Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall Garden

It is now Fall but my Summer plants keep producing and my tomato plants have shown many new blooms. I took out some plants but left most alone and I am glad I did. The recent rain has helped the tomatoes come back and keep producing. I don't know if this is normal, as it is my first season of gardening, but why not try and see how far I can take them?

My original spaghetti squash plants are gone but I planted some new ones and one is now producing. I hope it makes it as I love eating squash. Along with the squash, I grew lettuce and have already enjoyed a great salad from it. I will hopefully have more soon from the same plants but we shall see.

I am looking forward to next spring to start fresh but simply could not wait. I planted some potatoes in the planter attached to the outdoor bbq grill. I found these growing while still in the bag and I wanted to see how far it would go. I am pleased to say that they are about a foot high and buds are forming.

I wanted to grow potatoes because I know the previous tenants had a full on garden and were able to grown many things. Our neighbor informed me that they had grown corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. Well, I guess not all potato plants were pulled out and used. I now have another 5-6 plants growing on the outskirts of the garden. I found these about a week ago and told the gardeners to not mow them down. I am excited to see how those grown and taste.

In closing, I leave you with a new Flickr set of photos I just took a few hours ago.
Find those HERE.

Luis

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Community Gardens

We are not all blessed with having the space to have a garden at home. Container gardening only takes keeps you satisfied for so long and that is where the community gardens step in to help.

Community gardens vary by state, city, or even neighborhoods and no 2 are alike but the idea is all the same. They unite residents and provide a place to grow our own produce. Fees, rules, and regulations will differ from garden to garden. Most gardens require a fee, and some also require community service hours. Gardening is growing in popularity and space at the community gardens is limited. Many, if not all, have a waiting list.

The difference in community gardens does not end there. Plot size from garden to garden will vary but should not be an issue. Most plants don't require tons of space and should coexist without any issues.  Some plants will need trellises or cages to help control growth but it should not be a problem. Of course, gardens should be planned out.

Once the plot is all planned out, the soil may need to be amended with compost and other organic material. A great benefit to having a plot in a community garden is that most, not all, will have compost and/or mulch for its gardeners. Some gardens may also have manure that can be added to plots to encourage growth.  These "extras" may be free or come at a fee. Along with these extras, the garden may have a stand that sells seeds or seedlings that can be purchased but these can also be bought elsewhere.

After you have seeds or seedlings planted, you need to know how to keep them growing. Gardening does not come easy to anybody and books can only explain things so much. Some books and online resources are so broad sometimes that we are left to figure it out on our own. This is a perfect excuse to talk to your fellow gardeners and see what has worked for them. Your new friends may be full of useful information, tips and ideas that may have worked for them. I am all for making our own mistakes and learning from them, but what is wrong with getting some help along the way? Meet your plot neighbors and as many people as you can and form new friendships.

Forming new friendships is part of life and helps us enjoy it. Once these friendships have been formed there is a feeling of community. Different people garden for different reasons, but getting out of the house and interacting with other people has its own rewards. Technology has put most people behind a computer screen and avatars are the only way we interact with the world.

So, hop on the web and look up the community gardens that may be in your area. You may be shocked to find that you may have one nearby and you never knew about it.

Luis

p.s.: Here are some in my area:

1. City of Long Beach Community Gardens
2. Long Beach Community Garden
3. Long Beach Organic
4. Wrigley Garden
5. City of Lakewood Community Gardens

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quick Garden Update

I am looking to add more beds and have them ready for this coming spring. The compost bin keeps turning and making some "black gold". The lawn clippings go into the bin every other week and will be used in the beds or pots. Mom shows up every now and then with stuff for the compost bin.

I put up some shade so the plants would not dry up and it seems like it has helped. The soil has stayed moist and kept everything growing. I found some gorgeous eggplants growing that will be eaten within the next following days. The tomato plants are sticking around and still producing but may not hold out much longer. Radishes and snow peas have shown up and growing nicely. I have lettuce also growing in a few small pots on the front porch and may be used in a salad or sandwich. There were some potatoes that were showing growth in my kitchen and I decided to plant them to see what would happen. I am happy to report that I now have 3 growing potato plants.

This really was a quick update and I will be back later with more. The next update may include pictures.

Luis

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Long Beach Lawn to Garden Program

Hello readers,

I wrote this post for www.562Citylife.com but it goes along with gardening. I am posting only about half the article here and there is a link at the bottom to continue it.

Luis


The Colorado River is at its lowest level, ever and if it lowers another 10 feet, we will have a drought on our hands. There are many ways to help prevent this. The easiest and cheapest way of helping is to simply conserve water. There are other ways but none that are as easy. Desalination is one of these processes but can costs up to $1500 per acre and causes irreversible damage to marine life.

All of these costs are the reason that the LB Water Department started its “Lawn to Garden” program. This program is in place to help rip out lawns in the city and replace them with water-wise landscaping. Residents are awarded $2.50 per square foot of lawn that is removed and replaced. This award is only good up to 100 sq feet.

Along with helping save water, the makeovers also help reduce or even eliminate water run off so it does not end up on our local beaches. Some of these gardens include edibles and native plants or plants that just do not need much water. There is a list of approved plants and an FAQ on the LB Water Department website.

To read full article, click HERE.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Mother: The Gardener

Spaghetti Squash
For as long as I can remember, there have always been plants at home. I never really thought about it at the time but it makes sense now. Mom has told me that her father, my grandfather, was the same way.

She has always had the love for plants and flowers but not necessarily for growing food. It didn't take much to get her on that path.

Bell Pepper
She stopped by the house to drop off some things and asked if I needed a ride anywhere. I don't have a car and took to opportunity to not only to get out of the house but also to spend some time with her. I really didn't need anything but had thought about getting a seedling or two from the nursery. I didn't know how long it had been since she had been to a nursery and thought it would be something new for her. What was the worse that could happen?

Squash
When we arrived at the nursery, her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. It took a second to take it all in and slowly began to walk through it all. There were plants of all kinds; vegetables, herbs, houseplants and many others. I knew where I was going and headed in that direction. She followed me and began collection plants even faster than I was and ended up buying some.

Cherry Tomato
She started off with cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. These plants went directly into the ground and she has been enjoying them ever since. I have hooked her on growing some of her own vegetables and is anxiously waiting for next Spring.

Luis

P.S: The photos are recent and plants are the end of the season. They do not look as good as they did in their prime.