Hello everyone! It's almost January, which means that here in California it's time to start thinking about planting. I already missed the optimal time for onions, argh - starts are supposed to go out in November or December, where I'm living now.
Here in California the hills are dead and golden for most of the summer, then grey when the winter rain comes. Sometime around the first real rains in November comes what my brother calls "false spring" - when the grass sprouts, robing the hills in a gown of brilliant, fragile new grass. The blades grow about five inches tall, then settle in to wait until the weather warms up to put out real growth. Meanwhile, as the rains come and we don't see the sky for weeks, we can look at the green hills and be reminded that spring is coming.
Spring, of course, means gardens, which is why I spent some time yesterday evening carefully measuring all the garden bed areas and plotting them out on paper. It was more space than I expected, to my great glee. I moved in too late last year to put in a proper garden, but this year I will. This also means many happy hours spent browsing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
and Kitazawa Seeds
, two excellent sites to check out if you're in the USA. Baker Creek has so many incredibly tempting heirloom varieties, it's dangerous. And they now have a retail outlet in driving distance of my house - even MORE dangerous! Visiting them is on my list of objectives for this weekend. Hopefully I can keep my purchases to a manageable level.
Last year I noticed that what plants I did manage to get into the ground suffered from having few pollinators to visit. Not surprising, really, since I'm now living in the middle of suburbia. Everything is lawns and concrete. My plan this year involves companion-plantings of California native plants that attract pollinators. Hopefully it will be good all around: the plants will provide food for native butterflies and insects, attract pollinators to my yard, and produce pretty flowers. Especially now, with colony collapse disorder threatening the bees (well, unless it's Daleks)they could use our help. I also happen to live in the California Bay Area, quite close to some of the last remaining habitats of the federally threatened Bay Checkerspot butterfly. Some of its food plants will be finding their way into my garden. If any of you are in California, I highly recommend taking a look at the website of the California Native Plant Society
. They have a list of nurseries that sell native plants, organized by area, which is really useful. I think we generally forget about native plants when it comes to gardening, because so many of them aren't very showy compared to garden varieties. But did you know that baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) are California native wildflowers? There are plenty of gorgeous flowers that would look right at home in a garden. and attract all sorts of beneficial bugs.
So! What are other people thinking about, this year? Trying anything new? I was going to try onions from seed, but I'm not sure, now. Might as well, really. My husband and I went to Japan recently, and were served some really delicious melon. As a result, I'm going to try growing Japanese melons. We'll see how that works out. I've never had terribly good luck with melons...