Posted in Flower Photography, Flowers, Garden, Garden Photography, Gardening in California, Gardening in Colorado, High Mountain Gardening, Organic Gardening, Ornamentals, Photography, Southern California Gardening, Sunday Zen, tagged Allium Bud, Barbara Wartman Photography, Blossoms, Coneflower, Durango, Flower Photography, Flowers, Garden, Garden Photography, Gardening, Irvine, Mary Beth Jarrosak, Nature Photography, Organic, Organic Gardening on August 5, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Birds, Food, Garden, Garden to Kitchen, Gardening in California, Gardening in the News, Organic Gardening, Southern California Gardening, Vegetables, tagged Gardening, Gardening in the News, Gardening Workshops, Orange County, Organic Gardening, Small Space Gardening, Southern California Garden Tours, Urban Gardening, Vegetable Garden on May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Another in a series of posts to bring you interesting garden-related stories. This week we have links to a few articles we think you’ll like and news about events in Southern California.
A Plan to Turn Brooklyn’s Unused Acres Green: This article is about a truly great idea that a group of Brooklyn gardeners called 596 Acres (the total of unused public acres in Brooklyn) had to find and cultivate all the unused lots that dot the city. LOVE this idea!
Humans aren’t the only ones making things grow. Apparently the male Bowerbird, who builds elaborate bowers to attract a mate, is responsible for a lot of new plant life.
Here’s a lovely tribute to a lovely woman and an amazing gardener, Bea Grow. I had the pleasure of meeting her and visiting her beautiful garden a couple of years ago. Bea died last December and is sorely missed by the O.C. gardening community.
Click the link for a round-up of all the O.C. garden tours. Should have gotten this link to you sooner for all the April tours, but there are plenty on the list for May. One I highly recommend is the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour. It’s free (donations encouraged) and it’s fabulous — this weekend, May 5 – 6.
There will be a workshop on Edible Gardening in Small Spaces by my fellow Master Gardeners at the Orange County Great Park this Saturday. Here’s the description: Limited space? Master Gardeners are here to show you the ins and outs of getting a great yield from little places. Choose your favorite vegetables and learn how to make the most of them.
And finally a few words about a great event that I was a part of last weekend at the Orange County Great Park; the Artisan Food and Arts Festival. It was an all-day celebration of artisan food, sustainable gardening and art.
Chef Linda Elbert (of The Basement Table) and I collaborated on Seed to Plate: Cooking from the Garden, a presentation about growing your own vegetables and preparing them. I really enjoyed sharing organic growing tips with our audience.
Afterwards, I was able to spend time taking in the other chefs’ demos, the restaurant booths, sampling the food from the food trucks and seeing the art exhibits. Some of the art is still up. I highly recommend that you go see Tom Lamb’s exhibit of aerial photography called Marks on the Land: The View From Here.
The entire event was so much fun — kudos to my friend Maya Dunn and the Great Park staff for a fabulous job of pulling it off in grand style. Let’s hope that it comes back next year!
Posted in Bee Photography, Beekeeping, Bees, Garden, Gardening in Colorado, Hive, Organic Gardening, Pollinators, WIldlife Habitat, tagged Bee Habitat, Beehive, Beekeepers, Beekeeping, Durango, Gardening, Honey B Healthy Recipe, Honeybee, Nature Photography, Organic Gardening, Top Bar Hive on April 29, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Saturday: The bees are coming today! To get ready for their arrival, I’m preparing their sugar syrup and making a homemade version of Honey B Healthy, a nourishing supplement that is added to the syrup.
I’ll be teaching my co-workers how to be beekeepers and they’ll be installing the bees on Sunday with my guidance. Ray built us some beautiful Top Bar Hives (Thanks, Ray!) which will be their new home. We are very excited!
We have, over the last couple of weeks in our (very little) spare time, been creating a bee and butterfly sanctuary. It’s in its beginning stages and will soon be filled with plants that all the local pollinators will want to come and visit. We are also adding a labyrinth that will be planted with medicinal herbs and a vegetable garden filled with heirloom vegetables. The hives will be nestled in this wonderful little spot we’ve created located in the Animas River Valley. It’s coming together beautifully and I’ll be posting pictures of the hives and gardens soon.
Happy Spring everybody!
Recipe found on the Beekeepers of the Ozarks:
Honey B Healthy (generic)
Dissolve lecithin in 1/4 cup of water. This may take several hours. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Stir in lecithin until dissolved. Stir in essential oils until everything is evenly distributed. Cool before using.
I use 1 tablespoon per quart but I don’t use thyme in my mixture. One to two tablespoons per gallon works if using thyme oil.
Makes about 2 quarts.
Posted in Garden, Garden Photography, Garden to Kitchen, Gardening, Organic Gardening, Southern California Gardening, Tuesday's Tips, Vegetables, tagged Gardening, Growing Vegetables, How to Build a Raised Bed, Organic Gardening, raised beds, Vegetable Garden on April 24, 2012 | 14 Comments »
I’ve been in my house for most of the time that I’ve lived in California — 19 years. And in all that time I’ve missed having the big, productive vegetable garden that I had in Pennsylvania. There are a lot of reasons that I haven’t been growing vegetables here; too little time, not enough sun, etc., but the big one is the really crappy soil in our area.
Soil is so very important for growing veggies. Of course light, water and nutrition are key elements, but you can have all of those and still not be able to grow much in the way of vegetables if your soil is lousy.
My soil is compacted and low in organic matter, a result of building practices in developments such a mine. Builders come in and level the ground, bulldozing away the fertile topsoil. Add the fact that the soil in this area is full of heavy clay, which stops tiny little roots dead in their tracks, and you have very inhospitable veggie growing conditions.
The solution is to build raised beds that you can fill with beautiful, fertile soil and loads of compost. Which is what I did last week.
This project is pretty easy. In spite of having only the most basic woodworking skills, I had no problem getting good results. I started with plans, which I modified it to match my needs, that I found on Sunset Magazines website. Now some of you may laugh at how little mine is (4′ x 4′), but I have only one tiny spot that gets enough sun for growing anything but part-shade plants.
I decided on a smaller version than Sunset’s also because this is test run that I didn’t want to sink a lot of money into. If it works, I’ll get some of the eucalyptus trees that surround my yard trimmed or removed (Have you priced this kind of job lately? Yowzers!) and redo my landscape to accommodate larger beds. In the meantime, this project cost me about $90 and took about 4 hours. Here’s how I did it.
I went to Lowe’s (wish there was a real lumber yard in the area) and bought top grade pine. You can use pine, redwood or cedar. The latter two will last a while longer but there are sustainability issues with the cedar. DO NOT BUY TREATED WOOD even if they say it’s the new, safe kind. I don’t believe any of it is food-safe and it’s certainly not organic.
When you are selecting the wood look down the length of the board to make sure it’s not warped. A tiny bit bowing or twisting is ok, but it should be very, very slight. Also eliminate any lumber that has more than very minor splits on the ends or lots of knots.
Lowe’s will cut any lumber you buy to your measurements for no additional charge — good thing because these boards would never have fit into my car, nor could I have managed the larger piece by myself.
Some of the changes I made to the original plans were: I used 12″ lumber for the sides because I couldn’t see any reason to use two 6″ boards as they did in the Sunset plans. And I switched out their recommended 4″ x 4″ corner posts for 2″ x 4″ because my bed is smaller and I thought it wouldn’t compromise the sturdiness factor — besides it saved a little $$. I didn’t add the piping for the row cover hoops because it never gets that cold here, however my resident bird population may cause me to regret not being able to float some bird netting.
I assembled the bed upside down right where I was going to place it. In retrospect this was probably a mistake that accounted for my not getting the box perfectly squared. So I recommend assembling it on a flat surface like your patio, deck or garage. I did the whole thing myself, but if you can recruit a helper (one with opposable thumbs) so much the better.
Now you’re ready to plant!
Here are a couple of things I read over the past week that you might want to take a look at.
The Cost of a Green Lawn. There’s a new law in New Jersey limiting the amount of fertilizer that homeowners and landscapers can use on lawns. The law was passed after environmental activists warned that state legislators that “Barnegat Bay, the state’s largest enclosed estuary, was dying, in part because of the pollution caused by runoff lawn fertilizer as it washed into the sewer system. Such overstimulation has caused an increase in algae and jellyfish in the bay, and a decrease in sea grass, fish and shellfish.”
People, do we need our green lawns so much that we poison the waterways and kill everything that lives in them? Really?
So what should you do about it, wherever you are? At the very least FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PACKAGE. A lot of pollution comes from people not applying the recommended amount of fertilizer, pesticide, etc. Use only the recommended amount; more is not better. Better yet, reduce the amount of lawn to the bare minimum (which might be none!), use only organic products, and learn to live with a few weeds.
In an interesting speech William Rosenzweig, accepting the Oslo Business for Peace Award, talks about the lessons he learns from his garden and how he applies them to business. I especially like this quote: “In essence, the gardener’s work is a life of care. We cultivate abundance from scarce resources. We nurture, encourage, fertilize – and prune when necessary – while being respectful of the true and wild nature of all things.”
Come back tomorrow for a new Tuesday’s Tips on building a raised garden bed.
Posted in Garden, Garden Photography, Houseplants, Indoor Gardening, Organic Gardening, Succulent, Tuesday's Tips, tagged Container Planting, Garden Gifts, Succulent Terrariums, Succulents, Terrariums on April 17, 2012 | 9 Comments »
A couple of weeks ago I spent a relaxing, fun afternoon creating a few succulent terrariums for myself and for birthday gifts. It’s super easy and they look really beautiful.
You’ll need the following:
Step 1: Buy or make cuttings of the succulents you want to plant in your terrariums. If you are using cuttings, it’s best to let them “cure” by leaving the cut ends exposed to the air so they scab over. (I have to confess that I sometimes don’t wait and haven’t noticed any difference, but I’ve read that the cuttings can rot if you don’t let them “cure.”)
Step 2: Beg, borrow or buy glass containers. Vases, mason jars or any other wide-mouthed container will do. Clean throughly with a mixture of 1 quart warm water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Dry thoroughly.
Step 3: Very carefully place an inch or two of small stones in the bottom of the container. You can use more if you want the plants to be higher up in the container as I did in the tall cylinder pictured below.
Step 4: Add a 1/2 inch layer of charcoal.
Step 5: Add 2 to 3 inches of soil; more if the rootball of your plant is large.
Step 6: Arrange and plant the succulents.
Step 7: If you like you can add a layer of sand or stones on top of the soil.
Step 8: Add any accent pieces that please your eye.
Step 9: Wipe stray soil from sides with a damp paper towel. Use a straw to gently blow away any soil or sand from leaves.
Step 10: Very carefully water your new terrarium. Not too much! Stop when you see a water begin to accumulate at the bottom of the container.
That’s it! Make sure your terrarium gets partial sun (about 4 hours a day minimum) and don’t water too much or too often — about every week to ten days.
This is the one I made for my friend’s birthday gift. I found an orange shell, her favorite color, in my collection and added it to the arrangement.
I love this tall cylinder and the red-orange tipped leaves. I also planted some low pots with the extra cuttings I had.
Sometimes simple is best. For this small round container one rosette was all that was needed.
Here’s another creative idea. I gave my daughter some cuttings and she planted them in this old cream cheese box. It looks great!
Posted in Conservation, Garden, Garden Photography, Garden Wildlife, Gardening, Insects, Organic Gardening, Photography, Pollinators, WIldlife Habitat, tagged Conservation, Garden Photography, Gardening, Historic Garden Photography, Historic Gardens, Peat Moss, Pollinators, School Gardens, Urban Wildlife, Wildlife Habitat on April 16, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
…and other news. Here are a few stories that we’ve come across in the past few days that we think you might find interesting.
We loved this one in particular. We all know about the life-enhancing lessons that kids take away from school (food) gardens. Well here’s another powerful way to engage them, help them learn, and improve their lives in the short- and long-term.
The Leo Politi Elementary School, in one of the most densely populated areas of Los Angeles, removed 5,000 square feet of concrete and lawn and replaced it with native plants and trees. Amazingly (or not, as most gardeners know), insects, birds and other creatures appeared so quickly that the principal said it was almost as if they were waiting for this oasis to appear. Not only were the kids fascinated with the activity in their new habitat, but the school’s science scores increased six-fold.
Let’s hear it for school gardens, both edible and habitat gardens. They enrich the lives of students, teachers and their neighborhoods by creating green spaces for all kinds of creatures. Read the whole story here.,
Anne Raver (one of our favorite garden writers) writes in the NY Times about a collection of garden photos taken from the late 1800’s to 1935 by Frances Benjamin Johnson. A catalog of her hand-colored glass lantern slides is available here. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone planning a new garden.
Finally, here’s a thought-provoking editorial, Drop That Bog, that appeared in the NY Times on April 11. It’s a pretty convincing argument against using peat moss. We’ll quote it here in its entirety:
“To gardeners, there is something deeply gratifying about opening a bag of sphagnum peat moss. It’s the smell and texture, as well as knowing that peat makes a good ground cover and soil improver. But, like so many other things in our lives, peat moss looks different, and far less gratifying, when you take climate change into account.
What gardeners are buying in those compressed bags of peat is the remains of what was once a living bog. Extracting peat requires a kind of surface mining — laying back the top layer of a drained wetland and digging out the peat. The stuff you’re forking onto your garden is a broken-down version of stuff that has been used for centuries as fuel in Scotland, Britain and Ireland.
Here’s the trouble. Peat results when bog and wetland plants decompose partially in the absence of oxygen. Instead of emitting carbon dioxide as they decompose, they become the carbon in peat. In other words, peat acts as a carbon sink, trapping carbon that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere. But once peat has been dug up — even before it is burned or dug into the corner of the garden where you’re hoping to plant blueberries — it begins to release its stored carbon, adding to the climate-altering carbon dioxide we are already pouring into the atmosphere.
Compared with the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when gardeners drive to the nursery, the problem may not seem that big. But every reduction helps, and there are easy alternatives. The best substitute for peat in the garden is compost, which you can make at home, unlike peat, which takes thousands of years to form. Peat should stay where it does the most good: in the place where it formed, beneath the complex ecology of a living wetland.”
That’s it for now.
P. S. Yes, we have been on an extended hiatus which was quite a bit longer than we intended, but we’re happy to be back. Tomorrow’s Tuesday’s Tips will be a primer on creating succulent terrariums. It’s super easy!