Welcome to my Sustainable Urban Garden

My garden is a work in progress, always growing and changing within itself.

My gardens include many herbal beds, raised vegetable beds, raised "citrus heights" citrus tree bed, berry beds, fruit trees, grape arbor, rose beds and many perennial flower beds with annuals too. My greenhouse is still in the transformation stage,
as well as some planting areas.
Enjoy your journey through my gardens, I do!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wow! Where did the summer go?! Or where have I been?!

It is August 12th and I cannot believe the time that has gone by. The gardens have been overwhelming. I started so many veggie seeds and flower seeds that the individual beds are packed.

Let's start in the front yard gardens. The roses have done well this year. The only one that I am concerned about is Heritage ( a David Austin rose ). It has some yellow leaves that don't look healthy, but then new growth is green. It gets the same amount of water as all the other healthy plants. We had such an intense heat wave for two weeks in July, that many plants didn't get to put on their flower show and are limping along just trying to survive. My friend and neighbor Kim, gave me some large perennials that have fit into the flower beds beautifully. Now, just making sure they make the transplant. Two of them are beautiful heathers, one peony, a varigated fushia and two others that I don't know the names of. By the way, the gardens in the front yard have expanded somewhat which looks really nice to me. I got more landscape rocks from the mountains to finish off the border edges.

For the back gardens, I do have to say that both shade gardens ( under the apricot tree and under the Eureka lemon tree ) are doing great! The one under the apricot tree is like a true woodland surprise.

The sunny perennial/annual bed is a bit overgrown and needs maintenance. Soon! The Vitex tree is so full of seeds that I keep cutting limbs ( hate to do that ) and still the limbs are close to the ground and even I have to bend parallel to the ground to walk under. Even then, my hair ends up being full of seeds and flower debris.

The veggie garden is HUGE! I think I planted too many Cuore di Bue in one bed as it is solid foliage. Even the Amish paste have had trouble setting fruit this year with the temps up to 113 degrees. Everything kinda sat there for more than a few weeks just trying to live through the heat! That is including me!!!

We are getting peppers, bell and chili peppers, as well as eggplant and some tomatoes. The pole beans are still coming on but I missed the harvest of the bush beans and they all dried up. I have been pulling up the onions -Rossa di Milano- they are very juicy and quite hot. My eyes cry the whole time that I am cutting them. We did have lettuce ( until the heat wave ), and enjoyed the Four Seasons leafy, Bronze Arrow leafy, and the Little Gem romaine. The spinach was good when we had it. The lettuce leaf basil is doing great. I have always had great success with this basil. The purple ( Red Rubin ) basil is doing okay. With the heat wave I lost all three of my squash, two zucchini types and one crooked neck. Very sad to lose them. I need to start new seed. But that is another story - next paragraph.

The heat did in my greenhouse. The plastic on the roof bubbled and then cracked and just has fallen off or is hanging from the roof. Very very sad. I am in the process of investigating the best course of action for getting double and triple polycarbonate panels to put on the greenhouse. Until then it is direct sun in there and nothing can be started for the garden. ;-(

The days are in the 90's now and that is warm, but nice. The grapes are ripening and the elder berries should be ready for harvest soon. Things are always happening in nature.

Quote for the day: Nature quiets the mind so you can hear your heart.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We skipped Spring and jumped right into Summer !!!

I can't believe that it has been 16 days since I have posted. The garden is mostly all planted now, the peppers, tomatoes, basil, eggplant ( Japanese, Black Beauty and a White Japanese shaped one ), peas, bush and pole beans, carrots, luffa, green zucchini and golden zucchini are all planted. Earlier the leeks and onions, spinach and lettuce was planted. We have been eating salads every night from the Four Seasons lettuce, America spinach, some onion tops and nasturtium flowers. Yesterday I noticed the the Stupice ( an early 60 day ) tomato has flowers. That is exciting ! It is really stimulating to grow these heirloom tomatoes and other veggies. It is almost time to fill in some of the leek trench.

I got the drip system going again, but it isn't putting out much water. I really need to take apart the filter and regulator and flush the whole system, but haven't gotten to it yet. So, I hand water everyday. This next week I need to spray everything with maxicrop and fish emulsion or feed with compost tea. The heat is getting to everything, including me. I think the high has been between 96 and 98 degrees already.

In the greens bed, I have Little Gem lettuce that is ready to start being harvested. It is a romaine. I just planted some new starts of the Little Gem also. In the greenhouse I have two more Little Gem starts and one Bronze Arrow lettuce start to plant out soon. Two days ago I planted Jericho lettuce seeds inside in my herb room. It would have been too hot for it to germinate in the greenhouse, as it needs conditions between 45-80 degrees to germinate. This lettuce was bred to grow crisp and sweet in very hot temperatures. My plan is to keep lettuce coming all year. Our salads have been very wonderful!

In our front yard the old roses and David Austins have all had bursts of blooms. The Heritage David Austin climber is budded out and soon to start. I got a lot of blooms from the Louise Odier. Last year I got one bloom. The penstemon, salvia, carnations, foxgloves, lavenders, gardenias, shasta daisies, hebes, hibiscus, dianthus, oenothera, nemesia, stock, lithodora, phygelius, sweet peas, purple robe, margarita, scented geraniums, columbine are just finishing, mexican primrose, heucheras, spanish heather, agastache, astilbe, verbena, snapdragons, foam flower, heather, yesterday, today and tomorrow, begonias, pansies, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, persian shields, banana shrub, alyssum, Australian violets, dead nettle, calibrachoa, chamomile and elfin thyme as fillers and I can't remember what else is blooming.

Tomorrow I need to pick up some mulch from the utility district for the tea rose bed. Last year I mulched with wet cardboard, several inches of wet newspaper and mulch from our chipper/shredder. Stephen is too busy to make up more mulch right now. So far, knock on wood, this thick mulch has squelched the huge nutgrass problem in that bed. A few are starting to come up on the very edge where the mulch meets the concrete retaining walls. And maybe 5 have come up in the center of the pile. Of course I have pulled these immediately! So, I need to get another thick barrier layer down to keep a lid on the nutgrass. I also want to put some of this mulch down on some of my other ornamental beds in the front yard.

So, this is an update of the abundant life and activity in my cottage gardens.

"Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a green hand to confound you." ~ W. E. Johns

Monday, May 01, 2006

Feels like we jumped into summer!

Temperatures in the high 80's feel quite warm when we have been bundled up in sweatshirts for months. Today was 86 degrees and still was 81 degrees at 6pm. Tomorrow is supposed to be 87 degrees. This is hard on new transplants for sure!

Yesterday, Saturday the eggplants all got planted. Several other beds were prepped for planting. I went shopping for shade cloths but they are all sold out except for very small sizes.

Today was an all day event. The second tomato bed was prepped and it was a difficult one to pull out all the lemon balm that had taken hold. I planted four Cuore di Bue heirloom tomato starts in this bed. They are an oxheart tomato (with 12 oz. fruits ) and according to my friend Julia in England ( who shared the seeds with me ), they are supposed to be great for sauces, canning and fresh. I can't wait to try them. Thank you Julia for sharing your favorite tomato!

I also planted one Principe Borghese tomato in a half wine barrel in front of the greenhouse where it gets good southern sun. This tomato is a small tomato like a cherry tomato, but is supposed to by good for sun drying. A branch from the plant can be hung up in the sun until the fruit is leathery. I have another of these that I want to plant somewhere else. Just have to figure out that place.

In large redwood pots I planted two Pruden's Purple heirloom tomatoes. They are supposed to have great flavor, have huge fruit ( 1 lb. ) and never cracks. Then next to these I planted one Stupice tomato in a Chinese 1000 year old egg pot. This heirloom is an early tomato at 60 days, is a good yielder and has 2-4 oz. fruit. It is said that it dries well.

I also transplanted some german chamomile and goditia starts into larger containers. I did some pruning and of course watering, and figured out what to do with the bed that I put straw on two years ago that I assume had chemicals in it and killed all of my potatoes. I am going to plant a luffa gourd and ornamental flowers all around the gourd. The seeds for the gourd are soaking now. My little pea seeds have sprouted and I hope to get enough time to plant them tomorrow. The two zucchini types that I planted in pots in the greenhouse are up, but I am going to wait with them so they can develop into healty starts before I plant them. The large start that I bought will be planted tomorrow.

So the veggie garden is almost all planted. It is fun to see with all beds growing. Time to get some rest and another day is already here!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunny and warm in the garden!

I was able to purchase new seeds of peas, bush beans, Italien bush beans and a luffa gourd. I also purchased a white eggplant start, a cayenne pepper start and an ancho pepper start. ( The ancho is the kind of chili pepper seed that I tried to start twice and failed to get it to germinate. So, all the peppers are planted. A row of bush beans and what would be a couple rows of scattered carrots.
I prepped another bed and planted five Amish Paste tomatoes and five lettuce leaf basil starts. Tomorrow I need to plant the eggplants and more of the tomatoes. I also bought Yukon Gold seed potatoes at the nursery. I have decided to plant them in one of my large green buckets that have a crack in the bottom. That way it can drain, yet will be in a very deep environment.
I have had to water the last three days because the sun is intense and the overhead trees haven't gotten all of their leaves. But the roses are breaking out all over and they are beautiful and big this year. All is well with nature!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Very Overcast Cool Day

Today was one of those days where other things took me away from the garden. I kept the door to the greenhouse closed today because the sun never really came out. The birds are all out though and I am watching a hummingbird and many many small birds going for the dropped seed from a feeder and also going for the thistle seed in the hanging bag. I haven't seen my hummingbird friends that come to my picture window and look in and say hi everyday, for at least two months. I am surprised. I usually talk to them.

Well I did get to go to the COOP and buy some starters to fill in where I had gaps in my seed production. Today I purchased a Serrano pepper and a Scotch Bonnet pepper. These will be my hottest peppers. I have never grown a Scotch Bonnet, but they are supposed to be round puffy looking peppers. So these new peppers are planted and well mulched. I still want to get a Cayenne pepper though, so I can make ground Cayenne pepper.

I also purchased an eggplant start and a zucchini start. I had an eggplant that I grew die on me in the greenhouse -so I was short one. Last week I did find a large snail in my greenhouse and I feel it must have been the culprit to what I felt was not good germination of some seeds - now I wonder ???! The snail must have been transplanted in with a group of perennial plants I bought from a local grower last fall. He had the run of the place until I found him.

I started zucchini seeds, but buying this large healthy start will give me a headstart and I can add the new ones that I started later to the garden. Zucchini plants never seem to make it completely through our long season.

So, hopefully tomorrow I will get the carrots and some peas planted. I am going to have to buy a new packet of peas, as the ones I am trying to pre-sprout are doing nothing. I do try to stay away from those nurseries, because I don't want to buy plants anymore. I really do want to grow my own from seed.

Cannot wait to cook some of these good veggies in my soon to have, new kitchen. Stir frying all these greens will be something to write home about - or at least write in the blog! All for today.

Let food be thy medicine. - - -Hippocrates

Good working weather

For the last four days, thunderstorms have been on the forecast. We only got rain one night. So, I have been working frantically to get the veggie garden planted this year. It isn't warm enough yet to plant the tomatoes and maybe not the eggplant. So far I have prepped 6 beds and one of these the pepper bed is 2 and 1/2 times larger than the rest. I have planted two kinds of lettuce: Four Seasons and Little Gem romaine. Also America spinach. I have half a planter each of Rossa di Milano onions and Giant Musselburg leeks. I have the CA wonder bell peppers, Anaheim, and Jalapeno peppers planted. I will want to buy a Cayenne starter and maybe another hot chilie pepper. Tomorrow I am going to plant carrots and I am trying to pre-sprout peas and beans, but the seed maybe too old.

There are saucers of beer all over to catch the slugs mostly. The snails don't seem to be attracted as much and I don't seem to have very many of them anyway.

I have been working on the flower bed under the Eureka lemon tree and it is starting to look pretty good. I think I will put a fern in the very back of it.

The shade flower bed under the apricot tree is really beginning to fill out and look very good; if I don't say myself. Can't wait for a couple of the other beds to do the same. I still have ground to tackle, so as they say: A gardener's job is never done!

More later!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two glorious days of Spring !!

Thursday and Friday ( today ) we were blessed with warm sunny days. The temps were in the low to mid 70's. It was wonderful. Yesterday, I did some hard labor pulling out volunteer herbs that thought the veggie beds were their homes. They had really dug their feet in and were very difficult to dig out. So, I dug with my wonderful tithing fork and pulled with my arms and whole body. I almost have two beds cleared. I want to clear two more beds so I may plant out many of my seedlings/starts this coming week when Spring is really supposed to start for a whole week. I also did some planting in the front yard as well as in the backyard. I am saving every blackberry volunteer that I find that doesn't have thorns. Most of my blackberries will be torn out when we start building the garage which will encroach on the veggie garden. Always preparing ahead in my mind.

We are going to have to get those two windows that open in the greenhouse made soon, because it is hard to keep it below 100 degrees when the sun is out. I put a shade cloth over one corner to cool it down, but it is not doing enough at this time of the year. I am going to purchase or find a very long pole ( over 10 feet ) and buy a larger shade cloth/screen which I will staple to the pole. I will set it up so that I can unroll and roll up the shade cloth around the pole as needed. It will be somewhat crude, but hope it does the trick.

I set up supports for many of my climbing roses today. I also set up netting supports for the sweet peas that I planted last year, that finally decided to grow - and wow they are growing -
they were trying to smother the roses. Now they have their own support to cling too and should be very happy and beautiful when they bloom.

Many plants are just now coming back or just beginning to bloom. I had been watching the two large buds on my peony plant for the last couple of weeks. Today I looked that way and saw nothing. My heart jumped into my stomach, but upon closer inspection I found it had fallen over. Why had it fallen over? Well, from the weight of one of the buds that had opened into full bloom and is spectacular! Here is a picture. The open flower is wider than my hand can spread. I took a picture of it because the rains are supposed to come back tonight and I was afraid that they would really damage the fine petals.

My lilac in the backyard has been blooming for almost a week and I noticed today that my banana bush is blooming because the best scent in the garden is flowing around the yard. The smells today were definitely something to write about.

With two days of sunny weather, I also noticed that several areas in the front yard were actually dry. The new wallflower that I planted looked pretty dry. So I had to water in the front yard. Next week I will want to get all those beds mulched soon. I will also want to spray with my maxi-crop/fish emulsion mixture to give everything a boost. They might need it since they are growing so fast.

Well, it is already Saturday, so goodnight.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And the storms keep coming!

Now, I think we have broken rainfall records for April. Everyone in California is losing out on having a spring. I have only had a few breaks between storms to get things planted. Today I planted an Aquilegia, columbine under the overhang of the huge Eureka lemon tree. Cleaned up the area, and added many rotting lemons and grapefruits to the compost pile ( which is great for the compost ). Am planting an Astilbe, heurchera and forget-me-not in that area if there is a break in the rain tomorrow.

Actually it is forecast that sun ( Spring ) will start next week. I am ready. So, this next week may be my busiest week in the garden so far this year. I hope to get my onions, leeks, more lettuce in the ground and maybe some pepper and eggplant. Not sure if I can put tomatoes in yet as, if the soil drops below 55 degrees it will set back their growth dramatically. Definitely peas and carrots can be started and maybe even beans. I am slowly starting to clean up the veggie beds in ready for their guests.

And a very special thing. The Lilac blooms opened. They smell so incredible. I could stand there with my nose to the petals all day! What a smell!

So, that is what is going on in the garden for today.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Little Bit of Sun!

Well, the patch on the greenhouse is wonderful. No rain coming through the roof. No water to sweep out of the greenhouse. No heavy buckets to dump in an already saturated garden.

Yesterday I planted some calendula that I grew from seed. So exciting to plant my babies, that were getting pretty big. Planted some in the front yard planters and some around the Elder tree. It felt good to be cleaning up part of the veggie garden by the Elder tree. The veggie garden has been neglected since I didn't winter much over except some herbs and my walking stick collards. I also planted an "East Friesland" Salvia in the garden next to the Vitex. This is a perennial that grows to twenty-four inches tall and will help shade a heuchera and astilbe when the sun starts getting intense.

I started some new flowers from seed yesterday also. I started Blue Salvia. I like it for filling in spots in the sunny perennial beds. I also started Bachelor Buttons. They are annuals and make pretty nice filler plants. They have long stemmed double flowers, so should quite beautiful. Then I planted Carnations again. I had forgotten that I had started Carnations not long ago. I am sure that I can give away any plants that I don't use.

Well, it is a scattered cloudy day so the sun is here and then not. I plan on getting at least one more raised bed cleaned up in the veggie garden area. I love it when they are all cleaned up and growing. This means that I pull weeds, but mostly volunteer herbs that have taken over the beds. All of this green growth goes into the compost pile ( unless it is a wild blackberry or ivy from the neighbors yard - they go out in the street for city pickup along with oxalis and any bermuda grass, which I have very little of anymore ). I also break up the old dead foliage from last years veggies that hasn't broken down, to use as mulch in that bed. It was an easy one to accept that it is good to let the dead foliage from the veggies breakdown in the bed where it was grown. Makes gardening easier! I have learned so much in the last couple years from an international organic gardening web list ( OGL ) that I am part of. Well, off to the garden again today.

The sun smiles on those who tend her gardens! ;-)

Friday, April 07, 2006

New Growth Popping Up!

I have been spending time in all parts of the garden. A little in the herb garden inside the veggie garden yard. A little time in the perennial gardens ( sunny and shady beds ). I am really loving the shady bed under the apricot tree and the sunny one on the west of the Vitex tree. The ferns, foam flowers, astilbes, forget-me-nots, heucheras are all growing big with vibrant new growth.

In the front yard my Louise Odier, a Bourbon old rose, (1851) is starting to fill out with much green growth on her limbs. She is supposed to produce regularly from June to Oct, with deep pink very double, softly shaded lilac flowers. They will have a pungently strong fragrance and are a good-keeping cut flower. Last year was her first year and I got one or two flowers on her sparse frame. This year she will really shine!

Today we put new plastic on the top part of the greenhouse where the old had failed. Too much stuff was getting wet and I had to have large buckets to catch some of the downpours. So today I cut the plastic to size and we hung it over the torn plastic. The old plastic had only stayed intact for about 6 months before failing. It became brittle and cracked. We also tied a rope across the bottom, top and two diagonal passes to insure that no air made its way under to tear it all apart. This is just a temporary patch to get us through the rest of this extended rainy season. Then we will be putting two windows that open in the areas that failed and the rest of the double walled polycarbonate panels will need to be installed. So tonight, as the rain is coming down, the greenhouse is protected again. This patch should also help keep the night temperatures warmer in the greenhouse which is really needed for the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Soon it will be time to plant squash seeds. And soon it will be time to start the rest of my veggie seeds outside in the garden's raised beds.

Quote for the day:
The ground's generosity takes in our compost
and grows beauty. Try to be more like the ground.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Break in the Storms!

This afternoon the skies opened for awhile and the sun came out, the flower buds raised their little plump heads to the warmth. Under the apricot tree and the Japanese Painted fern and Ghost fern are coming back and the columbine and bleeding hearts have new blooms. Of course the pansies, viola's, helleborus and fibrous begonias are in bloom. The beautiful double tulips have bloomed for four weeks now and the rain has made them pretty ratty now. I have some paper whites in bloom now and what a wonderful smell they have. This is all happening in one area of the backyard. Here are the pink double tulips before the last storm:

Unfortunately the rain is really flooding the greenhouse. The temporary 6ml. plastic that we wrapped it with has not lasted more than 6 months and these have not been the sunniest months of the year by far. The rain is coming in from the roof part in four places. I have strategically placed buckets below the tears, but much of it misses and splashes out of the containers.
So, we have learned in this last 6 months that it is harder to keep the greenhouse cool or at least not baking, than to keep it warm. We need a lot more ventilation than a dutch door. I think we need two automatic windows that open with a temperature sensitive lever ( which I have, by the way). We need a low window/vent that opens to draw in cool air. Then we need a fan and a vent opposite the fan. And it would be nice to get a swamp cooler. We want to run these things on solar generated electricity. It all takes time to research and learn about these things. Much to do!

It seems that all the veggies are doing really well in the greenhouse and are really wanting to get planted out. The peppers and tomatoes are getting to the size to plant in the garden. It just is not warm enough out there yet. The lettuce and spinach seem to have made the transplant okay, but no sign of new growth yet. Who could grow much in the pouring rain we have had lately? And to my surprise most all the annual and perennial flowers and herbs are coming up. All except the Russian Statice, Motherwort and marjoram. I will give them more time for sure.

Well, that is a backyard update for today. ;-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

APRIL SHOWERS and Daylight Savings Time!

Even though we had 20 days of rain in March and broke the record for that many days in our town, I have been able to get out in the yard just alittle. Mostly it has been to do some weed pulling and detail pruning of dead branches and shaping. I am still waiting for many plants to come back. The David Austin roses are filling out nicely and my Eupatorium rugosum – snakeroot chocolate plant is coming back; I think it is 4 inches tall now! The garden thinks spring is here!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Too much rain, what is mother nature doing?

I was off to a good start on Thursday. I planted seeds of Gypsophia ( babies breath), Sweet Allysum, Godetia, Carnation, Scabiosa columbaria, Nemesia and Heather ( saved from my neighbor Kim ). I even planted some viola's in bloom under my apricot tree which is a shady garden area. There are heuchera, astilbe, Athyrium niponicum Pictum ( Japanese Painted ferns); ghost painted ferns, fibrous begonia, bleeding hearts, aquilegia, azalea, hydrangea and helleborus, yesterday today and tomorrow plants, white ginger and forget-me- not in this bed along with some ground cover. I am not sure if my lacecap hydrangea is coming back. I just planted it last year and I haven't seen evidence of it yet this year. Of course there was more weeding of oxalis and cleavers. The sticky cleavers is going nuts in all my garden beds this year. It must be because I "let it be" last year and just harvested some to make an herbal tincture.

Then Friday after errands, I only was able to plant seeds of Celosia and red poppies before the rain started. The skies opened in the evening and dumped so much water that my veggie garden brick walkways were flooded. ( again -this has happened a couple times this winter )

The same weather for today. RAIN! In the afternoon the rain quit. Yea! The greenhouse did heat up to 90 degrees when the sun came out off and on, so I opened the door for a couple hours to bring the temperature down.

My little starters of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant ( they are still on the heating pad in the herb room ) are getting so big that I spent time in the greenhouse today setting up 4" pots to transplant them into. This way, when the greenhouse cools down at night there will be enough soil around the little roots as not to cool down much. They all like to be in soil 55 degrees and above, which is why they haven't been moved before now. So, I am looking forward to a dry day tomorrow so that I may make a significant difference in the garden. Thank you for dry days, mother nature!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring equinox

Spring happened on a very rainy day. It had rained all night and day and in the afternoon we had a hail storm too. This was not the first day of spring that I had envisioned in my mind's eye.

Looking at my seed project, I see that my calendulas have sprouted, as well as the Starflower Everlastings - and the Starflowers are supposed to take 10 days to germinate, but these must be super seeds because they did it in 5-6 days!

In the greenhouse I now have planted seeds for Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana), Russian Statice and Phlox.

My neighbor Cindy added to the greenhouse with many many pots of sweet peas and over half of them have sprouted already. Today, another neighbor Kim shared some of her seeds ( mostly ornamental annuals and perennials ) that she has saved and bought this year. I shall be planting many more 6 packs. The lettuce ( 4 Seasons ) is ready to plant out so I need to start working on a couple veggie beds soon. I have Walking Stick Collards in the greens bed, so need to give them some serious care. I have some copper pipes to use in that bed and will have to set up slug cups with beer because there could be a few of those slimy creatures.

The birds were making a racket today with all of their songs. It was wonderful to be in the middle of their concert. A hummingbird was around the Pineapple sage all day too - I think it was a Rufus, as it was such brilliant green.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice, so other than doing errands, I hope to get many more seeds into pots!!! So, Spring is here!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Changes are Happening!

Well, we had a fairly nice day yesterday. It was warm enough in the sun to work in the yard for awhile. I had other chores in the morning but the afternoon was spent with the flowers. There are so many things to do. Minor pruning and oxalis to pull. I was able to get a real start on it in the front yard, soon the back yard. The greenhouse is filling up with pots of seeds! This picture shows how I use the jugs of water to give some heat to the greenhouse on cold days and nights especially. They are sitting on the upper shelf. This photo was taken on 3-4-06. There are also many perennials that will be planted out when it gets nice and some annuals. Not many seedlings going at this point. Also, you can see the table I have, which used to be my darkroom table with drain holes and all. It works out really well.

Here is a picture taken
yesterday of the Four
Seasons lettuce which
is really getting bigger.
To the right is the
America Spinach. It looks good enough to eat right now.

You can also see the photo of the little starts of the Lettuce Leaf basil and the cute little purple starts of the Red Ruben basil, German chamomile, cilantro and Little Geman romaine lettuce taken yesterday also.
You can see the roundish leaves of the lettuce leaf basil where I spilled the seed into the German Chamomile 6 pack. That will be a challenge to separate when the time comes. Soon, I will have to start clearing the veggie garden beds. They have spent the winter with the remains of last years veggies putting nutrients back into the soil. I was so glad that I had been doing that all along when I learned about not being a neat freak and pulling out everything but leaving the beds and not taking away the plant material so it can decompose. My beds have old plants, leaves and some mulch, and some minor weeds. The pepper bed got lots of mulch because it is near the shredder. Here are two pictures taken yesterday of the inside of the greenhouse now that it is full of pots of seeds. I have some wire racks that I want to clean up and see if I can line the sides of the greenhouse with them for more space. It is filling up very fast, but then again, I will be planting outside soon !!! yea!!! I am ready to spend all my days in nature!!!

I took pictures of my peppers, tomatoes and eggplant that are under lights in the herb room. I need to upload them to my computer and I will post them next time. I need to get out of this freezing house and into the warmth of the garden and sunshine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Little seedlings and cold weather

Well, I wanted to put my tomatoes, peppers and eggplant seedlings into the greenhouse. No way ! Rainy and windy all day! The greenhouse was the warmest place around, except in my seed starting area under fluorescent lights and on a heating pad, all in my herb room.

I did take a risk. I put out 1/2 flat of new seedlings - some with just the first two leaves- into the greenhouse this morning and they are staying there until planted. They include the Little Gem romaine lettuce, basil (Lettuce Leaf and Red Ruben), cilantro and German chamomile. I left the 6 pack of parsley out there too. I hope they can handle the changes from lower 40's to the 80's in temperature daily. We still need to install windows that open with the temperature regulated mechanical lever in the greenhouse. Thank goodness for the temperature sensor that I read inside the house for monitoring the greenhouse. I would be crazy at this point without it.

My tulips, that I planted in pots, are opening their precious flower heads! I have forgotten what they are going to look like, but it seems a delicate white with some pink. I was hoping that they would wait for two weeks until we have our local garden tour. I don't really have a lot blooming right now!

This is definitely a transition time of the year in my garden. The English Daisies that neighbor David gave to me last summer have finally decided they want to stay. They look really healthy, blooms and all, and are showing signs of wanting to spread. The idea is to have them spread through the whole lawn area, which eventually won't need to be mowed at all.

Tomorrow it is not supposed to rain, but wouldn't you guess it - I am working and not at home. So, I guess there is always another day. The work will still be there waiting for me. ;-)

Quote for the day:
A flower cannot blossom without sunshine
Nor a garden without love
- unknown

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Cold Days of March

I cannot believe how cold it is and it is March! This is my first year doing this, but I have started my own seedlings of Four Seasons lettuce, America spinach, Italian parsley and Rossa di Milano onions which are now developing in the greenhouse. In the house, I have starts of German Chamomile, Lettuce Leaf basil, cilantro, Giant Musselburg leeks, Cal Wonder Bell Sweet Peppers, Anaheim chile peppers, Jalapeno chile peppers, Ancho chile peppers, Black Beauty eggplant, and Japanese Pickling eggplant. I have seedlings going of Slow Bolt cilantro, Red Rubin basil, Little Gem romaine lettuce, Amish Paste tomatoes, Cuore di Bue and Pruden's Purple tomatoes. I also have planted Stupice, Arkansas Traveler, and Principe Borghese heirloom tomato seeds. The Cuore di Bue tomato seeds are from my dear friend Julia in England. They are supposed to be wonderful for cooking and canning! I am excited to try them. The Principe Borghese tomatoes are great for drying. They say you can just cut off a branch and hang it somewhere to dry. I love sundried tomatoes, they make sauces so rich and flavorful.

I have also planted sweet peas, after soaking them in a jar of warm water for more than 24 hours on the seedling heating pad.

I am attaching a photo of my first two six packs of little seeds that I grew. They are lettuce ( Four Seasons ) on the left and spinach (America ) on the right. They are really filling out now since this picture was taken. They are now living in the greenhouse full time. Since this very small start I now have several individual 4" pots, many 6 packs and three 72 cell flats of seedlings. They are sooooo cute when they pop out of the soilless seed mix.

I splurged today and bought a deep purple Wall flower - Erysimum. I have just the place to plant it - in my front yard bed by the stone retaining wall, where I had 4 o'clocks growing last year.

Well, the rain has started again. We have reached our limit for the year, I have heard. And it sure seems like it.

I came across this quote today and it seems a nice way to end for today.

But, we should first learn the winds and the nature of the sky,

the customary cultivation and the ways of place,

what each region bears and rejects.

Here corn shoots up, and there grapes do.

Elsewhere young trees grow strong and the wild grasses.

-Virgil, The Georgics, Book I, 29 B.C.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Spring was here!

Spring is here! Actually, spring was here last week. I am not so sure right now. The wind is blowing very hard and the rain has been coming down for two days now. Last week I enjoyed seeing my daffodils in full bloom and my tulips bulging but not yet opening. The primroses, pansies, stock, nemesia, verbena, carnations and pineapple sage are all blooming. And I know I am forgetting some others - oh yes, English roses are blooming as well as the English daisies. The freezing temps ( or close to freezing ) took out the nasturtium two weeks ago. But all is well in the garden!