Tuesday, February 23, 2010


For some reason I am not good with veggies.  I get the best results growing in pots, like these

Lettuce and spinach, and in the background seasoning celery and cilantro

I also have chard in pots, and carrots in the wheelbarrow

One of the best things I have found recently is the chart from the local Master Gardener's Sq Ft garden program that tells what should be planted when, locally.  According to this, February is the time to plant potatoes, tomato seed, and many others including all of the above, which I planted last September.  Time to harvest some crops and get the new seed in.  With two cooler seasons, we can plant twice a year for these crops. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fragrance of foliage

Sometimes I think I like the fragrance of foliage even better than that of flowers.  I grow herbs primarily for fragrance.  Interestingly I have several lemon herbs although lemon is not a favorite scent.  I have lemon verbena, lemon balm, and lemon thyme.  Of those, lemon verbena is by far the favorite.  I did have lemon grass, which was our cat PJ's favorite, but when he died I threw out the grass.  It would be easy enough to grow another just by rooting a stalk from the market, but Jerry thinks lemon grass in food tastes like dish soap.  The best herb scent has to be rosemary. I have it at the corner of the house where I swipe my hand through the branches every time I go into the back yard.  Of course there is pine, and I love that, and dwarf myrtle and Breath of Heaven.  But my favorites are more subtle.  Geranium 'Biokovo' and columbine both have amazing scent but I have to be down thinning out dead foliage or digging to divide or move plants before that scent is revealed.  I think the fragrance of foliage is so enticing because it is unexpected.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fragrance of flowers

As I step out the back door I am greeted with the spicy frangrance of the hyacinths.  Further out back the sweet scent of violets permeates the air.  A couple of months ago it was the winter sweet making the difference in what we call cow fog, a valley phenomenon whereby the fog smells of fresh cow patties.  Soon, the corydalis 'Blackberry Wine' will be blooming and smelling delicious, followed by lilacs, sweet peas, star jasmine, roses and others.  One of the more subtle fragrances and one I love is the echinacea.  I was in a public garden during the hot muggy summer of Topeka one year and the echinacea scent was so pervasive I was amazed.  Here, one must be up close to smell it.  I enjoy having various things with great fragrance during the year, the key being a variety, a sequence to look forward to... 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

I just got my first basket from Family Farm Fresh, locally grown, fresh, pesticide free produce delivered right to my door.  I love this concept.  For a year or so we got Abundant Harvest Organics, which Jerry picked up across the street from his work.  I loved MOST of their stuff, but not all.  Sorry, but my first encounter with eggplant back in college was my last...  Plus sometimes I just have plenty of something here and do not need more.  So enter Family Farm Fresh, which allows us to say, no thanks we have plenty of oranges this week, or ew yuck, baby bok choy! you have to be kidding me.  : )  We will see how the quality compares over time.  I was in love with the Nantes carrots from Wiley Farms in Kingsburg and Family Farm Fresh thinks they are not quite local enough.  The plan is to grow my own Nantes carrots.  For this week we have apples, pears, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, baby turnips, and lettuce.  Check out the CSA opportunities in your neighborhood... localharvest

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Every year on Valentine's Day I think what a shame that daffodils are yellow and not red.  I think they should be the color of red ranunculas, which I always hope to have bloom for Easter.  But yellow as they are the vase full I have here is very pretty, with promise of more flowers on the way. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Early Spring bulbs

Along with the daffodils I have a few other early blooming bulbs.   I never particularly liked hyacinths, maybe because one usually sees them marching soldier stiff in front of some green border.  But a few years ago we visited Orcas Island in March and I saw some amazing purple hyacinths. Their scent was reason enough to plan for some.  So I found some bulbs and put them in a pot, so they would look not quite so stiff.  Here they are second year blooming.  Once done, I simply set the pot back out of the way, then bring it up again in the fall. 

I also have clusters of muscari scattered around here and there.  My neighbor has a charming edging of them but not only is that not my style, I couldn't get it to work when I tried, out of admiration for hers  : )

Others still to come include ranunculas, freesias, alium, brodiae, ixia, sparaxis, and more.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New life

A quick trip around the garden shows the new hydrangea survived after all and the the little dead looking twig now has tiny bumps of new growth.  The new astilbe are unfurling their ferny leaves.  Likewise, the new rhubarb's leaves have opened.  Two leaves does not promise any harvest this year, but maybe more will grow.  The asparagus, on the other hand, shows no sign of life.  Hopefully it is too early yet.  Rosa Francis Dubreuil already has buds!  This rose likes cooler weather and is the first to bloom in March, maybe sooner this year.  Some of the clematis are already growing strongly.  This is an issue for me since everyone swears do not clean them up before March or so.  Madame Julia Correvon was growing at Christmas so I went ahead and trimmed back and it evidently agreed with her.  Other perennials are still sleeping.  It is part of the fun, to find new things emerging over a couple of months. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010


The daffodils are open!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Weeding Technique

My usual style for pulling weeds is squat, pluck, stand, walk to weed bucket, deposit, repeat.  While I think squats make for excellent exercise it does not take long to start thinking OK that is enough aerobic exercise for one day.  So this week I decided to try Jerry's style.  He has been encouraging me to use the hula hoe so I did, on the open areas with no flowers.  Then I crawled around and picked up what I hoed, since the grass weeds have set seed.  Yesterday and today I used his technique of weeding on hands and knees while pushing the weed pan along ahead of me.  I actually got quite a bit more ground covered.  I wonder if working twice as long adds up to as much energy expended.  It feels like a possibility  : ) 

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1 flowers

Blooming this morning in the garden are

alyssum (as always)
a little annual  called Virginian stock  Malcomia maritima
muscari, the little grape hyacinth, so funny I think of them as winter bloomers although they just opened, and the dafodils which are coming in a matter of days as being the heralds of spring
wax begonias which overwintered well this year
12 kinds of flowers blooming.  I always count kinds; even if I have a half dozen roses blooming at once, they count as one kind.  I work at having flowers all year, as I have said before, and have had as many as 60 at once, although 40 at peak season is more like it, and 20 continually is not unusual.  But the past few years I backed off on the garden and it shows.