Weekend winter garden

Finally! My son and I started our winter garden. We're not all the way done, but I feel good about our start. We had our choice of seeds. Here's some:

My son planted:
4' of shallots (I kept them a bit too long and had to thrown out a couple mushy ones)
12' of garlic (with more left - I wonder if I should plant it?)
4' of radishes (Easter Egg blend and French Breakfast)
4' or Arugula (or Rocket as Obama should have called it during his campaign. I'll stick with Arugula.)
8' of carrots (Nantes, Purple Haze, and Kuroda)
a trough full of mesclun

I helped and directed, but it was mostly him. He also planted two flats of Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), my obligate native plant effort this weekend. Last year's Claytonia never once showed a single sprout. This year is going to be different. Claytonia is edible, as the name suggests, and was used by the 49ers to supplement their diet.

Back in the vegetable garden: I'm using raised beds this year because of the rather emphatic insistence of Juli. She even gave me a gardening book, _The Vegetable Gardener's Bible_ by Edward C. Smith, which extols the merits of raised garden beds. The book is subtitled "Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions" I suppose it's always better to have an acronym that spells something than not. What if it had been W-O-R-K?

I'm using all four of Ed's letters, since my beds are wide (the W) this year and I practice mostly organic (yup, O) methods (I use light oil from time to time on certain plants). The R is for raised. The D is for deep soil, which Ed partially accomplishes with raised beds but also through "broad forking" a tool and technique for breaking up the sub soil (see Peaceful Valley's Biofork for a picture). Most gardeners just double dig and find that sufficient. Me too. I don't think that I can recommend the book 100%, since Ed writes with a northeast garden in mind - quite a bit different than a coastal California garden. He's from Vermont after all. Still, there's some good philosophy.

Actually, mounded rather than raised better describes my beds - I've piled soil and compost about 4" higher than the adjacent path, scraping the best soil off the path to build it higher. Each bed is about 2' wide and has a narrow path on either side. I've interplanted a clover cover crop this year - down the center of each bed and on the pathways. I haven't used a cover crop before, so this will be a learning experience for me. Until this year I sort of thought of them as cheating and/or unnecessary or maybe too much work, but I've decided that I was wrong. An interesting note which I've mentioned before is that California native Phaecelia tenacetifolia is sold by Peaceful Valley as a cover crop.

I took a little break from painting and door repair later in the day to make a redwood stand for my rain gauge. I broke the short plastic stake that held it upright in the ground earlier this year but I think that my redwood stand is much better looking, plus the stand keeps it conveniently at hand's reach and out of the way of errant hose water!

There's a lemon grass plant at left, chard at right, the rain gauge center, and the newly installed garden behind it all with plenty of room left to expand. I repositioned the two solar powered garden lights at the ends of the rows for better late evening harvesting.


  1. So a winter garden in Southern California doesn't include tomatoes, eggplant, and pepper?? :)