30 April 2014
Spring garden 2014
You guys, it was over 90F out today: the hottest day so far this year. For now, it's a novelty, but let's get real. Summer is almost on us. We have about a month or so until the temperatures stop bobbing up and down and settle into a steady 80-85.
You've probably heard about (or experienced) the near-total lack of rain in California this spring. Shit is serious. The entire state is in drought for the first time in 15 years. Just look at this map from the US Drought Monitor. YIKES. Water rationing hasn't started yet; evidently rationing is more complicated than it appears.
Outside, you can see the effects of the drought really easily. The grass is crisp two months before it should be. The ground is hard. The lemon balm and mint, both of which are usually super rampant, only take up about 2/3 as much space as they did last year. You can sit on the ground with no threat of damp pants. So although the plants themselves look pretty good so far, I am feeling concerned about the garden.
Let's have a tour.
When you go out the side door of our house, this lemon tree nearly clocks you in the face. It's full of both mature lemons and new blossoms. The branches bow really dramatically under the weight of the fruit. When you pick a ripe lemon, they spring back and bounce up and down.
In the side bed, there is indeed a bunch of lemon balm and mint. The darker, smoother leaves are the mint. These guys normally make themselves seen in late January, with the first rains. This year they came up in March.
I know what to do with mint: dry it and make all kinds of iced mint tea. The lemon balm is a little harder. I did make a batch of fresh tea with some the other day, but I'm not sure whether I like it yet. It was surprisingly vegetal, almost like a spinach-lemon tea. I think I need to try it iced.
The chives are doing really well, although those blossoms are pretty early. They are usually a pretty early herb in general, though. I like to make chive vinegar out of the blossoms and throw the chives themselves in practically everything I make.
If you go around the back of the house, you run smack into a bank of pineapple guava blossoms.
There are a million of them. I may be exaggerating just little, but not much. The tree overhangs our entire backyard, and it is entirely full of flowers. The bees LOVE it. We have a bee-loud glade in our backyard right now, is what I'm saying. It's really nice not to have to worry about not attracting enough pollinators. There is no shortage.
You can eat pineapple guava blossoms, but we usually don't. They're soft and faintly tropical-fruity.
In the actual garden bed, the key players are the two tomato plants. They're both volunteer seedlings from the Caspian Pink tomato I planted last year. They may have gotten cross-pollinated with the other tomatoes, but I don't care. As long as there are a bunch of home-grown tomatoes, everything will be fine.
Of course, with tomatoes you have to worry about water. These guys are in partial shade--Caspian Pink is a partial shade tomato, which I got especially for that purpose--so the water will have a fighting chance not to evaporate instantly. I feel fairly hopeful there.
Otherwise, the bed is filled with a mishmash of delightful things. This guy is a red bell pepper. There's a jalapeno pepper plant which is looking partially eaten and may need a replacement, and a volunteer potato, also a bit eaten. I have a bunch of scattered scallions and garlic looking like random blades of grass. The peppers at least should be happy on water restriction. Otherwise, I can mulch.
Yeah. I like my garden. I would like to keep it alive. We'll see how it goes.
How are your gardens going this spring?