Saturday, April 25, 2009

Moving....yet again

Yes my dear blogger pals, we are on the move yet again. Tomorrow we're officialyl moving into another apartment of our own. *cheers* I am almost tempted to rename this blog " The Wandering Gardener" or " The Nomadic Homesteader" since we've moved 4 times in 6 months now. sheesh.

I'll spare you the drama, the whining, the anger, and my bitch rant to sum it up as living in this giant house with so much family tension just wasnt working out for us. The End.

That and my husband's company hasnt let him go even tho all signs pointed to that happening any day now. So before he loses his job and the foreclosure & bankrupcy hit our credit we figured get out now while the going is as 'good' as its gonna get. Also this way we'd have Aurora enrolled in a school and not worrying about suddenly moving if/when this house sold.

Once again the Gods smiled upon us, and we found a nice 2 bed 2 bath apartment for only $1,250 a month. Not bad at all. Our last place was 1249 sq feet and $1775 a month, this place is 1,136 sq feet for 1250. Not too shabby. If Chris gets laid off and gets unemplyment thats $1900 a month, so with careful planning we could squeeze thru it.Rental prices have really dropped in the last few months, and this place is 5 minutes from my husband's office, so a win-win there. we're actually about 5 minutes away from our now foreclosed on house, but oh well. Its bittersweet, but overall I'm glad to be going "home" to the Inland Empire where my parents, my friends, and my kids friends are.

Bad news gardening wise, we're on the 2nd floor so just a tiny balcony about 15 feet long and 5 or 6 feet wide? They dont mind plants on patios so I'm going to get some of those sturdy window box holders for the balcony rail, line the bottom with more windowboxes, and possibly squeeze my one lone SWC into a corner for a taste at summer tomato goodness. Thankfully its a south facing patio. I can also hang plant baskets so maybe some mint, oregano, thyme in the hanging baskets. Right now the plants are the the bottom of my worries list, I just made sure to water everything very, very, very well tonight and topped everything with a layer of coconut coir mulch so if I dont get to coming back for them this week and they dont get watered everyday they may handle it fine with the weather staying fairly cool.

so yeah, theres my update. I wont have internet at our new place for a week or so. I'll talk to you all later!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Unexpected Visitors

These 2 ducks showed up in our pool last week for a few hours, we figured they flew in from a local park or something. This morning around 5 am I thought I heard quacking outside and figured it was in my head- till I looked out the window and saw the ducks had come back. As cute as they were my first worry were my seedlings, I hope they didnt munch on them. So far they havent bothered them, but I'm not going to leave them out on the lowest shelf anymore. I'm going to start keeping an eye out for them in the early morning and see if they keep coming back.

My first SWC completly built and planted/ Weather Rant

Last week the weather stayed warm enough ( and hubby felt well enough) to finally sit outside and help me assemble a SWC, make some planting mix and fill/plant it. Hooray, 1 down, a bunch more to go. ( in these photos the soil lvl is a little low, I went and mixed up some more then filled the bins to the brim. )

I need to have hubby go buy and cut me some more PVC pipe for the watering tubes. I had 4 already cut to 2ft lengths ready to go but to save my life I have no idea where I put them, they arent outside where I thought I had them, and no one else has seen them either. Bah. Once I get those the other bins are cut, drilled, and ready to assemble.

I just hope these SWCs drain well enough internally. I'm concerned because when I dissassembled the first "prototype" SWC I built the potting soil at the bottom of the SWC was moist but had the most aweful smell! It was that stinky anerobic bacteria smell from the water stagnating in the bin for 2 weeks. I have a drainage hole in it but I guess somehow that bottom layer of dirt wasnt waterlogged except what was in the wicking basket but phew did it reek. I thought anerobic bacteria was bad news for plants and/or a sign of poor drainage, so I'm hoping waiting to fill the SWCs with dirt until I can put plants in at the same time will help so the tomatos get their roots down deep quickly to keep air and moisture moving thru the soil. *crosses fingers*

I am saving the cages for the indeterminate varieties, and hoping they thrive as well as everyones photos show they do. I am especially hoping the 'carmelo' and 'cherokee purple' tomatos do well, everytime I read people's great reviews of them my mouth starts to water.

These tomatoes I planted in my first SWC are "Jaune Flamme", and indeterminate that yields small, intensely flavored persimmon colored tomatos that supposedly make wonderful dried tomatos.

This week the weather has been a bit of a disappointment, it suddenly got stormy again and cold- it was down to 48 the other night and I was terrified my seedlings were gonna die, but so far they seem to have hardened up enough to be handling these chilly spring temps we've been getting. I have them against a south wall thats out of the direct wind. They are just starting to get a bit yellowed at the bottom where they are outgrowing the peat pots I planted them up in. They need to be in their permanent homes soon.
I am really boggled by our Spring weather this year. Usually the Los Angeles area doesnt get much of a spring- usually its just 80 degrees instead of 100. Last 2 years it was already in the 70s and 80s weeks before the spring frost date. I planted my tomatoes in the begining of March with few problems and was harvesting my first basketful of cherrys around June. This year the spring frost date was between Mid March- Early April but even now I'm nervous to set them out in their planters for fear we'll get another one of these freak storms which isnt really a storm: no rain, just cloudy, cold wind and cold nights. The plants aren't as large or vigerous either, only about a foot tall and rather leggy even tho they are in the sunniest part of the deck, the sun's warmth hasnt felt very intense at all with all the haze and clouds. We had that freak week of 90ish degree weather in October, and it hasnt been that warm since. Very odd for around here.
I can normally count on Jan-Feb having some rain and cold 50-60 degree says mixed in with 80 degree days, then in March & April it quickly warms up to the 70s & 80s and everything planted takes off and gets well settled before the heat sets in. May/June we get some " June Gloom" of odd cloudy haze from the marine layer getting trapped over the valley then my Jun-August its full on summer with 90-110 being the common highs. September it stays in the 90s, October/November is 80s-90s, then December is the coolest month averaging about 65.
My Birthday is Jan 3 and for the last 5 years 4/5 it was hot enough to have a BBQ and a pool party outside, all except this year. Bizare.
C'mon Sun, come back! My tomatoes & basil are waiting for you!

New Issue of Mother Earth News is in!

Oh happy day! The April/May issue of My favorite magazine came in this morning. I wish it was a monthly magazine instead of every 2 months, it has such good info in it. A quick peek thru showed an article on my favorite vegetable: swiss chard, as well as an article on grass fed beef. oooo

My magazine subs are my little selfish pleasures. I try my best to savor every page by choosing the perfect place to read it over a few days to stretch out the joy. I need my own temporary sanctuary. Someplace comfy to sit long enough to read an entire article or two at a time, not too bright, not too dim, comfy temp, and preferably where the kids wont climb into my lap and start trying to rip the pages out of my hands.

In other words, if anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathroom.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Photos of Spring

Flowering Parsley

Kadota Fig Cuttings I'm trying to propagate

Windowboxes doing well, Swiss Chard looking pretty!

A Pool Deck Garden

Basil & Det. Tomato Planter

I found this wagon in a dumpster just missing a bolt and I'm reusing it for my transplanted up tomato & pepper seedlings

SWC Building

OSH had the 54 in tomato cages on sale so I went by and got 6 of them, then hit Target and got enough bins to build 4 18 gal and 2 31 gal bins since the bins I bought originally for that use are holding other clutter at the moment. Hubby helped me cut off the bottoms of half yesterday, so today I'm working on driling, fitting the bond baskets in and assembling them. According to my Gardening by the Moon calendar this week is a good week for planting, so I'm hoping ot take advantage of that.

Today the sun is (finally) hot and intense, so I'm carefully keeping a close eye on the shallow windowboxes and keeping them well watered. This heat should help give everything a nice jolt of growth.

I found some more winged green aphids appearing on my sweetpea vines along with some inchworms, I tried ot pick off as many as I could by hand since there werent many. I bought some bronner's soap and need to make up some spray and try to nip these bugs before theres too many more.

Friday, April 3, 2009

sick :(

Kids had a fever/colds this week and then gave it to me- ugh. Plus our internet keeps going out randomly for hours on end, and picasa photo albums are acting weird on me too.

Give me a few days to get everything in order again and I'll get these posts sitting in the draft folder up and posted. :)