This rounds off our first month of summer garden tours! If you haven’t checked out the other tours be sure to! This week we have Katie from California. I can’t remember for sure where I ran into Katie but I believe it was on Twitter during a gardening chat. Her current blog is a new incarnation from her original blog, which documented her life and garden adventures. I’ve really appreciated her garden writings and tweets. Let’s see what she has to share about her garden!
+Where do you garden and what is your climate like?
I garden in the Sierra Nevada foothills in Auburn, California and have lived here for two years. I’m in zone 9B which is a gift because we can grow a garden almost all year round. We enjoy relatively mild winters (it does get below freezing during the evening in December and January) and receive about 30” of rainfall a year. We have a Mediterranean climate – winter is wet and summer is dry and HOT. But as we like to say, it’s a dry heat. We’ve had a couple heat waves recently, and it’s been as hot as 106F. We have an amazing extended autumn here, with great gardening weather. It sort of makes up for the heat. Sort of.
+When did you first start gardening? How long have you been gardening at your current residence?
I remember planting marigolds under the cherry tree in our backyard with my mom when I was a kid. She showed me how to carefully take the plant out of the cell pack and put it in the hole and backfill it with soil. Little did she know she would create a lifelong obsession! I gardened in a shipping crate on a patio in college, and in earnest once I became a homeowner. I’ve been gardening for about 14 years now, which seems like a long time now that I quantified it. I still feel like I have so, so much to learn. I think I will always feel that way about gardening.
+Which plants have been your favorite to grow? Most difficult? Any major plant losses that have bummed you out?
I find that I am beginning to become a bit of a plant collector, and I enjoy so many of them it’s hard to pick. But I will admit some of my favorites are the easiest plants to grow and plant snobs may look down upon, but I don’t care! I love daylilies, Shasta daisies, growing peppers (I can’t eat them though), and my fruit trees. I have planted a backyard orchard a couple times, and although fruit trees can be slow to produce, there really is nothing like a homegrown peach. As for difficult plants, beans have been hard for me, probably because I’ve never had a good watering system. Also, I don’t have as much planted as I’d like due to a major vole population in my garden. I have to put everything in a wire gopher basket and line my raised beds with gopher wire, so I don’t have as much gardenable space as I’d like. They ate everything I planted outside of the raised beds last year, so lesson learned.
+What plants would you like to have in your garden if you could?
Bananas. It would be great to be able to grow them since they have a lot of “food miles.”
+Anything new and exciting growing this season?
The front yard was sheet mulched last fall/winter and are turning it into a garden. I have artichokes planted and hope to plant the loquat I started from seed years ago (a plant refugee from my old life!) in the front yard. I also planted some bamboo out front that I had been moving around for years, and it was cathartic to finally put it in the soil after all this time. I look forward to it growing in and creating a screen from the neighbor’s driveway that is elevated and looks right into the bedroom window. I’ve put in a lot of new plants this year.
+Have you grown any edibles and if so what has been your favorite?
I’ve grown tons of edibles! It’s so cool to be able to pick dinner from your garden. Homegrown tomatoes are divine, as is any sort of fruit. I am looking forward to getting lemons from the trees I planted this winter. I love growing things I eat so I don’t have to buy produce.
+Share anything else exciting in the yard!
I have SO MANY PLANS for the house, sometimes I feel like what is already done is pretty measly. But when I moved here it was a total blank slate – a quarter acre of grass and a house on top. Four 4’ x 8’ raised beds have been installed, with the plan to put in 4 more this fall. There are plans for an outdoor shower and stock tank planters soon as well. The biggest change has been the front yard, which was a “polyculture” lawn (ie. full of weeds) that was allowed to die last summer, flame weeded, and sheet mulched over. A zillion 4” plants and potted plants I’d been saving were planted out there. I get compliments from people walking by all the time. It’s fun to share it with the neighborhood. If I could do this questionnaire in a year, there would be a lot more to report, but there is always something going on it seems.
Sounds exciting! Thanks Katie! Be sure to check out her blog or Flickr to see how her garden progresses! (I’m jealous of the loquat tree!).