Category Archives: Winter

Still slumbering in the CG

This is why it is so quiet around here….

If you want to turn soil right now, be my guest...

Mild January and a relatively mild February, except to have a pile of snow fall on February 24th.  Not quite gardening weather yet, you think?  Just as well, since my brains have been busy elsewhere, trying to get indoor projects taken care of before “gardening season” takes hold.

The CG Ladies had a lovely afternoon tea however, providing us a chance to review our garden favorites and less-favorites, the yay’s and nay’s.  Sounds like we will skip lemon cucumbers and patty-pan summer squash for another type of cucumber (English type, maybe), and an extra delicata or acorn squash.

Just to remind us it is still winter...

The wood iris thought it was time to show off in mid-February

So we dream on a little longer.....

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Solstice solitude

Solstice greetings of increasing Light to everyone!

Whew!  November and December have flown so fast!  Some well-meaning friends are already asking if I have ideas for next season.   No, not yet; it is really the season of rest right now, for both humans and plants, and soil.

Although I do think it is time to consider a cold frame of sorts to help weather some lettuce and spinach a bit longer.  If California starts to have climate trends tending to flooding (or interspersed with droughts), produce prices will skyrocket.  Fortunately our local producers are doing well, given their newer methods of winter gardening, but demand sometimes exceeds the supply in our locally-supplied markets.

The older kale plants are looking a little wobbly from wind and soaking rains a couple of weeks ago.  Some of us will probably pick off one plant at a time and pull it out when used up.  The crop planted in fall is surviving very well, as is the chard, but they are both small.  Older chard seems to have survived the cold frosts of earlier December, but is in a “holding” pattern, not looking particularly anxious to grow!  Who would, on the shortest day of the year?

But now, the life-stimulating energy of the sun starts to expand just a little more each day, though our coldest days have yet to come.

Happy holidays!  I’m hoping that some magical elf will bless me with the gift of a hori-hori knife (Japanese multi-functional gardening tool, meaning did-dig).

Yule-tide resting time....Where's Aspen?

Something in the way it froze last December

Rewind: an unusually hard, but short freeze around December 2, 2009, after a long, relatively warm fall.  Very little in the way of freezing temperatures for the rest of the month; much of January and February were very warm.

Fast forward: April had several frosty mornings, colder and wetter than average temperatures.

Results: more weeds than I’ve ever had in the yard, including big crops of maple seedlings.  Several “hardy” perennials appear to be dead, though they’ve survived harsher winters; I’m still holding out hope for some of the late-to-wakers.  Tender perennials, like some of the sages, I’d expect to lose, even with mulching.  Alas, my young apricot tree is diseased with bacterial canker (causal organism: Pseudomonas syringae), probably induced by weather-related stresses.  Double rats!

It’s always a puzzler when plants survive typical winter periods of cold temperatures just fine, then die after a winter of milder temperatures.  But, that one cold snap came so early in December, with little chilling preparation ahead of it, and some plants physiologically weren’t ready to cope.  Sigh….

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

First blush

February held our area in a uniquely extended pattern of lovely, mild weather, which encouraged many trees and perennials to start blooming 2 to 3 weeks earlier “than average”.  Fruit trees, rosemary, pussy willows, maples, and, alas, allergies are all ahead of schedule!

We love the beautiful first signs and color blushes of plants awakening with quickened life energy, no matter when they show up!

The signs of late winter.......when the euphorbia blushes.

Colors of spring showing up

The new mason bee nest is now charged with some straws with eggs; perched a few feet above.....

the dwarf peach in full bloom.....

One gets itchy fingers for planting when the temperatures rise to 60° on a weekend! But, not everything can handle the near-freezing night temps yet, so patience!  Instead, it has been time to prune roses, clean up dead plant stalks where they give way to easy tugs, pull up umpteen weeds that have had too much of a good thing, set up the mason bee nest, and take walks.

Upgrade!

A wonderful upgrade to the community garden has been successfully implemented!  The bed now has sturdy edges and boundaries.  So nice to have a project completed in winter…

This gave us incentive to have an informal meeting to cruise through last year’s bounty results and give some rough “thumbs up/down” to various veggies.

There are more “fun” tasks ahead: hauling in more soil to bring the bed up to level; turn over leaf mulch; and start considering a new layout
before we get too involved with what we’ll plant.

A mystery pile under the tarp becomes......

Upgraded community garden bed

An upgraded community garden bed!

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.