Saturday, February 28, 2015

asparagus crowns

i'm working toward getting more perennials into the gardens up here.  the fedex man just brought me a box of beautiful asparagus crowns...

asparagus takes a while to get established (sometimes a couple years) and growing well enough to produce big edible spears but once they're happy they'll produce for a good 10-15 years.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

my family in the foothills (for leanne)

warm and sunny in the garden this morning
something in the air takes me away
something in the mingling scents
of oaks
and pines
and the dust of the iron-reddened soil
my brother and i in the car
my mother driving us along little roads
that seem to wind on forever
out of the valley and into the hills
an adventure into a different world
and just when i begin to grow tired from the drive
we are there
and she is there to greet us
smiling that loving, friendly smile
and speaking with that wonderful teasing tone
the one always accompanied by a twinkle in her eyes
and the kids are there
our far-away friends we've been missing
and sometimes we see the suttons
and sometimes her sweet father
and her mother, who always seems a little worried
and all of them so welcoming and so much like
and though it's been years since i've seen them
that is always how i think of them
my family in the foothills

Sunday, February 22, 2015

rainy greenhouse tour

here's a short video shot from inside the greenhouse with rain coming down outside.

bird shirt!

they have the best shirts for a buck at the spca thrift.  my latest find is the bird shirt!...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

blueberries and other perennials

i got the blueberries in the ground early this week and have been working on getting them and the rest of the perennials in the orchard garden fed and mulched.

blueberry  blossoms

i made baskets out of aviary wire for each plant to keep the gophers out of the roots.

and they all got a nice thick mulch of compost and pine needles (a neighbor happened to have a huge pile of pine needles she was just going to burn and let me have some).

the new trees (west orchard) got some compost and straw mulch.

the yearling trees got their hugelnests (if this wasn't a thing before it is now---at least in my garden) refreshed as needed---some weeding, feeding (with compost), and topped off with some straw.

peach tree and mizuna mustard happy for some compost

yearling trees---east orchard---fed and mulched

i also took care of the other perennials in the orchard garden while i was at it.

perennial kales and tree collards


luckily i had some help.

comfy spot

hoping for some rain tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


all day
the sky wept softly
over the mountains
offering comfort and condolence
to the parched soil
and the long-suffering pines.
that night,
the rain came in torrents
the wind, in wild gusts
like the storm i feel within.
my love for you
so full of terrifying beauty
that cannot be denied
or contained.
and how brave you are, love,
to offer yourself
to its fierce rapture.

Monday, February 16, 2015


got the rest of the trellises up and all the espaliers pruned and tied up...

Friday, February 13, 2015

two trellises

i put up a couple of the new bamboo trellises a couple days ago.  didn't have enough t-posts to put any more up but today we made a run to bootjack and bought some as well as some straw and some aviary wire.  so i can now put up the rest of the trellises and get all of the espaliers pruned and tied, dig and line some new veggie beds and get some blueberry plants in the ground.  looking forward to the work and enjoying the sunshine.

here are a few photos of the two trellises i put up...

using water auger to drill hole for t-post

the ground was good and soft from the great rain we had last weekend so between that and the water auger getting the holes in for the t-posts was nice and easy.

water auger that staal put together---love this thing

once the t-posts were set i attached the trellises using some remnants of electrical wire.

with the trellises up i was able to get the first of the espaliers pruned and tied up.

'sierra beauty' apple

a good start and eager to get back at it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

wrestling for junk mail

i don't know what i'd do without these two wonderful goofballs...

"look, it's elvis!"

they keep me smiling---love 'em both like crazy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

sowing seeds and a good storm

i sowed this year's first round of seeds about 10 days ago (some herbs, some flowers for the pollinators, and some tomatoes for staal).  the germination rate was quite good and the seedlings are looking happy and i think are feeling quite cozy in the greenhouse.  i sowed lettuces and greens three days ago and i'm starting to see signs of life there too.

i use tweezers to sow small seeds

kale seeds


i'm trying out some new varieties and new plants this year.  i haven't ever had much luck growing true tarragon (the french stuff that only grows from cuttings) so i'm trying out mexican tarragon this year---the seeds germinated really fast and the seedlings are looking good.  i'm also growing tithonia (a sort of a bushy sunflower) and borage (an herby flowering plant) for the first time---both of them are supposed to be great plants for attracting and feeding pollinators.

borage seeds are really neat looking

borage seedlings

we had a bit of a wet weekend.  it had been quite a long stretch since the last rain and with the warm weather we've been having things were starting to get a bit thirsty---all the plants and animals (humans included) were ready for some rain.  

the chickens enjoyed foraging in the wet leaf litter...

we got a couple of days of light, occasional rain showers with some good downpours sunday afternoon and then sunday night things got kind of wild.  around 10-10:30pm we started getting some powerful wind gusts accompanied by very heavy rainfall.  the volume of water coming down was far more than the gutters could handle and the ground couldn't soak it up fast enough so we ended up with a pond in the kitchen garden and around the greenhouse.  fortunately the storm blew over before the water could get too high so we didn't get any flooding indoors and no leaks in the roof either.  the ground percolates really well here---when we got up the next morning there wasn't a puddle in sight, just a bunch of really happy trees and vegetable plants.

outside the east door of the greenhouse during sunday night's storm---water about 4" deep and just below the threshold

beautiful blue sky monday morning after the previous night's wild deluge.

and more signs of spring in the garden...

peach blossom buds (dog on deer duty)

lots of earthworm activity

happy plants in the kitchen garden

Thursday, February 5, 2015

trellis factory

the weather has been warm and sunny---good for pruning fruit trees.  i pruned all the trees that i'm going to keep small and bushy (mainly stone fruits) but i'm going to grow some trees as espaliers (pears, apples, and a couple figs) and i hadn't got trellising up for them yet.  so i've spent the last few days building bamboo trellises.

the first one took the most time to build because i was designing as i was building.  i think what i ended up with is pretty neat and will be functional.  i used the 2 ft pieces that i cut off the horizontals as bracing---and a little style---i ended up having no waste this way too.

i got pretty fast at building them.

i was pretty close to finishing the last one (i built eight) when the battery in my drill exploded.  it sounded like a .22 being fired---a bit startling.  fortunately the case that holds the battery cells is quite tough (i'm assuming they're designed to handle this sort of thing) so the explosion was safely contained and there were no injuries (zane was a little nervous for a while after).  i put a spare battery pack in and the drill was functioning normally so i went back to work and got things finished up.

we're due to get a few days of rain starting tomorrow so i think i'll wait for the ground to soften up and then i'll put in some metal fence posts to anchor the trellises to and when things dry out again i'll get the espaliers pruned and tied up.

an early february morning

an early february morning
the sun slants into the garden through the oaks
poppies have come up
their first leaves forked like tiny blue-green antlers
a hummingbird visits the quince blossoms
soft breeze pushes wisps of white
across brilliant blue sky
and whispers something about coming rain.
how beautiful you are sitting in the clover

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

greenhouse (plumbing)

staal got the greenhouse all fixed up with plumbing a couple days ago...

digging access to shut-off valve and water pipe

drilling route for new plumbing

the old shut-off valve was worn out and needed to be replaced...


new shut-off valve

staal modified a 5-gallon bucket to work as a valve box and made a beautiful redwood cover for it...

the friedlands will probably recognize the utility sink (thank you).  staal screwed it to a 2x4 to keep it stable.

beautiful antique faucet and a hook for hanging a bucket (nice touch)

the man does good work.