Saturday, February 21, 2015

Spring Edibles

Just in time for the west coast spring vegetable planting (and the weekend) I've prepared a plan to start your vegetable seeds directly in the ground. It is unseasonably warm here on the coast of California so these cool season crops might grow quicker than they have in past years. I hope so! It seems unlikely it will get too hot for them and I'm crossing my fingers.

Have you dug up your winter kale and beets yet? No, me neither, but if you have another piece of garden that is not already occupied and ready to be turned under and planted directly, then you will not regret planting these seeds. An amazing amount will fit into a small space. I have a 3' X 16' plot, and am only using 6' of it for this plan.

The Farmers Almanac has a companion planting reference to enhance the greatness of the intensive garden plan. And my favorite The Essential Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal gave insight on techniques for planting things so closely, enjoy.
A quick overview of the plan: The 2'10" structure at the top is for the Snap Peas to climb, it will create some shade, but that is fine since there is only a little bit of lettuce on the shady side. The carrots and onions are planted in a hexagonal patterns so that more will fit in the small space. Radishes will mature fast and be harvested before the onions encroach on that space and the lettuce should be clipped when it is baby sized so that it doesn't take over. Marigolds and Herbs will help keep the bugs away. Click the links below to see the seed variety because they will dictate the size of the plant and the length of the harvest to some extent.

Order your seeds today and don't forget the floating row covers! They keep the moisture in, the bugs out, and the seeds are already sprouting in the first week. I am not affiliated with these vendors, but I know you can count on them, received all my supplies quickly and successfully from these guys.

Seeds from Johnny's Seeds, Radish, Carrot, Snap Pea, Onion, Lettuce
Floating row cover from Henry Field's.
They sell a nice small piece for the smaller gardens (61" X 25')
Floating Row Cover, just lay over the planted area
Radishes already sprouting

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Naturalized Bulbs


Daffodils and Summer Snowflake


readily adapt and have naturalized in my San Francisco East Bay Hills Garden. While they last only a few months at most, they are worth it. The Daffodils give me color and somehow, happiness? and the Snowflake really fills in when it's needed since just a small change in temperature causes them to spring forth as if it were a fully fledged Spring. Right now, by the calendar, we are another month and half away from Spring, yet the Daffodil and Summer Snowflake are flourishing. I have not planted any of these in years and they keep coming back, yay, thank you!



Common Name: Daffodil
Botanical Name: Narcissus sp.

Common Name: Summer Snowflake
Botanical Name: Leucojum aestivum

You can find these bulbs planted all over the area of San Francisco called the East Bay Hills which includes Oakland and Berkeley. They adapt to clay soil and some varieties of Narcissus are native to California.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

No Summer Water Garden Design



Here is another easy to install drought tolerant garden for fifty square feet. And, just so you don't forget about the herb garden, there is an analysis of it on Tracy's Lookout, where I keep some blog posts not directly related to Garden Design.

So, off we go...

No Summer Water Design Description


I am desperately trying to find an alternative to ivy which looks green and lush year after year with no summer water and no attention except to clip it back because it refuses to stop growing. 

I, being me, have chosen to be adventurous, and choose plants that I have not had any personal experience with. Except the Dryopteris, they are all a mystery to me, so I am planting them on my front hillside to see how they do among the long standing Sword Ferns and a few perennials that stoically stick it out despite the ivy. The bulbs, Brodiaea and Anenome, I found at Costco, but I have not yet begun my search for the other two. Since I will be installing this garden in my own landscape, expect a post of an analysis when I've tried it out. If you decide to try it - please let me know and I'd love to include that with my analysis.

The Plant List

Dryopteris sp.

Dryopteris arguta
A native California Fern that I tried planting in my 'wet zone' of the garden. I suspect I killed because it got too much water. Imagine, too much water.
Sidalcea malviflora
A flowery little pink round thing that I found in my book.
Bulbinella floribunda
A spikey yellow flowered plant that resembles the Red Hot Poker, but needs less water, also found in the book and not yet seen in real life. :-)
Brodiaea
I found a 120 bulb count bag of these at Costco that I have begun to plant. I refuse to water them myself in order to let nature takes its course this spring. Crossing fingers.
Anenome
Also 100 bulb count bag of these found at Costco. I've buried some and hoping for some rain in the coming months.

This year, it is already like spring except it is January. While the East Coast has been taking a brutal beating as far as weather goes, the Western side of the US is enjoying hiking weather no colder than 55 F degrees. It is not good, even the Sierras have no snow... we are going to be flushing the toilets with leftover water from the sink at this rate. Not a pretty sight. Hopefully this design will help the garden be enjoyable while staying within your individual water companies water restrictions this summer.

As for the design, the layout of the plants is totally optional. These drawings give you an idea of how many of the plants you need for the 50 square feet. I suggest overlapping a little since each plant will go dormant at different times and you want it to look as filled in as you can for as long as you can.

Update: the Sidalcea and Bulbinella may be difficult to find at the local nursery, but if you order this garden through me in 2015 the wholesale nursery claims to have them, or order the seeds through UK based Plant World Seeds to experiment with different varieties of Bulbinella.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Easy to Grow Camelias



I can't say enough great things about the simple Camelia. They are a throwback from the past generation of gardens. Where there are still mature Junipers, Rhododendrons and Azaleas there are almost always a few mature Camelias. I had that garden when we first bought the house and it was beautiful for the first few years. Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camelias really know how to flower.

Unfortunately, because of a combination of the manual watering system, our lack of water during the summer months, and my unwillingness to over water the landscape, most of the Rhododendrons and Azaleas slowly died off. They are  more suited to the Pacific Northwest where precipitation is more reliable all year.

In my garden, the only thing that has survived to this day are the Camelias. I cut them and they grow back. I never water them and they bloom every spring. They are one of the best plants to grow in a Central California garden, and with so many options of colors and types, they can keep you occupied almost as long as the roses do when you are choosing which one to buy.

Camelia
Botanical Name: Camelia japonica (with many, many varieties, other species and cultivars)
I grow them in Oakland, CA. You need to take care of them for the first few years after you plant them at which time they should have a well draining soil and moderate to regular water. Once established they will outlive all the plants.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Big Designs, Small Spaces

T Z Landscape Design is now offering pre-designed gardens.

Pre-designed gardens include directions for installation and everything you need to fill in about 50 square feet of your garden with fresh herb plants appropriate for your site.

The customizable Herb Garden is a nice mix of herbs which won't get eaten by the deer and uses many drought tolerant herb plants.You can use the leaves and flowers for teas and seasonings in the kitchen.

This kit includes:

1/2 yard compost
1/2 yard mulch
100 square feet of weed suppressant cardboard
Approximately 27 plants depending on sizes and availability
Design plan including instructions for installation

Click here to get a description of the Herb Garden.

The image to the right shows an overview of the quantity, size and arrangement of the herb garden. You can spend hours trying to figure out which plants to place in your garden or you can order a pre-designed garden and spend those hours installing it. When you order the package from T Z Landscape Designs the choices have been made and you need not do anything else but put the plants in the ground.

Set aside a weekend day to install the garden yourself, or order it to be delivered when your gardener is there to install it for you.

Either way, refreshing your herb bed or creating a new one is so much easier when it has already been planned and delivered right to your door with plenty of compost and mulch to not only give it a finished look, but to ensure the success of the plants.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Backyard Agriculture Design Questions


Designing Backyard Farms

I have an unrealistic streak and have been asking myself the questions: why can't we grow food in our own gardens? why can't we let kiwi and grapes crawl up our houses and fences and trees. why can't we put a dozen potted herbs on our roofs and let the lawn be a corn field? Then we would have all our produce local, and as a bonus we wouldn't have to transport it anywhere, it would already be where it needs to be!

Who exactly wants to do this? It is difficult enough creating the time to do everything we have to do to pay the mortgage and the bills... then to spend several hours, if not days, in the yard growing our own? It would be a very organized and dedicated person to be able to do all this.

I know that, but maybe I and a few others can.

I'm finishing up the Memento database for the individual who wants to use their Android device to keep track of their farm records. This database could be used for financial information, but first, I've created a series of databases to keep track of the Inputs and Outputs of the planting beds on your small Urban Farm.

Take a look at the Memento Database, it is deceivingly simple, but has some huge advantages. For example, you can scan the code on your seed package and it will immediately look it up on the Google database. Also, you can export your database information to Google Drive, so you can print out a spreadsheet containing all your data, or fiddle with it to see how to improve your backyard farm for next year. Have fun!

Memento Database

Friday, October 4, 2013

Garden Record Keeping


Start Keeping Records for Organic Farming

Being a garden designer and homeowner in Oakland, California for over 10 years, it is great to see the Organic Urban Farm movement grow in this city. Many people with small plots of edibles and herbs, and larger suburban homes with livestock are popping up everywhere. I think that these tendencies might help to enhance the cities local food supply and grow into something more. Even though it has become easier to sell your own food, both cultivated and prepared, it is still quite difficult and time consuming to become certified organic, mostly because of the record keeping. Landscape design requires quite a bit of computer time, and I have a degree in computer science from UC Berkeley, maybe I can make this record keeping easier.

First, I am using the database apps available to see what they can do. The Memento Database has a great, easy to use, interface to create custom databases. I am in the process of creating a database that you can use to easily keep track of what you've planted, including all the details. Memento allows you to share your database templates, and I will.

I am using the Certified Organic website in California record keeping documents as my guide. But if there are other things you need, let me know in the comments below! Thanks! Also, please let me know if you know of applications already out there. If there is already something good, good!

PS My company has taken a new direction! Read about how I am now Contributing to Landscape Design as a Computer Programmer. Thanks!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...