Saturday, January 26, 2008

Finished the Landscaping project

It's been over a month since updating this thing and since that time Ive finished the landscaping at my mom's house in La Mesa and have moved to Portland! I'm getting settled in up here, still looking for a job. Below I've posted Photos showing different stages of the yard project. The first one is what it looked like when I started, except there was a hedge running the length of the front of the house, window height, which I removed. Also, all the plants will grow and get bigger and really fill in and it will hopefully look less wood-chippy. :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Making Pomegranate Meade

As soon as I got to La Mesa, I walked around my mom's neighborhood. I was delighted to find that pomegranates were still ripe. I found a tree in the neighborhood that was full of pomegranates, all of which were widely cracked open. I asked the woman who lived there and she said I could pick as many as I wanted.

Well, there was no way I could hope to eat all of them, as they were cracked and at peak ripeness, some starting to mold. To preserve this abundance I decided to make pomegranate meade, or honey wine.

With the help of my brother, we picked a good amount of fruits, avoiding moldy ones. I took the fruits home and separated the juicy seeds from the skins, inner membranes, etc so I had a container full of juicy seeds. I ran them through the blender, straining out the really course stuff, and was left with a thick, frothy juice, some of which we drank fresh. In two plastic pitchers I mixed the right amounts of honey, pomegranate juice, and water, and then mixed in a champagne yeast I had bought. The honey was local through People's Co op. I was hoping to use honey from my own bees but hadn't harvested it yet.

Here's the meade in its 'primary' fermentation in the plastic pitchers.

I've done wild ferments with just honey and water before but with this one, adding the champagne yeast made a big difference. The fermentation really took off, and within 4 days I transferred the meade to a gallon airlocked jug.

Now, a month or so later, the fermentation has really slowed. I sampled the meade and it's pretty good. It definitely has a bite to it from the pomegranates, though.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Wow, it has been a whole month since I last updated this page. A lot has been happening since my last post. The big project for me now has been landscaping my Mom's front yard. Before I started on it, it consisted of a 20 ft. tall pine tree, dead grass, and a hedge along the front of the house. The pine tree I actually planted maybe 10 years ago; it was a small christmas tree of ours one year.

The first thing I did was take out the hedge with loppers and then uprooted its many trunks with a cutter mattock and pick mattock. The cutter mattock was indispensible. This was probably the hardest part of the whole job. I then did a general cleanup of the site, removing the brick planter around the pine, chopping up the hedge trunks, etc.

The next phase consisted of design. Coming up with a good design for the front yard that will meet the needs of the client (my mom) and the needs of the local ecosystem. So what I came up with is a landscape that is low maintenance, that uses native and drought tolerant plants, will need very little irrigation, and the irrigation it does need will be suplied by an easy to use drip system, and that the plants will provide forage for birds and butterflies. It will also be aesthetically pleasing, as this is important to my Mom.

So I came up with a list of possible plants and their growth habits and needs, narrowed it down to what would work for the space, and did a layout of the planting plan, along with a dry streambed and mulched areas. I bought most of the plants at the Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden Nursery.

Currently I am working on the irrigation system. Luckily, we already have a sprinkler system in place, and I've discovered that the existing PVC pipes will serve all the drip irrigation needs. All I have to do is add in a pressure regulator and hook into the existing system. That makes it much easier.

Now that I have the irrigation system figured out, today I will start on the earthworks: digging the dry streambed and using that earth to build a mound around the pine tree. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

back in my old neighborhood

today was my first day back in la mesa. I walked to my my dad's house 2 blocks away where my garden and bee hives are. It was probably 75 degrees out and I was able to walk barefoot and without a shirt. So different thanoregon! On the way I found ripe pomegranates. I cracked one open and enjoyed the delicious seeds. They are a much deeper red than any I had while in oregon. What a gift!

When I got to my Dad's, he and Gini were in the garden working. The garden looks great! I was really impressed. So much is still thriving, even in mid november, a testament to San Diego's mild climate. There are runner beans up twelve foot tall sunflower stalks, 8 foot tall tomato plants still flowering and putting on fruit, potatoes, chard, asparagus, mustard greens, young brassicas. The perrenial herb garden looks great, and there is now a row of young berry plants along the east side of the garden.

I'm also really happy with how the fruit trees are doing. I planted them I think the winter before last. All the citrus, such as the pummelo, lime, lemon, orange and tangerine are bearing fruit and have shown good growth. The pomegranate is small but full of fruit. The pineapple guava looks great although it didn't bear this year (probably because of heavy pruning the year before). The avocado trees are really taking off, with tons of new growth this season. Same with the stone fruits, especially the plum. Dad and Gini got white peaches this year and they said they were delicious.

So overall I'm happy with the garden! There's plenty to do between the garden and the neighborhood at large: fruit trees to be pruned, honey to be harvested asap (we have three hives now),pomegranates to be picked (and made into a pomegranate mead with the honey!). It looks like there may an opportunity to thin out some large bamboo at a friend's place and hopefully take some home with me. I may also commit some time to redoing my mom's dead lawn.

first post

I'm starting a blog so i can have a place to write about what i'm doing in san diego this winter and so that I can also post pictures with it.

So far I've spent the last several days traveling with my friends from oregon to san francisco and then to los angeles. I met with community organizer Neelam Sharma in south central LA and spent a beautiful day gardening with her and some youth who work with CSU. (Community services unlimited, the non-profit arm of the southern california chapter of the black panther party) We weeded some beds and planted radish and brussels sprouts.

The garden, with banana, fig, and cherimoya on the left side, and garden beds in the center. I also ate a fresh guava and harvested some lemongrass for tea.

I was planning on staying longer in LA so i could tour the LA ecovillage, but I couldn't stand being there,staying at my grandma's empty house alone, so I left a day early to return to la mesa.