Category Archives: Gardens

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!

Making Wine from Heritage Grapes at El Presidio SHP

by Michael Imwalle, with assistance from Gabe Smith

Gabe Smith inspecting the Presidio heritage grapes. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Gabe Smith inspecting the Presidio heritage grapes. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

In May of 2013 SBTHP weekend interpreter Gabe Smith began working some extra hours in the Presidio Heritage Garden.  Gabe mentioned that his full-time job was working at Oreana Winery. He asked if he could try and make some wine with the Presidio grapes and we hatched a plan for the first vintage of Presidio Heritage Garden Red! 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.  In September when the fruit had begun to ripen, Gabe returned to take samples of our grapes for their sugar and PH levels.  A small sample was taken and crushed by hand at Oreana Winery and tested for specific gravity. Since the sugar and PH levels were low, we decided to wait to harvest. In October 2013 Gabe retested the grapes and directed me to pick the fruit within the next week.

3On October 16th I picked more than 600 lbs of California Mission Grapes from three vines within the park and delivered them to Oreana Winery where winemaker Danny Miles and Gabe assisted us with crushing the fruit. SBTHP staffers Brittany Avila, Christa Clark Jones, Meredith Brockriede, and Gabe rinsed their feet and foot-crushed the grapes into 30 gallons of purplish pulp that will ferment in a large plastic bin for the next two months. Then the wine will be transferred to containers for storage in a cool, dry, place. We have identified the basement of the Alhecama Theatre as our new onsite “wine cave.”

Gabe drawings a sample of the wine to test alcohol and tannin levels. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Gabe drawing a sample of the wine to test alcohol and tannin levels. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

On Thursday February 13th Gabe Smith came by to test the Presidio wine. Although it smelled somewhat fruity, the flavor was dominated by alcohol and tannins. Jerry and I both got to try it! Gabe suggested we add some oak chips to bring up the flavor of the fruit and smooth out the tannin and alcohol flavors.  On the following Friday Gabe brought “oak chip teabags” to add to the wine. He also brought a bag of SO4, or sulfate, to add to the wine in two to three weeks with instructions to remove the bags of oak chips in about five weeks.

On Monday March 2nd I added the sulfates to the wine in all three “carboys” and on March 21st I will remove the oak chips and leave the wine to rest until Gabe returns. Until then we will keep our fingers crossed and try the wine again in July. Stay tuned for a tasting update. Hopefully, we will have five to six cases of Presidio Heritage Garden Red for sharing with members at future SBTHP events!

A special thanks to Oreana Winery for the use of the crushing facility and to winemakers Danny Miles and Gabe Smith for their guidance and support during this inaugural crush. In the future we plan on partnering with a local craft distiller to make Brandy and Aguardiente both distilled from fermented Presidio Heritage Garden grapes!

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

Introducing Neeva and Pica, our New Presidio Heritage Garden Interns!

Pica and Neeva began their internship at the height of grape season.  They have been feasting on our Mission San Gabriel grapes each day.  Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Pica and Neeva began their internship at the height of grape season. They have been feasting on our Mission San Gabriel grapes each day. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

We are the new Presidio Heritage Garden interns at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, Neeva and Pica. We come from Anacapa School every Monday and Wednesday afternoon to work with Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Archaeologist Michael Imwalle on taking care of the gardens. We started our internship in September. On our first day, Michael took us on a tour of the gardens. Pica, who is an international student from China, was surprised by the figs because they looked like flowers inside, but were edible. On the same day, Michael also helped us pick oranges to take back to the school to share with our classmates and family. We also got to eat the baby watermelon which had been growing all summer.

The wheelbarrow is behaving itself for the time being as Pica and neeva relocate pups from the misi luki banana. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
The wheelbarrow is behaving itself for the time being as Pica and Neeva relocate pups from the misi luki banana. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
The seed harvest from last season's crop. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
The seed harvest from last season’s crop. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

After a couple of weeks we planted beans, wheat, brussels sprouts, broccoli, garlic and more. We got to harvest celery seeds, fava beans, watermelon seeds and wheat, which we ground into flour. We also made labels for the plants from clay roof tiles, which you are able to see around the gardens. It took us hours to make and put them in the correct places. The labels are heavy and easily-broken; we had to use a wheelbarrow to move them. The wheelbarrow can be really heavy and difficult to control, so once when we were moving the labels something unfortunate happened and Pica lost her balance and suddenly the wheelbarrow was on the side and a couple of the labels broke.

Neeva and Pica build a pea trellis from arunda donax, which they harvested and stripped from a cluster grown within El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Neeva and Pica build a pea trellis from arunda donax, which they harvested and stripped from a cluster grown within El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

Recently we had planted radishes and carrots near the strawberries and orange trees.  We planted shelling peas and Christmas Lima Beans and got to make a trellis for the shelling peas at El Cuartel. Making the trellis was difficult, but fun.

Planting new winter vegetables in the Presidio Northeast Corner gardens. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Planting new winter vegetables in the Presidio Northeast Corner gardens. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

One of the best parts of the Presidio Heritage Garden internship is that we always have oranges, mandarin and grapes to eat. Our favorite place to garden and water is the vegetable garden; it’s very green and lively.  We are also excited that the Presidio might get chickens this winter.

Neeva and Pica will be working in the Presidio Heritage Gardens through December 2013.  We hope you’ll stop by to see the “fruits” of their efforts!  You can learn more about the Presidio Heritage Gardens here

Encouraging our Fledgling Winter Garden.

The Presidio Heritage Garden is experiencing a seasonal transition.  If you haven’t visited recently, this would be a nice time to stop by to see what’s new.   Several weeks ago we harvested late summer and fall crops including three different varieties of potatoes (grown in buckets) and Christmas lima beans.

harvesting potatoes (left) and Christmas lima beans (right). Photos by Anne Petersen.
Harvesting potatoes (left) and Christmas lima beans (right). Photos by Anne Petersen.

We recently planted several new winter crops at the Presidio Northeast Corner garden in well-groomed and fertilized beds prepared by our United Way Day of Caring volunteers back in September. We look forward to seeing all of our spinach, fennel, fava beans, turnips, parsnips and carrots sprout into their hardy and mighty adult selves, and may be hovering a bit too closely as we wait, impatiently.  The fava beans, grown from last year’s seed, and the turnips have sprouted, and we are sure the others are not far behind.  See you in the garden!

Fava beans grown from last year's seed peek out of the soil this week. Photo by Anne Petersen
Fava beans grown from last year’s seed peek out of the soil this week. Photo by Anne Petersen
Fava beans from last Spring's harvest. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Fava beans from last spring’s harvest. Photo by Anne Petersen.

2012 United Way Day of Caring at El Presidio SHP

by Michael H. Imwalle

Volunteers picking fruit in the Whittaker orchard at the rear of the Canedo Adobe. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

On September 15, 2012 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation participated in the 21st Annual United Way Day of Caring. Throughout the County more than 1,500 volunteers participated as individuals, families, and workplace teams to help over 50 charitable organizations in our County. The event is the biggest single-day volunteer event in the tri-counties. The Day of Caring is held across the nation in September and October to support agencies that would otherwise not be able to complete projects due to financial or staffing shortages. Families are encouraged to participate to teach young people the importance of community service.

This year SBTHP was blessed with a multitude of volunteers representing RightScale, Rye’s Scents, Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara School of Squash, and the Towbes Stars. More than 50 volunteers were split into teams to work on 5 projects at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP. Executive Director Jerry Jackman supervised a group of young volunteers picking fruit in the Whittaker orchard. Bags of oranges, lemons, and tangerines were picked and distributed amongst the volunteers. Surplus fruit will be donated.

Volunteers making adobe bricks on the parade ground of the Presidio. Photo by Sally Fouhse.

SBTHP Board Member Rich Rojas supervised fellow Kiwanis Club members while cleaning up the back entrance to the Northwest Corner. Rich’s crew re-wrapped and covered pallets of adobe bricks to prepare them for winter storage. SBTHP Board Member and Presidio descendent Tim Aguilar supervised a large crew of enthusiastic adobe brick makers. The adobe crew churned out more than 160 adobe bricks that will go toward the completion of the Northwest Corner Defense Wall.

Volunteers whitewashing the Padre’s Quarters of the Presidio. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

SBTHP Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia served as the master whitewasher. After days of prepping the site for the event, Ed had an army of whitewashers coating the Canedo adobe, Padre’s Quarters, Bell tower, Comandancia, and El Cuartel. Anne Petersen, SBTHP’s Associate Director for Historical Resources managed volunteers in the Presidio Heritage Gardens. The garden crew hauled in two cubic yards of compost, weeded, pruned, and turned over the soil in preparation of our fall/winter planting. A special station was set up for kids to participate in a wheat grinding station where the young volunteers learned to thresh, winnow, and grind wheat into flour.

Volunteers preparing the Northeast Corner Presidio Heritage Garden for Fall planting. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Thank you to SBTHP Associate Director for Business Affairs Sally Fouhse, SBTHP Associate Director for Development Kendra Rhodes, Harrison Rhodes, and the SBTHP weekend staff for all your help and a special thanks to the United Way Day of Caring staff and all their dedicated volunteers for another successful work day at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP.

To see more photos from the 2012 Day of Caring at El Presidio SHP, check out our Flickr Page!

Mike Imwalle is SBTHP’s archaeologist and 2012 United Way Day of Caring volunteer coordinator

In the summertime, when the weather is hot…tour the Presidio gardens!

by Stephanie Byrd

I’ve been interning at SBTHP for about two months now. I mostly work on interpretive projects with Anne Petersen over in the Presidio Research Center, but twice a week I get out of the office and make my rounds watering the gardens at El Cuartel and the Presidio Northeast corner.

I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, and somehow I get mud all the way up to my knees, but the sunshine and the progress in the gardens is enough to make a little mud not such a big deal.

Located in the Northeast corner, this corn will be taller than I am next week! Photo by Stephanie Byrd.

The biggest surprise this summer has been the corn in the Northeast corner. Two months ago, the stalks weren’t even stalks; now, they’re as tall as most of the schoolchildren that come to visit the Presidio!

The artichokes have also been a wonderful learning experience. I thoroughly enjoy spinach and artichoke dip, but I had no idea what the actual plant in the ground looked like. Just the other day, one of the many flourishing artichokes blossomed. Unfortunately, that means no dip for me because once the flower blossoms, the artichoke is no longer edible, but it sure is a sight to behold.

The artichokes are in bloom, but careful, you can only eat the one on the right! Catch these beautiful blossoms in the northeast corner. Photo by Stephanie Byrd.

Regrettably, the winter crop of white Sonoran wheat had already been harvested by the time I arrived, but the remnants sure tell the story of how productive these gardens actually are. The structure of the future chicken coop is also in the wheat garden, so hopefully when our new poultry residents arrive they’ll have a lush wheat landscape to watch over.

Be on the lookout for figs at El Cuartel, they’re just starting to show up, but they’re going to get big fast! The early bird gets the worm, but the observant visitor gets the best figs!

The heritage Rose of Castile, visible from Canon Perdido at the northeast corner, is even prettier up close and personal, but watch out for thorns! Photo by Stephanie Byrd.

The heritage Rose of Castile is a favorite stop along the newly offered Neighborhood Walking Tour, which takes place weekends at 2pm. Visitors have been taken aback by the rose’s beauty and local history.

The July edition of “What’s Blooming” is available now in the Visitor’s Center; take one with your self-guided Presidio tour booklet and enjoy the gardens this summer!

Stephanie Byrd is a graduate student at USC pursuing a Master’s in Planning, with an emphasis in Historic Preservation. She is the 2012 Jim and Sue Higman Intern at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and on the weekends she’s a vivacious Presidio neighborhood tour guide in need of tour takers!

A Taste of the Presidio Gardens

Last evening we held a very special event in celebration of the Presidio Gardens. Several wonderful volunteers and staff took our guests through the garden and pointed out the many plants that are blooming and fruiting this spring, including the first tiny buds that will develop into grapes on our Mission San Gabriel grape vine, many fragrant herbs that made it through our mild winter and have come roaring back in the last  month, the large green pods of bushy fava bean plants,  and the drying stalks of our winter White Sonoran Wheat crop.

Menu from “A Taste of the Presidio Gardens.”

Inside the Cocina we served small bites made from  the garden’s spring harvest, including flatbreads made with whole wheat crust ground from our own wheat, and a cabbage and carrot salad with veggies harvested just an hour earlier. If you haven’t been to the Presidio gardens recently, please do come by.  At this time of year, it just looks better and better out there every day.

It’s Spring in the Presidio Gardens!

Weeding the wheat field. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We are Kiara, Aiyanna, and Zinnia, students from The Anacapa School, and the current garden interns here at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). We’ve had this internship for about 3 months now. During our time here we’ve been tending to the wheat that was planted in late October of last year. Our first task when we come to the Presidio was to water the wheat in the Northeast corner gardens and El Cuartel. Since our time here we’ve seen it thrive and grow very rapidly.

Demonstrating at “Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight.” Photo by Clint Weisman Studio.

During the “Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight” public program for First Thursday in March we participated by demonstrating the entire wheat harvesting process. We started off by threshing  wheat from last season, removing the chaff, and then grinding the white Sonora wheat seeds into flour using a mano and metate.

Kiara and Aiyanna with a carrot harvested from the Northeast Corner garden.

 

Since our time here we’ve been helping Mike plant several plants in the gardens, such as pumpkins and cucumber in El Cuartel, and mint in the Northeast corner gardens. We also planted several varieties from seeds and cuttings, including popcorn, pumpkins, cucumbers, lima beans, grape vine cuttings, a variety of tomatoes, peppers, squash, gourds, and many others.  When they are larger, many of the seedlings will be planted in the gardens. Several were also sold at a plant sale held during the Founding Day celebration on April 21 to benefit SBTHPs Presidio garden project.

Kiara and Zinnia with SBTHP interpreter Jen Wold at the plant station at Early California Day. Photo by Karen Anderson.

 

We recently participated in the SBTHP’s “Early California Day” on April 20, where local elementary schools came and visited different living history stations representing Santa Barbara’s past. We were stationed in the early California plant demonstration, where we taught the students about native and non-native plants in the area, and the use of each plant that was available in the area.

A young broccoli plant on the Northeast Corner. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We’ve really enjoyed our time here and cannot wait to see our plants grow!

Kiara, Aiyanna and Zinnia will tend the garden until mid-May, when Anacapa School breaks for the summer.  We have all enjoyed working with these bright young women, and have also enjoyed some of the fruits of their labor!