Merry solstice and happy holidays! Our holiday cookies are already quite dwindling. Guess I need to make some more.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
I love how the rain drops decorate the poppy leaves. The CA poppies in my garden are perennials and these are embedded in the shadiest part of my garden. Even when there are no blooms, I find the fronds provide another type of beauty. Better still, they are essentially drought tolerant and do not need extra watering.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I have been told fava beans are good for the soil. So I grow fava beans every winter. These are planted where the Sungold stood as I like to rotate crops with different families (Sungold is Solanaceae; Fava is Fabaceae).
The seeds came from last year's fava beans. And last year's fava beans were from the previous years. Somewhere along the way, someone gave me a pod of beans which were planted. I soak the beans overnight before planting. As they grow somewhat tall, I always provided some support for them.
The roots of the fava bean apparently fix nitrogen, thus, benefitting the soil.
Fava beans are commonly planted to improve soil. Like all legumes, they have nodules on the roots, containing rhizobium bacteria, which “fix” airborne nitrogen, allowing it to replenish usable nitrogen in the soil. In addition, the sturdy plant deters erosion, and protects topsoil from wind and impaction by rain. After harvesting the beans (or without harvesting if you are using the plant simply as a cover crop), the bushy foliage chops up well as green biomass for the compost pile. The large, fragrant blossoms attract pollinators. Fava beans are an integral part of my rotation and fertilization plan throughout my kitchen garden beds and half-barrel containers. I dedicate a portion of my crop for kitchen use, another portion for compost biomass, and yet another to grow out as seed for next year’s planting.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I believe peas are essential for my winter garden. I sowed the seeds about three times before achieving successful peas. I'm not sure what is the deal but I suspect part of is due to the gourmet tastes of the local birds, who are rather fond of pea sprouts for lunch.
In the background, you'll see some strands of garlic which have recently emerged.
Friday, December 7, 2012
To each its own season. The mainstay of my winter garden is chard, and it thrives in the cooler months. Not only that, in the winter, I don't worry about them bolting, a bad habit, which they will do in the summer. This plant was grown from seed on my balcony in late summer and transplanted.
Chard is underrated as a veggie. Lately, I chop chard leaves into little bits and throw them into warm soup at the last few minutes of cooking. In the summer, I saute minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil for a few moments until fragrant and then add chopped chard leaves until they wilt.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The sweet potatoes planted this summer don't seem to be ready for harvesting. I understand they should be harvested when the leaves turn yellow. They missed Thanksgiving. I think they will miss this year's holiday season altogether. I'm thinking it might before next summer!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
In the rain, the asparagus fronds gather raindrops, and these remind me of miniature holiday lights, perhaps fit for fairies. I am waiting for the leaves to turn yellow, at which point I will cut the stems back to the ground. Later I will add fertilizer to help fuel next season's growth. I don't know about your asparagus, but with mine, the weeds seem to grow perniciously in between the stems and are quite difficult to access, and, yes, I'm talking about you.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
The tomato plants have been pulled up and composted, to come back next year as soil.
To recap, this year, in my limited space, I grew several Black Krim, several Momotaro, several Pineapple and two Sungold cherry tomato, one in the garden and one on the balcony.
Overall, it was a very good tomato year in that we did not get the usual coastal fog in the summer, not a even a hint. This means, tomatoes, plant and fruits, were happy.
The SunGold on the balcony was a bust, however. It only gets a few hours of sun every day, at the most four hours a day, not enough to produce a health plant. I did get some cherry tomatoes but not enough to warrant the space, as I had it in a 15 gallon pot. I'm not doing this again for 2013.
For next year, I would have fewer Pineapple, perhaps just one plant rather than three. They produce very large fruits that are 'okay' in flavor and not great. I would prefer to use my limited space for another beefsteak, maybe a Sudduth's Brandywine, if the weather holds true to 2012. Also on my wishlist would be a Paul Robeson. So I would keep one plant but add a Sudduth's Brandywine and a Paul Robeson for next year.
The Black Krim were fantastic. They started early and ended late. It stays for next year. The SunGold is always a monster overachiever. It stays for next year. Momotaro is a faithful heavy producer of gorgeous sweet tomatoes. This also is a 'go' for next year. The only negative, and this goes for the SunGold as well, is that it is a hybrid. That means, I don't save seeds as the next generation is unstable.
I'll start seeds in February and March 2013.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Hot and muggy here, one block by the beach, even in the morning. No fog, no clouds, just beautiful blue sky. With regards to my green bean sprouting a few days ago, alas, it was chomped by one of the hordes of snails and slugs presiding in my garden. Yes, I use Sluggo, but being part of a larger community garden, there is little to stop the neighboring snails and slugs from dropping by my place for a quick snack.
Hence, I plant more bean seeds. Here is the next wave. We'll see how they fare in a few days.
Monday, August 6, 2012
For those who think we have a good life here one block from the beach, our usual morning weather in the summer looks something like this. Or worse. That would be the fog. However, this year, we have had more than our fair share of days without gloom and fog. I attribute this to why my non-cold tolerant tomatoes, that is the Pineapple Tomato, did do better than usual this year. We generally get clearing later in the day.
Friday, August 3, 2012
However, by far the worst offenders are the potatoes. I grow them in containers in my garden, and they start out fine early on.
Towards the end, they look like this.
Not pretty, are they. Even worse, I like to keep them in the containers for a bit longer so that they can mature a bit. Sorry, neighbors. But freshly harvested potatoes for dinner is a rare treat and well worth the ugly.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I am now a big purslane fan and find it amusing I can now forage in my own plot. It comes from the family Portulacaceae, Genus Portulaca, species oleracea. In my garden, it is self-seeding and appears around July.
Of note, purslane contains more omega-3 than any other leafy veggie, thus cementing its status as the most perfect visitor. Wikipedia on purslane:
Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Research published by Simopoulos states that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies. 100 Grams of fresh purslane leaves (about 1 cup) contain 300 to 400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid. One cup of cooked leaves contains 90 mg of calcium, 561 mg of potassium, and more than 2,000 IUs of vitamin A.The article also notes when collected early in the morning, it can be tangier due to something called CAM, which is an alternate type of metabolism that purslane turns to in arid conditions.
I am still trying to figure out recipes so if you have a favorite, please leave it in my comments. I eat it raw in yogurt but my favorite way, so far, is to saute it with lots of garlic and extra virgin olive oil and have it taco style or with rice.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Lately, I plant potatoes in containers. This plant is now flowering, which does not always happen, and I don't know why. In the past, I have used 15 gallon containers for potatoes, and it is quite the mystery to me why I have not had good luck with that size. Since downgrading to a smaller size container, I have found the plants to be much happier. They grow tall and overflow the container.
This flower reminds me of its relation to tomatoes and eggplants as they are all in the same family, Solanaceae.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
At home, it continues to darken with orange tints. The seeds will be carefully saved for next year.
Monday, July 16, 2012
I stuck the cuttings in the ground with the very best of intentions. The leaves eventually fell off, and for several months, I carefully watered a pair of sticks faithfully. I wondered if I would have to go off to a garden center in search of coastal concord grape cuttings for next year. I wondered if I would own up to admitting the cuttings dropped all their leaves, and the leaves never grew back. Today, I saw there are leaves and buds bursting off the end of one stick. Glory be. I gratefully postpone that trip to the garden center.
Momotaro, a hybrid, and Black Krim, a Russian heirloom, do well here one block from the beach. However, Black Krim has peaked. I only have a few left while Momotaro is probably close to its peak. Looking below, the center one is Black Krim. Notes to me for next year: plant more Black Krim. I crave Black Krim's smoky and slight salty taste. These I can eat as is, like an apple. They are best, in my opinion, sliced, drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with a good salt.
The Pineapple Tomato comes from a tomato I bought at the local Farmers' Market a few years ago. I saved the seeds. The last two years, they did not do well at all. They are not well-adapted to growing next to the beach. This year, we have had sunnier and warmer days. This will be the first year I have tomatoes.This one is just beginning to show its true color, which is yellow with orange mottling throughout.
The Sungold is a hybrid. I have only one plant, as it tends to be an overachiever.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
It was foggy and overcast in the morning, a perfect day for a hike, in my opinion. But the clouds melted away very early, leaving blue sky. Either way, foggy or blue, both are good excuses for a hike. Today, I find the Matilija poppies are still in bloom and as photographic as ever. I puzzled over the water drops. Are they dew drops? We haven't had rain in the last 24 hours.
The coastal sequoia planted near the hiking trail show new growth as light green against a dark background. Unfortunately, these shots do not do justice to spurt of new growth on the tips of the branches.
I purposefully did not take photos of the kazillion hikers on the trail, thus leaving the illusion of being out communing with solitary nature.
Friday, July 13, 2012
I love how the hollyhocks pick up the light on a cloudy day. Yes, I know it's due to the UV rays which cause the pigments to flouresce but who cares about the technical reasons. Family Malvaceae, Genus Alcea
I did not have the heart to pull this weed out. I don't know what it except it is likely a Mallow in the family Malvaceae.
Likewise, the squash flowers luminesce as well. To be honest, these were volunteers. I understand that this is risky as seeds do not run true. I believe these are likely to be Japanese squash, kabocha.
So unusual to get rain in the summer in southern California.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
These cute furry tips are likely to be the seed pod.
These flannelbush plants, now flowering, were also planted by the state park or local conservancy. Family: Malvaceae, Genus: Fremontodentron. Needless to say, these native plants are also great for water conserving gardens.
Amazingly enough, there is still running water, albeit algae-ridden, at the top of the hiking trail. It is still shady and green along parts of this hike.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
I add a layer of good organic potting soil in the bottom of the pot then add the potatoes. These are Yukon gold. I moundup as they grow taller. I harvest after the plants die. I like to wait as long as possible though I worry I may get cited for unsightliness.
Funny, with veggie gardening, the esthetics take last place at times.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
I wanted to keep trying. This year, I started seeds in February rather than March. I planted the seedlings in the sunniest warmest corner of my garden.
And there be fruits! I noted these don't yield as much as my hybrids and they aren't as far along as the others. But I'll have late summer tomatoes this year barring a catastrophe. The seeds will be saved again for future years.