Weekends like this remind me how truly blessed those of us are who live in Southern California. Say what you will about traffic or smog, you really can’t beat the weather. It was almost 80 degrees on the first day of Spring, while many parts of the country were still under a blanket of snow. It almost makes a girl feel a little guilty to have so much sunshine and year-round citrus.
We’ve had some unusually wet and cold weather this year, but once it turned warm the urge to get outside and plant came on with a vengeance. Even though it’s early March, it’s time to get the summer garden going here in Los Angeles. While many people in the US can’t plant until May or June, we need to start planting now because in July and August, at least where I live, it’s so blazin’ hot the vegetables can’t take it and start to wilt on the vine.
If you’ve been with me from the beginning of the blog, you may remember last year we built raised garden beds and experimented with something called the “No Dig Gardening Method.” It was fairly successful in terms of vegetable production in a small space, but I spent much of my time battling the “Little Monsters” (aka Raccoons) who liked to climb into the beds and dig for their supper.
Things have changed in the past year since we built and filled the boxes. The layers of hay, alfalfa, compost and manure have melded and compressed. The wood on the boxes has darkened. One thing has not changed; while there may be nothing planted, the Little Monsters are still getting in there, digging with regularity. I’m going to have to come up with a better plan than last year. Go here to see how we built the raised boxes, and here for the method of filling them if you’re interested in giving it a try.
No Dig Garden Year 2: We’re now ready to get the garden beds prepped and begin “No Dig Gardening, Year Two”. The first chore I had to do was get rid of the knee high weeds in the pathways, which threatened to reach out and grab me like the monster plant from the Little Shop of Horrors.
My current plan is to take what’s in the large U-shaped box and move much of it to the two smaller boxes. Then we will fill the larger container much as we did last year.
I’ll be planting some of the same things as before; tomatoes (as many as possible!), eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, lemon cucumbers, etc. There will be new vegetables too, but I just don’t know what yet. I’d also like to plant in stages over the next two of months to hopefully extend my growing season. Last year almost everything was gone by the first week of August. As I said above, a lot of that has to do with the heat, but also because I did not stagger my planting enough.
As for the Little Monsters, I have a plan for them too, and no, it does not involve bodily harm as many have suggested. I’m not exactly sure what yet, but it will most likely include chicken wire, zip ties, and a little ingenuity.
*Update* I just moved some of the soil from the big bed to the smaller ones. I was really impressed with the quality of it and the sheer amount of earthworms inside. In addition I found some big, fat white grubs about the size of my thumb. Any know what these might be? I’m sure these are what the raccons are after; they don’t tend to eat the plants, instead they’re digging for tasty treats and the plants are just in their way. These guys are big, probably about 40 lbs, and they do a lot of damage rooting around in there.
Speaking of Year 2, Tuesday the 23rd will be the 1 year anniversary of this blog. What started as a way to do something productive during recession generated furlough days has turned into a full fledged passion and I am so thankful for the incredible experience and all the amazing people I have met through this blog over the last year.
Are you wondering what all this talk of sunshine, monsters and gardening has to do with Meyer Lemons? As I’ve said in previous posts our little Meyer Lemon tree has been very generous this year and many readers have commented on how they don’t have Meyer Lemons where they live.
I’d like to send a little Spring sunshine in the form of a couple of pounds of Meyer Lemons to one reader as a way to say “Thank You” for sticking with me this year.
Ok, it’s also as a way to alleviate my guilt for living in in such fabulous weather while many of you are still wearing snow boots. I’d like to point out that the idea to send California citrus to the colder climes came from the always generous Diane and Todd at whiteonricecouple, who are doing their own citrus giveaway. If you’ve never seen their beautiful blog, make sure you check it out.
Giveaway Details (Now Closed):
I’ll send a couple pounds of my organically grown Meyer Lemons to one reader. That’s enough to make one or two of my lemon desserts or a small batch of lemonade if you are so inclined. This will be 10-12 lemons depending on their size which varies from small to quite large. These lemons are tree-ripened, very juicy, and have a thinner skin than the more common Eureka Lemon so they will need to be used fairly soon after they are received.
All you need to do is leave a comment below and let me know if you are starting your own garden this year, what you’re growing, or what you’d like to make with the lemons.
If you’d like a second chance to win, become a Former Chef Facebook Fan and then come back and leave a 2nd comment telling me you’ve done so. If you’re already a fan, you can leave a 2nd comment letting me know, and get a 2nd chance too.
I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday the 26th. The giveaway is open only to those with a US shipping address.