Apr 222014
 

Day lily

by Avis Licht-

Although I often feel a little cynical by what I call manufactured holidays, like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day, they do have their uses.  Any reminder to love someone, remember, care for, forgive, or celebrate with someone is a good thing.

The same goes for Earth Day.  I believe and practice in my life, that EVERY day is Earth Day.  Each day I try to start the day with intention to do no harm, or at least less harm, and to leave my place on earth a little better than before.  Each day I spend some time in my garden. Sometimes just to walk about and enjoy it, to listen to the birds, to smell the jasmine.  Sometimes it’s to work hard, dig the beds, remove weeds, sow delicate seeds, prune the trees. I am a caretaker.  We are all caretakers.

Today is a good day to take a few moments and listen to our co inhabitants- the birds, the humming  bees, the leaves moving in the wind.  Grateful for each day we can breath fresh air, drink clean water, walk on the earth. Grateful for being able to make a difference.

Thank you for reading my ramblings on the life of a gardener.

Here are some photographs of inhabitants of our Mother earth.

A place to meditate and contemplate

A place to meditate and contemplate

 

 

Our precious earth

Whether seen from the perspective from space or our own little garden, we still need to take good care of our Mother Earth.

Rose

Beauty in many forms

worlds within worlds

Worlds within worlds

Children are captivated by sowing seed.

Children are captivated by sowing seed.

Borage in the rain

Borage in the rain

 

 

 

Mar 122014
 

by Avis Licht

chard

Chard can be sowed in the ground or in pots

 

chard

The larger chard in the upper part of the photo was planted in November. The baby chard seedling was sown in January and planted in March. They will provide delicious greens for more than a year.

 You might be surprised at how early you can start sowing and planting your Spring vegetables. Of course, I’m not talking about snow or frosty ground. BUT, still there are a few great crops that can withstand what nature throws at them. If you live in a really cold clime, then you can start sowing indoors in many places. For those of you who live where the snow has left or never been, then consider these great plants.

LETTUCE:  This is one of my family’s favorite foods.  Mixed with other raw vegetables it’s a sure winner. I love butter lettuce, like the Marvel of Four Seasons, Red romaine and baby Bibb.

BOK CHOY: An Asian green that has a delicate flavor and can be eaten  both raw and cooked. You can sow this either in pots or directly in the ground.

CHARD: One of the easiest to grow and most nutrious greens. And it’s not only green. It comes in rainbow colors of red, yellow, orange and green. The variety I like to grow is Rainbow chard, of course. You can sow it in pots early and then transplant them or sow directly in the ground when it’s above 50 degrees.

BROCCOLI: There are different varieties of broccoli. Kale, cabbage and cauliflower are included in this family. But it doesn’t matter which one you grow, they’re all great. After I harvest the main crown from the broccoli, the plant grows many, many side shoots that are just as good. Also, the leaves are good to eat as well.

Bok Choy

Grow small greens in containers for small gardens or decks. This is bok choy.

Seeds of Change

Red lettuce

Red lettuce seedlings are planted between the broccoli plants. They are a good companion plant to broccoli. The broccoli is planted 2 feet apart, which leaves a lot of room between them. While they are small, it’s good to plant the lettuce seedlings which will be harvested before the broccoli gets too big.

very young broccoli

Broccoli seedling started in January, planted outdoors in March. I also sowed radishes in between the broccoli. The radishes will grow quickly and be harvested before the broccoli covers the area.

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Gardening tools and seeds

Feb 042014
 

By Avis Licht

My two loves, outside of my family, of course, are gardening and music. I have always looked up to Pete Seeger and admired his integrity. His way of bringing people together through music is almost unrivaled. In honor of his life and passing I am sharing this video of him singing one of my favorite gardening songs, Inch by Inch: The Garden Song by David Mallett.

Everything we do in life, is inch by inch and one day at a time.

Children learning to sow seed

Teaching children to sow seed.

Small vegetable garden
Sowing seed and watching them grow.

Rose

Beauty in all our lives.

Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row, Someone bless the seeds I sow.
Someone warm them from below, ’til the rain comes tumbling down.

Pulling weeds and picking stones, man is made of dreams and bones.
Feel the need to grow my own ’cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain, find my way in nature’s chain,
to my body and my brain to the music from the land.

Plant your rows straight and long, thicker than with prayer and song.
Mother Earth will make you strong if you give her love and care.
Old crow watching hungrily, from his perch in yonder tree.
In my garden I’m as free as that feathered thief up there.

Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row, Someone bless the seeds I sow.
Someone warm them from below, ’til the rain comes tumbling down.

 

 

Oct 282011
 
A variety of plantsIn a small area you can have a variety of different plants with different needs

A micro climate is not just a little bit of climate. It is a small area that is different from the area around it. It could be warmer or colder, wetter or drier, or more or less prone to frosts.

We are told to look up our climate zone in order to know what to plant.  But the truth is that where we live the “climate ” is affected by the hills nearby, your home, trees, how much asphalt there is nearby, any bodies of water and which way the wind blows.

A shady spot for lettuce

You can create tiny microclimates in your garden beds

In the picture on the right, I created a small micro climate in the garden bed by planting lettuce with zucchini in the Spring.  The lettuce grew well in the full sun of Spring, then was shaded by the leaf of the zucchini as the sun got hotter. By the time the sun was too hot, the lettuce had already been harvested.

The good news is that you can make use of your own yard’s topography to grow plants that might not ordinarily grow in “your” climate.  For example, if you live in a climate with winter frosts but have a south facing wall with an overhang, you can grow plants such as lemons and limes that like a warmer winter. It could be that even a few degrees of warmth will make the difference between a fruiting tree and a dead tree.

Lemon tree very pretty

This lemon has been moved 4 times, trying to find the right spot

I live in a cold winter climate, with many days of frost. I keep trying to find a good place for my lemon.  It’s not dead yet. But it’s also not filled with fruit.

I put it in the yard which gets 6 hours of sun in the winter, but the frosts were too much for it.  I covered it with our down sleeping bags on really cold nights, but that wasn’t enough.  I moved it to the deck in a pot, but it didn’t get enough sun.  I then moved it to the back yard along a fence that got reflected west sun in the winter.  It’s looking better and I’m not ready to give up yet.  But I do have to mooch lemons off my friends that live in a warmer location.

The main lesson here is to observe your own garden in all its seasons and all its weather.  Notice which plants are thriving and which are struggling.  Look for special nooks and crannies that can give you more warmth, protection or moisture depending on what your plant needs.  To find out more about micro climates, read this great article.

 

 

 

 

Sep 022011
 
Beautiful Paths
Beautiful Paths

Path into the Garden

Walking up the brick path to the front door, you can see a well defined path on the left leading through an open wire fence.  It just makes you want to go there.  This path is made of decomposed granite, also known as DG. It is easy to lay down, and weed resistant.  In this case we added a stabilizer to the granite to make it even more sturdy.

In the picture below you can see how we leveled the area and put a weed barrier down first. We did the same treatment for both DG and Redwood Bark paths.

Construction of a path

Laying weed barrier on path below your final material

The path leading into the garden, is more informal and we used Redwood Bark.  It looks like it belongs in the garden, but still leads you through easily and safely.  The curve of the path adds design interest and takes you up the hill with fewer steps.

The Redwood Bark Path

The informal bark path is still easy to walk on

Paths do much more than take you somewhere.  A path to the front door should also welcome you and be safe and clearly defined.  A front door gets lots of traffic, from toddlers to the elderly, who may be using canes or walkers.

You want the front entrance to be clearly identified, stable, with no tripping spots and well lit.

Welcoming entry

A well laid, flagstone path, sturdy yet still informal

Although this path is flagstone, it used large stones, is laid very flat and is clearly defined.  It makes a very welcoming entrance.

Paths in the garden not only allow you access to the plants to maintain the beds, but prevent compaction and erosion.  Plants need oxygen and water and aerated soil for their roots to grow.  Each time you step on the soil you compact it more.  After even only a few times, you will find that water doesn’t enter easily, the soil becomes hard and plants won’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need.

Here are examples of simple, easy paths to put in your garden.

stepping stones

Stepping stones in the garden prevent compaction

A very easy and simple path

Free chips laid on a path work well too

In the picture above, you can see small stepping stones in the bed on the left.  They are there to walk through the strawberry bed without compacting the soil.

Under the chips in this garden, we laid old sheets and towels to keep the weeds down. I really don’t like using plastic in the garden. Cotton is an organic material that lets water through, keeps the weeds from growing and will eventually break down into soil. Plastic weed barriers just break up into little pieces of plastic that will be there for the next thousand of years.   Think twice before using plastic in the garden.

Another example of a beautiful stone stepping path.  Easy to lay and beautiful to look at.

Slate stone entry and stepping stones to the back yard

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