My Ugly Garden

My Ugly Garden

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday Supper

All was not lost.  My whiffle ball sized cabbage was transformed into this:

This spaghetti with marinara topped with zucchini, cabbage, parsley and toasted  walnuts was our dinner Saturday night.  The cabbage was surprisingly tasty.  Given it's diminutive size, it was just enough for Tim and I to share.  The kids, were not interested in the green stuff, so that's where the marinara came in handy.  The addition of my little cabbage to dinner lifted my spirits a bit after last weeks' "harvest."  Now if only I could coax a few more things to grow!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Behold! The Bounty!

I am officially depressed.  Ok, not really, but pretty bummed out.  After diligently planting veggies last fall this is what I harvested.  

Clearly, I need to be an lilliputian farmer, because I can't seem to grow anything larger than a tennis ball. Sorry about my "man hand" photo, but I was trying to capture the tiny-ness of this produce.  Miniature cabbage, onions, broccoli, and peaches.  I'm not kidding, all my peaches (all 7 of them) are this size and the one I tasted was awful.  The onions, out of the 60 we planted, we got about 20.  The onions aren't so bad, I might be able to pass them off as "spring onions."  Don't get me started on this pathetic little broccoli.  The cabbage is another matter.  I still have one in the ground that may produce a head about the size of a whiffle ball.  Maybe I can make tiny cabbage soup with tiny onions.  Ugh, frustration! 
       I'm off now to wallow in gardening self pity for a few moments before I water my tomatoes and beans.  My neighbor dropped by the other day with some heirloom tomato seedlings.  I'm excited about these little plants, they have very exotic sounding names like:Black Plum and Cherokee Purple.  So, with great joy I will yank out my under performing broccoli and cabbage and try again with something new.   


Friday, June 18, 2010

Freecycle Friday

Happy Friday!  In my gardening adventures I have found that my local Freecycle group has come in very handy.  A project I have been itching to tackle has been a small water garden.  Years ago, we bought a nice blue  water pot with a bamboo fountain, plants and some goldfish.  It sat on our back patio, (when we had one), and I loved it.  Well, it didn't take long, oh, maybe 2 days, for the raccoons to find the fish in the pot.  Every night became a battle of wills to keep our little fish from becoming raccoon sushi.  The raccoons won that battle, ripping out the fountain to get the fish, it was quite a mess. My lovely pot sat idle in the corner of the Ugly for many moons, until this week!  A trip to the garden center to price water plants ($5 to $30) had me on Freecycle with requests for two water plants.  I didn't dare ask for water lilies, because they are the most expensive, I would have been delighted with water hyacinths and iris.  The first response was from a very nice woman with water lilies!  When I picked them up she had loads growing in her large pond.  They were healthier looking than the ones I had seen at the nursery. Huge green leaves and beautiful white and yellow flowers.  I took a smaller plant and can't wait for it to bloom.  The second response was for a water iris.  This sucker was over six feet tall when I went to pick it up.  The owner of this great plant suggested I cut it way back when I put it in the pot to stimulate root growth.

Here you can see the clipped iris and my new water lily.  They look a little stressed from the transplant process, but I'm hoping they will fill out in the next couple of weeks.  

Here is the water pot in my herb garden.  My herbs are growing like crazy.  It is the only thing I seem to be able to grow.  Next week I will go up to the local vector control office to pick up some mosquito fish.  The county gives away these fish to pond and pool owners to help keep the mosquito population down.  Hopefully, these fish will escape the raccoons.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cinder block planters

Last month I came across Rhoda's lovely blog Southern Hospitality.  I got very excited about her veggie gardening post,  The use of cinder blocks for climbing veggies was inspired and I quickly posted a request on Freecycle for cinder blocks.  My request was granted and within a few days I was able to construct my own cinder block trellis.

I planted Blue Lake beans on the left and some mystery sprouts on the right.  I say mystery because these sprouts were growing profusely in my compost pile and I thought I would put them here and see what happens.  They are either cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe or, most likely, a decorative gourd.  Which would be nice in the Fall if they make it.

Here is a close up of the blocks.  
This is why I love blog-land, all of the wonderfully creative ideas.  Thanks Rhoda!

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the winner is....Weekend Wanderings

My daughter, Sophia.came up with this little gem for my travel diaries.  Thanks to everyone for the many wonderful suggestions!  This weekend was a busy one for us.  Work sent me up to the beautiful Napa Valley on Saturday, so I dragged the "fam" with me and thought I would share some photos that Sophia and I took of our "Wanderings" around this lovely area.  Welcome to Cliff Lede Vinyards in Yountville, California.

A picturesque setting for a wedding ceremony, don't you think?  The only down side was 97 degree temps and gusty winds that toppled the flower urns.  During the ceremony the resident vineyard cat decided to make an appearance and walk directly in front of the bride and groom during their vows. He had an audience and he knew it, it was very funny.

I loved these rose covered arches, They led to a very nice patio area with fountains and sculpture.  The reception was set up there.

Some beautiful flowers in the garden.

Baby grapes.  I forgot to see what varietal this is.

More vineyards.....

I love the palette of pinks and purples in this window box.. We ate dinner at this charming restaurant, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, just a few minutes north of the winery. A one hundred year old fig tree was growing in the courtyard.  I didn't want to disturb the guests eating at the table in front of the tree to take a picture of it.  But I was all excited to see it since I have my little figlet trees growing in the Ugly.  There is hope for my little trees!  Our waiter said that their fig tree produces 2 to 3 crops a season and they use the fruit in their dishes.  

I hope you enjoyed our little jaunt into the Napa Valley.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


When I found out that my sister may be coming for a visit, I thought I should try to dress up the back porch a bit.  This is difficult because we are in the process of putting in a patio. I use the term "process" very loosely. As this project started over a year ago and has resulted in an area that  is partially marked and dug out.  Basically a big pit of mud in the winter and weeds in the summer.  But I digress, I decided a couple of containers would spruce up the porch a bit and I am quite happy with the results.  Take a look ..

The large pot contains: Dwarf Lily of the Nile, Gazania, Calibrachoa, Marigold and Parsley.  The smaller pots have Marigold and Sweet Alyssum. I actually don't care for Sweet Alyssum.  I find the smell rather off-putting and ugly once they grow out, but they are inexpensive and relatively hardy.  I am happy with the finished pot, lots of bloom with little effort.  Instant gratification, that's what I love about containers.

Here are two of my Freecycle Finds for the week:

This is one of two fig tree saplings I was able to pick up.  I am super excited about them.  I had asked for a fig tree for my birthday, but no one seems to take seriously my requests for plants and trees.  Anyway, when two trees were offered this week, I was quick to snatch them up.  The only down side is that I may be 100 years old before I have any fruit  Here is the other.. 

Hope you enjoyed my containers, they were super fun to put together.  

Friday, June 4, 2010

Help me name my post!

Being a musician, 99% of my work schedule is nights and weekends.  So, our family has become very good at the day trip.  We are fortunate to live within driving distance to many beautiful places here in Northern California.  The coast being our favorite.  I thought it might be fun to include occasional posts about some of our outdoor adventures.  These outings always inspire me; the amazing plants, rock formations and animals not only help to foster an interest in the flora and fauna of our area, but also (and more importantly) give us precious time together as a family.  That said, I'm having trouble coming up with an appropriate title for these posts. With that, I'm calling on you for some ideas.  Just leave a comment with your amazing title suggestion-thanks!

Now for some pictures from the "yet to be named" travel thread:  Last Sunday we hopped in the car and headed to Point Reyes National Seashore.  We stopped in the small town of Point Reyes Station (population 350) for a lunch break and to grab a map of the artist open studio event that was taking place. With 3 antsy kids and a puppy in the car we were only able to stop by and visit one artist Tom Killion.  He does beautiful woodcut prints of the California landscape.  The kids were able to make their own print and he signed it for them.  Pretty fun.  Here is a picture of the beautiful view of Tomales Bay from his studio.

Our next stop was the beach.  We had originally planned to visit the North Beach but my usually excellent navigations skills failed me and we instead ended up at Kehoe Beach.  Which was fine, both beaches allowed dogs .  The thing I didn't expect was the 1/2 mile hike from the road out to the beach.  I knew there was a little walk, but it was definitely longer than I had expected.  Here we are on the trail.

We must be getting closer, we can see the ocean now!

And, we finally make it.  The view is totally worth the hike in.

I loved this rock out cropping. The wildflowers clinging to it were so lovely.

Sophia flying her kite with the beautiful bluffs in the distance

More kite flying, This time I'm at the helm.  Daniel and Eva are my co-pilots

Ever wonder where Clover milk comes from?  Well, these are the Clover Ladies.  Pretty nice beach front digs, eh?

Well, thanks for allowing me to share our trip to Point Reyes.  I can't wait to read your title suggestions.  Next post will have picture of some pots that I planted yesterday. My sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks so I'm trying to slap some lipstick on The Ugly....