Inspiration Thursday! The best things in life aren’t things…

The garden is looking just so wonderful right now! So much is growing out of control! Next year I will remember to plant a zucchini plant as now I see we have so many yellow squash I am starting to give it away to the neighbors:

Can't wait to figure out how to cook these!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, just a sweet snapshot I took of our dog this morning. I love waking up near her sleeping so peacefully:

So peaceful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, my family from NY was visiting this week, and we are also watering a neighbor’s garden. I love seeing my family and having neighbors that trust me to help with their most precious plants. Like the subject line states, the best things in life aren’t things.

Grow Creative!
Amy

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Filed under Family fun!, Inspiration Thursday, Squash

Inspiration Thursday! Garden when you can… even at 10PM

I have been working a lot these past two weeks, so I’ve been just maintaining the garden with no new additions. Tonight we had a late dinner so I watered the garden at 10PM. This fall I plan to optimize our drip irrigation system more in the raised beds by adding more tubes and better placements, but sometimes it feels better to give the whole thing a good soak with a hose.

Sometimes I wish I had hired someone to design the garden for us, but then I realize that I like the challenge of trying things for myself, and I am even looking forward to pulling weeds on Saturday morning or tomorrow after work. Whenever I get overwhelmed I find myself peering out the front window and seeing birds pecking at the seeds from spent flowers. The wildlife loves our yard, and I do not think it is my imagination that the birds seem to like our yard the best on the block. We have at least three birds nests with baby chicks right now, and we can hear the little squeaks in the morning. So, maybe I need to start measuring my success in other ways instead of waiting for that “designed look.”

Gardening is amazing exercise (i.e., squatting and lifting things in the garden vs. a gym class), and I still think even with this small time commitment that we are quite active and do so many interesting things; It is very satisfying to do things ourselves.

My favorite find tonight in the garden is a little frog that is hanging out in our blooming succulent. So cute! We made bean and cheese quesadillas for dinner tonight so having cilantro in the garden was a treat! I planted way too many squash plants, so next year we’ll only do one pumpkin and one squash. Or, if we do more, one at each end of the garden so not to “squash” each other out.

Here’s a slideshow:

Grow and learn something new each season,

Amy

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Filed under Inspiration Thursday, July

I need a little space…

Veggies are a moody bunch. Each plant needs his or her little space to grow, without smothering or crowding from peers and family. Sound familiar? Even though I’m social, every now and then even I find myself needing to take time to rest and have my own little “space” to grow. Then again, there are exceptions, like corn. Corn needs to have it’s own space to grow (i.e., about one plant per square foot), but if one only grows one plant total it will never pollinate. Corn must be a super social vegetable.

Carrots, on the other hand, can handle large families (i.e., 16 per square foot is fine), but be sure to thin them to really only 16 plants. With carrots, they have multiple shoots that come out the top (the green part you normally use in soups) so it can hard to thin to really only one plant. I planted 16 seeds in one square foot, and then when the plant was 2-3 inches tall, I thinned down to ensure only 16 carrot plants per square foot. If you are worried about spacing you can even try 8 per square foot.

Of course, I missed a few plants so some grew really close together. This is a really cool example of why thinning plants is important. Check out the photo. The little baby carrot should be the same size as the big one on top!

Why thinning plants matters: Example of two carrots. One had space to grow, the other was overcrowded.

In the end, all of the carrots end up tasting nice, but I think we should listen to our little plant friends and “give them space” when they need it. 🙂

Grow Creative!
Amy

ps. OK, I have to brag. We’ve been having salads this week with 100% ingredients we grew. It is so fun! I can already see how important succession gardening is, though. We are tending to have a lot of food available at once vs. spreading it out over a few weeks.

Cooked kale and squash (Our first squash of the season seems early!!)

100% homegrown salad!

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Filed under Carrots, Summer, Thinning

Inspiration Thursday: Last call! What to plant in June that may not “work” in July…

If you haven’t planted these yet I recommend planting in June at the latest because July may be too late and too hot for the plant to thrive:

  • Basil transplant
  • Bean  transplants and/or direct seed outside
  • Cucumber transplants and/or direct seed outside
  • Eggplant transplants
  • Melon transplants and/or direct seed outside
  • Pepper transplant
  • Winter squash transplants and/or direct seed outside
  • Tomato plant transplants
Also, here’s some other things you can plant, but don’t worry too much as you can plant in subsequent months, as well:
  • Arugula
  • Beets (I am going to do this since I never grew beets before!)
  • Summer squash (transplants and direct seeding) OK through July
  • If you want to start brussel sprouts by seed (indoor for transplants), you can do so now. See this site for more information: http://www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/how-to-grow-brussel-sprouts.html (I think I’ll try this!!!)
Be sure to check out the Santa Clara County Master Gardener’s page for a month-by-month calendar. This is my source for this post! See link, on right.
One last thought about timing. I’m still learning about California growing seasons. For example, our sunflowers are about 3 inches high now, but I just snapped this photo of a fully grown sunflower today (in my neighborhood):

Wow, it's June and my neighbor has a fully-grown sunflower already!?!?! (ours are about 3 inches tall. Looks like I could have planted earlier!)

Grow with the seasons, but at your own pace,
Amy
ps. My neighbor told me today she’s thinking of getting rid of her grass and putting up raised beds to grow vegetables. Front yard gardening may be the next up-and-coming trend! It’s fun to be an inspiration to others. I never thought of myself like that before.

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Filed under Arugula, Basil, Beans, Beets, Brussel sprouts, Cucumber, Eggplant, Field trips in the Bay Area!, Hot peppers, June, Melon, Online resources, Peppers, Planning, Summer, Summer Squash, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Winter Squash

More about native plants

This evening Bree and I took a walk and there is a house nearby that has many native plants and all of them are labeled. They must be part of the Go Native home garden tours in our community. I love native gardens because it reminds me that there really are no rules to gardening. Sometimes I worry that our garden will just become a mess of plants with no design, but then as I peer out the front window to the native garden we created — and I see beneficial insects and birds flitting about — I am reminded that nature only needs balance and in that comes beauty.

Here are some pictures from this demonstration garden:

Bree likes seeing all the plants! (I do so love walking!!)

Overall view of the garden

Plant list (I put asterisk next to the ones that made my heart skip a beat… I’m in love!!!):

  • Mock Orange
  • Gum plant*
  • Cobb Mountain lupine
  • firecracker penstemon*
  • June grass*
  • Golden yarrow*
  • Mountain mahogany
  • California Aster
  • Cobwebby thistle
  • Sticky monkey flower* (We have one already!) 🙂
  • Black sage
  • bird’s eye gilia
  • menzie’s goldenbrush
  • California aster
  • Crevice alumroot
  • Pajaro manzanita
  • Point reyes manzanita
  • California goldenrod
  • Harvest brodiaea
  • San Miguel savory
  • Creeping snowberry*
  • Hummingbird sage
  • Sandune phacelia
  • Coast whitehorn
  • Pacific pea
  • Torrey’s melic
Here’s a slideshow of these plants:

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Filed under Native plants

Inspiration Thursday! Three Sisters Garden

A three sisters garden comprises squash, maize and beans. The squash leaves act as a living mulch, the corn supports the climbing beans that, in turn, add nitrogen to the soil to feed the corn. A few weeks ago I mounded up the soil in the first raised bed in front of our house. In the middle I staggered three rows of corn with about three to five corn plants across. I estimated about a foot in-between each corn plant. Then, I planted bean seeds in the outer circle, surrounding the corn. On the raised bed’s four corners I planted squash transplants, including one pumpkin plant. Ideally, I think one would start the corn earlier to give it a head start to become a support for the fast-growing bean vines, but I did ours all at once due to timing issues. Oh yes, and I planted one row of sunflowers in the furthermost row near our house.

I found these two sites helpful in thinking about planting this garden:

Our neighbor planted his corn in paper dixi cups with the bottom removed. The reason for this is to set the cup further down in the soil, and only fill the soil halfway. Plant the corn, and when the corn grows, one can mound the soil to make the stalk stronger. Unfortunately, I forgot about this when putting the cup in, and considered that the cup would help me 1) mark where I planted seeds and 2) act as a water reservoir to preserve water. Actually, the cups came in handy to anticipate the sprout growth so I try this again next year. Plus, the cups have started to decompose.
When each plant was about two-inches high I pinched off the smaller plant that did not seem to be thriving. This is called thinning out.
Now I am just watering and watching. I may need to add a stick or small trellis for each bean plant, that is, unless the corn speeds up and grows taller soon.
Here are some photos of our first three sisters garden:

ps. This blog has a new look because I had to change themes. The prior theme became a two column style, and I did not like that. More customization to follow…

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Filed under Beans, Corn, June, Squash, Summer, Three-sisters

A five-minute garden…

We have about 100 square feet in the front yard, and I haven’t gotten around to planting anything in 1/3 of this space. We inherited a sage plant and another plant that the snails love. I’m a planner, but someone once told me to “do something every day that scares you” so this time… I’m not planning.

I poured five to six packets of flower seeds into a bowl, mixed and scattered the seeds  across the bed. I tapped the soil in random places with a rake and watered. That’s it. Let’s see what happens!

Pour 'em in a bowl and mix...Scatter, mix a little bit and water... (Let's see what happens!!!)

Take some seeds..Pour 'em in a bowl and mix...Scatter, mix a little bit and water... (Let's see what happens!!!)

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Filed under June, Planning, spring