In My Garden – October 2021

In My Garden – October 2021

The garden is finally winding down for the season. The days are shorter, nights cooler and the sunlight is somehow special. I found this description from the NY Times archive:

Spring sunshine is the awakener, rousing buds, opening leaves and flowers to clothe the earth again and bring life to the winter‐dormant world. Summer sunlight is the ripener, the hot accompaniment of growth and maturity, of fertile egg and seed, the insurance life in summers to come. Winter sunlight is a token rest, of the long sleep, the short day; it is proof that blizzards blow themselves out, that ice eventually melts, that no winter lasts forever.

But autumn sunlight is simply perfection of the day, glory of the season, the year’s high achievement, somehow. It summons one to the outdoors, where even the autumn leaves partake of it. The maples shimmer, the birches glow, and when they drop their leaves their splendor is sunlight at their feet. Roadside grasses ripen with sunlit heads of seed. The sky is clean, clear and the sun itself is benevolent, the autumn sun making an autumn day a special moment in time.

We don’t have much in the way of colorful autumn leaves here but the first windy gale of the season brought the old redwood needles onto the driveway.

windy day needle drop

windy day needle drop

As in the kitchen, we are laughing at the antics of puppy Shanna. Her ‘Harry Potter Broomstick’ otherwise known as ‘old mop’ finally broke apart and was relegated to the trash heap. That did not deter her as she immediately found a substitute, a long branch that fell out of a tree during the windstorm. It’s even longer than the ‘old mop’. Here she is swinging it around and whacking everything in sight, including poor Casey.

 

Quinn

Quinn “leave me out of it”

The broccoli and cauliflower are finished, I harvested the last two heads of cauliflower this afternoon. They are starting to bolt, much to my initial disappointment. But I found, that when roasted, the more open structure results in many more crispy bits…my favorite. It’s an unexpected benefit.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Our grass (probably more weeds than actual grass) is greening up with the cooler weather, dewy mornings and early rain. We’ve had over an inch of very welcome rain this month.

I moved a bench closer to the pollinator garden as well as a couple of half wine barrels that I will plant. I’m looking forward to having my tea or coffee and watching the bees come spring.

Pollinator Garden – October

There is not much growing here right now as California natives go dormant in the summer. There is (supposedly if the weatherperson is correct) a big rain storm coming next week. I have some more wildflower seeds to plant before the rain.

Here is how it looked in the spring of 2019.

Wild Flower Meadow, Fort Bragg CA

Wild Flower and Pollinator Garden June 2019

This is the newly planted area, I have high hopes once we get to spring. I’ve put in a variety of colorful perennials that should have a long bloom period.

New plantings October 2021

The pineapple sage is a welcome nectar source for the hummingbirds. We have had swarms of them all spring and summer but now only the native year-round Annas remain.

Pineapple sage

There is still a little color in the garden.

The native bumblebees were late to show up, and seem to have abandoned us early this year.

Native Bumblebee on Scabiosa

I have seen and heard a dozen or more flocks of Canadian geese flying south. It makes me wonder if we are in for a cold and wet winter. Fingers crossed.

Shanna, Casey and Quinn wish you adieu.

Shanna, Casey and Quinn

Shanna, Casey and Quinn

My constant companions in the garden.

 

In My Garden – September 2021

In My Garden – September 2021

It’s officially the fall season and I can feel the difference in the air. It’s crisper and mornings are cool, I smelled woodsmoke from fireplaces on the air the other day. Many folks still heat their homes with wood around here. And the first v’s of Canadian geese flew overhead this afternoon. And even better, it rained last Saturday! We got just over an inch. It was such joy hearing it on the roof. Fingers crossed that it’s a rainy winter, we sorely need the water.

The vegetable garden is prolific. I finally have tomatoes as well as zucchini, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, arugula, kale and chard. Even the broccoli and cauliflower are starting to head up.

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

The pollinator garden is looking the worse for no summer water. Hopefully it will come back in the spring once we have a little rain.

Pollinator Garden In September

Pollinator Garden In September

I cut back the perennials this month, and will do a little reseeding in late October.

In the flower beds, I’ve done a little replanting in two spots where it looked bare, plants were not thriving. The baskets are to deter digging by my favorite puppy. The new soft, enhanced and enriched soil was too attractive to her. I came out the morning after I planted the bed to find deep holes and plants tossed everywhere. Luckily they hadn’t been damaged too much, I had found the disaster early enough to replant without too many fatalities.

 

Shanna's handiwork

Shanna’s handiwork in another part of the garden, she’s digging gopher tunnels. This time, thankfully, in our mostly dead front lawn. A victim of no summer watering.

The rest of the garden is ‘getting by’ but looking a bit sad. This is not the best time of year for gardens in California.

More and more I am becoming a fan of succulents which don’t require much water or even attention.

Shanna 5 months

Shanna at 5 months finds boxes endlessly entertaining as Quinn looks on

Shanna at 5 months finds boxes endlessly entertaining as Quinn looks on

Shanna 5 months

Shanna – don’t let that angelic look fool you.

The dogs keep me company and entertained in the garden.

I will end with this picture of an amazing zucchini flower that looks like an alien.

zucchini flower

zucchini flower

Aren’t plants wonderful?!

Happy gardening everyone, I hope you are enjoying the change of seasons.

In My Garden – August 2021

In My Garden – August 2021

Okay, so it’s almost September and I am very late in getting this out to everyone. Who knew a puppy would require so much of my attention! She is a delight but also taking up any spare time that would have been devoted to writing about my current gardening activities. I  am still out there with my plants, just not spending the time writing about it.

Casey, puppy Shanna, and Quinn

Casey, puppy Shanna, and Quinn

 

Quinn and Shanna

Quinn and Shanna – pals

The garden has been flourishing despite cutbacks in my watering activities. Some plants actually seem to like less water, while others (the majority) are looking decidedly dejected.

I have been harvesting bush beans for several weeks now. Last year I planted a second crop in August, they didn’t produce any beans. This year I started the second crop earlier and, fingers crossed, there will be a second harvest before the cool weather of late fall shuts them down. I did spot some flowers this afternoon.

The zucchini plants were starting to get powdery mildew.  I gave them a harsh pruning (removing any leaves with mildew), a spray of neem oil and some organic fertilizer. Here they are mid prune. They are looking better and I will hopefully be able to continue the harvest for another month or so.

Zucchini

Zucchini – I was in the midst of the haircut and you can see the mildewed leaves

The mildew is a side effect of our typically foggy July and August. I can’t complain too much because the summers are also as much as 50 degrees F cooler here on the coast compared to inland temperatures.

Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetables for the grill.

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled zucchini and summer squash

It only needs a bit of olive oil and coarse salt. We eat it “plain”, with pesto, in toasted sandwiches, or chopped into a salad with tomatoes, red onions and feta cheese. Picked an hour before cooking it’s an entirely different vegetable than that you get at the store.

The broccoli and cauliflower plants are getting big but no signs of heading up yet. The netting is to keep the birds out.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and Cauliflower

And there is almost always lettuce. That’s kale in the background left, arugula on the back right.

Lettuce

Lettuce

In my garden I have dahlias. They have been late, not as prolific with blooms, and a bit shorter in stature than the last couple of years. This could be because of our cooler and dryer weather, also because I am being stingy with the water. The flowers are still lovely, just not as many.

Dahlias

Dahlias

This plant is Daucus carota ‘Dara’, it’s a variety of Queen Anne’s lace or carrot flower. The flowers start out as a deep mahogany red, then fade to a lighter pink. In my garden it stands about 3 feet high. This is the first year I’ve grown it and I love its lacy appearance. Hopefully it will self seed itself for future plants. It’s very pretty in flower arrangements.

Daucus carota ‘Dara’

Another plant that is a butterfly magnet is this one, Trachelium caeruleum “Perennial Blue Lace Flower”. I planted it three years ago and it is really taking off this year.

Blue Lace Flower

It will die back in early winter when I will cut it almost to the ground. I love the billowy feel to it and butterflies are drawn to the nectar.

August Sweet PeansMuch to my surprise the sweet peas are still going strong after a late start. My grandmother always grew them along the side fence of her garden in England, their scent reminds me of wonderful summers spent with her. I don’t remember ever harvesting them this late, I think it’s a function of the very cool summer we’ve had so far.

I’ve ordered some plants to redo this area of the garden. Looks sad and somewhat barren doesn’t it? I have waited until closer to our rainy season but the plants will be arriving towards the end of next month. Fingers crossed we will get some rain in October.

I was inspired by a story I read about Kew Gardens in the U.K. It seems that they re-dig, re-vitalize the soil, and re-plant some beds each spring. I plan to do the same here (although in the fall), replanting many of the plants that don’t seem to be thriving. There are self sown columbines, some geums, yarrow, salvias, and tidy tips. But, they all look stunted. Stay tuned for next months update.

The weather is warming. We generally see rising temperatures in September and October, our Indian summer. I hope to be able to take advantage of our outdoor dining area without the space heaters.

Thankfully the smoke hasn’t been too bad here on the coast.

Al fresco dining

Al fresco dining

Here is Shanna with her favorite garden toy, an old mop she stole from the garage when my back was turned. She runs around the garden with it as if she was Harry Potter at a quidditch match.

Shanna and the mop

Shanna and the mop

I am calling this the August In My Garden even though there are only 2 days left in the month.

Happy gardening everyone; stay well and get vaccinated.

In My Garden – July 2021

In My Garden – July 2021

This will be a very quick tour of the garden this month but I wanted to get in an update.

It’s interesting to see how the pollinator garden has changed over the past couple of years, plants have come and gone. Our winter rain was so sporadic and rare this year that many annuals did not return. I think the seedlings dried up before they could get a start. The perennials however, have flourished. This fall I will try reseeding, fingers crossed that we get more rain.

Pollinator Garden July 2020

Pollinator Garden July 2020

In the vegetable garden the peas have just about finished, I will be pulling them out this month to plant winter vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale.

The bush beans have lots of flowers but no beans yet.

Bush beans

bush beans

There are a couple of kale plants at the end of the bean bed, rescued from the discard pile at the Botanical Gardens. They were looking very wilted and sick but have recovered and flourished.

Kale

Kale

We’ve been eating a lot of zucchini from the garden. I pick them when they are fairly small and enjoy them grilled.

Grilled Zucchini from the Fort Bragg garden

Grilled Zucchini from the Fort Bragg garden

The lavender plants are full of bees.

Lavender

Lavender

The dahlias are starting to bloom.

First dahlias

First dahlias

I am trying to limit my watering and I’m afraid the garden is going to look the worst for it this summer. Wells are going dry all over the area. So far we are okay but it’s a worry.

Most of my time in the garden this month has been taken up by trying to keep track of our new puppy, Shanna.

Shanna

Shanna

She’s into everything (although learning to stay out of the raised beds and the flower garden), and everything goes into her mouth. And, anything can become a favorite toy.

Shanna vs an old mop

Shanna vs an old mop – Casey and Quinn look on aghast…What is she doing?

And then we had our favorite corgis for the weekend. It was a wild time but everyone got along. Generous amounts of treats kept everyone (mostly) in line. That’s the lone male, Milo, walking away.

Aussies and Corgis

Aussies and Corgis

So, that’s where and how most of my time has been spent this month. It’s the reason this post is so late.

I can’t believe it is almost August.

Be well everyone, stay cool and safe. Get vaccinated.

 

In My Garden – June 2021

In My Garden – June 2021

The big news in the garden this month has nothing to do with plants.

Water Tanks

Water Tanks – and Casey investigating

Two 3000 gallon water tanks with outlets for fire hoses.

One out of four wells is expected to run dry this year in Mendocino County because of the drought. Our county depends heavily on seasonal rain water for all our water needs, and it was a very dry winter. These tanks also have outlets for fire hoses if needed (there are no fire hydrants out here in the country). So far our well is holding steady but we worry. The water from the well will go into a new filtration system before being pumped into the tanks for use inside the house. We have several new outlets directly from the well (unfiltered) for watering the garden.

Our lawn has gone dry and brown, it goes unwatered.

Summer is beginning to show its head in the vegetable garden

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable GardenThe first tomatoes – still green but  there are lots of flowers on the plants

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Broccoli is heading up.

Broccoli

Broccoli

The first baby zucchini

Zucchini

Zucchini

The cucumbers are also under plastic to keep them warm but aren’t showing a lot of growth yet.

In the flower garden the spring native wildflowers are beginning to go to seed. Although they look a bit messy I will leave them to sow their seeds for next spring.

I know it is early summer when the roses and lupins start to bloom.

First Rose - Just Joey

First Rose – Just Joey, they one is very aromatic

Lupin

Lupin

The snapdragons starts a good friend gifted me in the fall are blooming in all colors.

Snapdragons

Snapdragons

And the bees love the lavender in bloom along the driveway.

Lavender

Lavender

The pollinator garden showed very few annuals this year (maybe because of so little and very sporadic rain), but lots of perennials are showing their heads. Dominating are Sweet William Dianthus in all colors, California poppies, and Shasta daisies.

Pollinator Garden June 2021

Pollinator Garden June 2021

Just for fun, here is what it looked like in June of 2019 the first year, and June of 2020.

The rhododendrons are almost finished although I did manage to find a few to cut and bring into the house.

That’s my garden summary for this month. How is your garden doing?