Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Soil Lasagna

One wheelbarrow load of mulch away from our completed project!

Have you ever made SOIL LASAGNA?

Used EVAPOTRANSPIRATION (or E.T.) in a sentence?

Do you know that your soil needs OWL for anything to grow properly?

This was all Greek to me until March when my husband and I signed up for a class held by the San Diego Water District.

Which seemed a good place to find out how to extend our vegetable garden by getting rid of some of our lawn and lower our water bill in the process.

Before Photo: Vegetable garden amongst a sea of bad grass.

Many neighbors have gone xeriscape, drought-tolerant, au natural.

So we observed the process. Which went like this. Turn off your sprinklers for three or so months. Watch your lawn turn brown. Or shorten the procedure by spraying some kind of poison to kill the grass. Get someone in to dig up the hard soil that is left. Bring in good soil. Plant some stuff that isn't grass.

Ok, that is one approach but it didn't seem to be the best approach since we would be planting vegetables. That we planned to EAT.

Hence, the class.

And the lively and knowledgeable instructor Jodie Cook taught us how to make 'soil lasagna', which means taking a few simple steps to get rid of grass naturally and leave behind rich gorgeous soil for future planting.

What to do ahead of time:

1)  Mark sprinklers (we actually raised the heads so they would be above the lasagna).

2)  Dig a perimeter around the hardscape (for us that was the house, concrete slab and fence).

3)  Calculate amount of compost needed with this formula (cubic feet = length x width x height). In this case the height is 1/12 or one inch of compost).

4)  Save your newspapers for a couple of weeks.

5)  Calculate amount of mulch needed with this formula (cubic feet = length x width x height). In this case the height is 1/3 or 1/2 or 4-6 inches of compost).

6)  Set aside a weekend for this project (preferably one that is not hot and windy, which is what we did).

Okay, are you ready?

This is going to be a piece of cake, errrr, a slice of lasagna, errrr, you know what I mean, let's get to work:

A)  Spread 1 inch of compost. Water.

B)  Spread newspaper on top. Water.

C)  Spread 4-6 inches of mulch. Water.

When finished, sit back and admire.

It will take 6 to 8 weeks to 'bake'.

In the meantime, the lasagna should be kept moist (like a wrung out sponge). Use a moisture meter to check.

Stay Tuned.

Will report back in July to show the results!

SOIL LASAGNA (see above)

OWL --- living soil needs a balance of oxygen + water + life

EVAPOTRANSPIRATION --- is the amount of water that evaporates from the soil surface and is transpired by plants through the foliage during a certain time period. It is a way to compare the water needs of different plants.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Miniature Pastries

The lovely server at Opera Patisserie in Sorrento Valley gifted the three of us
with this delicious pastry selection after hearing that it was our first visit.
Smart smart gal, we will definitely be back! 

A bite of fruit tart, chocolate eclair, teeny tiny cakes and caramel mousse
is so much better than the repetitious spoonfuls of a single regular-sized treat.

What is it about miniature food that is so appealing?

That one can fit FIVE desserts comfortably onto a single plate.

Perhaps that is the key!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

1 Chicken, 2 Roosters and a Bunny

There is a little bunny that has been hopping around the backyard for weeks.

It is not the least bit intimidated by our chicken hanging on the fence.

Or our rooster plant stand.

But I wonder if our latest and brightest piece of yard poultry will cause a reaction.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Medley of SF Shots

After downloading photos from my camera to the computer, these are the shots that I kept going back to for a second look.

They have nothing to do with one another.

Except that they were all taken on our trip to San Francisco.

Capturing the morning fog.

Each face wears a completely different expression.
Ranging from concerned helpfulness to boredom to jocularity.

Neutrals that are soothing and upscale.
This room uses 'bling' instead of a pop of color.

Does it seem like all men love cars?
Especially when they can get under the hood or inside the dash.

The juxtaposition of the mural, the "Woo Woo" sign, the city streets
 --- caught my eye.

This group of tourists/actors/fashionable partygoers (?)
got off the trolley car in front of us.

And proceeded to fill the hotel elevator.
Love how the hat brims seem to share an embrace.

Makes me wonder about the family behind the laundry.

Sun, shade, casual, uniformed.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Georgia O'Keeffe

The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park is featuring an exhibit of Modern Nature: Georgia O'Keeffe and Lake George.

Which is compelling.

Barns, changing color of leaves, trees around the lake, the top of knees (hers?) in a rowboat…..

And quite unusual.

Because when I think of this particular artist, I immediately think of New Mexico and flowers (large, bold, close up).

But like all of us, O'Keeffe was more than one note.

Born in Wisconsin, she attended the Art Institute in Chicago, taught in Texas, took classes in South Carolina. A friend sent her drawings to Alfred Steiglitz, a photographer and gallery owner in New York. He exhibited her work without her knowledge.

O'Keeffe ended up in a relationship and eventually married Steiglitz, a man over twenty years her senior.

Stieglitz shot nude photographs of O'Keeffe that made her famous. This led to critics eyeing her own work as erotic and sensual thus tainting the way her flowers and other close ups were viewed. In the short film (shown at the museum), they quote O'Keeffe as saying, "Sometimes a flower is just a flower."

Hmmmm, even without knowing this part of her history, there seems to be an obvious sensual quality to her work.

A 1929 vacation to Taos, New Mexico would alter the course of her life. She returned every year and took up permanent residency there after her husband died.

Fascinating woman with equally fascinating history.

de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit.

Also mentioned in the film, "she was so very tired of all the green" (from years and years of painting around Lake George) and the colors of New Mexico spoke to her as an artist.

It stuck with me because as we left the exhibit (in the middle of Golden Gate Park), we were instantly surrounded by green.

Grass, trees, bushes, even the water….which I couldn't wait to photograph.

But hey, I am not a painter….

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Ode to the Fiddlehead Fern

It seems more creature-ish
than something eaten from a dish.

At a booth inside the Ferry Building along the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Amongst the boxes of morels and porcini mushrooms, I spotted these green curled ferns.
Apparently, the fiddlehead fern is seasonal and only available a few weeks in Spring.

Have you ever eaten a fiddlehead fern?

Do you want to?