Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh yeah, Ollas!

I would rarely ever say that if I could, I'd swap my life with ::fill-in-the-blank::. And the operative word is rarely. I'm comforted by the fact that as I get older, I become more comfortable with me being where I am at and who I am. It doesn't mean that I don't have goals, and that I'm not endlessly trying to work towards those goals. Quite the opposite. However, if I -had- to be instantly transported into another person's situation, I would gladly take that of the Devraes family at Path to Freedom. (Although, knowing karmic mischief I'd probably be transported to an apartment dweller living near an industrial park.) If anything, they inspire me all the time with ways I can improve my life and my garden.

For example, I am very inspired by the ollas irrigation that they just installed. I realized this would be the perfect solution for my blackberries and raspberries that I have placed in a further than usual spot in the yard, mostly because I wanted the plants in the ground and I am fully expecting to develop that space more this summer. My fear was that as the maxim says, "the garden ends at the end of the hose" would prove true and the plants would die due to lack of attention. They are doing okay, as this evening's watering proved, but an olla would help allay my worries.

On another note, I am pleased to see that the gophers show no interest in the brambles or the sage. I noticed trails right through the bed and the plants are there and doing fine. I suspected as much, but I'm glad that not everything has to be put in a cage/raised bed.
List of plants my gophers are ignoring:
Rubus fructicosus (Brambles i.e.raspberry, blackberry)
Salvia (officianalis, spathacea)
Tagetes (erecta? I'm guessing)
Origanum vulgaris hirtum (Oregano - Greek)
Narcissus (Daffodils and paperwhites)

Of course, now that I've said that, they'll eat it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Humming in the garden

My friend Ukalichick recently blogged a song by Greg Brown from his album One Night and it just strikes such a chord with me that I think it bears repeating, especially as I water and fuss over the tomatoes. I am seeing flowers, I can hardly wait to see fruit.

Canned Goods

Let those December winds bellow 'n' blow
I'm as warm as a July tomato.


Peaches on the shelf
Potatoes in the bin
Supper's ready, everybody come on in
Taste a little of the summer,
Taste a little of the summer,
You can taste a little of the summer my grandma's put it all in jars.

Well, there's a root cellar, fruit cellar down below
Watch you head now, and down you go

And there's [repeat chorus]

Maybe you're weary an' you don't give a damn
I bet you never tasted her blackberry jam.

[repeat chorus]

Ah, she's got magic in her - you know what I mean
She puts the sun and rain in with her green beans.

[repeat chorus]

What with the snow and the economy and ev'ry'thing,
I think I'll jus' stay down here and eat until spring.

[repeat chorus]

When I go to see my grandma I gain a lot of weight
With her dear hands she gives me plate after plate.
She cans the pickles, sweet & dill
She cans the songs of the whippoorwill
And the morning dew and the evening moon '
N' I really got to go see her pretty soon
'Cause these canned goods I buy at the store
Ain't got the summer in them anymore.

You bet, grandma, as sure as you're born
I'll take some more potatoes and a thunderstorm.

Peaches on the shelf
Potatoes in the bin
Supper's ready, everybody come on in, now
Taste a little of the summer,
Taste a little of the summer,
Taste a little of the summer,
My grandma put it all in jars.

Let those December winds bellow and blow,
I'm as warm as a July tomato.
[repeat chorus]

Monday, May 29, 2006

Gardener takes a break


Did a little tourism this last week as Mr. C. and I had guests from Canada. Toured California and out to Las Vegas, Nevada. I usually like to stop at the Conservatory at the Bellagio, and this display was extraordinary! I liked the miniature railroad garden at the SF Flower show this last March, but this topped it by a mile! The small model buildings in the display were made out of plant "bits". One example is the domes on buildings were made out of decorative gourds. And the variety of bromeliads, orchids and tillandsias were stunning as many of them were in bloom. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Went up to see Mom. Sorry, no pictures. I was so busy trying to get all the veggies together, I forgot the digital camera. We planted in 6 tomatoes for her, probably too many, but hopefully she'll enjoy the variety. She's growing 1884, Great White, Yellow Ruffled, Jaffe's Cherry, Julia Child, and Ukranian Heart. I picked up 3 different peppers for her with the hopes she'll also like them - Admiral, Pizza my Heart, and one that I'm forgeting the name of. Sheesh. I purchased a basil variety pack and a six pack of Genovese Basil. She also planted in 3 eggplant, 2 Diamond and one Farmer's Long. The Black Beauty Zucchini that I was trying to sprout was a no show, so I said she'd have to purchase that on her own. There should be plenty of room for beans, salad greens, radishes and maybe green onions.

Looks like the cabbage I planted in the late fall was ready to harvest. I was afraid it had stunted, but it came through like a trooper. The Swiss Chard had bolted while she was away. I think she was surprised with how tall it had become.

I also purchased some flowers to attract beneficials; Zinnia 'Envy', Bachelor Buttons, Seashell cosmos, sunflowers (a burgundy and lemon yellow variety), Liatris, and Angelica stricta 'purpurea'. Looking forward to seeing how well they combine. And I need to tell her to add some marigolds for good measure.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Limerick Day

Today marks the very obscure celebration of Edward Lear's birthday. He wrote the book Book of Nonsense in 1846, and today is the day to get your fill of silly limerick poetry.

Now being a gardener, and it being spring, I do have some unexplained need to burst into poetic verbage. Alas, my attempts at poetry seem to be more likened to a Vogon's than to Maya Angelou. I guess if I practiced haiku more regularly, I might actually write one that could be repeated without too much embarrassment. (I'm guessing that's why so much sake is imbibed while haiku sessions abounded in springtime gardens.) But I find limericks fit into my life very well. I get to rattle off a few rhyming lines, and try ever so hard to remain true to the metrical pattern of a limerick. And if I can twist in a punch line, so much the better. But usually the joke is on me. Here's two for this year:

I find that I do love to garden;
the trowels and the pots you must pardon.
   I keep finding tasks
   as plants grow so fast.
I'd clean if the gardening were done.

Those who know me will quickly confirm
My unending love of the worm
   They eat your tossed scraps
   and make plant growing "cast".
I know not why they make people squirm.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Weekend status

I spent all of Sunday potting up the tomatoes. My yard looks like the attack of the trifids. Most every plant is a foot tall or taller. The Purple Russian (which I have nicknamed the Cossack) had to be planted into a garden bed. It was just too large to plant into a gallon can. I put a Wall-o-Water around him, but somehow, this might be overkill as the cool weather hadn't affected him much in the greenhouse. But I worry about the excess sow bug population in bed 3. I may have to resort to diacamaceous earth and more traps. They are munching on the onions and the garlic! Maybe I should add breath mints to the trap (ha!).

I started the potting up session on Saturday afternoon after a few errands and a trip to the UCSC plant sale and Sierra Azul. The plant sale was a little smaller than I imagined and there were fewer varieties than the brochure mentioned as they suffered from the cool, wet spring as much as anyone. But I was able to purchase a few eggplants for Mom and some peppers for me. I didn't get the varieties that I had hoped, and had to guess with many. I purchased a couple of "Lipstick" peppers. They are ones that I had marked ahead of time and I am quite excited about the description from the Cornell Dept. of Hort. website. I also picked up a "Tiburon" not knowing what it might be, and was pleased to find out it's a poblano chile. I love those grilled! I wonder why it is classed as "sweet"? Anyway, I have an Ancho Gigantea to compliment it. I also purchased a Sweet Apple Pimento. I still really want a yellow sweet pepper and I hope with the larger greenhouses at Cabrillo, that they fared better than UCSC. I can almost taste the red and yellow bell pepper tarts! I completely forgot to look for herbs at the sale. So I need a better shopping list for Cabrillo. Too bad none of the Hungarian pepper varieties were available. I was looking forward to trying one or two of them.

Also I changed my pruning style on Saturday. I've always thought that when you prune out the suckers on a tomato, you took the entire sucker. Pam Peirce seems to suggest that you let the sucker develop 2 leaves and then prune the growing tip. It did make the tomatoes on Sunday look bushier, so I'm going with that method. I figure the more photosynthesis, the better. And I chose to pinch any and all flowers that I saw, and there were quite a few. Basic supplies were running out, I ended up scrounging for bamboo stakes, and 1 gallon containers. I even had to plant out a couple of things to keep the repotting production line going. I'm going to see if I can dredge up the last of the cans today so I can complete the job. (That's right, still more to go!) I was amused at the repetitive nature of the task; grab empty can & clear it, fill with potting soil, empty into potting tray, select plant, unpot, prune, settle into new pot, re-tag, stick in bamboo stake, tie to stake, water, place outside, grab empty can....

I'm hoping to start a few seeds this evening. I should have started the cosmos a lot earlier, but I'll just put a few nursery grown ones in for now. I just want to make sure there are plenty of beneficial insects around. I've seen a couple of ladybugs, but not many. I think the year I grew wheat was when I saw the greatest numbers of them. I've seen syriphid flies around the sweet alyssum, so that's encouraging. And I'll transplant the sunflower volunteers.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes are lounging around my garden, soaking up the sun.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

May can be almost too busy

It's plant sale season again! Saturday & Sunday is the UCSC Farm & Garden Plant Sale, as well as Tour Day (monthly) at Sierra Azul. Then May 12-14th is the Cabrillo Plant Sale. And I'm sure there are others to tempt me. But I'll see how much my pocket book will allow.

I also need to pot up the tomatoes that are mine. Some will go into gallon cans, some into the self watering pots in the greenhouse, and a few will possibly make it into a garden bed or two, depending on how efficient I am. The extras have nearly all found good homes.

I recalculated the sun exposure on bed 2 on Tuesday when we had a bit more sun. The reading came back "partial sun" which is more in line with what I thought. Although, I wonder if the early fog that came in didn't affect the reading once again. So I am looking for tomatoes that bear smaller fruits to put into that bed. Basically we are in our usual summer pattern, so I guess the early fog would be a typical day.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Found a landing site

Okay, official results from the SunCalc says I have finally found a "new" full sun spot. It's where I tore up the nectarine. I had planned to do something else with the space, but I'm just going to do tomatoes there for now. Next year I'll make the bed I planned. Sometimes you have to bunt.

Tomorrow, I'll do a reading in bed 2 again, I'm assuming the weather will cooperate.

Also, I may write a quick note to the SunCalc folks that they should mention that their device displays the last reading for a few moments before it goes into reading mode (which is signified by 4 LEDs flashing, versus a single LED flashing on the result). I thought my new toy had packed up. I would turn it on and the device would flash the last result. So I figured turn it off and back on again. Same result. Total lack of patience on my part. What do you expect at that early hour?

A very fine weekend indeed

Plenty of warm sunshine, oxalis to remove, weeds grass to whack mow (who am I kidding?), beds to water, made me wish for a 3-day weekend. I would have loved to do the same today.

More tomatoes went out the door to willing adoptees. But the greenhouse still feels like it might bust apart at the seams with all the plants. One family friend said her son keeps asking when can they plant the tomatoes? Is it warm enough yet? My question exactly, and the soil thermometer reads 63 degrees today. Nightime temperatures here are getting better. We are starting to leave the windows open all night again. I have the SunCalc running in *yet another* spot. We'll see. I've been delaying the tests with all the overcast weather. Yesterday convinced me to start them up again. It seems that we have gotten back into our summer weather pattern of fog in the morning, burning off by afternoon, with light fog in the evening. Our weatherman must get bored reading that off for 3/4ths of the year. How in the world to you make that same weather report interesting from April until October? No summer cloudbursts, no imminent tornadoes. Just fog and sunshine returning to fog.