A Gardener’s Notebook

Year-end thoughts on gardening

Special to The TribuneDecember 17, 2013 

For the past two years, members of the Cambria Garden Club have been ‘weed wrangling’ the medians on Main Street. Weeding at dawn on a chilly morning are (from left) Elizabeth Ehlers, Kathi Rippi, Carol Frane and Mary Lou Linstedt. Not shown are Jeanette Wolff and Judy Dyas.


  • Tip of the month

    Keep up on weeding now and you won’t have to slog around in mud in late winter. There are basically two types of weeds. Those that are considered perennials live from year to year. These need to be pulled up and removed. Annual weeds grow from seed to maturity in one year. These can be cut off at the soil with a hoe, starving the roots. Whichever type of weeds you have, spend a little time weeding each week while the soil is moist but not soggy. Think positively! Save springtime for planting.

Thoughts on gardening: Win a few, lose a few. This was not the finest year for gardening. Those of us who cherish the changing seasons, the smell of moist earth, green hills and the peace that a saturated pine forest brings were left unfulfilled. Water restrictions have forced us to concentrate on saving our cherished landscaping rather than designing and planting.

Thoughts on weather: Gorgeous weather came late this year. Fall was a showstopper. I’ve never seen the ocean so blue or the air so clear. Unfortunately, warm weather came after I’d pulled up my spindly tomatoes and underdeveloped root crops. The soil was dry at the beginning of the summer and stayed that way. We can only hope that Mother Nature will correct herself, giving us the nurturing rain so needed.

Thoughts on health: If you read this column regularly, you know that I took a fall in February and was immobile until a final surgery in August. Gardening became more of an observational sport during this time. My “time-out” only made me appreciate the outdoors more and, of course, the people of Cambria who brought sustenance and good cheer to keep my spirits up.

Thoughts on China: I have an issue with food being shipped to us from China. Pesticides and the humane conditions for animals raised for food are not regulated there as they are in the U.S.A. We’ve worked hard here to make our food safe, protect the environment, and provide for animal welfare. The idea of us throwing out progress to save a nickel is disturbing. For instance, we noticed that Treetop Apple juice is full of juice from China. For years I’ve used it for making applesauce with apples from our organic trees! One step forward, one step back. Until China figures out how to enforce some of the standards we take for granted, buy locally or grow your own.

Sad thoughts: The Cambria Garden Club lost a revered honorary member this fall. Betty Fiscalini was the go-to person on the history of the garden club and the names of “old roses” growing in and around Cambria. Her daughter Gloria drove her to meetings long after her vision failed. Her hearing, thankfully, was fine to the end and she remained an integral part of monthly gatherings. So it’s farewell to a much-loved Cambria gardener. When we turn the soil in the spring, smell the moist air after a rain, and see the tender green of new plants emerge from freshly planted seeds, we’ll think of Betty.

Lee Oliphant’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at cambriagardener@charter.net; read her blog at centralcoastgardening.com.

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