Thursday, September 29, 2016

I'm not going to have a vegetable garden

So I've finally said the words.

No vegetable garden here. Probably ever.

Which, if I'm being honest, I knew when we bought the place.

Despite my wild out loud fantasies of tractoring and row crop growing and getting goats for the manure-making (and obviously face cuddling), I knew.

Because this place is on a seriously not fucking around slope and the only sunny space I have that's flat is right annoyingly out at the front of our property where we have to have space to deal with the solar panels and for, say, the corralling of 402 goats during their 5 annual days of glory eating the poison oak.

I can have a vegetable garden or I can have a goat corral for five days of the year. I went goats. Doy. 
As though there are people that DON'T want this on their property.
Also deer.

Deer, cottontails, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, skunks, opossum, rats, field mice...there are a lot of creatures here that love to eat/make a nest of/fuck up a vegetable garden.

Dudes - even the succulents I planted in a pot on the top level of my deck within five feet of Jada The Predator's jaws weren't safe. Something fucking ate them, too.

Sidenote: Name that movie. Hint: That is not a complete quote.

So yeah, despite whatever delusions I may have vaguely entertained when we bought the place of the vegetable garden I *might* have *one day* once we don't need that flat spot for necessary maintenance activities of our main power source and the hungry naughty wildlife has left their native habitat of our property because they decide they want their kids going to the good schools in Los Altos rather than this bumpkin shit (honestly, I have no idea of school systems. I don't have kids. But you get it.) - maybe then.

But until then, no.

And that's totally 100% OK.

Seriously. I'm fine with it.


California natives and an essentially untouched 5 acre oak woodland that has almost every Sunset Zone 16 exposure imaginable.

Ok, go.

Like full sun, part sun, part shade, shade, deep shade, dry shade, wet weather creeks, slope, flat, well draining, clay, sand, under oaks, fog drip line, east/west/north/south facing whatever - all the exposures and conditions.

The same Zone 16 that Sunset deems "one of Northern California’s finest horticultural climates."

And the same house where the previous residents decided to plant vinca and let it run amok in the front and then never did a shitting thing about the poison oak choking out the Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia for my plant nerds! Woo!) in the back and then put in a bunch of tragically tight-spaced non-native water hungry Poplars and surrounded it all, including the oaks, with drip and sprinkler irrigation.

For the win.


But to bring it back. To make it right, plant-wise. That's the fun now.

So, sorry tomatoes, but our field grower is perfectly excellent at growing tangy rich dry farmed Early Girls and drunkeningly luscious heirloom cantaloupe and more frilly perfect dill than I ever knew even existed in a single crop anywhere. And I grow basil and cucumbers year round, so we have that and all the other shit that comes off the farm. So no one needs a vegetable garden then, too.

Instead, I'm growing lupines, Lupinus arboreus now.
These are some native annual lupines which are different but still awesome and they will stay.

They're there. In the dug out ruts in the side of the slope there. Promise.
And buckwheat, Erigonum grande rubescens

Obviously California poppies, Eschscholzia california

And Matijla poppies, Romneya coulteri

Next spring, this thing is going to be huge and gorgeous. Swear it.
And Bush Anenome, Carpenteria californica
Ok, kinda cheating here since this is one from our old house. But I still love this plant and I'm having LOTS here. 
And Flannel Bush, Fremontodendron
This was before the deer dined on it. It looks OK now and next spring BETTER and then in a few years UH-MAY-ZING.
And California Lilac, Ceanothus

Do you like the high contrast photo that I took at midday after I discovered the deer had gone to work on my new Ceanothus 'Joyce Coulter'? I don't. It's a shit photo and those deer are jerks but next spring I bet the "after" photo will look incredible.
And Mock Orange, Philadelphus lewisii

And Woolly Blue Curls, Trichostema lanatum

And Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus

This guy was supposed to be Mimulus bifidus 'White', but Annie's played a wee joke on me before sending me what I ordered so DAMNITALLTOHELLNOTREALLY I have a few of these Mimulus aurantiacus 'Cherry' in and amongst the 'Pt Molate' and the Mimulus bifidus 'White'. Worse things have happened, I assure you. 
And Hummingbird Sage, Salvia spathacea
I have an absolutely inappropriate love affair with this plant. I'm planting it everywhere. It's going to be glorious. If not a little showy.
This is one of the plantings. Of, I think five now. I swear this will look good one day. Probably.
And Giant Chain Fern, Woodwardia fimbriata

And what I thought was Western Sword Fern, Polystichum munitum, but on reflection is I'm not sure. Thoughts, my plant people? I'm going to check my plant tags.
It is impossibly green here in the spring.
And Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris

And Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa

And Douglas Iris, Iris douglasiana

And Penstemon

And Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis
Yeah. She needs time.
To start with anyway.

And maybe one day, when we've cleared enough of the poison oak from the beautiful hillside to put in our little trail, I'll get to go out into the wild (but in a way where I don't meet a tragic end in an abandoned bus) to plant even more because I'M DRUNK WITH THE POWER OF FIVE WHOLE ACRES OF ZONE 16 OAK WOODLAND WOO!

So yeah, no vegetable garden probably, but, like, I'm fine with it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The new bermudagrass

Remember when I was all, "BERMUDAGRASS CAN GO FUCK ITSELF", or whatever?

Because it was the worst/the devil's landscape material/etc?

You may remember. I remember. But now I laugh when I remember how much I loathed the Bermudagrass because...

Poison oak.


People, I'm not saying that I'd take 5 acres of Bermudagrass over the poison oak, but what I am saying is FUCK THAT SHIT and also, our perspectives toward yard work have changed.

Specifically, we are extra not fucking around.

The days of maybe I'll wear flip flops while I do some light gardening are way over.

You know - coveralls speckled with filth are basically the same.

The days where I yard work myself to a near stroke only a few times a year when the vegetable garden goes in/comes out are super over.

Every weekend, folks. Be jealous.

The days where going out to do yard work does not involve a pre-treatment, hooded Tyvek suit, elbow length gloves, full face coverage and an invasively thorough Technu post-treatment hosing off are over, too.

Strange that the gloves are what makes this scary.

These are the salad days for sure.

But - we are making just the tiniest bit of progress with the 5 acres of Bubba-eating poison oak, so there's that.


And, while Bubba happens to be violently OFFENSIVELY allergic to poison oak, I happen to not be allergic apparently at all.

Though I'm sure that now I say that, I'll die of poison oak inhalation or something stupid.

And I think you know that this was finally the moment we were all waiting for - GOATS.

Let me allow that to sink in.



And not because I somehow convincingly demanded it or looked extra pathetic or made some censor-worthy offers to Bubba - oh no.


Because of the almost dying twice of poison oak since we moved here less than a year ago.

But yeah - GOATS CAME.

And not just, like, one or two goats. NO, PEOPLE - 402 GOATS WERE AT OUR HOUSE.

And, for a few minutes on our road, and then for 5 munchy munchy days of blissful oak, grass and POISON OAK eating they were on our property doing their adorable, insatiable, bottomless-bellied bests.

I said, "This is the greatest thing I've ever seen" approximately 100 times. Every minute.

Because COME ON...

I mean, before was all:

And then after 5 days of endless goat attention, it was all:

And during I was all:

It was all.

Anyway - yeah. Poison oak is basically our lives and, as a result, we've gotten REAL.

After they took the goats away (it was a sad day), we armed ourselves with The Poison Oak Station.

So, yes, this is a repurposed repurposed tool cabinet that some kid made (unsupervised, I'm thinking) in shop class that Bubba bought and cut up and welded back together to be the FrankenSmoker and then cut up again and then here we are.

Now it's, luxuriously I might add, lined with cardboard and filled with everything we need to almost hopefully probably if we're really careful not get poison oak while we use the Not Fucking Around tools to, basically, go to battle.

I mean, what even is this thing?

Brush ax. Kaiser blade. Sling blade. Take your pick.

We call it the Dothraki Death Blade because - I mean you can see why. It's kind of like a scythe crossed with a giant machete and bolted onto an ax handle.

And it FUCKING WORKS. For chopping shit back anyway. That's its main purpose. And we have a lot of chopping shit back to do. So, that's one tool we can't do without.

Then there's the super long tree saw with the hookey-loo that can snag the poison oak vines BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY ARE VINING and drag their oily asses out of the beautiful coast live oak trees and into the trailer BOOM. And then saw down the big fat trunks choking the shit out of the trees.

Except don't tell Bubba I called it a hookey-loo. I think he takes offense to the goofball names I apply to all his manly stuff.

And then there's the chainsaw to which Bubba has pledged his eternal soul.

Now, to be clear, we do not use the chainsaw on poison oak - that'd be crazy and would just spray noxious poison oak bits and blobs every old where. But we are also limbing up the trees and cutting up fallen limbs every other foot fall as we creep ever closer to the center of this property, so the chainsaw is a must.

And the trailer. He's a good boy.

And you may not think of it as a super Not Fucking Around Tool - but the rake is in there, too. The ratty old one that the former owners left behind. He can pull great wads of filthy poison oak down around your ankles in no time at all.

Makes me itchy just thinking about it. And I don't even get poison oak! Or do I...?

So yeah - that's what we're doing instead of training for races, brewing beer, crafting a thing, growing a vegetable garden or basking our buns in Hawaii.