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!

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!