Sunday, June 28, 2009

For Alver & Judyl

Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom

Freshly home from a bicycle/train trip to Santa Barbara, Peggy and I are sporting our new to us Goleta thrift store shirts as pine pollen dusts our Sunday dinner on the patio.

We visited our friends, Alver & Judyl, for four days, and my old pal, Janet, too, who lives on a tiny but lovely little boat in the Santa Barbara Marina.

Thank you Alver & Judyl for your warmth and hospitality, we felt so at ease with you guys and came home relaxed and thoroughly inspired by your talent and ceaseless creativity.

I'll be posting pictures of our trip in the next few days.

Our daughter, Jamie, made us the delicious green salad, with black beans & corn, which we spread over brown rice and quinoa then topped with salmon and Peggy's home-made mustard vinagrette.


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Misted Poppy

Eschscholzia californica
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom

After watering some recent transplants in the rock garden this morning I accidently turned the hose nozzle to mist and oversprayed a nearby poppy plant which left the poppies decorated with tiny jewels of H2O.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In The Garden...

Yucca glauca
Click on image to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
One of several Yucca glauca (Soapweed Yucca) begins to bloom at Earth Home Garden.

Soapweed Yucca
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
Soapweed Yucca adds a striking visual impact to our garden, especially when the flower stalks emerge. Click here to read more about Yucca glauca and its usefulness to indigenous people.

Palmer's Penstemon
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom

A native to our Southwest Deserts Penstemon palmeri closely resembles our Big Bear native, Penstemon grinnellii (Bumble-Bee Penstemon) except that Palmer's grows much taller and has strongly fragrant flowers where Bumble-Bee does not. The two seem to be hybridizing in our garden.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

June Twelfth Sunrise

Stanfield Marsh 5:54 A.M.
Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
Morning dew and a dappled sky grace the marsh during our morning walk.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Click on photo to enlarge - ©2009 jim otterstrom
A Hedgehog Cactus flower photographed in the native plant garden yesterday.

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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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