Jun 112014
 

by Avis Licht

In California June is a busy time in the garden.  Some plants are already in and growing, some need to be planted and some need to be sown.

All the highlighted links will lead you to more information on that topic.  There is lots of information here. So come back often.

My broccoli has been setting beautiful heads for the last month and now the side shoots are ready to be harvested.  Chard, carrots, kale, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are all making their colorful entrance to the table. Freshly harvested food makes even the simplest meal a taste treat.

Herbs are the piece de resistance of the garden.  Easy to grow, beautiful, healthy and tasty, they make every meal more flavorful and healthier.  If you only have time or space for one plant, make it an herb. Rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, tarragon, oregano, mint – they are easy to grow and add vibrancy and health to your food and to you and to your garden.

In June we really have beauty and bounty - Raspberries by the bowl and lillies.

In June we really have beauty and bounty – Raspberries by the bowl and lillies.

In June, I go out every morning to harvest berries of all sorts for breakfast.  It’s a great way to start the day.

Red poppies in the morning sun.

Red poppies in the morning sun.

I grow flowers not only for their beauty, but because they provide food for bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other important pollinators in the garden.  The more diverse your garden, the healthier it will be.

Rhodohypoxis

Rhodohypoxis

Be sure to visit my online store if you want tools, seeds, compost bins, gardening gloves and much more.  Whatever you find in my store, I personally recommend.

 

This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

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Chard stalks are beautiful, too.

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I grow many kinds of bee friendly plants.

Red Poppies

Growing herbs in a container near the house is easy and convenient.

Growing herbs in a container near the house is easy and convenient. This planter has basil, oregano, tarragon and marigolds.

 

Jun 252013
 

by Avis Licht

It’s two days after the Summer Solstice and the garden is coming into fruition. I am feeling so grateful to have a garden, to spend time in it, and to have so much wonderful food come out of it.  We also have  flowers everywhere, to bring color and joy. And to invite our friends the birds, butterflies and bees. It’s a regular gathering place for the multitudes. This unusual June rain is a gift beyond compare. Those of you in other parts may get summer rains. Maybe even too many.  But here in California a summer rain is what we call a gift from heaven. Thank you to the Powers that Be.

Here are some photos I took this morning in the rain.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

 

Daylily

Daylily buds are edible and highly prized in Chinese cooking

 

Grapes

Thin the grapes early to make room for them to grow full size


Cherry Belle Radish

Radishes – Harvest early and often

Harvesting raspberries

In an unusual June rain, we adore picking raspberries.

Basil

Growing basil in pots is easy. In the ground sometimes basil gets eaten by earwigs and slugs. In the pots not so much.

Delicata squash

My seedlings of the squash have germinated beautifully and will start growing rapidly after this rain. The white flower is nicotiana, a fragrant night blooming flower.

Miniature rose

These roses have been blooming for months. After cutting them back a few weeks ago, they are starting all over again. I put these small roses all over the garden for beauty and delight. Rose petals are used in many culinary ways.

IMGP0058Variegated thyme

Variegated thyme provides a wonderful leaf contrast and I use it in cooking. I grow it near the strawberries as a companion plant.

Kale

Even though my kale has a few munching holes in it, it’s still great to eat. I don’t worry about a few pecks here and there.

Raspberries

Raspberries are easy to grow and I feel rich when we eat them. They’re expensive to buy, and cheap to grow! Watch out though, they like to spread themselves around the garden. Read about them in this post:

Squash blossom

Your plants will have many blossoms, and we often get way too many zuchinnis. So why not eat the blossoms? They’re delicious. Here are some ways to cook them: Squash blossom with ricotta.

Cucumber blossom

Once they start blossoming you can expect to get cucumbers soon and often. I plant 4 or 5 varieties, including lemon, Persian, Armenian,Thai and pickling. We love our cucumbers.

Blueberries starting to ripen

Given plenty of water, the blueberries are growing large and plump and we will harvest them over a long period of time. One of the best shrubs for the edible landscape. Read more on blueberries in this post.




Jan 092012
 
Red Raspberries

by Avis Licht

Raspberries are growing in the wooden stake area

Raspberries have their place in a large garden, but beware - they will spread like wildfire!

Raspberries are delicious and easy to grow, BUT they have some very big drawbacks. So before you go buying and putting those puppies in the ground read this cautionary tale. Then I’ll tell you how to prune them. Remember, this is a pruning post, not a planting post.  How to plant and care for your raspberries, will be another day.

Red Raspberries

These are everbearing rapsberries, that produce in Spring and Fall

Raspberries grow from perennial roots that produce thorny canes.  They spread horizontally underground. If you live in a climate where it rains during the growing season, or if you irrigate  near the raspberries, you will find that they spread rapidly outside their growing bed.

You can do one of two things to control the spread of underground runners.  Next to your bed you can dig a trench 12 inches deep and put in a root barrier. This would be a material like aluminum, wood or plastic that will keep the runners from spreading horizontally.

Or, you can dig up the runners as you see them springing up in the garden. To my chagrin, I have found runners throughout the garden. Especially in late Spring, you can find me running around like a mad woman digging up unwanted canes. Sometimes it feels like they’re growing as fast as I can dig them up. Some people say it’s easy to dig them up, but my experience is that their roots get entangled with other plants. It’s a pain in the butt to dig them up, so Planter Beware!

If you have a small garden, with room for only a few plants, I don’t think it is worth planting raspberries.  It takes at least 10 original plants to produce enough fruit to make it worth the trouble. That would be a bed 3 ft wide by 20 ft long. Not to mention the maintenance.

On the other hand, once you’ve decided that you have enough room and can keep up with the maintenance, I say, you can’t have too many.  They cost a lot of money in the store, and when you grow them at home, you can eat as many as you want. Who can argue with that?

The most common plants are “ever -bearing” or “twice- bearing” raspberries.  You plant them in the Spring and they produce their first crop in the Fall. Prune these shoots back  in the Winter, and they produce new shoots in the spring that produce a second crop.  These canes will die back after their Fall harvest.  New shoots that come up in the Spring will produce your Fall crop.

In the winter you want to cut back all the dead canes to the ground, prune out any weak shoots that are smaller than a pencil in diameter, and cut the live canes back to 12 inches. Dead canes are brown and live canes are green.  If you have trouble telling the difference in your canes, make a quick cut towards the top of the cane. If it has green around the stem, it’s a live cane.  If the whole cross section of the cut is brown, yep, it’s dead – cut it all the way to the ground.

The pictures below show how mine look before and after pruning.

dormant raspberry canes

BEFORE: Canes of everbearing raspberries before pruning

 

Pruned raspberry canes

AFTER: Canes have been pruned to about 12 inches above ground.

Raspberry canes, pruned and thinned

Cut out all dead and weak canes. Cut back to 12 inches

In these photos you’ll notice that I have them growing inside a simple wooden structure.  I took some old Redwood pickets, and put them in the ground around the raspberries. The cross pieces are at 2 ft and 4 ft high.  This simple training structure keeps the canes inside, upright and easy to pick.  There’s no tying or drooping.  Anything that grows outside the structure gets dug up. It also looks nice in winter when the canes are dormant.

Despite my warning about raspberries, I think they are a great plant for the edible landscape as long as you know what you’re getting into.

To find out more about raspberries read this excellent article from Fine Gardening Magazine, How to Grow Raspberries.

 

 

Nov 292011
 
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter

Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter

Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter. Plant your seedlings in a sunny well drained site

 

Although we’re almost to the shortest day of the year, it’s still possible to work and plant in your winter garden, at least in some parts of the United States. You can look out your window and see if you have snow on the ground or you can look up your planting zones in this nifty site.  Type in your zip code and they will tell you what you can plant and when to plant it.

This is the time of year to choose your sites for deciduous fruit trees and shrubs.  Depending on your available space and sunlight, you can consider dwarf or semi dwarf fruit trees, blueberry shrubs, raspberries, and other cane berries, currants, kiwis and grapes.

Kiwi on fence

This kiwi grows on a strong fence.

 

There are some hardy vegetables like lettuce, chard, kale and all the cabbage family, including broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage that can take the cold weather.  A little extra protection provided by row covers can really help your plants grow during the cold weather.

For the very committed gardener  you can use cold frames and green houses to extend your seasons.

There’s no end to the fun one can have in the garden in the winter season.

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