Monday, October 24, 2011

Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

I spent my Sunday harvesting some of the worm bins. Fun work especially when you have multiple 5-gallon buckets to add to the garden. But not very picturesque. Garden is a little bedraggled - I'm just getting ready for the winter rains, poking in seeds that I know will thrive in the wet and cold.

So even though I don't have pictures, I'd like to share an amazing video from my favorite local resource.

Farm and Garden 2011 from Weston on Vimeo.

I love the Central Coast.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

Here's a happy little ritual I've noticed! Here are the flowers now blooming in my garden.
I'll start with the weeds:

Sorrel (Oxalis) which in some ways is a pretty weed.

 I've been attending a Herbal Medicines seminar and I now have a greater appreciation for thistles (although I'm still likely to take the string trimmer to them).
Common Thistle

Blueberry flowers

Mint Geranium

Calla Lilies
 And these were a surprise:

My friend Ann gave them to me and this is the first time they've bloomed. Her garden is filled with irises at this time of year. She has better luck with them.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Reworking the garden

It's not the prettiest picture. But I've been spending time re-working the bed next to the south side of the house. The reason for the change? Gophers. They finally found a way through the wire somewhere and devoured nearly everything in the bed. (Here's the first post where I made the bed originally and the second post where it's completed.) Now I'm happy to say that it lasted a long time, and perhaps if I didn't have school occupying much of my time, I could have stopped the invasion. But that wasn't happening. So I'm putting gopher baskets in on top of the wire and making it a permanent planting.

Which is rather odd for me in a way. I was trying to think "when have I ever planted a rose bush?". I don't think I have, except for the occasional transplant of a miniature rose that I received as a gift. I have always kept my roses in containers. Now, they're getting a permanent home, interspersed with a variety of herbs and flowering plants. Wonder what that will be like?
Here's a picture from the last of the side garden's "hayday" in 2008:

When this is done, I'd like to finish "the orchard".

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Potted up pepper and zinnia sprouts.
Last Sunday it finally warmed up enough to go outside and pot up all my little sprouts from my desk. I was so pleased with my work. I had dreams that my next photo would be of healthy little plants all ready to be set out in the garden.

Sadly, when I went out to the greenhouse to check up on them this morning, something had gone in and nipped of the heads of nearly every sprout. Looks like a mouse made a salad of my new plants. sigh..... Back to the sprouting pods.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

24 April

Paddy is glad that spring brought the catnip back.
 Ever notice how spring starts slowly? After the long quiet of winter, there are these little bursts followed by slow downs. Similar to my usual Sunday, I  jump up from my slumbers to feed the cat. After that, I will often amble back to bed for a 15 minute snooze with the excuse that I'm waiting for the kettle to boil. Then I'm up a second time looking for tea and a little breakfast. My favorite has been stinging nettles chopped and stirred into my buckwheat cereal. A meal necessitates a short lie about on the couch, snuggled with my crocheted afghan. Then I have to finally get things going.

Spring has been like that here. First damp, cold winter weather - then burst of sunshine and 70-80 degree temperatures. Next rain and hail, then another week of delightful spring sunshine. And now this weekend, it's rain and gloom after quick tease of sunshine late in the week.

Time to have another cup of tea and maybe poke in some more seeds into peat pots.
Finally, the drizzle ended and the sun became warm around 2pm. Time to garden.

UCSC Farm and Garden Plant Sale is April 30th and May 1st.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Do seeds experience fear? I think not, but it's a thought that has recently crossed my mind. I've been struggling with my own fears - fears of beginning, fear of making mistakes because you're a newbie. It's caused some writer's block in a school project. If you have experience in something it's much easier to write about. For me, it's gardening and plants. But when I'm  new to a subject, I'm afraid of making mistakes. There it is. Fear of making mistakes. And as I stared at some of the inactive peat pots, the thought that they're afraid to sprout crossed my mind. A close friend of mine reminded me that
"the first time is always the hardest - in science we call it the energy of activation.  It's a known fact that changing movement takes more energy than sustaining it"
Yang burst - that change in movement that drives the seed to spout or the flower to break bud and flower. But it is the burst in spring that takes us into summer.

One more plug for the Smart Gardening Fair. Renee Shepherd will be speaking at the Smart Gardening Fair this Saturday. Find out the real dirt on how the seed business works and which seeds are the best choices for avid gardeners. For more info go to

(Brazenly lifted from the Master Gardener's Facebook page -

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sprout Update

First seeds to sprout: 1 sunflower, 2 kale and a scabiosa.

Although I haven't been in the garden much over these last few years, I still have a tendency to save seed. Waste not want not I guess. And I always figure that I will get a chance to plant such-and-such so why not grab that discounted seed packet? Or I'll pocket a few seeds from a plant I see that I'd love to have someday. Problem is that I have too much seed now. I was half tempted in the fall to just scatter it all into the yard and see what came up. But I resisted.

When I bought the peat pots, I had a vision of all the little plants I wanted. But sure enough, my filing system is not as good as my dreamy memory. In other words, I have no idea where my Swiss chard seeds are or the mizuna or even a summer squash or two. So, I planted the peat pots with whatever was in the seed files that appealed to me. And I left 3 rows for "surprises". I have a "bring back the butterflies" mix that I purchased at discount. Many of the seeds I recognized by sight - scabiosa, borago, cosmos, calendula, tithonia, lupinus, echinacea. But I was intrigued by a few that I didn't recognize and I popped them into the peat pots anyway. Everyone needs a good surprise.

Mr. Sunflower is going home with me.

If you're in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area, mark your calendar for the Smart Gardening Fair presented by the Monterey Bay Master Gardeners. It will be held in Carmel on Saturday, April 16th ~ 10 AM to 4 PM adjacent to the Crossroads Shopping Village.For more details see:  I'm sure the weather will be stunning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sprouting, burgeoning and spreading

The period of three months in spring is a period of sprouting (burgeoning). Everything in heaven and earth comes to life and flourishes. Sleep late and wake up early. Stroll in large steps in the courtyard, letting loose the hair and relaxing, so that the desire to live arises. Let live and do not kill anything. Give out but do not take anything by force. Reward generously and punish parsimoniously. This conforms to the spirit of spring; it is the right way to pursue the Dao. If one acts against this spirit, the liver will suffer. Then in summer, one will feel cold due to an insufficiency in the vigour of growth. Traditionally the Chinese year is divided into 24 time periods, the jieqi (solar terms). Beginning with lichun (spring commences), sometime in February of the Gregorian calendar, every fifteen days will see a new time period. Agricultural and social activities follow this time schedule closely and observe its special current features (jieling). Spring covers the three months beginning with lichun, the first time period, with the spring equinox (chunfen, March 20 - 22) as the fourth of these periods. The most salient feature of this period is characterized by the term fachen, "burgeoning or sprouting and spreading". Huangdi Neijing: A Synopsis with Commentaries By Y. C. Kong

Strolling in large steps in the garden of late would require waders. Saturday morning we were being doused by torrential rain. I was sad that I didn't have my camera as I headed out to a meeting because I wanted to capture the muddy river that was pouring down our neighbor's private driveway from the strawberry fields. In the fields were there are plants, you could see the berries being washed away with the soil, sprinkled along the muddy sand bars left when the waters receded.

The garden is a sopping wet catastrophe.

And yet, I'm eager to see the sunshine and I'm thinking about what I can do in the minute amount of time I have available. Funds are tight too, but I'm really missing the garden and I got the crazy idea to start my vegetables on my desk at work. After all, I'm there so much of the time and I can baby the starts for the first few weeks before transplanting them. And it would be so nice to share my south facing window with a cute flat of sprouts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time to get out and about

This is a picture of mulberry flower (Morus nigra) from my weeping mulberry tree. I'm so looking forward to Spring. I'm watching the leaves unfurl from dormant branches and trying to figure out what to plant and what to clear.

If you're in the Santa Cruz area, I can recommend some classes that a friend and instructor teaches. Darren Huckle, L.Ac. is offering a wide variety of herb classes, from herb walks to herbal preparation classes. Get more information from his website

I blogged about his Herbal Medicine in the Garden class at CASFS in 2006. Here's a link to my post "Today I ate an Echinacea purpurea"
Posted by Picasa