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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brave Souls, Autumn in San Diego County

Little 'Ballerina' fuchsia lifting her arm to wave at me as I pass by. 

Even though the temperatures dropped down to the low 40's, I still have flowers on many of my plants. These are both on the South wall of my home and they get a bit of warm sunshine during the day.  This fuchsia grows next to the Iochroma cyaneum seen below, which provides just enough shade for it.

Iochroma cyaneum is a flowering shrub or small tree from tropical South America in the family of Brugmansia.  It has lovely trumpet shaped flowers that the hummingbird and bees enjoy and visit often.  I am happy to see this blooming now with so many of the flowers in my Hummingbird and Butterfly garden spent.  I am training this to be a small tree which will provide a canopy for some of my shade loving plants, like my  madarense geraniums.

This is a repeat blooming Iris, the name escapes me at the moment.

I have 5 Christmas Cactus coming into bloom now, you can barely see the red flowers on the plant below this one.  The white/pink you see here is in full bloom.

A few brave buds and blossoms on one of the two Plumeria plants I have.  This one is 3 years old and I grew it from a cutting.  I did have it in a clay pot but decided in June of this year to plant it directly in the ground.  It is near a sprinkler head, see it at the base of the flower, this provides it with water 3 times a week when needed.  It bloomed most of the summer and is still trying its best to continue.  It is in a somewhat protected area of this Southwest spot, with both a large rosemary and lavender bush nearby to shield it from too much of the hot Southern California sunshine.  

We rarely get below 40 degrees in our zone so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will do well through the winter.  My other Plumeria is called Golden Rainbow, which I also grew from a cutting in June of 2012.  It flowered once so far and is planted close to this ginger plant shown below. You can see it just peaking over the top of the ginger, at the top right side of the photo.

 Here is my Galangal Thai Ginger plant I purchased in June 2012 from City Farmers Nursery in San Diego.  You may have seen a piece of the rhizome in your bowl of panang curry at your favorite THAI RESTAURANT.  I will need to wait until next year before I begin to cut the rhizomes for my cooking adventures as the plant needs some time to spread.  I am so excited to see it doing so well in this location just off the South side of our patio.

Our loquat tree that we planted a couple of years ago is flourishing.  I am surprised at how many buds are on this small tree. Last year we were able to pick for the first time, and with this many blossoms already on it May of 2014 looks very promising!

I can't leave without showing you a few photos of the pretty fallen leaves from our two Sweet Gum (liquidambar styraciflua) trees. The heavy rains last week and some hefty Northwestern winds left the trees almost bare.
A beautiful carpet just in time for our outdoor Thanksgiving day dinner, providing the sun is shining, rain is in the forecast but I will keep my fingers crossed that we can dine alfresco!

Changing Time
The cloud looked in at the window,
and said to the day, "Be dark!"
And the roguish rain tapped hard on the pane,
to stifle the song of the lark.
The wind sprang up in the tree tops
and shrieked with a voice of death, 
but the rough-voiced breeze, that shook the trees,
was touched with a violet's breath. 
-Paul Laurence Dunbar

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winter Garden Update 2013, First Substantial Rain of the Season

Beautiful rain earlier today, it's warm at 63 degrees, and a perfect afternoon for weeding in the winter vegetable bed.  I took a lot of pictures to keep my blog up-to-date to review for next year.

Paw Print
 I did a second planting a little over a week ago and the seedlings are coming in.  My neighbors' dog likes to come by late in the evening and use one of our birdbaths for his drinking bowl; I don't mind that as much as I mind that he takes a short-cut through the newly planted area of the lettuce patch.  Paw prints that size can push the seeds so far down that they will not find their way to the light to sprout.  This is the second time he has walked though it, the first time he was digging too.   I had to reseed most of these beds, who knows what will come up in what row now.  At least they are salad greens and if they are mixed up it won't matter.  I can identify them as they come in and transplant if need be to give them more room.  I did try the first time to space the seeds of the head lettuces: Speckles, Oak Leaf, Red Sails and Romaine, so they would have enough room to form a good size head, but...oh well, if that is all I have to complain about I am one lucky gardener.  I should have covered them the first time!

Lacinato Kale, still some damaged leaves from the worms, but new growth looks free of holes.
On a positive note, my kale is coming back!  When the weather was still warm the white butterflies were still around and laid their eggs so we had worms that devoured the leaves. We still ate the parts they left us, I am not bothered by holes left from freeloading moochers.

 The peas and snow peas are making their way up the old tomato cages. I did have to add a few thin, cane poles to support them when small, but I think this will work out very well for me and make it easy to harvest. I have more growing in another area and I picked a few snow peas today. 

 Yellow string beans and green beans, both are bush type.

 We have blossoms!

I am harvesting all of the greens now, picking just what we need each day for our salads. It is amazing how little amount of space one needs to grow their own lettuce. You can even grow them in shallow wood boxes.  Line the bottom with many layers of newspaper to keep the soil from running though, sprinkle the top soil with the seeds and dust lightly with soil, press down and sprinkle with water once a day to keep the seeds moist.  In just a few weeks you will have your own salad greens to cut.  Also the greens continue to grow new leaves, try to harvest from the outside in and leave a few in the center to grow.  I do this even with the head type lettuces, not Iceberg mind you, but the types I am growing here.  

If more people would set up small gardens in their backyards, we would not have so many unhealthy people, and it costs cents on the dollar compared to the $4.00 bags you buy in the market for gourmet greens.  You can  grow your own for as little as $1.89.  That seed packet will supply your family with enough greens for the season.   You will be amazed at the flavors, many people that we share ours with said they had no idea that it tasted so different and so much better than what they buy even at the farmer's markets.  I think it is because ours is grown out in the open and not in green houses or hot houses with liquid fertilizers running through the watering mechanism that are used in mass grown facilities. We only use organic fertilizer and it is not liquid.  We blend our own which I mix in the soil before I plant.  I rarely need to fertilize more than once during the long growing season.  The winter rains help immensely in nourishing the garden, another reason it taste better than what is grown in greenhouses.

 Spicy Salad Mix

This is Tatsoi (taht-SOY), an Asian green in the brassica family.  I add this to the salad mix but also like to use it in the same way you would baby bok choy.  This plant can have a peppery note to it, but with the mild winters we have, it remains sweeter. It really took off when we had the rain a few weeks back and today it looks like it is loving this cooler rain.

 More of the spicy salad mix from Botanical Interest seeds.  See the link of have on the right side of my blog, look for the Mesclun Farmer's Market blend or Sassy Salad blend.

The second planting of Lacinato Kale on left.


 Second planting of onions

Swiss Chard

More onions, I also have Swiss Chard seeded in here that should be coming up soon.  The onions will be harvested by the time the plants need the room.  I like to put onions in amongst my seeds when planting,  I use onion sets and they come up quickly.  

These are onions I am growing from last years seed heads that I saved.  I will transplant them in the next week or so to give them more room.  If you have ever transplanted onion seedlings you know it is torture on your back and knees. 

Well that's about it for now.  I will leave you with St. Francis in the garden, watching over the hibiscus plant and keeping a close eye on all the little ones, protecting them from visiting cats and dogs.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I Need The Orioles Back!

I wish our Orioles were still here, if they were these hungry worms would not be on my Lacinato Kale plants.  The little guys have pretty much destroyed the 6 plants that I put in last month.  I picked off a couple of the worms a few days ago, but I guess I missed this one because I didn't see it until I went to post this photo.  If you click on the picture it will enlarge enough for you to see the little guy on the center top of the leaf.

I do have more seedlings that are coming in and so far I have not seen any damage to the leaves.  I already picked a batch of the kale that the worms didn't get to, but it was tough to find!  Below are some photos of what is doing well. I should be picking the lettuces in another week.

We will have Greens for the Thanksgiving Table!

This is French Breakfast Radish, also planted Black Radish and Easter Egg Radish

Sugar Peas, also planted Snow Peas

Assorted Lettuces, I planted Sassy Salad and Mesclun along with Bok Choy, Mache, Arugula, Red Sails, Speckles, Oak Leaf, Buttercrunch, Black Seeded Simpson, Green Salad Bowl, Lolla Rossa, Red Oak Leaf and Rouge d'Hiver, Tango, Grand Rapids, Mizuna Mustard, Lolla Rossa, and Black Seeded Simpson.  I am sure there are more that I have missed, but that pretty much sums up what I have now. I plant seeds about every 3-4 weeks.  This allows me to harvest some for baby greens and also to let some grow to full height.  I planted another 3 feet today, but keep in mind that my rows are only 20 inches wide.

Lacinato Kale, what's left of it, you can't see in this photo but just to the right of the plants I have more seedlings coming in.  I guess I will need to break out the Insecticidal Soap.

Ruby Red Swiss Chard, I also seeded some Bright Lights Swiss Chard, both from Botanical Interest Seed Company
Rocket Arugula, I also planted a Wild Arugula that has very narrow leaves. It has a slightly stronger, more pungent flavor which is wonderful with Parmesan Cheese.  I also love to let some of the wild go to seed to harvest the flowers. 
Parisienne Carrots, a short round French Carrot
Yellow Bush Beans
More of Mesclun Sassy Salad Blend
Farmer's Market Blend, this is a mild mix
Not sure what is here, could be the left over seeds that I mixed together.  Looks like there is some Swiss Chard, Arugula and ??  I also put in Beets, but only a few came up.  
My neighbors dog decided to visit the beds shortly after we put down the seeds. The poor thing is old, and blind and wonders about the neighborhood aimlessly weaving in and out of peoples yards.  He is a Golden Retriever with very large paw prints, but I don't have the heart to chase him off, he is so sweet.  Often times I am working in the beds and he will come up behind me, startling me so that I almost fall backwards down the bank.