Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old Home Week (part deaux)

In the previous post I took you on a brief tour of Carson City's classic West Side neighborhood, now it's time to head downtown and see some of the historic buildings along Main Street.

Now one of the coolest museums going, this was originally the Carson City Mint. Collectors covet this mark on silver dollars and gold pieces of varying denominations.

This was the first Federal Building in town. Built in 1888 as a courthouse and post office, it served until 1970 when the new post office opened (my mom worked in the post office here). It now houses the Nevada Commission on Tourism and Nevada Magazine.

The St. Charles Hotel, another local landmark.

How about a few from the grounds of the Nevada State Legislature:

A miner, representative of so many who came to this region. Kit Carson, frontiersman, trapper and guide to John C. Fremont on his Western Expeditions. And Abraham Curry, founder and architect of Carson City.

Now for the grounds of the State Capitol

The front steps and entryway with Alaskan marble floors and walls:


From the inside, looking out.

I love the frost pattern of the green on yellow here.

I couldn't leave the next one out, it's from the last place I worked befor moving to California.

Carson City is a great small town with a classic americana feel. There are loads of activities, indoors and out. The unmatched scenery of Lake Tahoe is just 20 minutes one way and Reno is only 30 minutes North. The desert surrounds you with diverse plant & animal life. Great skiing, motorcycle rides, hiking, golf, hunting & fishing, nightlife, good food, it's all here. Hope you enjoyed this little tour of my hometown.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Home Week (part 1)

I've lived in the Bay Area since 1986, but am originally from Carson City, Nevada. Though I still have family in the area and it really isn't that far away, it seems impossible for me to visit more than a few times a year. Last weekend I had the honor of helping my 26 year old son move his family into their first home in Sparks (just East of Reno). Fortunately, young families in rental houses don't accumulate near as much crap as folks my age, so the moving thing was fairly easy. Okay, so I only showed up for Sunday and the crew got most of the work done on Saturday. But enough about my son's new home, this post is about my old home.

I stayed at my brother's house in an older part of Carson City and since we didn't get in until late Sunday, I decided to take a mental health day from work Monday and hang out in my hometown for awhile.

These are three of the eight deer that were in the back yard when we were leaving the house.

Having resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be jumping in my car and blazing over the mountain, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane. Actually I strolled several streets, none of which were named Memory Lane, but you get the idea.

I can't imagine this treehouse has ever looked better. Some lucky kids live in this house.

The Governor's Mansion was being decorated for the Holidays.

Beautiful older homes like this fill the blocks on this side of town.

This unique planter is floating on a sea of leaves.

Carson City has a hearty urban forest, dominated by huge cottonwoods and elm. Many of these long-time residents are more than 100 feet tall and a century old. The trunks can be more than 15' across. I was fortunate to be here at this time, with plenty of colorful foliage still on the trees.

This Populus fremontii is just absolutely massive. It was so impressive that I had to post another photo with the branch structure backlit by the morning sun.

It was such a quiet and calm morning, it felt very surreal for me to be just walking around and soaking it all in. I really should do this more often. Here are a few more of the beautiful homes, gardens & trees in the area.

The next couple are of the Bliss Mansion. Built in 1879, it is currently a very nice Bed & Breakfast.

In the next post I will take you downtown to see some of the cool old buildings and more great foliage. TTFN.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Redneck NASCAR Container Garden

Okay, so this is my first ever blog post of a gardening nature, so let me make a couple of things very clear. First, I am very new to writing and have no training beyond High School, which I barely finished a very long time ago. Second, I am a novice gardener, but I've had a lot of fun and learned a lot in the last couple of years.

Being in a rental house with very little yard space and no sun in the back yard, I was forced to do my gardening in containers, in the front yard. I started with a few pots I had lying around & repurposed my old recycling bins. I gradually added to it, but this fall I ran out of containers for fall veggies. With economy in mind I turned to Lowe's for 5-gallon buckets. Not glamorous by any means, but for $2.34 you get the cheapest large pot going and it even comes with a sturdy handle for easy moving! Drill a few drainage holes in the bottom and they work great. I mentioned to one of my gardener friends that I probably had the only garden that looked like a NASCAR race team and the idea stuck. Look for more pics when the decals arrive.

With this pic comes a confession: through my own neglect, most of my cauliflower & broccoli stayed in their tiny 6-packs way too long and these plants are clearly paying the price for it.

These few are doing a bit better because they inherited the space vacated by the overgrown daisy I ripped out to make some room.

Don't you just love how the buckets enhance my front lawn border? BTW, the white one in the middle is keeping my Ceanothus Tuxedo comfortable until a more permanent home is properly prepared.

I love these colorful lettuces in my little planter bed. I picked up two mixed 6-packs at the Master Gardener's Fall Plant Sale last month. These were just seedlings a few weeks ago, but seem to like it here.

Who says edible gardens can't be attractive. I really like the texture and curvy lines of this lettuce. I'm also looking forward to taking a couple leaves at a time for salads and enjoying this for most of fall & winter.

The last unique resident of my walkway planter is this beautiful (and tasty) Scarlet Chard. This was also from the Master Gardeners sale.

Another great chard is this Pot-O-Gold, which is more than happy in a pot on my front yard fence.

This crazy looking spinach is "Bordeaux", which I picked up at Annie's Annual's Fall Planting Party and Tweetup. It too seems to do just fine in containers (I have 2 of them).

More lettuce occupying the recycling bins where my tomatoes were not so long ago.

I am fortunate to have the resources to blend my own soils and to do this all 100% organically. The soil is a mix of sandy loam, coir, compost, worm castings, lava rock & pozzolan ( a type of diatomaceous earth). I added a small amount of calcium sulfate and feathermeal (organic N) and everyone seems to be pretty happy.

This thin-leafed Cilantro was another Annie's Annuals find. It is easier to chop and just as tasty as the flat-leafed variety. And, it does just fine in a milk jug on the front porch!

I have two of these long containers with spinach in them. I was concerned that they wouldn't be deep enough or have enough soil volume, but they are doing well and have actually improved quite a bit in the few days since this was taken. Sometimes I think the plants have enough will to live that they overcome my deficiencies.

Here you see most of my little farm, including the peppers, which are showing their season. You can see the last of the Poblanos turning red, these will be used in rellenos or other dishes soon. The green bell at the far end has three fairly young peppers and they are continuing to grow, so I guess we'll see how far they get. I've decided to keep all the peppers, so as soon as the fruit is all removed, I'll move them to my covered patio for protection from the worst of our brutal Bay Area winter.

I had to throw this one in so people wouldn't think I was only growing veggies. I've forgotten the name of this plant (maybe one of you can help me out here), but these are third generation volunteers that thrive dispite my abuse. I really like the dark foliage and the red inflorescence have been around since spring & growing larger all the time. I love that it stays compact and 18"-24" tall. It looks great and doesn't outgrow my narrow little planter strip.

And even in November, the poblano peppers are ready to start over. They really don't look that healthy. I almost gave up on them, but it doesn't look like they're ready to quit just yet.

So that's it for the tour of my redneck container garden. I'm sure some will think its silly or lame, but it is really quite surprising how much you can grow in a few pots & buckets. Thanks to several of my great Twitter friends for letting me know that I didn't need an acre of land to have a garden. It is great to have fresh, tasty, home-grown veggies. I expect the greens in these buckets to meet the needs of my family of four for most of the winter. Even if it doesn't quite do that, we still have a connection to our food supply that a lot of people don't have.

If you are curious for more information, see or click here for all kinds of articles on container gardening.