Tag Archives: edible landscape

The ladybug hatchery is hopping…on the hops

For whatever reason, the hops plant outside the front door, whose vines screen the patio area from direct street view became a designated ladybug-generating factory.  This also means that there was an aphid attack.  The plant has never had insect problems before, but like my apples and some other plants that normally never get visited by aphids, this is the year of infestation, in spite of a very cold winter.

Hops hatchery

The hops ladybug hatchery and nursery.

Normally, the honeysuckle serves as the garden’s aphid residence, and the rest of the plants are spared any infestations.  The stalwart honeysuckle starts to look very shabby by the end of June, its new buds barely able to blossom forth before being smothered by aphid larvae, but it has no problem surviving.  I remain grateful to it for its sacrifice in this way.  Ladybugs hang out on it also, but don’t ever seem to gain the upper hand in controlling the aphids.

Never before have I seen so many immature ladybugs in so many stages of development,on a single plant, and I have no idea where the adults came from.  Perhaps some neighbor released a packet of several hundred, and, typical of these creatures, they left their original release area in search of food elsewhere.  It’s a blessing to have so many of these beauties around, contributing their assistance to the bounty!  And they always bring smiles to people’s faces.

Various stages of ladybug beetle larvae.  The dark "spots" are eggs that eventually "hatch" into the larvae, of which there are several sizes here.  Once they molt 3 times as larvae, then they become pupae (like the one closest to center), before they transform into the adults we are more familiar with.

Various stages of ladybug larvae. Eggs are typically a yellow-orange color, that eventually “hatch” into the larvae, of which there are several sizes here. Once they molt 3 times as larvae, then they become pupae (like the one closest to center), before they transform into the adults we are more familiar with.

A beautiful picture of two non-adult ladybugs.  The one on the right is almost an adult, but still has no wing differentiation; it is the pupal stage, occuring just after the larva on the left molts 3 times.  The youngster larvae are voracious eaters. Adults also eat plant pests such as aphids, but are designed more for their beauty, ability to fly off elsewhere, meet other adults, lay more eggs, and ensure the survival of the species...;-)

A beautiful picture of two non-adult ladybugs. The one on the right is almost an adult, but still has no wing differentiation; it is the pupal stage, occurring just after the larva on the left molts 3 times. The youngster larvae are voracious eaters. Adults also eat many aphids, but function more as re-locators, flying off elsewhere, meeting other adults, laying more eggs, and ensuring the survival of the species, all in the general time frame of 1 month…;-)

 

No deer here!

This is what we like…”invisible” fencing that deer really don’t like because it is so hard for them to see.

The "super-guys" modestly not showing off their muscles after post-digging.   Nice netting...can hardly see it!

The “super-guys” modestly not showing off their muscles after post-digging. Nice netting…can hardly see it!

Finally protected, just in time to remove all covers and jackets on the CG inhabitants.  With gratitude to the generosity of best friends with muscle power, the fencing got put up in a couple of hours, and looks great.  It is so much easier being able to walk inside freely instead of pulling back netting.

Yep, still level-headed after pounding posts!

Yep, still level-headed after pounding posts!

But these 4-leggeds are persistent in browsing, and decided if they can’t have lettuce or beans, then they’ll nibble some dogwood tips a few feet away.  They still manage to wind their way in from the neighbor’s garden when our barriers are not perfectly intact, and continue to harass my roses. and apples in the house yard.  Perhaps I will still see some small rosebuds this fall.

BrowsedRoses

Still no roses this year. The browsers escape into the garden through neighbor’s hedge on occasion.

Young lavender are playing sentinels for the recent melon sprouts in the pots.

Lavender seedling sentinels for the sprouting melons.  Keep those deer browsers out!

Lavender seedling sentinels for the sprouting melons. Keep those deer browsers out!

In between the gaps…a gallery

A glimpse into the menagerie of the community garden and general house yard through fall and winter 2013/2014.

Always like to show off what our browsers can do when they put their minds to it.  Push down that netting to get the delectable bean leaf tips! They've developed finesse so they don't get their teeth caught in the netting...

Always like to show off what our browsers can do when they put their minds to it. Push down that netting to get the delectable bean leaf tips! They’ve developed finesse so they don’t get their teeth caught in the netting…

Apologies to our beautiful praying Mantis, who is probably eyeing an insect or two under the netting.  What a beaut!

Apologies to our beautiful praying Mantis, who is probably eyeing an insect or two under the netting. What a beaut!

Tasty greens sprouting for fall crop.  Mature beets further right even overwintered well under the snow pack.

Tasty greens sprouting for fall crop. Mature beets further right even overwintered well under the snow pack.

The typical way we keep the squash, melon, and tomato harvest aired and dry during the mild, not-too-rainy days of fall....stored under my eaves.

The typical way we keep the squash, melon, and tomato harvest aired and dry during the mild, not-too-rainy days of fall….stored under my eaves.

A record-setting snow-then-freeze episode the very first weekend of December 2013, followed by a record-setting snowfall in early February 2014, made us very aware of how little we can predict anything anymore, or when our gardens are tested to the maximum adaptability, and how miraculously resilient plants can be.  The witnessing of when a healthy, mature plant “decides” it will not struggle to survive the next year, but yield to the new energies of the next generation of seedlings.

Where's the bench seat?!

Where’s the bench seat?!

How Deep? 020814

14″ AFTER the snow has packed down for 3 days…

The birds had to learn to eat snow on their feeder for a few days.  Thank goodness for seeds on the old flower stalks, although the snow buried a lot of those.

The birds had to learn to eat snow on their feeder for a few days. Thank goodness for seeds on the old flower stalks, although the snow buried a lot of those.

And spring brings the energy of renewal…

2014-Kiwi Arbor-a

Kwan Yin being sheltered by a bower of the Siberian kiwi vine.

 

A year gone by, surely you jest!

The summer Solstice energies always help things get growing...sometimes too fast...bolting radishes!

The summer Solstice energies always help things get growing…sometimes too fast…bolting radishes and arugula!  Garden is awake!

I don’t even try to mentally grasp at the reality of a whole year gone by since last posting. It does feel like there are several timelines moving simultaneously, and depending on what I am doing there is rarely a sense of linear time, except for specific moments “in time”. This is the true reality, non-linear time that is, so a year feels like a month or two, sometimes, and at times a week feels like two months ago.

Many wonderful happenings and blessings in life have manifested over the last year, and there is not a lot of time left for keeping garden updates. I surely have mentioned that it is enough work just taking care of the garden after a job! The entry of a companion into my life has broadened my horizons once again, and his generosity in embracing me into his very active life has provided new opportunities to travel, as well as a busier schedule than I was used to. When he sustained a skiing accident in mid-February, my life-roles expanded further into helping him heal from pelvis and hip fractures. Fortunately he is very ambulatory these days, but healing will continue for up to a year, all said and done. Complete recovery, but a slow journey. This spring it was all I could do to bring my focus to engage the CG and get it up and running. February became May before I knew it.

Rereading last year’s entry regarding spring weather in 2013, which I don’t remember one iota, it doesn’t seem so different from this year. We’ve had a long stretch of mild, dry weather in May and June, now being balanced with a touch of late June rain. As usual, the tomatoes are still cloaked in their finest red jackets, probably till July 4, or when the new deer fencing goes up.

We had one of the most severe winters I can recall in my 35-year tenure here, and it was interesting to see plants survived two cold events. The first event occurred the first week of December, 2013, when the southern Willamette Valley received about 1 foot of snow in a couple of days, accompanied by sub-freezing temperatures that lasted for nearly a week. I had the pleasure of stepping into a foot of snow with only my Chacos on, arriving home at 2:00 am from a week-long vacation in Mexico. This was the event that probably killed off many old hedges around town and all my Spanish lavender (the English type held up fine).

Then came the huge snow load of February 7th, when it snowed upwards of 15” in 48 hours; yes, record-setting for that rate! However, it wasn’t overly cold during that session, but the lavenders were completely covered. The snow probably insulated the seed pods, which did sprout a plethora of seedlings in front of the CG, almost like a little carpet. These will eventually be planted out again to replenish the Spanish type (Lavandula stoechas). The old L. stoechas and L. viride in front had to be removed, and were replaced mostly with the hardier L. angustifolia.

If Quan Yin is just over 3 feet tall...

If Quan Yin is just over 3 feet tall…

The bambi/es made their presence known early on this year, before the CG was even put in, dessimating my roses twice, so there are absolutely no flowers, and inhaling two of our newly-acquired tomato seedlings for the CG. Roses I am not so attached to, but….

A bumper crop of Lakemont seedless white grapes after a hard winter.  Was it modified pruning, or signs of plant maturity?

A bumper crop of Lakemont seedless white grapes after a hard winter. Was it modified pruning, or signs of plant maturity?

The odd weather affected flowering of the pear and columnar apples in the house yard, so there is absolutely no fruit this year. On the flip side, I have never seen so many grape clusters on a still-young grapevine, and I have done cluster thinning for the sake of the plant. And, for the first time, my Siberian kiwi is fruiting.  Now 5 or 6 years old, there appear to be a couple dozen small fruit. They aren’t lying about kiwis needing to be at least 5 years old before they start maturing, but I was starting to hold my breath because there were only a few blossoms last year that did not yield fruit. This is like a bumper crop!

Here’s to a bountiful year!

Success!  After 5 to 6 years, and a hard winter, several dozen Siberian kiwi fruit have manifested.

Success! After 5 to 6 years, and a hard winter, several dozen Siberian kiwi fruit have manifested.

Sliding through the June portal

Having rain on and around summer solstice is often a guarantee of a hot summer here, and this time summer is not waiting until July 6th to show up!  Heat wave came on immediately after the rains let up; the yard actually feels a bit jungle-ish, with everything so lush. Humid! I would say that the little basil are the only complainers.  They can’t figure out what is coming or going, as their elusive heat kept shifting around.  Transplant time for them coming up!

Magical mesclun mix!

Magical mesclun mix!

Giant radishes!

Seriously large radishes not to be mistaken for beets!

While being gone several days to Mt. Shasta over the Solstice, where it was really dry and dusty, the squash and tomatoes decided the warm moisture was their cue to grow by leaps/bounds.  Melons are still a bit slower, but firmly established now.  Lettuce, spinach, and most of the mesclun mix is bolting, so there is an element of normalcy. We have a lot of work to do this weekend and a bounty to give away!  I spy some hefty looking beet-roots on the end of a row, also, so some first pickings and sorting needed there, too.  Bush bean blossoms announce their next phase, while Bambie has expanded her buffet to include tomato plants early in the season. We won’t even discuss what the weeds think about it all!

And we all shine on!

The jungle is forming!

The jungle is forming!

Waiting for rain…is this for real?

We love sun, but I think I can accurately say I can’t remember any spring in which we have had this extent of warm, dry weather, in the 30ish years I have lived here.  A complete switch from the last 2 to 3 years of cold, damp springs!  Trouble is, all that grey we had in late January into February wasn’t rain, but fog, so our water levels for the year are only 30% of normal at present!

It is almost unbelievable that we have tomatoes transplanted, and all the squash, melons, and cucumbers seeded before Mother’s Day, no less Memorial Weekend!  The much anticipated rain predicted for May 12th that was to bless our new plantings of the prior day, was postponed till the 13th, and then disappeared as we watched strong breezes break apart the front and send most clouds northeastward, and offer only brief spits of moisture, if any.

Seriously, it has been mostly shorts and sandals weather for the last 3 weeks, including some summer-ish nights. The ground in many places already showed the typical cracks more typical of late June or July.  Soaker hoses are being laid out for sudden action when plants are a bit bigger.

Though we cool off to more average temperatures in the 60’s, dropping into the high 30’s at night again, it is “life in the breeze lane”, requiring almost daily watering.

The house yard is looking good, coming into the first flush of blooms for the Tradescantia, and all lavender is prolifically laden with blossoms and bees!  It is always a joy to listen to them moving around in the plants while weeding or watering.  This year they will hopefully be able to enjoy watermelon blossoms one day on the seedlings planted along side some of the lavender.

Life is good!

A new batch of “red hats” that convert to evening jackets
for the young tomatoes.           Welcome to the CG for 2013!

May-12-13

Blueberry bushes are noticeably larger this year.
Good crop of berries set….!

My plot number is…899,458

Happy Earth Day!  Opening season for our garden is in another day or two…stay tuned!

Just came across info about urban garden plots in Switzerland.  Throughout parts of Europe and Russia these urban community plots (allotments for households-families) have been in existence for some time, sometimes decades, built in the surrounding areas outside city centers, both affluent and otherwise.  The structures are not homes, but shelters and storage. Europeans seem to take ownership of their food quality more seriously than most U.S. citizens.  An impressive picture…

SwissUrbanGardenPlots

Outside Vernier, Switzerland, in the vicinity of Lake Geneva

Erego…we grow…

A wonderful year of production, and of course, a bumper crop of tomatoes, because we did not track the bounty!  So much gratitude goes forth to everyone involved, including all plant devas and Elemental beings who tended everything so perfectly, while we got so busy with life’s various activities and demands.

It is the usual wind-down time of rest for all.  Some lettuce, kale, and chard are braving the battering of November winds and rain.

A glimpse of some bounty as it occurred along the way.  Enjoy!

Luscious Green Beans

Luscious Green Beans

Bodacious beets!

Bodacious beets!

Jul 30-12-3

Harvesters in action!

Jul 30-12-4

Gaston is a wizard at sowing very even stands of radishes!

The intriguing purple tomato cultivar ‘Indigo Rose’

Full glory garden! Where’s Juni…where’s Aspen?

Didn't forget the corn!

Didn’t forget the corn!

The first summer bounty!

Garden mascot and art sculpture…a zucchini seal.

093012-1

Ultra-prolific ‘Early Girl’ tomato; no greenies to be had on this vine!

Wind-down and clean up as flaming fall glory sets in..

Wind-down and clean up as flaming fall glory sets in..

Prime time in the house yard!

Prime time in the house yard!

May-June-July!….say what?!

Everything lookin’ good and bountiful!  Crazy weather carried through June, and summer officially arrived on July 4th.  Just in time to change my mind about moving somewhere sunnier…

By concensus we have also chosen not to weigh our harvests, for the foreseeable future; one too many things to do.  It was really interesting to do while in the first years of growing.  Of course, this means we will have an even bigger bounty this season!

July 4: Summer has arrived! Jackets officially off the tomatoes and only a couple of melons needing hothouse treatment…

A first in the CG…radishes! A prize-sized first radish picked by Gaston.

Now the jungle is beginning to form…

July 18: time for lettuce to be out for awhile, while the squash jungle starts to grow.

Vegetable fairies have been having a great time with the tomato and squash!

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!