Wednesday, July 14, 2010

GBBD, July 2010

This is the first year for my artichokes. So, now that we're done eating them, I've been pretty excited to see them come into bloom.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rain Barrel

Or, as I usually call it - "my kick-ass rain barrel." That's 275 gallons, baby. Someone pointed out that I should have a picture of someone standing by it, for scale, but I still don't have such a picture. It's about 4' tall.

The water comes in from the downspout off the roof gutters (duh).

It overflows through these holes onto the "lawn" if it gets too full.

And I can attach a regular garden hose to its faucet.

I know - it's ugly.

So we planted a passiflora vine to cover it, and because of my obession with growing things I can eat, we searched out a passiflora that is supposed to produce good fruit.

It's filling in nicely, and has begun to bloom.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvest (so far)

Here is some of what I have harvested so far in 2010:

If you know boysenberries, then you know some of these are not ripe (and yes, those ones were tart!).

This was my first attempt at growing potatoes, so I was happiest of all about these - all 6 1/2 pounds of them. The harvest was made all the more fun because it happened while my sister and her family were visiting, so my 6 year old niece took the role of spotting the potatoes and reaching in to grab them as I turned the soil with my garden fork.
I forgot that I wanted to take a picture until we had washed the amount we were using for dinner one night. Thus the odd presentation.

The harvest was also made all the more fun because my sweetie had just started complaining about the dying potato plants, and why should we keep spending money on plants if I'm not going to take care of them? Which triggered something in my brain: "hm...didn't I read somewhere that the vines start to die off when the potatoes are ready to harvest?" I was vindicated.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I was ridiculously excited this morning to (belatedly) discover that three people I don't personally know actually read my blog. I know they did, because they left comments.

Now I've figured out how to have Blogger let me know by email when someone comments on my blog, so that next time my discovery won't be so belated. Thank you, Stacy, Lee, and Jeannie!!!


Okay, let me back up just a bit to set the stage. Let me introduce you to my garden.

I live in midtown Sacramento, in a 1928 bungalow which I happen to love. Our lot is small - .07 acres, I believe. Part of that is taken up by house, part by garage, and part by brick patio. This doesn't leave a huge space for gardening. Most of the yard is pretty shady. So I am trying to cram as many varied and interesting plants into this small space as I possibly can. I focus on the small sunny patches for planting edibles, and get as creative as I can with the shady spaces. Most of my vegetables are between the sidewalk and the street. I'm always looking for more good ideas of what to plant in the shade.

A moment of confession: I'm married. Therefore, the yard is, strictly speaking, "our" yard; the garden "our" garden. But I can't seem to think and usually can't help talking out loud about them as "my" yard and "my" garden. And I don't think that attitude helps any in improving my partner's somewhat lukewarm feelings about gardening. So it's a vicious cycle. Katie doesn't love to garden. I think I am the boss of the yard & garden. This further dampens Katie's interest in the garden. I note her disinterest, which only increases my sense that the yard & garden are "mine." That's my explanation for all the first-person singular pronouns you will see in a blog about a garden that belongs to a plural pair of people.

I have a couple of interests & biases that largely drive my gardening endeavors.
1. I want to grow as many edible things as I possibly can.
2. I want my yard to be a healthy ecosystem - from the soil on up.

I expect that the above two factors will come up over and over in this blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Okay, I know I don't really count as a garden blogger, since as yet no one is reading this blog. (Except maybe Holly. Thanks, Holly!) But anyway. I've seen that some garden bloggers observe "garden bloggers bloom day," by posting pictures of things that are in bloom on the 15th of each month. So here goes.


Most people call them "beneficial insects" - because they are. But I can't seem to stop calling them "predators," at least in my head. I've been lucky enough to have quite a nice string of predators grace my humble garden space. I never buy them nor catch-and-release them from someplace else into my garden. They just show up. Now I've developed the belief that they will continue to show up, on an "as needed" basis.

I've seen a couple of praying mantis.

One year I witnessed an exciting drama unfold as aphids descended upon my squash, followed by ladybugs, followed by the steady elimination of the aphids. What a thrill!

Ladybugs also have voluntarily showed up this year to hang out on my artichoke plant. But more exciting than that is this thick, hairy spider - exciting, because I witnessed it in the very act of grabbing an aphid and popping it in its mouth - before I had time to blink. Pretty darn cool, if you ask me.

The latest development in my local predator population is some little guys I can't seem to get a good picture of. (I think I need to learn more about how to use my camera. I tried to photograph these bugs in the foreground, which came out all blurry because my camera insisted on focusing on the leaves in the background.)

I don't know what they are. My artemisia has always been covered with little black bugs toward the ends of the stems, but I never noticed any damage to the plant or any inhibition of its growth, so I haven't worried about the little black bugs. Then the other day I was surveying my plants, and saw these little guys, perceptibly taking down the little black bug population. Cool.

UPDATE: Thanks to my four-year-old nephew, who "studied" ladybugs in preschool, we have a positive i.d.: The things with voracious appetites that look like little dragons are ladybug larva. Hooray! (Some internet research also confirms the info from the four-year-old.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thinking about blogging.

I keep thinking about blogging about my garden, and I keep not getting around to doing it. Part of my issue is that I imagine being methodical in my blogging. But when I find a bit of time to sit and write, it seems that the photos I have at hand are a random assortment - not a methodical grouping. So I set the idea aside.

Many garden books & websites recommend keeping a garden journal. I think a blog would be (for me) a good tool for doing that. So, that's what I'm thinking.

Pictured: my two raised beds, between the sidewalk and the street. In the bed in the foreground I have two bush squash, a cuke which will climb the trellis, two little basil plants, nasturtiums, a variety of California poppy, and volunteer alyssum. In the background bed I have more Cal poppies, bush beans, pole beans, peas which are winding down, and a couple of cosmos in the background.