Greens Make the OB Holidays Greener

by on November 20, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Kathy Blavatt

Thanksgiving is reminder that it is time to work on your yards, to get down and dirty in your garden to prepare for winter. It is time to turn on the creative juices for the holidays.

Autumn is the perfect time to inventory your garden and see what trimming, mulching, composting, planting and prepping needs should be done1 for winter.

Historically Southern California is different because we don’t get the traditional seasons like many other parts of the country.

Ocean beach has its own microclimates, and varies depending on if you live right on the beach, on the flats, or up on the hill. Along the coast we sometimes can have months of fog and overcast skies.

As locals know San Diego has its share of El Niño and La Niña. For example in 2016, and the first part of 2017, the El Nino rains made my garden look like a tropical paradise. Plants I had long thought were gone rose from the dead.  Due to the rainwater, my compost pile and worm bin had vivacious appetites, gobbling up all the excess greens. When the days were warmed by sunshine, then alternated with days of rain, nature’s mix cooked, producing dark rich compost.

The yard ate and drank well putting on quite a show. The garden was the stage for a new production. The stars were the previously dormant cast fungi, which looked like graceful ballerinas dancing among the stocks and leaves. In the second act, came the weird clowns, the mighty “puffballs” that short-lived lives ended explosions. In the finally the flowers burst on the scene dressed in radiant hues and bling! The bees and butterflies were there to applaud them.

Oh how rainwater, and rich soil, creates such a lively habitat.

In 2018, I entered the winter of tomato paradise. The winter months long heat spells had produced tomatoes galore in a variety of organic and heritage species. I became spoiled, even a tomato snob, mocking flavorless store-bought tomatoes in restaurants.

But, by summer I had only a few cherry tomatoes.  My taste buds have been going into tomato withdrawal.

I cut back my grapes in October as the leaves had dried, crackled, and falling to the ground. Then a surprise, because of the heat-spells, the arrival of second growth of bright green grapes sprung out from the vines.

My fig and apple trees leaves had fallen, grown back, and produced a second crop.

So now, I am trying to predict what the 2019 weather is going do. If my cat an indicator I’d say we are in for a cold winter, because when is he’s curled up he resembles a giant fur-ball! Hopefully some rain will come after this very dry year.

According to Nora’s Climate site there is a “2018-2019 El Niño Watch. ” The site describes: “Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific were comfortably above the threshold for El Niño in October 2018, but the atmospheric response is lagging. A deep pool of warm water is available below the surface to renew and sustain the surface anomaly, however, and forecasters estimate an 80% chance of a weak El Niño during Northern Hemisphere winter 2018-19.”

I have attached tubing to my rain gutter, so can I deep water my trees, moving it from one to another. My buckets and rain barrels are ready to go. I have trimmed my trees and stuffed their chopped branches and leaves into the compost pile. Then I added a couple of buckets of cleaned kelp and water to get the compost cranking while the weather is still warm. Now all we need is rain!

So much for the grudge work, now to prepare for the fun stuff cooking, gifts and flower arrangements that come from the garden.

The fresh herbs in the yard are ready for spicing up the holiday meals and goodies. The parsley, rosemary and thyme are looking healthy. These are perfect for the Thanksgiving Turkey, or in my case the vegetarian stuffed squash. Sprigs of rosemary, chives, and nasturtium flowers are perfect for decorating the main dishes. This year’s second growth of grape leaves makes lovely natural and environmentally friendly doylies on the platters.

The papayas from the yard will be put into a papaya-ginger-honey-coconut salad (taste like a dessert), to help guests’ tummies feel better after digesting all the heavier holiday foods.

Flower arrangements and decorations can be created ahead of time. Flowers from the garden this time of year tend to have yellow, orange and red blossoms, are perfect to mix together with Fall’s turning leaves and bare branches.

Ocean Beach’s garages sales have save me a bundle on wonderful baskets I have collected for many years.  They always come in handy this time of year for arrangements, holding food, and decorations.

The leftover tops and roots from organic carrots, beets and root vegetables can be planted in the garden. Any potatoes that have rooted can be cut apart with an eye in each section and be planted. These reuse methods beats by buying seeds or starter plants.

After Thanksgiving it is time to start working on holiday gifts.

Unfortunately, many people have lost the personalization of making gifts, or appreciating handcrafted or art gifts.

Traditional gift giving has changed.  Many people are now buyers. Gifts are more and more ordered online, where the purchasers never touch or wrap the presents. Or, people go to a couple mega-stores, buy all there presents there, with little effort and thought going into the gifts.

Being a creative type of person, I like to make my gifts, or try to give things that are unique or know my friends would value. Many of the gifts I give I make, or are unique items that I buy when I travel.

I tend to buy works from artisans, as do many others in the art community. It feels like you are giving a second gift by helping support an artist.

It’s uncanny how many times I see a piece of art, jewelry, “Kip Sign” and think that would be perfect for so and so.  I buy it, stash it away, and later give it as a gift.

My husband and I are both artists, so we make many of our gifts and cards.

For many years I have created and given a variety of homemade/homegrown gifts made produced from my garden. These included: seed packets with a custom homemade labels, passion fruit vines twisted into wreaths and peace symbols, air ferns in decorative bottles, leaf print cards, homemade lemon liquor, fruit candy and cookies, fruit baskets and others.

As you plan for the holidays “think green.”






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