Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grape Vines

Grape Vine Fence

Baby Grapes
Planted along the fence line that separates our yard into smaller sections are 10 grapevines with an assortment of different types of grapes (some wine some table). I was thrilled to see some nice little grape clusters formed. The grapevines do a nice job of disguising the wood and wire fence and make a very pretty green wall. We planted the grapes right before our wedding last June. They were a little stressed out last year and did not produce many edible grapes. I work for a big winery and have all of the wine I could ever drink, however I am considering trying to make some homemade wine this year and lots of grape jelly for PB&J's.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Heirloom Tomato Rows

I've added a nice rice straw mulch over the entire garden. I'm hoping it will work to keep the weeds down and some extra moisture in. The photo above is of 2 rows of heirloom tomatoes we have growing on a tomato fence. The plants are secured to a wire fence supported by T-posts. It seems to be working well so far. I waited longer than I should have to support the plants and they were pretty out of control when I finally got around to tying them to the fence.
I've realized that I have been way over watering the poor plants so I am trying to cut back to every 3rd day. The leaves were starting to yellow and get a little curly which is a bad sign. Under the tomato plants I've planted carrots and baby spinach as well as beans and beets.

July 30, 2008 Harvest

Here’s what Mark and I harvested out of our garden tonight: Beets, Chard, Armenian Cucumbrs, Squash, Nectarines, Radishes, Beans, Tomato, Broccoli

I also picked this 6 bouquets of Roses, Dahlias, Lavender, Bells of Ireland, Agapanthus, Liatris, Artemisia, Hydrangea and Butterfly Bush.

Grabbed some fresh eggs too:

Not a bad shopping trip to the backyard

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back Garden Tour

On the east side of our green house we have planted Corn, Squash, Melons, Okra, Cilantro, Basil, Lettuce, Radishes and more....

South of the green house we have Beans, Peppers, Eggplants, Beets, Chard, Black Basil, Tomatoes, Onions, Strawberries and Rhubarb
Everything is doing really well. There are volunteer Tomato's, Melon, Eggplant, Cilantro and Bells of Ireland coming up all over the garden. I've been digging them up and moving them around as best I can.
This weekend I started some Lettuce, Peas, Kale, Beets, Turnips, Radishes, Carrots, Chicory, Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower in 6 packs and 4 inch pots. They should be ready to put in the ground in a few weeks. The weather has been strange. It is still smoky from the wild fires and has remained overcast long into the day. It has not been hot enough to ripen may tomatoes (I've only had 2 ripe ones). I did not plant any early varieties, instead I chose all crazy colorful heirlooms. I'm regretting not having planted a couple of early girls. I bought a tomato from the Farmers Market Saturday morning. It was the most beautiful Pineapple Tomato that I have ever seen. It weighed a full pound and was $4. worth every penny.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Pumpkin Patch

Here's a shot of our little pumpkin patch. It is located to the west of our green house next to the chicken coop. Mark had to raise up the sprinkler on to a pole because everything grew tall very quickly. There are about 10 different kinds of winter squash and pumpkins planted here.
All of my favorites like Golden and Blue Hubbard, Cinderella Pumpkins, Butternut, Sweet Dumpling , Potimarron , Musquee de Provence, Galeux d'Eysines , Red Kuri, Jarrahdale and more (Mark refuses to eat squash of any kind). I have already spotted some giant Golden Hubbard squash growing in the corner. According to the seed packet they only get to be 12 lbs, but I estimate that they will be at least 20-30 lbs when ripe. They are enormouse already.
I'll be eating home grown squash all winter. I can hardly wait!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lavender Harvest

I invited my mother over this weekend to harvest some of our lavender. We have over 100 plants. I absolutely love the scent as I walk around the garden. It has been so alive over the last couple of weeks with the buzzing hum of hundreds of bumble bees busy at work. I sat on our lawn at the edge of the lavender watching a bee sip nectar from the tiny little blossoms. It was absolutely amazing. My mom took a wheel barrel full but there is much more. I am on a quest to find some really good uses for it this year. Last year I let it go unused. I'm thinking dryer sachets to add lavender scent to my linens. Anyone have any particular suggestions on how to use 3 more wheel barrels (at least) of dried lavender? If so please share :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why I love Roller Derby:

On Saturday night I took out an entire weeks worth of frustration, hostility and stress on the unsuspecting players from the Central Coast Roller Girls. Crashing into the other team as hard as I can on skates is extremely fun and it feels really good despite the sore muscles that go along with it. Sure, I took my fair share of hard hits too and I ended up on the ground more than once. I did what I had to do and I kept on skating even after taking a skate to the face in the 3rd period. I’m happy to say that I only got thrown in the box once and that was just for some elbows.

I feel quite serene now like all of the stress for last weeks flower show craziness is gone. It is a really good outlet for me and I’m happy that we won by over 100 points. I’ll be going to the chiropractor tonight to get adjusted, but it was all worth it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Flower Show Results

I am excited to report that we won 1st Place, Best use of Summer Annuals and Best use of theme at the flower show.

The Best of Show award went to a beautiful garden that I will be posting a picture of very soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Minute Mans Meadow

I'm done with this years flower show entry. It took me and a few helpers around 15 hours to install. The judging takes place on Sunday Morning. I'm looking forward to finding out how we did. I think it came out lovely. I will snap a few pics of the competition tomorrow morning to add. That's one thing checked off this weekends work list:)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Weekend To Do List


Every summer the Sonoma County Fair has a huge flower show. it's actually the largest theme flower show in the U.S. I’ve been working hard on preparing an entry for the Adult Amateur Division. The theme for the fair this year is Star Spangled Celebration and the Flower Show theme is Red White and Blooms. It is a nod to New England with individual entry themes like “Down by the Old Mill Stream” and “Take Me Back to Old Cape Cod.” Unfortunately, I was second to last in the drawing to pick my theme and got stuck with “Minuteman’s Meadow.”

Picture a hilly backdrop with a little house and picket fence. There will be a small pond and a water fountain made to look like a miniature cannon. The flowers will be red white and blue with pink, green and purple accents. The space is 11 feet by 15 feet and it has to be 80% covered in live plants.

This is going to be a fundraiser for my Roller Derby team and so the girls will be coming down to the fairgrounds on Friday to help me. The deadline to complete installation is midnight. I should have some good photos to post on Saturday.


Mulch Garden I’m going to get started right away on Ruth Stouts "No Work Garden" plan. I will be headed off to pick up 5 or 6 bales of rice straw and completely cover the garden with it. I am also going to clean out the chicken coop, turn the compost and start some Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Leeks in trays for the winter veggie garden patch. I will be using my new soil blocker for the first time. I plan to sow some carrots seeds and plant more beans (dry).

Saturday Night

Skate against the Central Coast Roller Girls


Clean House (It needs it badly)
Photograph the yard
Flower Show Awards Gala
Recover with a glass of wine
I hope I can get everything done!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Work Gardening Is it a myth? I'm going to find out

I’ve been reading up on my weeds. I’ve decided that I’d better own them if I’m ever going to figure out how to eliminate them. My biggest problems are pigsweed, purslane and crab grasses. Ignoring them certainly doesn’t make them go away. I swear I’ve pulled a hundred thousand weeds so far this summer and they are still coming on strong.

Yesterday, I dusted off my copy of No Work Gardening by Ruth Stout (published in 1971). This is really awesome book and I could kick myself for relegating it to the back of the bookshelf under a stack of Sunset Magazines. The simplicity of Ruth’s suggested method of weed control/soil protection is really encouraging. In a nut shell Ruth advocated covering your soil with 8 inches or so of compostable materials (straw, leaves, chips, grass clippings ect.) No compost pile, just compost everything in place. If weeds pop up you would just through some more straw down to smother them. I’ve read another book called Lasagna Gardening which offers similar advice. It may sound to good to be true but I think I’ll give it a try. I’ve recently discovered that if I use rice straw for mulch then I don’t get all of the hay seeds popping up everywhere like I do when I use the other kinds of straw mulch. I plan to pick up 6 or 7 bales this weekend and cover the garden with it. It may look a mess, but if it keeps the weeds from taking over then who cares right? I actually think that straw mulch looks very nice and natural. It is much better than hard cracked soil with patches of weeds. Another benefit to adding the mulch will be better water retention. If I can cut down watering to once a week then I am willing to live with straw everywhere.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Zucchini Time

We harvested our first zucchini of the season this weekend. Mark spotted it. He grilled it on the BBQ and it was quite tasty. I harvested a few more on Sunday and traded them for some peas with my sister over the back fence. On Sunday I went down to the 40/8 Flea Market at the Vets Building. I found this really cool book on Preserving for $1. There is a recipe for Zucchini and Ginger Jam which sounds absolutely delicious. I’m going to give it a try next weekend.
We still don't have any ripe tomatoes but the plants are loaded down with green ones so I am hopeful we will get a few more hot days and I'll be seeing them turn colors soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garden Update

This photo is of the eastern most side of our garden looking thru the tomato fence. We've got beans, squash, okra, melons, tomatillos, basil, cilantro, lettuce, radishes and corn growing in these three beds.

This photo is of one of three tomato rows. We have 27 different heirloom tomato plants growing this year. not counting the volunteer mystery tomatoes that are popping up everywhere.

This is the middle garden, in front of our green house. There are probably around 40-50 eggplants (all different varieties) and 60-70 peppers plants in this section. There is also more beans, swiss chard & beets, basil and green onion planted here (not pictured). The peppers seem to be growing quite slowly. The eggplants made a miraculous recovery from the damage done by beetles early on. Once I get the straw mulch spread out I will take some more photos to share.

So Funny

I was headed home from work today on a rural back road that I don't usually take ( ironically named Scenic Avenue). I passed this sign in the front yard of a little ranch style home. I started laughing so hard I had to pull over and get a picture.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Open Road

I went on a bicycle ride with Mark last weekend. It is the first time that I have ridden a bicycle in over 10 years. It was awesome! I’ve completely forgotten how good it feels to cruise around. My bike is less than ideal. It is a little rusty and not very comfortable but it will work fine until I can save enough to get a more reliable one. I don’t like that my bike has a ton of different speeds and I have to keep shifting on the handles. We rode 5 miles and I could have easily gone much much further if my behind didn’t hurt from my seat. I really want to get a simple cruiser bike with 3 speeds and a really wide seat. Mark has a mountain bike that he is happy with but his behind was a little sore too. He hasn’t been riding for awhile either. It’s funny how we each have very different ideas of what the bicycles should be used for. My suggestion was that we ride our bikes to the grocery store or over to the coffee shop. The closest one being a few miles away. He refused because he “does not want to go grocery shopping when he is all sweaty”. He wants to just go ride around with no particular destination in mind while I want to get from point A to point B. I have a feeling I am going to be riding on my own a lot. While out riding on the trail near our house we discovered some walnut trees and blackberry bushes loaded down with almost ripe fruit. I can’t wait to go back in a couple of weeks to harvest some berries for jam. I clocked how far it would be if I was to ride all the way to work each way. It is exactly 11.6 miles from my driveway to my office. There are 39 stop lights between here and there. I’d like to think that my fat ass could actually make it. I am going to have to test my theory by getting on a bike at the gym and trying to pedal 11.6 miles. I’ll let you know how it goes.