In My Garden – August 2020

In My Garden – August 2020

Doesn’t it always seem to be true that the heaviest harvest comes in while the gardener is somewhere else? At least it seemed that way to me earlier this month. I was away for a week and asked the assistant gardener to pick the green beans and zucchini when they were ready. He is very reliable and harvested about 10 pounds of fresh beans, 2 pounds of snap peas, and way too many zucchini to count.

Fresh beans

Fresh beans

Snap and Snow Peas

Snap and Snow Peas

Zucchini

Zucchini

There is always one zucchini that’s forgotten.

This one was missed

Forgotten Zucchini – now a baseball bat

Growing under plastic and cloth row covers has turned out to be particularly successful.

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

I even have tomatoes this year! It took covering the bed in plastic and putting out traps for the voles who were eating them before they had a chance to ripen.

Home Grown Tomatoes

Home Grown Tomatoes

We pulled out the peas and beans from their raised beds and prepared them for fall planting. I have read (not confirmed) that it is not too late to plant another round of zucchini and beans up here on the coast, so one new bed was planted with 3 squash plants, a row of beans, and seeded with arugula on the far side. I hope the squash plants will shade them once they come up.

I will let you know if this experiment is successful. We still have a lot of warm weather going all the way into late October. Fingers crossed.

Vegetable bed with baby squash, beans and arugula

Vegetable bed with baby squash, beans and arugula

The bed that held the peas was unsurprisingly full of redwood tree roots which had to be dug out. We have a new method of preparing the beds once they are finished. We dig out all the redwood roots (saving as much soil as possible), then put two layers of industrial weed cloth on the bottom of the bed and cover it with cardboard before adding back the soil with amendments of compost and nutrients. It seems to delay the redwood roots, it also means the bed retains more water and doesn’t dry out as quickly.

Newly prepared planting bed

Newly prepared planting bed

The new one is for fall planting, lettuces and chard.

The flower garden is beginning to show signs of fall. The spring and early summer annuals have been allowed to go to seed and then pulled out. Grasses are beginning to dominate the beds.

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The pollinator garden is dominated by Black Eyed Susans, Shasta Daisys and Yarrow.

Pollinator Garden - August 2020

Pollinator Garden – August 2020

That’s a quick walk around my garden. What’s your own garden doing?

Be well and safe!

In My Garden – July 2020

In My Garden – July 2020

Here we are already past the middle part of the month and I am only just getting around to chronicling events in the garden. Time is somewhat unreal right now. It’s because I am spending so much more time in the garden than writing about it. It seems like there is always so much to do…weeding, harvesting, replanting lettuce and fall greens, pruning, pulling out spent spring annuals, cutting plants back in hopes they will re-bloom, and watering. We don’t get any summer rain and I don’t have an automatic watering system. I know I should put one in but I get enjoyment out of the constant checking. Do they need more water? What about mulch and compost? Are there any bugs damaging them? What about snails and slugs? It’s a full time job and time is something I have in abundance at the present.

So, how is my garden growing? The lush spring bloom is over and fall plants are starting to take over. Here is a glimpse.

The vegetable garden is still producing zucchini, snap and snow peas, cucumbers and the first green beans.

Covering the raised beds with shade cloth or plastic has created different climate zones. Cucumbers have not been successful in past years.

July 2020 Fort Bragg Vegetable garden raised beds

July 2020 Fort Bragg Vegetable garden raised beds

And for the first time I have tomatoes!!!! Although bets are still out if they will actually ripen.

Green tomatoes

Green tomatoes

The pollinator garden is still going strong although I have had to water it this year. There are lots of native bumblebees all through the garden, they especially seem to like the lavender plants.

Lavender

Lavender

That’s all for now…back to watering. I will see you next month. How is your garden doing?

Stay well and happy gardening.

If you have any gardening questions or want to know details about a particular plant, please leave a comment or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

In My Garden – June 2020

In My Garden – June 2020

I want to open with a quote:

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.” Robin Wall Kimmerer

You are indeed a lucky person if you have a garden right now. I know it has saved me.

I have had difficulty writing my IMG post this month. I spend almost every day out in the garden…weeding, pruning, harvesting, pulling out spent annuals, watering, and planting new summer and fall plants in both the vegetable garden and flower beds. How can I possibly tie it down to how it looks in one day when it is constantly changing? And it isn’t changing slowly either, I notice new things every day. The colors, scents, and shapes are never the same one day to the next. This blog post tries to tie it down but I think I need a movie to give a true picture.

But now in mid-June it is time. So here is a snapshot of what has developed in the last month.

Quinn is our big hunter of gophers and moles.

Quinn

Who me?

She frequently does more damage than good, especially with moles, digging deeply along their tunnels. It’s not so bad when she finds a tunnel in the forest. Other than returning covered in redwood needles, she can do little to hurt the deep piles of duff under the trees. However, every once in a while she finds them in the middle of the flower garden before we notice. Such was the case here…

It took us two weeks to catch the thing, knowing she would just dig it up again if we didn’t get it.

Casey, by contrast, can’t be bothered.

Casey

Just let me be a couch potato

The vegetable garden has changed a lot since we prepared the beds. There are three varieties of bush beans planted in this one.

Under the cover of plastic, zucchini is flourishing and we are harvesting our first crop.

Summer Squash

Zucchini

I cover them in the evening and uncover them once the sun hits the beds in the morning.

I also have some cucumbers and tomatoes growing under one of the mini greenhouses provided by the plastic covering. They seem to be doing well so far and I will let you know if I actually get a crop this year, it will be a first.

I have both sweet pea flowers and edible snap/snow peas in this bed.

Peas

Flowering and edible peas

The first dahlia to bloom.

Dahlias

Dahlias

And here are some shots of the flower garden.

June is truly the most beautiful month in the garden. Northern California is at it’s most colorful in spring.

And here is the pollinator garden. With the exception of a few salvia’s and day lilies, only last year’s wildflowers have reseeded it. The colors and flowers in bloom change weekly. It is full of the buzz of bees, fluttering butterflies, and the calls of small birds feasting on dropped seed heads.

 

Now the weather has warmed we are enjoying being outside, appropriately socially distanced with close friends. The back deck is a perfect place.

Set up for a socially distanced glass of wine

Back deck set up for an appropriately distanced glass of wine with friends – Casey and Quinn join us

The hummingbirds feeding in the bottlebrush tree behind the deck entertain us with their arguments and fights over territory.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into my garden. Questions and comments are welcome.

And it you travel to the coast know that the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are now open. Make sure you make an appointment, they are well worth a visit.

In My Garden – May 2020

In My Garden – May 2020

May has to be the best and most beautiful Northern California gardening month. Everything is starting to bloom, there is color everywhere. It’s lovely to sit in the evening with a glass of wine and soak in the view of the back garden.

I find my mood changes depending on the weather and if the sun is shining. Blue skies bring optimism and quiet joy, grey ones bring lethargy and sadness. The exuberance of the spring garden ignores all those effervescent and shifting moods. The flowers bloom without knowledge of the crisis in the world. The bright colors make it seem aflame, a riot of orange poppies, tangerine geum, marmalade heuchera, and yellow lupines.

I can sit quietly, listening to the buzz of bees and the songs of sparrows. In the distance I hear the sounds of breaking surf on the beach. I let the peace of the garden wash over me, a private timeless world…no schedules, no appointments. The world is on pause and I sit in the middle, quiet and serene for the moment.

Exuberance

Exuberance of colors and textures

The bees are especially active in the pollinator garden. This is the second year and survival of the fittest is definitely taking place.

Pollinator Garden May 2019

Pollinator Meadow May 2019

Last year we had a lot more rain.

The bearded irises and Spanish lavender plants edging the driveway are in bloom.

Spanish lavender and Bearded Iris

Spanish lavender and Bearded Iris

In the vegetable garden I have planted summer squash, cucumbers, winter squash, basil and determinate tomatoes this month. My husband (and partner in any hardscaping project) helped construct supports to make mini hoop houses. The microclimate of the property has not been kind to tomatoes in the past and I hope, by warming the beds, I will have better luck.

Raised Bed Veggie Garden

Raised Bed Veggie Garden – May 2020

A peak under the plastic

A peak under the plastic – tomatoes, basil and summer squash

 

Last year’s pole beans are coming back, they are about an inch high. I will plant bush beans later this week in a newly prepared bed.

Ready for Bush Beans

Ready for Bush Beans

The snap peas and sweet pea flowers are finally taking off. It was a challenge to keep the sparrows from eating the new shoots. I finally unearthed some old netting from the depths of the garage and that has helped a lot.

Snap Peas and Sweet Pea Flowers

Snap Peas and Sweet Pea Flowers

I have company in the garden, if not helpers.

Quinn

Quinn – “Mom, I will just watch you working while I relax here in the sun”

 

Casey

Casey – “Sunny days are made for napping unless you see a squirrel.”

Be well everyone, be safe. And happy gardening.

April – Domestic Harmony in the Time of Covid-19

April – Domestic Harmony in the Time of Covid-19

What does domestic harmony look like in your household? In our house it looks like this:

Domestic Harmony

Equal Split of Margaret Fox’s Buttermilk Coffee Cake

Whatever it takes, eh?

Margaret Fox was the owner and chef at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, one of the early restaurants in the California cuisine trend in the style of Alice Waters. She now runs the deli and bakery at our local independent grocery store, Harvest Market. We are indeed lucky. Her buttermilk coffee cake is delicious. I am not a baker so we try to get one whenever they are available on our currently infrequent jaunts to the store. Sharing equally is a big deal.

What are you doing to maintain a tranquil environment in this time of social distancing and stay-at-home requirements? I know things can get testy. Long walks definitely help, and Zoom exercise classes, and gardening if you are lucky enough to have one.

It’s time to appreciate and notice small things small things. Spring is definitely here. In my yard the song sparrows are singing a chorus. This is the first year the song sparrows have found our clearing, although I’ve been feeding the birds for the last three years (the seed bill is growing). Redwood forests don’t have a lot of birds, there isn’t much food for them under the trees. So it took awhile for them to find us, it’s worth getting up early to hear the morning riot of song. I’m hoping that they nest nearby as the mourning doves have. Their population has gone from 2 to 7. I’m keeping a log of all the birds that visit the feeders, they are increasing in varieties and number. Every once in a while I see a new one to add to the list.

We now have two native Western grey squirrels raiding the feeders as well, until recently there was only one. I am expecting some little ones the summer.

Did you know there is a run on jigsaw puzzles?

Puzzle

Undersea jigsaw puzzle

We found this one in the garage, an old one we had never put together. Puzzles are very relaxing and something the entire family can enjoy. The NY Times had a fascinating article on how jigsaw puzzles are made, it takes weeks. And it seems that puzzle makers are having a hard time keeping up with current demand.

Board games are a good distraction.

Board Games

Board Games

We were introduced to Mexican Train Dominos by some friends a few months ago, it has become a favorite. The instructions that come with the game are terrible, we had to figure them out for ourselves from online research. I’m still not sure we are playing it ‘correctly’ but we are having fun.

There are currently three of us sheltering in place in our household. We each choose an activity for the evening in rotation…games or a movie or a TV series we are watching together or simply sit and talk about something from our day. There aren’t any small children so things are a little easier for us than some of you. All three of us enjoy science fiction so we have been watching the new Star Trek episodes together.

And in case you are wondering what to do with all those leftover hard boiled eggs…

  • deviled eggs, one of my favorites

    Deviled Eggs with Anchovies

    Deviled Eggs with Anchovies

  • Easter egg salad sandwiches

    Easter Egg Salad

    Easter Egg Salad

  • Eggs a la Goldenrod – an old recipe from Betty Crocker

    Eggs a La Goldenrod

    Eggs a La Goldenrod

  • sliced and put on top of avocado toast with a sprinkling of coarse salt

Deviled Eggs for Anchovy Lovers

Ingredients:

  • 1 hardboiled egg per person – see the note below
  • 1/2 anchovy per egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon capers per egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard per egg
  • 1 teaspoon mayo/egg, or more as needed
  • red pepper flakes as desired (optional)
  • Thinly sliced chives or green scallion tops

Method;

  1. Cook hardboiled eggs as noted below
  2. Cool and remove the shell carefully
  3. Slice in half, remove the yolks to a small bowl
  4. Mash with the anchovies, add mayonnaise to thin as necessary
  5. Add the capers and taste for salt (it probably won’t need any with the anchovies)
  6. Add the red pepper flakes if you want some heat
  7. Carefully fill the egg whites with the mixture
  8. Garnish with chives or scallions
Deviled Eggs with Anchovies

Deviled Eggs with Anchovies

Note on cooking hard boiled eggs:

  1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water by at least an inch.
  2. Bring the eggs and water to a rapid boil, then cover the pan and turn off the heat. Leave the pan on the burner. If you have a gas stove, turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting and leave for 1 minute before turning off the heat.
  3. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 12 minutes.
  4. Drain and run cool water over the eggs.
  5. Peel when cool. Slightly older eggs are often easier to peel.