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, July 21, 2012

Home Grown Tomatoes

This is great!  Especially since it is tomato season!!!
Thank you John Denver!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Wonderful Wonderful Raspberries and More!

Raspberries and Boysenberries
It is that time of the year when fresh raspberries are available from early summer to fall when you grow them yourself.  Raspberries are easy to grow in most places. At this time I just grow the red raspberries, but plan on planting some black raspberries (which are firmer than the red) in the future. 

A year ago I attempted to transplant many of my raspberry plants to a bit shadier bed that I created under the edge of my grape arbor. The transplanted plants are growing okay (especially if I keep up the watering), but they are not producing this year. I was planning on moving some boysenberries into the old raspberry bed this year. These boysenberries where bred over a number of years for this area - in fact for my very neighborhood. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they are thornless.  

The old raspberry bed is producing lots of berries everyday (Yumm!), so I will leave them alone until the end of the season.  I have been eating them for breakfast on a little cottage cheese. Here was today's bowl of raspberries and a couple boysenberries. So wonderful as they melt in my mouth. And of course it is hard not to graze when picking a basket of them. They have such a rich delicate flavor. Raspberries are so easy to harvest and the tiny tiny thorns/stickers are almost indiscernible. The only time I feel them is when I am breaking/snapping out old dead canes. Yet, I have solved this problem by buying a new raspberry cane cutter. It is a very cool tool with a curved blade that makes it easy to snap/cut out old canes. It was a Christmas present to myself this last year. 

According to an October/November 2002 Mother Earth article, "Raspberries are high in fiber and vitamin C, and are a rich source of the anticancer compound ellagic acid. Black raspberries are especially fruitful in antioxidant and cancer preventive agents. Fresh raspberries are highly perishable and are best used within one to two days for peak quality, flavor and nutrient content. Rinse berries with cold water just before using."

This is my first year for getting a good crop from the boysenberries. I have only had them for a little over a year. I have been freezing them to bake a boysenberry pie. I am sure I have enough now, but they keep coming on, which is a wonderful surprise.

My blackberries will start later in the summer, which is nice. I have had these plants for many many years and they are thornless too! I freeze lots of blackberries every year.

I use my frozen berries in pies, cobblers and muffins. Sprinkle over cottage cheese, ice cream or pancakes and they make for a real treat.  Or one can make a quick raspberry (or any one of these berries) berry spread by mixing 2 tablespoons crushed berries with 1/3 cup soft butter and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

So, the main question I am currently pondering is what kind of berry (other than blueberries - which I have 2 plants already) will I plant next and where in my very intensively planted backyard city farm/garden will they live?

I hope you seriously entertain the idea of growing berries. They are so easy to grow and offer wonderful rewards.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Things Grow Big in My Garden

I have had this pink grapefruit tree for about 30 years. It is so dependable. We just have to remember to harvest which is most of the year. I think the down time between crops is about 2 months. I can live with that!

That is an iphone next to the grapefruit.

This photo shows that it is about 6 inches in diameter
and also 6 inches tall.
Every year we get a few of these huge fruits.
The lemons are really large too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I believe Spring is finally here!

This month we have had a lot of rain and thunderstorms, (much needed after such a dry winter with no snow to speak of in the mountains) and even had hail one day. A very cold and dramatic April it has been. A true 'April Showers for May Flowers' event!! 

As a consequence of all this cold weather, our usual spring plant date of March 23rd has been put off. I do believe that it may now be warm enough to plant my peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. They have (well some of them) been hanging out in our greenhouse and the others I will have to purchase still. 

Another reason to NOT get right out in the garden, is that everything around my raised beds is all disrupted with some hardscaping construction. My sweet husband pulled out the old redwood walkways that were starting to be a hazard to us due to their age and he is replacing them with concrete cobblestone on one part and we are working on another section to blend in with the brick walkways. 

I do have leeks, garlic, green onions and carrots that are doing well. I just pulled out my Kale last week that I had planted in early spring last year. Of course there are perennial plants and herbs that are always doing their thing too. 

The big job ahead of me is completely cleaning out the greenhouse and rearranging some of the furniture and staging (shelves). I couldn't do it before now because I couldn't leave the plants out over an extended time in the cold. 

I believe next week will be clean and plant time. It should be energizing, since working with the soil helps generate/stimulate the serotonin in our brains which makes us feel good (happy) and takes any blues away. The other part of it that makes me feel good is just being close to nature. It is always so satisfying. I will have pictures to share next blog post.

I do have to say that lots of baking has been going on in this extended winter season.  Each loaf is an experiment with different grains and seeds, and some with sourdough and some not. We have several favorites, but all were wonderful. Here are a few of the loaves.

This first loaf is made with whole wheat/unbleached, sourdough starter and two-seeds (sunflower and sesame seed).
This loaf is another sourdough whole wheat loaf with molasses and three-seeds (sunflower, sesame, poppy seeds).

This is called Indian Bread. This is a three-grain (whole wheat, unbleached, cornmeal) with sesame seeds.

This is a three-seed (sunflower, sesame, poppy seed), whole wheat/unbleached loaf.

This is a a three-seed (sunflower, pumpkin, poppy seed), whole wheat/unbleached loaf. I added the seeds after the first kneed, which leaves more on the top. Yumm!
This is another whole wheat/unbleached loaf with sunflower and sesame seeds.

This last loaf is a three-seed (sunflower, sesame, poppy seed) whole wheat/unbleached loaf. It had about 1/2 tablespoon of liquid too much, so the center is just a little sunken. It sure was wonderful though!!! I think this last loaf was our favorite so far. We eat a slice for desert. It is that good!

Tomorrow I will make another loaf, but don't know what yet. It will probably be sourdough, since my starter is bubbling really well tonight after being used for sourdough buckwheat pancakes this morn. 

But soon my energies will be focused more on the garden! It is all part of creating our own environment. So, I will soon post garden pics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is Spring really here?

The Vernal Equinox

Ah, it is spring! The Vernal Equinox, which is the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere was on March 20, 2012, at 1:14 A.M. (EDT).

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” The spring and fall equinoxes are the only dates with equal daylight and dark as the Sun crosses the celestial equator.

It is this season that brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of our flora and fauna.
Spring is all about "new" - new life and growth!

According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on its end on the equinox. Is this true?

One spring, at the minute of the vernal equinox, (Pacific Time) I tried this. For about 1/2 the day my egg stood on its own end, then I took it down. Try this yourself and let me know what happens!

We can all envision what we think of when spring arrives. Maybe it is the tender new light green growth we see, or the smell of warming soil or a flower in bloom, the feel of warm rain or a light breeze. 

Spring is also the time when green buds appear and blooms cover many trees, birds are active and insects buzz by, and flowers begin to bloom. Daffodils, Lily of the Valley,  and other spring flowers provide a sight for sore eyes after a long cold gray winter.

The vernal, or spring, equinox signals the beginning of nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere.

Gardeners have been waiting for this day to arrive. Winter provides lots of time to dream, to look through garden catalogs and decide what new things to grow this year. This is spring, the beginning of a new growing season and a time to again be in harmony with Mother Nature.