Sunday, July 10, 2011

Major Crackage

The black clay soil my prairie grows in shrinks and cracks when it becomes dry. This is the reason foundation repair companies do so well here and the reason much of my water usage goes toward keeping the perimeter of the foundation of my house from getting too dry.

While my neighbors water their lawns once or twice a week, my prairie has gone without water, except for any rain that fell and an occasional hand watering of new transplants. As a result, the soil of my prairie is opening up. I found this crack in the backyard prairie yesterday. 

The cracks are about two inches across and a couple of feet long. I was curious about the depth of the cracks and stuck my ruler in as far as my hand could reach into the crack and did not hit bottom. (This is not a paid advertisement for Elliot's Hardware, although it is a fun place to browse. They have a good selection of organic gardening products too.)

Even with the dry, cracked soil, Clammy Weed, Polanisia doedecandia, Big Red Sage, Salvia penstemonoides, Gregg's Mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, and Rudbeckia varieties, Rudbeckia fulgida and Rudbeckia triloba are all growing and in full bloom.

Amazingly, I am in the only part of the state that is not considered to be under drought conditions. So far, this is normal summer dryness, but the extreme drought conditions, indicated on the map by brown, are growing.

I did break down and water the backyard prairie this weekend. I watered the front yard prairie earlier in the week. 


  1. Absolutely amazed at what you've got growing in those conditions. I've referred your blog to a friend of mine with a very dry garden. The drought map is sobering. As dry as it seems in N. TX, I'm shocked that we are in the "none" category!

  2. Plus, Major Crackage sounds like a good name for a military cartoon character.

  3. Thanks, Toni. It is all about picking the right plants for the conditions. I try to water as little as possible and still keep a respectable garden so Texas natives fit the bill.

    Quite possible, Collagemama. And when he bends over you see... Well, you get the idea.

  4. Wow...that's absolutely crazy! I remember similar conditions when I lived in Nebraska (as far as huge cracks in the ground)...but that's even more far! I'm amazed at just how good your garden looks in spite of those harsh conditions...testament to good planning and suitable plant choices :-)

  5. Great post.
    Our blackland prairie farm also develops such cracks. On one prairie near our farm, we tried to find the 'bottom' of these cracks. I think they can go down to 3 feet. We joke about not letting small children play on the prairie since they might fall in.(it's not true) After a heavy rain, they seem to disappear overnight. Yes, Dallas has had the sweeping rains that the rest of the state longs for. I'm surprised you still have cracks.
    About the straw hats....get one with an elastic band and wear it around the store. If, after awhile, it doesn't feel like you are wearing a hat, you've found a winner. Just remember you have it on and pay for it before you get out to the parking lot! LOL
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  6. Yeh, I ran a hose into one of my cracks for about an hour to see if I could fill it up. It didn't. I was probably just wasting water so I stopped. It is a good little mechanism that nature has, allowing the ground to absorb the heavy rains that so rarely grace our area.

    Robbie in Cedar Hill

  7. I've really been enjoying your blog this morning! Your cracks look similar to mine, but of course, the Nebraska drought is nothing like the Texas drought! For the most parts, my plants are thick enough and tall enough that the soil several inches down is relatively moist, except near trees where the cracks are making their annual appearance. Love your garden! Native prairie plants kick it, and like you, I've not watered yet this year--not even my long lawn--as I watch neighbors water and mow (stupidly) several times a week!

  8. Thanks Benjamin. I have followed The Deep Middle for some time now. I have enjoyed watching your garden grow and reading about your passion for monarchs.

    Thanks for stopping by.


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