As the Garden Grows

As the sun has been shining brightly, the plants are beginning to grow more quickly.We have a large variety of plants this spring and it is fun to wander through the garden and see how much growth has occurred during the last day.

Jerusalem Artichokes "Sunchokes"

The jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) are a fun plant. A beautiful yellow flower blooms on tall stalks in the fall. Or if you want to eat them, dig up the roots for a tasty tuber. Last year, I unintentionally planted some pole beans next to the sunchokes. As the two of them grew, the beans wrapped themselves around the stalk of the sunchokes. This year, we did it intentionally to see what will happen.

Beans growing

We’ve tried many types of supports for pole beans over the years and have found that it is not easy for us for some reason to find a good solution. In the past, we’ve resorted to bush beans which can be harder to harvest as the beans get lost in the foliage.This year we’ve set up a fence for the beans to grow on and that seems to be a perfect solution for a large crop that needs support.

Artichoke plants

 

This is the first time we’ve grown artichokes and it is interesting to watch them grow. Starting plants from seed and seeing the cute little leaves turn into broad large leaves always amazes me. We’re keeping them well watered and have put manure around the base of the plants as they like lots of fertilizing.

 

 

 

The natural beauty of plants continually keeps my photographer’s eye in heaven. The light at different times of day offers a completely unique view of each glorious plant. The colors are so beautiful!

Evening beans

Heirloom Eggplant baby

Baby Purple Cabbage

Baby Kale

 

The strawberry patch that Ofer made this year is starting to give us some darling little strawberries.

New strawberries

Strawberry baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re sweet and delicious when popped into the mouth directly from the plant! The figs are also growing prolifically providing a different shade of green in the garden. We have already picked the first of the blackberries, just one or two, but they aren’t as sweet as we’d like them to be. So, now we need to figure out what to do to sweeten them up!

White Figs

Red berries

 

Whenever we’re in the garden, the cats are not far away. It is fun to see how differently they enjoy helping us. Lao is the overseer.

Checkin' out the grapes

 

He is always sticking his nose into everything to make sure all is running smoothly.  Every time I turn around  he is  underneath the plant next to me, looking closely at the seedling I just planted or smelling the flowers nearby.

Overseeing the side yard

Lao standing guard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jade prefers to follow nearby looking for a petting hand, watch from afar or tussle with Lao in the dirt.

Jade on swing

Lao and Jade helping

 

Sumiko is the more distant overseer. She doesn’t want to be near people too much, but she is constantly doing her rounds of the property, taking good care of her territory. A talented climber, Sumi is often up a tree or making sure the grapes are growing well.

Sumi in the garden

Peeking at chickens

Cattail grapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chicks have arrived! We are thrilled to have some new flock members this spring. Iowa Blue, Russian Orloff and Wellsummer chicks are now residing at the Sugi Garden. They are so tiny when we get them, only a day or two old. Yet, each day they are a little bigger and cheeping more enthusiastically!

Baby chicks

Fluffy chick

Cuddly chicks

 

The black ones are the Iowa Blue, a rare breed that lays brown eggs. The yellow ones are the Russian Orloff, an exotic looking bird that lays tinted eggs. And the darker brown chicks are Wellsummers, sweetly tempered chickens that lay a dark red-brown egg.

I'm exhausted!

 

 

It can be alarming the first time you have baby chicks because, like all babies, all they do is eat, poop and sleep. So, after running around pecking and eating, they will suddenly fall to the ground in slumber. It looks like they’re dead and it can be tough to watch until you’re used to it!

True to form, Lao is watching all the goings on quite closely. Initially we were concerned about the cats, but it turns out that they are very respectful, Sumi is actually wary, and they stay a safe distance away like guards.

What's that?!

 

 

 


Plant Those Veggies!

We’ve been spending loads of time in the garden the past few weeks. With more success than usual sprouting seeds, we have ended up with a large variety of vegetables to plant this year! As promised in the Come and Get It weekly bulletin, here’s a list of what we are planting:

Spring seedlings

Russian Kale, Onions, Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Basil, Hot Peppers, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, Broccoli, Chard, Spinach, Lettuce, Honeydew Melons, Parsley, Cucumber, Pole Beans, Beets, Potatoes and Bell Peppers. Many of these we have more than one variety that we’re trying. Hopefully, everything will thrive and we will have plenty for everyone this summer. This early heat wave has me concerned about my baby plants though, so we’re keeping them all well watered to get through it.

Yo'el transplanting

Ofer transplanting

 

Ofer moved the strawberries from pots to a large bed this year and the artichokes we planted in early spring are looking good. The asparagus are beginning to multiply, though we can’t harvest them for another two years.

Strawberry bed

Young artichoke plants

Early asparagus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re trying some new ways of supporting tall plants this time. Ofer and Yo’el have put in temporary fencing for the beans to climb. This way, we can move the beans from year to year.  It is a healthy practice to keep rotating where crops are planted in beds. Last year, we planted some Jerusalem Artichokes and Pole beans next to each other and the beans climbed up the stalks of the Jerusalem Artichokes. Hopefully, it will happen again this year.  We fenced off the sideyard bed while the flowers are sprouting. When they are big enough, we’ll take away the fence (we don’t want the cats disturbing the seeds).

Adding bean fence

Pole bean fence

Fenced flower bed

 

I’m still experimenting with how to support the tomatoes this year. I planted them closer together to try something new. I’ll put some in tomato cages and I think I’ll also tie some  to stakes. We’ll see what works best as the summer progresses!

Here’s a fun photo of our tools waiting patiently for the next use after a good day of working in the garden. Happy spring planting!

Tools of the trade


Natives are the Answer!

For many years I have tried to find something to grow successfully in the front of my house. It is facing south so I wanted to have something that was heat resistant and drought tolerant. I tried low-growing manzanita, but I don’t think I watered it enough for it to get established. Most recently, I put in a bunch of low-growing succulents that have a lovely pink flower. I managed to water it well at first, but as the summer went on it got to be too much and failed in the intense heat. Sigh!

For a few years, I watched as the California Poppies that are volunteersin the yard, decided to take over that challenging area.

California Poppies

That made me happy for a while, until I realized (after a hot hike and the delicious aroma of the sages) that it might be possible to plant some native sages. Every time I hike around here, like at Black Diamond Mines or Mitchell Canyon among other places, I smell the tantalizing aroma of the sages when they bloom. It turns out that it is actually their leaves that have such an enticing scent! My favorites are black sage, pitcher sage and mugwort. Finally, I decided last year to find the black sage that I absolutely love.

Black Sage blooming

Pitcher Sage blooms

Luckily, I found some at Morningsun Herb Farm that would fit my hot, south-facing front yard perfectly! Last year I planted Black Sage and a couple of other sages whose names I don’t remember. I found Pitcher Sage with lavendar blooms (not the white I see in the wild) at another local natives nursery that, sadly,went out of business last summer. I also, added some Penstemon, another native that thrives in this area. The Calendulas I planted in back have spread to the front and have added themselves to the colorful array.

This year, the whole front is alive with brilliant colors! It feels welcoming and happy and requires no fuss at all.

Salvia with purple stalks

Penstemon

Salvias in front

Poppies, Calendula, Penstemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ‘ve found that natives are a wonder to plant in all areas of the garden. They thrive and are drought tolerant. Their native beauty is stunning and the variety is endless. My friend, Christine, gave me some mugwort from her garden. The mugwort is happily growing in the side yard. It doesn’t like as much sun so I also planted some under the oak tree. I wasn’t sure if it would do well as it was in a hard spot to water. But, it is back this spring and has actually added more plants as I was hoping!

Mugwort

Sticky Monkeyflower

Sticky Monkeyflower blooms

 

Other natives I have growing in my side garden are Sticky Monkeyflower, Blue-eyed Grass and Evening Primrose. This photo of the Evening Primrose shows its growth right now. The flowers haven’t started blooming yet.

Blue-eyed Grass

Evening Primrose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each spring, we enjoy more and more natives volunteering in our yard. To many people, they are weeds, but to us they are a sign of a healthy yard. We have mallow, mustard, cleavers, purslane, and miner’s lettuce – all edible plants that volunteer each year. Some have already come and gone and others are on the way soon.

Cleavers

Blooming Mustard

Miner's Lettuce

One of the happiest volunteers I have each year is the Feverfew. This is a lovely herb that makes me happy whenever I see it. It was growing in the far back corner of our yard when we first moved in. Now it finds many perfect places to show its sunny face. It’s a great addition to herbal teas in the summer, a bright bouquet and is traditionally known as a remedy for migraine headaches.

Feverfew Patch

Feverfew trio

 

 

 

What natives are growing in your garden? Look around and see what wants to share life with you.