Thursday, April 28, 2011

Surfin' the net

So what comes next after farm to table? some interesting new business models which includes collecting compost material from restaurants.

By any chance, you wouldn't be a container gardener artist? If you are, there's a contest for you: link at the Sunset magazine blog.

Boston Globe on their local community gardens

LA Times looks at the Long Beach gardens, worth reading because of the structure and rules involved in running their community garden.  Seems as though they have a lot of rules but I can see why they would do so.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's up, bobcat?

Sunday was a beautiful day to go for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains up Sycamore Canyon. Here, the main path is a wide fire trail, shared with horses and bikers.
There was a wildfire approximately 16 years ago which wiped out most of the vegetation in this canyon. You can see how the fire burnt this oak.
Indian paintbrush along side the path
Fossils in the rock set next to the path.
The highlight of our hike: we spied a bobcat resting on a tree trunk next to the main fire trail road.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five ways to celebrate Earth Day

The best quote ever: Every day is earth day. Found in the Mutts cartoon for today, April 22nd 2011.
Five ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday:
1. Grow your own greens.

2. Practice gratitude.

3. Compost your greens. Start worm composting.

4. Recycle.

5. Walk, bike or use mass transportation.

So what are you doing to celebrate?

Surfin' the net

For spring: eleven ways to dye eggs naturally, all sorts of colors.

Has anyone been to the Brooklyn Gardens?  It just hit paydirt, with a 7.5 million dollar donation.

I think something about community gardening sparks creative juices, especially in ways they connect with a community. Just this week, here are a few links in the news.

In Texas, the Houston Community Garden offers not only a place to garden but free tai chi .  If this was southern California, you can bet you'd have standing room only crowds.

I like getting kids involved in gardening. This one is a win-win situation: kids discharge extra energy for a good cause and the community benefits.

Another good idea: in exchange of garden space, you donate some of your produce to the local food bank.

Examples of how community gardens enrich the neighborhood abound in this LA Times piece about a new Long Beach community garden. One plot is sponsored by a neighbor just for the local kids. There is a community herbal garden, open to all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meyer lemon very pretty

Though I still have ripening fruit on my dwarf Meyer lemon, I'm relieved to see buds and blossoms finally developing. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Japanese Black Trifele update

A brief update of the Japanese Black Trifele, now in the ground for about a week. No blooms but it grows steadily. So far so good.

Past shot: On the window ledge

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to measure a season

Warm days return. Blackberry is blooming. I visit my community garden plot early in the morning else I wilt. I feel the pull to sow seeds before the summer solstice hits. There is a sense that I must hugely rush to get the plants going, to grow grow grow with the days getting longer, warmer, sunnier.

Here is an advantage of garden work, to be in sync with the cycles of the earth, the sense of day length, when the sun rises, when the sun sets, how the air fills in the shade, is there a chill or is the chill gone. When I think about it, these are subtle calculations, something sensed when I get up and think, it's time for the summer seeds to be sown else it may be too late. At the same time, I savor the blooms, the green, the air.

How to measure a season? It is about increased awareness, of living here on this earth, another way I treasure life, living, easily lost in the business of urban life. It is easy to forget the stars when I don't see them every day, even when they are always there. This way, I am connected to the stars, to the ground, the plants who clamor to grow. It is also about a greener life, growing your greens locally, saves on your carbon footprint.

And you. How do you measure your seasons?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Surfin' the net

Kewl: a community garden designed to use reclaimed water. Saves on water bills and helps some plants to grow better since the water has more nitrogen.

A glimpse of the future comes from the Dutch who are experimenting with multistory greenhouses while growing veggies without sun and rain. Saves on water as well.

Well, I didn't know Triscuit, the cracker company, is getting into community gardening. And another corporation, Miracle-Gro, also. So what is that all about?

The top ten cities with the most urban gardens, a slideshow. Kinda surprising, actually.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I'm reading: From Seed To Skillet by Jimmy Williams and Susan Heeger

When I first got my community garden plot, it's very fair to say I was clueless about gardening, not that I am an expert now.

So I did what novice gardeners need to do: I bought seedlings. My all-time favorite supplier is still Jimmy and his son Logan of Hayground Organics, with a spot in both the Saturday and Wednesday Farmer's Market in Santa Monica. Always with the best quality seedlings and with wondrous varieties you won't see anywhere else, I feel like a kid in a candy store when I drop by.

A big plus is that Jimmy is more than happy to provide tons of advice and suggestions each week with your purchase. So I was thrilled to find he has written a gorgeous book on gardening, with Susan Heeger.

Which means, if you don't live around Southern California, you can still get Jimmy through his book, From Seed to Skillet. Another bonus are the recipes from his Gullah heritage, such as this one posted on Project Foodie.

Know I'm glad to see his fabulous book was chosen as one of Amazon's best 2010 garden books, one of the top ten.

Good press here in the San Francisco Chronicle and in the Los Angeles Times, where he is called a 'cult figure'

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My blackberry

Sunny makes for happy blackberries. On other hand, you've got this blackberry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bee friendly

The boysenberry and blackberry plants have finally erupted in blooms. Of course, the bees are all over them, rather in them, as you can see here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why grow from seed? Four reasons

Growing from seed is something I find to be an integral part of both a mindful and minimalist approach to gardening. A few advantages off the top of my head are listed below.

It's way cheaper
I use seeds I have saved from past crops if I know the seeds will stay true. Arugula, tomato, and green beans are some I save. I buy zucchini and corn seeds in order to get reliable products. To say the obvious: it's much cheaper to buy packets of seed rather than getting the six pack from the nursery.

The whole world is yours, in terms of variety
Sometimes I feel as though I'm in a desert when looking for plants at a large chain stores, yes so convenient but with an unimaginative inventory. The entire world is yours when you order your seeds from a catalogue or from an online store. 

You control the quality of your plants
I can used my homemade compost, the compost where I personally was responsible for the contents. I can vouch for all the products used.

Mindfulness as part of the process
I know this sounds corny but I thrill at seeing germination. I actually love my seedlings. The feeling of accomplishment from growing from seed is hard to measure. Slow gardening requires more work, more patience and planning but the benefits are intangible.

And you: why do you grow from seed? And what do you do?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Leeky update

The leeks today
Here's what they looked like when I first planted them in November, five months ago.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sugar snap peas maturing

An update. The sugar snap peas managed to grow after I tented them to keep them from being eaten by creatures, probably birds.

They look like this today.

Two months ago, they were much tinier.
sugar snap peas
One tent
temp covers for garden shoots

Friday, April 1, 2011

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