Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy holidays!


Merry solstice and happy holidays! Our holiday cookies are already quite dwindling. Guess I need to make some more.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rain and hollyhock


Taken this summer. It is fitting it is raining this weekend.

It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince"

Friday, December 14, 2012

CA poppy leaves in the rain


I love how the rain drops decorate the poppy leaves. The CA poppies in my garden are perennials and these are embedded in the shadiest part of my garden. Even when there are no blooms, I find the fronds provide another type of beauty. Better still, they are essentially drought tolerant and do not need extra watering.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fava beans for the winter garden


I have been told fava beans are good for the soil. So I grow fava beans every winter. These are planted where the Sungold stood as I like to rotate crops with different families (Sungold is Solanaceae; Fava is Fabaceae).

The seeds came from last year's fava beans. And last year's fava beans were from the previous years. Somewhere along the way, someone gave me a pod of beans which were planted. I soak the beans overnight before planting. As they grow somewhat tall, I always provided some support for them.

The roots of the fava bean apparently fix nitrogen, thus, benefitting the soil.

Fava beans are commonly planted to improve soil. Like all legumes, they have nodules on the roots, containing rhizobium bacteria, which “fix” airborne nitrogen, allowing it to replenish usable nitrogen in the soil. In addition, the sturdy plant deters erosion, and protects topsoil from wind and impaction by rain. After harvesting the beans (or without harvesting if you are using the plant simply as a cover crop), the bushy foliage chops up well as green biomass for the compost pile. The large, fragrant blossoms attract pollinators. Fava beans are an integral part of my rotation and fertilization plan throughout my kitchen garden beds and half-barrel containers. I dedicate a portion of my crop for kitchen use, another portion for compost biomass, and yet another to grow out as seed for next year’s planting.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peas at last


I believe peas are essential for my winter garden. I sowed the seeds about three times before achieving successful peas. I'm not sure what is the deal but I suspect part of is due to the gourmet tastes of the local birds, who are rather fond of pea sprouts for lunch.

In the background, you'll see some strands of garlic which have recently emerged.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chard grows well in our cooler months


To each its own season. The mainstay of my winter garden is chard, and it thrives in the cooler months. Not only that, in the winter, I don't worry about them bolting, a bad habit, which they will do in the summer. This plant was grown from seed on my balcony in late summer and transplanted.

Chard is underrated as a veggie. Lately, I chop chard leaves into little bits and throw them into warm soup at the last few minutes of cooking. In the summer, I saute minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil for a few moments until fragrant and then add chopped chard leaves until they wilt.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet potatoes still growing strong


The sweet potatoes planted this summer don't seem to be ready for harvesting. I understand they should be harvested when the leaves turn yellow. They missed Thanksgiving. I think they will miss this year's holiday season altogether. I'm thinking it might before next summer!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Asparagus in the rain


In the rain, the asparagus fronds gather raindrops, and these remind me of miniature holiday lights, perhaps fit for fairies. I am waiting for the leaves to turn yellow, at which point I will cut the stems back to the ground. Later I will add fertilizer to help fuel next season's growth. I don't know about your asparagus, but with mine, the weeds seem to grow perniciously in between the stems and are quite difficult to access, and, yes, I'm talking about you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro and Thyme

thanksgiving herbs I gathered a bouquet of fresh herbs from my garden for Thanksgiving. To keep them fresh, I place them in a glass of water in the fridge. I grew the parsley, cilantro and thyme from seed.

Sage grows on the balcony. sage

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