Monday, November 3, 2014

Birth-Time November 3

This is my favorite time of the year. I wonder if most find that their birth-time is. I love the subtle changes here and take this time to review my own. I find it more meaningful to carry out a review and consider a plan for the year following this birthday; more than engaging in the more typical New Year's resolutions.
I think that the garden will mirror how I want this next year to look like, with my plans; many still on the drawing board.
I want to go the distance in my Permaculture garden, have goals met in my business, make time for the arts, schedule craft shows to participate in again, up my production of broths and fermented foods and eat only what I have prepared and the hardest; have a social life.
I love the serenity of my life at home, but am beginning to see that another birthday alone is perhaps; not the optimal way to spend it. I admit; I am not alone. I have my dear Galahad and the two kitties. I cannot complain!

I will write my goals on my vision/life-mapping wall today and spend time in my garden thinking about changes and additions there. I have garlic to plant today, as well. Sheets are hanging on the clothesline reminding me of the slower lifestyle I so believe in. 
 I will wait for another week's end to share my love of gardening books and methods and perhaps a continuation of how counties are dealing with water and food-growing issues.
Today, I will do little else but use my imagination and sweep out the old and make way for the new!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Edibles and Flowers

I have gone back and forth over the years about what the garden should consist of. I had wanted to incorporate edibles in my garden for a long time. This year, I embraced the concept of Permaculture and continue to strive to create a food forest on my property. As I began redesigning my front garden last January, just before I became obsessed with Permaculture, I planned for and added Citrus for starters. As I thought about moving forward with edibles, I hesitated like I always do. Was the garden asking for edibles or more flowering plants?

 I thought about the importance of growing food, yet I seem to always come back to flowers as a peaceful and calming energy. I can't tell you how often I sit on my front deck quietly and simply absorb the beauty of the garden and feel its healing wash over me. I am not rethinking my attempts to grow more food; I am committed to it. However, I have come to the conclusion that my front garden should be dedicated to pleasing the flower spirits and my six senses and the bottom property should grow wild with fruits, vegetables and their natural companions. I feel relieved to have made that decision after all of these years!  I want to grow food to share and I want growing it to become a skill that I am adept at. It is a survival skill that we should all become knowledgeable about. But, a balance is the answer.

I came across a lovely blog by Rebecca Sweet from northern California, which reminded me about how and why I love the flower gardens. Healing. A garden soothes life's path.
This is her photo from her blog. Calming; isn't it?

I have the opportunity to sit either on the front deck where my view consists of trees and  garden or the back deck which gives me a view of the hills and the Oaks. I really can't see my new food forest which is still under construction unless I lean over the deck railing. But, I do have a comfortable chair below, from where I can look at my addition and dream. I am determining where to plant a wind break and know that I want a visual shelter from a neighbor which is pleasing from either side and a visual block from the underside of my post and pier house which is unattractive! I have fruit trees there with a backdrop of Leptospermum 'laevigatum' and a 'Ray Hartman' Ceanothus. I may plant about 3 more of the Leptospermum which will shelter the fruit trees somewhat and perhaps plant 3-5 'Snow White" Leptospermum to the rear of those. Springtime will be glorious!
I am dreaming about decks; one at the base of a future treehouse and the other; as a base for a miniature 'Gypsy Wagon" playhouse for the little ones. I'm thinking; power tools! I'm not too old to learn some building skills!
Lots to do before then!

All Hallow's Eve is almost upon us! I am enjoying my Pumpkins!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mid October

A topic that I have been meaning to address is a California Act called California Urban Agriculture Zones Act.

This bill was authored by San Francisco's Philip Y. Ting, in 2013.
The law allows municipalities lower property taxes on parcels of 3 acres or less if dedicated to growing food for at least 5 years. Many counties, including San Diego and cities such as San Francisco are participating. Lots that served no purpose otherwise, are now converted to vibrant small farms. However, there is a stipulation; no dwellings can be on those lots. It is designed to inhibit homeowners from seeking a tax break by growing food in their yards.
This makes no sense to me. The whole point to the act is to grow food for food security in a disaster and to gain access to healthy food. I see no difference if there is a dwelling on that parcel or not. In many areas of the USA, it is illegal to grow food in a front yard; it is considered an eyesore! We need to encourage food growth on all properties; even rentals. There are a variety of ways to grow more in less space. There are many books to guide the potential small farmer. I called Monterey County to ask about this act and of course, not only had they never heard of it, I was told that it was my responsibility to contact the author of the bill and that no; Monterey County was not a participant; big surprise. This is something that I think we should be looking into.

My daughter gave me this beautiful book for Mother's Day. What a wonderful way to spend ones' life; that which is depicted in this book. Whenever our weather cools enough to anticipate a long afternoon in front of the fire, this would be a lovely read for you; my readers. It is about Homesteading in harmony with nature.

I confess that I look toward Autumn all year, and now that it is here, I find myself waiting for Winter. I long for a fire in the hearth, many books to read, needlework, painting and napping. I am tired from the year past. I long for the season of rest. But, how can I dismiss my precious Fall with its Pumpkins and golden leaves?
As I was so close to Borchard Farms, in Salinas, two weeks ago, I treated myself, though I wish I had had the company of my little family. I could have just screeched when I saw all those Pumpkins and gourds laid out. My grandson would have been in awe of the giant giant Pumpkins!

Pumpkin Love

I am hoping that I can purchase and arrange for the delivery of my Alfalfa Hay this week. I am crossing fingers and toes that I can have a day off the week afterward to have help and spread it thickly over my garden. I do dwell on this, but it is very important in the garden's future health. I can hear the front garden crying out for mulch. Its poor soil; using the term loosely, is depleted and the water does not penetrate. 
Afterward, I can finally turn my attentions to the arts as the restful months approach.

These Agave, are what my life has been about lately. I never appreciated them until now. They really are one of nature's beauties. What I once thought of as ordinary, has become extraordinary. Also, the Monterey Cypress macrocarpa, which I overlooked as somewhat of a nuisance, has taken on a new personality. They are indeed majestic in shape and form, though can be a bit haughty!

This wasn't a bit fun watching men and crane unload these formidable trees. I wanted them placed in a perfect row. I won't repeat what was said to me!

What would be a blog without yet another photo of my beautiful Galahad and my favorite orange orbs!.

Happy Autumn!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


One issue that I want to address in this post, is the subject of: trusting in your intuition.
In many areas of my life, I have not hit the nail on the head; so to speak. But in the garden and in the arts, I developed a special trust. I think that when one can feel that way in an area or areas in life, those are the things that the person should pursue. The heart's path of following intuition is generally the right one.
As one creates and takes a path in life, there certainly are things to study and learn, but do not dismiss the importance of using your intuition.

In art I may struggle with the subject or method, but always trust that I will find my way in achieving my outcome, in time. I am slow and do not have the gift of spontaneity, but I know that I will get there.

I think about my fertilizing practices and think that if people watched me, they would question me. Long ago, I realized that though I have read the "rules", I simply feel what the plants want to be supplemented with. 
When a human is feeling depleted due to an on-coming cold, they feel the need for extra vitamin C- packed foods or supplementation of Adrenal Support when the body is overly fatigued and stressed. Plants show us signs of what they need and how they are stressed. I mix concoctions in dry form or in a compost type tea for the garden. It seems haphazard, but in listening, it feels right. 

Landscape design to me, is art, especially when I am not creating elsewhere. I do draw plans by hand if I must, in order to comply with City or County. I do not like to do that because my intuition doesn't come through that way. I love gathering ideas and walking the nurseries while selecting plants. I let the images of my vision fill my head and listen to the plants as they speak to me while in the placement portion of the project. It is like puzzle pieces falling into place. It is the most satisfying process and one that I always trust in.
At home, I sit and watch the garden for as long as it takes; even months, in order to hear what it has to say. I believe in the garden spirits or Devas. I am learning more about listening and then; following my intuition.

As soon as I can have Hay delivered, I will have help distributing it all over my garden in a nice thick fluffy mat. I have described this practice already. Then, an application of Cottonseed Meal will go over it for a light feeding of Nitrogen. That, with some odds and ends will finish off most garden chores until January.

Right now, my attention goes to everything Autumnal.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

All who enter...

I have always considered my home to be a living breathing entity. A heart beats within it.
 I love home. I feel full with possibilities and reminders of those dear to me in my life. This is my sanctuary.

This special sanctuary extends to the garden. I did not completely understand that until I began viewing it differently; when I began to garden through new eyes. As I work with the different elements, I find that the garden is extremely sensitive to methods used to tend it and emotions carried by those who enter.
There are things to consider when work is to be done. It all requires much thought, particularly if you are bringing in people to help. Those paid to work generally think about how quickly the tasks can be accomplished and how much they will be paid, without much thought to how the tasks are executed or how they are feeling as they carry out the work. We know that our emotional state affects our day and all who we encounter. I am learning that it is important to convey one's rules to people who help out in our gardens; nothing cut unless pre-approved and care taken in traversing through it and appropriate time taken so that movements are not careless.Unless you have helpers who are familiar with your garden and your beliefs, supervision for every step of the way is a necessity. I have experienced my garden recoiling after haphazard work was done. I was in tears. It took a few weeks for the garden and myself to recover. Now I know how I will approach this issue in future, as I do need help in many areas. People simply need to be taught awareness.
We must treat our outdoor space as we do indoors. Its guests must be greeted in joy and be respectful recipients of all that nature gifts us.

I was going to mention tools later this year and may do so again. I want to remind all of us that a quality tool is money well spent. I highly recommend Hida Tools in Berkeley, CA.
For artists who enjoy woodcuts and Linoleum printmaking, they have lovely tools for carving blocks, also.

As we are in the Autumn of the year and we have certain chores to do in the garden to prepare for more restful months ahead, it is again time to consider the spine. We tend to punish it; bending, lifting, more lifting...I; personally need the weekly help and guidance of a good chiropractor. Mine also is well-versed in nutrition, which go hand- in- hand. If you, my reader, live on the Monterey Peninsula, CA, I recommend  Dr. Francine Michaels, DC on Carmel Rancho Blvd., Carmel. She listens, is thorough, and nurturing. 

A favorite gift from nature is the delightful Acorn. My property is filled with and surrounded by California Oaks, or by what I call Mother Oaks.

This is a very special Acorn. It is a handmade ceramic acorn by Sandy Kreyer; a dear friend. It resides in my garden year-round!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Autumn Solstice

The garden and her spirits ground me. This is where I belong; eyes upon the earth and my hands; in it. This is when my season begins, more than any other. Autumn Solstice or Equinox, is upon us and tonight; Mabon.
Tonight, I bless my surroundings and ask for protection for it and all its inhabitants. I proclaim all that I am grateful for and seek guidance for the stewardship of this land and other, for my way of life and bow my head in gratitude for the family I have. 
My centerpiece is filled with harvest; Quince and Grapes, Clementines, Sweet Potatoes, Raven feathers, Acorns and Apples.

I will raise my glass of Cider and breath in deep appreciation as I ask to mirror the balance that this Second Harvest and Equinox bring; equal measures of the light of day and the darkness in night.
I await the sunset to light candles and watch the magic begin.

On this evening, I dedicate my garden to Gloria. She was one of our Angels on Earth. How I wish I had understood to be a better friend when she was still amongst us. I put work before friendships and have lost almost everyone. I think of her every day that I am in the garden, so that is almost every day. I see her everywhere. She was truly glorious and devic.

 It is time to say goodnight to the Green Man who will re-emerge in Spring. May he have a good rest; he will have a lot to attend to!

Have a thoughtful Solstice September 22

Monday, September 15, 2014

Landed Estates

As I have mentioned before, I watch a lot of films; mostly older and primarily English. I referred to "Brideshead Revisited" in my last post as one that featured beautiful gardens. I must change that to grounds. They consist mainly of expansive lawns which are lovely as the foreground to the grand manor. I am viewing it again now and realize that it is indeed, Jeremy Irons who is memorable; not so much the grounds shown, which really are little more than an example of monoculture on a grand scale. Is is truly beautiful, but would have liked scenes showing a kitchen garden and various other gardens typical within an estate; not to mention the vast forest. 

Speaking of English estates, I am often asked why many plants in gardens fail or have no lasting power and why the overall appearance is not spectacular on a daily basis. I refer to the conditions on an estate which included (and still does, in some cases) a head gardener and assistants and woodsmen who worked the land every day. Soil was made, plants were propagated and all was tended by hand, from the upper canopy trees to the bulbs which poked their heads out after the last snows.

Our rushed and "instant" lifestyle disallows for that kind of time and money to be poured into the garden. We tend to ourselves daily, our homes, our work, our bills... But the very thing that feeds us, in its beauty & functionality; is left to limited attention, but expected to visibly thrive each day.
I think that is why many find the "mow, blow, go" crews, appealing. By the time they have done the above, there is little left to tend to. The plants and hedges are treated as one and the same. They are sheared within an inch of their sad lives, over-fed with commercial fertilizers, sprayed until they are choking and leaves, that would otherwise become a mulch, are blown with great gusto either against the house; well-hidden or into the street or those who feel they are being conscientious, bagged and taken to the dump or a side-street somewhere. The following week or month, the curtains are lifted and the play begins again. This scenario tends to be affordable and looks acceptable to the passer-by. This is what I consider to be an example of limited attention and improper care.

I am well aware that I don't belong in this era. I love my romanticised view of the landed estate and its gardening methods. Hand-forged tools; well-maintained by Alan Bates, a greenhouse filled with plants newly propagated, forests, fields, lakes, controlled wilderness and gardens; all tended with a watchful eye and thoughtful practices; again, by Alan Bates (Sir Arthur Alan Bates).

This is where I pause and swoon.

Below is a link to an interesting blog: Maintaining the Grounds of a Landed British Estate

mowing-clover-late-19th-c-arthur-verey.jpg (473×354)

I admit that I, in my maintenance service, do use a blower (usually electric) and gas-powered lawnmower, have used pesticides (gentler labels), herbicides (bad) and commercial fertilizers. I do not agree with these methods, but, in business, feel pressed to consider time vs finances and comply with my clients wishes to green up, grow, get rid of pests, expel disease and tidy up as rapidly as possible. I have advertised the use of hand tools only and natural methods for ridding a garden of pests and disease. I got no takers. I think and hope that my clients would indeed love to have my non-invasive methods used, but feel that it isn't financially feasible and quite slow. I understand, but feel so very strongly about The Slow Gardening Movement; Unprocessed Gardening; something like the Slow Food Movement. I can only hope that things will shift and allow me and others to garden in beneficial ways and be compensated for it, in business and heart.