Tag Archives: anaheim chili

Mulch Your Center

13 Jun

Pine branches to be used for mulch

In the hope of increasing my water conservation efforts, and because I am not around all day long to watch for signs of evaporating water from the garden, last weekend I layed down a layer of mulch.

I considered various kinds of mulch, straw, pine needles, dried leaves, rocks, plastic sheets. In the end, because I want everything to be of use and to give back to the garden, I opted for pine needles. This year the plot is mostly comprised of tomatoes, peppers, chilis, and eggplants. Everything else in the ground is a friend to these stars, like the borage, the basil, the catnip, and the marigolds. Pine needles seemed the best option for my acidic-soil loving plants.

On Saturday morning, armed with determination, I strutted to the back of the backyard to cut down some branches off the pine tree. I sat down comfortably and proceeded to strip the branches of their pine needles. Yes, I thought this was a brilliant idea.

The Garden Assistant helping to strip pine needles from the branches

An hour later, and the temperatures rising well into the 90s, I had enough pine needles to cover maybe one plant. Great, I thought, only fifteen plants to go. The heat was becoming unbearable. Desperation was increasingly building inside of me. “The plants! The plants! They will die of thirst! Hurry with those pine needles! You won’t have enough time! Why did you procrastinate so much!” These thoughts were sounding louder and louder. “Enough” I said, as I noticed the yelling in my ears. “Look around. What else can you use?” and just like that, I was guided to the farthest corner of the yard. There, hidden behind some broken branches I discovered a mound of grass clippings pushed against the fence. Perfect!

I grabbed the biggest bucket I could find, and carefully sorted through the clippings to make sure there were no weeds hidden among them. So, I now have dried grass clippings as mulch. Eventhough it was a desperate deviation from the plan, I still love it and so do my plants.

Back section of garden plot after mulch was laid down.

It always takes me aback how impressive is the decrease in water needs once there is mulch in the ground. It reduces the evaporation of water from the ground, protects the soil from erosion, prevents weeds from sprouting, and if using organic mulch it also feeds the soil as the material decomposes.

Mulch around my growing Anaheim Chili plant.

The experience reinforced in me the need to adapt to the flow of life, instead of succumbing to desperation and anxiety, calm yourself. Find your center and you will find an answer. Pine needles were my original goal, but the glass clippings work well and were certainly a lot less work than breaking up pine needles from a branch. When we allow our intuition to guide us, we end up with the right answer at the right time, and in this case, one step closer to sustainability in the garden.

Mothering on Mother’s Day

14 May
Garden View on Mother's Day

Garden View on Mother’s Day

On Sunday, I took my mother and my son to a plant sale at St. John’s Cathedral where Plant a Row for the Hungry were having a small event. They didn’t have a big selection of vegetable plants, so I bought my flower-loving mom some Geraniums. As usual, I picked up a packet of free seeds from Plant a Row, and made a donation to the church’s nursery for a special Mother’s Day tote bag.

Goodies from Plant a Row 2012- seeds, coupons, sign, and tote bag

Goodies from Plant a Row 2012- seeds, coupons, sign, and tote bag

On our way home, and hungering for some plants, I decided to stop by Paulino’s Gardens. The place was packed! I bought my mother some more pretty flowery plants that she likes, and of course, I could not resist to buy some for myself. I bought a comfrey plant, which I had been on the lookout for since their leaves make a really nice organic fertilizer. I also bought a grown Borage plant, since my seedlings are still really tiny.

Comfrey

Comfrey

Finally, it was around 1pm when I made it to the garden. After a Gayatri mantra chant, I immediately set out to work. I gave the soil one last airing, gathered the babies, and got down and dirty!

The scoop: Three different kinds of tomatoes, Heirloom, BigBoy, and Ildi. Bell peppers of different colors, an Anaheim chili, and eggplants are the stars of the show. To help them, I invited some of their friends over: basil (to aid in flavor), borage to deter tomato worms and improve flavor and growth, marigolds (to keep flies and mosquitos away), chives, onions, and leeks. This year, I have been studying up on companion planting. After all, you are who you associate with (In Spanish, “dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres”) This link has been super beneficial to me in determining who to plant next to whom.

View of the garden plot

View of the garden plot

After I did all the planting, I kept coming back to admire the garden, pausing to smile at the plants in their new abode, and marveling at an awesome Mother’s Day.

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