Monday, January 2, 2012

January gardening

For those of us who live in the Southern California area, gardening is year round. It "pauses" and we even get freezes....but, by and large, it is year round. Today is no exception. It is January 2nd, and it's 74 degrees or so here near the ocean (we are 5 miles from it).
At this time of year, it's time to cut the roses back and force them to rest a bit. I haven't fed them since October.  They have been blooming non-stop. Some them have felt the cold and gone "semi-dormant" others, closer to the house where its warmer, have been blooming. So, today was the day. It's hard work.
It was also time to tear out the tomatoes. Most of them have gotten badly frost bitten, some just have been growing and possibly could have continued into next year...they had a few green tomatoes....but they were leggy and ratty looking...so I pulled them out. Force the raised beds to rest and get ready for a new growing season.
This is the raised bed that I took the plants out of. The soil needs replenishing...the soil level has dropped almost 6 inches!
The little green sprouts you see are garlic plants....now they have space and light to grow.
In another bed, I planted spinach, beets and garlic. I had radishes but those were harvested a few days ago.
The grass as you can see has not enjoyed the frost and the fact the tomatoes had grown all over and blocked sunlight.
We built these boxes. They were easy! We had the Home Depot man cut 4x4s to 12" (four corners), then had him cut two 1x6 fence boards (we used dog-eared), then just take it home and put it together! You put the cut 1x6 3foot sections, two on each end using the corners, then attach the 1x6 6 foot sections to create a box...and simply set it down on level ground...and fill. We used Supersoil, it took 3-4 bags of 2 cu feet each to fill. And as a year goes by the dirt level drops and needs replenishing. It is wonderfully easy to maintain, weed and water raised beds!
Another thing I have done, is all my fruit trees are in large pots on top of the soil. It keeps them small in our small garden. It allows us to grow more than if we planted them directly. In the side yard all the trees are in pots and are being espaliered because it is such a narrow area and the block wall has a huge footing which doesn't allow for digging. It works. The plants grow horizontally instead of up and out. so far, so good. Our two apple trees we bought ten years ago, they are colonnade apple trees and we get about 50 lbs of apples every year. It is enough to make all our pies and applesauce for a year.
New plants we are looking forward to, elderberries and jostaberries. Jostaberries I purchased online and are a cross between gooseberries and currants. We also have the young fruit trees that will be old enough to give a few fruits.
It is exciting having a "farm" in a small suburban backyard.
This is a very little peach that I bought at Home Depot last year for $9. It gave us two peaches last year. It is in a little pot at the end of the boxes....most likely I will have to get another box this fall, but for now it's fine. You can see that the weather has tricked it into thinking it is spring. Betcha that there will be blooms too early and a rain storm will make it so we don't get as many fruits. Not much that I can do about the weather though.
How is everybody else doing? What are your tricks in the garden? I personally would love to have several acres...but at this point that isn't going to happen.
Well, back to work. Talk later....
Nancy

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