Chickens, Kale, Sugar Snap Peas, Fairy Garden, Horse Report and Late Valentine

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It’s been a busy six weeks for us at home, in the garden,  and in the great outdoors. The heat wave brought  the nasturtiums, the apple blossoms and sweet peas.  Out in the mountains, the spring-like weather produced a great crop of ticks. Yuck!

My veggie garden is growing well, and the peas are sending up their tendrils across my net that was only meant to protect them from the birds while they were seedlings. Too late for me to take the net off. That is their trellis now.

My daughters have been fighting over garden space, each claiming the other has “the best” spot. I am strategically using this battle to help me accomplish things in the very short amount of time that we have. My oldest daughter, who got the “best” spot, weeded an unused corner of the yard and turned an empty planter into a beautiful vegetable garden. She probably planted everything too close together but that’s how you learn. (See picture below.)

My youngest, who is nearly nine, was so mad that I gave away the premium garden bed (which isn’t true), that she volunteered to pull all the old lettuce that was going to seed out of another raised bed so she could claim it as her own. Brilliant! I then gave her seeds, and now I have two more vegetable gardens planted!

January was rose pruning and I’ve posted so many rose pruning photos over the years that I won’t bore you. It is always a huge job but I managed to get it done in two weekends. I’m into speedy gardening right now with the horse, volleyball, dance, carpooling kids around and all the other things we have going on.

With Bayito (my horse), I have had a fast lesson in the ticks of Southern California, de-wormer and herbal insect control. I bought so much natural bug repellent–marigold spray, essential oils, Skin-So-Soft and other stuff, that I bet my horse is the best smelling mammal in Campo, California! I am really into doTerra essential oils right now and the Terra Shield insect repellent smells good and appears to be working. We can all use it.

The days are spring-like but we need rain. I also need some new cowboy boots!

Here are some of the shots of the new gardens, the old fairy garden, the apple tree and our chickens, who started laying again. Hooray! Scroll to the end for a late Valentine’s Day gift from the garden.

Below are photos of my snap peas:

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Apple blossoms:

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One of my veggie beds–I never seem to eat the lettuce fast enough:

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New vegetables my youngest daughter planted:

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Old garden that the nine-year-old doesn’t think is good enough–she hates the Borage growing all over her fairy garden but she doesn’t want me to remove it:

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Here is my late Valentine to you — French radishes from my garden and French wine! What a great combo! Sorry it’s a few days late…

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Christmas Dreams Do Come True

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Every Christmas since I was a little girl I dreamed Santa would bring me a horse.

Even as an adult I glanced into the back yard Christmas morning hoping my husband, who is known in my book as being generous and wonderfully over the top, would figure out how to give me a horse.

And if you read my blogs from this year, you will know that I went to a colt sale in Arizona where my husband was sure I bought a colt. (I did not, althought I wanted to.)

That said, I knew it was impossible, impractical and not something my husband would ever really do…not really in my realm of possibilities with all the other responsibilities we have.

For whatever cosmic reason, at the end of November,  my dad decided to give me his horse Bayito…

You might say, wow, why does your dad have a horse? If you read my blog, you will know that he is a third generation rancher and farmer. Since we sold the ranch 15 or so years ago, his horse has lived on a neighboring ranch where he was used by a friendly cowboy to round-up cattle.

It might be one of those serendipitous events or some kind of chain reaction that I can’t explain. Or maybe it was this blog and writing about it!

(And also, it was my friend Audrey who decided to get a horse for her kids).

My dad is  friends with Audrey’s dad who is also a rancher, here in California and suddenly, there was a place for the horse and two families to ride him. And my dad trusts them with his horse, probably more than he trusts me with his horse.

So one cold day in December, my horse arrived from Arizona. The horse hauler picked him up on the ranch near Douglas, Arizona where my dad was waiting to say goodbye.

It was sort of bittersweet, I’m sure, to let go of the one thing left of our ranch and our cattle raising days. Bayito did not want to leave. After an hour of trying to get him in the trailer, with ropes and apples and other encouragments, he heaved a sigh and walked in to begin the journey to his new life here in California.

Here is “Bayito,” loosely translated, I think that means Brownie in English. His registered American Quarter Horse name is Tru Tru Holey Sox!

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I am very happy and my only New Year’s resolution is to take care of and ride Bayito!

So if you are dreaming of owning a horse, it can happen one day, even in an unexpected way. Keep dreaming and maybe one day your dream will come true.

Happy New Year!

Thanks, Dad!

Poinsettias Gone Wild

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Sometimes I wish we had holly or other festive berries and various evergreens growing natively in our “woods.” Yes, we have mistletoe. We have contemporary looking eucalyptus boughs, citrus, succulents and other exotics. It’s not that we lack plants to choose from, but lately, I’ve been wishing for seasons and pine trees and holly.

As I was thinking about this, I drove by a house with a plant growing as tall as the roofline and dotted with bright red flowers. And then, a little ways down the road, I noticed another, and another.

Suddenly I saw this plant growing and blooming everywhere, spreading its reedy branches up through palm trees and  bright green tropical giant elephant ear plants. The poinsettia.

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Yes, you know the one, especially this kind that you buy at Home Depot! Did you ever stop to think about what would happen if you planted it once the holidays were over? Keep reading, and I’ll show you.

I spent a few more minutes driving around the nearby historic neighborhood of Loma Portal, and I found poinsettias growing in front yards all over the place. Clearly, not everyone lets them dry out and die and then throws them out! Many people plant them (especially people 40 years ago), and as they are native to nearby Mexico (I learned), they seem to thrive. I started taking pictures — just call me the front-yard-poinsettia-plant-stalker. (If I keep doing this, I better get a shorter name.)

One home owner who, I am embarrassed to say, caught me taking a picture of her plants in the front yard, told me that she had lived in the house 40 years and the poinsettias had been there before she moved in.

“What do they look like when it’s not winter?” I asked.

“Sticks,” she said.

But for now, she gets new blooms everyday ringing in the holiday with their bright and cheerful blooms.

We have the premiere propagator and grower of poinsettias for more than 100 years right here in San Diego, the Ecke Ranch. I found wonderful information and stories on their website. This history is so fascinating.

“The plant we know today as the poinsettia has a long and interesting history. The fact is that lovely plant you place in your home during the holidays was once used as a fever medicine! Native to Central America, the plant flourished in an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The ancient Aztecs had a name for this plant found blooming in the tropical highlands during the short days of winter: cuetlaxochitl. Not merely decorative, the Aztecs put the plant to practical use. From its bracts they extracted a purplish dye for use in textiles and cosmetics. The milky white sap, today called latex, was made into a preparation to treat fevers.”

Read the rest of the story about how the first United States Ambassador to Mexico Mr. Poinsett brought them to the United States (oh ya, and also started the Smithsonian.) Here.

Here are more photos from my drive the other morning. Please ignore my dirty windshield!

Remember, here temperate climate of San Diego instead of throwing away your poinsettias when Christmas is over, try planting them. Just plant them with or behind a fuller plant so you won’t see how ugly it is the rest of the year.

Here’s what you might get:

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Or try this one:

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Here are the others. I also found them growing near Poinsettia street — I could resist this photo.

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Garden after Much Needed Rain

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Latte Rose blooming in November.

 

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Rainwater captured in the fountain.

Last week, we had two days of rain and it was wonderful. The plants all look revived and some of my roses went into their last blooms before dormancy.

My vegetable garden perked up a bit, too.

Best of all, everything was clean and fresh looking.

It could have rained for the rest of the week and wouldn’t have complained!
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Winter Garden Planted

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After our summer vegetable garden burnt up, I am afraid to plant my winter veggies. But I did a few weekends ago. Mostly radishes are up and some peas. The lettuce and carrots aren’t up and they should be. I am not sure what I did to the soil — maybe the urea and straw I put two years ago? Or is it too sunny or do I need to water twice a day?

Anyway, my daughter’s eggplant is still huge and we are still harvesting eggplants. She planted carrots and lettuce under it and they were up within days. My carrots did not come up!

Any ideas on what’s going on here? I need help!

Michigan State University W.J. Beal Botanical Garden

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Here are some shots from the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden at Michigan State University. We went for the weekend and had a nice fall football weekend.

This is a great botanical garden if you ever get the chance to see it. It is right on campus near the library. It’s circular in shape and you walk along the grass and look at rows of different types of plants.

The leaves were just starting to fall from the trees. It was around 40 degrees and slightly raining.

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One Good Eggplant

We had one good eggplant in our summer garden this year. I just ate it last week! Breaded it and fried it up! We had lots of tomatoes too but the eggplant only started to grow at the end of August and then it took off. I hope we get some more eggplants from it. There are more blooms.

It was so hot this summer that everything in our regular vegetable garden died. This eggplant grew in my daughter’s fairy garden and was shaded by a peach tree.

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