2/03/2007

Today felt like spring.

I noticed it 2:30. We had the usual crisp morning for this time of year, but by mid-afternoon the air was just a smidge warmer and I noticed the light felt different too. Seasonal changes come subtly here, and I am very sensitive to them.

Too frequently heard remarks from out-of-staters about how California has "no seasons" annoy me. I invariably imagine these people are rather self-absorbed and can't be bothered to pay attention to the natural world around them unless it dumps a pile of snow on their heads or lays them out with 90% humidity. Okay, that's enough of that.

I went to the hardware store this morning to buy shop lights for seedlings, and then I went to the nursery and bought a second half-barrel for my summer vegetable garden. Container planting adds a nice vertical element to the garden (always good in a small space), and I can plant herbs and flowers between and around the barrels.

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You can get half-barrels for $10 up in the wine country, but they cost $25 in the City. The wood is redolent of wine and the scent hangs lightly in the air for a few weeks. I lifted up some small piece of flagstone and the remnants of last years raised beds to do this work today, and I'm really impressed by how much the quality of my soil has improved in the last two years. Gone is the horrid sticky clay, and now I have a nice crumbly loam. Yay, me!

On deck for this year: cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, artichoke, onion, garlic, and beets. It's basically an ornamental vegetable garden. Artichoke, pumpkin, beet greens all considerable visual interest to the garden. I'm going to tuck a few of Amaranthus tricolor 'Joseph's Coat' seeds in there too. I'll have some extra. Do you want some?

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I might try growing a melon or two down here too, but I'm mostly thinking melons go on the roof.

Did you see the yucca on the back of the new Fine Gardening (latest issue reviewed here)? I had to buy this when I saw it at the nursery this morning.

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The one on the back of Fine Gardening doesn't have the pinkish variegation, but I thought this looked fetching. I like how the leave margins peel off in threads. I'm not sure where it's going to go.

9 comments:

Artemisia said...

May I ask what you did to rid yourself of the sticky clay and end up with the nice crumbly loam? As you might suspect, I have a yard full of sticky clay and we want to increase the size of our garden this year.

Xris said...

I envy you your access to real barrels. Here in NYC, what are sold as "barrels" are made of cedar with cheap and insufficient iron bindings which will rust after a few seasons. They're proably also made in China. And they're not any cheaper than your real barrels, even at city prices.

Jenn said...

I love seeing you use what I consider houseplants in the great outdoors (foxtailed Sprengeri.)

I think you have told us this before, but what is the variety of your bamboo in that same pic? Love the look of that plant.

Can't wait to see your seedlings coming up!

chuck b. said...

Artemisia: my gardening life is the constant application of organic matter to the soil, either compost that I make myself or buy, wood chips when I'm lucky to get them, cocoa hulls, earthworm casings, bamboo leaves I cut up to tiny bits with my own hands and a pair of pruners....whatever it takes. Sometimes I dig it in, other times I pile it on. Piling it on is considered the thing to do nowadays. Tilling is out. I've been doing this all year long for at least two years. The soil is still clayey, but now it's a clayey loam. Something I learned in my soils class: even 30% clay in your soil makes it clayey. Clay dominates because the clay particles are so small.

Xris: I like those barrels too. Solid oak, my friend. Last time I bought one I thought it would be a good idea to drill some extra drainage holes in the bottom. Lesson: It takes a very, very, very long time to drill through an inch of solid barrel-grade oak.

Jenn: I don't remember the bamboo we have. We installed it a year before I started gardening and paying attention to such things. I found the receipt awhile ago but I couldn't read it very well. One kind we have is Bambusa something and the other kind I don't remember, but it's not Phyllostachys. Neither of the varieties we have are special or unique, that much I do know.

anile said...

Yes, it wa a gorgeous day, finally, yay!!! Jamie and I climbed up on 16" ladders and repaired the student greenhouse. Thank god Robert was anchoring those ladders...
I agree about the seasons quote.. we have seasons- they just change weekly!
I love that yucca... nice. I also like the amarynthus. Thanks for the tip!

Here's the homeworkd for soils...
page 41and 42 in the syllabus- "measuring levels of ions"

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Very nice Yucca. I think their color changes a bit with the seasons, even the ones you have. You think you have subtle seasons. Cooler temps I think make them color up more.

chuck b. said...

Thanks for the homework tip, Anile.

Come to think of it, I think I've heard that about yuccas, C.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Love the Yucca, very pretty with all the variegated colours. And what fun that you are able to grow it outside. No chance of that here in the Netherlands.

Like you I have an ornamental kitchen garden (started it last year) and I did some experimenting with the soil. I have several beds where the vegetables, fruits and flowers grow. It's very heavy clay as I live near the coast. One bed, I left the soil just as it was, in another I mixed lots of sand with the clay. Another bed was enriched with loads and loads of compost and another with compost and sand. Guess which one did best? ;-)

This year I've already added heaps of compost to all the beds. It's amazing to see how much difference to the soil 1 year of mulch has made.

lisa said...

Love that yucca! I've noticed that besides our obvious seasons, we have been blessed with longer days already...light until 5:45pm...yay!