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!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A beautiful garden shed

All the siding is on and our garden shed is ready for its first bit of paint. It will be painted to coordinate with the studio building next to it. We need to get the paint on to protect the wood now that we are heading into winter soon. I really do like the natural wood, but we are trying to protect it as well as have it blend into its space with the potting bench, greenhouse and studio next to it.

This is the front side our new garden shed.  Nice!

So, it is almost time to clean out the greenhouse so I can set up for intensive propagation of winter veggies and then spring crops.

The vegetables still think it is summer and are producing just fine. The peppers are ripening the way I like them best - red!!  We are growing hot, medium and mild (bell types) and they are all finally maturing.

The zucchini plants are sending out lots of babies and some giants that hide from me. The three different types of zucchini are all small here in this picture. That is a very small berry basket. I am not sure how much longer the plants will last though because the heavy dew in the mornings is helping to weaken them.

This is a nice time of the year for growing plants in general though. The ones that don't "love" the heat of summer are just reviving themselves with a good rain and nice temperatures. Asters are blooming and roses are blooming again as well and native iris's are popping their heads out of the ground. It is a new season as we see these changes occurring in the nature around us. To garden is a wonderful occupation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Planting Onions, Leeks and Garlic

A week or so ago I planted a few of my onion starts along with a bunch of carrots I started from seed. So yesterday I bought 6 packs of onion and leek starts,  as well as seed garlic.

I keep records of when I start seeds for "starts" but don't seem to record when I plant all the time. Especially with something like alliums which get planted several times a year. But it is the time of the year for onions, leeks, shallots and garlic. Or rather, it is a good time to plant them.

The onions starts are bunching onions.  I like bunching onions because they last forever.  They divide at ground level and remain scallions (green onions) forever. They're also perennial. Yeah! I like bunching onions!

Of course I got leeks. I bought American Flag and King Richard leeks. They really are my favorite allium! I love leeks for so many things - part of steamed veg. dishes, soups, sauteed in olive oil, and especially a thick layer of leeks on my homemade pizzas.  They are the best!!!

Here is a little video about planting onions, leeks and garlic from Peaceful Valley Farms in Grass Valley CA.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The tool shed is coming along as well as the garden

During the extreme heat, I haven't gone out to the garden until the sun goes down and then have so much to do in the garden that I didn't get any pictures of the shed progress for awhile.

I planted two tomatillos (since you need two for fertilization) along the fence by the nectarine (Fantasia), the lemon verbena and the Royal Blenheim apricot.  They are finally making little paper balls after being in flower what seens like months. I had planted tomatillos in this area last year, but I completely weeded and changed the bed, as well as adding over 4 inches of mulch, so the tomatillos did not reseed here. I was surprised.

I was more than surprised when about 6-10 tomatillo plants volunteered in my eggplant bed which is across the walkway from the fence bed where the new tomatillos are growing. I guess I did not mulch this bed as deeply. These volunteers are very healthy and trying to take over the whole bed - which I guess they kind of are.  Below is a picture of the volunteer tomatillo paper balls.

I think they are beautiful!  I am going to have a lot of tomatillos this year. I will broil them in the oven on each side for 5 minutes and blend them slightly and freeze much of them in portions to use during the year as salsa, in pasta dishes and soups. Yumm!

One tip: pull the skins off as you pick them or later you may not be able to get them off because the inside skin has a sticky surface that adheres them really well. Just rinse and don't worry about the stickiness before you broil.

The tool shed now has a nice roof.  Good thing because it is really overcast today and was part of yesterday. So, that means it has cooled down too!!! Yea! 

The tool shed also has a very nice dutch door. It will be painted to match the studio nearby.

The trim will be pained gray and the center parts of the door will be light blue. I especially like the hardware.

Here the door is open. This is nice because I can reach lots of the hand tools I use just through this top part. I have a nice small, but long shelf on the right and lots of shelves on the left.

The next pictures will show big changes in the look of the tool shed when the siding goes on.  Hopefully I will have those soon!!!  I need to get this finished so I can clean out the greenhouse to make it ready for winter seed starting and keeping a few other plants happy during the winter. I will be using the solar electric for fans, lighting and a heater for warmth if need be in the greenhouse. I have more carrots starting in the greenhouse now, but need to start many more fall plants soon.

Fall is now coming on fast!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Next step in construction of the tool shed!

So progress is continuing on the tool shed.  Here are the latest photos.

Nice shelves of one side of shed.

This photo really shows the proximity of the tool shed to the potting bench area. And I also get a real feel of how the tool shed is going to work out.

 The plywood is now covered with tar paper before it ultimately it will be covered with shingles.

The door has been cut out of the paper, so it is looking better! Can hardly wait for the next step.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tool Shed construction continues

The construction is continuing, with the basic framing completed now. This photo was taken while I was standing in front of my potting bench. The door framing is obvious in this picture. The compost pile is visible through the framing in this picture also.

Below the sheathing is on the back. And some of the detail framing is in place.

The progress of the tool shed gets me excited to have an efficient seed production venue.


So, I have been planting seeds. In seed packs I have planted bunching onions, pumpkins, zucchini, zinnias and most recently carrots. Here is one of the 6 packs of newly emerging carrot sprouts.They are so cute and delicate. Tomorrow  I want to start some leeks for the garden.

We have been harvesting fruit and vegetables from the garden daily. This is the latest summer garden I have ever had in 30 years of gardening. We haven't harvested one pepper yet. As can be seen in this picture, we have three varieties of zucchini growing. The green and yellow type is new to me this year. Of course we have lemons (they are an all year harvest item in our garden). The tomatoes are so late, but they are coming on nicely and are very delicious!!

We always have plenty of blackberries from our thornless blackberry patches. I pick about a cup or two a day. We have them for breakfast and desert. We had a good raspberry crop this year too and got a few boysenberries on the new plants from my friend Nina.

But the birds (with the help of the rats) have wiped out our entire seedless Thompson grape harvest this year. I was going to bag some of the clusters, but they got to them before I could get the bags up. They were relentless, no matter how many times I would shoo the birds away from the grape arbor. We haven't gotten figs again this year thanks to the wildlife. I am saving a few, that is why we are allowing the fig branches to hang so close to the tool shed and over the whole pepper bed, just hoping to get a few figs.This fig tree was planted in 1920 and every year the figs would drop off or dry up because we just didn't eat that many. I made jam a few years, but ...   We always had way more than we could use or share. The same for the grapes, we always had tons, and now last year and this year we end up with none for ourselves. Really a bummer. No more bird nests in my yard next year.

I just dug up our whole potato 4'X4' bed. I have decided to move the potato bed this year.  It takes constant awareness to track the changing growth/shade patterns of the trees that surround the veggie garden. So, I am making an adjustment this year. I will be planting the onions, leeks and carrots in the old potato bed this year. I am moving the potatoes to a sunnier bed and I think I will get a larger potato harvest next year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Potting Shed Construction

The potting bench is now completed. Here it is with the new canvas awning. I chose parchment for the color so light would come through and it does. It is also waterproof which will keep the area so much cleaner. Now it is fun to start seed during the hot months of the year, as it is way too hot for starting seed in the greenhouse at this time of the year.

So, here it is - completed and a beauty and so very functional.
Started carrot seed in six-packs two days ago because it is too hot out in the garden now and I have way too much mulch on all my beds at this time of the year for a shallow seeder.

This picture shows where the new tool shed is being built next to my potting bench.

This next picture shows the roof line of the new tool shed which matches the roof line of the studio on the left (blue shingled structure). The next set of pictures (when it gets sheathing) will really demonstrate how it is going to look. Hopefully this will be in about two days.

Friday, July 22, 2011

We had Spring in July!

Yes, we have had a mixed up year when it comes down to Mother Nature and our environment. After an extremely cool/cold/wet March through May we got sizzling temps in June and then July provided us with Spring time temperatures. It was a blessing. All those things we weren't able to do during our regular spring could be done (or most of them) in July. 

I was able to clean out all those garden storage spots with piles of old plastic pots, some full of soil and much more. Now I am looking for a home for all those pots and I mean LOTS of pots.  I cleaned out and put together all of those broken pieces of terracotta pots which we all save for planting. I am saving many of them for artistic endeavors in making homemade designer pots. Someday I will have time for those types of projects. Oh, I found all kinds of treasures in the garden and a bunch of stuff I was able to throw away too!

I designed and my dear husband built a new 8' long potting bench that is absolutely beautiful - a work of art. I already have my containers of compost, worm casting compost, seed mixture, and general soil underneath. Then there is the vermiculite, sand, kelp and other ingredients stored under the new potting bench.

The shade cloth suspended above is what is reflecting the light above. I am calling this area my potting shed because it now has a shade cloth suspended over it, but will soon have a new awning installed.
I have seeds starting for onions and zucchini squash, plus basil and some ornamentals too.

Soon we are building a tool closet/shed to the right of this photo for obviously my tools and all the things that help me in the garden. Then it will truly be a potting shed!!!

Of course now, it is time to clean out the greenhouse. There is always a list of chores waiting in the garden.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finally planting a Spring garden in May and June

So we finally got some spring weather about three weeks ago, which came right after our full day of hail! Mother Nature is not happy! It sure is very evident this year with all this crazy weather and events around the world.

Alright, back to my little piece of nature. We have a city lot with some very old fruit trees and many I planted years ago. The (white) fig tree was planted in 1920 and the Santa Rosa plum was planted some time between 1920-1950. There are two Loquots, one old and another was a baby volunteer, a Meyer and Eureka lemon tree,  a pink grapefruit tree, a large Bay tree, Vitex tree, and Elder tree. There is a three year old Suncrest peach, a two year old Fantasia nectarine and a two year old Royal Blenheim apricot (replacing my old 25yr. old apricot that died a couple years ago).

We have several blackberry plants in several beds and this picture shows some of their pretty flowers that will bring fruit soon.

The raspberry bed is shown below. I have had it for several years and it is finally acting happy. Hope it bears well this year. I think I love raspberries best of all!

This next picture is of our new boysenberry bed, planted in mid April. This picture was taken 13 days ago and the plants have filled out significantly since then. I haven't built the supportive structure to hold up the vines yet. All the berries are doing well this year.

My red potatoes are looking really good in this picture. You can see the Calendula (yellow flowers) in the background. Calendula is a wonderful healing herb. Really good for the skin.

The bush beans (below) were planted as young starters. They sat here doing nothing for a couple hot weeks, but now they have buds and are happy. Since this picture, I had to separate them more, because when I planted them I thought they were climbing beans which can be planted closer together.

So this is a little abbreviated inventory of some of my sustainable urban gardens.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Planting the vegetable garden and wildlife

Every season that I put in a new crop I mulch the bed, stake the starters, lay a few sticks across the bed to keep out any cats and look at my new beautiful bed with awe.

This month has been a different story.

My cat is a house cat, because cats threaten and kill wildlife. I welcome wildlife on my property. I share figs, grapes, loquats, and plums with squirrels and many varieties of birds. Possums come through here but do no damage and the raccoons wash their hands in my water features which can make it a little muddy, but they do no damage. Many birds are nesting right now and there is a army of cats that belong to neighbors (or no) that is patrolling our neighborhood. I used to tell them that they were welcome to sit in the sun in my yard, but no more. This year they took advantage of my good spirit.

I didn't start planting my heat loving vegetables until almost two weeks ago. I started with peppers, because even though we were still getting this unusual cold, they always seem to be forgiving of the weather. So, the long pepper bed was planted with the Habaneros, Jalapenos, Poblano, Anaheim, all the way down the hotness scale to Sweet Bell's or California Wonder Bell peppers.

Oh, I always love my pepper bed. It is a raised bed so I am able to crowd them in together a little and knowing the growth habits of the different varieties allows me to know who needs a little more room. I am a pepper queen, as they always do so well. They will keep producing until sometime after Thanksgiving or after Christmas in a mild weather year.

Of course they are planted with organic everything - my own compost and mulch (leaves and compost that isn't as broken down). We do have good soil to start with, river bottom soil as the river is just about a mile away. And they like getting only partial day full sun, but late afternoon shade in our hot California summers.

Back to the kicker!
After I plant a new bed I just enjoy watching it, but the next morning I went out to look at my beautiful bed and found a place where digging had occurred, the mulch was piled in an unusual pile. Immediately upon inspection I found the culprit was a cat. Cat feces are not healthy in an edible garden or any garden. Many people try: Cayenne pepper (works until the first rain washes it away) or mothballs (toxic), wiring up a low-current (non-lethal) fence or motion sensor water gun (very expensive). Cats HATE to poop in anything that is wet or step on anything that sticks to or pokes their feet, so some people use chicken wire. My neighbor Cindy resorted to chicken wire. The problem is you can't keep adding mulch or you are just covering the chicken wire and then it is useless and when your plants grow up you can't take the chicken wire out of the bed for the rest of the season.

My method of laying a few branches (saved from pruning) like "pick up sticks", did not work. So I decided to make the bed indestructible to cats. It looks like one of those torture beds seen in films from ancient times. No cat is going to want to come near my peppers anymore. Of course, once the plants fill out I can remove the weapons of torture. Unfortunately is does not look like a perfect Sunset Magazine bed, but it is a real way to keep your beds from becoming contaminated with cat poop!

For some reason it is hard to see the vertical sticks sticking up all over the bed. It is more evident on my paste tomato bed filled with Amish paste and Sausage paste tomatoes which a I planted a couple days after the peppers.

The tomato cage helps to keep them out too. It is hard to see the cage, but it is homemade (out of heavy wire fencing with 6" openings) and has been used for more than 20 years. So, this was an easier bed to secure. Here is a close-up below of the mass of upright sticks!

It also helps to have lots and lots of sticks/stakes. They are useful for all kinds of things in the garden, from this deterring cats use, to staking and supporting new starts, supporting plants laden with heavy fruit, to becoming the uprights for shade cloths (I just use a staple gun to hold the shade cloth to the stakes) during different times when a plant maybe stressed from the sun.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

2011 May Day East Sac Garden Tour - for gardeners by gardeners

We had a gorgeous day for a garden tour, yet it did feel warm around noon. We chose an earlier date for the tour this year to highlight different gardens, and also different plants that are in their best form. We showed 7 East Sacramento Gardens. All these gardens are cared for by their owners with love and dedication. The love and hard work showed in the beauty we were able to observe.

We started out at Nina's with her unique sustainable gardens and orchard.

Next we visited Anita's fantastic rose gardens and other perennials. The senses were also filled with the wonderful smells.

Cindy's gardens were next with her rose arbor and perennials. Her garden also demonstrates cooperation as she has a vegetable garden on her neighbor's back property.

Kim's gardens were filled with wonderful plant diversity focusing on shape, form and color. Always changing and interesting.

Then we visited my gardens. Here is a front yard bed with various perennials in a shady bed.

Next were Dave's special garden rooms. We are leaving one garden room and entering another in this photo.

And lastly we visited Noelle's pretty gardens.

The tour was a real success. We all had fun visiting and sharing and we all gained information and ideas to incorporate into our knowledge base and possibly our gardens along the way.

Friday, April 08, 2011

It is April already!!!

It seems quite strange to just now be getting out into the garden this year! I had a four month job developing a huge website with no time for fun free-time activities, let alone for the garden or normal chores. So, here I am checking out my yard to see how my precious plants have survived this very long cold and hard winter.

Many plants are bursting out with new life. Yea! We have had a couple gorgeous days and the honey bees are very busy in my gardens. I sure wish everything had been pruned before this. I am doing some catch-up pruning of vines and other over-due chores.

A few invaders have decided to take over where my mulch has been utilized by the microherd and is almost showing the soil now. Well it would be showing soil if the oxalis and cleavers hadn't filled in these places. So, I have spent 5 hours over a few days earlier in the week pulling out these two invaders who thought they were 'home free' in my gardens. No, it is not gone, not by a long shot, but several beds are looking good enough to get another layer of mulch for this season or even the year depending on sun exposure and how fast it breaks down.

Yesterday, my friend Nina gave me a bunch of boysenberries canes ready to plant; that were in need of being planted soon. So, today, instead of continuing my battle with the invaders in fully developed beds, I developed a new berry bed. I had been thinking about starting this bed for the last year. This bed is on the west side of the yard and is next to the raspberry bed. The soil is nice in this new bed which hadn't grown anything productive for years. Many years ago it used to be my main vegetable garden; now abandoned for the wooden raised vegetable beds I built towards the back of my property. These beds have lasted for 25 years. This year I will need to replace a board or two on a couple of them, but the redwood has held up quite well over the years.

Back to the boysenberries. So, I got 4 canes planted before it was time to call it quits today. Tomorrow the rest will be planted and I will come up with a structure to support the new plants. My friend Kim was such a help today, she is a hard worker. Working with a buddy is very inspirational. The time flies by that way.

Ever wonder why gardeners are always such a happy group??? Well, there is a bacteria in the soil that actually generates Serotonin in our brains. It is said that this works better than Prozac and we have all heard about a town where the citizens went on Prozac to be happy.  So one of the best things about gardening is the concept of being sustainable by growing food, having a beautiful garden bed full of life, getting some good exercise and vitamin D and a good shot of Serotonin that makes us happy. What else could we need?

I will add boysenberry pictures tomorrow, as it is pitch black now.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Did I mention that this picture was taken in 2011???  or was it December 31 at 9pm???
Yes, your thinking is correct. These peppers were just picked from the vine in my raised bed full of peppers at the New Year! We have had more than our share of cold weather this winter. Lots of nights down in the 20's. Some winters we have no actual freeze nights!  I remember one year about (maybe 15 yrs ago) when we had such a bad freeze (18 degrees) that all my citrus fruit on my two lemon trees and one grapefruit tree froze and then spoiled. That was a very sad year indeed!
Okay back to peppers. In the middle of this January we picked a few more nice red peppers too and they were great!
You can see I gutted the medium hot long pepper that looks like an Anaheim pepper, yet this one is one of those whose name I cannot remember without going out and reading the tag. I believe it is hotter than Anaheims though.
Here is the next step: Ha! Chopped!
Now to make something wonderful from these beautiful peppers!
This is the vegetable side of a fantastic pasta! As you can see, it includes leeks, carrots, green garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers of course, a tiny bit of olive oil and some tomato paste, I see I put in fresh rosemary and probably celery seed, freshly dried oregano and basil from the garden. I can almost smell it cooking! And to top it off, I served it with homemade sourdough whole wheat seed bread.
This is my own recipe that I have improved over time and I can tell you that it is great! So we brought in the NEW YEAR with wonderful fresh and healthy homemade food, including vegetables and herbs from the garden!  Happy New Year to all of you!