The Haps! (in my organic garden & places elsewhere)

Daniel creating a trellis, so that we can grow up!

 

Hello everyone,

Long time no blog.  My best friend Ange would start her blog posts with “The Haps.”  Ange passed away from breast cancer three years ago.  I know she is smiling down on us with two thumbs up ;O)  Our organic garden is  progressing well (despite the slow start this year.)  We are working towards treating a permaculture garden.  Some of you might be asking yourself “What’s the difference?  Well that is a long and complicated question.  Google defines permaculture as:

per·ma·cul·ture
ˈpərməˌkəlCHər/
noun
noun: permaculture
the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

This is a very abbreviated definition of the concept of permaculture.  Daniel (my husband) and I are working on creating a self-sustained garden and our lifestyle in general.  I will publish a blog post on permaculture.  In La Crescenta and most of California has had CRAZY weather this spring.  El Nino passed us by, so we got very little rain.  It has also been down right hot.  The past two days have been 98 F, which is closer to our July, August, September and part of October temperatures.  I am so grateful to have my “Honey Do”Daniel to do the heavy labor.  He is so sweet and never complains.  Of course as he said today “I get the most benefit from the greens you grow” and I have to admit he is right :oP  I’m working on getting more greens in my diet.  As someone who eats a plant-based diet, it is crucial to have an adequate intake of leafy greens.  Our oldest son Daniel-Mark has become a gardener as well.  He loves to help out in the garden, but makes a hasty retreat when it is too hot.

The biggest fans of our warm (HOT) weather have been the pumpkins of course, followed by the tomatoes.  The raised beds that I planted at the beginning of Spring have started to take off and grow finally!  Besides being partly shaded, my mix of planter mix was off.  I did not have enough vermiculite and lighter mulch in the mix and the soil become compacted quickly.  Live and learn!  My winter garden will have a re-do as I refresh the soil.  I guesstimate is that I mixed- 1/2 heavy compost 1/4  vermiculite and 1/4 Dr. Earth planter soil.  The upside is that it holds moisture very well :o)  and a positive attitude is exactly how you need to look at gardening as well as life.

I started a MeetUp  group a few months ago and it has grown.  Check it out it’s Crescenta Valley Organic Gardening http://www.meetup.com/Crescenta-Valley-Organic-Gardening-Meetup/ .  Our group is focused on education as well as sharing our resources.  Our group’s goal is to help gardeners set up and develop thriving gardens based on organic and permaculture principles.

Thank you for dropping by, see you soon!

Donna

Spring has sprung!… I think?

Well so far all that El Nino has meant for Southern California is an early spring.  We have had temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s, so it feels like early summer.  All winter we have worked on various projects.  Our daughter Rebekah got married so we converted our garage into a studio apartment which resulted in a huge clean up of the garage and yard.  We have built a herb spiral and three new planting boxes in the front yard.  This February we planted six grapevines two blackberry and one apricot.  I hope to find another avocado tree to plant before summer.  I had a fun time planing a box with my grand-daughter Belle, we enjoy gardening together.  Now she has her own little planting box, but very big aspirations.  In a 3′ x 3′ box she has planted giant sunflowers, a watermelon,  green beans, lettuce, carrots and a tomato.  We shall see how it goes!.

I have added some important ingredients to my soil preparation this year.  We have been getting the free mulch that the city offers from their free-cycling centers.  To the free much I have added CBC rock dust, Elemite rock dust, Mycorrhizae inoculate, perlite, my home-grown mulch and worm castings.  I use the not till method, so I add the soil on top of the existing soil in the garden beds.  In the container beds I refresh the beds because the tend to sink about one to two inches each season.

I continue to have some broccoli, rappini, cabbage, kale and cabbage in my beds.  It is a little heart breaking to have to cull most of it to make way for the spring/summer planting…. but oh do I love those flavors that will come out of the garden.  I have chosen heat tolerant species for the back yard this year.  The long hot summer last year was stressful for everything except my pumpkins, corn and green beans.  This year I have expanded the garden to the front yard as well which gets dappled shade during the afternoon which will be helpful for the veggies that don’t like it too hot!  I am going to post details on the products I am using as well as the seed choices for this year in upcoming posts so stay tuned!

Donna~

Winter Garden

2015 hallmarks my first winter garden.  I have planted cabbage, carrots, beats,  kale, sugar peas, broccoli, rapini, spinach, bok choy, and brussel sprouts.  So far everything is growing great!  My cherry tomato plant from last spring is still hanging on for dear life and producing some tomatoes here and there and much to my great surprise I have some volunteer potatoes popping up in the side garden.  I found that when I transplanted the seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden I put a walnut size dollop of worm castings with them and it really helped given them a good start.  I believe that it helped cut the transplant shock.  I have given them a dose of fish and guano fertilizer about every two weeks since it has gotten cold, I usually fertilize weekly.  We have very poor soil here and I am still in the soil building stage.  We live in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest and our soil is mainly sand, rock and gravel.  I plan on planting berries and more fruit trees in January.  Another baby step towards sustainable living.  I am hoping to get the grey water system set up before spring.  We have had consistent rain, which has been great, I have not had to water often, but this is unusual for our area of Southern California.  We can thank the rain to El Nino.  I continue to build Olla’s for the garden and all the tree’s and hope to have an entire system by summer.  I am almost finished with my BSN so my entries to my blog should be far more consistent and interesting!  Thank you for stopping by and seeing what is going on at Our Harvest Home 🙂

Summer Harvest~Fall Planting

 

It is hard to believe that our long hot summer is over.  Probably that is partly because it is still in the 90’s most of the time!  My garden has been ready for fall planting except for an exceptionally productive cherry tomato plant, my eggplant, and the sweet potatoes that are still maturing.  Oh, and a late bloomer that surprised me, a Sweet Meat squash that is developing some fruit!  I am so excited, because the other vine only produced two nicely formed squash.  I am not sure why, it may have been the extremely high temperatures.  Our back yard is exceptionally hot.  Next year I will be putting the tomatoes and other heat sensitive plants in our newly developed front yard veggie garden.  Daniel was such a sweet heart, he worked out in the heat for several days getting it ready for the fall planting! He also amended the back yard garden and helped me reset the Ollas.  You have to raise the Ollas up a few inches because when you add mulch they tend to get buried.   The Ollas were a big success!  I have learned that it is better to have larger Ollas and heavy mulching is a must.  I am converting to using a layer of cardboard and then heavy mulch each season, instead of disturbing the soil and releasing carbon and disturbing the micro-organisms in the soil.  The sustainability movement has proven that this has reduced soil erosion, improved soil fertility, and is a sustainable method of organic gardening.  Worms love the glue in cardboard and it seems to be a worm aphrodisiac :-)!   By the way did you know that most of the glues used in cardboard production is soy based?  That is awesome!  The cardboard also helps reduce the weed and grass population in the garden. That is really helpful as a time saver and a break for achy backs!  This summer was a lot of experimentation for me.  I grew many plants that I have never tried before.  Some were successful, others not so much.   I grew a watermelon, yes a as in one.  It was delicious.  I tried to grow some cantaloupe in some barrels I only got two tiny melons.  I don’t know if it was heat, lack of nutrients, or the container.   I will be researching this issue.  I grew corn for the first time EVER- and my tiny patch did fantastic!   It was so fun to watch it grow.  I may do it again next year but I think the space may go to the champ of this season Pumpkins!  This was my first experience with pumpkins.  They all but took over the garden.  I have cooked them in the crock pot and freezing the puree so that I have plenty to make yummy dishes throughout the winter.  My family has already had a couple of batches of pumpkin bread.  I also made a butternut and sweetmeat curry that was delicious.  I grew some sweet potato slips from some organic sweet potatoes, the slips died due to the ridiculous heat, but I put the left over chunks of sweet potato in the soil and the vines grew from the chunks.  My eggplant is growing like crazy, now if I can convince my sons that eggplant is edible I will be in business.

I am very excited about the Fall-Winter garden.  In Southern California it seems you can grow twice as many vegetables during this season than summer.  I can’t wait to post pictures for you all when the garden gets going with all the cabbage, broccoli and other delights!  Well that’s all for now..

Happy Gardening,

Donna

Ollas!

A small Olla

A small Olla

A friend of my husband asked him what an Olla is, so I wanted to share it with everyone.  An Olla is a ceramic pot that has not been glazed so that it is porous and water can slowly seep out.  You bury the Olla up to the top of the neck and fill it with water.  I place them every few feet in a staggered pattern.  This method of watering saves water and because you are not surface watering, you are not getting the amount of weeds that you would otherwise get.  The other thing that I have notice is that with a constant source of water my garden has exploded this year, but my water bill hasn’t.  I made my Ollas by gluing two ceramic pots together, gluing something to one end.  then I would put caulk around the seams and let it dry.  Once it is dry I bury the Olla until the top surface is showing.  I am currently making them for our large pomegranate trees!  The Olla’s are very large! There are places you can buy them as well.  Here is a site that sells some beautiful ones http://www.urbanhomesteadsupply.com

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