Getting Ready for My New Job…. Urban Gardener

We have planted several dwarf fruit trees during the last 5 years, most in large pots.

At Christmas we had a bumper crop of lemons, limes and mandarins. I love citrus, easy to grow in Riverside, and the fruit has a long shelf life on the trees. Most of the limes and lemons ended up in the freezer for drinks this summer 😉


We made a quick visit last week to our home in California to visit with my Mom (cool) and Social Security (ugh).

But it was spring! The skies were blue and the hills were such a strong green with no hint of the summer brown coat they would soon wear.

Inspirational weather for creating a vegetable garden!

This is our fifth year at our townhouse in Riverside and the first time we will not be heading back overseas. So I used the quick visit to set up a vegetable garden.

Previous owners had used railroad ties beyond the retaining wall, so I don’t trust the quality of the soil for food that will go into my mouth. Besides, that land is bunny country.

bunny country

I use the area for some of our potted dwarf citrus.

What I am left with is a large deck area and the retaining wall. I started by filling pots with eggplants, tomatoes and peppers.

After I bought the pots, I read about the virtues of fiber pots and decided to experiment with those too.

This fabric bag is 50″ across and takes 100 gallons of soil. That was a lot of bags in our little Prius.
10 gallon fabric bag was $2.60 and the 18″ five gallon box was $3.40 each.

I also decided to add a vertical component on the retaining wall using window boxes. I planted the Chiba Green soybean, which can be used as edamame, a family favorite. This was the most expensive part of the project as it required a new hammer drill to get through the wall… but I do love the drill!

If this works out, the wall has room for at least another 12 feet of boxes.

This is California, so I needed to update my drip system. I elongated the stems and added more manifolds.

The water manifolds appear like the alien machines in War of the Worlds rising above the plants.

Putting the pieces of drip irrigation lines together can be a real pain… literally, but a simple trick is to soak the 1/4″ hose ends in hot water before you try to fit them together. They slide on easily and form a tight connection.

A green stem rises between the spaghetti lines.

All of the seeds I used were from Burpee Seeds. At one point in the 1900s Burpee was the largest mail order seed business in the US, but my relation to them was more personal. One of their three factory locations was in the Arlanza area of Riverside, California,  just down the street from where I grew up. The Burpee site is a great place for tutorials on container gardening.

Still room for more pots!

That’s all I could get done between visits to my mom and the Social Security office.

But in 8 weeks we will have lots of time to get to the other tasks like….

Replanting the vertical herb garden.
Sending prayers and plant food to the hydrangea.
Planting a vertical garden against the garage wall.
and watching the fruits of our labors grow…

Rampaging Gang Invades Our Home in Kathmandu

A loud crash on the patio announced their arrival.


We ran to the windows and looked out. We were surrounded! There were at least 8 of them. But not to worry, this is a daily happening for us. The “gang” is a large family of Rhesus Macaque, the temple monkeys of Nepal (and India).

Can you spot the youngster eating the trumpet flowers?
A large adult is watching the young one
Snapdragons are yummy too

Before we moved to Kathmandu I had dreams of growing fruit trees much like Southern California. The climate is very similar. It seems that anything you thrown into the soil here will sprout. But the first time I saw the monkeys demolish our papaya tree I realized dreams of fruit trees at our Kathmandu home would be fool’s errand.

Not every home in Kathmandu is like this, but we seem to be on daily migration route of this particular troop of monkeys. Some say they are part of this group: Gangs of Swayambhu

Years ago when they attacked the papaya tree, I went outside banging a pot and yelling at them. The largest one only paused a moment and barred his teeth at me. At that moment I did not think I was such a great ape and retreated inside.

You can see what effect my growl had on the monkeys who were ripping the branches off our pine tree yesterday.