Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Return of Spring? (February Bloomday)

La Nina has returned, bringing with her warmer days that have tricked my sunflowers into sprouting and encouraged my lettuces into going to seed. The rain has receded, leaving the garden dry enough to need watering once or twice a week to avoid dreaded thirst. We even had a few days of “devil winds,” but these Santa Anas blew cold over the mountains, chilling and drying the landscape.

With these spring-time like conditions, I see growth and the promise of the season to come - 

My garden still surprises me: This sinfully phallic lily has never bloomed before and I have no idea what it is called. I blame it on my devious garden imp/ angel, Sam.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Building a Keyhole Garden Bed

Hubby says that each year I start my spring preparations earlier than the last. True to form, I have started amending beds with compost, leaves, egg shells (an excellent form of calcium for young tomatoes), and low impact fertilizer in February! Despite warmer weather, garden chores after work are still not feasible due to lack of light and cool evenings. So, Saturday or Sunday mornings are my garden time.

I pulled back my weed blocking plastic on my first two vegetable beds and found fewer weeds than I was anticipating. Turns out the cheap black plastic worked better that the more expensive and sturdier fibrous, gauzy, white weed blocker. Go figure. I added mulch from my composter, mixed in dead leaves from my tangerine tree, and added in the fertilizer and mixed, moving about two inches of topsoil with my shovel. I do not plan to double-dig this bed; I will let the good stuff finish composting in place. Using reclaimed bricks, I rebuilt the old pathway. With Hubby’s help pounding the bricks into the earth, I have the beginnings of my first keyhole garden. This first keyhole will be for another round of cool season vegetables. My other bed of cool season veggies is beginning to go to seed and a replant is in order. As we progress later into spring, the bed will then transition to warm season crops: TOMATOES!!

While Hubby and I toiled in the dirt, the neighborhood cat, nick-named Early Bird, lounges in the shade of our pergola. Our garden is a pretty great place to be - even in winter!