Friday, May 28, 2010

The last of the toadflax

I saw on the internets that toadflax are considered invasive weeds. Nevertheless, being somewhat the newbie gardener, I've kept these guys because I think they look so cute and they fill in the gaps between the veggies with loads of color. This is a shot of their very last stand, hard to believe. I'll pull them out when they turn to seed, making sure to scatter the seeds carefully just in my plot since I don't know if my gardening neighbors share my same outlook. I'm certainly not rogue though I suspect the toadflax, being the invasive weeds that they probably are, probably wouldn't mind being dispersed indiscriminately to seed the world.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boysenberries in Southern California

David Karp writes about boysenberries in today's LA Times, providing probably the best background I've come across on this berry so far. I hadn't realized how precious they are since they are rare to find and not widely cultivated. I also didn't know they are distinctly California bred plants.
The exact parentage of boysenberry is obscure, but scientists surmise, based on analyses of genes, plants and fruits, that it resulted from a cross of Logan with an Eastern dewberry. It may in fact have been one of the famous plant breeder Luther Burbank's seedlings, which somehow made its way to John Lubben's home in Alameda, Calif., and thence to his Napa County farm, where it was called lubbenberry.In the early 1920s, Rudolph Boysen, who was farming Lubben's property, was crossing blackberries and raspberries, and when he moved to Anaheim in 1923, he took with him some plants growing large, exquisitely flavored berries, which he claimed to have bred.

My berries are peaking in my garden, already!, and I've been harvesting about a pint a day. It's a small but rambling plant, my thornless boysenberries. The cross between the raspberry and blackberry gives them that sweet tart oxymoronic taste. The berries don't last very long off the vine;it's not just that they are tasty but that they are delicate with thin easily ruptured skins. I can understand why they aren't grocery market material; even at a farmer's market, I know mine wouldn't hold up well. Anyways, today I collected two pints, enough to make a boysenberry pie.
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Daily pea

One of the things about my garden is that everyday I find something different, new growth, new buds, new blooms. It's not always something wonderful. I find more aphids, more slugs, larger slugs, more ants. The ant problem has gotten worse. Each time I water, there's more of them so there's more ants climbing up my legs in a panic. Yes, I so get the 'ants in my pants' phenomenom. I'm not quite sure how to deal with this organically beyond stomping. Someone passing through suggested cayenne pepper and cornmeal, a 'bloat and sizzle' effect.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pretty in pink

I'm not sure why rain drizzle makes these hollyhocks even more photogenic. Taken early in the day, the drizzle might even be mistaken for a heavy dose of morning dew.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

O'Neal blueberries in the early morning drizzle

The O'Neal blueberries are my favorite variety. Berries from the store don't even come close. Large, plump, and oh so sweet, they never get home. I eat them right from the bush.
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Monday, May 24, 2010


Outdoors is where the great mystery lies, so going into nature should be a searching and humbling experience, like going to church. Skip Whitcomb
I'm constantly amazed by the little things, such as how the drops of water rest on the petals of this mallow. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The daily pea

It's getting towards the end of sweet pea season in my Southern California coastal garden, alas, so I'm throwing up these photos for remembrance. It was December of last year when I sowed the seeds. Think I want to blooms earlier so I've marked my calendar to plant sweet peas in October and November of this year.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The daily pea

Sweet pea, that is. I find this to be a lovely shade of pink. Even lovelier is how their aroma quietly wafts through the air.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Popparazzi musings

I am a poppy papparazzi, a popparazzi perhaps? It was drizzling a bit, my favorite weather for taking plant shots. This beautiful Matilija poppy, unfortunately, is not in my plot but grows in a nearby plot such that this showy flower stuck out into the pathway. I suspect there might even be an exhibitionistic streak in these poppies, all the more reason to whip out the camera, especially in the rain.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Determined nasturtiums

I'm struck by the brash florescence of these nasturtiums, quite photogenic, and with how they snuck in using the thornless boysenberry bush as one giant lattice. If I didn't weed my garden plot not one bit, I would simply have one giant mound of nasturtiums reaching up to the sky.
PS Why I have the word thornless highlighted in yellow above is beyond me.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Growing Stupice tomatoes by the beach

My Stupice tomatoes continue to grow even though we are back to foggy mornings and afternoons here one block from the beach, certainly far from ideal tomato weather. The sun manages to peep out in the middle of the day. Still the overnight temperature has yet to fall below 50 F, a good thing. I'm grateful somewhere along the line I figured out I need to plant cooler climate tomato plants, especially since what we call June gloom seems to be starting earlier this year.

Amending the soil is another absolute, given our subpar growing conditions for tomatoes. I follow the counsel of this goddess of tomatoes. Her way requires a bit more work and money but well worth the investment. I don't get the 7 foot tall tomatoes that she and her students get though I suspect my tomatoes, being cooler climate varieties, just don't get that tall. Regardless of how tall my plants got last year, they were happy plants with lovely tomatoes. We'll see how it goes this year.

I mulch well, really helpful for conserving water as well as keeping the soil from splattering up on the leaves. I deep water in the morning all my tomato plants every few days, depends on the weather, and assiduously avoid wetting the foliage.

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An earlier look
Here is what it looked like in April when I first planted it.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010


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A berry good time

To help you imagine what my thornless boysenberry hedge looks like, I present you a glimpse of one small window. Multiply this a hundred fold, and you'll see a wall of small green berries sunning in the sun, waiting to ripen.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Latest look at the Valencia tomatoes

These are the first tomatoes to develop, the cooler climate tolerant Valencia.

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Presenting the Valencias two weeks ago...

The earliest photo of the Valencias

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Today's berry harvest

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If I fell in love with blue

Blue toadflax
I'm partial to this blue, perhaps because it reminds me of spring time. I'm reminded of why I've always loved flowers, their in-the-moment perfection a personal flag to take a deep breath and enjoy life even for a second.

These toadflax have been reliably self-seeded guys, growing in any gaps they can find, providing unexpected dashes of color. Quite inspirational, these toadflax.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Maui onion confession

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My Maui onions are growing up. For reference, you can see below what they looked like about two months ago. Planted as seedlings, if that is the right word for them, they are now filling out well.

For the record, the confession: this is my third year of trying to grow Maui onions here in southern California and the first they've survived this long. I can't tell you what has changed although I've acquired a few basic gardening skills over the years, silly little things such as I fertilize the soil before planting, make sure plants get the amount of sun they need meaning not too little not too much, avoid overwatering, and always always always.... mulch.

The biggest change I think has been the mulching. I use generous amounts of dried alfalfa with each planting or sowing of seed. And I suspect this has transformed my garden; I've got happier plants, happier germination rates, fewer weeds, a more aesthetically defined garden, and I conserve water, all at the same time. Great stuff, this mulch.

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