My garden, my life

I’ve been vermicomposting for 10-12 years, feeding all my vegetable and fruit trimmings to my worms. I just throw the vermicompost into my regular compost bins and don’t do anything special with it. But, this article from the NY Times has me thinking I should do with worms. From now on, as my compost piles cool down from their initial high-temperature level, I’ll be throwing in a handful of worms to raise the quality of the compost.

I only have one small nit to pick about the article. The author mentions Charles Darwin’s interest in worms, but he makes a big error here. Darwin was writing about earthworms, whereas the article is about red worms, often called red wrigglers. There’s a big difference. Earthworms are good for soil. But vermicomposting is done with worms that don’t live in the soil. They live in the leaf litter on top of the soil. So, if you’re going to do this, make sure you use the right kind of worms!

IMG_20121205_164919It’s a common belief that using rainwater for irrigation in a Mediterranean climate is not practical, because most rains come in the winter and most usage comes in the dry summer. The argument is essentially that you can’t store enough water to irrigate for an entire summer. While this weather pattern is a problem, it doesn’t mean you can’t–or shouldn’t–use rainwater to irrigate. (more…)

I’ll admit to having cut back on my gardening time this year, to not having planted my summer crops with enough soil prep, to not having tended to the garden as much as it wanted. Nonetheless, Nature is a wonder and she keeps producing for me. It’s after Thanksgiving Day and I’m still getting a few squash and tomatoes! Thank you, my neglected friend.

I’m getting my first big harvest of raspberries and blueberries this year. This morning’s harvest (after popping some surplus raspberries into the freezer) was a simple and quick breakfast: Add yogurt and muesli to fresh fruit. Yumm!

This year looks to be my best yet for growing food. The warm winter, followed by a wet spring, resulted in blossoms galore and lots of soil moisture for my plants. Following is a sampling of fruits and veggies on their way, (more…)

I’m fortunate I don’t have too much of a problem with the larger pests–racoons and deer–that many people in my area must contend with. However, something around here has been thirsty and has discovered my rainwater barrels. I’m guessing it is racoons. (more…)

Me holding the last of this year's cauliflowers.While I wait for my summer crops to come in (the perennials are well on their way) or to be planted, I’m harvesting my winter crops. Today I harvested the last of my cauliflower, which was a new crop for me this year. Five of the six seedlings I planted survived and produced large heads of cauliflower. I’ll definitely be growing more of these in the future. They’re good raw, but I’ve been cooking them and eating them hot as a side dish or chilled and put in my weekly salad. Either way, they’ve been a successful addition to my list of garden crops. I like them for the big heads as well as being able to harvest a half dozen or so huge (fiddle-sized) leaves, which are also great.

With a very warm winter, everything has been blossoming early. But, nothing beats my aprium tree, which had a profusion of blossoms in January. It is now loaded with young fruit about the size of a quarter. I had my first apriums last year and they were delicious–tangy like an apricot, sweet like a plum. They’re especially good as an accent to hot or cold cereal.  I’m looking forward to more of these flavor bombs this year–and very soon, by the looks of it!

My deck, tilted down in the corner.A few weeks ago, I moved rainwater from my catchment barrels to secondary storage–some new garbage cans on my deck. I’ve been storing rainwater this way on my deck for a couple years, now, but these were new barrels in a new location. Apparently, that part of my deck, right next to the house, wasn’t as well supported underneath as the other place. When I first put the water there, there was no problem. But, a few days later we had an earthquake. The next day I noticed a marked tilt to my deck. Live and learn! Four garbage cans of water weight slightly over one-half ton. The combination of that weight and an earthquake has left me with a new project–repairing my deck! The water has now been moved to a new location, on solid earth.

In other good news, this weeks storms have refilled my catchment rain barrels and every five gallon bucket I own. I’m now at my total capacity of over 600 gallons of water. I’m very curious to see how far this amount of water will get me into the summer as I irrigate my garden.

For some time, I’ve been looking for something to put in the raised planter in the middle of my yard. Although my backyard is my mini-farm/orchard/vineyard,berry patch, I’ve always wanted to have a pretty ornamental in the central planter of the yard. I thought I would put in a small Japanese maple, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. A week ago, I was reminded that a local nursery was getting out of the retail business and had an 80% off sale. I figured it was a pretty good time to use the $25 gift certificate I had picked up at a fund raiser several years ago, so I went to the nursery in search of the perfect Japanese maple. The nursery didn’t carry Japanese maples, but as I was walking around with one of the staff members, I asked about the pretty pink fuchsia in the five-gallon pot. Five minutes and five dollars later, I was loading the fuchsia in my car.

Knowing a storm was coming up at the end of the week, I planted the fuchsia on Wednesday week. I look forward to learning more about this plant and having it’s lovely flowers grace my garden in the coming years.

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