Getting Ready For Spring Gardening: Tips & Inspiration

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 Nothing is better than that first sunny warm weekend in early spring.
You slip on the grubby garden shoes like a broken in pair of bedroom slippers and grab the pruners and your old friend the garden hoe.
My favorite small perennial shovel is so worn the wood handle feels 
soft and smooth from hours of digging.  
And while I don't have nearly the amount of chores as I have had in the past, every thing is pretty much the riding a bike...just on a smaller scale.  

I usually hit the vegetable garden first.  
These are Sweet 1000's from last year and I have a few cherries already planted.

If you think you can't grow a vegetable to save your life, just try a cherry tomato plant.  They will grown in spite of your brown me on this one.  
If you're just starting a vegetable garden try to give yourself at least 18 inches of well composted soil.  
Depending on what you want to grow, most plants take about 3 months to get to the harvesting stage, so that gives them plenty of time to develop a really robust root system. 
Challenge yourself to come up with creative trellis and supports.
Unless you're really short on time don't just settle for the usual junky stuff 
from the local garden center.
It barely lasts a season and will likely wind up in the trash.
Here I used bamboo and willow and it worked wonderfully.

This year I have bulbs and flowers planted among the veggies.   
I like the look of it and it helps to keep the garden bright and pretty.  
Or hang a basket or and old bucket near by just for fun

In the rear of my garden I hung a set of harvesting baskets.  
Not only useful but a cheerful addition to the kitchen garden space 
A little bench is used for small containers and for working on topiaries and arrangements 
which come into the house from time to time
Usually spring is the time I like to tune up the irrigation system. 
 Emitters and sprinkler heads get replaced and any thing leaking or that has become too small for the area is upsized.  I always stop in at the local pro-irrigation store near me and chat it up with the guys behind the counter.  You can learn a ton and they are always helpful if you are a new gardener. 
 Now for the good stuff....plant what you like to eat but....
I have had some epic failures trying so hard to do it all.
 I typically steer clear of  things that are  plentiful in my local farmers market
 and take up way too much garden real estate 
I have planted lots of carrots but mine never look this good.
We eat them anyway!

And I always have some sort of onion planted but usually the smaller green scallions
and chive, both of which are super easy

A few things I've tried and will probably never repeat:
just to name a few
Lettuce and greens are an excellent choice for any new vegetable garden.
Lettuce doesn't necessarily need intense sunlight to do well either.  So if you have a partially shaded area go of the lettuce varieties.

I always include radicchio and endive
 as well as arugula and some of the spicy asian greens.
 And no great kitchen garden is complete without herbs.  
I love the idea of the dedicated herb garden 
and will try to repeat something like the pretty one I had in Ojai.
 But if you're short on space (like me) plant herbs among the lettuce and tomatoes

My tried and true favorites are Italian parsley, lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, chervil and of course no herb garden should be without basil
I plant the big Sangiovese style basil as well as purple 
and some other odd varieties that all have great flavor.
Lettuce and greens can be self sown into the beds directly and will produce an amazing amount of yield from a small seed packet.  
Remember, the soil must be warm and damp consistently or the seeds won't germinate. 
Small turnips and beets are a great choice and super easy.
You can harvest them early and toss into a salad for some crunch just like a radish.
And do try some radish...easy and usually great results.  
My favorite is the D'avignon 

Perennial beds are always a challenge for me, especially because 
my garden style is full and sort of messy.  
To keep things in check, I prune and deadhead and clip....a lot!
And I didn't plant sweet peas this year either.
I know I will miss them

Instead I think I'll focus on some small little pockets for annuals and summer bulbs.
Bulbs are a great way to add color without a lot of work.
One of the garden chores no one ever like to do but is probably the most essential is to focus on the quality of your soil.  
Adding in some big bags of compost will really change how your plants look and will save on weeding and water down the road.
I know pretty boring right?!

And when I'm not in the garden....
I'm actually starting a much needed kitchen renovation in about a week so I'll try to post a little more and share some new ideas, products and a few new discoveries.


Hope you are enjoying the beauty of spring


Thoughts on Design, Metropolitan Home and Chit Chat

Well Ok....lets just get caught up!
No excuses, just mounds of life stuff that creeps in and makes the days fly by. 
Happily I wave bye bye to this crazy winter and yell hello to spring.

Honestly I have really struggled trying to find something relevant to talk about that doesn't wind up seeming, well, sort of irrelevant.  
We have been working on a little house project in Santa Barbara (photos above) and I will be starting a kitchen remodel in about two weeks.

Unfortunately the only thing I have chosen thus far is this sink faucet.
Looks like I'm having commitment issues but hopefully I will snap out of it quickly or this kitchen project will be really long! 

For those who have followed this little blog for the last few years, you know that we sold our Ojai ranch house and moved to Los Angeles for a year.  

While in LA we rented a very cool condo and I started messing around with modern furniture
mixed in with a few of the usual "country" details....just couldn't help it : ))
I have loved modern design since I first popped open 
a Metropolitan Home Magazine, many years ago.  

It was the first magazine that really inspired me and I tried very hard to emulated the hip modern rooms Met Home featured. 

The magazine published its last issue in 2009 
but Hearst decided to relaunched Met Home last summer 
aimed at Gen X and Millennial city dwellers.  
Many current design trends remind me of Metropolitan Home features from the 80's and 90's.
But design is so much more consumer friendly now and sharing information, sources and competitive pricing are the norm.  

And did I mention FREE shipping!! 
Just about everybody ships furniture for free or for a flat rate.

On a young working mom's meager salary, most of my purchases were from Crate and Barrel and everything else came from thrift stores and antique malls. 
 Extra money was used for diapers and bouncy chairs, certainly not furniture.

Not much of that scenario has changed except I'm no longer young 
and yes, I still like Crate and Barrel.
I especially like the latest collaboration with Ross Cassidy for the CB2 line

I have recently
splurged on a few new pieces of furniture
 that are really modern but will work well in any setting

A Saarinen table...a classic
Here I paired it with inexpensive chairs from All Modern ,
a vintage Gas station sign from the 50's
and collectible American red ware circa 1880..ish
An Eames lounge chair in white Edelman leather...delish!
Looks right at home next to the firkin stack ;)

The coffee table is from Serena and Lily and the English bamboo side tables and some of the new antique pottery pieces are 
from Revival Antiques in Pasadena 

The large Steel Console is a fantastic piece designed by Giulio Lazzotti from Design Within Reach.
This is an office credenza but it works wonderfully  as a media console.
The couches and chairs I designed and slipcoverd in basic white twill 
 with pillows in orange velvet from Schumacher 

I'm loving black accent pieces right now 
 and recently purchase the Antoccino shelving in black oak from RH Modern.
 I don't have a photo of this in our apartment but it is a beautiful piece 
and I can see it in so many different settings.

Now back to the story....we moved (again) from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area, a little over a year ago. 
 I know...we move a lot.  Believe me, we are really tired of it.  New places are really stimulating and exciting for the first few months but it just starts to get crazy and unsettling.

Today we are in an older, smaller rented condo but it's still pretty 
and the location downtown is amazing.
Here is essentially all of the same furniture with a few new pillows.  
It really looks different and yet works nicely in this older smaller space.

Interesting however, is that nothing looks very modern here.
The walls are a sage-ish odd green... I'm just living with it
 but I think the paint really dates this condo. 
In our spare time (?)  we work on the little house in Santa Barbara
Many of the things I have purchased for this house have a 
more modern and spare feel as well.  
While this is a 1920's Spanish Colonial house, 
modern and current looks right at home
A dresser in the master bedroom is from Room and Board with swapped out hardware paired with a purple over-dyed rug 

A lovely minimalist painting from Jean Jack mixes with vintage American pottery 
and antique Hubley doggy doorstops

The walls are hand troweled stucco which are left unpainted and raw.

 The original oak floor will be sanded and refinished in the next few weeks
and any thing but this orange will look sooooo much better...

I've changed out most of the lighting 
including the chandelier in the dining area which just didn't work for me.  
I know a lot of people would have kept it but it didn't allow 
for any changes in the dining room configuration 
which is important in a very small house. 

Choosing artwork that has a connection to this style of house 
but can work in a more contemporary setting has been fun and something of a challenge 
because of the limited space.

Add in the garden we have less variety of plant material 
and more linear sight lines, with clean walls and pathways

Vegetable gardens can look messy at times but the stone beds keep things in check 
and the gate provides a private garden room entrance.
Now that the rain is finally letting up a bit 
you can be sure I will be gardening more.
Tomatoes got planted a few weeks ago in February ....seriously Kelley? 
don't you think its too early?
I guess we will find out


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