I’ve lost track of how many atmospheric rivers have come through California so far this rainy season, so I just looked it up. The answer is fourteen! (KGET) Not that I noticed when one ended and the next began. I’m not complaining. I’m delighted to see that Lake Sonoma is full again, as is our seasonal frog habitat pond. There are pools of standing water everywhere and Muckboots are required garden-wear. Some parts of the state are officially still in some level of drought until groundwater levels fully recharge, but our area is now out of drought for the first time in three years.
Recent cold and precipitation adorned the distant mountains with snow-caps.
All the wet and cold has left our vegetable garden a bit dismal–the peas sprouted then disappeared again and the lettuce is mushy. We usually see asparagus start popping up in February but it’s mid-March and they are only now peeking up their tips to see, like the groundhog, if it feels like spring or not. There is a bit of kale here and there and a couple of broccoli; possibly a few hiding beets. A little patch of parsley provides handfuls of greens for soups and the last of the carrots are still delicious, but that’s about all. It hasn’t been as sunny as these two photos suggest. I’m craving fresh salad.
The waterlogged soils left us with more downed trees to attend to as well.
The early spring blooms got heavy and droopy with all the rain, but it’s always cheery to see them. And my indoor houseplant jungle continues to fill me with joy.
Winter dormant pruning is as finished as it’s going to get. We planted some more trees and shrubs in our new, mostly native hedgerow, and also took advantage of the wet winter for establishing some more fruit trees during bare-root time at the nurseries. To save money, I often propagate with cuttings, but I’m trying more air-layering this year. We’ll see how that goes.
I haven’t seen as many honeybees this winter as usual. Perhaps the prolonged cold spell kept them closer to their hives. I like to note what plants bloom over winter and whether I see honeybees or other pollinators on them. Rosemary is a dependable shrub, as are the early blooming flowering currants. I noticed bees on the parrotia persica tree in January when it started blooming this year.
It’s time to ponder which seedlings to start indoors for planting out after the last frost date. Our garden is in a low spot, and we sometimes get a light frost as late as the full moon in May, so I usually count backwards from then. (Although, besides frost, the plants care about the warmth of the soil.) This year, May 5th is the full moon, so we’re about 8 weeks out and I’m going through seed packets to see what I can get started now. I’m not doing tomatoes quite yet or they just get too big to manage indoors. This year I’m going to try to stick to mostly heirloom varieties of vegetables, with just a few exceptions. As my houseplants are now taking up the space that I usually grow seedlings in, we got some tall wire shelves for another south-facing window. I re-use old nursery six-pack trays, and cut up old yogurt containers to re-purpose as plant labels.
On strolls around the garden in winter wetness, I marvel at the revived mosses and lichens and wild mushrooms and wonder what they all are. Maybe someday I will learn more about them.
Given the number of trees that have come down in the last year, first to drought, then to soggy soils, there has been a question of how to deal with them all. We process small to medium branches with a reciprocating saw, but given our ages and abilities, I prefer to hire out chainsaw work. This can get expensive. We tried things like Hügelkultur in earlier years and it just didn’t work well for us. One pine tree came down in a spot that wasn’t easy for equipment to get to, and too heavy to move. For fire safety, we want it to decompose quickly. So I looked up to see which fungi we might be able to inoculate it with, to get it started. I was delighted to learn that were are even a few edible mushrooms that will grow in conifers. So we ordered some plug spawn and got to it.
I didn’t net the log and I think birds and other critters are eating them, so if you try this, and want the shrooms, you might want to protect.
Best of all is when edible stuff grows all by itself, like these patches of miners lettuce and arugula.
Thanks for reading, especially as it’s been two months since my last post. My spouse’s medical condition required many followup appointments and can’t drive for the time being, so it’s been one of those times that just seems to keep coming at ya fast. I look forward to catching up with all my favorite gardening bloggers! Speaking of which, I happened to notice that one of my favorite garden bloggers has, at least for now, decided to stop posting. Luckily, A Potager in France left us with two great final posts summarizing her gardening experience. I have yet to pour over them myself, but I’m sure you will love the inspiration of her garden as much as I do, and I hold out hope that one day she will post again.
For gardeners local to my area of West Sonoma County, I hope to further inspire you to take advantage of a terrific resource at the Sebastopol Grange, where a Home Gardener Produce Exchange/Donation takes place periodically. Local gardeners bring and share with each other whatever they have: seeds, seedlings, excess produce, and other wonderful treasures. Next one is May 9th, but sometimes new ones get added. Also at the Grange is a Mend and Befriend event that occurs every other month.
If you are reading this in an email and want to go see it in your browser where it may be easier to view, click here for The-Compulsive-Gardener. Happy Gardening! -lisa