Friday, January 28, 2005

Leafy Stepping Stones

In case you missed this thread on GardenWeb, check out these fabulous DIY stepping stones!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Thanks, Cheryl!

Thanks for the big beautiful beets plucked right from the earth... and for being such a great hand model.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

First Greenhouse-ripened Tomato!

NOT ACTUAL SIZE (it's only about an inch and a half, but exciting nonetheless!)

Will report back later with a flavor assessment...

Ok... it's later and I can now offer a taste evaluation. My January tomato was tasty, with that fresh, gardeny tomato fragrance and sweet yet somewhat zingy flavor. My only complaint is that some of the typical 'Caspian Pink' juiciness was replaced with meatiness, perhaps because of the longer ripening time.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Leave your oaks alone, folks...

It was bound to happen. Still, I was rather shocked to see this when I drove down Kenneth Avenue in Carmichael yesterday:

The property on which the tree sits, er, uh, sat is right across the street from a school. I've watched parents and their little ones parking under this tree for years. I've also watched the tree being systematically and publicly abused for years.

In the past, I've called the Sacramento County Tree Coordinator whenever I happened upon a tree assault in progress. Our Tree Coordinator is currently a man... a nice man facing the difficult task of enforcing a native oak ordinance that is given very little weight in populated areas. He does what he can, but the bottom line is that most of Carmichael's oaks are on private property... and in private backyards where nobody can see ya whip out the chainsaw (wink, wink).

My interpretation of the County's take on the ordinance (in other words, I'm paraphrasing) is that, because of the potential for trees to fall on people, houses, and cars, enforcement of the ordinance is futile except in areas with intact woodlands and no peeps... woodlands like those being plundered in the controversial Bickford Ranch development.

Here's the upshot-- if a protected tree bites the dust here in Carmichael, the County might plant an oak seedling replacement... well, wherever there's any open space left in the county. Ha ha.

Still, isn't it worth preserving existing oaks as best we can? Can't we do better as homeowners? These magnificent and gorgeous trees are part of our natural and cultural heritage and can live for 300+ years! If treated properly, they ain't gonna fall on your house. Or your minivan. Or you.

Let's just say I am not surprised to see the above oak's demise and the crashing results of such an end.

Things done to the above tree that should never have been done:

1. large heading cuts (last year)
2. landscaping within 8 feet of the crown
3. installation of paving and irrigation within 8 feet of the tree's crown
4. thirsty plant selections such as: roses, azaleas and Japanese maples

To learn how to care for native oaks like the Valley oak, Interior live oak, and blue oaks, visit The California Oak Foundation website.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bulbs, veggies, etc...

Got sidelined by the holidays and a Christmas head cold (Thank you, Santa!)... Still sniffling a bit, but functional.

My timing was a bit off for harvesting ripe tomatoes at Christmas. I do have some seedlings growing right now and we dragged one of my giant half-barrels into the greenhouse when the weather turned un-tomatoey. Here's what my 'Caspian Pink' tomatoes look like today, January 4th:

In the yard, some of my bulbs are coming up... Dutch iris and hyacinth, mostly. The puppies have all my plants looking a little battered. What are ya gonna do? They're puppies. They run, they dig, they rip things out of the ground with their bare teeth. They're adorable!

Emily the outdoor cat doesn't seem too bothered by them. They bark at her and she just sits there, unlike our indoor cat that has been in self-imposed seclusion since the puppies came home. Here's Emily with her thick winter coat:

My latest garden project, completed just before Christmas, is this teacup birdfeeder. Drilling was harder than I imagined, but I love the way it turned out. I still need to drill a couple drainage holes so for now it's purely decorative. No, wait, it's a tiny bird bath!