Friday, August 26, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a consultation?
A consultation is just a fancy name for me coming to your house to help you solve your gardening problems and answer your gardening questions, right there in person.  I can help you with lawn problems, teach you how to water effectively, help pick out the perfect site for your new vegetable garden, or lay out grazing pastures for your cows.  I can help you find the perfect place for your new beehive to minimize encounters with the neighbors.  Want to get into water gardening?  I can help with that, too!  And probably have some plants you can have...

How long does it take?
That depends on what kind of advice or help you want.  Most consults last an hour, though many have lasted longer.  One hour is usually enough to cover most garden problems/plans.

The longest I've done was four hours - the new owner of fifteen acres wanted help laying out an orchard, vegetable garden, horse stalls, riding arena, hay fields, etc., and wanted to learn about rotational grazing.  The shortest was fifteen minutes (I do charge for the entire first hour, but that customer was happy with the quick answers to his problems and, despite my insistence on finding anything else I could help him with, handed me a check and waved me away, saying, "See you tomorrow at The Natural Gardener when I come get that compost!")

What subjects do you have experience with?
My gardening experiences are quite varied.  I have extensive experience with vegetable gardening and raising livestock (cattle, horses, chickens, pigs, goats...).  I've also grown many natives and other ornamentals.  I currently have a 700 gallon koi pond and a 300 gallon goldfish pond, the latest incarnations of my decades of pondering.  I don't currently have a lawn, but have years of experience diagnosing lawn problems.  I'm proficient with fruit trees and can help you with your orchard whether you're a seasoned hand or a new grower.  And if you want to learn beekeeping, I can teach you that, too.

I've worked at The Natural Gardener for eight years now, quite a few of those at the Info Desk, diagnosing garden problems and teaching new gardeners and old how to care for their yards and gardens.  I have learned as much from our customers as I've taught them.  I LOVE my job!

What qualifies you to do this?
I grew up on a 600 acre cattle ranch and hay farm, in a family who grew all our own food.  In addition to an almost one-acre vegetable garden and large family orchard, we raised and butchered our own beef, chicken, and pork, as well as harvested venison and catfish.  I even helped my father keep bees.

I've continued that "family tradition" throughout my life, all 49 years of it, up to today.  I've branched out in my gardening efforts to try just about all kinds - natives, annuals, tropicals, bulbs, edible landscaping.  My favorite is still edible gardening (veggies, herbs, and fruit), but a close second is water gardening.  I even have planted aquariums!  And bees.  I love my bees.

Then I was hired at The Natural Gardener where I still am today, ten years later.  I do many things at The Natural Gardener: besides being a horticulturist at the Info Desk, I'm The Natural Gardener's Free Class Series Host and Teacher, Safety Trainer, and am even a member of the Maintenance Crew (I. Am. The Toilet Whisperer.).  I love my job and can't imagine myself ever doing anything else.

Where can I see you in person?
Why, at The Natural Gardener, of course!  I work weekends year 'round.  My schedule sometimes varies during the week, but almost every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I'm there.  I also teach regular gardening classes every Tuesday in the Revival Tent, though sometimes my fellow Free Class Series Educator Neil Schmidt steps in.  You'll like him as much or more than me.
First Tuesday & Sunday : Veggie Gardening 101
Other Tuesdays: Varies - Organic Weed Control, Small Batch Canning, Seed Saving, Seed Starting, and more.  Sometimes we'll have a guest speaker on these Tuesdays as well.

And here's a little video clip of me condensing my entire one-hour Seed Starting class into two minutes.

Booking a Consultation

If you would like a consultation, 
text me at 
or email:

I charge $100 an hour, one hour minimum.
Time past that first hour is calculated in quarter-hour increments.

Cash or checks are fine, and I also take credit or debit through Paypal (send it to

I serve Central, South, and West Austin to Spicewood (30 miles west), 
and areas in between.
If you're not in those areas, look on the right side of this page for a list of my fellow consultants to find one who does.  If you still can't find someone to help you,call me and we may be able to work something out, such as an extra charge for drive time.

Preparing for a consultation:

If all we have to do is talk, you get more information!  So here are a few things you can do ahead of time to make sure you get the most for your money:
  1. Scan your plat/survey map and blow it up to a large enough size that you can draw on it easily, adding in any landmarks or garden features - trees, flowerbeds, sidewalks, lawns, even your house if it's not there already.  Write in the square feet of each area so I can quickly calculate amounts of any compost, mulch, etc., needed.  
  2. On the back, write down your questions in priority order, leaving room for note-taking.  You know how you get to the doctor and all of a sudden your mind goes blank?  (I hate when I do that.)  So write down your questions right there on the back of that plat map so you can find them easily now as well as later on down the road.  Be sure to write more questions than you think we'll cover - we may not cover them all, but if the first few take less time than you thought, we can keep going and you can get your money's worth.
  3. Have a recorder handy.  I talk fast, so please record the session!  This way you can listen back on it for future reference and to glean every last whiff of benefit from my visit.
  4. Have any tools we may need handy.  I keep basic pruners and a shovel in the truck, but if we'll need anything else such as a ladder, have that out and ready.  
Another way to get the most for your money is to do a lot of the work of general planning and choosing plants ahead of time.  Use that map to draw in what kind of plants you'd like and where you want to put them, where to put irrigation, where to put beds, where to put walkways, etc., then have me come check it to make sure it'll work.  I can point out where it won't to save you the frustration and wasted $$ from inadvertently making a mistake, then guide you on better choices.