Thursday, April 30, 2015

Echeveria benitsukasa

spotted this beauty when we stopped at the hardware store today...

Echeveria benitsukasa, painted beauty

 staal said i should have it and i agreed.  we get along very well.

the pot is one i found years ago when i was out with my mom poking around in the antique/junk shops in chowchilla.  looks like they were made for each other.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


had the netting on the kitchen garden open on one end while i was sowing bean seeds this morning.  a hummingbird flew in and couldn't find the way out so i gave the lovely little birdy a hand.

tiny and beautiful and literally about as light as a feather

Sunday, April 26, 2015

berry barrier

i had a little fun making a bamboo trellis for the blackberries this afternoon.  there is a narrow stairway on the east side of the mill office that is flanked by blackberry vines.  in the spring and summer the berries get a bit unruly and it's hard to get past them without getting snagged by the encroaching vines.  the new trellis will help keep the vines supported and contained.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


i try to live a simple life
a lean life
and by simple
i do not mean easy
and by lean
i do not mean meager
but a life
distilled to what is

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Libellula pulchella

had a dragonfly hanging out in the orchard garden today.  did a little research for an id and came up with Libellula pulchella, twelve spotted skimmer.  she was really mellow and let me get some good shots...

an amazing creature for sure.

flower delivery

staal found some irises growing in the woods on our property.  around 7:00 this morning while i was sitting in bed checking email and news i got a flower delivery---coffee followed shortly thereafter.  the man is a sweetheart.

they have a lovely scent

love the color and the pattern

Monday, April 20, 2015


dragons are real but not all of them fly and breathe fire...

Saturday, April 18, 2015


i carry a camera with me.  it's not that i'm particularly interested in capturing the moment nor do i have any real interest in photography.  i carry a camera and i take pictures because doing so reminds me to look more closely at the everday things in life.  the things i might otherwise miss or take for granted.  it teaches me to see the beauty and wonder around me.  on a more practical level i take pictures to share with family and friends i don't see often.  and i take pictures to use as references to learn more about the plants and critters i see and to keep a visual record of the progression of the gardens and all the amazing things staal is doing.
i've taken hundreds of pictures this spring.  here are just a few...

 thanks for taking a look.

Monday, April 13, 2015


a neighbor won't grow brassicas
because they get aphids
seems a shame
i grow them anyway
kales and cabbages and other greens
sometimes covered in aphids
but they don't trouble the plants too much
and they don't trouble me at all
today hundreds of ladybugs
drifted in on the breeze
many of them stopping in the gardens
to drink nectar
and eat aphids
and lay eggs
their hatchling larvae
will have such a feast awaiting them
it seems there is plenty for all of us

Saturday, April 11, 2015

greenhouse ("lawn")

the question was, what to do with a big hole in the concrete floor of a greenhouse?  the answer turned out to be, grow something in it.  for a while i wasn't sure what that something was going to be.  i'm still not sure i'm sure and the plantings will likely evolve as i do and as the rest of the gardens do.  

here's how it's evolved so far starting with where things were this winter...

filled with leaves and soil from around the property

before any of the glazing went up staal broke out the concrete along the length of tree root that was pushing the slab up in an attempt to get the remaining slab to settle (which seems to have worked).  i used some of the concrete that was broken out as pavers.

we found some woolly thyme and some yarrow at the local nursery.  both these plants can take a little foot traffic so i figured i'd give them a try.

woolly thyme is drought tolerant and aromatic

yarrow, a drought tolerant native

i got some lawn grass seed from the hardware store and tossed that in...

i also threw in some clover seed.

i've seen some interesting volunteers coming up in the mix, like chickweed and a mystery cucumber or squash.

mystery cucurbit volunteer

even though it doesn't get much water the grass has grown into a nice soft green mat and it's become a very nice place to hang out in the morning and enjoy a cup of coffee.

i think zane really digs it...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

constellations (for zane grey)

each morning
from the head of the bed
you look out the window
toward the gardens
and the woods to the east
ears pricked forward with interest
the tip of your black nose
gently touching the glass
leaving a small, flattened smudge
amongst the smudges left behind
on past mornings
each a record of a squirrel, or bird, or deer sighting
of thoughts and moods
intentions and desires
coalescing into constellations of nose prints on the glass
and which i know
as i catch a glimpse now and then
beaming from bright brown eyes
mirror the constellations of a swirling universe
hidden within that luxurious-fur-coat-being

greenhouse (ridge vent and gutters)

with the weather warming we've been getting some good heat gain in the greenhouse and ventilation has become important in keeping temperature and airflow in a good range for propagating the transplants for this year's spring and summer gardens.
staal rigged up an easy way to open and close the ridge vent so we can regulate the temperature, airflow, and humidity inside the greenhouse.  he put up a piece of emt near each end of the ridge vent that can be pushed up and locked into place to hold the vent open.

ridge vent open

we've been fortunate in having some spring rains this year and collecting as much of the roof runoff as possible has been a priority.  staal used garden hoses to link the rain barrels that collect the runoff from the house roof and set a sump pump in one of them to move the water into a large rectangular tank that can hold a few hundred gallons ( the 33 gallon cans under the downspouts fill up quickly and by linking them and pumping them into the larger reservoir we are able to collect much more water).  

collection hub and sump pump

reservoir being filled by sump pump and nearing capacity

over the weekend nick helped staal get some rain gutter up on the greenhouse in preparation for today's storm.

we're not sure yet how we will link things up to get the harvested water into the new storage tank so for now the greenhouse gutters extend a bit past the end of the building and the water they collect drops into a couple of trash cans.

we've been getting a nice, steady rain for a few hours so far today and the new gutters and barrels mean the greenhouse roof can now supply water to the plants it shelters and to the gardens.

every drop helps.