Category Archives: Community garden

It’s a boy!…Monarch that is…

 

IMG_2661male-spot-circle

Beautiful male Monarch on my Asclepias!  The spot, circled in yellow, is mirror-imaged on the other wing, and indicates this to be a male.  Photo courtesy of neighbor, Jamie Simmons, who also watched this specimen flitting in his yard.

We’ve been blessed with the presence of an authentic Monarch butterfly in the garden this last week, following my sighting of 3 more out in some pasture lands on the outskirts of town.  The Monarch is a relatively rare butterfly to see in this area, and I can’t remember the last time I saw one: with the overall decline in their populations over the last decade, I was surprised and delighted to see these, especially in a short amount of time!  Almost didn’t trust my eyes! I grew up with them as very commonplace yard visitors, and missed their numbers up here in western Oregon.  Even though I’ve grown a type of milkweed for many years (a non-invasive cultivar), it hasn’t hosted very many caterpillars in its lifetime, nor is it the favorite of the monarch.  However, more people are planting various types of milkweed in the area, and perhaps it is paying off.

He is not always present on a daily basis, but one afternoon and evening he was a visitor for several hours, flitting about, around to neighbors, and back, and alighting on the butterfly bush, which is loves for nectar.  The frequently visiting Swallowtail was also cruising through the yard, and there were some near collisions at the Buddleia bush.  Jujubes have shown up, too, jumping and whirling themselves about in little frenzies, which didn’t phase Mr. Monarch.  Such a delight and blessing to see them all active and energetic.  I did have to remind little Juni-cat that she should not even think about trying to capture our visitor! She has caught a Swallowtail before…grrr.

Our first bounty of beautiful yellow crookneck squash was picked a couple of weeks ago, and a ripening tomato can be seen from certain viewpoints in the yard.  However, most of the tomatoes are green; our intermittent pattern of 3-days cooler than average, then 3 days normal summer heat, is not conducive to speedy tomato ripening.  There might be green tomatoes at season’s end this year, depending.

Spaghetti squash is being true to form and pumping out its fruit, (with bees’ help, of course), and at last count last weekend, I saw about twelve softball-sized squash.  Five days later, some of them are now almost full-grown for this variety, like a good-sized canteloupe.

We’ve had very, very, very, very bad deer this year, in spite of extra netting.  They have learned to walk on netting and bite through it for their highly-desired bean leaf sprouts, and then they won’t leave them alone.  There will be absolutely no bean harvest this year; I leave the stems to torment them!  Always one day (no, one night!) ahead of me, they demolished over half the lettuce crop.  It appears we might get some lettuce re-growing though as summer cools off a bit.  And they harass some of the melon and cucumber seedlings, too, when least expected, so we’ll see how those do.  Tomatoes are protected enough now that they can’t do too much damage.

deerdamage July2016-2

Early July deer damage.  Forget any bean harvest this season, and only a bit of lettuce escaped sabatoge.  The day after this photo shot, they munched the rest of the lettuce, and proceed to keep it mowed.

Aug-08-16-1

That’s what happens when you leave town for a few days…all of a sudden it is a massive crookneck jungle! May have to do some disciplining/removal so the hidden melon plant can see more sun!

Aug-08-16 jungle

Spaghetti squash interloping with tomatoes. At least deer don’t like the prickly leaves at this point.

Aug-08-16-spag

Squash fruits galore, running all over the place.

 

Advertisements

Solstice Transitions

June is still maneuvering its way through mercurial weather, with increasing hints of true summer, now that we’ve crossed the official June Solstice date.  A far cry from last year, when temperatures were hot, long before summer, we have continual cycles of cool and warm, a few thunderstorms.  Although we’ve had weather more reminiscent of the ’80s – 90’s, strong gusty breezes seem to be present more than usual, so plants and soil dry out more quickly than anticipated.

It has been a bit rough getting our row of lettuce to proliferate until this last week; a weekend of extreme heat after 7 days of rain seemed to confuse it.  Then our local young bambi-deer came through to chomp down on the new seedlings that had been acquired to supplement the laggards.  Finally, they’ve sturdied themselves.  Meanwhile the mesclun mix and radishes have finished their acts, stretching themselves up in their time-to-bolt looks.  Since we got too busy to properly thin the radishes and greens early on, there was a bumper crop, with plenty to give away!

Changes are afoot for this bountiful garden and homesite, as life evolves, and it appears that I will be moving away to another residence, still local.  The heart calls to co-habitate with my significant other! His place is a bit larger than mine, but it will be a tight squeeze.  He has a very large back yard that has been minimally attended to until my presence in his life 😉   But, we won’t be attempting to rehabilitate or redesign it too much at this point; this may be a transition move, as we look for a different house that will be a bit larger.  The blueberry devas have definitely been busy improving the bounty over the last couple of years of my working with them.  Large, luscious berries this year!

Hence, this year our CG is smaller, maybe 55% of its usual size, with part of it tarped over for weed control.  Once some squash and melons are established, they can meander over the top of it.  Our usual participants are also either leading busier lives, or less inclined to participate for various reasons, so it is an appropriate time to scale down, and let part of the garden soil rest.  This has been another concept I’ve known needed to be implemented at some point, and this is the perfect opportunity!  Ideally, the planted portion this year could be left to rest next year, and the fallowed side this year can be planted.

jun-21-16

A misty day progressing, although Solstice was pleasantly sunny. Still in spring/summer transition, the familiar tomato red jackets, and jug covers for emerging melons and squash are present and keeping the youngsters warm and protected.

Then, to find a renter for my place, who loves to garden!

Tip-toeing through puddles

…rather than tulips.  Perhaps slogging is a better term; definitely rubber boots weather!

Thank goodness for an assortment of blooming tulips and daffodiles to welcome the onset of Spring in western Oregon, which greeted us with more strong rains.

mar-12-16 tulips

Tulips to the rescue to welcome Spring, while puddles prevail!

Three days of no rain let the previous puddles drain away, and provided us with a chance to dash into the garden to do more pruning, throw on some fertilizers, weed, and minor transplanting.  Even a hike into the forest as we felt an energizing rise in temperature.

Equinox today bestows us with more puddles.  It has been a day for inside work, cleaning and refilling the bird feeders, reading, cooking, and contemplating future strategy for garden projects (like re-establishing medicinal plants I used to have).

Kind of a “retro-spring” in my mind; reminiscent of winter/springs a couple of decades ago, before the warmer, drier shifts of the last few years.  In that sense many of us locals don’t mind “global warming”.

mar-12-16 waterlogged

Not even thinking about the CG yet! But weeds are easy to pull!

Welcoming more noticeable light to our northern hemisphere days, while knowing it is harvest-season in the southern hemisphere!  May we/you be bountiful in all areas!

mar-12-2016 blooms

Hyacinths and primroses deal with all four seasons of spring weather!

 

 

 

 

Winter inspiration

While wintry sleet and freezing rain make it rather inhospitable for yard work-play, it does provide for more leisurely musings of the lively feathered visitors to the feeders.  Scanning the yard for the possible early casualties of the week’s freezing temperatures, most everything seems settled.  White sage is out of it’s typical chaparral environment, so it naturally went into decline with the inset do long bouts with of rain, after a freeze; May is the time for revealing the success of mulching its base.

And for many garden enthusiasts this is the time for inspiration; for dreaming, for pondering, for planning what their new outdoor spaces might become, or how existing spaces might be enhanced.

Some inspirational resources are listed here:

https://highvibebounty.com/project-history/inspire-yourself/

There are so many books and resources available that provide valuable information, depending on one’s tastes, preferences, and experience.  However, a few of those that seem to me to offer some unique ideas, while being practical and not so overwhelming are offered as suggestions and places to explore.  There are no rules against using snippets of ideas from many resources to create what you like.

Happy New Year! Enjoy exploring, dreaming, and becoming inspired to find your own style!  “Simple” is a good way to start!

A favorite!

 

 

Real rain arrived…

winter Solstice 2015

It’s the season for growing rain puddles!

Just realizing the last post requested some real rain; wow, four months ago!  We moved into most of fall without substantial moisture, and then it started to be a little more serious in mid-November.  It joined us in Hawaii, too; the Big Island having one of its wettest years.  Weather shifts everywhere!

Frosty and frigid temperatures came by during early December, making the lettuce and chard stress; frost wilt has an interesting look.  A move into the December deluges we have going now, is balancing out the summer drought, but required a harvest of the lettuce, which was giving up due to a bit of rot and slug problems.  The beets are surviving the fluctuating surface ponds, and the chard is in some sort of stasis…

It is, after all, the season of rest now that we have reached Winter Solstice in our part of the world.

Wishing everyone a bountiful, healthy, peaceful, and enjoyable holiday season!

Animated_Starry_Tree

We’d like some real rain…please and thank you!

The typical ides of late summer, come earlier than usual, of course.  While we await a much needed, hopefully-for-real, forecasted spell of precipitation in a few days, you are invited to take a short tour through the nooks of the CG, as it gets cleared of tired and/or over-browsed plants after harvesting the bounty!  True, most of the yard looks great, (just a bigger water bill to keep them from dying, and grateful we don’t have water rationing); but their stress is detectable.  Fortunately the lower sun angle as we drift towards fall helps keep moisture around longer. Given the soil crevasses in the beds, surrounding any soaker-hosed segments, it is always amazing how productive and resilient some plants are, with relatively small root systems, relative to their top growth!

The season of thinning out!

The season of thinning out!  Basil and tomatoes galore.

They've had enough!

They’ve had enough!  Hot and dry is OK for awhile, but then just the right humidity makes the mildew pop right up on those leaves.  The melons are pushing the usual size limit for this ‘Margarita’ variety.

Fabulous colors of garden bounty! The lime-yellow of 'Margarita' melons laced with sweet red peppers! These melons are pale green inside, with a very mild flavor--the color of margaritas!

Fabulous colors of garden bounty! The lime-yellow of ‘Margarita’ melons laced with sweet red peppers! These melons are pale green inside, with a very mild flavor–the color of margaritas!

Our discriminating deer is wise--no eating hot peppers, just eat all the leaf tips!

Our discriminating deer is wise–no eating hot peppers, just eat all the leaf tips!

Bound and determined bushes have eeked out a few beans from their bases.

Bound and determined bushes have eeked out a few beans from their bases; while the 4-footed browser insists on picking at whatever stems he can reach through the netting.

Bee party still going strong in the summer squash blossoms!

Bee party still going strong in the summer squash blossoms!

Aspen and Juni checking out the photo session.

Aspen and Juni sensing some moisture in the air, but where is it for the ground?

House yard still holding its own; lavender is tired and resting for the season.

House yard still holding its own; Spanish lavender is tired and resting for the season.  Echinacea takes over supporting the pollinators!

Luscious grapes, still a bit tart, but almost ready for harvest!

Luscious grapes, still a bit tart, but almost ready for harvest!

Aspen finding the easy way to deal with heat...shade!

Aspen finding the easy way to deal with heat…shade!

 

Early is the name of the game

Mature and harvested spaghetti and delicata squash (background) giving more room for other squash and melons to roam. Deer deterrent that has worked best is the upside down chair, preventing his landing attempt! Basil is lushly growing, immune to browsing.

Mature, harvested spaghetti and delicata squash (background) giving more room for other squash and melons to roam. Deer deterrent that has worked best is the upside down chair, preventing his landing attempt! Basil is growing lushly, immune to browsing.

Early to bloom, early to ripen, early demise.  On the calendar that is!  Our “endless summer” has mitigated its heat wave temporarily, so plants look a bit more refreshed.  As observed over the last couple of weeks, some squash leaves signaled their fatigue and resignation to powdery mildew, as the fruits of their efforts came into maturity.  Spaghetti squash and delicata bushes were harvested and removed, providing some more freed crawling space for the little margarita and chanterai-type melons.  It seems so early for all this, but then again summer weather started very early.  Our first tomato pickings, too, and now they are moving into more continual ripening.  Zucchinis and yellow summer squash are still very active, and the cucumbers come in little waves.  I haven’t dared to peek under the acorn squash yet; and it is still quite mildew-free, so there’s a bit of time to catch the breath before doing more work.

The hidden gems of min-canteloupes and other melons coming into maturity. Mildew helping move along the bush lifespan more quickly than usual!

The hidden gems of mini-canteloupes and other melons coming into maturity. Mildew helping move along the bush lifespan more quickly than usual!

As much as I’d like to start planting more lettuce, it is still too early, given the soil and air temperatures are too warm; must be patient till at least mid-to-late August.  It is amazing how well beets will hold up if they can keep their roots shaded from too much light.  And, it is always amazing how beans will recuperate from moderate deer browsing, to push forth more flowers again.  Seems like we might have the deer stymied for the time being, although he does come by to see what vines he can possibly nibble on that might escape the protection of netting.

I have been watching for the signs of summer fatigue in the landscape and forest trees this last week, after another 4-day marathon of 100-degree heat.  Whereas the subtle shift of green to green-gold comes in mid-late August, there are some trees that have flat-out protested the whole summer, with leaves turning brown, curling up, and are blowing off this week.  I had a brief glimpse of fall there, then realized these were severely heat-stressed!  Lavenders have recuperated a bit, and providing plenty of nectar for the bees and butterflies.  Life is good!