Beginning of August Tour


It’s time for a tour!

The newest additions to our garden come from David’s aunt, with whom we just visited!  She collects orchids, says they’re pretty foolproof down here, and gave us three to get started!  The three she gave us are all cymbidiums.  Two could use splitting and repotting this spring.   


Hopefully they’ll thrive on the little shelf we created for them over the compost bin. This area gets direct sun for a few hours a day.  The plants are light in color right now, and hopefully they’ll perk up a bit.

We’ve been fertilizing and spraying over the past few days.  There’s been a rejuvenation of the plants in the garden.  David and I are done with summer vacation, and we’ll have time to maintain our plants better.


The squashes on the A-frame have fruit!  There are two sugar baby watermelons in the back, and three Pinnacle spaghetti squash in the front.  The Kazakh melon on the left is almost wild, but it hasn’t set fruit in a while.  On the back left, the Malali watermelon vine is growing over the cattle panel trellis and has yet to have a melon on it.  I just pulled out the sweet dumpling squash and two cantaloupe that never did much.


The Pinnacle squash grows on a compact non-branching vine.  While we were on vacation, the vine made it’s way to the inside of the trellis and started to fruit.  I tucked it back through, and hope I can train the new baby to grow on the outside of the wire.


The hairy Malali watermelon finally has a baby melon.  This one is about the size of my thumbnail, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it’s a healthy enough plant to start producing fruit.


Buttercup squash have been our most prolific this year.  Of course, we did plant three extra plants by mistake, so it makes sense that we have the most of this variety.  The vines are half dead in some places.  The leaves that were covered in powdery mildew now look great.  We have one squash that’s about ready to be picked and about five that are at this stage.


Even the sprawling Kazakh melon has baby fruit.  Most of them seem to fall off and die, so I’m not keeping my fingers crossed.

The cattle panel arch is now full of buttercup squash, Malali watermelon (cutting through the top), and half dead Kazakh melon on the right side.


This picture was taken before David sprayed the leaves.  They now have no visible white on them.  The plant on the left is the buttercup squash that I hacked back before vacation.


Our crookneck yellow squash is finally looking healthy and producing squash!  In front of it, hiding at this angle, is a new acorn squash to climb the trellis.  On the right are two Sunburst yellow zucchini.  The far right are leaves from a buttercup squash that wants to take over the garden.

Luckily the squash is pretty well confined to the trellis.  Behind it, in the same bed, the eggplant are finally getting big and flowering like mad.


Two of the Japanese eggplants are ready to be harvested. The biggest plant (left) is a Rosa Bianca.  The borage in the foreground used to be quite stunted, and it’s finally growing well.  I must remember to pick the flowers while making a salad.

The beans along the fence are finishing up.  Half of the scarlet runner beans are drying out and the asparagus beans have less flowers.  I decided to plant more of both along the fence, and see what more we’ll get this season.


I started new zucchini seeds, but decided to keep our old one.  The twists of the leaves off of the main vine show it’s resilience.  There is new fruit coming, so our kitchen is happy.


On the other side of the garden, the zinnias and arugula are doing well.  The tomatillos are growing, although the plant looks like it’s had better days. In this picture the tomatoes look like they’re on fire, but they’re fine.


Here they are!  The tomatoes are working out well with their Florida weave.  This is the one area of the entire yard where we have red slicing tomatoes.  The little leaf cucumbers are phasing out, but the larger leaved Straight 8 is producing away.  Currently the one vine has about six fruits growing.  We’re debating trying to squeeze in another round of cucumber plants.  I did plant some Mexican Sour Gherkins; we’re looking forward to something very different.


Under the apricot tree, the golden yarrow has shot up more blooms.  This little plant has come such a long way from when I found it under a trailer.


Also next to the apricot tree and yarrow is our new Verbena bonariensis.  My friend Sheila gave me the seeds and this one was in the nursery for a long time.  I planted it before vacation, and am thrilled to see it’s tall flowers.  Just as I hoped, I’ve seen small pollinators and butterflies on the flowers.  (I saw a tiger swallowtail in the garden the other day, but not on this plant.)


On the other side of the backyard, the fruits are coming.  The avocados are getting bigger, promising a fall harvest. The Ponderosa lemon tree has a few lemons growing and the banana tree is starting to flower.


The rack is on the tallest tree, hanging over the neighbor’s fence.  The flower looks huge and will hopefully provide us with way more bananas than we can possibly eat.  Last year we ended up cutting down the tree too soon, and the bananas didn’t ripen.  The lure of using a machete got us but we’ve learned our lesson in patience.


The huge nasturtium that gave us many pickled nasturtium pods has babies growing.  The plants nearby in mystery garden are ready to pick from, but they haven’t had as many seeds at once as the old plant.  Hopefully the offspring will be good seed producers, like the parent plant.

The tomatoes in the side yard are so funny to look at.  The huge one on the left is the Isis Candy cherry tomato, which we’ve been enjoying in our salads.  Next to it is the Jaune Flamme, which seems to be just about done with producing tomatoes, and a San Marzano. The gap has carrots and radishes that are about ready to pick and then the sad looking Indigo Rose.  We recently roasted a bunch of Indigo Rose, and I’ll be pulling the plant out when my nursery starts to grow.


Here we have the bushiest San Marzano ever.  To the left of it is a cage with a Black Krim tomato and on the right is a red pepper plant.


The serrano pepper has finally started to flower and produce peppers!  It’s just in time, as our jalepeno is finishing up and looking sad.


The banana pepper doesn’t look so great either.  Our purple basil looks great.  I have yet to find a way to use large amounts of the fragrant leaves.


David and I are excited about the lemon grass.  We have noticed that Rosie likes to eat the tips off of the leaves.  We’re trying to discourage this behavior, but Rosie spends a lot more time outside than we do.


The annual flower bed in the front yard is a bit overgrown, but it’s mostly overgrown with cosmos.


It’s a great pleasure to look out the front windows and doors and see huge arrays of bright flowers.

To me, growing plants and flowers is what summer is all about.




More buds, flowers and squash

I don’t know how we could have missed the obvious! In my blog last week, I showed a picture of the bush beans that we thought were pole beans, and cucumbers in need of trellising.  The plan was to build a support structure with the existing pole and the cucumbers could climb.

Silly me, making more work than necessary.


We saw the solution when we looked at the blog and picture together.  Move the ladder!

I pulled out broke the pole, moved the ladder, tied the cucumbers gently to it with twine, and DONE.

The cucumbers in the backyard are a different story.

The little leaf pickling hybrid in the front is growing in all directions.  The straight 8 in the back has just begun stretching out and reaching for anything near it.  The plan is to build a 3 bamboo trellis, like for beans, and use twine to help give the cucumbers space to climb. We may need to add wood or bamboo cross bars, as we also want our delicata squash to climb up it. (By the way, I’m not sure I like the look of leaves as mulch. We’re continuing to build our lasagna garden on top of the plants, and will add grass clippings next.  And we’ll water with compost and worm tea, once we make those.)


Here’s the delicata squash.  Probably one of my favorite plants in the backyard because of it’s silvery textured leaves.  I’m pretty sure the plant is healthy and supposed to look this way.  It’s just started flowering, although still all male flowers. This plant is grown from seeds from Johnny’s.  I must admit, I love looking through the Johnny’s catalogue, but I wish they had more heirlooms rather than hybrids.  For now, we’ll use the seeds we have, and save the heirloom seeds we’re growing.  (We have so many seeds, that we won’t have to purchase summer veggies for a few years.)

All the squash are starting to perk up, in fact.


The acorn squash (back left) and red kuri (back right) are taking off.  In the squash bed (future home of David’s magnificent A-frame structure) we are growing: (back row, left to right) marigold, thai basil, Kazakh melon, sweet granite melon, charentais melon, Malali watermelon. Front row, left to right: Pinnacle spaghetti squash, buttercup, sweet dumpling, sugar baby water melon. I can’t believe we fit them all (so far).  I found one more watermelon package we didn’t plant and may try to squeeze in another plant on the outside edge.

We decided to put a few plants in yesterday that will grow under the A-frame.  They are against the wall, and short rows right now.  We planted Purple Haze carrots, Parisienne carrots and watermelon radishes.


Hiding behind the Acorn and Red Kuri squash plants, are the summer squashes.  Our pattypan has it’s first squash about to flower. I love the shape of the buds!


The Red Kuri has as few squash coming along. This little baby has a long way to grow.


The okra, tucked in behind the apricot tree is taking off.  We noticed it has buds starting to form. So soon.


We’ve been waiting for the borage to open up, and today we got our first flower! We plan to eat these, but this first flower gets to stay and attract bees.  We’ve been watching bees come and go to the squash blossoms for the past few days.  Each time we see a bee, we cheer it on!  It’s impressive that even living in an urban area, next to the freeway, we have honeybees come to pollinate our flowers.


The pink flowers on the plant I massively pruned have finally opened! I’ll post a picture of the whole plant once it fills in.

The front yard has huge flowering herb plants right now.

P1010777Rosie took a while to understand what I wanted, but here she is posing with our cilantro plant. This one self seeded, and our plan is to harvest coriander and hope it will self seed.  The bulbs behind it will be thinned shortly, making space for more herbs and flowers.

Today we plan to fertilize everything, harvest lettuce and make radish pickles with the watermelon radishes I harvested yesterday. This morning I did a little research about using radish greens and would love suggestions if anyone has them!

Flowers on everything!

Each day I notice more and more flowers in our yard! You see, I’ve always had a thing for flowers.  When David and I moved into our house and began maintaining (and adding to) the gardens, we consciously decided to remove many ornamentals, like the Canna lilies who engulfed our sprinklers and hid snails armies.  I joke with David about how he wouldn’t let me plant flowers; he felt stronger about it than I did.  I understand and agree with the reasoning that we have such little space and want to grow as much food as possible.  When we began discussing what we’d do with the property, with no debate, the rose garden stayed.  We put a few annuals in our herb bed and after building our raised tomato bed, we dug a bed dedicated to flowers and perrenials.


The dedicated flower bed doesn’t hold much and I’ve been thinking about what to do with it.  We planted bulbs too late, and most of them haven’t bloomed.  Three of the five sagos look great and I just decided it’s time to take the other two out.  The asparagus fern was given to me by my sister, and it was half dead when we got it.  It’s now probably our healthiest looking plant in the bed.  There are other plants, not pictured, which were all experiments and the plan is to move the perennials in here around a bit later this year.

For now, I transplanted a few cosmos in here and they seem to like their new spot.

In our yard, the succulents do really well!  Most of them are cuttings from friends or neighbors, and a few of them are from David’s aunt.


This is the succulent on our porch that we’ve been waiting for.  Many of them have been flowering recently and it’s been so interesting to see all the shapes and colors.

I’ve been more enthralled with watching our vegetables blossom, bringing with them the promise of food.


These flowers bring David the promise of food, and are ones that I avoid like the plague.  It’s cilantro, or will be coriander.  The flowers seem to always be covered in flies and just rubbing on the plant makes the slightest breeze reek of cilantro.

Off to the backyard gardens, where flowers are everywhere!


The potted flower that I cut back this spring is getting buds!  I can’t wait to see it covered in pink flowers again, and am so glad that the chance I took on it has paid off so far.

In the backyard we have many types of squashes and melons, and many of them are flowering!  In the squash bed, the only one flowering right now is the Kazakh melon, but the others are getting close!


I love looking into these flowers.  I haven’t noticed a female one yet, and I’m wondering how different the female melons are.  I’m keeping watch!

This week the sugar baby and buttercup have been taking off. The first female pattypan flowered today.  We currently have three baby yellow crookneck squash on the way!


There are about five zucchinis growing!  I had originally planning on growing Sunburst yellow zucchini alongside of the Safari, but they were backordered.  I have the seeds now, and David and I were just talking about planting some if/when we do a second planting of zucchini this summer.


I’m already in love with the Safari zucchini.  I can’t wait to see them pickled and in jars.  Or grilled with fresh basil and tomato.  Or in zucchini bread.

We haven’t had space to grow squash before. I haven’t grown it myself in about 15 years and I’m excited about the harvest from our one plant. I’m hoping we have the perfect amount to keep up with.  In fact, that’s how we’ve planned our plants- enough to can and eat but not be over inundated at once.

Our acorn squash plants already have about five or six fruits coming.

We have it crawling up and over a tomato cage.  I love how it’s strong tendrils are gripping the wire.  David and I were talking this evening about pruning back the plants a little, so they don’t take over the garden. I think I made him nervous by suggesting that I did not water the plant to grow as large as possible and wanted to… gasp.. cut it.

Our cucumbers are starting to take off.  There are lots of male and female flowers and they are crawling through their beds.  We haven’t set up climbing structures for them.  We just talked about it and will hopefully find time in the next couple of weeks to do that.  The end of the school year is always tough to find time, but I think we have a rather speedy solution.


We’ve been planning our pickles and we’re keeping a close watch.

The beans have started to grow but are still tiny.  I planted the ones in our school garden a bit sooner, and I’ve been munching on fresh green beans throughout the day. P1010622

The Dragon’s Tounge beans are flowering and growing.  We’ll be eating some within the next couple of weeks!

I really thought that the variety we had was pole beans, but here’s how they look:

P1010710Apparently they are bush beans!

The dill was just planted here, and has already begun to flower.  We pinched it back and are hoping it will bush out a little.  We need the dill for our cucumbers.  The two cukes here are both a little leaf pickling variety. These are the ones that should get another pole and a trellis to climb soon.

Both David and I will be busy this weekend, but hope to find some time to get plant supports in, and transplant the Malali watermelon.  This should be our last weekend in a while before we have a larger harvest.  Right now we have radishes and lettuce ready to harvest.  We just pickled more nasturtium capers tonight. And tried them for the first time- they are like capers with a kick!

Siamese twin flowers, using the Roo and first pesto!

When I went back outside to try to determine if the melons growing are male or female, I found out that one of the flowers I had photographed in the melons post is a mutant!


You see that flower on the right?  It has two flowers growing out of the same caylx!IMG_1966I tried my best to get a picture of the base of it, and you can hopefully see through the blurriness that the calyx is a fused one.  I’m not sure if this is common.  I’m not sure it will make a difference, as I’m pretty sure it’s a male flower.  My understanding is that plants from the family Cucurbitaceae often produce male flowers before female flowers. I wonder what this melon would look like if it grew from a double flower like this… I wonder if it could.

This weekend had a lot of garden excitement.  David finished weeding the flower beds and spread the rest of the mulch yesterday. We finally tied up our rambling oregano, replanted parsley and thyme and planted the last of the tomatoes, tomatillos eggplant and peppers.  Yes, I’ll probably write about those soon, but my biggest thing that I am excited about (and even sent picture texts to my gardening friends) is that I got to use my new Roo!!


I first read about the Roo on Garden Betty, and knew that I wanted one but wasn’t sure that I needed one.  This spring, as we expanded our gardens, I decided that I needed one (and it came in purple).  You see, I used to wear long skirts quite often, and I would fill them with the harvest.  The Roo is much more practical. Here’s some pictures of me demonstrating it’s use after harvesting our first batch of basil.

IMG_1967I’ve already used to Roo to hide Rosie’s ball.  She hasn’t figured out how it works yet.  You can see the basil peaking out of the giant pocket. When I went inside, I enlisted David’s help to photograph how the Roo works.


The ropes are easy to unhook.IMG_1971

After unhooking the ropes, I opened up the pocket.IMG_1972

The harvested basil was hiding inside!IMG_1973

With a gentle shake, the mass of basil fell onto the towel. IMG_1974

A little more shaking for this action shot. IMG_1975

And soon it was out!  I have a feeling this will be much easier than the paper bags I used to fill. IMG_1977

I checked to make sure all the basil was out. (It was.)


And here is our first crop of basil!  We have basil growing in both the side yard and back yard. Some of it was beginning to flower, but it was perfect timing as I only found two opened flowers in the whole harvest. I took pretty big cuts off the basil, shaping it for growth throughout the summer.  Typically David and I harvest basil about 4 times during the summer, and I think we have twice as many plants.  This shouldn’t mean twice as many harvests, it just means twice as much pesto (we hope!).

When we make pesto, the first step is cleaning the plants. I enjoy doing this in the morning and love the smell and feel of it. It sometimes reminds me of when I worked on a farm in Vermont, and we would gather around the table to begin our workday by prepping basil for pesto.


David then takes the basil leaves and makes pesto! I prep, he cooks. We’re both happy with that deal. The cleaning part is still undecided.

We freeze it in ice cube trays, pop them out and keep them in bags that last the year.  We are now cleaning out the leftover ones from last year, and will be having pesto with as many things as we can during the next couple of weeks.

Flower buds

I love the wind!

Taking pictures on a windy day like today is quite a challenge. I wanted to take more pics of all the buds, but this will suffice. (I also wanted to stop before I got frustrated at the wind moving the plants.)


This little succulent isn’t ready to bud yet- it just makes me happy! Many of them are though.


This winter, this succulent really took off.  Looks like we’ll have yellow flowers soon!


The oregano is budding.  We tried to stop it from flowering, but it’s clearly time for our perennial oregano to flower. 20130514-171009.jpgOur pineapple sage, in a pot by the front gate, is starting to flower.  The leaves at the base are yellowing, and we’re not sure what’s going on.  This plant smells so delicious, and we hope it survives!

And now, I must admit, that I posted these pictures because I’m becoming a big blog dork.  Recently I have found a couple pages where I could link the blog, and hopefully find more people who want to read about our humble garden.  I quickly posted links, and then read the rules who was allowed to post, and realized I hadn’t done those things.  For example, I linked the Harvest Monday blog, and didn’t have a harvest blog (or a harvest) this past Monday.  Yes, I felt blog guilt.

So today, I proudly am putting up a link, and joining the Garden Appreciation Society.

*Pause for applause and cheers*

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Thank you!