February 6 , 2011

We've had was a really mixed-up winter this year, with days up into the mid-80s and a few nights down below freezing. A few species suffered from it, most simply endured it, but our trusty aloes didn't seem to mind at all. Many of them bloomed this winter, with the two plants pictured here showing off some especially handsome efflorescence.

Last month we moved the trailer over to its home among the oaks and, after a bit of jockeying, got it properly positioned and leveled . All of the utilities are hooked up and working- heat, air conditioning, a second bathroom and a warm shower. At last- two more bedrooms for family and friends!

The shaded corridor along the east side of the "kinderhaus" is framed and new residents are already starting to move in. Petra has yet to finish covering the frame with shade cloth, but she'll have to get to that job soon because there are a host more winter-growing babies that are almost big enough to be potted up and moved outdoors.

This extension of the corridor at the south end of the kinderhaus is starting to take shape. It's going to house a more eclectic group of plants, i.e. we're not sure what will wind up there.

This is Eamon, Jennifer's new fiancee, who's visiting from Ireland. He's a talented cabinetmaker, and has generously offered to come down and help out at the nursery on weekends. Here he is building shelves in our long-neglected tool shed at the north end of the kinderhaus. That's a tangelo tree in the left foreground and a lemon tree on the right.

With major construction finally behind us (hopefully), we can now concentrate on more mundane infrastructure projects. The first among these is erosion control. The whole south end of our property is on a gentle slope to the east and every winter, when it rains, we get some leakage into the greenhouses and minor gullies forming all over the place. That's not a big problem, but it does look bad and we have to expend labor redigging the drains and filling in all of the gullies. We started by stepping this walkway down to the shade level. It's had a definite civilizing effect, which inspired Petra to work on the borders of her plantings at the top of the steps. Below are her first efforts at framing the ground beds with granite rocks from the nearby hillsides.

A bigger project to control erosion has begun along the slope between the shade level and the main greenhouse. Here Brian and Miguel work on constructing the first 100' long retaining wall alongside the shade structures. There will be four more of these walls stepping down the slope. As a bonus to erosion control, we'll wind up with a series of terraces that will be ideal for growing plants on to larger sizes.

Pumice, pumice, pumice! We seem to need yet another trailer-load at least once a month. Here Brian and Miguel shovel the stuff out with buckets, while Petra and Jennifer hold the bags into which it is deposited. On the left, one of our almond trees is in bloom. All the while, Rusty continues his unceasing patrols. No sirree, no rabbits or squirrels or cats on my turf, no siree!