Friday, April 30, 2010

First thornless boysenberry drupe

I had to take a photo of this, the ripest one so far but still far from readiness. You can see it is reddening, completely ripe when it is much darker, nearly black in color. Oh, I can't wait. I like them when they are still warm from the day's sun.
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

How do I grow tomatoes? Two points

Trial and error has been the operative term. I haven't found it easy to grow tomatoes one block from the ocean even though this is Southern California. We aren't gifted with warm sunny summers; rather, I find myself using the terms foggy, cold, gloomy, and chilly to describe most of the day. In fact, if you do come to Southern California to visit the beach in June, be prepared to freeze during your attempt to sunbathe on the sand. You may even get a burn; those UV rays are pretty good at cutting through the fog and clouds.

Number one: I follow the advice of this goddess of tomatoes. Yes, I do add all those ingredients she suggests when I can and I do try. Yes, yes, and yes to the bone meal, aspirin, eggshells and so on.

Number two: I think it's critical to pick the tomato variety best suited for your climate. For my little garden spot one block the ocean, I've found the smartest way to go is to buy cool climate varieties. How do I find out which ones are cool climate tomatoes? Easy. I check out this guy's site.

To bee or not to bee

Whither the urban bee in Santa Monica? I've always wondered where they live because Santa Monica is quite an urban environment.

It turns out if there are any urban beehives located on public property, the Santa Monica city policy is to bring out the equivalent of bee SWAT teams to eradicate and destroy any errant urban bees.

The local Santa Monica press, the Daily Press, recently wrote about a citizen beekeeper's attempt to change this policy.

Be it quixotic or not, he's got an online site as well as an online petition for all of bee lovers out there to sign.

Urban bee visiting one of my thornless boysenberry blooms

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See the world

See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ray Bradbury
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100 edible gardens in one weekend: Gardens of Gratitude goal

Today's Santa Monica Daily Press writes about a local community group planning to plant 100 edible gardens in a single weekend. Very cool.

More on their site, called Gardens of Gratitude:

Is it possible to transform a town into an edible oasis in one weekend?
This April, we're attempting to plant 100 Edible Gardens in a single Weekend in neighborhoods across West LA!! Join a Garden Crew to help plant a garden in your neighborhood, or Register to Grow a Garden to have your garden added to our map and planted with the help of our volunteers and gardening experts! In one weekend, hundreds of Angelenos will join together to grow food and community in one giant garden party!
Join us in making our town an abundant, edible paradse of fruits, berries, nuts, veggies and flowers!
April 24th & 25th, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First tomatoes

Today we are in what we call a cold and rainy spell for us folks in Southern California. That means night temps are down to 51 F while day temps are up to 61 F. Yes, absolutely freezing. And then we had amazing winds preceding the storm front. They felt as though they were directly from the frozen lands up north. We are not in the middle of tropical weather.

Nevertheless, being brave, intrepid and perhaps a bit foolish, I now have planted three tomato plants, all cold-tolerant (Valencia, Black Cherry, and Stupice) . Note that I have three volunteers growing quietly in the darkest corner of my plot while I have been railing about the need to plant cold-tolerant tomatoes here one block from the beach.

My Valencia has at least three wee tomatoes, of which one you can see in the photo below.

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Here's the Black Cherry, grown from seed, December 2009.

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Here's the Stupice, bought from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, Jimmy and Logan Williams, Organic Hayground.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Arugula seedpods maturing

Plump arugula seedpods maturing.
Family Brassicaceae, Eruca sativa
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Developing and pollinated thornless boysenberries in Southern California

Photo of thornless boysenberries still maturing. I predict these will be ready in May. I bought the original plant around two years from a local nursery. Last year's crop was not large. This year's crop should be substantially more, as long as the birds stay away. As soon as I harvest berries from a cane, I plan to cut it back to allow for next year's growth.
Family Rosaceae, Rubus ursinus
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Five reasons why I love arugula

1. They grow where I sow them, any nook or cranny placed in square foot sized plots, my only homage to square foot gardening. I prepare the soil by adding a little organic fertilizer and then water. After I throw seeds across the top of the soil, I mulch with dry alfalfa and then water.

2. They germinate quickly, within two weeks at the most.

3.I don't know how they do it but they somehow resist the bazillions of slugs in my garden who lie in wait for anything to consume. I think arugula isn't one of their favorite meals, thank goodness.

4. I love to thin them, precisely because they end up as my lunch.

5. If I miss any for lunch, I'm very happy to have a few plants go to seed so that I can collect more seeds.

Family Brassiceae, Eruca sativa

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It's your closeup!

Arugula flower up close. This plant stands nearly 5 feet tall. I share its seeds: it also feeds the local perching birds that come through the area. There's plenty for all.
Family Brassicaceae, Eruca sativa
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hiking Southern California

"Something just beyond the horizon beckons us forward, to become who we already are, but do not know it yet." Rilke
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dare I count them? Carrot seedlings emerge

I know most people don't have a problem with growing carrots but I certainly do. This time, I tried sowing them on top of freshly tilled soil, then covering the seeds with a thick carpet of alfalfa. I had seedlings emerging in two weeks. Since I have bazillions of slugs lurking in every corner of my community garden plot, we'll see how many actually survive.

Family Apiaceae, Daucus carota

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Time for an arugula salad lunch

Lunch for today is freshly picked arugula salad. Included are leftovers of thinned plantings of other seedlings, mostly brassicas. I add goat cheese and cranberries along with my favorite dressing of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
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First radish

Cherry Belle. Score 1 for me and none for the ravenous slugs of my garden plot.

Family Brassicacea, Raphanus sativus

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Light and linaria

Rain today but here's a reminder of last week. I love how light passes through, illuminating the essence of linaria.
Family Plantaginaceae, Linaria sp.
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Friday, April 9, 2010

Sometimes I think

First green is blue.

I spied this blue beauty this week. Common name: Blue-eyed grass

Family Iridaceae, Sisyrinchium sp.

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Wild radish was blooming. Family Brassicaceae, Raphanus sp.

Nightshade in bloom lined the trails.

Family Solanaceae, Solanum sp.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cilantro transforming into coriander

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One day, I'll have seeds but when I pass by them, I can still smell the fragrant smell of cilantro.

Family Apiaceae, Coriandrum sativum

When you look for me

When you really look for me, you will see me instantly--you will find me in the tiniest house of time. Kabir
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring in Southern California

I've heard it said that our seasons in Southern California are opposite of what is considered traditional for North America. Our season of green of winter and spring, with summer and fall when our landscape goes brown, follow our rainfall pattern.

Redbud bloom, Family Fabaceae, Cercis sp.

Fields of mustard, non-native Brassica
Family Brassicaceae
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Ceanothus in bloom.
Family Rhamnaceae, Ceanothus sp.
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Another ceanothus in bloom, family Rhamnaceae, Ceanothus sp.
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I think this is phacelia, Family Hydrophyllaceae. I don't have my botany books on hand.
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Mizuna bolting

It has been chilly again for us in southern California these last few weeks. However, I think it was the vernal equinox signalling to these guys it is time to bolt. I have also newly planted small tiny mizuna plants. Yes, they too have bolted, little tiny stems with little tiny flower buds. I'll see if I can get a photo up later.

Family Brassicaceae, Brassica rapa nipposinica
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To harvest or not to harvest?

Romaine lettuce, sitting here next to my mizuna, has really leafed out. My mizuna is bolting, even the newly planted tiny ones. The romaine may be next so I decided it was time for home-grown salad greens for lunch. Deciding when to harvest is something I mull over regularly.

Family Asteraceace, Lactuca sativa L. longifolia
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