, so we’d recommend starting at the beginning.

Getting Outside This Summer and Fall

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John started this week’s show by sharing some timely gardening knowledge. The summer harvests are happening now, which means that John has been picking tomatoes, grapes, and apples from his hobby garden. He notes that the fall planting season will start in July and run through September. That means it’s time to start thinking about cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, leafy crops such as lettuce and chard, carrots, and root crops like potatoes.

He then moved on to the human race’s perfect design as a gardening tool. “We have hands to pull weeds or to plant seeds. Our knees bend so that we can get down on the ground. People are well designed as gardeners,” he mused.”

After years observing nature, John believes that we spend too much time indoors. We all need to get outside more often and reconnect with nature. Talk to plants. Hug the trees. “You cannot avoid this energy that comes from the environment itself. Even if you don’t have time to garden, get out there and walk around, take your shoes off and touch the earth again. That’s an important thing to ground yourself.”

If you’re not sure where to start, a few fall events we can look forward to include the Pecan Fest in the Hill Country, the watermelon thump in Luling, and molasses at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.

Sustainability in the Plant World

We asked John about sustainability and efficiency in the plant world as the inaugural edition of Sustainability Stump ‘Em.

  • Question: Which plant uses water most efficiently?
  • Answer: Xeric (low water use) plants including cacti and agave can survive with almost no water once established. Lawns can also be low water use.
  • Question: Which plant requires the least light?
  • Answer: In nature there are very few plants that live under trees or other plants. The larger plants will mulch them out because they don’t like the competition. Two plants that thrive in shade are the Texas Betony plant, which is native and blooms with red flowers, and the non-native cast iron plant.
  • Question: Which plant has the most efficient use of space?
  • Answer: Postage stamp garden require very little space, and oak trees are a local favorite that filter carbon very efficiently.

Where to Find John

You can listen to John’s other radio shows “Gardening Naturally” on KLBJ-AM and “Dance Halls And Last Calls” on Sun Radio KDRP-FM, which itself is solar-powered thanks to Freedom Solar.

Even better, make a trip to The Natural Gardener. John explains the sense of calm that will settle over you when you arrive: “When you leave that street from the City of Austin onto the property of The Natural Gardener, you feel the difference. It’s like coming in from the heat into air conditioning.”

On your next visit, be sure to check out the outdoor solar-powered cashier station installed by Freedom Solar. The power operates the computerized cash register system and lighting. He explains, “Solar power is an important part of sustainability to us.”