My December Garden: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Time is slip-sliding away from me. Can’t believe it’s been 6 weeks since my last post. I think this is an indication of my blue funk over losing my column writing job. You may take this post as an indication that I am coming out of the funk. I still miss writing the column, and miss the pay too, minuscule as it was. Minuscule, paltry, and pathetic, but it was a welcome supplement to my Social Security check, nonetheless.

We are in the midst of a series of winter rain storms. What better time to go out and take pictures of what passes for winter in Southern California. Winter here is a strange mix of fall and spring, with rain. We have paperwhite narcissus just coming into bloom (spring) while autumn leaves are falling (fall). There is no snow, no frost, and no end to garden season here.

Our two liquid amber trees are more than half devoid of leaves. We save the leaves in bags to go into the compost bins over the course of the year. Green living!

Our two liquid amber trees are more than half devoid of leaves. We save the leaves in bags to go into the compost bins over the course of the year. Green living is GOOD!

To make it seem more like Christmas time, we decorate the door seasonally. Ah, but look, the fall pumpkin is still there. I will get around to baking it and turning it into pie and soup one of these days. Maybe. If it rots first, that will be BAD. And UGLY.

Christmas and autumn at the same time!

Christmas and autumn at the same time!

Here is part of what is good in my yard right now, my long raised bed in front.

Raised bed in our front yard has parsley, chives, basil, beets, carrots, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and four varieties of garlic.

Raised bed in our front yard has parsley, chives, basil, beets, carrots, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and four varieties of garlic.

I can’t believe that we still have basil lingering on this late in the year. That’s good.

Raised bed from the other angle. Ack, look at all the cabbage worm damage. That's ugly!

Raised bed from the other angle. Ack, look at all the cabbage worm damage. That’s UGLY!

Oh, ICK! The neighborhood cats use my small raised bed as their litter box.

Oh, ICK! The neighborhood cats use my small raised bed as their litter box.

I have neglected to plant this bed, which is now filled with cat poop. That’s BAD. I had to clean my garden before I could put in a winter crop. What do you do to keep cats out of your beds?

I removed the cat poop, dug in steer manure, and planted garlic, green onions, and lettuce. That's good!

I removed the cat poop, dug in steer manure, and planted garlic, green onions, and lettuce. That’s GOOD!

I am hoping that the green onion and garlic smell will help repel the cats. I sprinkled the white, papery husks of the garlic cloves around the bed, hoping it would stink as much to them as their poop and urine stinks to me. I love cats, and had them for years, but now I wish that people would keep theirs indoors, because cats do not stay in their owners’ yards.

My Gro-Pots of sweet potatoes might make some tubers one of these days. They weren't ready for Thanksgiving.

My Gro-Pots of sweet potatoes might make some tubers one of these days. They weren’t ready for Thanksgiving. That was more sad than bad. But using our driveway to grow food is GOOD.

We have five artichokes this year. They are short-lived perennials, and these are probably on their third year. They die back, and resprout from the root.

We have five artichokes this year. They are short-lived perennials, and these are probably on their third year. They die back, and resprout from the root.

I grow green onions in pots the year round, always some coming along. We haven't bought green onions at the store in many years. That's GOOD.

I grow green onions in pots the year round, always some coming along. We haven’t bought green onions at the store in many years. That’s GOOD.

I'm growing strawberries in planters in the driveway this year. I'm hoping to get more berries than I do from our strawberry jar. They must think it's spring, because they are blooming and setting berries like crazy. That's GOOD.

I’m growing strawberries in planters in the driveway this year. They must think it’s spring, because they are blooming and setting berries like crazy. That’s GOOD.

Ug, our deck in back has dry rot. That's UGLY. We had a contractor take measurements today to do some deck repairs for us. That will be GOOD.

Ug, our deck in back has dry rot. That’s UGLY. We had a contractor take measurements today to do some deck repairs for us. That will be GOOD.

So that is my response to losing my newspaper writing job and the pay that went with it. Spend our retirement money and get the house fixed up. If I get around to doing another post anytime soon, I’ll show you what we’ve been doing to spruce up the indoors.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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7 Responses to My December Garden: The good, the bad, and the ugly

  1. Daphne says:

    I always keep the ground covered so the cats won’t poo in the garden. We have so many cats in our neighborhood that keeping it all covered is essential. I’ll use anything to cover it, but empty soil that will be empty for a while is usually covered with bird netting as it is almost invisible. I have lots of it cut out in 4’x8′ sections. But I also use tomato cages, rebar, wood, stakes. Just anything to keep the soil from being bare.

  2. peggi says:

    I use the black crates that they have at the nursery to hold the potted plants. I get extra when I buy plants. I lay them upside down on the soil.

  3. Mary Joseph says:

    You could try filling the planting area with small skewer-like sticks, poked in either straight up or on an angle overlapping with each other. I had good luck with that years ago.

  4. Dave says:

    We have several cats that roam around outside, but so far I haven’t had a problem with them pooping in the beds – at least as far as I know. You are so right that cats don’t know property boundaries! Neither do the deer in our neck of the woods.

  5. Mike Parker says:

    From what I can judge contextually, your reference to growing yams in smart pots is actually about sweepotatoes, not yams. I was googling to find info on growing (real) yams in smart pots and your page was one of the first results. It would be great if you could fix your error and help stop the spread of this ridiculous misuse of terminology. Your site is really cool though, so I’m glad I arrived here!

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