Birds like dry water boxes

A few months ago, I noticed a bird chirping around one of my dormant GrowBoxes. While I was working in the garden early one morning, I noticed the bird perch on the water port of the box, and then disappear into the waterbox itself. A few seconds later, it emerged, and a minute later, it returned, with a twig in its mouth. I looked inside and saw a bunch of twigs. This little bird had been busy for a long time getting all that stuff into the waterbox.  I set up my iPhone on a tripod and shot this:

I figured that box was lost to me, at least for the spring. I wasn’t about to destroy an active nest. However, I noticed that the birds stopped coming around. I waited a couple of weeks, and after seeing no activity, I disassembled the GrowBox to clean out the twigs, so I could use it. Inside, I found the abandoned nest, with a few eggs in it, as you see below. Mom must have met up with one of our many red-tailed hawks, or perhaps an owl.

Twigs and nest in GrowBox

Close-up of nest in GrowBox reservoir

Nest in GrowBox

Let us have lettuce! In fact, four kinds!

Since my lettuces are doing well, and are big enough to look like smaller versions of mature plants, I thought I’d publish some portraits!

I raise all these in shallow “windowboxes” set atop a folding table, to keep them out of reach of the cottontail rabbits that visit. I wish the squirrels were as easy to thwart. That’s why I have four live traps in the garden — to help me relocate the salad-bar-loving squirrels who visit from the canyon behind my yard.

Here’s the leaf lettuce, both a red and a green variety:

Red and green leaf lettuce

I also planted a couple of “butterhead” lettuces. This category forms a loosely-organized head, sort of halfway between a leaf lettuce and a true head lettuce.

First, we have Buttercrunch Lettuce, still pretty young. This variety germinates and grows pretty slowly:

Baby buttercrunch lettuce

My second butterhead variety is called Mantilia. It’s chartreuse, an unusual lettuce color. Pretty! Hope it’s as tasty as it is pretty, but I’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out.

Mantilia butterhead lettuce

My Garden Plan at GrowVeg.com

I subscribe to a great gardening blog at GrowVeg.com. This website also offers a paid subscription service called Garden Planner. Not sure it’s unique to GrowVeg, because I’ve seen it offered on other sites, too.

Garden Planner lets you lay a little birds-eye-view map of your garden. You provide your location, and the service will send you a couple of emails per month with general news, plus specific advice on growing the plants you specified in your Garden Planner. For example, if you’ve put sugar snap peas in your Garden Planner, the website will let you know when the time comes to direct-sow your sugar snap pea seeds in San Diego. You also get a cool graphic of your garden plan that you can share.

Check out my current garden plan here.

Here’s how it looks on this day, June 3, 2012:

My garden plan (click to enlarge)

June 3 garden update

It’s been over six weeks since I updated the blog.  It’s not that nothing has been happening — quite the opposite!  I’ve simply neglected to blog about it.

Many lessons learned.  Most notably…

Sugar snap peas, dying early and small

It’s not easy to get sugar snap peas to germinate, and even if they do, they can start dying off before they’re 10″ tall.  I direct-sowed about sixteen positions in a GrowBox, with several peas per position.  After 2 weeks, only 3 positions had emerged.  I grew a number of seedlings in the garage and then transferred them to that same box, plus populated another entire box of them.  The first box is stunted, with plants dying off already, rushing to set fruit when they’re hardly a foot tall.

Healthy snap peas

The second box grew prolifically, as you can see above. Maybe there’s something in the potting soil of the first box.  I’ll scrap that box, and throw the mix into the compost heap and start over.  I need more room for tomatoes anyway.

Meager leeks

Leeks don’t take kindly to transplanting, at least, they don’t take kindly to having their roots disentangled from nearby leek seedlings.  These should probably be direct sown, or sown in soil cells or little peat pots that can move to the final growing location without touching roots.  My leeks have been growing for 120 days and most aren’t as big around as a dime.  This variety is 2-3 inches in diameter at maturity.  I’ll give them another month, and then we’ll see.

Potatoes, in grow bag.

Growing potatoes is easy.  Getting a good harvest — well, time will tell.  They’re in process now.

Baby carrots, in window box


Baby carrots are pretty good germinators.  We’ll see how they do in 4 inches of growing space.  (They’re in a little window box on my anti-rabbit tables.)

I thinned out the shallots today, and the thinning are excellent to eat like chives.  More mild.

Mirai sweet corn


When it’s happy, corn grows really fast, as in, inches per day!