Today was a productive day. I got done what I have always wanted to do– lop off a part of the weeping fig (ficus benjamina) tree that was preventing the garden tool shed from sitting flush with the wall behind it. I also gave the weeping fig its second pruning since being acquainted with it. One of the reasons for the dramatic hair cut is to bring more light into the garden. Light that I need for sun loving crops. The second reason is to thin it out as the brown scale (insects) are beginning to amass. Continue Reading
Often times being a “Stay at home, Dad” means making sacrifices because there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Actually, a more accurate statement is, ‘ there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done without your neighbors thinking that you are crazy.’ If it was not weird, I would probably plug in my work light and garden into the night. Since it is, the alternative is to skip on a breakfast outing and instead stay behind and work in the garden.
With no interruptions, I was able to create a few more planting plots by terracing the Resort Garden. I am very excited about the seeds that were sowed as a result: sun flowers, collards, brussel sprouts, marigolds, Thai basil.
Be sure to check out the video tour of this space!
Meet “Roc,” the red oscar cichlid. He is the latest Garden Pals member; and eats like a very hungry caterpillar. In fact, his favorite snacks are very hungry caterpillars. A very eager feeder, he wastes no time waiting for his meals to hit the water. Often he will leap out of the water and help himself. (See video below.)
One of my favorite bean to eat and cook with is the black bean. I prefer it in burritos, in restaurant style nachos, and in lotus soup. In addition to adding texture to food, black beans are good for you and your liver. In the garden, they are one of the easiest plants to grow. Continue Reading
In the permaculture sphere, daikon radish is an important plant. With long tap roots, daikon is also known as a dynamic accumulator. Dynamic accumulators are plants that mine minerals from the soil. With a large root, daikon grow deep below to absorb and bring minerals to the surface for the vegetables and other plants in the garden. They make a great cover crop– easy to grow and grows aggressively.
Out in Front Garden it was time for the New Zealand flax (phormium tenax) to give up its spot. The flax was moved to a different part of the yard. In its place a mulberry (morus) tree was planted. The tiny tree was grown from a cutting by my brother.
The spot where the tree lives now has a very awkward transition between the dirt, steps, and concrete walk way. Originally, the flax was planted to mask this awkward transition. The flax offered a good deal of landscape appeal. Other than that, it is somewhat of a maintenance hog. The blades when they die off become dry and fibrous. The dried blades are difficult to cut and thus are difficult to remove. For those considering New Zealand flax as a landscape plant, my advice is to consider the maintenance aspect.
With the flax no longer covering the awkward transition a daylily was selected. The ‘Fire of Fuji’ double reblooming daylily (hemerocallis) was divided and planted at the base of the young mulberry tree.
In terms of permaculture design, the mulberry will be allow to grow to about five feet tall. At the base, different plants will make their home through the seasons. In their first season, the mulberry and daylilies will also share ground with elephant garlic and oriental lilies.
When it comes to beneficial insects in the garden, spiders receive little acknowledgement for their contributions. Perhaps it is because some leave nasty bites and thus scare us. Or perhaps it is because they perform the work of protecting our plants and crops quietly. In the shadows of the ever popular ladybug, our spider friends work tirelessly and without recognition. The real reason may be technical– spiders are not insects but rather arachnids. Humor aside, perhaps it is time to shine the spotlight on our eight-legged friendamies.
Today, the elephant garlic were planted in the Front Garden. Elephant garlic (allium ampeloprasum) are easy to grow. When planting, they are normally planted without much effort; and given little care. A small hole is dug and they are placed in. The soil in the front of the house (or Front Garden) is worked minimally. Despite the soil being closer to dirt, the bulbs produced at the end of the season are good sized.
Now after a few seasons, compost is added to the soil. Today’s planting was therefore a little different from the past as far as the amount of work required goes. Despite the increase in the time required, the planting strategy remained the same. In the Front Garden, the elephant garlic (along with anything planted out there) are planted not in uniform rows but semi-organically. Out there, they are both a landscape element and crop.
On Sunday, I was able make a dent on maintaining and preparing the Front Garden for fall. My brother, John, was able to help as well. While there was enough man power to accomplish the task, the blistering sun said otherwise. Despite the shorten work day we managed to collect quite a pile of green waste among other things.