Saturday, December 3, 2011
The Silence of AutumnThis year in the southern part of the Bay Area of California, in November, the trees were the most beautiful I have seen in years. The abundance of red and gold leaves mixed with the green and brown have been everywhere. I thank God for the eye candy, and now, after a two day wind storm, the leaves are now underfoot, crunching as I walk about. My fruit trees are naked, and the neighborhood birds who used to play chirpy games among the tree leaves, are silent. It is the time of year to be quiet and meditate to help restore balance to ourselves as well as the garden. Winter Solstice is coming soon.
Before the year is out, I will spray the fruit tree trunks and major limbs with garden oil to smother any egg sacs in the bark, and while I can see the branches, do a little pruning to allow the sun to reach into the center of each tree.
The Mandarin orange tree is in its fourth winter and although not four feet tall, is loaded with fruit. The fruit is still tart and needs more time. This winter after the oranges are picked, will be time to feed the tree some acid fertilizer, before the rains start.
I am putting more food than usual in the bird feeders. They must know something that is causing them to eat more this year. They seem happy with the mix of red millet and black sunflower seeds. As usual, the mocking birds and scrub jays hide the peanuts I give them in plain sight. A feast for the squirrels. The ravens are smarter-they take the peanuts to the top of tallest trees in the neighborhood and stash them in holes in the bark, then stay nearby to guard them from other ravens. Like the spiders and earthworms, I call the local birds my garden employees, paid with food.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Welcome AutumnAlthough the days are shorter, I still have tomatoes and peppers trying to reach maximum maturity. Other than that, my vegetable garden is quiet, resting for a new season. When I see freshly turned dirt I get rather excited, wanting to see new growing vegetables rising from it. This Fall, my dreams of putting in potatoes and onions early were returned to the shelf once more. They will go in this winter. I am not sure if it is the wisdom that comes with aging that makes us want to take on more tasks than we are capable of completing, or not. Common sense prevails at crunch time, and some activities are put aside to be done later. So my garden dirt will sleep until January. For now, in November I will set up ladders and pick the large, sweet persimmons from one very old tree. This year it has much less than most years, but they are very large, about 3/4 lb. Raccoons have begun coming at night, so I know it is time to bring them down. About 25% are left for the birds, squirrels and raccoons.
Fall is my favorite season of the year. The loads of produce coming from gardens, the colors, the cool air and short clear days. I begin planning on always having a large pot of vegetable soup on a back burner, fall colors for decoration, and of course the annual event of painting happy faces on 10-15 pound pumpkins, and putting a clown hat on them for Halloween. This is the season of joyous celebration, whether it be the honoring of our ancestors, thanking Mother Nature for her blessings for animals, plants and minerals, and celebrating Halloween with parties, food, decorations, and costumes to change our image to someone we are not in reality. A great season!
Friday, September 30, 2011
Is it Fall Yet?In my June blog, I said the meteorologists expected a hot summer. As usual, they were not quite on the mark for Silicon Valley. Summer in my yard with the exception of one week, has been too cool for vegetables. It bounced back and forth from 70s into 80s, with cool winds. Fall Equinox came, when usually tables are heaped with produce. This year, the tomatoes started turning red the first of September, and the peppers developed mid-September. I read that pumpkins are still green in color and smaller. That caught my attention because I paint happy faces on large orange pumpkins for Halloween each year, add a hat and sell them.
I walked through my garden and found only a few veggies, enough for a meal. The Blue Lake Pole beans are done. Their leaves brown and falling. The sun rises later and is indifferent to helping my many green tomatoes ripen, so creativity is in order. I will wait a few more weeks and if they don't ripen, they will be processed green, and as many as possible will sit in the kitchen window, hoping for a warm sun.
I am seeing ads for planting fall potatoes and onions and garlic. I may try that if my active schedule permits. Shorter days with no less responsibility in other areas are a challenge to gardeners. The summer onion patch has rested for a month, so it is time to use it for a winter garden. Time for a walk through the nursery to see what is on special sale, and some seeds to bring tender greens in the spring. I confess to not be a seed saver. I have tried in the past, but it became neglected because classes and homework took priority.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
dragonfliesI am sitting beneath the plum tree in this August evening light, watching the dragonflies swooping about in the yard. As fast as a jet, one with a double pair of beautiful blue wings soars into the big leaves of the persimmon tree and lights to rest for a moment before making a spectacular dive that causes one of my cats to duck and run. A California Scrub Jay sits on a power line, watching, sending me a mental message it would like some peanuts. I send a mental message back to it, "Not tonight. That is a breakfast treat." The jay leaves.
It is peaceful this evening in my small microcosm of the world. I send a prayer of Divine Healing energy to all living on the East Coast, experiencing the reality of major change in their lives. We all experience change in our lives at some time, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual. But change is essential for growth. I look at the rows of veggies and fruit trees in my yard and see that they too struggle with change. The weather has been unpredictable and there have been almost no good insects to help. The fruit crop was small this spring, and now the tomatoes struggle to ripen, as do the peppers, while the days get shorter. The fig tree leaves are turning yellow and half have fallen, leaving the immature green or brown figs exposed on the tips of naked twigs. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty in plant energies. I have doubled the feeding and watering to help the plants to complete their cycle of life in a more normal pattern, but mostly it is necessary for me to be patient and let Mother Nature take her course. Everything in its' right and perfect time will take place. In this I trust.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Crazy WeatherI am in a sweatshirt. After a full week of 92° days in my backyard, a cold wind is blowing the clouds of fog over this inland valley, and the weather is straining to reach 80° while the Mid-West and East suffers heat.
Fortunately, the tomato plants are now fully developed. I have only to wait for the tomatoes to ripen. Cucumbers, zucchini and peppers are producing slowly. I helped them all with a shovel full of chicken manure buried near their roots, which is quite hot, you understand.
I am beginning to learn something new about growing onions: there is an early season type and a late season type. The nursery where I purchased the shoots did not distinguish them, so it appears I planted 50% of each. I prefer the early season type that does not go to seed. I snapped the seed head off the onions as they developed to force the energy into the bulb, but it is not as good as growing the non-seeding type.
In looking at the NOAA weather charts for the remainder of this year and all of next year, I get the feeling next year will be similar to this year, all over the country. I am making a mental note to grow cool season veggies much longer next year, and start cool season tomatoes more than summer type.
Gardening is such a gamble!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The Year of LeavesI sat in the shade thinking about how miserable people on the East Coast must be in torrent heat and warm rain. It is 80° here on my patio in the West and dry. Yesterday I attended a Genealogy lecture on Life in Colonial Times. The speaker said in the 1700s in the 13 colonies along the Atlantic, the summers were very hot and wet. Water was polluted because people poured their piss pots of urine and excrement into the streets, and the animal excretions were shoveled out the barn doors where the frequent rains took it all to the rivers and contaminated the well water sources. Everyone drank beer, including the children. I wonder if they thought the rivers would take it all to the ocean, but no, it hung near and polluted the rivers, just like today, we still carelessly pollute creeks and rivers.
This year here in my yard I have had enough rain to force a lot of leaves on the fruit trees, and not as much fruit. Usually each November I take a couple boxes of big persimmons to my Vietnamese friends who run a Vietnamese Pharmacy. Sometimes I only take one box. They say, "Aah, this is the year of leaves."
I stripped the suckers off the peach, plum, apricot and persimmon trees so some sunlight would penetrate and discourage insects. As to the vegetables, it has been so cool, it is only necessary to loosen the dirt around the plants after watering, but starting next week, we may have some warm days, so each plant will receive a heap of compost, and a heap of lawnmower cut leaves to keep the dirt cool. This helps hold the water where it is needed longer. Every type of veggie is late this year because of the coolness here in Silicon Valley. According to the meteorologists, that is about to change, and we will have a hot summer.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Spring EquinoxIt has been a long busy time since I expressed my thoughts on gardening. Just now, while I struggle to rise one hour earlier than last week, the onions and potato plants put in this winter seem unfazed and push their green heads above the ground. While the dirt is still cool, my focus is upon the growing grass and weeds invading the garden space.
Have you noticed the world moves much faster now to keep in balance and harmony with the cosmos around us. What does that mean in gardening? We have to be smarter about when and how we put in seeds, little plants and young trees. 3 years ago, I planted a young Mandarin orange tree, near the lemon tree and a 7 foot fence, which gives it partial protection against adverse winter weather. That paid off. one year later, it gave 7 sweet oranges. Last Fall, it produced 32 oranges and is only half grown. When the night temperature drops below 34° F., I cover it.
Last spring and summer was the 3rd year without major insect problems. No aphids, no tomato worms and few Mexican bean beetles. However, tiny hungry young slugs were a challenge. They devoured all the lettuce. This year, to allow the lettuce to survive, it is planted in large ceramic saucers placed above the ground level. I purchased a few lettuce plants for starters while waiting for seeds to develop, but before putting purchased organic plants in the soil, their little roots are thoroughly but gently dipped and rinsed in water to dislodge any "stowaways." Maybe soon I will be enjoying home grown lettuce.
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