y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Garden Lifecycle - A Fresh Start After Storm Cleanup

Garden Lifecycle - A Fresh Start After Storm Cleanup

It has been quite a while that I've been out of the groove of writing posts. All I can say is that December was an extremely difficult month, and January consisted mostly of the cleanup and aftermath.

There were multiple deaths of a close relative, a lovely neighbor and others. A fair amount of business travel. More family gatherings. Less sleep. And more.

Nasturtiums - one of the many storm casualties
I often tell people I'm a "happy eater", which is just as it sounds. When things go badly I lose interest in food, as crazy as that sounds. So I've cut way back on the fun experiences that normally fill up my time.

In this case, my go to stress reliever of gardening also went bye-bye in December due to thousands of leaves, debris and dried out plants to clean up both outside and even inside the house. They blew in through the tiny gaps under doors and around windows.

My whole yard got completely wiped out in the L.A. area windstorms in late November, and I mean completely in the sense of having a blank slate to begin with in the Spring.

So let me illustrate what 2 months can do.

aOriginal House Nov09_yard oak trees

The California oaks growing all over my neighborhood and in the back slope used to look like this. In fact they grew so tall last year that they began blocking my view completely.

You might have seen on this post about the storm damage how the largest, middle tree toppled and looked like this. Even on it's side, it reached up to the upper level deck.

It took me almost 6 weeks to even accept and process this enough to start calling for quotes to clean it up. The good thing is that although I was expecting sky high prices and lack of availability, some very fair rates came through.

Winds Jan12 house_yard tree a

Eventually, the once majestic tree starting getting chopped up. It took less than half a day for it to look like this on the slope.

Winds Jan12 house_yard tree b

My desire was to somehow keep that tree around as mulch, but the wood chippers much like the chainsaws, were hard to come by in town after the storm, so they disposed of it for me.

Winds Jan12 house_yard tree e

And the view? Well let's say, I can peek in between the smaller trees that still stand and see right through to the Colorado Bridge and Rose Bowl Stadium. Be careful what you wish for, right?

Winds Jan12 house_yard tree d

Winds Jan12 house_yard tree c

Rest assured, the remains of the trees serve a great purpose as firewood, and the stack looks quite   cozy as well. Some of the wider trunks may get re-purposed as outdoor plant tables.

That brings us to the vegetable component of the story. I've blogged before about my beloved bitter melons.

These nutritious veges get eaten more in Asian cultures, a weekly staple in my family. Many people buy them from Asian markets, so the chance to grow them at home cut out the middle man for me.

Like most of my plants, this one started as a baby plant with about 3 leaves last June, as shown in my previous garden post about summer edibles.

The graceful leaves and blossoms grew so quickly until they reached a point where they were ready to be picked.

The prolific plant yielded so much fruit that I passed them on to my mother, aunts and others several times.

Fully ready to cook they look shiny and green with white seeds inside
bitter melon sliced and sauteed in a pan on the stove

If left on the vine too long, they'd over-ripen and turn a crazy, bright orange and the seeds turned blood red! My mother still found some way to cook them at this stage.

It's always a bit of a battle figure out the point (in a super small window of time) to let them grow bigger, or harvest them before they turn orange and mush.

For a long season this potted plant, almost as tall as I am, yielded a bounty of luscious veges that I'd sound crazy complaining about.

Winds Dec11 house_bittermelon

Sadly after the wind storm, literally overnight, the plant shriveled up to this sad state. It compounded my already mellow feelings after so much loss and upheaval the previous weeks.

There was no choice but to pull it out of the soil and throw it into the compost bin.

This coming spring, it's time to start fresh.

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