Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fruit trees in bloom and new growth

I swear these the fruit trees waited for me to arrive before opening their blossoms. We arrived on Monday, with just a flower or two open only on the nectarine and by the end of the week, many more had followed. My sweet friend, Jaime Rugh, sent me one of her weavings last year and I've been waiting for just the right tree on which to hang it. I love how the blossoms bring out the pink thread.

Next came the canning plum which hangs over into our yard from next door. I never would have noticed before but these plum trees are all over Sonoma. I've heard they make good jam, we'll see for ourselves.

Then mid-week a little hint that the white peach would be next. I managed to do the final of three copper sprays on the peach trees before they bloomed. I cut it really close this year but I managed it. The previous owners, who were entirely organic, told me we have to give in and spray to protect against peach leaf curl with these trees.

The last day we were at the cottage, the santa rosa weeping plum burst into bloom for us. We trimmed the tree back quite a bit this year but there are plenty of beautiful buds.

 Next will likely be the yellow peach, followed later by the fig, apples and perhaps even the pears, although one of the pears already flowered in November. The other exciting thing that happened this week was almost all of my shelling peas have sprouted. I was so worried someone would come by and eat up all the seeds. I planted them at the end of January and they're growing fast already.

 Next weekend I have more weeding to do. Three more beds left, two of them are 14' long. Luckily, I don't have to plant anything for a few more weeks while I wait for the soil to warm a bit more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February in the Garden

This is our first week back at the cottage since the beginning of February. My fingers were crossed I didn't miss any monumental changes, including the chance to see the first asparagus of the year. I had read that asparagus can grow several inches in a few hours. I swear these weren't here yesterday.

I have no idea which year these were planted and I know you're only supposed to harvest little, if any, in the first three years. I plan to wait a few days and see what else appears before deciding what to do.

Last night when we came in, it was nice for the first time to not have to run to the grocery store to pick up some fresh produce. We had enough greens for a little feast to make a salad and chard risotto.

We plan to spend the rest of the week here so I will finally have enough time to prepare several beds for planting. Here's a 4'x6' bed I prepped this morning using the square foot gardening method. It will contain peppers, carrots, radishes, chard, lettuce, calendulas and bachelor buttons. I planted seeds for most of them this morning and have some lettuce I will transplant tomorrow.

I planted about 130 pea seeds a few weeks back which are now bursting out of the ground underneath my homemade trellis. I read that birds LOVE pea seeds so I was so happy to see they all survived.

I also prepared this bed nearby with brussel sprouts, thyme and onions two weeks ago. I'm still deciding what to grow in the rest of the bed.

Near the asparagus surprise, I made another discovery. A few weeks back when I was weeding, I came across a monster root that looked quite healthy. I decided to leave it be to see what would grow. And it looks like rhubarb is now peeking out. I'm wondering if one rhubarb plant will do or do I need to add that to my evergrowing list of plants to grow.

The next few weeks will be busy, but it's nice to finally see some of the work I've done start to pay off.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

January in the garden

My weekends are being filled up with bed preparation and future planting days. Although I didn't account for getting the flu last weekend. I managed to prepare one bed until my husband made me stop. Sure enough, I overdid it. And now I'm behind on everything, artwork and other responsibilities included. Oh well, I feel good about what I accomplished out there. This is one of the beds ready to go. It will contain onions, spinach, carrots, calendula, basil, oregano, peas and some tomatoes based on the square foot gardening method. My daughter had fun pushing the onion sets into the soft soil.

Planting onion sets in a square foot grid
I've been looking to other local places to see what they've been putting in the ground this month, looking through the farmer's almanac as well as my local master gardener website recommendations. It's all spinach and peas this month and into early February. The Farmer's Almanac seems to me a little early though.

Charming french bistro chairs I found at Maison Reve before it closed, sniff, sniff.
I was able to transplant the remaining stray chard plants as well as some spinach and lettuce I started in the fall into my first prepared bed. I could have spaced them closer, I'll see how much extra weeding it will involve. The spinach will be thinned once they get used to the transplant.

 Chard, spinach, lettuce, radishes, shelling peas and Nigella will live here.
I created a little straw path for pea picking. Next year I will garden more intensely if needed.
The garlic I planted in the fall is growing well. There are a few onion survivors popping up next to some of the garlic but I'll just pull that garlic sooner for some nice green garlic to throw on the grill.

 Garlic under the apple tree with a great resting chair
for when I need a break.
A site plan, sigh, I have about four going right now and am trying to figure out the best way to work. One on the computer, two on grid paper, and one on many different pages of a notebook. For some reason, the notebook technique is winning but it looks impossibly confusing!

And finally, the mushroom compost has arrived! I learned about this compost from reading the previous owner's blog. Now I understand why the soil in the beds and under the fruit trees is so amazing. Why fix what isn't broken!