Category Archives: Furred and feathered friends

2018…the year that was…2019…is the now…

Hi friends and readers!

Last year escaped my abilities to write about changes in the garden.  It was a lovely year for the garden, with some changes and expansion based on last year’s harvest and growing patterns.

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New garden plot ready to roll; lettuce and kale already up, bonnet protection for the young squash and basil. Way out yonder along the lattice fence is expansion for more squash and tomatoes.

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Oriental poppies tripled in size this year and much sturdier!

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‘Jerusalem Sage’ and lavender nicely expanding their reaches 2 years after planting

Because the house needed to undergo a serious external siding renovation and painting, which took about 8 weeks for Randall to accomplish, most all of the old bushes along the backyard border side of the house were removed over the last two summers.  Cannas were removed from other areas and planted in the sunniest ends of the border strip, along with many plantings of young hydrangeas, hostas, and Tradescantia into the shadier areas.

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A new addition to the house backside border….Miss Saori hydrangea

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Some lilac Tradescantia to blend in nicely next to Miss Saori hydrangea

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Exterior house scraping and painting. Ugh. Had to protect the ground and plants as best we could for residual paint chips. Actually vacuumed the ground, too!

Farther out back I converted an area of fallow space (weed patch) into a productive melon, squash, and tomato space, also interspersed with more perennial foxgloves.  Being able to start these sun lovers in May was a bonus, as it receives more sun early in the spring for longer daily periods.  Come late August though, it starts to see more shade, just as did other parts of the yard, so they didn’t really have an extended season.  Sigh…

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Huge maples, neighboring trees on our south side, are adding more shade to the yard every year, so fall shade sets in early, and really only makes lettuce and kale happy! Beans don’t appreciated it…

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Expanded tomato and squash areas

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‘Indigo Rose’-‘Yellow Pear’-‘San Marzano’ tomatoes…ripening…yumm

Very mild fall and start into winter again, so who knows what the weather will be like this next gardening season….once again….seemingly the new norm of variability.  Lack of rain is never helpful though, and we did get quite parched last summer.  May we be blessed with cleaner skies (fewer chemtrails) and abundant, pure water in our future!  May all garden Beings be safe, be they visiting bees and birds, or resident worms and soil inhabitants, or the elemental devas!

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Vivid chartreuse “stained glass hosta” and coleus fading in sunny fall.

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Lavender and cleome still keeping bees busy into mid-fall. It was a warm and dry fall for several weeks.

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Did get to see our one hatchling mantis in late August. He tended to hang out near the warmer concrete area next to the house as the sun angle shifted.

In truth, it wasn’t the easiest of years, as we had another year of wildfires and smoky skies that started earlier in summer, and then energy got focused on dealing with my father’s health decline just after he turned 99 in September.  He finally released life on December 5th, after a relatively healthy life for his age, still living independently until the 3 months before he passed.  As he had said, he wasn’t in a race to tie his own father, who passed at 103 years (!), and it was fine with him if he didn’t make it to 100; and so it was.

I probably owe my “gardening genes” to my dad, since his family had a fairly long history of farming until my grandpa sold his share of a farm in Idaho, and continued to work in a Boise Cascade lumber mill.  (Neither my dad nor any of his 6 siblings had any interest in pursuing farming, and left for other destinations, largely Los Angeles.)

While I was a toddler growing up in Hollywood, he was the one who dabbled in planting roses strategically on our little hillside, and strawberries for a ground cover where grass would never grow, and he planted the huge hillside behind and slightly around our house with Algerian ivy to prevent mudslides (it worked for decades!) And for many years, until his old body didn’t like the strain, he would plant a few tomatoes each year in his backyard.   Thanks for the memories Dad, and not making me do too many of those gardening chores at home, or I would have revolted!  I learned at my own pace, in the right time and space…

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In Memoriam to Cyrus Davis. Thanks for sharing some crazy ideas Dad! 1973-Mt. Whitney summit at 14,093 ft. Think our hands are cold?

Wishing every One a healthy, peaceful, and happy 2019 in your Lives and Gardens!

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Groovin’ those rows…we are in session…

“The hand” is much better, while requiring continued respect and modified use, which is easily overlooked in the zeal of gardening.  The same applied to our weather, at times greatly “improved,” then commanding our cooperation.

Synchronized planting pose…

Mapping out the new coordinates…making labels…director’s privileges

With a spurt of record-setting heat in early May, followed by more rain, the greens department, along with radishes and beets, are looking outstanding!

Greens galore…chard is trying to show off its senior status.            Where’s Juni?  Where’s Aspen?

 

Squash, melon, and cucumber seeds were planted a week ago, but have not yet emerged, as our weather has cooled.  The first sowing of green beans is just saying hello.  Tomatoes and basil continue to be secluded in the coldframe.

The house yard is coming alive now with various perennials, while transplanted annuals are “sitting” and waiting for some more warmth.  Sages and butterfly weed are always the last to indicate their reboot, and most wintered perfectly, and are now sprouting new growth.

Success in overwintering the artichoke plant!

An added bonus is the blessing of nesting chickadees in a driftwood birdhouse purchased last summer.  I was content to have it simply as garden art, but it is actually being use!  Entry is near the top of the log, with a tiny overhang on it.  They zoom in and out of it with no problem; not sure how the chicks will maneuver it without a perch.  Obviously, I will be watching!

Chickadees in residence…do not disturb!

Off to a fabulous spring start!

Last Tomato Standing

….for the moment.
It has been a time for progressive clean-up, given the cool, but vibrant fall weather of the last two weeks.  After hard rains on Oct. 10, it was time to remove the thrashed summer squash, cucumbers and melons, and harvest the nearly 150 pounds of winter squash.

Our beautiful mild fall weather since has helped ripen more tomatoes, wrapped in their red jackets, while a few more cucumbers have eeked out their full figures.  Basil is now typically spotted and un-pretty, especially after a mild frost.  The mixed lettuces are very happy, being the perfect size for gourmet greens as they are thinned.  Kale seedlings are poking along.  Hoses are finally put away for the season….alas.

A favorite for kitties: over and under the deer netting!

With impending heavy rains, all the tomatoes were removed, save the “yellow pear”, which still has a few fruit, and more blossoms.  It’s always good to have a sentinel for awhile.

Prepared for fall rains beginning in earnest

 

April…come what May

April….spring….is always shifty in relation to weather, but this year feels less normal “than normal”.  This isn’t surprising to some of us who can feel the invisible shift in planetary energetics.  Strong fluctuations of Earth’s geomagnetic fields, episodes of solar winds, coinciding with increased tectonic activity around the world, just might influence weather patterns and people’s energy, though we won’t hear of it via traditional technology or the media.

Slowly but surely there is growth. The large overwintering kale doesn't count....

April has taken forever to get through; it seems like eons ago that we put in our first cool-crops in the CG.  Happily, they germinated well despite heavy rains just after seeding.  They have survived several episodes of hail, heavy rain and wind storms, frost, and “much lower than average” temperatures for the month.  We could call it….Apruary.  Somehow February and April got mixed up. But the sporadic days of sun between storms have brought us snippets of warmth, enough for the plants to show some substance, so initial thinnings were just made.  Love those tasty kale, lettuce, spinach, and pea sprouts! I decided to try potatoes again this year, so planted them last week.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a decent crop.  I think I heard something about a warming trend in early May.  Yes! Please, oh please.

Aspen beginning his tentative first outdoor explorations: his motto seems to be "always safer to hunker down and watch".

Where's Juniper? Where's Aspen? We know you're there....somewhere.

So, what is the current bumper crop? Weeds!

Soil temperature = air temperature

When does the soil temp equal air temp?  Is this a riddle?  Answer: Today!

Seriously, in the CG bed at 4″ depth, the temp reads 45°, and today the air temp reached 45°, down 15° from our heat wave last weekend, thanks to a cold front.

Fortunately, during the heat wave, the CG bed received its final 3 cu. yards of soil to fill in the tiers.  Time to consider an early spring planting fairly soon; good excuse for another tea party!

Meanwhile, with sleet in the forecast outside, it’s time to get some basil, zinnia, and lobelia seeds planted inside!

Aspen reserving room on the seedling heat mat

Future garden resident

How do I know this?  Because he’s already here, but not allowed out until he grows a lot more.

Introducing….Mr. Aspen, a sweet tabby manx.  Now aged 18 weeks, he is my “Solstice kitten.”

Mr. Aspen-first day at home-Dec-20-2009; age 12 weeks

He was very small for his age when I adopted him, and it has been a rough month getting him sorted through various plagues that shelter kittens often encounter, but he seems to be fairly stable now, and actively growing.  Keeping fingers crossed on his improved digestion.

He and Juniper were actively playing after only a relatively short two weeks of attitude adjustment.  Not remembering her own kittenhood, Juniper was perplexed what do around such a wee thing, and had to learn to teach him some manners.  But, all seems sorted for now, with her Princess status still intact.

Although a playful little fellow, Aspen is not nearly as spunky or feisty as Juniper was at his age, which is just as well.  Of course, he has his moments.

For starts, Juniper feels safer at playing when behind the safety of glass.

January doldrums

Holidays are past; caretaking of people and pets is past; friends are off to the southern hemisphere (Chile) for some summer bicycle touring; and we have rain, rain, drizzle, rain, showers, rain, with tidbits of sun and fog. But, no complaints; my issues with rain don’t happen until late winter.  Today it is mild weather and much preferable to freezing rain.

It’s a great time to get caught up on indoor reorganization, sorting, and simplifying; all the stuff I never get to during a gardening season.

Today has been a day to dash outside between showers to do some cleanup of flattened Crocosmia and lily stalks, and admire the weeds that are growing so well.  Suet and seed needed replenishing, as little flocks of bushtits, goldfinches, juncos, warblers, starlings, a nuthatch, and a flicker all made their appearances.  A couple of days ago a downy woodpecker showed up for the first time (that I know of)!  All great entertainment on a grey day.

Am I contemplating the next garden plantings and dreaming with seed catalogs?  Not really.  Give me another 3 weeks before I’m antsy.  I’m still in rest mode.  Not that I haven’t already contemplated some new varieties of veggies to try, but that was last fall.  Besides, the garden gang will be meeting at the end of the month for an informal tea, to get our ideas flowing.

However, I am contemplating consuming the last tomato of the garden.  Yes, there still were ripening tomatoes in December!

Garden tomatoes for a New Year's salad