Spring time is time

First, please excuse the quality of the pictures.  I’ve been busy in the garden, and have been snapping pics along the way, but these days they’ve been going to Facebook instead of here.  So, in an effort to get back to blogging, I’m posting my phone pictures here.  Hopefully I’ll squeeze in time to continue to garden, and share it!

What’s great about spring in California, is things are taking off and starting to grow.  The past week has been quite windy and a bit cool at night (50s), so some of the new plants are a little stressed.

Our roses have been loving the weather though!  They’re just about in full bloom!

20140403-170119.jpgThe mint below our roses is perfect right now! Usually the roses go through an aphid phase, when they first start leafing out.  That didn’t happen this year!  I blame climate change. Heh.

20140403-170344.jpgThe onions are still growing.  A few look like they’re going to flower soon.  I’ve never grown onions, and would love any advice you all have.  Should I snap off the flowers?  Can I cook with the flowers?  Are my onions ok?  So many questions– I’ll probably look up some of them later, but I’d much prefer to spend time playing with the dog, cooking dinner or grading papers.

20140403-170357.jpgA couple of weeks ago, I pinched off all of the chive blossoms to make chive blossom vinegar. Today, I noticed that this one flower is showing off.  Perhaps it should go into a salad?  20140403-170410.jpgWe’ve planted almost all of our tomatoes already.  They’re small, but they’re growing and looking great!

20140403-170453.jpgMost of them went into the backyard lasagna beds.  David is going to put in T-stakes for the Florida Weave.  The closer to the wall row has slicing tomatoes, and the front row has tomatillos intermixed with San Marzanos.

20140403-170526.jpgWe’ve been picking broccoli every few days.  This is probably the biggest head we’ve grown.  Any great broccoli recipes to share?  I keep wanting to freeze it for later in the year, but David really likes to eat it fresh while we can!20140403-170541.jpgHeads of lettuce hasn’t been my thing.  I’ve always grown leaf lettuce.  Since living in this house, I haven’t been able to keep up with our salads.  So, I decided it’s time to plant heads, and plant them in intervals.  Here’s the first few (as well as a chard that seeded itself). 20140403-170555.jpgOur strawberries and blackberries are new this year.  We’ve been watching our first berry grow.  Today I looked, and it was too late.  It was shriveled on top, and full of tiny millipedes who were eating it!  To my dismay, when I look a bit closer at the other ones that are growing, I noticed most of them are deformed.  I’m no longer optimistic about the strawberries.  The raspberries are just starting to form buds, so I’m now hoping they’ll produce at least one fruit for us. 20140403-170615.jpgWe have a volunteer tomato by our hose faucet in the front yard.  David and I have harvested 5 small tomatoes so far.  Unfortunately, they taste like winter store bought tomatoes (which I don’t ever buy because they’re so gross).  However, the tomatoes did taste good in the guacamole that we’ve been making and it IS nice to be able to pick some.  I wonder if these will become piccalilli, or green tomato salsa…

20140403-170645.jpgOur apricots.  We’ve been watching these, with great anticipation.  I’ve never grown apricots before.  Each time I look, I notice that some have fallen from the tree.  I hear that it’s normal for the tree to do that, but it still is hard to watch!  Here’s what they look like today. 20140403-170634.jpgSo many more things are going on outside.  Most of the direct seeding still needs to be done.  The broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are finishing up.  We have a few eggplants ready to go in the ground when the brassicas come out.  Our squash is just about big enough to go in.  We didn’t have very good germination on the squash and cucumbers, so this week I reseeded them as well as seeded herbs, hot peppers under the grow lights.

I can’t believe it’s already April.  It’ll be summer before we know it!

 

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It’s a weird time of year

I’ve been reading about planting the fall crops.  I know back in those places where they have a winter, there’s a push to get vegetables in before a hard frost.  Here in Southern California, we don’t worry about frost (our problem is simply heat and shorter daylight).

I’ll post a tour of the garden soon, and you can see for yourself how things look.  We have plants that are smaller and recovering and we have plants that are about ready to be pulled out.  Last week I transplanted a yellow zucchini, some bush beans, a few cilantro and a pumpkin.

I’ve been meaning to get outside and do more work.

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Rosie is always eager to spend time in the garden. We decided today would be a good day for starting more seeds.

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David and I ate lunch by the table I had prepped (notice his foot) and then I got to work with the seeds.  I planted many things including buttercrunch lettuce (heads), cilantro, romanesco, brussel sprouts, red and green pak choi and basil.

Last September was quite warm, so I planted both warm and cool season vegetables.  We’ll see what germinates, where we have space (there’s a couple of tomatoes ready to be pulled out) and figure out the plan for the beds as we go.

David has been adding layers to the lasagna beds and sprayed everything for powdery mildew.

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He used his Ghostbusters-style backpack to spray the plants, filling it with water, milk, baking soda, dishsoap and apple cider vinegar. It was fun to watch him spray the plants, and the powdery mildew just came off the surface!  Hopefully this will help save our young leaves from dying.

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There was a calm breeze today, which Shadow appreciated.  I took this after he chased the curtain cord up onto the ledge.

The cats have also been stalking critters outside.

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This skipper (I think) landed on a squash leaf in the backyard.

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Of course, Mardi enjoyed the sunshine and breeze more than chasing the butterflies.

Hopefully we’ll keep the breeze, as the still air is what can make the next couple of months feel warmer than they are. For now, we have a cool evening, which David is using to roast red kuri squash and cauliflower.  Our kitchen is full of vegetables in need of cooking, and we’re excited to get going!

 

 

A long vacation and a rich harvest.

I didn’t plan on missing blogging as much as I did. It’s been almost two weeks since my last post because we went out of town on vacation.  We asked our neighbors to water the backyard every two or three days and crossed our fingers for the best results.

By now our plants are well established and the lasagna garden has broken down quite a bit.  We knew the weather would be hot and sunny, and that it never rains in Los Angeles in the summer.  We also know that our neighbors don’t garden and get home late at night from work (sometimes after dark) and we hoped they water.

David and I arrived home from the airport at 11pm last night, and grabbed a flashlight to inspect the plants.  Except for the zucchini that fell over because the fruit was too large, things looked really good!  The plants need tidying up, but overall it was a great time to leave the garden and the supports that exist are still holding up.  The tomato cages will soon need staking (like tomorrow), the cucumbers and melons need more ties and we’re starting more zucchini and beans in the nursery.  We were happy to see that the plants definitely had water while we were gone (one indicator was that the squash leaves have powdery mildew beginning). By flashlight we picked the giant zucchinis and righted the plant.  We resisted a midnight harvest, and I did it most of it before David even got out of bed this morning.

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Our harvest after the vacation.  I’ll go through each item, and how we plan to use it.  The only reason I snagged the bunch of mint, was that it was crowding the cucumber plants.  We don’t plan to use it right away.  We have fresh mint year round and have plenty of dried mint on hand already.

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The largest Safari zucchini weighed four pounds and the smaller fruit was two pounds.  These are both destined to be double chocolate zucchini bread.  We’re taking the bread with us to the LA food swap on Sunday.  The food swap is our first one and we’re planning on bringing a variety of items made from this harvest with us.

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Our mixed green beans.  This is enough for a small jar of dilly beans.  I didn’t take pictures of our dill but we have three plants which will provide all the dill we need for the canning session.

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The Indigo Rose (front) and Jaune Flamme (back) are beautiful and ripe for roasting.  These are our first fruits from the plants and there are many more coming soon.  The plan is to roast the tomatoes and pack three jars of them with olive oil.  

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The Jaune Flamme are a rich golden orange when ripe.  They have a great flavor (I snuck one more that I found on the vine) and will be fun to roast and can this summer.

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The Indigo Rose are ripe when there’s red on the bottom of them.  We’ve been anxious to pick them, and I think we’re having trouble determining if they’re ripe.  Roasting these should help intensify their flavor.

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Our Isis Candy cherry tomatoes are ready!  Last year we grew these in a pot, and they were our favorite cherry.  This year we gave them prime real estate in the raised bed, and the plant is our largest so far.  These will be enjoyed in our salads, and next week we should begin to have a small supply daily.

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San Marzanos!  Two years ago, David discovered how wonderful these sauce tomatoes are and we’ve been growing two plants ever since.  This is the first of our harvest.  Many had caterpillar holes in them, which doesn’t really matter when it comes to roasting the good parts.

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These are our Tounge of Fire shell beans harvested from plants that we pulled.  David and I enjoy the color and having a shell bean around, but these hybrids were taking up valuable space.  We decided to harvest what was there and we’ll use the space for something else.
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These will be served with dinner. These shell beans have a fun pattern.  I’d like to get heirloom shell beans when it’s time to order more summer seeds.  Any suggestions of your favorite varieties?

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These easter egg radishes grew in the new lasagna garden and have twisted up tips to show for it.  We didn’t have enough to do much with, and David’s happy to have them in his salads.

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Our little bell pepper plant was sagging under the weight of four bell peppers.  I picked the two biggest and figured we leave the others on the plant to turn red, or until we need them, whichever is first.  These will be fun to use in salads or cooked.

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The hot peppers are doing well.  That’s not entirely true… the cayenne, jalepeno and banana pepper are doing well.  The rest of our hot peppers have been stunted and we’re hoping a shot of fertilizer will help them snap out of their growing funk. The cayenne will get tossed in the pickles, and I’m not sure about the jalepenos yet.  We have about 6 more that are the same size, and I’m thinking about making a jalepeno jelly.

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The nasturtiums had more seed pods on them, so I figured it’s time to pickle up another jar.  These were mostly from the two new plants that are now taking over the mystery garden.  These are currently soaking in a brine on the kitchen window, and will be pickled tomorrow.

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Another “soon project” will be picking the green coriander seeds.  I’ve been reading about the treat of green coriander and dreaming of ways to use them.  I’d probably be more excited if I actually liked coriander, but David loves it so I’m channeling his enthusiasm.  I read about pickling the green pods, and would love suggestions if anyone has them.

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Pickling cucumbers is the way to go!  Most of these are from the little leaf cucumber vines, and one of them is a Straight 8.  They will all become either dill pickle spears or bread and butter chips.  There are a few more on the vines that should be ready when it’s time to prep them.

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We picked our first winter squash!  The delicata is one of my favorite.  This one looked a little small, and I am hoping it’s ready.  The skin is hard so I guessed it was time to harvest. A lot of what I read said to harvest winter squash before the first frost… which just didn’t help.  As with most of this harvest, I decided to pick it and then pay attention and learn as we cut into our veggies.

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Our first buttercup squash.  What a beauty! This one is from the plant that we thought was an acorn squash and was one of our first squashes to begin growing.  It may be a little soon, but not much.  There’s four more that are close behind this one.
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This little pattypan squash is our first one. The poor plant has been hiding under Red Kuri and zucchini leaves for the past couple of weeks.  I figured it was time to pick the lone fruit, and see if the plant can start growing more.

David and I are keeping busy, and I hope to update the blog soon on what the plants look like and how the preserving goes.  Isn’t summertime grand?

The tour, June edition

The harvesting has begun, and it’s time to show the progress!  This week we have to build a lot of support systems for our floppy plants.  We’ve also started to pickle, freeze and nibble food in the gardens.

Today I wanted to share with you all a look back at how much we’ve grown since building our gardens.

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This was day one.

[Insert entire garden pic from today] At the end of the blog I’ll show you what it looks like today, but there’ll be bits and pieces as I take you on a tour around the garden!

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The acorn squash/ eggplant/ bean bed. I couldn’t take a very good picture from this angle, because the two little squash plants on the front left of the picture are now taking over a tomato cage and going everywhere!

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The beans and summer squashes are starting to produce.  The eggplants are finally taking off.  I have one more Rosa Bianca in the nursery, which I’d like to plant this week.  Part of the hold up has been that Mardi, our tomcat, likes to sit (and occasionally leave us presents) in the open space in this bed.  We’ve been working on deterring him, but he’s strong willed.

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This was taken in April, after bringing home the half dead yellow yarrow.  We had yet to plant the okra behind the apricot.

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Isn’t the apricot tree looking great?  We have been watching it and letting it take it’s shape, so that when it comes time to prune it this year we can encourage more main stems.  It’s too bad it isn’t closer to the wall, because it seems to be flat and would have been perfect to espalier.

We planted a little chamomile  that we started from seed, towards the back of the apricot.  There will be verbena and hyssop going in also.  Right now those seedlings are in the nursery, and I’ll probably transplant them into larger pots and keep them in the nursery until fall.  I hear fall is a good time to plant perennials.

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Here’s the yarrow on planting day.

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And today!  We will have flowers soon, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be yellow.  But the plant wasn’t labeled so we could get something else!IMG_1788

Here’s the potted daisy after pruning.

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And we have flowers!  I am enjoying the shape of the plant, and loving that the pink flowers have come back.  Notice the red kuri squash is overtaking the pot?  David is hoping to pick up a cattle fence panel while he’s in Bakersfield this weekend.  Then these squash vine will be growing up and over this pot!

In the side yard, the shell beans and cucumbers are growing well.
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This is right after I transplanted the little leaf pickling cucumbers and the nasturtiums.  (sorry it’s not a great picture, but I wanted to show the size.)

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Today the cucumbers are climbing up the ladder, the dill is tall and attempting to flower and the shell beans are nearly ready to be picked.  We harvested our first cucumber from these plants today!

On the other side of the cucumber ladder is the tomato raised bed.

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Here it is after we planted, and when we were still finishing up our winter growing season.

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Today the tomatoes are coming along, the basil is ready for it’s second harvest and we have a pepper growing.  We have a few varieties of radishes and carrots growing, a small patch of lettuce, and one small leek that just won’t be done growing.

In the front yard we also have our mystery garden area.  IMG_1811

We let the compost sprout, and sprinkled a wildflower mix.  The first batch of sprouts that you see here was mowed down by hungry snails.

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The snails have long been killed and we’ve discovered that wildflower mix= alyssum.  The nasturtiums survived the snail onslaught, as well as the one cosmos.  We’ve been more diligent about watering this area and we’re starting to notice a tiny bit of variety appear.

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David has almost no allergies, but he’s allergic to alyssum.  It’s too bad because I think it’s beautiful, and the cats enjoy rolling around in it.

Our herb bed was cut way back when the bulbs were flowering.

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This was taken right after the sage and basil were planted, and during that small window when the cilantro was ready to pick.

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Currently the cilantro and oregano are flowering and ready to be cut down. We’ll be cutting back and pulling out most of the bulbs shortly.

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The cilantro/ coriander flowers attract flies.

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And ladybugs.

We plan to harvest some of the coriander seeds, and let the plant self seed.

And of course, here’s Rosie to point out the peppers.

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This is pretty soon after we planted the banana pepper, jalepeno and cayenne.

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The cayenne are green and growing well.  We haven’t had any turn red yet, but we know soon enough we’ll be drying them and searching for ways to use them.  Anyone have suggestions?

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The banana peppers have already been picked and been added to salsa.  There are a handful more ready to pick this week.

P1010811And of course, the jalepenos.  We’ve picked four so far, and have a few more waiting for us to use.  These plants are small but full of fruit.

We also have other pepper, tomatillo and tomato plants but they’re not doing much yet.

And here’s the backyard today!

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The tomatoes on the left were just trellised, using the Florida weave.  The arch and squash trellis should be up this week. It’ll be great when we can freely walk around again, without worrying about squishing squash vines.

I’ll try to do another tour update soon, but it may be a couple of weeks.  Life is getting busy, summer vacation is about to start and we’re already preparing food.

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The promise of a harvest

 

David and I have been eating our borage flowers.  One of our two plants has started blooming, and we’ve picked a few flowers to taste.  We have yet to start decorating our salads or freezing them in ice cubes. I enjoy having flowers in my food. P1010842

Remember I said there were ants all over the backyard?  They seem to have found the borage. P1010843

The ants have begun farming aphids on the borage.  I’ve trying spraying them with a hose, but it doesn’t deter them. I know the aphids can leave a sticky honey (which the ants milk and eat), but I’m not sure this symbiotic relationship will hurt the plants. I watched a ladybug try to get the aphids and the ants jumped on the ladybug. I was able to intervene, one time, scooped up the ladybug and knocked off the clinging ant.

Next to the borage, we have two rapidly tomatillo plants.  One has a small tomato cage around it, the other does not. P1010841

 

It’s a little hard to tell, but there is a noticeable difference in the growing styles of the two plants- one is bushy and the other is tall.

We have another squash variety with it’s first baby squash!
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This is from the silver leaved delicata squash. Yum!

While I was poking around the delicata, and the cucumbers next to it, I was shocked to discover a mature pickling cucumber!

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This little leaf cucumber escaped my watch.  It was half buried under the leaf mulch and was the perfect size to harvest.  There are many more on the way in both the front and back yard.

The other plants we’re watching eagerly, are the tomatoes. The indigo rose keeps looking like it’s ready, but we’re waiting for the green to turn red. The isis candy, and San Marzanos are full of fruit.

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These Jaune Flamme will be yellow, and these clusters are quite heavy.  I wonder how much longer until we’re canning tomatoes?  P1010831

The basil is beautiful right now.  It’s time for our second pesto harvest of the season.  Rosie could care less, but she’s happy to point out her ball hiding next to the plant.

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On the other side of the pesto is the little radish and carrot patch.  This is where we have Spanish black radishes, French breakfast radishes, and carnival carrots to round out the mix.

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Our red bell pepper plant is coming along.  Hopefully we’ll have the patience to let them mature and eat them when they’re red.  The plant is so small right now, that we probably will end up picking this first one when it’s green to allow the other ones more energy to grow.

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The acorn squash is still throwing out more flowers, and has fruit that is getting quite large.  As you can see, the tendrils are clinging to anything they can.  We still need to figure out more space for these guys to climb, as they have already taken over our walkways and are looking for more room to grow. I do love acorn squash.

In fact, the entire squash bed is looking great right now.  David’s going to get more bamboo on Thursday, and build the a-frame for the squash to climb.  They are ready for it.

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The Kazakh melons are so fuzzy.  These were the first in the bed and have multi-branching vines right now.

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The biggest vines in the squash bed are actually the buttercup squash, and one of them has reached all the way to the other side. The watermelon radishes have sprouted, and we’re still waiting for the carrots to come up. P1010858Hopefully the zinnias will begin flowering soon.

They are looking lush and promising.  As is our garden.

 

Melons!

My heart beats faster when I see flowers on our squashes and melons. Today our first melons in the melon and squash bed began to flower!

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These were the first melons that we planted in the bed, and are still the only ones on their side of the row.  They are from seeds given to me by my friend Sheila, and are Kazakh Melons.  We’re excited to see them grow and are cheering for them!

In the eggplant lasagna bed next to it, the crookneck squash is flowering and the zucchini has a few flowers open.  We finally have a female flower coming!

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Notice on the right you can see a little zucchini under the bud.  Today when David and I went to the farmers market, we eyed the Safari zucchini’s  as that is what we have coming!  Having a cage over the zucchini seems to be helping keep the leaves from taking up so much space.  We’re optimistic that it will work and we’re hoping that we don’t have hungry bugs lurking in the yard.

We also have a tomato cage over the two acorn squash, and it’s been impressive to watch them climb.

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It’s been a long time since either of us has had space to grow winter squashes in our gardens. While looking at the acorn squash, David and I observed that in the crook of each leaf axis there are flowers.  Hopefully that will translate to lots of acorn squash.  We could research more, and are curious about the male to female ration for these, but it’s more fun to watch them grow each day than to read about them online.

Practically underneath the acorn squash, is the fenugreek.  This week I noticed a flower and a seed pod thingy sticking straight out (9 o’clock position).

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We have two other tiny fenugreek plants that were direct seeded next to this transplant. I know it doesn’t like to be transplanted, and it’s supposed to get about two feet tall.  This little flowering specimen is about six inches tall!  I’ve read that this legume can be harvested for their leaves as a microgreen, but my plan was to see how it grows and try to get seeds for the maple like flavor.  Time will tell.

Our garden has ants.  They are everywhere. They existed in the soil before we planted, and are common problems in California.  They don’t really bite, and they don’t seem to be doing much other than looking for water.  Hopefully we can co-exist.  Our lemon tree has ants and aphids working together as a team.  It’s not that great for the lemon tree, but it’s cool to watch and we still get fruit.

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You will notice ants in many of our pictures.  They walk over everything.  I followed their path back to the fence, and they seem to going into the neighbor’s yard. David and I are conscious of them when we water, or walk around barefoot.  And again, hopefully they won’t be a problem.

We’ve been paying close attention to holes in leaves and bugs that we see.

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I spotted this little guy on a marigold.  Also notice that someone’s been eating the leaf below it and leaving it’s maze-like trail.  I must read up on bugs in the garden this summer and would love advice and suggestions.

We have a few more tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos to plant. We need to buy a couple bags of soil and figure out where the pots can live for the summer.  I’d like to get it done this weekend, but it will probably be next week. The plants are still small, so there’s no hurry.

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The tomatoes in the backyard are flowering now!  The plants are strong and we’re pulling suckers.  The side yard tomatoes are growing bigger, with the largest one being purple and half dollar size (for those of you who know how big that is).  We have one more tomato to plant in the side yard, but we must pull out our remaining chard plant to put in the tomato.  David and I aren’t sure we want to eat that much chard this week, so we’ve been stalling.

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And lastly, our peppers are flowering furiously. It’s time to start buying canning jars, and I hope David likes pickled peppers!

Speaking of pickling, today David and I stopped at Penzys Spices and bought some pickling spice.  We’d never been to the store and were quite excited to see (and smell) the selection. He’s already planning how he can use some of the exotic spices with the food that we’re growing.

Time to get back out into the garden!

 

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Fruits, flowers and bugs, oh my!

The plants are growing! Each day, David and I walk around our little backyard garden, inspecting for intruders, new flowers and growth.  We were happy that we had a few days off from watering, but are back to watering each evening and dreaming about soaker hoses and drip irrigation for during the summer.  That, and building bamboo supports for the plants, are high up on David’s project list for this summer.

Here’s a look at the back yard garden, formerly known as the morning glory jungle, now:

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The aisles and edges need more mulch (as well as the front yard flower beds), which David picked up yesterday and I’ll be spreading today. We’ve used the firepit once, and plan to use it again soon!  The squash and melons are slowly getting planted in the front right bed.  I may end up directly seeding the Malali watermelon, as the two seeds that I planted in the nursery have yet to germinate.

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Here’s the temporary nursery at the end of our driveway.  The cage on the right has our praying mantis cocoon, which we check daily. The warm driveway and full sun has been working well for the plants. We have been anxiously checking the perennial flowers that we started from seed.  This week the Munstead Lavender, Chamomile, and Verbena have finally started to get bigger!  The purple tomatillos, eggplants and tomatoes are nearly ready for planting- we’d like them to get a little bigger before they go into the beds.  The squash on the front right, buttercup, was planted right after I took this picture!

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I hacked backed this flower and posted a picture of it in my first tour blog. It’s great to see the plant recovering nicely and shooting out lots of new leaves.

The plants all around the garden are growing bigger and bigger, and slowly climbing the fence.

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The sweet peas are climbing quickly, but have yet to produce flowers. I’ve been training the strays to go up the fence as well, and to fill in the back corner.

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On the other side of the fence, the asparagus beans and scarlet runner beans are slowly getting closer to being climbers. I know that once they get a little bit bigger, they’re going to take off! We’re already drooling thinking about our fresh green beans and canned dilly beans.

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The bush beans are growing rapidly and starting to look like flowers are coming!  I planted tricolor beans, and am excited to see the purple stem on this purple bean plant.

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The Safari zucchini, pattypan and crookneck squashes are all full of buds!  David and I love eating squash blossoms and are hoping to start having male flowers that we can pick and stuff with goat cheese.  Well, I want to pick and stuff them with goat cheese and he wants to let the plants keep their flowers and buy the blossoms at the farmer’s market. Either way, we’re keeping an eye on these buds and hoping to see them blossoming soon!

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The tomatillos are getting taller and taller and are now full of flowers!  We haven’t put cages, or any sort of support on these guys yet, and it’s probably time soon.  This year we planted two tomatillo plants (and have two more purple ones in the nursery).  In the past, we have both had just one tomatillo plant and very little success with fruit.  I recently read that the plants need to be in pairs, as cross pollination is necessary.  We’re hoping that we get plenty of tomatillos this year, and have enough to make jars of salsa verde for the year.

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Our four cucumbers are all growing well.  I as a little worried they’d be eaten by slugs, like last year, but they seem to have cleared that hurdle. This one, in the back yard, looks like it’s waiting for something to climb up.  We were planning on having them trail on the ground, but it may be worth trellising it.  Check out that tendril!

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In the front yard, the peppers are full of flowers!  We ended up with an extra pepper plant that we didn’t mean to buy, so we will be finding creative ways to use cayenne peppers.  The thing is, I don’t like spicy food.  I’ve always loved growing hot peppers because the plants are so beautiful when they are full of colorful peppers.  I’ve never really enjoyed eating them.  Perhaps our friends like hot peppers and will take some off our hands once these little suckers get going.

Speaking of suckers… I’ve been pulling suckers from the tomato plants and shaping them as they fill their cages. And this week I discovered…

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BABY TOMATOES!!

The Indigo Rose is already showing her purple. And she’s tall, lanky and has a glorious purple trunk! She also has lots more flowers coming.

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We also have baby San Marzano’s!  David and I have been finding ways to use up the last of the sauce we stored in our freezer this past year.  After we use the last bag, we still have about 5 jars.  I have a feeling we’ll easily replenish our stock.  We also plan to dry, and roast them, and I’ve been looking into canning whole tomatoes also. Can’t wait until they come in and I’m on summer vacation (without graduate school or a wedding to plan like last summer).

The tomato plants are healthy, and host to many insects.

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This crane fly (I think) was found resting on a tomato leaf.

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I spotted a few of these little bugs on our flowers.  Anyone know what they are?  I grabbed my bug book, and know that they are true bugs. I hope that they are minute pirate bugs, as those are beneficial but I’m not sure about that being a correct ID. I really do need a better Insect ID book, as Peterson’s and my college textbook aren’t helping too much.  Suggestions for what these critters are, and for books, are welcome!

All of the tomatoes are doing really well, except for this one:

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The Riesentraube has been battling insects and possibly disease.  I am a little embarrassed for the plant to show it to you, looking like this, but I feel that I must be honest about how the plants are doing. We’re keeping an eye on it and hope that it recovers, but we’re not sure what we can do to help.

It has neighbors that are getting munched also.
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Most of the basil is looking great, and a few are even preparing to flower.  Our first batch of pesto will likely be prepared next weekend. This plant is the one that has made the most “friends” and hopefully having it next to the tomato is helping protect the tomato.

On the other side of the raised bed, the radish tops are also getting eaten. We have three different types of radish growing, and I’ve also been bringing some home from school.  I’m learning to like radishes, which David thinly slices into my salad.  He’s happy to eat the rest of them.

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These fast growing white icicle radishes are a hybrid from Johnny’s.  I just ordered more white radishes from Baker Creek and can’t wait to plant them!

Hope you enjoy your harvest!

Plans, avocados and a seed bomb!

I just sat down to eat some leftover Thai curry after giving the new garden beds a good soaking.  It’s supposed to hit 90 the next two days (and then be back in the 60s and rain (?) on Monday.  Rain would be wonderful!  California snow pack was low this year and the reservoirs were all low.  The horticulture teacher at school keeps talking about how dry it’s been.

Dave and I finished up the remaining lasagna garden bed this past weekend.  I just planted the sugar baby watermelons, and sweet dumpling squash and gave them a little B-1 to help the roots during transplant.  Actually, I just looked up the B-1 thing, because we bought a jug at Home Depot a while back on the saleman’s recommendation.  Turns out, it hasn’t been proven to help.

Last night while watching The Voice, I redrew the backyard plan.  If you can tell the difference, the inked plants have been planted and the penciled plants have not.

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Notice the new bed on the lower right.  David’s first garden project of the summer will be building a squash/ melon A frame structure.  We have bamboo that we can cut down and lash together, helping keep our budget for this garden minimal.

The seedlings are coming along.  There will be more squash to plant soon, although we’re still waiting for the Malali Watermelon to germinate and the Mexican Sour Gherkin’s to arrive in the mail.

Speaking of which, we’re also trying to figure out how to get lemongrass.  There’s a woman in the community garden that has bunches, but I haven’t had a chance to introduce myself and ask for a clump.  I also read today about planting a piece of lemongrass that you get from the grocery store.  I seeded some in our greenhouse at school a couple of months ago, and it’s coming along so slowly.  David and I almost bought a plant from the man at the Culver City Farmer’s Market last night, but we’re being patient.

We’ve been patiently waiting for our bushtit to return to her nest.  Neither of us have seen her in two days.  Either she’s in her nest and not moving around, or she decided she didn’t want to nest in our tree after all!  It could have been that David got out the ladder and decided to pick avocados!

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Notice we have two types of avocados  Bacon and Zutano.  They are both thin skinned and have more water than a Haas. We’re finishing picking from one tree, and the other has nickel-sized fruit (and a few full size that the squirrels are still knocking down for us).

We also have a Ponderosa Lemon tree who’s been dropping these huge lemons for us!

I’ve taught my students about guerrilla gardening. We discussed gardening as a political issue, and I told them about some things that have happened in Los Angeles.  I wish we had time to watch The Garden; we spoke of it briefly. I also told them about Ron Finley, and how he was cited for planting a garden on the parkway in front of his house. They were all shocked.  I think they liked Finley’s tag line, “Plant some shit!” the most!

Those who wanted to made seed bombs in school, and I think some of them took some, but I intentionally didn’t pay attention.  I have a vending machine in the classroom, and will be refilling it this week.

seedbomb5.1.13So David and I decided we needed to throw a few in our yard and see how they grow.  Here’s 3 days after “throwing” it.

Everything is growing!  It’s growing faster than it can be eaten by snails and caterpillars. Hope your spring is blooming!