Saturday, October 22, 2011

Random Garden Chatter


Robb and I had hoped to go to an event with our letterboxing friends today, but unfortunately today was one of the days where Robb's legs just weren't cooperating. Some days are harder than others, and today was a day where his legs were particularly weak.

Thankfully, we love our little house and garden, so staying home is never a bad thing.

Robb noticed this clump of mushrooms, near the Gloriana beehive. How odd. We've never seen this variety of mushrooms in our yard, and it really hasn't rained much this fall.

For those blog readers outside of California, it helps to know that around here we pretty much have two seasons: the warm months, when there's no rain AT ALL, and the cooler rainy season. We've had rain twice this fall. Prior to that, there has been no rain since the spring.

The mushrooms were huge. Having consulted my super-huge mushroom book, I think that these mushrooms are in the agaricus genus. Of course, I know next-to-nothing about mushrooms, so I could be spewing pure nonsense.

They have pink gills, and their veil forms a complex ring around the stalk. There are no warty structures on the cap.

Please ignore my dirty gardener's fingers.

When scratched, the mushroom bruises bright yellow. I have not taken a spore print.

How about that rat skull? I dug that up in the garden last week. The whiskers are still attached, which is extra-grisly.

I've been trying to be a more active part of the neighborhood, so last weekend I helped prune and pull weeds with two of our neighbors. I had a nice gossip, did a bit of work, and managed to fall flat on my face while we were walking home. I was looking at the work another neighbor was doing on his fence, stepped on a loose pebble, and tripped in a truly spectacular manner. I also asked about the fruit trees planted on the median strip on our block, and was told that we all had permission to pick the fruit.

Once I outed myself as a fruit geek, the guys offered me their sad neglected fig tree, Jesús. They named the tree this, because it looks like someone crucified the poor thing.

I'm hoping for a resurrection.

This fig tree has been languishing since they moved in, six years ago. We hauled it into the back yard, and I wrassled it out of the pot, cut out grass-roots that were strangling the fig, and parked it between the lemon verbena and the pluot tree. Once Robb and I finish the work on the front of the house, I'll plant fruit trees out front.

For the record, this poor tree has a total of twelve leaves. I'm a sucker for a hopeless cause, and am determined to nurse it back to health.

Also last weekend, I planted fava beans, radishes, purple mustard greens, and a bunch of California wildflowers. (Need to go check the seed packages, to remind myself what I planted.)

I pre-sprouted the beans, and then planted them nine inches apart. I've never grown fava beans, so I don't really know what to expect. I had extra seeds, some of which grew fuzzy mold, and some of which I managed to pot up. I'll probably give them to Allie. (Hi Allie!)

Other than that, I planted two each of California shield fern (Polystichum californicum), "leather leaf" coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), and western bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) near the QEII beehive, in front of the World's Ugliest Fence. I also planted a western pennyroyal (Monardella odoratissima) under the persimmon. I actually thought this was coyote mint, (Monardella villosa). Whoops. I bought all of these at the opening of the new East Bay Wilds Nursery in Fruitvale. This is going to be a by-appointment-only business, but I managed to line my schedule up with one of the few days they were open to the public.

Speaking of the persimmon tree, we harvested our first two fruits, and broiled them for breakfast. They tasted like autumn.


Barby said...

Thanks for sharing all the mushroom pictures. I am fascinated by them, but scared to try and determine the safe from the poisonous. I cannot find a class to learn how to identify them, so I will continue to admire them from afar.
Love the nail polish, btw!

Randy Emmitt said...

Interesting mushroom, I have a book that might get you close without a sprore print. Good luck with the fig tree, it should recover. Never heard of broiling persimmons. I eat them fresh.

Noreen said...

MIchael Kuo's site has really helped me learn more about mushrooms. And his book 100 Edible Mushrooms is great (and a hoot!)

Katie Hertfelder said...

Fava beans are amazing. When we lived in Independence, CA, (10 degree winter nights), I grew them over the winter. Prettiest little black and white checkered flowers I ever saw.

Karen Anne said...

Pennyroyal, doesn't that have something to do with cats? I can't remember if it's a cat attractant or repellent.


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