Years One and Two (2021, 2022):

Photos from June 2022
June 2022 — a heightened fence to keep the deer out, scrabbled together with things we had on hand, thanks to Vince, the Real Handyman

This is the main garden right next to the workshop, easily visible from the house, the deck, and from my bedroom window. This year, we have three large raised beds, seven large grow bags, nine medium grow bags, a half-wine barrel, and a kiddie pool.

On other parts of the property, there are two more raised beds for herbs (sage, oregano, chives, lemon balm and mint), two more half-barrels by Vicki’s fence (a rose in one, society garlic in the other), two more half-barrels that remain unplanted, four more medium grow bags by the chicken yard that are still empty, and one more large grow bag, waiting for its assignment. I think that big one will be dedicated to the second round of tomato starts that are hanging out on the deck, trying to grow despite my gentle neglect. There is not much more room in the fenced garden space, so I’m dithering…not sure where to put it.

Sweet Peas One and Two

Along the fence line are Sweet Peas One and Two. Sweet Pea One (in gray) is struggling; I planted these from seed starts in the grow bags right before a super hot spell, and the seedlings were small and weak. I babied them, tried to get their little fronds to grab onto the edge of the grow bag and soon, I hope, they will be able to reach the tomato cage and go nuts. I put mulch around their feet to help them stay cool and retain moisture during the heat of the day. They are shaded for several hours. Sweet Pea bag Two in purple is doing okay — more robust than its sister next door, but not exactly the picture of health either.

I am working on mulching the garden with sheets of cardboard to suppress weeds and to discourage gophers and voles (little bastards are everywhere), then I’ve covered the cardboard with PG&E wood chips.

Sweet Peas Three and Four

A second purple bag of Sweet Peas (Sweet Pea Three) is doing okay — better than when the seedlings went into the garden on May 17. I see growth. I see improvement.

Sweet Peas like to start in cool weather, so next year I’m going to have to get these in probably in March or April. I have this mistaken idea that because I live in temperate California, I can plant whatever, whenever. This has been proven to be a bad strategy for two years in a row. Wake the hell up, Fletcher.

I planted Sweet Pea Four from seed right around the same time I planted the seedling starts, and then just watched these little babies burst up from the dark quiet dirt. They look healthiest and I have my eye on them. Should probably mulch them with straw like the others soon. The weather is heating up.

This is a basil plant — I forget the variety — that I picked up at the Amador Master Gardeners plant sale on May 7. Maddy has advised me to continue pinching it back, particularly when it flowers, so it bushes out. It smells like heaven.

Here are three sunflowers planted in medium grow bags along the east garden fence line. The two on the ends are called “Firecrackers” and come from Territorial Seed in Oregon, and the one in the center is a volunteer that was just hanging out in a raised bed all winter; I replanted it and looked it up on my plant identifier app. There it is called “Common Sunflower,” but I am hoping for something more spectacular than that.

Something is eating the leaves, but I can’t see what it is. I’ll do some research, and perhaps try the Neem Oil mixed with Dawn dishwashing liquid that I used to get rid of white fly on another plant earlier in the season. I don’t have that many tricks up my sleeve, but this is one thing that I’ve learned recently. Luckily, we have the Internet, so once I identify the critter eating these leaves, we can MITIGATE the damage to these otherwise happy plants.

Maddy looked for caterpillars on the underside of the leaves and found none. There is a community of those nasty, aggressive black/red ants nearby, so they might be the culprits. I’ve seen ants take big bites out of leaves, then haul the green chunks back to their nests on David Attenborough, right? We use no poison here, so I have to figure out another way to address this.

what the hell?

Big Grow Bags 1-7

Grow Bag One in the SE corner

That tomato in the plastic pot on top of the grow bag went into its own smaller, solo bag today complete with tomato cage, like the Sweet Peas. I bought that plant when Kerri was here, at the Sutter Creek Farmers Market. True to its name “Early Girl,” it has three little round fruits getting ready to get big, red, and ripe.

Enclosed in the cage in the center of Grow Bag One is a Karen Lima tomato plant. It’s a cherry variety called “Midnight Snack.” She has generously supported my fledgling garden by sharing tomato plants for two years in a row; Karen saves her seeds each year, and starts them in the late winter/early spring under grow lights situated by her dining room table. Her tough plants are called “Limas” in my notes.

In the same bag, there are two mystery tomatoes, also from Karen, two tomatilloes (growing for the first time), and two Shishito pepper plants that I picked up from Home Depot in Placerville early in the season.

By the way, most of the peppers are in Vicki’s Salsa Garden, which we planted in late May. I’ll document that raised bed garden in another post. We got her started on this, and now it’s her baby, and it’s doing great.

Grow Bag Two — I think we’re going to have to come up with some better names for these

Year One, 2021

I had inadequate fencing and marauding deer that came in at night to feast on the good stuff, AND the Caldor Fire dominated our world — it was frightening to live so close to such an enormous, destructive wild fire — 2021 was a hot, smoky, hazy growing season. Using some knowledge from my Aceca Drive gardening experiences, I did grow some things in straw bales (squashes that the deer enjoyed). In Year One, we got the chickens in and settled. I harvested lots of tomatoes, even enough to toss some into the dehydrator which yielded three pint-sized mason jars of dried tomato slices. And I had a decent marijuana harvest that year with four plants.