"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Storm Was Brewing!

The clouds starting forming early morning.  The forecast was a 10% chance of rain.  Here in California if rain is forecast at all we always look to the skies in hopes that 10% might be at our house.  I took the camera out and starting taking a few pictures of the clouds that were forming in the North and West of my house.

Around Noon Yesterday looking North

Looking West at 3:00 PM


 Last night looking West at sunset

Early morning from front door looking North

We had several heavy showers after thunder and lighting storm around 6:00 this morning.  The air is heavy with the smell of sagebrush now.  I have all my windows open,  Life is good.

Update: 10:30 AM more rain, heavy right now. My plants are singing!

“May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart might desire.”

-old Irish blessing

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Estate Sale and Garage Sale Garden Whimsies

I love to add found objects to my garden.  I hunt garage sales and estate sales whenever I can afford it!  Here are a few things I have added to my garden over this last few years.  Some new, some broken and re-purposed.

I found a bunch of these Mexican Tiles at a sale one day.
I placed them in the corners of some old adobe pavers I have used for a pathway.  The Geranium Madarense seedlings sprouted after I put these down. This plant comes up all over my garden; I dig them up and plant on the back bank.  See some of my older posts to view the beautiful blooms.

Quail planter with blue rock "egg".  This was a new planter I purchased after finding this rock one day while digging in the herb garden. I planted it with a Scilla violacea, which makes it look like feathers, I think.  People always look twice when walking by this.

Recycled Fairy in a copper bird bath, found at a local thrift store; she has a  broken wing, but that is okay with me.  I have seen Dragon flies resting on here wing. 

On the adobe wall, notice the turtle candle holder; another estate sale find.

Duranta repens growing in a pot under the copper birdbath.  The snail was found at an estate sale for a dollar.  The Duranta attracts butterflies to this area, it has such a beautiful cascading bloom. This area is what I call my fairy garden.
Fairy with Squirrel statue was found at Buena Creek Gardens in Vista California.

I keep this Fairy filled with water for the lizards to drink from, it is very shallow and is perfect for them; another Buena Creek Garden find.

Old German planter found for a few dollars.  Looks pretty with the succulent now in bloom.

Euphorbia in the old fish planter, found at a garage sale for 50 cents.

I found two of these clay urns at a thrift store; I think I paid $14.00 for the two.  These are on my Mexican patio on either side of the glass doors.  I "stained" the concrete on this patio with craft paint.  It will wear off I know, but works for now and for a lot less money.

This Rooster tile plaque is made from Portuguese tiles that were badly cracked.  Glued to a wood board they now make a wonderful addition to the wall on my Mexican patio.

Cast concrete turtle needed something, so I took an old Portmeirion Plate that I had broken and just could not throw away.  I broke it into smaller pieces and glued to the shell, grouted and stained a green color.  It makes for a nice new shell for my garden friend.

I found this Epi at an estate sale, I purchased it for $1.00!  Added some good compost and it is thriving.  I can't wait to see what bloom it will have.  It also has a rat tail cactus (aporocactus flagelliformis) growing with it.

Japanese cast iron bell; hung at my front door entrance. I added the copper wire and old glass beads so it would hang lower.

One of the best deals I found this summer was this old metal bell with the heart.  I paid $2.00 for it!

I have had this fish for years and found some old Japanese iron bells at an estate sale; used some copper wire and a piece of wood, old glass beads to make this.

Recycled clay pots with Rosemary marker. The marker originally had a metal stake which rusted over the years and broke off.  I used some copper wire and fashioned this hanger which now  hangs over my Rosemary bush.   The plant is over 3 feet tall so this is a perfect marker for it since a ground marker would be lost underneath.
My neighbor gave me this Staghorn Fern in the spring.  It really looked like it was dead.  I kept it watered and in the shade here next to the Fairy garden.  I gave it some banana peels each week and it is now thriving.  I have had the old cast iron fish candle holder sitting on the back wall, for years.  I like the way this area looks, it always feels cool.  Today the temperature is 103 and this area is a nice shady spot in my garden. 

And finally, my last picture is of an old concrete fountain base I found in Tijuana years ago.  It has held this Rosary Vine for the last 7 years.  This plant was a gift from my husband to me on Valentine's Day in 1977.  I think I have only replanted it once.  It thrives in this shady area adjacent to my Fairy Garden. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Raised Beds, Vegetable Garden Progress and some Flowers too! Help with plant name please!

"He who sees things grow from the beginning will have the best view of them."

A few photos to keep my blog up to date on the progress.  I took these photos on Monday Sept 20th and just got around to posting them.  The lettuces have all sprouted along with the beets, kale and swiss chard.  Green onions are doing great, too.  I should have plenty of goodies for Thanksgiving dinner.

Raised Bed Sept 20th, after only ten days

Beets in the 3rd bed
Mesclun in the 1st bed
Onion Sets planted in the 1st and 2nd bed
Onion Seedlings in small square 4th bed. 

First Fall Iris Bloom

Pink Thumbelina  Zinnia

Pink Mixed Cosmos

Giant Zinnia in Orange

Giant Zinnia in Pink

Orange Zinnia mixed with Yellow Cosmos

Perfect White Zinnia

I have forgotten the name of this plant.  If you know it, please leave me a comment.

Close up of the bloom; reminds me of lilacs which happens to be my favorite flower. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Winter Garden Beds

We spent this last weekend planting the raised beds with goodies for a winter garden.  We added more compost to each of the three long raised beds and also made a small square just for onion seedlings. I don't know what possessed me to buy a pony pack of onion seedlings because it took a lot of patience and time to pull them apart to plant.  By the time I planted ten of the sections with these seedlings I could hardly get up off the ground!  I ended up putting in a few clumps because I was just too tired to separate the remaining seedling.  I might go back down this evening and finish. 

I also put in over a hundred onion sets which should be ready in a month.  The seedlings will probably take three months since they are so tiny. It was a beautiful, peaceful evening last night when I planted them so it was worth the time spent.  I planted these seeds from Botanical Interest Seeds which I purchased at a local nursery. 

Arugula (Rocket and Wild)
Beets (Gourmet and Early Wonder)
Kale (Red Winter and Italian Nero Toscana)
Mache (corn salad)
Mesclun Salad Mix (Farmers Market Blend and Gourmet Spicy Mix)
Radicchio (Palla Rossa Ashalim)
Romaine (Parris Island)
Radish (Cherry Belle)
Sorrel (common seed)
Spinach (Bloomdale)
Swiss Chard (Bright Lights, Fordhook Giant and Ruby Red)

These I purchased at Home Depot.  They have a really good selection now and the sets were fresh; I didn't find one in the bag that was dried up. If you wait too long to buy these and plant them you will end up with a bag of dried up sets. I try to keep the bags in a cool place, but with our heat at this time of the year it is tough.  I need to make room in the refrigerator for the remaining sets.
Garlic (from sets)
Shallot (from sets)
Spring Onion (from sets)

Here are my raised beds for this years winter garden.  Not much to look at but in a month they will be green and lush with all sorts of goodies for salads.
The bed is made from the adobe wall we have in our backyard.  Seven years ago when we purchased this house a section of the wall was so worn we took that section down and replaced it with "slump" block.  Many of the old adobe bricks were still in good shape and we have used these around the property for garden beds ever since.  This weekend we dug out all the soil and lined the beds with chicken wire.  Then mixed in compost.  I also added bone meal, blood meal, kelp meal, worm castings and dolomite lime. I use about 1 part each, a little less of the blood meal, then mix and add to the soil when I am mixing in the compost.  If you use a lot of manure you probably would not need the blood meal.  I like the blood meal for this time of the year because it is fast acting and it seems to really help the fast growing lettuces.

These next two are also adobe bricks but are newer.  They are also narrower than the original bricks.  Adobe is getting difficult to find in our area now.  I had heard that the local property where these were being made was sold and is no longer used to make the bricks.

This one is again, the older adobe bricks.  Just pieces that were left over.  These bricks keep the soil warm in the cooler winter months.  We put up a fence of chicken wire just for last night to keep the bunnies out.  This summer we had a ground squirrel in the tomato beds.  I don't know what I can do to keep those guys out once they find the garden.  I will need to call on the hawks and owls to help me out!

We still have two Green Zebra Tomatoes that I grew from seed.  They have lots of tomatoes right now and with the heat planned for this week I might be picking some soon.  I also have some late plantings of zucchini (second picture) that are doing really well. 
Green Zebra Tomato (in the red cages)
Old zucchini plant still producing a squash, about two a week now.

I planted these three zucchini in late July from seeds.  I have picked a few, but not sure how well they will do with the cooler nights we are having already.  Saturday night we had a low of 56 which is cool for this time of year.

Next project will be to tackle the herb garden, again!  A gopher moved in about a month ago.  I did not lose that much but he has made a mess of the place.  He did eat a lot of my marjoram plant's roots but it survived. I may be lining this bed with chicken wire too.  Now that is a job I am not looking forward to.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2010 Tomato Review, Pomme d' amour, Apple of Love

Last tomato harvest for this year.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." -Eccleslastes 3:1

I spent much of yesterday removing tomato vines.  No new flowers in the last week or two and the remaining tomatoes on most plants were quite small.  I planted all of these the second week in March so they have been producing for quite some time now. I still have two Green Zebra plants that I had started from seed in late February and they have lots of tomatoes and blossoms on the vines. Hopefully these will give me tomatoes through September and maybe into October with luck.

Here is my review on what I planted.

  • Heirloom Erica d' Australie: Heavy producer, 1-2 pounds. Late season. 90 days. Nice tomato, heavy producer. Repeat next year
  • Heirloom Purple Russian: Heavy producer, purple red tomato. 6 ounce oblong egg shaped fruit. Sweet. 76 days. Repeat next year.
  • Heirloom Debarao Red Plum: red 3-4 oz oval fruit, abundant crop, deep red paste tomato. Excellent flavor. 72 days. Nice tomato, will repeat next year.
  • Heirloom Banana Legs: grew this one in a large clay pot.  Bush style plant. Heavy producer of nice meaty 3 inch long fruit. Much like a paste tomato.  Nice flavor, pretty in salads.  72 days. a repeat for next year.
  • Heirloom Brandywine: Not sure which one this was. Second year I have tried Brandywine and I will not plant again.  Leaves are much like a potato plant, which is fine, but the leaves tend to turn yellow early on this plant as with the one I tried last year. Might be a mineral deficiency. Fruit was small and took 80 or more days. Too many other heirlooms out there that will do much better than this one has for me.
  • Heirloom Yellow Bell: 2" fruit.  Yellow pear shape tomato, very large-much like a small paste tomato.  Meaty, nice flavor.  Grew this one on the ground and let it vine on its own.  Spread about 15 feet around.  Prolific, produces in clusters.  Will repeat if I can find it again.
  • Heirloom Yellow Stuffer: This plant was a volunteer. Coming up on its own from last year. Forgot about it until I began picking and found it to be this one.  Great tomato for stuffing with a rice salad for a light summer lunch or dinner.  Hollow inside, fun to grow.  Will repeat if I can find it or might be back on its own again. 85 days. Love this one.
  • Heirloom Dr. Lyle: Pink beefsteak. 70-80 days. Excellent flavor. For me this one needed the longer growing time. Large fruit, no cracks, but odd shaped. Will repeat this one next year. 
  • Estiva (F1) French Hybrid Salad Tomato: Love this plant! Never stopped producing.  6 to 8 tomatoes clustered like a cherry tomato.  Nice 2 inch round fruit. 70 days or earlier. If you have trouble with tomato plants, give this one a try.  A must have for next year.
  • Heirloom Green Zebra: probably my favorite tomato. So pretty when cut.  Small 1-2 inch tomato, green/yellow in color with stripes. Nice tangy tomato taste. 80 days. This plant takes a long time for the fruit to ripen.  They come early on the vine, be patient. You will be rewarded. A must have for next year.
  • Golden Sweet Hybrid Grape: heavy producer, excellent flavor. Yellow pear or grape shape.  60 days. Repeat next year.
  • Sun Grape Hybrid Red Grape: Heavy producer with excellent flavor. 60 days. Repeat next year.
  • Heirloom Cherokee Purple: Excellent flavor. Beautiful tomato when cut.  Nice variation in color. 80 days.  Needs at least this much time. Repeat next year.
  • Heirloom Pineapple: Another favorite. 70-75 days. Beautiful bi-colored red/yellow/orange striations. Excellent flavor. A must have for next year.
  • Victoria Supreme VFFNA Hybrid: Excellent paste tomato. 70 days. Took cutting of this plant and rooting directly in the ground. Ended up with three more plants. A must have for next year.
  • Heirloom Carbon Black Salad: Beautiful fruit, no cracks. 10-14 oz fruit.  Must have for next year. Will grow this instead of Brandywine. needs at least 76 days.
  • Heirloom German Johnson: Excellent flavor, large fruit. 78-80 days. Good repeat for next year.
  • Early Girl VF: Outstanding, heavy producer of nice small salad size tomatoes.  Always had one to pick on this plant.  65 days. Will plant next year.
In review the, only one I would not repeat is Brandywine. I am delighted with the success I have had this year with my tomatoes.  I failed to have very many cucumbers; as with last year they developed downy mildew early on. I never use sprays or insecticide in my garden but next year I will need to watch for this and probably will spray with a fungicide if it happens again.

"Summer Scallop trio" a Pattypan mix, "Raven" a zucchini, "Ronde de Nice" a round zucchini and "Supersett" yellow crookneck squash were all great producers as usual. I purchased the seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds 

In the next few weeks I will be working on adding a couple more raised beds for my fall/winter garden; that will give me 5 in all. We are expecting some more hot weather so I will plant towards the end of the month.

In review: I need more land!