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New Season, New Garden

Last year was a fallow one for us, but new things are sprouting in the garden in 2013.

We rearranged the garden, for starters. While we hardly have an over-cultivated plantation, we like to plant our regular favorites in different places each year. Our plot gets intense sun from mid-morning until nearly 7 p.m. We've shifted our bean trellis so that it cuts across the garden diagonally.  We've added a new and colorful knitted trellis for growing beans on.  We're hoping that will provide a little bit more shade or filtered sun across the hours of the day.

Our most ambitious addition is an herb garden. Seeds have been started and purchased plants have even been transplanted to larger pots.  The gardener is clearing lawn from a strip along the western cinder block wall. Karen has started exploring border devices to see the plot off and provide a little bit more raised bedding.

I've been clipping the oregano we had more often.  I've also trimmed the thyme I purchased and mint.  I'm discovering the herbs do much better when trimmed.  I have a pile of herbals and instructions for drying, distilling, decocting and infusing with herbs.

In the front of the house, we planted seeds for hollyhocks, nasturtiums, zinnias and daisies. So far only the nasturtiums have come up.  There's some interesting double-leafed sprouts coming up, but it's hard to tell at this stage if they are planted seeds or volunteers.

Photos to come with the next post.

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Hand-Knit Trellis Now Ready for Climbing Foot-Long Beans

Just as the "June" gloom is starting to burn off, I finished my knitted trellis for the garden.

It completely surrounds one of our bamboo tripods, with space at the bottom for tending the romaine lettuces growing within the tripod.

It's knit out of nylon twine on US 35 needles. While the nylon has no stretch (the way a wool yarn does), the huge gauge has loads of give. The piece was knit flat with ties attached along one edge.  It is tied to the tripod along one leg.

One some early samples for a knitted plant trellis, I experimented with lace patterns.  They look lovely, but I realized two things. One, once the plants grow up the trellis any knitting pattern is lost. Secondly, the plants and leaves need space to grow in and out of.

I used a pattern for a shawl: k1, yo, k2tog and then repeat. I got lost a number of times: the yarn-overs drifted over other stitches on occasion. As this was a speed project that won't be visible ones the beans grow over it, I didn't w…

The fall of the great tomato plant

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We worried about when to harvest the butternut squash. There's no greening, yellowing, reddening, deepening or other particular sign of ripeness once the squash grow to a certain size. Google Extension Service suggested harvesting before the first frost.  In California, that would be the day before Never.
In Nature's wisdom, the plants told us. The huge green vines that had sprung up on their own, just turned brown and shrank back on their own, leaving six heavy butternut squashes dangling from their red and yellow net bags. (We'd strung them up to keep them away from the wetness of the earth and the mouths of the snails.) We cut them down and divided the harvest.
My first butternut squash, I simply seeded, roasted and scraped the flesh from the shell. Butternut is bland, a lovely gold color, but -- yawn -- not much flavor.  But it was fresh and home grown. That imparts something wonderful to it, if you have the stillness and focus to be aware.