Saturday, August 27, 2011

Calabazilla - a native edible

Off India Street, off Riverview Terrace, along the old Red Car Line is an old dirt road that leads to a meadow. Along the road is this wonderful plant with big silvery leaves, yellow squash flowers buzzing with bees, and shiny green fruit.

We took a fruit and came home. After a brief search I found it online - my favorite name for it is calabazilla, but the Latin name is Cucurbita foetidissima. Other names are stinking goard and buffalo goard. It doesn't smell bad, though - it has a kind of cucumber smell about it - actually pleasant.

It is edible, and we'll try to cook it tonight - cook it like a squash. As it ages it gets bitter and inedible. When dry it's used in the same manner as a gourd. It's a native California plant and has a long history as a soap and a medicine.

More later.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tularosa bees love fennel

Back from our summer road trips to Wyoming we're enjoying the garden and so are the bees. They are all over the blooming fennel.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Small successes

This is Limelight Millet - the green sprays of millet that you see in floral arrangements. I grew this from seed I bought from Johnnies. You can see the lovely green seed head here. Between the birds and other baby critters inhabiting our yard I'm doubting this will last long.

Here are my hops. I remember driving through the beautiful hop fields in Southern Idaho and longed to grow my own. I ordered rhizomes off EBay and planted them in my as yet unpatented critter foiling system pictured here. The critters LOVE bulbs and roots. The rhizomes here are planted under a wire basket, sunk about an inch in the ground, held down with a chunk of urbanite. They'll grown up though the basket and train on the pole next to it. They're growing fast.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not Fenugreek

Well, the plant I sowed with my nettles is not fenugreek. I mixed a bowl of different cover crop seeds. I'll have to look through my seed box to see what it might be. If anyone has an idea, I'd love to hear it.


July 11, 2011
I looked through my seed box today and finally figured out what my nettle-ish mystery plant is. It's chia! They're about 18" high now so should start flowering soon. I really want to know if I can eat the leaves but can't find out anything. They're in the mint family - great sentry plants.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The State of the Garden Address

We traveled at the end of June. The garden suffered somewhat. A few plants were lost, disguised as they were among the weeds to hide them from the three incredibly cute baby skunks who maraud our garden nightly. This cardoon, though, is towering and lovely, the one plant in our yard that makes me keep trying.

Here is my nettle - left. It's being nursed by fenugreek - a kind of look alike - a pairing made quite by accident. The fenugreek acts as a sentry plant and wards off the skunks and critters, giving my nettles a chance to get started.

My trombetta albegna started late this year - the weather was bleak through much of June. You can see the trouble I have to go to to protect this one from the animals: a tomato cage, an industrial grid, chicken wire, slabs of concrete, and sentry plants.

Remember, the garden looks best in close up. You're NOT seeing all of my disasters and waste areas. The last few days are the first I've had to tend to the garden properly and being plagued with allergies these days have been short.

Have a happy Fourth!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What will you hoard for peak oil collapse?

I'm torn between coffee and bleach.

Coffee, imported from the tropics, will be priced out of my range. If I have coffee I can probably lure strapping, young urban farmers to my compound to tend my crops and fortify my defenses.

On the other hand, bleach is created by 1 or 2 companies under super-secret guarded conditions and may also be priced out of my range. Less water and crumbling infrastructure equals dicey sanitation and super germs that will scoff at our green vinegar and lemon juice. Earthy-crunchy dreadlocked vegans may trade all manner of goods and services for 8 ounces of bleach.

What will you hoard?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Last Monday in May

It's SO beautiful today - light breeze, balmy, sunny, the air scented with flowers and wood smoke. Ken bought a brisket at McCall's Meat and Fish Company on Hillhurst and is smoking it for dinner. I just had a bite and it's out of this world. McCall's is a nod to my not being able to stomach factory farmed meat anymore. I rarely eat meat, so when I do I want it to be good.

I've been doing garden cleanup and planting seedlings today.

I grew these nettles from seed and planted 4 behind the barn and two beside the bridge - out of the way. They're just big enough now to sting. I've never felt that before - very cool, and surprisingly lasting. I'm very into weeds this year and so nettles were on the top of my list. I'm also growing 2 kinds of plantain - the seeds gathered curbside. I've transplanted them to a mixture of our clay soil and amendment as they don't need that rich of a soil.

This is angelica that I've also grown from seed. I've planted this one near the bridge, an area amply shaded which I can easily keep moist. The angelica will not bloom this year, but I'm patient. I was smitten with it on my Tennessee Valley walks in Marin County, CA. It grows wild there. Next time I go I'll try to pinch a few seeds.

This is "french hollyhock" (malva sylvestris), a weed around here, but one with which I am deeply in love. It's a mallow and has large round leaves. Even though it rusts the rust does not spread to other plants. It has been a wonderful nurse plant to my tomatoes.

I caught this bee reveling in a California poppy. I hope it's one of our bees, though I fear all ours are gone.

Here are our new hives, awaiting starter strips and wax. I've been told that bees leave 50% of the time, so I figure if we have two hives we have a better chance of one of them being occupied.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!