Category Archives: Gardens

Anacapa interns continue to plant the future of the Santa Barbara Presidio.

by Anne Burdette, Josh Colahan, and Ashley Emma

Josh Colahan and Anne Burdette with recently planted lettuce in the new adobe planters at the Northwest Corner Visitor's Center. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Josh Colahan and Anne Burdette with recently planted lettuce in the new adobe planters at the Northwest Corner Visitor’s Center. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

“Hey what up” from the Fall 2016-17 Presidio Heritage Garden interns from the Anacapa School. The Anacapa interns work with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation staff to develop and maintain the interpretive gardens, living history programs, and exhibits at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. In order to establish a more awesome garden, we care for the plants throughout the Presidio, including lemon, orange, mandarin, pomegranate, fig, and loquat trees, wheat, bananas, peas, lettuce, carrots, fava beans, strawberries, and onions, as well as native shrubs. The gardens must be watered nearly every day during the summer, and occasionally we must remove the persistent encroaching weeds when it rains.

Vegetables with new tile labels at the Northeast Corner of the Presidio. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Vegetables with new tile labels at the Northeast Corner of the Presidio. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Another important part of maintaining the gardens is planting new plants. Some of these crops will be eaten, used for seeds or will simply be admired by the public. Beets, carrots, green beans, peas and wheat were started from seed in nursery flats. Once the seedlings have grown bigger and stronger they are moved to the various garden planters throughout the park where they will permanently reside until they are mature enough to harvest. The fava beans, however, were planted directly into the ground. We think this might be because they are more durable.

Anne and Josh harvesting giant cane (Arundo donax) at. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Anne and Josh harvesting giant cane (Arundo donax). Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We also made trellises out of the invasive plant Arundo donax or giant cane. The cane, which closely resembles its relative bamboo, was introduced to North America by the Spanish during the 18th century as a building material. During the Presidio era these canes were used extensively to sheath the roofs of the adobes. The trellises are placed next to pea plants and beans so they have a structure to crawl up.

Ashley Emma (the Queen of Hearts) winnowing White Sonora Wheat. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Ashley Emma (the Queen of Hearts) winnowing White Sonora Wheat. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We have even worked on separating wheat from the chaff. One must grind the wheat in a rather forceful manner. This process removes any unwanted roughage, leaving behind small delicate wheat berries (seeds). We also helped SBTHP curator Rose Thomas clean the Casa de la Guerra Store exhibit and hang the Casa wallpaper exhibit.

Josh and Anne transplanting banana pups at the Presidio  Northeast Corner. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Josh and Anne transplanting banana pups at the Presidio Northeast Corner. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The noble fowl of the Presidio, the Black Minorcan hens, majestically frolic and peck about their palace. We give the chickens food and water and have collected their eggs twice. In the future when it is less cold we hope there will be more eggs to collect. We also cleaned the chicken coop and installed new laying pads. A surprisingly arduous task, however a very necessary and rewarding one at that.

Lion dancers at the Asian American Neighborhood Festival. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.
Lion dancers at the Asian American Neighborhood Festival. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Along with our normal Presidio endeavors we helped set up the Asian American Neighborhood Festival in October. Paper lanterns of various colors and size were hung by rope along a bamboo enclosure that encircled the front of the Presidio. This event was held on a Sunday but even so we showed up to support the event. We moved ice buckets, set up posters, decorated booths and even drew dragons with all of the little kids who came to the event. After we helped set up the event we sat down and enjoyed the festivities. We watched several different dances some included forms of martial arts and sword dancing. There was even a dance where large lion costumes were worn by the dancers which undeniably was a favorite among the crowd.

Anne, Josh and Ashley are a welcome sight in the gardens and at our public programs.  We are grateful for their hard work and positive spirit, and our ongoing partnership with the Anacapa School. 

Anacapa Interns Plant the Future of Santa Barbara Presidio

Daisy, Morgan Lauren and Ray on the job. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Daisy, Morgan Lauren and Ray on the job. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

At the beginning of the Spring Semester Anacapa School students Daisy Gonzalez, Morgan Lamberti, Lauren Sloan and Ray Johnson began their Presidio Heritage Garden internships with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

Planting a new bed. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Planting a new bed. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We began our work in the garden by clearing out the dead plants from last season. Since we started, we have planted Fava beans, Christmas Lima beans, Kentucky Wonder green beans, artichokes, carrots, radishes, broccoli, onions, celery, tomatoes, strawberries, and a variety of herbs.

Harvesting vegetables. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Harvesting vegetables. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The Santa Barbara Presidio Heritage Garden produces phenomenal produce. Every day we enjoy fresh juicy oranges. The broccoli was more delicious than anything you could find at the store. The loquats are also the intern’s favorite afternoon snack to enjoy in the sun.

The Presidio chickens.  Photo by Mike Imwalle.
The Presidio chickens. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The job has its hazards. Especially when the wind picks up and creates a dust storm in front of the Presidio. Lauren was almost hit with a sign. We all returned to school with dirt in their shirts, hair, and teeth. We have so much fun as interns, that even when Ray falls in a cactus, he still wants to come back.

 

Anacapa Student Interns Plant the Future of Santa Barbara Presidio

Lauren, Wes, Pica, and Piero starting flats of beans from seeds grown in the Presidio Heritage Garden. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Lauren, Wes, Pica, and Piero starting flats of beans from seeds grown in the Presidio Heritage Garden. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Hello, we are Piero Trujillo, Weston Izuno, Lauren Sloan and Pica Riddle, the new Presidio Heritage Garden Interns from the Anacapa School . We started our  adventure on September 15th, with a tour of the gardens. Mike Imwalle, archaeologist, showed us the ropes, where we learned how to plant and water fruits and vegetables, and feed and water the chickens.

Pica spreading Mulch during the United Way Day of Caring. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Pica spreading Mulch during the United Way Day of Caring. Photo by Anne Petersen.

The weekend after we started, the United Way Day of Caring volunteers cleared the gardens of old plants and weeds, so that we could plant new ones for the fall. Since we started, we have planted Fava beans, Christmas Lima beans, green beans, artichokes, carrots, radishes, broccoli, onions, wheat, celery, and herbs.

Mike and Ann holding Belle and Westina. Photo by Brittany Sundberg.
Mike and Ann holding Belle and Westina. Photo by Brittany Sundberg.

The Santa Barbara Presidio produces phenomenal produce. Every day we enjoy fresh juicy oranges. The six chickens, Belle, Stacy, Pica, Shakira, Josefina, and Westina, started laying wonderful tasty eggs. Even the under-ripe watermelon we tasted was better than the store bought ones. Sadly we did not get to enjoy the biggest, ripest watermelon because it was stolen. All that was left, were the gruesome remains of an eaten water melon on the steps of the Presidio. At least someone got to eat it.

The six lovely hens of the Presidio, are warmly rewarded for their egg laying efforts with yummy treats. The girls go crazy over dried worms and over-ripe fruit from the garden. We often feed them watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, figs, and pomegranates.

Piero, Pica, Lauren, and Weston threshing White Sonora Wheat. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Piero, Pica, Lauren, and Weston threshing White Sonora Wheat. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Mike, everyone’s favorite teddy bear, is very welcoming. He never gets frustrated with our sometimes slow work ethic and even lets us play with the sticky notes in his office. Mike truly cares about his job and the Presidio. We have so much fun as interns, that even when Pica falls in a cactus, she still wants to come back.

 

The Presidio Heritage Garden Interns will keep planting through the fall season.   Stop by and see what’s blooming! 

Eggsxellent News!

By Michael Imwalle

After months of anxious waiting, one of our beauties laid her first egg!

Yesterday while giving the hens a treat of watermelon and tomatoes I spied a white orb out of the corner of my eye, and low and behold it was the first egg from our Black Minorcan hens. Although it was small and the yolk was not as orange as I expected, it was deeeeeeliscious!

In peak production the hens will produce 4-6 eggs each per week. Look for these fresh organic eggs to show up on the menu at upcoming SBTHP events!

Close-up of the 1st egg. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Close-up of the 1st egg. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Michael Imwalle is the Archaeologist and Chicken Whisperer at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

Chickens in the Presidio Heritage Gardens!

By Michael H. Imwalle

In 2013 Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Maintenance Chief Eduardo Garcia and I started planning for a chicken coop to complement the Presidio Heritage Gardens at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. After researching historic Mediterranean chicken breeds and consulting with interpreters at La Purísima Mission State Historic Park, Black Minorcan hens were chosen as the first residents of the outdoor Presidio exhibit. Thanks to a generous grant to the Presidio Heritage Garden from the California Missions Foundation in 2014, the dream of having chickens in the garden was finally realized.

In January 2015 I special ordered 10 Black Minorcan chicks from a hatchery in Missouri through Island Seed & Feed in Goleta, California. After months of anxiously waiting, the chicks were delivered to the feed store on May 9th 2015. My wife Terri and I excitedly picked them up and transported them to their temporary home at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. Their surrogate mother was the “Chicken Whisperer” Leeann Haslouer. The chicks were brooded under heat lamps indoors at the Mill property. Leeann graciously volunteered to care for them until they were old enough to move to their permanent outdoor home at the Presidio. After losing one of the chicks, and one developing into a rooster named “Franceeeecsco,” we ended up with eight hens. On July 19th receptionist Brittany Sundberg and I moved six yet un-named hens to the coop/palace recently completed by Eduardo.

On August 13th I changed their feed to a mix of regular “scratch” for a mix that included “layers crumbles” which contains extra calcium and other nutrients to promote healthy eggs with good shells.

They're all grown up! Photo by Mike Imwalle.
They’re all grown up! Photo by Mike Imwalle.

They seem to enjoy their new home, feasting daily on a diet of Mission figs, Mission grapes, quince, tomatoes, carrots, tomatillos, and anything else that is ripe in the gardens. Thanks to a corps of volunteer “chicken whisperers” (Brittany Sundberg, Anne Petersen, Neeva Pradhan, Tacy Kennedy, and Barbara Chung) the girls are happy, healthy, and very entertaining. We look forward to the fresh eggs they will provide to staff and volunteers in the weeks to come and all the enjoyment they will provide to visitors to El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State SHP.

Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist and chicken wrangler at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Making Wine at El Presidio SHP: The First Vintage

by Michael Imwalle, with assistance from Gabe Smith

Tasting duties. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Tasting duties. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

In May of 2013 former Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation weekend interpreter Gabe Smith and I embarked on an experiment to make wine from the California Mission wine grapes growing at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP in the Presidio Heritage Garden. SBTHP staff and volunteers harvested and crushed the grapes at Oreana Winery in October 2013 (see more here). The Presidio heritage grapevines are grown from cuttings taken from a Spanish Colonial period vine at San Gabriel Mission, so they are truly heritage fruits.  Historically, the California Mission wine grape made inferior quality drinking wine. Often wine for consumption at mass was ordered from Mexico or Spain while grain alcohol was added to locally produced wine to make a fortified wine called angelica. In April 2014 we began the painstaking process of testing and tasting the wine as we decided whether would be able to drink it or start our first batch of “Heritage Balsamic Vinegar.”

After storing the wine in our wine cave beneath the Alhecama Theatre, this October Gabe decided to blend some of the wine to make it more “palatable.”  We began blending and tasting the blends of mission grapes with varying concentrations of Pinot Noir and Viognier. With a limited number of tasters, the favorite wines were 100 percent Mission Grape, a 50/50 blend of Mission Grape and Pinot Noir, and a 75/25 blend of Mission Grape and Viognier.

On November 26th of this year, Gabe and I bottled seven cases of Presidio Mission Wine including at least two cases of each variety described above.

Again Oreana winery was generous enough to let us use their facility to bottle our wine. Thank you to Oreana winemaker Danny Miles for his help through the entire process right down to adding the foil caps to the bottles. We look forward to trying this again next year and watch for taste of the 2014 El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP Heritage Wine at the next Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation event you attend.

Blended wine. Photo by Michael H. imwalle.
Blended wine. Photo by Michael H. imwalle.

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

What’s new in the Presidio Heritage Garden?

by Sam Richardson, Timmy Johnson, Elise Goodell, Lottie Johnston, and Francis Brand

Hello! We’re back, with two new members of the Presidio Heritage Garden Intern team from Anacapa School: Timmy and Francis! Welcome, Timmy and Francis. If you see those rowdy boys around, say hi and give them a smile!

Outstanding in their field Sam, Timmy, Elise, Lottie, and Francis.
Outstanding in their field Sam, Timmy, Elise, Lottie, and Francis.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve done oodles! On October 13th, we built a trellis for Kentucky Wonder green beans. We’ve planted fava beans over at El Cuartel, started pots of garlic, and planted cotton seeds (which we harvested from last year’s cotton).

One of our recent “projects” was planting clippings from the pomegranate and fig trees. First we cut small branches off the tree and peeled a strip of bark from the base of each branch to expose the cambium. Then, we wiped the blade of the pruning shears with alcohol so it’s clean, then again cut the branch bases at a diagonal angle. Finally, we rolled each branch in root hormone powder and potted them individually.

On November 5th, we re-labeled all the plants at the Presidio garden. It may have taken us the whole class time to do it, but Sam and Timmy got to learn how to spell Mediterranean and banana along the way. At last! Starting on the 21st, we denuded/pruned Arbor grapes, which we continued to do until December 10th. It’s a grape big job!

More recently we re-planted the cotton into bigger pots and thinned out our carrots. Some small trees needed to be moved (during which, Silly Sam broke a shovel), and Lottie cut down a large tree branch that was growing in the wrong direction. Go Lottie! Watering hasn’t been a necessity lately, thanks to the much-needed rain these past few weeks.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation these past few months, and will be sad to go after our last few weeks in January, following the Christmas break. Thank you to all the employees and visitors who’ve said hello to us while we’ve been here, and a big thanks to Mike Imwalle. Happy Holidays!

We at SBTHP will miss seeing this group of energetic interns moving en masse around the park with big smiles and arms full of tools.  Their work is evident in every garden space.  Have you stopped by recently to check it out?

New Volunteers Plant our Fall Garden at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP

Sam, Elise and Lottie on the job at the Presidio. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Sam, Elise and Lottie on the job at the Presidio. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

Hello, we are Sam, Lottie, and Elise, the new Presidio Heritage Garden Interns from the Anacapa School. We started our work here on September 22nd with a tour around the presidio grounds from Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Archaeologist Mike Imwalle to see what our semester at the gardens would hold, and were introduced to the dedicated employees working diligently here in the Presidio offices. We have been coming here to work every Monday and Wednesday afternoon since then. On our first official day of tending to the gardens we planted rows of wheat and corn. The wheat has since grown approximately four inches. A raccoon stole one of our corn plants but that is fine because we were able to replace the corn and the raccoon needed to find some way to support his family.

Tending the Presidio Northeast Corner heritage garden. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Tending the Presidio Northeast Corner heritage garden. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

On our next visit we planted celery, cabbage, and onions. We also uprooted several basil plants and moved them to a new location. We ended the day by starting fava beans and shelling peas from seed. On each of our visits we also water the plants at the presidio. We use water keys to turn on the hoses. Some days we forget to return water keys and leave them in our jeans pockets, but we always return them to Mike eventually. On October 1st  we pruned the grape vines and Mike pruned the citrus trees. Sam was stabbed by the thorns on the citrus tree as he tried to place them into the dumpster, which we filled to the top.* Gardening is dangerous work! While Sam was suffering from the pain associated with physical labor, Elise was planting carrots and radishes.

New sprouts grown from seed, which will soon be transferred to the garden. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
New sprouts grown from seed, which will soon be transferred to the garden. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

This last Monday we started new Christmas Lima beans and green beans. Mike then helped us get started on making a new trellis; we cut giant cane and cleaned it off and will soon tie it together into a trellis for beans.

So far we have had a great and fulfilling experience gardening at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. We look forward to more gardening in the weeks ahead.

*Note: our heritage citrus trees have long thorns, which were later bred out, and don’t appear on the citrus trees we are familiar with today. The thorns protrude from under the leaves and often catch unsuspecting volunteers by surprise!