Pooh Bear’s Paradise
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Rainwater Harvesting System
Smart Irrigation Controller
This organic garden is an on-going experiment in fun and, hopefully, long-term sustainability.
I bought the home in 1992. It was built as a summer home in 1903. The prior owners of 42 years grew show-worthy chrysanthemums, as well as many fruit trees, many of which I inherited. At the beginning, we named it Fruit House since there were so many fruit trees. We experimented with canning until I realized it was too much to keep up with for one busy soccer and baseball Mom.
Forming A Community Garden
In 2002 I started inviting friends and neighbors to use it as a Community Garden. In any given year, we’ve had 4-10 community garden families since then. Currently, we have 6 families growing in the garden. We jointly decide each year what to grow where, and then share the harvest. Some examples of our efforts are:
- The house is run on solar electricity
- an owl box for rodent control
- Honey bee hives
- a bat box for mosquito control
- hens for company and eggs
As well as some larger projects & harvests:
Rainwater Catchment & Retention
The rainwater system includes 2-1100 gallon tanks and 2 rain barrels.
The solar panels are also being used to feed the cisterns by blocking the gaps with metal tape and putting a gutter at the bottom of the panels, an idea I had and implemented.
There are a variety of mulches to protect the soil and retain water.
The Nun’s Canyon gravel patio, where the outdoor dining table is, used to be a lawn area. I solarized it, and then put down permeable fabric and the gravel. The smaller patio area at the front of the new cottage was done similarly.
The cottage was built with practicality and the environment in mind. The excavated soil was used for the new large beds above the rainwater cisterns and little greenhouse/tool shed.
Crops & Plants
Currently, there is a persimmon, large plum, a small yellow plum, small red plum, two pears, an Asian pear. There is a lemon bush and olive tree in the driveway area.
The microclimate of the upper beds is much hotter than closer to the back of the house. There is a rock outcropping near the gravel patio area that ‘houses’ several types of succulents.
Over the years, we have grown corn, eggplant, pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, fava beans, cucumbers, peas, watermelon, strawberries, tomatillos, garlic, onions, various herbs, raspberries various squashes, etc. All have been grown with varying success, some years better than others.
Plants in this Garden
Salvias are a huge group of more than 900 species that include annuals, perennials, and shrubs adapted to a variety of climates and have varying water requirements. Salvias are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and are generally ignored by deer. Sages that are native to California are generally drought-tolerant, prefer full sun, and little to no fertilizer. Annual pruning in late summer or fall generally helps to keep plants tidy and healthy.
CA native sages:
- S. apiana, white sage (3-4’ x 4-6’), silvery-white, aromatic leaves with tall flower spikes of white flowers, popular for honey production and in bundles as a natural incense.
- ‘Bee’s Bliss’ (1-2’ x 6-8’), superb, light gray groundcover with light purple flowers on long spikes; damp conditions can cause mildew which will clear with warm weather and sunny conditions.
- S. clevelandii, Cleveland sage (3-5’ x 3-5’), medium-sized shrub for hot, dry locations known for pleasant fragrance and deep blue whorls of flowers; popular cultivars include S. c. ‘Allen Chickering’, S. c. ‘Pozo Blue’, and S. c. ‘Winnifred Gilman’.
- S. leucophylla, purple sage, includes plants with both an upright growth habit, such as S. l. ‘Amethyst Bluff’ (3-5’ x 3-5’) and others with a sprawling form, such as S. l. ‘Point Sal’ (2-3’ x 6’), both of which are from Santa Barbara county.
- S. sonomaensis, Sonoma sage (1-2’ x 3-4’), groundcover that prefers light shade and will not tolerate damp conditions; cultivars include S. s. ‘Dara’s Choice’, S. s. ‘Greenberg Gray’, and S. s. ‘Hobbit Toes’.
- S. spathacaea, hummingbird sage (1-2’ spreading), herbaceous groundcover that grows well in dry shade and spreads slowly by underground rhizomes; large leaves have a wonderful fruity fragrance; the only red-flowered native sage.
- S. chamaedryoides, germander sage (2-3’)
- S. chiapensis, Chiapas sage (1-2’ x 3-4’)
- S. greggii, autumn sage (1-4’ x 1-4’)
- S. leucantha, Mexican bush sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
- S. microphylla, cherry sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
- S. officinalis, garden sage (1-3’ x 1-3’)
- Water: Very LowLowModerate
- Light: Full SunPartial Shade
- Soil: Well Drained
- Foliage: Evergreen
- Leaf Color: GrayGreen
- Flower Color: LavenderPinkPurpleYellowWhite
- Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFall
Top 5 Plants: salvia, poppies, flowering currents, for example— I really have enjoyed the flowering currents this early Spring (ribes sanquineum).
Plant Easy-going Plants
Plant as many perennials and un-fussy plants as possible, and let things reseed if they will!