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!

Monday, September 24, 2007

For the Next 7 Generations: The Grandmothers Speak

This is a wonderful video about the 13 indigenous women elders, shamans and medicine women from around the world, who have been called together to share their sacred wisdom and practices. They are lighting the way for us to a peaceful and sustainable planet.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Summer is coming to an end

Today the weather feels different. It is warm, 89 degrees, but it feels different. The squash are getting very large, very fast. The basil is blooming too fast. The tomatoes are not setting much new fruit. The peppers aren't turning red because they get picked too fast. We are still harvesting onions that are juicy and sweet. Tonight, I cooked dinner from the garden with the French white zucchini, Anaheim peppers, lots of basil, onions, lots of garlic, and Roma tomatoes. This was cooked with brown rice, some pepper jack cheese and yogurt. Very yummy, and the leftovers will be wonderful tomorrow night.

After dinner, Lucy (inside cat only) got outside. Searching the garden for her, I saw that we have pole beans to harvest. They will be great as this will be the first picking. This was a very late planting. And it is about time to plant peas and spinach, lettuce, leeks, and more onions. I still have chard plants growing amongst the huge zucchini leaves.

By the way, I found Lucy next door. She had gotten over the fence and couldn't get back. She listened to me call her for a full hour and never meowed to me. She is on my lap (in my way) right now, just purring away.

The garden is starting to respond to the earlier days. Many plants will start growing now. It is getting dark by 8:15 now. The loss of daylight is the only thing that I don't like about these autumn days.

It is time to get our firewood in for the winter. This is something that coincides with the grape leaves starting to turn yellow. And we have lots of juicy Thompson Seedless on the vine.

That's the garden today!

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."
~ Galileo

Monday, July 02, 2007

It's July and everything is bursting out

Hi, The garden (all of them) are growing so fast that those that I don't want to be HUGE are in a race with me and my ability to deadhead, prune and weed; as well as mulch, mulch, mulch and water. I was going to get pictures up of the veggies in June. Where did June go?

I still have to get those pictures taken!!!

My mantra this year is Mulch, Mulch, Mulch or mulch 3 times (3 inches) and water once. Your plants will let you know that they really really like this technique. Everything is happy and growing so very well.

In the veggie garden we have eaten, peas, spinach, parsley, brocolli raab, lettuce, onions, zucchini, peppers (mostly anaheim), tomatoes (stupice, bush early girl & roma), nasturiums, eggplant and basil (lots of it).

We have been eating the lemons, grapefruit, loquots, plums, raspberries, and now what is left of the apricots. The figs are starting to fill out and the blackberries are getting close.

Lots going on. Oh, and I have potatoes to harvest and new ones to plant. The vitex tree is huge with bloom and full of honey and native bees. They have been a very loud hum for many weeks now.

And I forgot, the grapes are starting to fill out and crawling everywhere. I am taking an online class on how to control this monster this year. That will be really informative and exciting!

Have to run, but wanted to get an update online.

The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed. --attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More spring planting and more pictures

Hi, I am going to continue on from the last post three days ago.
I had been sharing the types of tomatoes planted. This is the continuation of those that are planted in individual pots, as the actual veggie garden is full. The tomatoes like the sunny spot where they are placed on the patio area.

Black Krim - Heirloom, dark brown-red, medium sized fruit. It is full flavored with a slight saltiness. 69 days to maturity.

I think this is my friend Laura's favorite tomato. This is my first time growing it. In this picture you can look closely and see the little yellow flowers, just as happy as anything!

All of the tomatoes are growing very fast right now. This one is just under two feet tall.

The last of the tomatoes is a Bush Early Girl that was also grown organic like all the other starts. This tomato, I am assuming, is much like the hybrid Early Girls that I used to grow before I decided to take the "high" road and really completely go organic with my seed and starters if I have to buy them. Well, this year I did not get to start hardly anything from seed myself, but thank goodness for organic starts from Talini's, the COOP, and Soil Born Farm. I even heard (have not checked it out myself) that Target is selling organic vegetable plants. I do wonder if they truly are certified organic.

This Bush Early Girl picture was taken four days ago. This tomato is a compact determinate that does not need trellising. It produces 6 oz. crimson, meaty firm fruit with fine flavor. At 65 days to maturity, the Bush Early Girl is also an early yielder and a reliable producer, even in cool temperatures. That means that it will still produce in the fall when the temps are cooler. Today I noticed that it has set three very small fruit. Wow! Gardening is so very exciting!

Yes, I did get the "snowy white" eggplant in the ground yesterday! So, the eggplant bed is complete.

Okay, I still need to plant the swiss chard, some purple basil, leeks, potatoes, a white zucchini, bush beans, pole beans, and ???

I have been spending time deadheading ornamentals, pulling up suckers, planting and transplanting in the front yard gardens today.

I am putting on a neighborhood garden tour next Saturday and I have sooooooo much to do to make the front yard look nice. Nine months of neglect to the whole yard is definitely visible. I will not be showing my backyard and the veggie garden this year. The two sides of the backyard have not even been weeded of volunteers and weeds. In fact, I am thinking that I might need some help in removing the ivy and blackberry brambles that have crossed the fence from my neighbors yard and rooted in my yard.

But first I need more mulch for the front yard gardens and for the veggie garden. So, the work goes on, but everyday is a pleasure and the results are a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and beauty.

Happy gardening days!

"There is more pleasure in making a garden than in contemplating a paradise."
-Ann Scott James

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Planting a spring garden

Spring is really here! It feels so good to spend time in the garden. To clear off mulch, sometimes large prunings and to find that the soil is so alive and healthy. One raised bed had about 6 inches of mulch covering more than off the bed and the other half had about 2 inches of mulch. The difference in the soil between the two halves of the bed was very evident. So it tells me that I need to mulch mulch mulch!!!

I have my eggplant bed planted with four starters, two Japanese long and two Rosa Bianca. There is also a catnip plant on one side of this bed.

My pepper bed is mostly planted. I have 5 green bells and 5 Anaheim peppers. I have one Ancho, one Jalapeno, one Habanaro and still have little paprika peppers to plant. I will probably squeeze in a couple basil plants too. I just can't get enough basil. We use it fresh in salads and cooking. I also dry it for later in the year when we don't have the fresh.

I planted half of the onion bed two months ago. Today, I planted out some Torpedo Red 1 lb. purple-red starts and California Red 4" late season slow to bolt onions.

The zucchini is doing well. Really growing fast, I could probably see it grow if I could sit there long enough. Who has time for that? Also planted in this bed is a row of sugar snap peas (in the light shade of the Elder tree), a broccoli raab and two Chinese cabbage plants. And a nastrutium and one basil. All doing well except the Chinese cabbages are very little - we will see on that one.

My paste tomato bed is doing well. They are all in flower. This year I planted 5 Roma paste tomatoes. Last year I tried Amish paste and they didn't do that well - but then again it was a bad year for tomatoes with two weeks of heat above 100 and up to 114 degree weather. Tomatoes won't set fruit above about 90 degrees. I also have basil planted amongst the tomatoes. They always do well together.

The rest of the tomatoes are planted in individual pots:

Stupice (heirloom indeterminate)-60-75 days potato leaf/good yielder with great flavor (tall, spindly 4’, 2-4oz.deep red, yellow on shoulder/dries well) -one of earliest tomatoes known/from Czechoslovakia

Cherokee Purple Tomato (heirloom indeterminate) 80 days, good producer & disease resistance (10-14 oz. maroon with green shoulders, excellent flavor)
-said to have originated with the Cherokee Nation

Jaune Flamme Tomato (French heirloom indeterminate) very productive, tangy flavor (2-3 oz. deep orange, apricot shaped fruit, great for drying) 75 days to maturity

More about tomatoes planted in my next post.
Also, my ideas for the rest of the spring planting.
Bush and pole beans, etc.

'Every one of us can do something to protect and care for our planet.We should live in a way that makes a future possible.'- Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Moving ahead! sustainability using organic principles

The next step in educating our city as to the benefits of diverse and sustainable landscaping has fallen to the radio and our website for me. As Web Master I am continually growing as I am researching to put up informative articles, links and then writing about sustainable gardening in a way that is easily understandable. I love building websites so this is both fun and stimulating for me - but then, it is very time consuming.

I am now doing a weekly radio spot for approx. an hour. It is on how to grow an organic vegetable/fruit bed. This is focused on those who are new to organic gardening and/or new to gardening. The talk show is fun because Christine, the host is very interactive with me on the air, as she is an organic gardener also. She is a lot of fun which makes it easy to do for me.

There are so many wonderful reasons to garden and to grow your own food following organic principles.

  • Help provide proper nourishment and five-a-day fruits and vegetables.
  • Supplement food budgets.
  • Provide fresh food that has not been grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
  • Provide a healthy family activity.
  • Provide an education in ecology, botany, and the cycle of life for the whole family.
  • Provide a fun activity that includes good exercise.
  • Provide a needed stress reducer in a fast-paced world.
  • Provide for the development of positive relationships with neighbors through communication as well as the sharing of produce.
  • Provide beauty and a place to practice being good stewards of the earth on your little piece of land.
  • Help lessen the impact of waste products in city dumps through composting of left over food.
  • Help lessen green waste by composting and mulching.
  • Help lessen chemical run-off into our streams and rivers by using environmentally friendly garden practices.
  • Help lessen air pollution created from conventional lawn yard-care equipment.
  • Provide diverse species of plants that provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife.
  • Digging in the dirt with your hands chemically provides the body with a natural antidepressant.

So, out to the garden I go! Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 06, 2007

We did it! Democracy can actually work in America!

We did it!!! After a full year of dedicated work, we were able to change the city front yard landscape code in our city. My own gardens are in a sad state, because every bit of my energy has gone into this effort. I have spent from as little as two hours a day to about 15 hours doing research, writing, and distributing our information to supporters and citizens of our city. Also, time spent finding and photographing gardens, editing and creating a website and creating three powerpoint presentations. Then the tasks of presenting to neighborhood associations, issuing media releases and talking with the media . I have never done anything political like this before. It has been a huge learning curve.

On April 3rd, we made a presentation to the full city council. focused on my powerpoint presentation, I believe that we "wowed" them with the depth of research and the far reaching implications that changing the existing and the city's proposed Front Yard Landscape ordinance language could have. It is all about sustainability and setting up our city to be in a better position to deal with an uncertain future.
The "Quality of Life" indicators that we focused on were:
economic impact
water conservation
water quality
green waste management
air pollution
climate change
food security
ecological risks and benefits
neighborhood development
and cultural diversity

This is a big thing for the welfare of our city. It has been quite an experience!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sustainable Front Yard Gardens

Where have I been for more than 6 months?
I have been putting together a grassroots movement to change our city front yard landscape ordinance, which currently only allows for primarily low ground cover or turf. We are asking that the ordinance allow diverse front yard gardens, which are sustainable and can help address energy conservation, resource depletion, hunger, food security, and critical environmental issues. We have asked that they not put restrictions on the growing of annuals and perennials, which may include fruits and vegetables. The city has moved in our direction and we hope for full city council approval of our proposed ordinance amendment in the middle of March .

So this has taken my time and my energy. But I have saved some of myself for the garden. I had wonderful success with my perennial gardens. My veggie garden was a little more challenged because we had prolonged temperatures over 100 degrees (many up over 110 degrees) for over two weeks. It was miserable and my veggie garden felt the same. I had the worst year ever for tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. The peppers seemed to do fine and the luffa vine was extremely happy as it topped my elder tree with its hanging fruit.

Now this winter, we have had over two weeks of freezing temperatures. Mother Nature is striking out to say - STOP! YOU ARE KILLING ME!
So, I have lost ( I believe from the looks of them ) several perennials this winter. My lettuce decided to go back to the soil too.

Right now, I have onions waiting to be planted. I have pimento seeds from Laura that sprouted in transport from Alabama which are ready over an inch high. I have broccoli raab and chinese cabbage seeds in their sprout bag right on. I will start some peas this week too - and more lettuce. So, that is my update for now. Gardening is truly a stress reliever!