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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Loquat Tree, A New Addition To The Family

Loquat Tree with gopher guard
We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary Oct 22nd.  This year we decided to buy a Loquat Tree for our gift to each other.  We planted it on Saturday after much discussion as to where it should be planted.  After carrying the tree from the back yard to the front yard and around the house a few times we ended up planting it on the east bank by the driveway.  This is about 15 feet from the citrus trees.  I was told that they grow quickly and we should be picking fruit next year.  The plant to the right of the Loquat tree is my eggplant.  It is still setting flowers/fruit, even though the temperatures are in the lower 50's at night.

Loquat or Eriobotrya japonica is an evergreen large shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow to 16–33 ft tall, but is often smaller, about 8–13 ft.
The leaves are alternate, simple, 10–25 cm long, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown pubescence; the young leaves are also densely pubescent above, but this soon rubs off.

Loquats are unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe in late winter or early spring. The flowers are 2 cm diameter, white, with five petals, and produced in stiff panicles of three to ten flowers. The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance.

Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 3–5 cm long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to sub-acid or acid, depending on the cultivar. Each fruit contains five ovules, of which one to five mature into large brown seeds. The skin, though thin, can be peeled off manually if the fruit is ripe.
The fruits are the sweetest when soft and orange. The flavor is a mix of peach, citrus and mild mango.

Last years anniversary gift was a Brown Turkey Fig Tree.  It gave us around 10 figs this year.  It really is not much larger than when we planted it, but it did have a lot more leaves.  I was thrilled to get that many figs after the first year.  I hope our Loquat is as generous!

Think Like a Tree
by Karen I. Shragg

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Raccoon Update and Veggie Seedlings

Hoping this will keep the raccoons away!

Hallelujah! We finally have a solution to the raccoon  raids.  We put chicken wire on the tops of the short fences and I sewed them on with wire!!  Of course, now I can't get in them either but this was all the resources I had at the time, and I was desperate. I have replanted most of the seeds (3 times) and we are seeing new sprouts!
Bed 1, swiss chard, kale and beet
Bed 2 asst lettuce and radishes (this is the one I planted 3 times, they really wiped this bed out completely)
I am sure that more seeds will pop up where they weren't planted from all the digging the raccoons did and probably will also have seeds sprouting around the outside.  They threw so much soil out when digging that there will be seeds there too.  On a positive note, we are having wonderful warm weather to help my seedlings along.  I am hoping to have plenty of goodies for the Thanksgiving Day table.
Bed 3, Spinach, Rutabaga, Kohlrabi and Snow Peas (you can see where I reseeded, plants are smaller)

I have planted Brussel Sprouts along the bed next to the driveway. I purchased seedlings and these have been in about a month now and are doing very well.
Anaheim, Poblano, Pimiento and asst color Bell Peppers in this bed. I am still harvesting every few days.
poblano pepper
poblano pepper
purple bell pepper
purple bell pepper
yellow bell pepper
Anaheim peppers
I have two Eggplant plants that have given me 4 eggplants so far.  I have 7 almost ready to pick and the plants are still setting flowers.  Seems late for these but they are thriving in the warmer weather we are having.
This plant has 5 just about ready for harvest

I will leave you with a few photos of my flowers blooming in the front beds.
Mexican Sunflower Torch Plant (tithonia rotundifolia)
The butterflies LOVE tithonia

Orange petite Zinnia
Cosmos (Sensation Blend)
Cosmos (Bright Lights)
 These orange and yellow cosmos are called Bright Lights and are from Botanical Interests. One of my favorite fall plants. They reseed freely (very freely) and come up each year wherever the seed landed the year before; and are a delight to see when most plants have finished blooming.  The finches love the seeds from these flowers and hang themselves almost up side down to get the seeds.  The weight of the little birds pulls down the flower and they hang there pulling out the seeds. I just love to watch them and keep plenty of these plants just for them.  They also love the lavender Cosmos for the seeds as well.
more Bright Lights next to the tithonia
Happy Autumn to all!

Friday, September 30, 2011



PLEASE CALL 1-800-getraccoons

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Attack of the Killer Raccoons on My Raised Beds

Bed # 2
I had planned on working on the herb garden but looks like Mother Nature had something else in store for me today.

Last night raccoons got over the fencing and dug up almost all of my seedlings in two of the raised beds. This is the first time in 7 years that I have had something get in the raised beds; I thought the fence was high enough to keep them out but obviously not this year. I think it must have been the raccoons or maybe oppossums; they are probably looking for grub worms.

I will take this as a positive intervention and hope that if they had not eaten the grub worms that the worms would have destroyed my plants at a later date, which would have been worse than now since it is still plenty early to replant the seeds. I will cover the beds with some chicken wire and hope that they don't bring the entire family and lift it off! I should have time to harvest goodies for the Thanksgiving table if I can keep them out from now on.

My cat Cookie was sitting in the window most of last night looking at something in the dark. I guess we now know what was going on. I think of times like this as little “Cat Movies”. You know how humans might watch a demolition derby; well I guess this is their version. I wonder what was going through her mind when she was watching them…probably laughing inside thinking “boy will Carla be bummed when she sees what they did to her garden!”

Bed # 3
Close-up Bed # 2

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Winter Garden 2011 "We Have Sprouts"

We planted the 3 raised beds last Saturday, September 17th with our winter crops.  We already have lots of goodies sprouting.

Bed Number One
 In this bed, I have planted 2 rows of Bright Lights Swiss Chard from (Botanical Interests) which I started a few months back so I would have a head start on this green, which I love!  Also planted in this bed is 7 rows of Organic Early Wonder Beets and 3 rows of Organic Lacinato or Dino Kale. I will plant more Kale on my east bank next week as I will need a lot more than 3 short rows. We eat a lot of greens, just about everyday.
Bed Number Two
In this bed I have all my lettuces. I have planted 2 rows each of Mesclun, Asian Salad, Rocket Arugula, Farmer's Market Blend of Mesclun, Mache, Leaf Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce, Oak Leaf Lettuce and 2 rows of Bright Lights Swiss Chard; same as in my first bed but I planted seeds here. All the seeds in this bed are from Botanical Interests.  

Already lots of little sprouts are showing their faces, as if to say "Here we are ready to help you have a healthy heart"
Bed Number Three
 In the third bed I have planted 4 rows of Snow Peas, 3 rows of Heirloom Kohlrabi 3 rows of Heirloom Rutabaga and 3 rows of Organic Tyee Spinach.  

I still need to plant a package of Easter Egg Blend Radishes, Watercress, Sorrel and more Cilantro. We were lucky this summer to have cooler than normal temperatures and my Parsley is still growing; only a few have sent up seed heads so I may get by without having to plant more seeds. I have seen a few sprouts popping up amongst the stone pathway that leads to the herb garden so I think I will have plenty for winter.

I also purchased a pony pack of Brussels Sprouts and will plant these six on the east bank as soon as the San Marzano tomatoes are finished. I am still picking tomatoes from these plants even though our temperatures have dropped to the high 50's at night. If you only plant one tomato, make it a San Marzano . You will not be disappointed!  Take a look at a few of my tomato sauce jars I canned this year. I also canned my own juice.
San Marzano Tomato Sauce
 Juice ready for the jars!
Peppers picked today and ready for roasting
Pink Grapefruit
Yellow Grapefruit
Lemon Tree
We are picking lots of Pink Grapefruit, Yellow Grapefruit and Lemons now, too. Oh, I forgot I made Preserved Lemons.  You can find out how to do this by visiting Emelie Tolley's Blog.  She is the author of two of the herb books you see on my blog photo.

Try to remember the kind of September ...
when life was slow and oh, so mellow. ...
Enjoy your final September Days!

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 2011 Tomato Update

This morning I picked the last of the tomatoes in the raised beds.  There were still a few on the vines but I need to get my winter beds planted so I will pull them out today.  I still have San Marzano, Green Zebra and Dr. Lyles Pink Beefsteak growing along the driveway and these we are picking daily.  The vines are taking over and are loaded with fruit, I planted this group in mid June.
 Dr. Wyche's yellow on a six inch plate.

If you would like to see a list of what I planted this year click HERE.

This group was planted in raised beds:

Abraham Lincoln: grew very well, no signs of disease, medium size tomato with heavy harvest. I would recommend this one. Early tomato.

Cherokee Purple: Winner all around. Large fruit, slightly sweet, beautiful color. My husbands favorite! Must repeat this one next year.

German Queen: Very large fruit, great flavor, would grow again.

Isle Candy: Super Sweet yellow cherry tomato. I loved this one! Give it lots of room to grow. Must repeat next year.

Mr. Underwood's Pink Beefsteak: Huge tomato! Beautiful color and flavor. A must for next year.

Old German (yellow): slow to ripen, medium size tomato, pretty red veins, tart flavor. I liked this one and may grow again next year but will put it in a cage. I grew this one under an orange tree and the vines climbed high into the tree. It needs space.

Persimmon: Beautiful yellow/orange, medium to large tomato. Much like a beefsteak inside. Wonderful flavor, slightly sweet. Will grow next year.

San Marzano: Heavy producer. Easy to pick, almost too easy, they tend to fall into your hand when you move them. A MUST FOR NEXT YEAR!  The only plum type tomato I will grow. (Also growing along driveway).

Wisconsin 55: This is a smaller salad size tomato. Heavy producer, no diseases, would grow again.

Yellow Pear Cherry: No name on this one, but a heavy producer as with most pear tomatoes. I will save seeds from this one to grow next year.

Zapotec Pink: No! Just did not give me enough tomatoes. The ones I did get were good, but with my limited space, I would not repeat this one.

Red Zebra: A real winner, I loved the flavor. This one is a smaller tomato, nice tart flavor pretty striped skin but the flesh is red and not striped like the skin. I will grow again. Early producer.

Balls Beefsteak: Another huge tomato. Winner all around. Late harvest is the only drawback. You need to wait for this one, but you will be rewarded for your patience!

This group was planted on the bank by the driveway in June.

Dr. Lyle's Beefsteak: Huge tomato, very meaty. This was one I was not sure if I planted or not, but found the tag when harvesting. A must for next year. Very vigorous growth. Give it lots of room and a tall large wood cage. The small cages will not support these vines.

Dr. Wyche's Yellow:  Huge size yellow tomato, nice for slicing. Would grow again.

Green Zebra: One of my all time favorites. Tangy, green stripe skin, lemon green color when sliced. Looks pretty with red and yellow tomato slices in a Caprese salad. A must for next year.

San Marzano and Mr. Underwood Pink Beefsteak growing here too.

My tomatoes this year exceeded my expectations!I have canned and froze more than we will need for the winter. I am already planning for next year.

Front Row: L-R Cherokee Purple, Red Zebra, Balls Beefsteak. Second Row: Mr. Underwood's Pink, Dr. Wyche's Yellow, Wisconsin 55.  Back Section: Persimmon, Old German, more Wisconsin 55, and Red and Green Zebra's
Red Zebra in front, San Marzano (plum tomato), Persimmon and Old German
Persimmon and Old German (yellow)
Yellow Pear
Everybody in the mix
more in the mix
Cherokee Purple, Mr. Underwood in front;  Zapotec Pink  in the back, Yellow Pear on right, small yellow is Persimmon.
San Marzano!