Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wine Tasting in Lodi, CA

Wine tasting was the purpose of our weekend trip to Lodi, California. Well, for most of the group it was wine tasting. I enjoyed the gardens at the different boutique wineries we visited.

Our trip started at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center. We were lucky to have several of the center's directors speak to us. The gardener and environmentalist in my loved what I heard. Lodi's wine growing community is working hard to create the Lodi Rules. These are practices involving IPM (integrated pest management) as well as sustainable standards. Through peer review of scientists, academics and environmentalists, participating growers can get their vineyards certified as producing sustainably-grown wine grapes. A certified grower can display the Lodi Rules seal on their labels.

Some things you will see in the vineyards are a cover crop is grown in between the rows of vines (the grassy area between vines in the second photo above). This helps dry out soil from the winter rains. This allows the growers to control the water the vines receive from a drip irrigation system. Additionally, the cover crop holds the soil in place to keep the dust in the area under control. You'll also see a single rose bush growing at the head of the row. We were told that some people think the rose bush is there as in indicator of the onset of powdery mildew. However, if the powdery mildew is appearing on the rosebush, you are too late; it is already going to be a problem for the vines. Finally, growers like owls (pest control) and keep owl boxes in the vineyards.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Giant Redwoods in Murphy, California

We had the opportunity to travel to Northern California this past weekend. We ended up spending the afternoon in the town of Murphy and lunching at an outdoor spot. The trees under which we ate our lunch were wonderful giant redwoods. I loved the bark and the way the canopy filtered the sunlight.

Loropetalum Razzle

Loropetalum Razzle is a new plant in my garden. I love the showy flowers which almost look like pom poms. The foliage is also striking.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Peak Inside the Composter

Here's a quick peek inside my composter. There are layers of garden waste layered below the current level. I go on walks to find old leaves to add to the layers since most of my garden waste is green.

Yesterday, while I was making dinner (asparagus waste, onion skins, celery bits), I clenead out the veg bins in the frig. I had been shopping to Costco a while ago and unfortunately had not been able to use the jumbo bag of carrots before their expiration. Same for the leek whose bretheren made a wonderful lentil soup. Unfortunately, the leeks came in prepackaged groups of three and this loner was left behind.

I feel bad to toss food but at least it is going back to the earth instead of the landfill.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Water Wise

In Southern California, we are mindful of our limited natural resource, water. While I was in Laguna Beach this weekend, I stopped by their water-wise/fire-wise garden display. I have a small embankment which needs something planted for erosion and aesthetic purposes. I think this "coprosma kirkii" will do the job. It's water requirements, once established, are water every three weeks. Additionally, it is a fire-wise plant.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Poppies are magnificent in spring. The boast both another worldly bud and a shockingly bright blossom. These flowers are from the police station in Laguna Beach, not far from my home.

Editor's Note: Thanks kind readers for educating me on poppies!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Great Sunflower Project for Bees

As a barefoot girl growing up in Ohio in the 1960s, I had more than my fair shares of painful encounters with bees. In a Pavlovian way, I saw the stimulus (BEE) and had a definite response (FLEE).

So why now, am I searching for bee friendly flowers and plants which will actually encourage bees to come to my garden? Well, with shoes on my feet, I know that bees are an important partner in my garden playing the role of chief pollinator. As they search for pollen for the needs of their bee society, they effectively and efficiently pollinate crops and plants providing food for man and beast. Bees are the primary pollinators of seed and fruit. True, my little plot of land is small but can be a friendly oasis to bees and other pollinators since I eschew pesticides and try to maintain an organic garden.

With this in mind, I'm ready to participate in the Great Sunflower Project. Run by San Francisco State University Associate Professor Gretchen LeBuhn, this project is requesting citizen scientists coast-to-coast participate in a bee pollination study. With the recent focus on colony collapse disorder, this data will provide the scientists with data needed to help restore bees.

As a volunteer “citizen scientist,” in this project, you participate by

1. Sign up and plant your sunflower (seeds provided when you register)
2. Describe your garden
3. Time how long it takes 5 bees to visit your sunflower plant
4. Enter your data online or send your form.

We all remember the headlines from last year warning us of the disappearing bees. I’m hoping my participation helps.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Daylily Hemerocallis 'Yellow'

Hemercallis "So Sweet"

The lemon yellow bloom of the Hemerocallis made its debut today. The garden was amazing with two hummingbirds zipping around the lavatera. These two birds have been present so regularly this spring, I might just set up a tripod to capture their photo as they zip arround sampling the nectar.

Celebrity Tomato with Compost Bin

The garden remodel has opened up some areas for different uses. This area is now home to tomato plant and composter. Both seem to be doing very well in their new locations. As you can see, fruit is already setting on the tomato plant (full sun, warm soil!). The composter is rocking. No joke, when I opened it up today, my glasses got steamed up from the heat from the decomposing plant material.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lizards Enjoy the New Garden Layout

I have noticed "someone" enjoying the new garden layout. You would think we added this portion of the remodel to encourage lizards to come to the garden. I find them sunning on the steps every day. Today I found two of them catching some rays.


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