I can’t stand it! I have to put up pictures of our Australian Labradoodle pups that are now 2 1/2 weeks old. Sweet!
Some of you who read my blog know that once and in a while I get “off subject” and leave gardening on the back burner. We have two lovable Australian labradoodles that we co-own with a breeder (Country Labradoodles). They bring great joy to our home. We are obligated to the breeder to breed them twice. Matilida “Tillie” gave birth to her second litter on Sunday night. A beautiful litter of seven, three girls and four boys, three carmel-colored, four chocolate.
The whole process of caring for these three-year-old dogs, watching them give birth, and then tend to the puppies, is really a fascinating process. The dogs have gone from puppies themselves to being great mothers. Tillie now knows from another room which puppy is calling, which is hungry, which just needs a lick and some reassurance. During these first few weeks, the humans only need change the bedding once a day, and make sure the mother has plenty of high-quality food, fresh water, and exercise. She does the rest.
We are handling the wee ones several times each day. We turn them on their backs, tickle their toes and hold them against our necks so they become accustomed to our scent. Their eyes are still sealed shut, and their ears are closed so essentially they are blind and deaf. Within a week, these will open up and they will see the world around them.
At eight weeks we will be searching for new homes for these pups. The breeder helps make a match. A few will be destined to become therapy and service dogs. Three pups from the previous litter are now serving in homes and schools. I’ll be keeping my eyes on ones that show special abilities and testing them for various traits. All those years as an educator is not wasted.
These dogs come from a long line of Australian labrodoodles, multi-generational non-shedders with calm, steady personalities. I feel honored to contribute my energy to these wonderful animals.
I wrote this article for the Cambrian (local publication) in October. Many people commented on it to me so I decided to pass it on to you who read my blog. I never get too upset about the politics in our small town. Nothing really changes. We have had a “water issue” for 40 years and nothing has been done about it. So here we are being limited and regulated in the use of our water. We’ll see how this all turns out.
In the 1980’s there was drought throughout the west. Water directors where we were living in Marin County piped water from the Sacramento delta, across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, providing customers with enough water for basic needs. Like people here in Cambria, our family carried water from showers to water trees and used clean sink water from washing fruits and vegetables to water potted plants. When the rains came, the crisis was abated.
Any gardener or farmer worth their salt knew there was no water in the soil and that the shortage of rain over the past few years was going to effect local wells. Why the CCSD (Cambria Services District) spent the last year talking about granting water hook-ups rather than solving the problem of an alternative water source is mind-boggling. But I’m way to practical to waste this space on my opinions. I’m a gardener. I’d rather discuss ways to keep our gardens alive in a water crisis.
Gardeners in Cambria are among the most resourceful I’ve met. Cisterns have been installed to catch roof run-off during rains. Friends on Marine terrace have tanks under their house that catch spring water. Some folks have been hauling tanks in the back of their pick-ups for years, helping themselves to the free non-potable water that CCSD offers, using it to keep their gardens green.
There are those who’ve had the foresight to plant drought tolerant plants that are California natives or are from Australia, Africa, and Chile. They may die back a bit but will live with little or no water. Common garden plants will need some supplemental water but will survive this fall if you are creative in saving water from household use. Potted plants, except for succulents, will suffer the most without water. Move your pots to a shady location now to avoid increase demands during the inevitable “hot spells” of fall.
Plants need some foliage to manufacture food, but leaves “transpire” giving off moisture. Native, drought tolerant plants naturally shed some of their leaves in the summer to reduce moisture loss. Let leaves dry naturally on the shrubs. If you prune too early, you may cause the plant to put out new foliage, increasing the need for moisture.
Be rational and don’t panic. Be patient. Be diligent. We will get through this. Hopefully, our gardens will survive and we’ll become “gardening fools” once again.
Scarecrows Keep Coming to Cambria
Don and I drove along Moonstone Drive this morning and took pictures of some Scarecrows I hadn’t seen last year. They just keep getting better and better.
If you are able to visit our little village of Cambria between now and Thanksgiving, you’ll see over 400 “scarecrows” adorning our streets in front of shops, hotels, the Old Grammar School and the Historical Society. They will make you chuckle and smile. “Who thought of that?’, you’ll say.
They come in all sizes and subjects. There is no end to the creativity it takes to imagine and create these characters. This time of year we normally have beautiful weather so plan to spend a day outdoors. Stay overnight in a hotel and eat in one of the little restaurants downtown. This event is for everyone.
For more information on the Scarecrow Festival in Cambria and a list of winners visit this CAMBRIASCARECROWFESTIVAL.COM.
I once wrote that I was a “Terrible Garden Blogger”. I was referring to the fact that I just couldn’t get into a daily or weekly routine but wrote a blog when I was inspired. When I broke my hip last February, I had no idea it would be 7 months before I would be able to get out into my garden again. I had to wait until a second hip surgery at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto. But, now I’m back. I have to wear a brace to hold me in place and I’ve borrowed a sturdy “walker” to hang on to but at least I’m up on my feet again and it feels good.
I’m sure you’ve heard about our water problem in Cambria. The underground aquifer went dry after the busy Labor Day Weekend. The “Pinderado” fair and parade and car show drew lots of tourists and the hotels were full. Guess there were too many toilets flushed and the wells began going dry. The Cambria Community Services District called a meeting and passed a resolution that, until further notice, no landscape watering of any kind was allowed! Whaaat? People have really had to scramble to find tanks and water resources. Luckily, we have a tank that holds 1600 gallons of water from runoff from the roof. I’ve been using that to keep plants alive. It should last through October. Hopefully, we’ll get some early rain and it will fill up again.
Well, it’s good to be back with you. I’ll try to get back into a routine of writing of my experiences with my garden, my labradoodles, and my hens. I’ve missed blogging but find it uninteresting, unless I’ve got something to talk about! There is enough nonsense pollution in the world without me adding to it.
My mind has been working overtime since I broke my hip four months ago and have been confined to a wheelchair. As I wait for my total hip replacement in August at Stanford Hospital, balance is much on my mind. Balance, both in our gardens and in our lives, is a quest. Something to strive for and realistically, something that may never be totally achieved.
Balance for many of us does not come easily; the happy medium between too much and too little. Plants survive if we are a little off kilter. We can forget to water for a week, and our plants will tolerate it. Or, we can be too early or too late in our planting schedule. We can forget to fertilize on schedule, place plants too close together, or let pruning go for a season. But plants will certainly let us know when we have let our gardens become significantly off-balance. It is always better to prevent it than to remedy the imbalance.
1. Balance your garden with a light, regularly scheduled feeding program.
A gardener that is in tune with his/her garden can recognize early signs of imbalance. Nitrogen deficiency can be spotted in its early stage by evidence of yellowing leaves, and generally, the failure of plants to thrive. Chemical fertilizers high in nitrogen can correct this but tend to leach out of the soil quickly and do nothing to improve soil conditions. Organic solutions, like compost and animal fertilizer, must first be broken down and transformed by microbes to become available to plants. Moisture is necessary to provide optimum conditions for utilization by the plant. While I like using organic techniques, this is not to say that a sprinkle of 14-14-14 in the early spring is not helpful. Demand for nitrogen is high as new leaves emerge.
2. Don’t over-feed or over-water your plants.
The downside of overfeeding nitrogen is that all this tender new growth may attract sucking bugs like aphids. A gentle, balanced approached to feeding plants over time pays off.A balanced garden results in less time spent on weed control.
3. Mulch to reduce weeding and watering.
Weeds take nutrients from the soil creating competition, robbing water and food that your plants need. When barren soil is exposed to the elements, it is creating an imbalance that results in an environment where weeds flourish. Placing plants close together so that the canopy shades the soil between plants, discourages weeds from thriving. A 4-inch layer of mulch also blocks sunshine from weed seeds waiting to germinate and mulching encourages critters that help decomposition, like sowbugs. Because weeds compete with plants for water, food, and sun, weeding will help “tip the balance” in favor of your treasured plantings.
The picture above appeared in Organic Gardening Magazine “Water Well“. The article has some excellent information on watering your gardening.
We have a peacock, named Randy, that wanders through the little village of Cambria. He has been seen walking along Main Street and through various neighborhoods. Originally, Randy lived at Linn’s farmhouse, five miles out on Santa Rosa Creek Road; the place where they sell those wonderful ollaliberry pies. Now he is a wanderer, a vagabond that is probably looking for a mate (called peahen) as he calls out and flares his beautiful tail.
Peacocks, like “Randy”, with the blue heads and necks, were originally from India and Sri Lanka. They adapt well in captivity but are happier if they have a large area to wander.
They’re beautiful creatures. Somewhat noisy, however, so when I tire of him, I hope he will move on. I wonder what attracted him to my garden? Could it be that he thinks he would make a fine rooster for my two old hens and is stopping by for an interview?
I can’t resist new gardening books. The title of this one is Sunset Western Garden Book “The 20-Minute Gardener”. I received this paperback when I was in the hospital. Sunset offered to send it to me and I was honored to receive it and to review it.
At the time I received the book, I was reading, Catherine The Great by the great author Robert K. Massie and having a difficult time. It is full of Russian names that I couldn’t keep straight. My mind was scrambled with the constant distractions that occur in hospitals.
The 20-Minute Gardener was delightful reading. It was full of colorful pictures and easy to read directions for gardens spaces, easy-to-do projects, and easy-care plants. It covered the west’s climate zones and regional gardening calendars. It was a simplified version of the New Sunset Garden Book, my gardening bible. This little book is one that one can pick up and be realistically inspired.
I loaned it to my hospital roommate to look at and her response was, “I don’t know anything about gardening, but I love this book”. I think it may be the answer for beginning gardeners that are overwhelmed by the “big book” and don’t know where to start. The easy-care plants that have a dedicated page for each one, include large colorful pictures, and are put into sections according to the type of plants: annuals, perennials, grasses, ferns, etc., making it easy to understand.
The book encourages the reader to develop the garden one section at a time and to spend a small amount each day in it’s maintenance. For people like me, this is the only way for busy people to manage the garden themselves so I’m always looking for ideas with this philosophy in mind.
The 20-Minute Gardener would be a great book for a beginner gardener or someone like me who likes simplified, easy-to-read book gardening books that have lots of inspiring pictures and text. It’s worth checking out.
All photos are from the Sunset Western Garden Book The 20-Minute Gardener.
My youngest son, Milo, was married in our garden last week to the lovely Lea. She stole his heart a couple of years ago and now they are beginning a new chapter in their lives. The sun came out in time to shine on Lea, as she walked with her parents from the new garden room to the deck. The pair stood before the pastor, to receive blessings and say their vows. Birds were singing and flowers were blooming and it was a joyous day for the couple and their families.
As some of you know, I broke my hip in February, it was a bad break and I will be having more surgery in June. I’m still in a wheelchair. Never the less, I participated in the wedding as much as I was able. Husband Don spent a week before the wedding getting the garden in shape and we hired a couple of laborers to do weeding and trimming. I am a little worried how the garden will survive without my nurturing touch but we can’t always control our lives in the way we’d like. A lesson I’ve had to learn in the last months.
We incorporated the garden into every aspect of the wedding. A couple of dear friends did all the flower arrangements, as well the bridal bouquet and corsages and Lea’s mother did all the food preparation. The cake was flower studded and quite beautiful.
This most special day was one I’ll remember forever. All three of my sons were together (see picture above). Utilizing the garden as the backdrop saved money and gave the wedding an intimate, personal ambiance, as if all of us were embarking on an adventure together. It gave Don and I great pleasure to share this day with the bride and groom and most welcome guests. Because the ceremony took place overlooking a garden that plays such a large part in our lives made the day even more special to us.