California Gardening 2

Today, hoeing and pruning in the garden. Cutting back roses, fuschias, wisteria and I started in on the apples although they are still leafed out.I prune now so I can dormant spray a few times and also because the spring growth starts so early here. In all gardens there is a time to cut plants back clean them up for future growth . Everything you do in the garden now will be what you see in early spring. Planting bulbs is still possible as well as garlic and onions( sets or seedlings).But for me mostly it’s about clean up, weeding and pruning. When you prune roses and other shrubs really think about the height you want to see the plant grow to next season . Look at it’s typical length of growth from the last year then cut accordingly. Do know, about what your pruning. If you don’t know it’s name(in Latin ) and it’s growth habit and what kind of wood , old or new it blooms on, don’t prune it ! Shrub roses do get pruned differently than regular hybrid tea roses.My shrub roses, here Sally Holmes a well loved hybrid musk I grew from a cutting, wants to be 5’x5′.So do I let it or not? My choice.

Fertilizing is important now before the temperature really drops and the micro organisms move slower making it difficult for nutrients to be made available to the plants. I know if I don’t get lawn fertilizer on right now the lawns will yellow up this winter and be difficult to re-green come spring. I like to use cottonseed meal or green sand. Keeping plants healthy and happy is always easier than dealing with problems later. Just like in people, prevention is always the best. Load a healthy dose of aged manure or compost on plants , shrubs and planting beds. Fertilize shrubs with a all purpose organic fertilizer. I use Calif. Organics 7-5-7.

While gardening is very therapeutic and gives you time to process thoughts and to watch your mind. Like cooking you should never garden with anger or impatience. The energy you give the plants will either help or hinder them. Most plants need lot’s of care and nourishing and will later show their appreciation.

When I used to work in the greenhouse at the monastery the head lama used to tell me to “Nurse” the plants. You know like in a nursery or like a mother.

Is this not the best wheelbarrow ever?

The Organic Thanksgiving

With holidays here . I get a little crazy. Why is it all the woman’s job to handle the housework, kids, gifts,parties.Plus in my case also the gardens and a job.? Boy do I ever sound like the complaining wife. But this is so hard to master. I try to go really fast so that maybe I’ll have some time today to do something creative . Some “project” is all I want. Be it getting out my sewing machine and making gifts or planting a new area. Heck just weeding works. Those of you who know me , know already that I blast through my days usually getting more done than the average super woman.But this stumbling block of getting enough done or not over committing ( oh, my god did I say that! ), is that the key?
But I love, good food, I love handmade things.I love to garden. I love to help others.I love to play with my too much. Maybe that’s the way greed works with me.Greedy for everything, I want to live all the lives all at the same time.Eating the cake and having it to.
We really did eat well over Thanksgiving. One party at my in-laws that I blessedly got to rely on my sister and brother in laws to cook everything. I did make four pumpkin pies out of the little pumpkins that volunteered out of the compost that grew by the barn.Some sugar baby cross from my friend Maria’s pumpkins she grew the year before. Plus some hors d’vors .
We had decided to spend our children’s inheritance and buy a organic turkey. Which we would bake in the brick oven. The year before someone had told me that they had a delicious one baked this way, at really high heat. So of course we also had to do bread.Then we had so much food we had to invite people. It became really fun.The naturally leavened bread starts Thursday morning by taking out of the refrigerated “starter” and adding to it.Then that night adding again taking out a bit to put back into the frig. as the saved starter.Adding to the desired recipe weight.The next morning mixing it into dough,adding salt, kneading.One hour punching it down another hour or two( or retard at this point) shaping it into loaves.Then letting it rise slowly a minimum of three hours before baking.The best sour happens if you retard this part or before you shape the loaves and let it sit overnight.
My husband loves fire more than just about anything. His whole family are firemen and having grown up in the country, love the winter bonfires.He gets to enjoy this passion by making fires in this oven which usually burn overnight , then most of the next day before cleaning out and holding in the stored heat. It’s difficult to learn to fire these ovens for your use. Sometimes we’ve gotten it too hot sometimes too cold. Lately we’d had quite a few batches of bread where the oven was too cool.The timing of these two random points the oven and the bread are difficult to master.Anyway on Friday he got the oven hot, really hot.So our bread took about ten minutes and was still a little raw in the middle, had to go back in . The turkey took no more than a hour and a half and was very brown and crispy but really good. The mashed potatoes we grew ourselves.The pies.At this point when I could have gone right out and picked a spinach salad,arugula,mizuna with local blue cheese dressing.I was too tired.So we ate happily not noticing.
Sat and told good jokes by the fire pit, cozy on a cold winter night. I love this life!