Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Updated Shots of My New Bed

I've lost a few of the azaleas I planted in this new bed a couple months ago but everything else seems to be coming along okay.





Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Vegetable Garden Will Save Us

"The vegetable garden, it turns out, is a ripening political force: the best response to the energy crisis, the climate crisis, the obesity crisis, the family crisis and the financial crisis." – Dominique Browning, NY Times

I think the author of this quote may have been a little sarcastic when he made this comment. It was part of a book review of a popular book about vegetable gardening, but I also think the author believes, as I do, that there is some element of truth in what he is saying.

At the very least it’s hard to argue that vegetable gardening wouldn’t help, on some level, with several of these issues.

Energy crisis: by growing your own vegetables you reduce your need for trucked-in vegetables from other states or countries not to mention saving your own gas by not having to run up to the store so often.

Climate crisis: see above. In addition to “climate crisis” I would add that organic vegetable gardening can also help with the environmental crisis by reducing the carbon footprint.

Obesity crisis: eat a goddamn carrot once in a while! (Courtesy of The Onion)

Family crisis: maybe less obvious how vegetable gardening addresses this issue, but if you get the family involved it couldn’t hurt. I know I have cherished my time in the garden with my daughter and we have fun talking like Bugs Bunny when we eat our lady finger carrots.

Financial crisis: you can buy a packet of lettuce seeds for $1.79 or you can buy 25 heads of lettuce for $50 (or whatever the going rate is these days).

I'm still a rookie when it comes to growing my own food.  I've tried my hand at some of the usual suspects (tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, etc.) but this was my first spring trying my hand at broccoli, lettuce and carrots.  I was pretty successful, I think.  And I'm encouraged to keep at it with some summer crops that I hope to get planted out this weekend before the weather heats up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rain is a Pain (in June)

It’s one of those days where the clouds are more gray than white. It’s cold and everything feels sleepy and quiet. It’s a day for soup and blankets and falling asleep on the couch while reading a book. In its own way, today is beautiful.

But it is June 1st, not October 1st. And in Sacramento, June 1st usually means blue skies, slight breeze, and a perfect 85 degrees. In other words, this would typically be a great day for puttering around in the yard.

And this is not just a one-day anomaly. It’s been colder than normal all spring. In fact, it was warmer on Superbowl Sunday than it is today. We’ve also had more rain than normal which is a very good thing for water-starved California and there's more rain to come. 

I don't want to sound like one of the old fogies that just talks about the weather all the time, but the weather here, as it is elsewhere, is serious news these days.  And how weather plays a role in our water supply is heavy, complicated stuff that is above my pay grade.  Needless to say, there are serious issues in California related to not getting enough water, capturing the water we do get, and containing the water we can't hold onto.  Most of the state has been in a drought for years it seems. The farmers in central California don’t always get enough water to grow all the crops they could grow if allotted more. The levees have been deemed unsafe in some places and our ability to capture and retain excess water is complicated by the environmental impacts of creating dams and reservoirs. 

All of these are serious issues that demand the public's attention, but if we're honest, as gardener's we tend to think first about how the rain affects our own plots of earth.  Most of us are happy for the extra water.  It means we can turn off the sprinklers for a few days after a good storm.  But too much water can be a problem as well especially when you have a leaking gutter that drains directly onto a small Japanese maple that won’t appreciate the pounding water or the wet feet.  

One of my serious water issues - a gutter that leaks.  I hate gutters.

Too much water also means that gardeners need to stop working in their soil to avoid compaction and damaging plants.  But when there is a break in the action, the clouds of a rainy day provide a great opportunity to take a few snapshots of your yard without having to worry about the harsh lighting of a bright sun.  Plus, the rain makes everything look cleaner.  Call it the very thin silver lining of an unseasonably rainy day in June.

One thing to do in the garden on a rainy day - take pictures!