The snow has melted in the mountains but masses of tiny snowflakes (Leucojum) still grace the garden. Photo by Les Dublin.
Picking up the trail at the end of Meyer Road down at the river bottom bordered by Meiners Oaks, hikers quickly find themselves in the foothills on a well-maintained trail, surrounded by lush plant-life, oak groves, circling red-tailed hawks and stunning Ojai Valley vistas. A few pictures from our adventure...
The humble pot marigold (calendula) self sows and brightens the garden in all seasons. Ever-present, they especially warm our hearts on cold winter days.
Photo by Les Dublin
Monday was the full moon, and the full moon circle had gathered. It was lightly windy, and unseasonably warm. People were starting to talk about needing rain. I had the feeling during the day we could do a rain dance. It only happened in my head.
Wednesday we hiked Rice Canyon Trail. It was so lush with only modest rain on two days in January.
A cleansing rain for a few hours yesterday, and then sunshine. Low clouds sat in the foothills and the Pink Moment was brilliant against the newly fallen snow on the Topas Topas. This is why we live in Ojai.
The Ojai Community Demonstration Garden is offering a naturalistic pruning workshop with expert gardener John Lamar. Participants will have a chance to try out their new skills in the demonstration garden. The workshop is free and open to the public.
When: Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 10:30 A.M.
Where: The Ojai Community Demonstration Garden, 401 South Ventura Street (behind City Hall)
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. My father and I, one year, I was about 10 yrs. old, dug up the backyard lawn, made raised beds in rows, and planted all kinds of vegetables. He told be of his life in Poland, where he lived until he was 14 yrs. old and then about the soil he grew and planted in Palestine where he arrived in 1931. Though we didn't call it organic, we used no pesticides and fed the plants with commercial feeds. We also had a couple of chickens that helped manure the beds. The time he and I shared together not only bonded us to the land and each other, but also began my love of gardening, growing food and permaculture practices. He's 86 now and stays as active as he can, though the lawn has replaced the garden many years ago.
When I began junior high school at 12 yrs. old there were still agricultural classes offered and we each had our own plot at the school. Mostly, as I remember, the semester I took it, we grew root crops;radishes of various kinds, carrots and potatoes. This was in 1970.
Then my gardening life went fallow. Except for a short experimental phase with schedule c sativas.
When I came to Ojai in 1999 I had the opportunity once again to design and create a garden. I moved into a home in Matilija Canyon with my partner and two other people. The land had been left neglected yet in a natural state except for some older fruit trees that needed tending. It was dry pan. Lots of riiver rock and clay. We set about growing soil.
Eighty cubic yards each of wood mulch and horse manure were brought in and we made a lasagne, alternating layers to about 14 inches thick. We seeded it with worms and watered it down. Daikons were planted to break up the rock, fava beans and other crops were planted to feed the soil. This was year one. I went to the Eco-Farm conference ( as I continued to do for three years) and learned as much as I could about different permaculture / sustainable practices. I bought lots of books and educated myself about growing vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit trees.
My house mates and I designed a layout for the 900 sq. foot garden. I made a computer template and populated it with the plants we wanted to grow. There was lots of attention paid to companion planting and bee/butterfly attractors. We put in an auto timed irrigation system that covered the entire 1/2 acres so that the fruit trees were fed as well. We did our best to grow an edible landsacpe. Trellises and fences were covered with grapes and passion fruit. Hedges were grown with guavas. We labored hard digging holes in the resistant soil where we wanted to plant trees. Mulberries, almond, cherry, tangerine, peach, apple, avacado, persimmon, fig, jujube, sapote, loquat.
The gardeners in Ojai were generous with their knowledge as well as providing starts for that first year. Surprisingly, plants grew, though planted directly into the manure mulch beds, and so did I. I became much stronger and gained 30 lbs. Go figure, since I was burning so many calories.
We allowed many of the plants to seed themselves. A forest of perrenial chard, tree collard, lettuce and daikon volunteered each year. I lived there for almost five years, tending garden, home and maintining my counseling, music and web design businesses from my creekside office. Paradise to say the least.
It's been two years since I left that home, my partner and the land. I went to Philadelphia for 6 months and returned in Dec. 2004. As fate woud have it I am back in Matilija, living on a mature permaculture site with an opportunity to contribute to another household and grow more delectables and most of all learn from the mysterious symbiosis of nature.
Visit my site at simplebrilliance.com
It was 45 minutes before it got too dark to do anything in the garden. I got the hose going gently and passed that around from plant to plant every few minutes. I continued weeding the resilient, invasive
crabgrass Bermuda grass coming up in the path between the river rocks, and got down some more mulch on the path once it was cleared. There's about 1/4 left of the path that needs weeding, better definition, ground cover and a little elongated kidney-shaped flower and fern bed tucked fairly close to the north side of the house. After that, the front half of the garden will have really taken shape. Lots more to do in this hot Ojai winter (!).
A little photo of our backyard, taken last Wednesday as the sun was going down and streaming across the yard. These plants get a lot of sun, so they are all drought-resistant. The bluegrass is probably planted a little close together and may crowd - we'll see. You can see three of them on the right side of the photo. That's a solar pagoda in the foreground.