Thursday, July 15, 2010

Santa Monica Mountains hike

Mallows were in full bloom in Solstice Canyon. I used to be quite the fanatic about keying and id'ing flowers while hiking but I can't seem to find my books.

We spied developing walnuts in the trees.
Juglans californica, black walnut, family Juglandaceae

It was sometime after 1903 that a homesteader named Henry Keller built this hunting cabin originally of stone and tin to withstand wildfire; however, in the years following, wood porches were built, meaning it was no longer fire-proof. The Corral Canyon fire of 2007 destroyed this cabin.

This sycamore was scorched by the Corral Canyon fire of 2007 fire but it has survived.

There is still a running stream traversing Solstice Canyon, complete with minnows.

These lizards were checking us out, one eye cocked on us while sunning on a log.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

How do you save your tomato seeds?

Caught the LA Times garden/food writer, Emily Green, on her LA Times blog on saving tomato seeds:

"Squish them out into a jar," Chetelat said. "Let them ferment on counter. The fungi will work on fruit pulp. Rinse in a strainer and pop the seeds onto paper to dry them." (UC Cooperative Extension offers more detailed instructions on how to save tomato seeds.) Store seeds in a cool dry place, then start them inside next April. Ninety days later, you should have fruit, probably closer to the Fourth of July than Memorial Day, unless something wonderful happens.

Be sure to check out that excellent link she recommends for more detailed info. I do the same as above but with one change: I dry my seeds on coated paper plates. If using paper, I found the seeds tend to stick while drying, becoming one with the paper. Not a good thing.

I have a different take on starting seeds, perhaps my adjustment to being close to the beach. I find April on the late end to begin. Though not as warm as inland, our weather is actually milder and less extreme in terms of the night time low temps in the winter. I actually start my seeds as early as December, indoors, though I may have to change this since our new place doesn't seem to get as much windowsill sun. I can get the earliest plants into the ground by February. I keep planting, however, to May at the latest. I only plant cool climate tolerant tomatoes because they have fewer issues with our cloudy and foggy summers.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finally harvesting Maui onions

Looking leekish, my Maui onions have finally grown up and are ready for harvest. I think I planted them a bit too close but I didn't think they would grow this big.
This photo below shows them in May.

The shot below is one taken in March, newly planted.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A July morning in Southern California

Being one block from the beach, there is our June gloom, continuing into July, with the sky overcast nearly all morning and the morning dew on my plants. I like how the dew highlights the outlines of my plants, pretty but definitely not summery.

Tomato flower

Green tomatoes will stay green a bit longer. I'm glad I plant only coool weather tolerant toamtoes. These are my Japanese Black Trifele, apparently a Russian tomato. I bet there is an interesting back story to this variety but I haven't yet found it. Though this is my first year growing these, I'm already quite fond of them.
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Corn leaf

Cabbage leaf

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