Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bittersweet Goodbye

It is official - we are moving! I am sad to let go of all we have cultivated and enjoyed in the current incarnation of our victory garden. I will be leaving my fruit bearing trees, my ample vegetable beds, and my beloved roses. We also leave behind a house we have completely renovated to our taste; there was not a wall, floor, or surface that we did not touch, modify, and improve.  One of my dear friends asked, “What did your husband do to blast you out of your house?!” Timing, my friends, is everything. The vegetable beds are now empty and covered for the winter and I leave behind no tender seedlings. The beginning of this quiet time in the garden is the best time for a gardener to pull up roots for there are less regrets in regard to what is left behind.

We are not moving far from our current location, only 1-2 miles north and in the northwestern most quadrant of the same neighborhood. The new yard provides a wonderful opportunity to create a dream garden, hopefully to include a vegetable and herb potager, a rose garden, placement of choice fruit trees, and a water-wise but lush native border for local birds and beneficial insects. There is much work to be done. I disapprove and in some cases loathe the previous owners’ plant selections and configuration. The landscape itself is overplanted and probably over watered; it needs to be thinned out considerably. The privet hedges need to make way for a native hedge that is less allergy inducing to our new neighbors. The English ivy must be eradicated; kill it with fire if that is what it takes!
  A number of trees need to be removed, either due to poor placement or to make way for citrus trees. The large patio space will be home to my numerous plumeria potted from cuttings.

With the time, effort, and aggravation already caused by the purchase of the new home, I don’t have the time to wax nostalgic about our departure. This process is not a sprint but an arduous marathon that isn’t half over. (Anyone interested in purchasing a 1600 square foot 1950s ranch in the San Diego metro area?) There are many adventures to come, but Hubby and I have agreed that we will work on the interior of the house first, and then move outside to the garden. In the meantime, here are some "before" pictures of the garden:

Who places pointy palms in a front entrance? So uninviting!
A border of roses will surround my potager veggie garden - bye bye lawn!
Privets, ficus, and hidden ivy - kill them with fire!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Drought Tolerant Front Yard

Thanks in part to a terrible drought and our consequent indecision, our front yard has been dirt for a number of months now. In the spirit of keeping things simple and recognizing our circumstances, we have come up with a most excellent solution: Mulch the whole thing!

Some climate researches believe that we are moving into a mega-drought and need to start completely rethinking how we utilize and ration our water resources. While I don't disagree with the need to be good stewards of our resources, I am unsure if we are headed toward a mega-drought. We went through 7 years of drought in the early to mid 1980s and were delivered from dry with a bout of El Nino years so wet that we flooded. No one seems to understand the fact that there really is no such thing as average rain fall in the desert. There are dry years and there are wet years; the average of which is supposed to be our allotment for a given year. It never works that way. At this time,unseasonably warm summer ocean temperatures have extended into fall, and the appearance of tropical fish in local waters seem to indicate we are going into an El Nino season, but that is yet to be seen. 


Instead of obsessing over water during drought years, we should be ever developing better access to water resources and conserving the resources we do have, most especially developing technologies that allow us to tap into other supplies and reuse reclaimed water. I gladly gave up my lawn; but I would hate to see a day come that I cannot grown my vegetables and water my flowers. I have to believe there is a better solution then to let all our plants die; the economic and emotional costs of would be great indeed.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Last Blooms

Double Delight
The last blooms of autumn are a specular fireworks performance in my garden. The roses have grown tall and leggy this year, relishing all the sun but not lacking their desired drink of water despite the vicious drought. I continue to dead head spent blooms and strategically prune wayward branches so the plants don’t completely take over the patio. 

The vegetable beds are mostly empty, with just a couple crispy squash vines drying up in the dirt. Growing squash from seed starting in late summer was a lark of an experiment. The acorn squash and sugar pie pumpkins were a bust, but the butternut squash grew luxuriously in the late summer into autumn heat, giving me decent sized squashes to turn into soup and risotto.

The plumeria continues to thrive on neglect, spilling multiple stalks of blooms over and over during the season. The plumeria doesn’t hit its bloom stride until late July or early August, but it will continue to bloom through November as long as the temperatures remain warm. I’ve had much interest in cuttings from neighbors, passers-by, and friends and I am doing my best to indulge requests with offerings of multiple cuttings. Thankfully, there has been no damage caused by individuals stealing branches. Sooner rather than later, I will need to trim back and create cuttings from the front yard plumeria plants. I plan to try my hand at raising plumeria from cuttings in pots in the next couple of months, so I will have to keep a good number of cuttings for myself during this year’s pruning!

Fern's Pink and the fragrant yellow and white
Not sure what these are - anyone?