Monday, January 22, 2018

Winter Doldrums

Winter can be a very difficult time for someone who gets a lot out of the health of their garden. Everything slows as the amount of light decreases and more things begin happening to the garden than things happening in the garden. Wind and cats have taken their toll. High winds knocked over a lot of plants, which only began to recover as kitties began to utilize my garden more as a litter box than as a place to avoid. Every spare inch of vacant soil is toilet fodder for my neighbor’s cats.

Meanwhile, back in the greenhouse the fabulous idea I had for using diatomaceous earth on the pill bugs did not work as well as I had supposed. The little crustaceans were relatively immune to the powder and finished off my cucumber plants pretty quickly. I was under the false assumption that they would begin to die off without much food, but they continue to reproduce. I should probably take a layer of soil off the top of the planter and put it into a black plastic bag to bake them. Eventually I got the good idea to replant the stock tank with Fava beans. The Fava beans have done relatively well so far. Still - I’ll have to keep up my night-time visits to the greenhouse to make sure.

After the pill bugs, comes the fava beans

Even in the greenhouse I am using sideways tomato cages to deter kitties.

My tree collards have done well. I have experienced difficulty with reproducing them due to the prevalence of little green caterpillars (some sort of moth larvae) that continually devour the small leaves of the transplants. The lemongrass has done well in broths to help me to stave off the effects of any cold virus. The red leaf lettuce has been slowly growing. It has taken a beating from caterpillars, slugs, aphids and some sections the lettuce bed have been excavated by kitties.

Red leaf lettuce and onions

I split apart and re-potted most of the lemongrass (to share with friends)

In order to stop the incessant assault from my feline foes I have turned some tomato cages on their sides. It does not look pretty in my garden, but I have gone past the point of caring. The need to have my plants live is a little more important than my garden looking like a lunar moonscape (complete with kitty-created craters).

Working to make my garden a little more kitty resistant (and ugly!)

The few carrots that I have grown are doing alright, though it looks as if I could have done a few more plantings. I believe most of them perished from poor watering. The peas seem to be doing well and a few chickpeas have managed to survive. Meanwhile, garlic and onions are sprouting up everywhere.

Messy onions, garlic and peas.

The biggest winners this winter are the tree collards, the lemongrass and the fava beans. The fava beans are from some plants grown by a local elementary school. They were willing to share, so I planted some. I quickly learned that favas do not take well to excess nitrogen (probably because they produce much of their own), but they do love the cool weather of this winter and have thrived as a result. I am really impressed.

My fava beans

Friday, January 5, 2018

Free Tree Kale (Perennial Collards)

Whilst battling against fuzzy feline garden invaders today, I cut back my perennial collards. That means I have plenty to share. 

If you live in the Fairfield area and would like some for your own garden, please respond to this Craigslist post and come by. Otherwise I might eat them all... Perhaps even raw!