Laying Mulch Pathways

On Thursday morning I laid some mulch pathways at the demo garden at Petaluma Bounty’s Farm. Next will be setting up the irrigation.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, February 27th, 2010 at 6:26 pm and is filed under mulching. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Backyard Bounty Farm project

In order to be able to offer more hands-on experience in classes, I have adopted a small farm plot at the Bounty Farm in Petaluma for a demonstration garden. The plot will also feature raised beds, which will offer the Backyard Bounty program a model to show people stopping by the farm. The farm manager, Amy Rice-Jones, is lending me a plot where she has grown trombone squash in the past. The plot is roughly 40′ x 25′ and South-facing, so there is plenty of sun. Below are some photos of the plot. It will demonstrate techniques for edible gardening such as permaculture, container gardening, companion planting, composting, lasagna gardening, and the use of edible flowers.

small-scale farming

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2010 at 4:49 pm and is filed under Sustainable Local Food Systems. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Jasmine Tea

I discovered Jasmine Tea last year and went crazy for it. Unfortunately, it’s extremely expensive in loose-leaf form, so I rarely buy it. However, I just happen to be growing some in my own front yard along the fence, so this season, I am harvesting it and will make the tea myself. There is so much in bloom right now that I should be able to leave plenty for the pollinators and still get a good deal for my own drinking pleasure. I simply pick the blossoms off and lay them out on a flat surface to dry. Once completely dry, I will combine the dried Jasmine petals with a white loose leaf tea (one part white tea leaves, one part dried jasmine petals) and can steep the mixture in hot water just like any other loose leaf tea. I estimate about a tablespoon of the mixture per cup.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 5:04 pm and is filed under Edible Flowers, Herbal Tea. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Late Winter Gardening

I’m starting to look at seeds to sprout for Spring.

seeds

It’s fun to see what I bought last Fall at the Seed Bank to branch out and try some new things.  This season I’m going to try some golden beets, red and white carrots, amaranth, kolrabi, lovage, and later towards the summer, some heirloom purple tomatoes and red and white squash (among other things).

unique-pots

It’s been a while since I blogged – partly because it’s been raining so much that I can’t seem to drag my soggy spirit outside.  I have, however, done some experiments with indoor gardening that have been slow to take form.  Namely, creating a self-watering pot for greens.  The lack of sunlight over the last few weeks has meant extremely slow growth for indoor plants.  (Could they be growing backwards?).  I’ve been trying to use reflective panels with smaller pots, but growth is still slow.  To make a self-watering pot, you simply take an old plastic container such as one for cheese or yogurt, fill it with water, and punch some holes in the top.  Then you feed a “wick” through the holes (use shoe laces or old nylons or both).  Punch holes in the bottom of your pot and feed the wick up into those holes and stack the pot on the water container.  Make sure the wick goes both down into the water container and way up into the soil pot for best results.  Block light out of the water container to avoid algae growth – you can use foil or black paper.  Plant whatever you want and check it daily to make sure the soil is staying moist.  It should draw water up into the pot from the water container as needed.

While the kitchen garden has left something to be desired, in the South-facing raised beds, growth has taken off.  The nitrogen-fixers (favas, peas, vetch) seem to do well by the garden greens. These greens, including arugula, mesclun, kale, and also some potatoes, are prodigiously plotting upward.

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I also have garden greens in a box on the South-Facing side, but under the arbor, which has slowed their growth.  I want to make this box a kitchen garden, but am waiting to bring it inside until I am not using my central heat so much, as it tends to really fry such plants.

boxed_greens

Another “container garden” I’m experimenting with is shoes pots.  They will definitely limit the root systems of the greens I’ve planted (mesclun and arugula), but they are just a lot of fun and a good way to use an old pair of shoes.

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In the North-facing front yard, things are starting to grow again as well, but the artichoke never stopped – it has taken over part of the yard and I just cut it back yesterday so that it’s not such a monster.  Who knew there was mint under there?

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Oregano is by far my favorite ground cover to-date.  It fills out beautifully with little fuss, while crawling thyme takes a bit more effort.

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yarrowYarrow, which initially came in as a bush, seems to be coming back more like a ground cover, which is really nice near the sidewalk where tall floppy bushes are awkward.

Butterfly bush – another of my favorites – even grow from a cutting.  I used some of the branches from last year’s growth to create a teepee in the front and now the cut branches have sprouted new growth.  Very cool!

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The plum tree has sprouted new growth as well and we didn’t trim it in time, so it will have to stay as is.  We didn’t have as many plums last year as in previous years, so I’m hoping with all the rain that it will produce more this season.

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There are limited things blooming at this time of year in our yard, but the daffodils are beginning to unfurl and I can count on the Manzanita in late winter to really pop and bring in all the bumble bees.  Hummingbirds too.

daffodils

Calendula has started to blossom and will finally add some new color to our salads, along with the violets, which look like miniature orchids.

calendula

violets

Nasturtium leaves have come out, but no blossoms yet.  There’s an incredible amount of seed from last season littering the ground as well.

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Other flowers beginning to bloom include Jasmine – wonderful for tea – and Daphne – even more fragrant than Jasmine, but not edible.

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While this blog is really just an assessment and observation of what I discovered in the yard after a long dreary rash of winter rains, I will dive more into the “how to” in upcoming posts.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 8:40 pm and is filed under Container Gardening, Edible Flowers, Raised Beds, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Mid-Winter Garden Assessment

After being gone for much of December and having family staying with us for part of January, I finally got out into the yard to assess the damage of my neglect. I had come home from a trip in mid-December to discover that my husband had not watered the indoor pots adequately and killed all the plants but the fava beans.  I decided I better put the pots of fava beans outside before we left for Southern California to see family, as rain could do the watering for me while I was gone.

I’ve noticed that the favas now have a legginess that the favas in our raised beds don’t have.  I am going to remove the stone “mulch,” as I think maybe it’s too heavy on the soil and didn’t help the other plants any either.

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The yard, while in need of hefty weeding and some general pruning, was actually in pretty good shape.

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The cover crop is coming along nicely and had benefited from a couple of solid rains.  The greens (mesclun, arugula, etc) I planted between vetch, peas and favas are really thriving – they like the nitrogen fixers planted thickly around them.

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I will be trying some new experiments over the coming days and weeks.  Still searching for the right set-up for an indoor container garden system that will produce a nice mix of greens….

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 16th, 2010 at 3:01 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.