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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Neighbor's Have An Owl Box In Their Tree

 I noticed this the other day.  I don't think they had this last year or I would have seen it.  Once the leaves dropped from the trees I saw it.  I sure hope it brings a pair back to nest.

We had owls visiting our trees a few years ago.   Here is a link to the time they visited our pine tree.  Owls in Our Trees.

They didn't nest in our trees but brought the young owlets one night and they spent most of the summer in that pine tree, the ground was littered with bones from their parents hunting and feeding them. I felt sad for the bunnies they brought them, nature seems cruel at times.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Visit from a Flock of Cedar Waxwings!

I often hear their familiar CALL and see them flying, but I don't often get a chance to photograph them.  They visit our birdbaths, but it seems as soon I as get my camera out they know and take flight.  What a treat this was for me.
 This is how far away they were, I used my zoom to get the close-ups.  This is an old Avocado tree in my neighbors yard, the bottom of the tree is still alive.  I am so happy that they don't cut these dead branches off because it is a haven for the birds that live and visit here.

Close-up of Hummingbird at center top, House Finch bottom left and Cedar Waxwing on the right.

 I love how this close-up view shows its mask! 

A couple more House Finches.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We Are Growing! Tomato Update 2014

Waiting.....for tomatoes!
(that's a lemon at the top of the photo hanging from our tree)

 Photos taken January 15th

Reach for the sky!!!

I am giving the seedlings sun each day now and was able to put them outdoors for a few hours the last couple of days.  Yesterday temperatures reached 86 and today we are forecast for 87.  I put them in a location of filtered sun for now since they are still very fragile.  Tony also bought us a grow light fixture since we know this weather will not last and I will need to give them light!

Until tomato time comes we will pick oranges!


 This navel orange is full of blossoms

 We have two navel orange trees.


Valencia, the bees are busy working these flowers. 

One of two grapefruit trees, this one is a pink grapefruit and we pretty much get to pick this one year round as long as we leave some on it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Goodies from the Garden Jan 2014 Garden Update

 Asian Pea Pods

 Lacinato Kale, finally recovered from the grasshopper feasting on them.  Cut leaves from the bottom up and not from the center top; that way they will keep growing upwards with new leaves to harvest. 

 Bright Lights Swiss Chard is doing well now and I am picking a few each week to thin them out. My parakeets love swiss chard!

 A volunteer tomato, probably the purple cherry we grew last year.  Several have come up and I am leaving them to see which one they will be.

 Lots of onions inter-planted with red Russian kale and Swiss chard. When I pull onions they will have more room.

 This is some Bright Lights Swiss Chard I transplanted from the onion area to give them more room. We eat a lot of Swiss Chard!

 I think this might be more beets.

Lolla Rossa Lettuce and Little Gem Romaine.  Lacinato Kale plants to the right, I sure hope I left enough space between the kale. 

 Close up of Speckles Butterhead lettuce, love this lettuce!

 Close up of Lolla Rossa Lettuce, another favorite of ours and it is so beautiful.  The leaves make wonderful wraps for a veggie taco. Those are more onions in-between the lettuce.  I plant onion sets all year round.

Close up of Little Gem Romaine Lettuce.

 My favorite mustard, Red Giant.  If picked when the leaves are small it can be added to salads, but I like the punch from the larger leaves and use it in a lot of my vegetable soups and stir-fry's.

My most recent bed of Rocket Arugula, planted in late November is ready to cut now.  If you cut instead of pulling up the plants of most leaf-type lettuce it will continue to send up new growth.  I have two sections of arugula and one is always ready for cutting while the other one is sending out new growth.  Keeps us with arugula for the entire fall through spring months, after that when the weather begins to warm it will send up seed heads.  I am a bit worried about my lettuces with this summer-like temperatures that we have had lately.  Today we warmed up to 83 degrees!

 Here is one of the raised beds that we planted out with some seedlings we bought at a local nursery that grows organic seedlings.  This will give me a jump on the smaller seedling that I planted out with seed in another bed.  These plants are much larger and will be ready to harvest by late February.  In this section we have 6 more lacinato kale plants ( I think I have 18 or more plants now at different stages of growth ), magenta swiss chard, mizuna mustard, tatsoi, red winter kale, and giant red mustard (1 of each).  Looking a little sad in the heat right now.

In this section is more Speckles buttercrunch lettuce, rouge d'hiver (a red) lettuce, a few tatsoi and a black seeded simpson lettuce.  

In this bare spot I seeded 2 more rows of the Parisienne carrots that I am growing in another bed.  More Chioggia beets, Collard Greens, a gourmet blend of beets and then seeded in between the lettuces on either side with french breakfast radish and Easter egg blend radish.

Here is a picture of the Parisienne carrots I picked today, along with some spring onions and a few Round Black Spanish Radishes. Not many carrots, but enough to go in our salad tonight!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Birth Announcement We Have Tomato Sprouts

While most were out celebrating on New Year's Eve, I was planting tomato seeds.  This might seem very early to begin planting, but I plant out my tomato seedlings in mid-March, they will be large strong plants by that time and able to withstand the cooler temperatures.

Photo's taken on January 6, 2014

Green Zebra (2) Dr. Wyche's (2) Gold Medal (2)

German Queen (2) Cherokee Purple (4) plants

 San Marzano (3) Southern Night (1) Flame/Hillbilly (2) plants

 Not showing yet is Green Grape (1)  Brown Cherry (1) Sundrop Orange Cherry (1) Bi-color Cherry (1) plants.  In the middle is Poha (Physalis peruviana) also known as Cape Gooseberry and Peruvian Groundcherry (2) this is seeds I saved from my plants last year and I sure hope they come in because the fruit is delicious.

Not showing yet is Big White Pink Stripe (2) Black Krim (2) Chocolate Stripe (2) plants

 This is the same group of seedlings with photo taken on Jan 8.  Some seeds are not coming in so I will re-seed again.  Some of the seed packages I have are a year or two old and may not make it. I have plenty of seeds to germinate and plenty of time yet to try.  I am giving these a few hours of sun from the window each day now. I also will hook up a grow bulb tomorrow to give them more hours of light.

This tray still not showing their faces, Big White Pink Stripe, Black Krim, and Chocolate Stripe

Still no sign of Green Zebra, will need to re-seed this one as it is one of our favorites.

This tray is a no show yet.  These are a blend of cherry tomatoes called Rainbow Blend from Botanical Interests.  The seeds are several years old and may not show. I will plant more in here and see if they will come in.

Henderson's Ponderosa is coming in very well with most seeds already up.  I will have at least 6 of these plants. One of my favorites, very prolific and is really nice for canning and freezing whole.

At least two of German Queen is up now and this was seed that I had for 2 years from Seeds of Change.  Cherokee Purple is from Botanical Interests and some seeds I saved from years past.

San Marzano and Flame, also known as Hillbilly coming in strong. I will have at least four San Marzano.

I have already used all of my canned and frozen tomatoes so this year I will be planting far more tomatoes. In the past I have had at least 12 plants, but last year I only put in 6 plus two cherry tomato plants. Not enough!