Gardening in the Fall and Winter

White Sage & Hummingbirds

Written by Laura Campuzano

When you move to California, seeing a Hummingbird is a delight new homeowners get to experience by the summer and spring. Hummingbirds are not strangers to Southern, Central, or Northern California and because of this, we have to do our best to keep them healthy and coming back to help keep up our state.
 
A Hummingbird is enchanting. It is there one second and in the blink of an eye can swiftly disappear. Some Hummingbirds can even stand temperatures below zero but most of them like to hang out around warmer climates like that of South America, the Caribbean, and many of them enjoy the West Coast.
 
The sound of their wings flapping 15x a second makes a little humming sound. If you hear this sound, be quick to look to your nearest blooming flower. You may get lucky and see one feeding. One of the biggest reasons to make sure your local Hummingbird is happy is because of their pollinating abilities. When they are feasting on flowers, their little forehead rubs against the stamens and pistils, gathering pollen to bring to their next flower. This is very important to keeping up a healthy ecosystem where both Hummingbird and other essential insects can thrive.
 
Hummingbirds are also spiritual symbols. They are the only birds able to fly in all directions. For this reason, it is a very good luck charm and a blessing to see one in everyday life. They are represented by happiness, innocence, hardwork, exploration, and innocence. Their wings have also been said to fly in an infinity shape (8). In the animal world, they don’t let themselves be bullied by other birds, no matter their small size. When it comes to mating, they put on a big show for each other by dancing and swerving in the ways only the can. In short, you want Hummingbirds around.
 
Hummingbird feeders are one of the first go-to’s for new home owners. The diet of a Hummingbird consists of nectar and small insects. Because of this, the feeder must be filled with cane sugar- never honey. Hummingbird feeders are great ideas but sometimes when ants or bees infest them, it can be frustrating to maintain. A sure way to keep hummingbirds coming around is by gardening and harvesting plants that are interesting for them, and most importantly, for you.
 
A popular plant that is easy to find in California and not too much work to maintain is Sage (or Salvia). This plant grows like a bush with a stem full of buds that bloom into gorgeous flowers. It can rise up to 3-5 feet tall depending on the strain. It is mostly found in oaky woodlands. Many strains of Sage have square stems that are covered with tiny fuzz. There are more than 70 different varieties.
 
In Southern California, White Sage is king. White Sage grows to be around 4 feet tall with flowers blooming more than 8 feet. This type of Sage is used to attract Hummingbirds as well as other important pollinators like bees. This type of sage is also popular with ceremonial or ritual practices as it is used to cleanse the home, body, and mind from negative weight. It is an all-purpose purifier. The flowers that grow from the White Sage are tinted with slight specks of orange and violet. They have a strong aromatic smell that can be harvested into candles, incense, or oil. White Sage requires very little water, making it a great plant to start of with as a beginner. Not to mention, Hummingbirds love Sage.
 
Whether you end up gardening Lavender, Rosemary, Oregano, or other pollinator-friendly plants, always remember that there are animals that are native to where you live and they look for what “naturally” grows there. Don’t plant exotic plants for they may not adapt well to the environment, may be a threat to the native flora, and may keep birds such like Hummingbirds from paying a visit.

Sources:
 
White Sage
About White Sage (Salvia apiana)

Hummingbirds
The Hummingbird Society
Beneficials in the Garden
Hummingbird Spirit Animal

Foodie Corner: Fall Recipes

Pumpkins are just one of the many orange foods packed with nutrients for fall season!

Vegan Pumpkin Carrot Muffins

Other than being fun for the holidays, pumpkin is high nutritious. They are high in dietary fiber and low in calories which can assist in weight loss. Pumpkins are very high in Vitamin A and carotenoids which reduce macular degeneration (eyesight deterioration). Carotenoids are also an antioxidant so they neutralize free-radical cells (damaged cells which may lead to cancer) in your body. It is important to try and eat all the colors of the rainbow. Orange is a particularly nutrient packed color!

Ingredients:
1 medium sized pumpkin
2 cups flower (either whole wheat or a gluten free substitute)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup coconut milk (or other milk substitute)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup of Agave or Maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup shredded carrots

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off stem of pumpkin, cut entire pumpkin in half. Scoop out seeds and pulp and save seeds for roasting later! Cut pumpkin with skin on into small cubes. Put cubes in a covered baking dish with a little bit of water. Put pumpkin in oven for 30-45 minutes until soft. When finished remove pumpkin and let cool. Use blender to puree pumpkin with skin on until smooth.

Lightly grease muffin tin. Mix together all dry ingredients in one bowl and all wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients slowly while mixing. Add shredded carrots to the mix last. Spoon mix into muffin tin filling the cups about 3/4 of the way full. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.

School Corner

In the last month and a half students have been working extra hard to remove weeds, cultivate soil in beds and plant seeds. The beginning of the fall is always the hardest time in the garden because we are transitioning from old summer plants to new winter crops. Students have spend countless hours weeding, sheet mulching, cultivating soil, turning compost and planting new seeds. Here are some photos of students hard at work this fall, for more photos please click the links at the bottom of the newsletter to follow our social media pages.

Students at Arroyo High School harvest carrots to prepare bed for planting more crops.

Students at Rosemead High School pull out volunteer sprouts from seeds in the compost to prepare bed for planting lettuce and spinach. Greens in the compost are essential for added nitrogen.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, donor or having your own organic vegetable garden please contact:
info@ecourbangardens.org
626-374-3504

Thank you so much to our generous donors, these projects are possible because of you!

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