Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Nice Drizzly Day At Earth Home Garden...

Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom

We're enjoying intermittent showers, hail, wind gusts, and thunder here in Big Bear today so I thought I'd come indoors for a spell and share some photos I took between the raindrops.
Dallas is sporting his summer cut in front of the nearly completed workshop/studio/beer garden, and you can see the recently added 'Earthquake Memorial' rock garden in the background, with the pond-pump solar panel now mounted there.
Inside the workshop/studio I have built a sturdy workbench, a toolbox bench, and re-painted & installed steel shelving (salvaged somewhere-in-time from an old auto parts store). This week I'm staining, painting, and getting ready to do an artsy-fartsy collage on the interior back & side walls (pictures to come).
The beer tap equipment isn't completely installed yet so the christening of the beer gardens is a ways off yet, but early this summer for sure!
The rock garden was built of recycled junk and masonry debris from our highly destructive '92 Big Bear quake. There's a dump-site closeby where mountains of old broken chimneys are still piled-up, so a friend, with a truck, and I, dragged a bunch of the stuff home for garden art.
Three sides of the rock garden were built-up with broken concrete from a neighbors old driveway which was then filled with dirt from another neighbors foundation excavation. Remember my Close Encounters/Matterhorn posts? This is where the dirt went, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow. The face of the rock garden was terraced, as I filled it, using chimney pieces, old wood, and even a staircase from the dumpsite. An old twisted wall-heater vent from a demolished house became the garden mascot when I gooped a leering plaster skull to it.
Reclining Skeleton - The Rock Garden Mascot
Click on image to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
A close-up (Photoshopped) of the ruins rock garden featuring our cheery Lost Civilization mascot.
Big Bear native plants now established on the rock garden include Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii), Prickly Poppy (Argemone munita), Bumble-Bee Penstemon (Penstemon grinnellii), Narrow-Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), California Fuschia (Zauschneria californica mexicana), Sulfur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), Wright's Buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Showy Penstemon (Penstemon Spectabilis), Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus), Beaver-Tail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris), Prickly-Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha), California Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica).
California natives include Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata), Soapweed Yucca (Yucca glauca) and Sky-Blue Penstemon (Penstemon azureus).

~The Greenhouse Today~
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
We're growing potted vegetables in the greenhouse this year because of a gopher problem which we're, hopefully, going to solve in the fall by digging out a couple of feet of dirt and lining the bottom of the greenhouse with wire mesh, to keep the critters out, before we replace the soil.
The plants in here now include tomatoes, japanese eggplant, yellow crookneck squash, and basil.
The plants are starters from the nursery except for most of the tomatoes which were started by Peggy from a variety of seeds.

~The Raised-Bed Garden Today~
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
The wintered-over greens we planted last October are almost gone now (you can see spinach in the background which is beginning to bolt). The lettuce mix in the foreground was planted in early spring and is in dire need of thinning. there are young green onion seedlings behind that, and some chives in flower on the left. We have pea and snow pea seedlings which are going in the empty or declining boxes here in the next few days. We also have raised boxes with beets (for greens) and swiss chard.

Salad Hill!
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
We tried an experiment this year which has greatly exceeded our expectations.
While going through our seeds in early spring we discovered that we had partial packets of what we assumed where mostly expired seeds dating back to 1997. Instead of throwing them away, I suggested that maybe we should mix up one of our compost piles with the soil beneath it and cast all the seeds randomly there to see what might germinate.
This salad garden was planted when night-time temperatures were still in the teens and low twenties so we kept the hill covered with clear plastic for a few weeks, removing it only to water about once a week.
To our surprise it appears that most of the seeds were still viable and we now have a very productive salad garden right outside the back door. Growing here are an assortment of lettuces, spinach, chard, kale, radishes, carrots, cilantro, green onions, basil, mustard greens, rocket, and several other salad vegetables & herbs.
So far, the gophers and squirrels are leaving Salad Hill alone! It's already so productive that we're having a hard time keeping up with it so we invited our next door neighbors to consider it their own kitchen garden as well, and help themselves to salad stuff whenever they want.
The large-leafed plants around the perimeter are previously established Hollyhocks.
See, we have been busy!

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Blogger Deb said...

Wow Jim, you have been busy! I envy both the beer and salad gardens. We had frost last night, which made me thankful I hadn't planted out anything tender, except cosmos and basil. Oh well.

5:17 PM  
Blogger tansy said...

greg would love to have half the collection of glass insulators that you have there on the roof!

i have that same hummingbird feeder.

the poppies are beautiful. poppies are one of my favorite flowers!

what is the vine growing in the first photo?

7:01 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


We're making good progress but we still have a lot of work to do, and many unfinished projects around here, but I'm hoping to have a very productive summer.

Maybe that's why I haven't been in a real big hurry to get the beer tap up and running! ;~)


I have dozens more of those insulators that I'd be happy to part with but they're not very colorful or interesting like the favorite ones I put on the beer garden. Unfortunately, they're also quite heavy so shipping costs would be prohibitive.

I like those hummingbird feeders too, the painted on colors fade, but they're all glass, no plastic parts, and the little metal flowers are riveted on so squirrels, woodpeckers, and Stellar's Jays can't knock them off like they do the yellow plastic snap in flowers on the more common feeders.

Appropriately enough, the vines growing on the beer garden patio are hops (the Cascade variety).

5:33 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

Charming visit. It belongs in a magazine with such creativity. Our luck with mixed greens produced only tons of oak leaf which I did not like. But the separate planting of buttercrunch, bib, arugula and a few others made up for the mixed seed failure. We are now harvesting a lot of very sweet peas and edible podded peas.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Linda Navroth said...

That's some haircut on Dallas--I thought you had a new dog! But I bet he will be more comfortable when your summer days get hotter. All the work around your yard is awesome--and that greenhouse rocks! Nice use of all the old brick, too.

9:41 AM  
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