It’s been all about the bees lately, and soon it will be all about our new greenhouse that recently arrived, in a zillion boxes, that needs to be unpacked, assembled, and installed.  Before we get too distracted with greenhouse construction over the next few weeks, this weekend we decided to give our rather neglected garden our undivided attention.

View from the southwest corner of the edible garden

There’s more going on in the garden than we realized this spring, so in Part I we’ll focus on the edible garden, and update on the native garden in Part II.

The Edible Garden

Fortunately in spring, the garden grows on whether we’re paying attention or not.  Our first crop of strawberries this season is just beginning to ripen…

It must be spring, our strawberries are almost ripe!

and the blueberries promise to follow shortly.


A personal favorite, the Olallieberries are setting their first fruits.

Olallieberries grow very well along the Central California coast

Apples are starting to grow in the orchard!

Our universal pollinator, the Golden Delicious, is setting fruit

The new ‘Indian Free’ peach planted this winter has actually set fruit, much to our surprise.

The first peaches on the 'Indian Free' white peach

This fruit however will be removed this first season so the tree can focus its energy on strong roots.

A new crop of lettuce, chard, and mizuna greens was planted out this weekend.

We're fortunate to be able to grow successive crops of greens year around

The orchard hens are keeping a watchful eye on the German Butterball potatoes.

Chicken and Potatoes

Despite the voles absconding with 200 pea plants, we still have a few left.

The voles decimated the peas, but we have enough left for a tasty treat for the chickens

This ‘Stupice’ tomato is dazzling us with enormous sized leaves…

The tomatoes are off to a roaring start...this 'Stupice' has leaves the size of my hand!

…and a number of the tomatoes are starting to bloom.

Our reliable 'Black Pear' was the first to bloom this year

We’re crossing our fingers that this summer isn’t as cool as last year, and are looking forward to trying any of the 20 varieties of tomatoes we’ve planted this year.

The peppers are hoping for a warmer summer too.

We're anxious to see how the peppers perform this year

The tomatillo plants are flowering, and such lovely blossoms too.

Tomatillos have some of the prettiest flowers in the vegetable garden

Remember the garlic we planted late last fall?  It’s looking like we’re well on our way to a great crop this year!

California 'Late White' garlic...this should keep the vampires away!

The fennel has been attracting a number of lady bugs, and their larva…

The lady bugs are very attracted to the fennel

…and thanks to the dramatic increase in lady bugs in the garden this spring, our red-veined sorrel isn’t inundated with aphids like it was last spring.

The now aphid-free sorrel is growing like a weed!

A number of herbs are in full bloom, but none so popular with the bees than the culinary sage…

The culinary sage blooms are so hungry, they're swallowing bees whole!

…and the Thyme.

This honey bee knows to 'bee on thyme'

Another hit with the bees is the ‘Chocolate Mint’ (Mentha × piperita)

Chocolate Mint (Mentha × piperita)

…but it’s not blooming yet.  The bees, for some reason, are fascinated with the soil at the bottom of the pot, and clusters of 20-30 bees can be seen around the bottom edge almost every afternoon.  The trouble is, this poor mint is getting root bound and I hoped to transplant it to a more decorative container.  I’m hesitant to do that though when they love it so much!

I wonder what's so fascinating about the soil in the pot of mint?

In addition to weeding, installing more drip irrigation, and transplanting in the garden this weekend, we also started work on some steps to the orchard from the far side of the vegetable gardens.

Once complete, these new steps will give us easier access to the far end of the orchard directly from the vegetable garden above

This area is steep, and slippery after a rain.  This impromptu step-building project was spawned on Sunday after one too many turned ankles.  It’s a work in progress, but when it’s finished it will be much safer using this path down to the orchard.

The steps will turn in a spiral down the steepest part of the slope.

As you can never have too much thyme in the garden, I’m now in the middle of transplanting out 40 new Lemon Thyme plants along the edger board on the path to the stairs, so hopefully this edge will soon disappear under a sea of blooms that will delight our bees.

It doesn't look like much, but the thyme will soon obscure this edge board to the right

We try to grow a little of everything at Curbstone Valley, and this Spring’s first crop of fledglings are starting to explore the vegetable garden.  These Dark Eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) were keeping a close eye on us this morning.

This Junco fledgling patiently waits for a meal on the handle of our old rusty wheelbarrow

A Junco parent keeps a close eye on the junior Juncos from the handle of my favorite shovel

Another Junco fledgling wondering who the people are in his garden

So despite our relative neglect this spring the garden is full of life.  We’ve just transplanted a dozen varieties of squash, and will soon transplant the basil, cucumbers and beans.

We’re curious to see, now that we have bees above this part of the garden, if our yields improve this year.

Now we have bees, we're hoping not to have to hand pollinate all the squash this year!

We’ll have to wait and see.

Our bee's-eye view above the orchard looking out over the woodland

In the meantime, in Part II later this week, we’ll see what’s growing and blooming in the native garden.