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Friday, January 28, 2011

A Gray Water Rose, Goldfinches, Seed Sprouting Sucesses

Yves Piaget, measured 6 1/2 " across, nutured entirely on gray water. This is a Romantica rose, bred in Provence, of great substance, divine smell and perfectly suited to the Central Coast. (see Romantica roses. Grow Quest website-has a good selection)
Colette, Johann Strauss and Abbe de Cluny also are flourishing on the laundry water.
American Gold Finch
The gold finches are migrating the Pacific Flyway (Central Coast is on it) from Mexico to Canada and vice versa. Flocks of them come through here, coming and going, eating as much nyger seed as the budget permits--about 2 lbs a week at the peak of their migrations. The one that favors our garden is the Lesser Goldfinch, mostly.

Lesser Gold Finch

The French call this bird Chardonneret mineur which suits him better than Lesser. He's small but charming, with a sweet song. According to the  info on the Net, this bird is a permanent resident ---I have news for them--he isn't. He stuffs himself, his wife and his friends and goes elsewhere to nest. Mexico, most likely. He tells his friends where the nyger seeds are, and they come back every year in increasing numbers. Birds are big food gossips --- they invented Twitter. (OMG)

Stuffing Themselves

Stunned with pleasure to report, the baby Purple artichoke seeds (Violetto di Chioggi, Violetta de Provence, Violetta Precoce ) all have sprouted. Soaked for 24 hours, the seeds spouted in four days. Broccoli seeds(Belstar) didn't even take 4 days. Usually, I have zero luck with seeds, so these sproutings are  more miraculous than usual.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Haphazard Gardener Reports on Success and Failure

Succulents were almost 100% successful. Highly recommended for haphazard gardeners. Forgiving, hardy and even hail proof. Aloes, like the one above, looked dreadful after a hail storm- the leaves all covered with black spots. But in three months they'd recovered. Black spots faded and the plant bloomed as usual. Here's another very impressive succulent, Canary Island aeonium. It grew to be 2 feet across in a year, from it's original 6 inch size.

Other things that really worked with minimal effort on the part of an often absent-minded or distracted gardener, were terracing the 45 degree slope that is our growing area, and planting the terraces with citrus that had been growing in large pots. Looks good, the plants love it, the terraces get all gray water and hold the water. Highly recommended landscaping, if a slope is your fate as a gardener.

Butterfly gardening: a piece of cake. Plant the plants and they will come!

Mexican Milkweed

Vermiculture. Well--good, until the worms died of cold! Who knew it was going to drop to freezing around here ? For a while there, the worms were chomping down 7 pounds of garbage a week. Moral of this story is impulsive but ditzy effort doesn't work with vermiculture. I promise to reform, read the vermiculture bible "Worms Eat My Garbage" and proceed properly. The worms did fine---the gardener goofed! Takes more consistent effort than perhaps haphazard gardeners are up for. However it's pretty exciting to go out and listen to the worms chomping up the garbage. An experience not to be missed. Evaluation: takes consistent behavior, well worth the trouble.

Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System
 Vegetable gardening. O my! You gotta get religion to do this right. Consistent effort, vigilance, and incredibly rewarding. Honestly, you have never really tasted a vegetable until you taste one you grew yourself, then cooked --briefly!  Alice Waters, you are my muse! Vegetable gardening requires real character--- flakes, don't try this at home!

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution