"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Adding to the Herb Garden, Planting and Pavers

I spent Friday and Saturday working in the herb garden. I added some new pavers that will help me for stepping in and around the plants when I am cutting herbs for my recipes.  I planted most of the plants I bought at Pearson's Herb Farm, I have a couple more to find places for.

Here are some photos of before and after in my herb garden.  Not that much different, but after I finished adding a few more pavers I think it looks a lot better.  And once the Flax is finished blooming I will add more plants in that area.  I planted the Lovage and Salad Burnet down by the fireplace chimney since they will do better in partial shade in the summer.  This is the west side of the house and temperatures get pretty hot here in July and August.
Garden in 2010
Many varieties of Basil will be planted in May in the bare spots. I always reserve space for those.  I haven't started my seeds yet, and I often directly seed in the place I want it to grow.
Before, see the pointed paver and then see photo below where I added more pavers.
After, you can see in this photo where I added a path in the center area. Path now goes around the back side of the flax.
Chiapas Sage (newly planted)
Pretty Purple Sage Blossoms
Sage in Bloom-existing plant
 Greek Oregano Plant is flourishing here, I started this plant from seed.
Nutmeg Scented Geranium next to Greek Oregano
Catmint: newly planted. This plant is not as invasive as other mints.  In fact, it grows in rather well-behaved clumps.  The leaves are a gray-green, and it produces spikes of long-lasting blooms in a lavender or lavender-blue.  My catmint is one of the first perennials to begin making its appearance in the spring and lasts well into the fall.  Most varieties of catmint are hard in Zones 3-8.
Cilantro from seed started a few weeks ago; cilantro reseeds all over our property.
Front Row: Tarragon and Lemon Mint. Middle Row: Lime Mint and Tarragon. Back Row: Bergamot Mint and Spearmint
Winter Savory-existing plant

Newly planted: Lovage, Salad Burnet, Cat Mint, Chiapas Sage, Italian Oregano, Lemon Balm, Lime Mint in pot, Lemon Mint in pot, French Thyme, Pineapple Sage, Chervil, Rue, and Kaliteri Oregano.
Herbs from Pearson's Garden and Herb Farm

Existing Plants: Sage, Flax, Greek Oregano, Winter Savory, Summer Savory, Mexican Oregano, French Thyme, German Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Variegated Thyme, English Thyme, Cilantro, Chives, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Bee Balm, Tarragon, Bergamot Mint, Spearmint, Rosemary, French Lavender, English Lavender, Rue, Marjoram, and Basil will be planted later.  I also have Lemon Verbena growing in my Butterfly and Hummingbird garden.  As you can see I had a pretty good collection before I planted the new additions. I also have a few duplicates, but you never know when a gopher might show up for a feast!

Herb Woman
Roots and herbs she gathers,
Morning, night and noon,
By the raising dog-star,
Underneath the moon.
In her fragrant kitchen
While the lost world sleeps,
Gentle midnight priestess,
She mixes and steeps.
Shakes the leafy brethren,
Sorts and scrapes with skill,
On her vibrant fingers
Wood and field and hill-
Poppy leaves and wormwood
Peony petals spilt,
Dreamy hop flowers added,
For a headache quilt.
Hands only made for healing,
Nostrils made for smell,
Forehead wide and yearning,
Eyes fixed in a spell.
With the loose prescriptions
Floating through her head,
Such are prayers she mutters
Ere she goes to bed:
By Eleanor C. Koenig

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Herb Shopping at Pearson's Garden and Herb Farm

We started out our day thinking we would head to Encinitas and shop at The San Diego Botanic Gardens Tomatomania Festival and Herb Sale.  I had also heard about another nursery in Vista named Pearsons Gardens and Herb Farm which would be closer for us and since it was already raining pretty hard we decided to head there.  I am so glad that I did!

I have been to a lot of herb nurseries in my days but this one has the largest selection of plants I have seen.  Not only is the nursery immaculate, but it is well organized; the staff is so knowledgeable and very helpful.  I mentioned it was my first trip there and one of the staff took the time to explain the layout, and the location of each variety of plant they carried.  They had a nice selection of heirloom tomatoes, very healthy and a nice size for so early.  They also have seeds for sale and many vegetables plants.  It was a gardener's paradise!

Here is a list of what I came home with.  I could easily have purchased more, but one must leave some plants for another trip!

Salad Burnet
Sweet Marjoram
Chiapas Sage
Pineapple Sage
Lemon Rose Thyme
French Thyme
Italian Oregano
Kaliteri Oregano
Lemon Balm
Lemon Mint
Lime Mint
Cat Mint “Six Hills Giant”
Scarlet Runner Beans
Mortgage Lifter Tomato
Black Krim Tomato
Gourmet Baby Corn

Napoletano Basil
Dark Opal Basil
Toscano Kale

"A man taking basil from a woman will love her always."

Sir Thomas Moore

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'm Planting Tomatoes! Tomato Update 2012

Bed ready to plant with tomato cage standing upside-down.

 Bed # 1,  I planted a row of Ruby Red Swiss Chard and a row of Round Black Spanish Heirloom Radishes along the long sides of the beds; both from Botanical Interests Seed.  These will do well here until the tomatoes get large. I never let space be wasted when I can plant something to eat!

I had planned on planting next week, but yesterday was so nice that I decided to plant a few tomatoes; seven to be exact. I still have many more to find room for but still need to let the lettuces and chard grow a little longer. I did pull up the peas and have the bed ready for tomatoes.  I will wait to put more in until next week as we are forecast for three days of heavy rains this weekend and Monday.  I may need to cover the plants with plastic buckets if the rain gets to heavy; I don't want to lose any!

Two San Marzano's and one Purple Russian

Paul Robeson and Persimmon Orange
Bed # 3, with space for tomatoes in April

Arugula, Watercress, and Bok Choy seedlings in bed # 3.  I will wait until April to put anymore tomatoes in here.  That should give these plants plenty of time to grow larger. Then I can plant the tomatoes amongst them.
Be 3: at left center is Crimson Carmello and tucked in the center of the Spinach is Flamme' Orange (you can't really see it)
Bed # 2 still picking lots of lettuces, onion, swiss chard, arugula and cilantro
Bed # 4: newly planted with Yukon Gold Potatoes
Bed # 4: these are onions I grew from seeds from my onions last year.
Adirondack Blue Potato growing under the Valencia Orange Tree

 Mystery Tomato Volunteer, I can't wait to see what it produces. Probably Dr. Wyche or Mr. Underwood

 Purple Fingerling Potato growing under Valencia Orange tree

 Garlic and Artichoke (lower left)

 Bok Choy bolting from heat the last few weeks.
Spring Onions and Bok Choy

 My seed basket and small garden journal I take with me when I go to the veggie garden. I put all my notes in here first, then transfer to my blog. Oranges were lunch and lettuce was one that I accidentally broke while working. I also keep plant markers, felt pen and garden gloves in this basket.

Pretty Calendula (calendula officinalis) plant growing in crack in driveway curb.  I didn't have the heart to pull it up when it was small.  I have Calendula's growing all over the property. They are a welcome visitor each spring and last well in the summer. This year they actually began blooming in December and have not quit.  We really didn't have much of a winter this year.  I guess that is why everything is growing so well.  The oranges, lemons and grapefruits have all done so well.  I am grateful to mother nature for providing us with so many wonderful plants and produce.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Almost Ready! 2012 Tomato Season is Just Around the Corner

I have one bed ready to begin planting tomatoes. I brought over one tomato cage but will need to wait for Tony to help me set it in. We have three of these cages that he built using a design that a friend of ours created out of PVC pipe; we went with the wood because it was cheaper. So far they have lasted three seasons and looks like we will get a few more years out of them. We could also replace the lower legs as that is the only section that is affected by rotting wood. At least it is organic material! We will flip this over to set in the raised bed. I plant two tomatoes in each section, for a total of eight tomatoes in this bed.  I do place one cane pole in the center of each square to tie the tomatoes to when young to help support the initial growth, then they are off and growing with no more need of support as the cages keep them contained, with plenty of space and height to grow.

I have the tomato seedlings outside now getting stronger; I am hoping to get a few of them planted this weekend.  I have plenty of each variety that I will be planting so if I lose a few I can replace them with older seedlings. I generally plant around the middle of March and with the weather we have had of late I think they will be fine. Today is around 78-80 and the soil is nice and warm.

Our oranges are really coming in now, even the Navels are getting sweet enough to eat. I knocked a few off the tree when I was pulling over the tomato cage; they tasted sweet but could use a few more weeks. The tangerine tree is loaded, more oranges than leaves.  Our lemon tree is the best I have seen it in a few years, the fruit is large and in great condition. The Valencia is setting blossoms now and we still have a few to pick.  I picked a huge basket yesterday and still need to get those juiced and in the freezer for summer smoothies.
Lemon's hanging close to the Tangelo Tree
Tangerine Tree loaded with fruit
Lemon Tree, looks small here but the tree is huge.
Morning Snack
Coffee and Oranges? Why not!
They were a Sweet Treat!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring Cleaning and Rocking Chairs

My day yesterday: I Need A Rocking Chair and Some Ice Tea, Please

I stepped outside around 9:30 in the morning to pick some Swiss chard and do a little cleaning up around the raised beds to get ready for my tomato plants. I still have about 2 weeks before I will set out the seedlings, but I needed to get the compost mixed in to let it rest and get the worms settled in their new home.

I wasn't going to do the whole compost pile but as usual I get sidetracked and end up spending the day outside. Oh my gosh I am so tired. I turned the compost pile, which is about 4 1/2 feet tall and about 3 feet across. I also used a sieve to run the compost through to remove any large pieces of twigs and such before I put it in the beds. If you have never done this before it is like using a hula hoop for two hours except you just go back and forth and not around.

I raked up two piles of leaves that Tony had left from cleaning up around the trees on Saturday, but the compost was too full then to add more so he left it sitting. I needed to empty the bin before adding the new clippings, leaves and such. I had just pulled up all the old pepper plants, some kale and swiss chard that aphids had got to earlier and my brussel sprouts; I tossed them in the new bin.  I tossed in a few bags of manure to heat up the new additions and  sat down to eat some oranges. I was too tired to head to the house for a drink of water, which I forgot to bring with me since I had not planned on spending the whole afternoon in the garden.

A lot of work!!!

My arms still feel like I am swishing compost back and forth. My thighs are sore from using the pitch fork and from hauling the compost to the beds.
I am ready for the rocking chair and some ice tea!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coming Soon Herb Festival, Spring Plant Sale and Tomatomania at the SD Botanic Garden

 Mark your calendar for the San Diego Botanic Gardens Herb Festival, Spring Plant Sale and
Tomatomania® March 17 and 18th.  

And while you are there pick up a mint plant; fill a bowl full of water add fresh mint leaves and stems too.  No need to heat the water, the mint will release it's wonderful oils and scent into the water in just a few hours.  Use the water to freshen your face each morning.  I keep a jar of mint water in the refrigerator, on days when I need a pick-me-up I splash this on my face; especially after a long day in the sun gardening.  It really works, and as an added bonus people will tell you how good you smell.  If you have lemons or oranges on hand add some zest to the water. Heavenly!

I can't wait! It's hard to believe that Spring is just around the corner and that means Tomatoes are not far behind! I've been going through withdrawals for a few weeks now that all of my canned tomatoes have been used.  I will plant more to make sure I don't run out this early.