2011 in Review: The Garden

It’s was a difficult year in the garden. A lead and zinc issue screwed up my winter vegetables garden plans. At least we managed to find some river rocks and put in a path.

I found this photo from December 2010. I was certainly a lot more organized that year.

For 2012, I’m putting in raised beds to deal with the heavy metal issue and we’ve already planted more native plants. But most importantly one of my New Years resolutions is to plan the vegetable garden ahead of time. And I’m going to take better notes (though I’ve been saying this for ten years now). Those notes simply being, the date a veggie is planted and the first and last harvests of said plant. That info will make coming up with a planting schedule easier in subsequent years. At least if I keep my many resolutions!

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  1. Every year I say I’m going to keep veg garden records and every year I don’t. Every year I say I’m not going to buy too many seeds and every year I do. At least I’m consistent! Love my raised beds. Here in New England they warm up faster so I can plant earlier. I’ll be interested to see if yours get too hot or dry out in Southern Cal. Keep us informed!

  2. Hi Kelly and Erik,

    First of all, Happy New Year.

    Second, I gave “Making It” to my sweetheart on Christmas morning…and received the same from her!

    Third, will you be considering sub-irrigation in your raised beds? I’m sure that you’re familiar with Bob Hyland’s blog Inside Urban Green, and the convincing case he (and Green Roof Growers) makes for SIPs: drastic reduction in watering, nearly weed-free, built-in mulch, no worries about contaminated soil, etc.

    Anyway, I derive much pleasure from reading your blog. Thanks!

  3. I have a similar goal this year of tracking planting & harvest dates. Last year I tracked the planting dates and wrote down our harvests, but I put it all on a calendar, not a spreadsheet. It was helpful in the short term, but Isn’t helpful for the long term. We’re trying to squeeze so much in so little space I’m hopeful that tracking all it more efficiently will prove beneficial :-)

  4. I enjoyed the blog this year and especially the pictures.

    …good idea with the raised beds. Where will you get the soil? how about a primer on remediation if you are going to go that way? or have you ever discussed this in this wonderful blog? Soil might be the issue of the yea 2012! many thanks

  5. Is their a particular nursery you get your native CA vegies and plants from in the LA area? Nice garden.

    Do you know any bamboo nursery in the LA area? Would like to experiment with bamboo to make my yard a little more private.

  6. We get the natives from Theodore Payne–a really great non-profit nursery. As for bamboo I once visited a place east of LA that sells palm trees and bamboo. You might search for that as I don’t remember the name of the place. It was quirky and on the site of a historic ranch–that’s all I remember. Just make sure to install root barriers if you don’t go with the clumping variety. It can spread like crazy.

  7. Nutty–getting the soil is a conundrum. I’m still working that one out and will blog about it when I figure out a good source. Remediation would take decades, so not really an option for us.

  8. First post but I look often and love both books.

    Cool idea (taking the permaculture approach that if it works it was made to be if not so be it) for lining paths is to lay down logs and inoculate them with mushrooms. Not sure what would work in LA but a blue oyster would colonize fast. I’ve also inoculated thick “stepping stones” for shady areas with fungi and they have fruited to. Just thinking here but maybe you could be doing some mycoremediation (not eating the mushrooms) for your heavy metal issues.

  9. Erik – What are the chances of adding a class on urban chicken butchering to your “Events” of 2012? I posted a request over on the LAUCE blog (I know you are also a member) and got a lot of people who were interested in attending, but no one wants to sponsor the Meetup.

  10. For soil, can you get enough leaves and grass clipping that have not been sprayed, use produce leavings that have been put through a blender and work like made to make your own produce in the raised beds? Then, you would not need as much soil brought in from elsewhere. An idea–do you have enough friends who could donate a bucket of healthy soil? It’s kind of like getting $100 by getting $1 at a time from many people. Plus, you have hens to contribue their hay or whatever. Last year, I made compost in the empty raised bed. It was all in place when I decided it was time to plant.

  11. Max–A good idea–I think the folks at the Los Angeles Chicken Enthusiasts Meetup were talking about this and I know it’s happened in Altadena as well. I don’t consider myself enough of an expert to offer this but if I hear of anything local I’ll post about it.

    And fixer–great idea–good use for Facebook

    Practical–love your ideas!

  12. for soil in new beds why not try to fill them half way with free horse manure and the other half with soil from a landscape supply outfit? I’m trying that this year and used Lyngso up here in the SF Bay Area for soil (their ‘veggie mix’ soil) and used a coastal horse stable for the manure.

  13. Hey Anonymous, Make sure you compost the horse bedding first. When you add raw manure to beds it causes a nitrogen deficiency for the first few months as the soil microbes break down the manure. I had to troubleshoot some stunted plant problems at a school garden and it turned out that they had added uncomposted manure. A soil test I did showed a big nitrogen deficiency.

  14. whoops! so the horse manure wasn’t fully composted (probably 3 weeks old). do you suggest that i should be ready to add a high nitrogen fertilizer, bat guano for example, right now and every couple of weeks for the next 3 months or so?

  15. Anonymous, I’d get a soil test first (ask your local extension service). That will give you an idea about where your nitrogen levels are. Then amend accordingly. It will balance out eventually once the manure decomposes in a couple of months. Until that time you might have stunted plants.

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