In My Garden – October 2020

In My Garden – October 2020

Back Garden in Fort Bragg

Back Garden in Fort Bragg

I’ve had a request from a reader to put the garden beds in context. Here is a view of the three garden beds often pictured individually, with the vegetable garden at the back of the right side.

And here is left of the picture above. The following pictures go from left to right, the vegetable garden is in the back on the far right.

left of back garden with Casey

Center of back garden

Center of back garden

Right of back garden

right of back garden – Fort Bragg CA

Veggie garden

veggie garden

The unwatered grass is brown. We don’t water the lawn (which consists mostly of dandelions) in the summer because here in N CA most of our grass is summer dormant. Even at the edges of the cultivated garden where it is watered, it only starts looking green this time of year.

And what about the front garden, do you wonder? There are not pictures posted. Well, it is mostly a wasteland. It’s where we toss the ball and frisbee of Casey and Quinn. It’s also the location of our septic system and is very sandy plus nutrient poor. We have plans to try and improve the soil this fall. I’ll write more on that once the rain starts but I don’t want to seed anything just yet. I don’t have high hopes but we read an interesting article about how they reclaimed Golden Gate Park in San Francisco from the sand dunes. We are going to attempt the same.

The dahlias are still blooming although I expect them to be finished soon. The pineapple sage (the red plants in large pots on the right side of the back garden) are attracting the attention of the hummingbirds. They love the color red.

Remember the summer squash and bush beans I planted in August? Well, success! I have been harvesting zucchini although the plants have attracted a bit of powdery mildew. The purple bush beans are showing tiny beans.

August planted summer squash

Purple bush beans

Purple bush beans

The lettuce, cilantro, basil and arugula are doing well. We’ve been having wonderful salads.

lettuce, cilantro, basil and arugula

lettuce, cilantro, basil and arugula

This past weekend I planted carrots, parsnips, radishes, lettuce and more arugula. The arugula is coming up after only three days.

As you can see from the large picture of the garden above, there are a few winter squashes almost ready to pick. I’m not sure if I will plant them again next year. The plants took up a lot of room and didn’t really produce well compared to the space they required.

A good friend has some cabbage starts for me in her greenhouse. This weekend I will prepare one of the empty beds for planting them when they are ready.

That’s it for this month. I am looking forward to the winter rains, they mark a quieter time in the garden. About this time of year I am ready to wrap it up, except for the vegetable garden of course.

Stay well everyone, and safe. The next few weeks promise to be interesting. We feel in a bit of a bubble up here on the coast in Fort Bragg, but politics is everywhere. There is no escaping although sometimes I wish I could put my head in the sand. The garden is a wonderful escape.

 

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.