Archive for the 'Gardening' Category

Our top 5 favorite House Plants

said on October 24th, 2018 filed under: Alta Sierra, Auburn, Colfax, Gardening, Grass Valley, Lake of the Pines, Lake Wildwood, Localism, Nevada City, Whimsy

House plants are always a great way to brighten up a space and make it feel more lush. House plants are great for people who don’t consider themselves to have a “green thumb” because most are not too high maintenance. If you have never had a house plant, or would like to add to your collection, here are our current favorite 5 house plants.


Snake Plant

These plants are so fun and basically impossible to kill! They need moderate sunlight and watering every 1-2 weeks.  They are great for smaller spaces because they grow very vertically rather than wide. They always have a wonderful green color that will brighten any room.


Fiddle Fig Tree

This type of ficus is very trendy right now! These trees grow very slowly but have amazing large green leaves. They love bright indirect light or soft direct light so put them in the corner of your brightest room. They do not do well in colder temperatures or where there is a draft so make sure to keep your fiddle fig cozy.


Aloe Vera

This guy is best known for its healing qualities of the gel inside the leaves. They are common succulent plants, and aloe vera is just one of hundreds of different types of aloe plants. When they are kept as indoor plants they purify the air & are slow growers. These cuties need good drainage, frequent light watering or misting, and good sunlight.


Golden Pythos

Commonly know as Devil’s Ivy, this is the classic indoor hanging plant. Its green color and ever-growing vines are always a great addition to a room. This is one of the easiest house plants as it thrives in almost all environments pertaining to light conditions, just not direct light. These plants are poisonous though rarely fatal to cats, dogs, and children if digested, so keep that in mind when purchasing.


Rubber Tree

These trees are very low maintenance and have nice smooth & shiny leaves you will want to pet each time you walk by. If you keep it in a well-lit position in your home, the rubber tree will need very little else other than watering once a week. Besides the ornamental aspect, the rubber tree is considered an air purifying plant.

Whatever your style may be, house plants are always a lovely addition to any home. Bring one of these plants home soon or give one as a house warming or holiday gift!

Are you interested in buying or selling a home in our beautiful area? Call CJ! 530.906.4715


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Strawberries & Chantilly Cream Recipe

said on August 17th, 2018 filed under: Alta Sierra, Auburn, Colfax, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Gardening, Grass Valley, Lake of the Pines, Lake Wildwood, Localism, Nevada City, Whimsy

Strawberries & Chantilly Cream Recipe

Don’t know what to do with all the strawberries that are in season right now? Try this whipped cream recipe! It is by far the best whipped cream recipe we have ever tasted! It will pair great with some fresh strawberries from your local farmers market, or any fruit that may be in season. We serve this treat to Realtors at our Open Houses from time to time and it is always a big hit! The natural strawberry flavor & the Chantilly cream is so delicious together.


Strawberries & Chantilly Cream

What you will need:

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp strawberry-flavored popping candy (such as Pop Rocks)


How to make it:


  1. Cut smaller strawberries in half lengthwise; cut larger strawberries into quarters lengthwise. Toss together strawberries and granulated sugar in medium bowl until coated. Cover & refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.


  1. Beat cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.


  1. Divide strawberries with accumulated juices evenly among 6 bowls. Top each bowl with a large dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle bowls evenly with candy. Serve immediately.


Serves: 6

Active time: 10 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes


Enjoy this recipe as a special treat after dinner, serve as an appetizer at a party, or just whip it up for yourself!


Interested in buying or selling in our beautiful area? Call CJ! 530.906.4715

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Spring Garden at Lake of the Pines, CA

said on April 3rd, 2016 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Gardening, Localism


The Jenkins Garden is in the ground, this morning, finished, kaput, one hundred percent!   Up here in the Sierra Foothills I am taking a bit of a chance (we occasionally get late spring cold snaps) but the weather is too beautiful, and I just couldn’t help myself, but, I compensated for my impatience with better preparation than usual.  Before the first seed or seedling went into the dirt:

  • Preliminary plan drawn on paper.
  • Weeds pulled by hand.
  • Fences and trellis’s (trellises?) repaired.  (This is DEER country!)
  • Irrigation systems redesigned, repaired, and tested (drip when I can; sprinkle when I must)
  • Many (many) wheel barrows of compost trundled over from the bin and dug in.
  • (Okay, kids, this is the scary part.  You may want to look away.  Slug and snail bait sprinkled around the perimeter.  Yeah, yeah, I know.)
  • Bird screens repaired and standing at the ready.
  • Every square inch raked and smoothed.

Time to go shopping!

Next:  Seeds and seedlings

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Planting Guide for February in the Sierra Foothills

said on February 15th, 2016 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Gardening, Localism

What to plant in February


Spare Guts!

(as my Pappy used to call them)

Flowers: transplant or direct seed snapdragons, candytufts, lilies, California Indian pinks, lily-of-the-valleys, larkspurs, Shasta and painted daisies, stock and coral bells.

Fruits and vegetables: Plant Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), strawberries and rhubarb.  Direct seed radishes, beets and chard.  Start peppers, tomatoes and eggplants indoors.  Plant bare-root asparagus now through April.  At lower elevations, plant potatoes now through May.



Dill is a useful culinary herb

and attracts beneficial insects to your garden !


Trees and shrubs: Plant bare root ornamentals. Transplant living Christmas trees outside.  Buy Ceanothus and other drought-tolerant spring-blooming plants now to get the color you prefer.
Thanks to Placer County Master Gardeners!

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Upcoming Event Near Lake of the Pines, Auburn Ca. ~ Auburn Spring Home Show

said on May 15th, 2013 filed under: Auburn, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Gardening, Lake of the Pines, Localism

Upcoming Event Near Lake of the Pines, Auburn Ca. ~ Auburn Spring Home Show is coming this weekend May 17th – 19th 2013. This event takes place at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. continue reading…

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Don’t Miss the 2012 Farm and Barn Tour

said on August 20th, 2012 filed under: Gardening, Localism

This year’s Placer County Farm and Barn Tour will be on October 14, 2012 from 10am til 5:00 pm.  Here’s a link to the website so you can plan your day for the Farm and Barn Tour.  Below you can see my photos from the 2010 tour.  It’s every other year, so don’t miss it in 2012 or you will have to wait until 2014!

Horse near Gold Pond nursery

The tour jumped off at 10:00 am on Sunday, October 10, 2010.  I say “jumped” because that’s what you have to do if you want to make a dent in the itinerary.  There are nine venues scattered all over northern Placer County, California, from Loomis in the southwest to Bowman in the northeast.  And you only get 6 hours to complete the tour.

CJ and I decided to forego the two wineries, the Christmas tree farm, and the cattle ranch.  That left us three orchards, one aquatic plant nursery, and one vegetable farm . . . and lunch at the Produce Company deli in Newcastle where we enjoyed the fresh spinach quiche and home made oatmeal cookies.  Yum.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, the tour.

1.  We began promptly at 10:00am at the Boornakis-Harper Ranch inside the city limits of Auburn.  “City” is, of course, an exaggeration.  You can see the city peeking over the edge of the trees, looking down into the farm with envy.

Boorinakis Harper Ranch

This place is actually an orchard specializing in pears.  The Boorinakis family had it set up real cute with the 4H kids and the master Gardener ladies conducting little demonstrations.

Boorinakis-Harper Ranch

Bees, bats, chickens, goats, olive oil, and compost were among the big events.

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

We could have stayed there most of the day.

2.  Our second stop was the Machado Orchard.  Anyone who travels I80 between Sacramento and tahoe will recognize the famous Machado windmill and blimpette.

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

In season you can shop for all your produce at the Farm store.  And you can get your favorite pies there.  The Machado pies are legendary.  We bought fresh corn, okra (Southern boy, did you guess?), peas, pies, and red pepper jelly. Yummmm-eeeee.

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

I got a crush on this alpaca.  Look at those eyes.

3.  We hopped on to the freeway (actually we drove) and headed “down hill” into the “flats”  passing many fine properties along the way.

Placer County Farm and Barn Store

CJ wanted to visit the aquatic plant nursery called Golden Pond.  I wasn’t too hot on the idea, but it turned out to be my favorite site.

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

The plants, ponds, koi, and water features were just beautiful.  I got lots of ideas for my own yard.

4.  We decided to squeeze one more event in before lunch, so we headed back into the farmlands north of Loomis for a short visit to Mandarin Hill orchard.  Orchards are kind of boring.  There are lots and lots and lots of trees that look like, well, lots and lots and lots of trees.


We attended a short lecture about the “colonists” who came over from England in the late 1800s to make a fortune in citrus and got wiped out so they got pissed at the Asian farm workers and took it out on them.  OK lunch.

5.  After the aformentioned quiche, we wandered off southwest to find Twin Brooks farm.  Now this spread is what you imagine when you think “farm.”

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

Barns, tractors, greenhouses, and a pretty farm house under the shade trees on top of a little hill.

Placer County Farm and Barn Tour

We bought some mandarn orange stir fry sauce, and I almost bought a diatonic scale Indian flute (hint hint CJ, Christmas is just around the corner).

My gosh.  It was already 4 o’clock!  What a fun day.  What a good thing to do.  Know your farmers.  Know where your food comes from.

Placer County Farm and barn Tour

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One Bright Crop in Nevada County Agriculture

said on August 19th, 2012 filed under: Country Property, Gardening, Localism

Agricultural production in Nevada County declined 45% during the first decade of this century (2001-2010).  You read that right.  Declined forty-five percent!  Only one crop increased in value and production, but I’ll save that revelation until the end of this short blog.

Ten years ago, the  top agricultural product from Nevada County was timber.  But with the collapse of new home construction, demand for lumber declined, and timber fell from number one to number three in the county.

Wine grape production has also fallen, from including a 31% decline from 2009 tom 2010 due to hail and frost at critical moments.

Here is the list of the TOP SIX CROPS in Nevada County as reported in the most recent Annual Crop Report (2010) from the Department of Agriculture

Cattle and calves

Range and pastures


Wine Grapes

Fruit and Vegetables

Nursery Stock

But which agricultural product has increased in production and value during the past 10 years?

Registered organic farmers have increased by 37% with a total increase of acres under organic certification of 47%.  You read that right, too.  Increased forty-seven percent!

In other articles I have claimed the Nevada County was perfectly capable of feeding itself if necessary.   Why?

Low population density

Reliable water

Sufficient arable land

Mild Climate

And the agricultural know-how skills of local organic farmers like Alan Haight of Riverhill Farm, just north of Nevada City.

Buy local.  Support your local farmers.

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Thought Provoking Resources for Gardeners

said on August 7th, 2012 filed under: Gardening, Localism

Here are provoctive resources for gardeners, landscapers, conservationists, and environmentalists.


Books to Read

Sunset Western Garden Book (9th Edition) OK, this is not provocative in a radical sense, but it is a foundational resource for gardeners on the West Coast, our “Bible,” if you will.  Order it anywhere.  Older versions are just as good (in my opinion) and a lot cheaper.

Western Nevada County Gardening Guide (All About Gardening in the Sierra Nevada Foothills)  Order this from the Master Gardeners mentioned below.  University of California Cooperative Extension and Nevada County Master gardeners.

Sand County Almanac (with Essays on Conservation from Round River)

Aldo Leopold,  published in 1949 by his son.  Paperback.  This was the first book my forestry professor, Neal Lemerise,  made us read.  A conservation primer.

Second Nature (A Gardener’s Education)

Michael Pollan, published in 1971.  Paperback.  Pollan’s other works (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and The Botany of Desire) are better known, but this collection of essays is my favorite.

Farming:  A Handbook

Wendell Berry.  Poems about our relationship to the land by America’s preeminent literary rustic.


 Places to Buy Stuff in Nevada and Placer County


Bald Mountain Nursery

6195 Bald Mountain Road

Browns Valley

Call 530-743-4856 before you go


Pleasant Valley Farm and Garden Supply

125 Clydesdale Court

Grass Valley


Eisley  Nursery

380 Nevada Street



Rare Earth Landscaping Materials

11750 LaBarr Meadows Road

Grass Valley


People to Call for Help


Master Gardeners Nevada County

255 South Auburn Street

Grass Valley



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Top 10 Summer Flowers for Lake of the Pines

said on August 2nd, 2012 filed under: Gardening, Lake of the Pines, Localism

What are the Top Ten Summer Flowers for Lake of the Pines, California?

Sue Baker is the Lake of the Pines gardener.  Drive around LOP any time of year and you will spot Sue tenderly mothering her flowers.

Here are Sue’s choices for summer “colors”  Typically, these flowers are:

(1) annuals (you have to re-plant or re-seed them every year)

(2) selected for deer-resistance

(3) selected for low water usage


Vinca Annuals  (not the invasive ground covers Vinca major and Vinca minor)



Salvia (Sage)

Cosmos (Asteraceae)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Coreopsis (Asteraceae)

Alyssum (Brassicaceae)

Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum maximus)

Yarrow (Achillea)


Impatiens (Balsaminaceae)


Zinnia (Asteraceae)


Let’s give Sue Baker a big Green Thumbs Up for her flowers and her help with this post!




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What Is Nevada County’s Top Agricultural Product That Isn’t Marijuana?

said on July 22nd, 2012 filed under: Country Property, Gardening, Localism

What is Nevada County, California’s top agricultural product?  No, it’s NOT marijuana.  Well, maybe it IS.  Who’s to say?  The pot growers are reticent to publish annual reports on their crops, or so I deduce, having seen no such report since I’ve lived here.

Weed notwithstanding, what is our top agricultural product?  When I first asked this question, 10 years ago, the answer stumped most readers.

The answer was . . . are you ready . . . wait for it . . . timber.  But, no, argued some, timber isn’t agriculture!  But, yes, I replied, it certainly is.  Timber is a crop grown for harvest, like any other, except that the growing season lasts 75 to 100 years.  Wrap your head around that.  Most timber “farmers” will never live to see their seedlings harvested.  Wow.  I don’t know about you, but that really messes with my mind.

Over the past decade, timber has fallen from Nevada County’s number one product to number three.  Why?  Think about it for a moment.  In the middle of the past decade, we were plunged into a housing crisis that devastated the economy, nationally and locally.  What’s the major use of timber?  New housing construction.  No new houses being built, plummeting demand for lumber.  Lumbermen out of work, saw mills closed,  truckers collecting food stamps, contractors doing odd jobs, developers doing . . . well, whatever developers do when they’re not developing, going bankrupt, probably.  It gets down to this, housing drives everything in this country.  True, that, but it’s not the focus of this article.

OK, the top agricultural product is no longer timber.

What’s your next guess?

If you say, wine grapes and vineyards, you would be . . . wrong, again.  Wine grape production dropped by 31%, due largely to “hail and frost at critical moments.”


Well, what is it?  What is Nevada County’s top agricultural product?


Cattle and calves.

Yep, this is cow country, ranch country.  Add to that surprise, the number two agricultural product is Pasturage.  You didn’t see that coming, did you?


(The statistics and  the quote in this article are from the Nevada County Department of Agriculture’s Annual Report for 2110, published October 13, 2011.  The target year lags behind the actual report by about a year.)

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