May Garden

20170508_173125-01Year two in my vegetable garden is starting with cool weather crops. The abundant rain we have had along with mild temperatures has encouraged my leafy vegetables and root crops to get rolling. Yesterday I thinned the radishes, snow peas and early corn plants. Two kinds of potatoes, red and gold, have come up, and are looking very healthy.

20170508_174810-01I have decided to use the method with the potatoes in which you mound straw around the plants as they grow, so it is easier to harvest the spuds. I hope that the cilantro I planted in between the rows of potatoes will not get buried beneath all that straw!

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Herbs in the Garden

20170430_101619-01Here we are, approaching the middle of spring. The days are getting longer and warmer, and the veggie seeds you planted have sprouted and are beginning to look like real plants! While you wait patiently for your garden to mature, it’s nice to have some perennial herbs from the previous year that you can enjoy in early spring.

The sage that I planted last year is about to bloom. It will attract pollinators, discourage carrot flies, and invigorate tomatoes. It should be kept away from cucumbers. I also planted parsley, marjoram, and thyme, three perennials that help other plants in the garden, and they already look vibrant this year.

Parsley attracts beneficial insects and repels harmful ones. It attracts predatory wasps and hoverflies, and repels beetles. Tomatoes benefit when planted near parsley, as the wasps it attracts kill the tomato hornworm. Do not plant mint near parsley, however. Neither plant will thrive.

20170430_081006-01Today I planted Cilantro, whose seeds are known as Coriander. Thus annual herb has many benefits in the vegetable garden. It does well with tomatoes, basil, spinach, and dill. It attracts beneficial insects such as tachinid flies, parasitoid wasps, and hover floes. It discourages harmful insects such as aphids and potato beetles. Cilantro does well next to nitrogen-fixing plants such as peas and beans. Other annuals I have planted or will plant this year are dill and basil. These herbs are important additions to your vegetable garden.

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Give a Fig

20170423_151701-01On a recent field trip for my UC CA Naturalist class, I was able to obtain several cuttings of a white fig. I rooted them in water, but after some investigating I discovered that the cool weather may be impeding the development of roots. I gave the process another week, and finally one of the stems developed root buds. I transplanted it to potting soil and put it outside in the garden. A week of warmer temperatures later, root buds formed on the other two stems, and I planted them as well. Apparently the roots formed in water are fragile, so it is important to plant the cuttings in soil as soon as the roots begin to form.

Now that I have the beginnings of fig trees, all I have to do is figure out where to put them. If we prune them aggressively, we can keep their size manageable. The parent trees these infants sprung from were huge.

It is taking quite a bit of patience to watch this garden unfold. The idea of planting something that won’t produce fruit for years is pretty overwhelming for me. It’s like parenting. You have to keep your eye on the present while planning for the future.

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A Day in My Garden

20170416_130855-01Happy Easter! Today I remembered that I hadn’t planted the first batch of seeds in my garden, which I had hoped to do a couple of weeks ago. It has rained so much lately that the soil has been too soggy to get much of a start. So I planted the majority of spring crops in the garden today, just ahead of another storm. The timing was almost perfect.

After choosing the seeds I planned to plant and deciding where they would go, I collected my supplies and headed out to the yard at 8:30. The rain would arrive between 1 and 2 pm, so I thought I had plenty of time. After transplanting a couple of herbs from last year, I began planting seeds for spinach, lettuce, chard, carrots, beets, snow peas, dill, and raab. I had planted more potatoes yesterday; the first batch went in a month ago, and they have just sprouted.

I also planted some more sunflower seeds along the fence of the garden, although there are some coming up from last year’s flowers. My goal is to attract even more pollinators, beneficial insects, and other critters like the earthworm above to the garden than I did last year. I will have flowers in each of the garden beds, and I have planted vegetables that are known to grow well together, as well as some that deter the pests of others.

I recently read that dandelions provide early food for bees. The last time I was out pulling weeds, a bee flew under my hat, and after waving my hands around I got stung on the ear. I have decided to end my war on dandelions in the interests of improving the bee population, at least in my yard. I have also decided to avoid overreacting to bees near my face!

After several sprinkles, I finally finished my latest gardening task, and made it back inside before the full force of rain arrived. At least I didn’t have to water! I am a bit concerned that the seeds will be too soggy, but the straw I have covered the beds with is an excellent mulch that keeps the rain from pounding the soil. It also insulates the soil so it is warm enough to plant. Last year I got a late start. This year I have started seeds inside and am also planting them later outside. Garden Year #2 is off to a great start!

 

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Seedlings!

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Who doesn’t love planting seeds? Two weeks ago I planted the first seeds of the season, and put them in the dining room where I am fortunate to have a large south facing window. Several days later, they began to sprout. First came the hollyhocks, an old-fashioned flower from my childhood that I hope will attract pollinators. Next the tomatoes and onions came up, followed by the leeks.

Today I planted the last of the seeds that I am starting indoors: zinnias, marigolds, and basil. I hope to begin planting seeds outside in the garden beds in the next few days, before the next storm. The soil has warmed up, but it is still damp from the rain we had last week, so I may have to wait. This time of year the weather is so unpredictable. Two years ago it snowed around this time.

As I am impatient to get my garden started, I will probably take a chance with some of my seeds and plant a bit early. Then I will plant more later. I am looking forward to my summer garden!

 

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A New Adventure

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Today I return to this beloved blog from a long sabbatical. I have been teaching full time again, and have become a grandmother. As if this weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I am starting a new project!

The UC CA Naturalist program trains those who wish to volunteer their time, energy, and expertise as citizen scientists and stewards of the environment. I am taking a class this spring at Sierra Streams Institute in Nevada City as both professional development and to become certified as a California Naturalist. My capstone project is titled, “Welcoming Pollinators and Beneficial Insects to a Home Garden.”

In this blog I will chronicle my efforts and results. Two years ago we moved into a house with an outdoor space for a large garden. Last year was my first attempt at gardening on a large scale. This year, I will continue to grow organic veggies, and I am introducing fruit as well. This blog will be my online garden journal. I hope you will join me!

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Along the Trail to Enderts Beach

trail to Enderts Beach

There is an overlook along the coast south of Crescent City, California, adjacent to a trail head. This coastal trail, which is a part of Redwood National Park, leads to Enderts Beach and beyond. It is a short drive off of Highway 101, and worth the detour.

view of Enderts Beach from trail

We arrived at the parking lot in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, after the fog had dissipated. It was warm and breezy, perfect weather for a short hike and beach excursion. Along the trail, we peered over the edge of the gentle cliffs, through the assorted vegetation and down into the surf and rocks below.

above Enderts Beach

An Osprey passed us as it cruised along the cliffs. The vertical drop was considerable, but the trail was long enough so that the descent was gentle. We were rewarded upon reaching the shore with the sight of a pair of Osprey fishing in the surf.

Osprey pair

Osprey pair one divingOsprey rising with fishMale Ospreyfemale Osprey with fish

An easy half mile hike took us back out to the parking area, and we continued south on 101 to Humboldt County as the fog crept back in and thunderheads danced above the coastal mountains. It was a very good day.

Enderts Beach

 

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