Saturday, February 25, 2012


 Last summer we found three gallon sized manzanitas at Buttonwillow Nursery, for typical gallon size prices, maybe $6 each.  We had been researching and watching for a while as we both love these native plants, with their blue green leathery leaves and peely red bark.  We learned that in addition to good drainage manzanitas need mulch, and overhead sprinkling, mimicking rain.  Eventually they will need dry summers as if they were in the wild.  The two plants in more shade grew quite a bit over the summer and fall and we were a bit worried about the one that seemed to just sit there.  So you can imagine my delight when I was out yesterday and noticed it is in bloom.  These are buds and will open slightly to allow for pollination, but keep the urn shape. A good resource for information on native plants is Las Pilitas Nursery, located both in San Diego and the central coast.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I like to grow a crop of potatoes in spring and fall.  I keep learning more about how it all works.  Back in January I had some red potatoes that were past use, but it was still freezy outside.  I put the potatoes in a pot and covered them with a few inches of dry potting soil and set the pot in a sheltered spot up close to the house, for warmth.  Last weekend I remembered the pot and looked for the potatoes.  They were starting to grow, so I moved the pot into the sun and gave it some water.  Who knew?   I have read that potatoes will store in the ground, so it makes sense.  Last fall I had potatoes growing that I had put in during the spring bareroot season.  The apparently just sat through  the heat then grew.  I am not a confident potato grower yet, but I am learning.  All this makes me wonder if whenever there is a potato or two that would go in the compost if one could just bury it in the ground and perhaps get a small crop.   Maybe we should try it and see. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Let the season commence

Today I stepped out thinking about sowing another crop of cool season veggies and saw to my surprise and delight that the daffodils are opening. I was thinking this week that anticipation may be one of my favorite things. Those who know me know I usually overdo it. But it certainly is affirming to look forward to daffodils blooming around Valentine's Day and then see them do it.  The three shown here are now on my counter in celebration. 

Altogether I counted 2 dozen kinds of flowers blooming, although only hellebores and violets are fully out.  Hellebore hybrids do not seed true, as shown by this purple one blooming along with the whites.

I am amazed that the nasturtiums came through the winter with no ill effects.  Usually those planted in fall do not have time to bloom well before they freeze, and the ones that are spring planted likewise are killed by heat.  This one is Empress of India, a more difficult to grow clumping variety.  I like the dark leaves and flowers.  Looking forward to seeing these bloom for the next several months.  

Another surprise is the asparagus, already pushing up.  Peas are blooming.  I am cutting broccoli and lettuce.  I sowed more lettuce, spinach, carrots, chard and beets.  I also sowed breadseed poppies, more nasturtiums and some other flowers.  Altogether, I had a profitable couple of hours.  

Apricots!  Yum  : )

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Early spring bulbs

Daffodils are to me the heralds of spring.  However, they are not the first of the bulbs to bloom.  The hyacinths began to open as they shoved above the earth this year.  There are more there coming along and altogether make a lovely pot of bloom.  These are so easy,  I just stuck them in a pot, three bulbs the first year, and added a bit of water once it turned cold.  As they begin to die back I move them to a sheltered place and allow them to dry in the pot and sit for the summer.  In early winter I bring them out again and add water.  Very simple!  I grow them in pots because somehow it makes them more friendly.  Hyacinths have always struck me as pompous, but their scent is amazing, and worth having.

 The little muscari have also spiked up some bloom.  These are very easy in the ground.  Galanthus are another very early bulb, but mine have not yet put up buds.  I hope that does not mean they are already declining.

And finally, the daffodils are up right on schedule and I assume will be opening right at Valentine's Day.  It is just really too bad these are not red  : )

Friday, February 3, 2012

February flowers, the first of the new cycle

It seems like the season is off to a late start this year. 
The violets are just now blooming, and they often are out by the first of December. 

 Hellebores are opening, and again, they are running a couple of weeks late.

This year the roses just never stopped.  So nice to have roses!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I actually got some broccoli this year!  The dry season helps.  Last evening I was making alfredo sauce with pasta and chicken and remembered there were a couple heads of broccoli ready to cut so I ran out and cut them and added them to the dinner.  Overall, I am not really convinced I get my money's  worth from growing broccoli, but freshly cut is so different from the stalks in the markets.