Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden Updates

Beautiful Alma Paprikas turning color
Egyptian Walking Onions that I traded at the RIPE Altadena (Residential In-season Produce Exchange of Altadena)

Amish Paste Tomatoes still going strong in the bed we grew the Hairy Vetch cover crop in
4 new beds waiting to go into the ground... But first, the brickwork needs to be completed around the edge of the concrete. The gravel under the concrete keeps coming out and needs to be retained by a brick border.
This bed had the Cucumbers, Corn, Beans and Zucchini. It still has the old Zuke but, I've planted another one a few feet away. Hopefully the new one will take. It had a rough transplant where half of the root ball fell off while I was trying to get it out of the pot. The 4 pots you see are more Cukes. This is the gamble bed, to see if we can coax a few more cukes before the end of summer.
This bed had the Cherry Tomatoes.
The Garlic Chives have grown in quickly after 2 trimmings within 3 weeks.
The Navel Oranges are getting pretty large. We will have a good crop this winter if all goes well.
My brother is giving us a hand digging this Super-dwarf Cavendish outta here. It turns out this plant will never fruit and it's a waste of resources to keep it around.
This is the NEW Banana Tree that is replacing it. The Double Musa (Mahoi). It's supposedly produces 2 bunches of bananas in it's second year. Hopefully this one will bring us the fruits we've been waiting for. Grow tall little one!
In the foreground, the new "Mahoi", behind it is the branble of thornless blackberry, then in the back you can see the larger super-dwarf Cavendish that will soon be yanked
The Garden from the NE view. You can see the sun-chokes have finally flowered against the wall. (yellow daisy-like flowers)

Here's a closer look at the Sun-Choke Flowers backed by white hibiscus flowers
This bed had the other bed of Tomatoes...they didn't fare well because we have root knot nematodes in this bed. In order to help reduce the nematode numbers, I'm trying sesame and marigolds. I'm also going to be spraying more beneficial nematodes again, when the temperatures get a little cooler.

This is White Sesame in the front and Yam behind it
This is the path behind the house I'm standing next to the Loquat tree. On the left, you can see the Rhubarb and the Asian Pear tree stump
Here's the Rhubarb and Stump close-up. Notice the stump is trying to grow back from the base of the tree, which is the root stock. The grafted stock seems to have died off, so we will have to uproot this tree. We're SOOO Saaaad.... :'-( 
On a happier note, our peppers were stellar this year with no insect problems and they are still very productive! The key to our pepper success: Rock Dust!
Some cuttings that we are rooting. Cuban Oregano, Thai Basil, Scented Geraniums and a Plumeria branchling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"New" Civic Hybrid!

Since I started working, we've been needing an extra car. My husband and I need to drive to work, and my Mom needs to get around to shuttle our son and do her own things. I had my eyes set for the up and coming Nissan Leaf: All Electric Beauty but, alas our family's urgency met fate. The Leaf doesn't come out until December, and even then it's first come first served on the sign up list.  So, I decided to buy a certified used vehicle. I got it for a good price, ($16K) considering it was an '07 with only 10K miles on it. New ones start at $26K.
Finally, a car that meets me halfway on how I feel about oil.

Homegrown Meals

Steamed Kabocha pumpkin
Spaghetti Sauce with all kinds of garden veggies
Okra..this is cooked. We enjoy it with some gluten-free soy-sauce and some bonito flakes
Dried Daikon being pickled as "Fukujinzuke"

Green Beans blanched for snacking
Soy yogurt, fozen HG Loquats, gifted Peaches in this "gelato".
Green and Red Tomatoes about to be processed
Here they are, all done. Also some refrigerator Fig Jam!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Confession of turning to Chemicals & a Story of Yucky things

Warning: If you cannot handle reading about Ticks, I advise you NOT to read this post.

So, we have an Organic Garden.  We are always looking for ways to improve our soil, since as you know, growing the soil improves the health and vigor of the plants.  We asked the gardener who comes to mow our lawn to bring us the next door neighbor's lawn trimmings in the spring. The neighbor's backyard is a "whatever grows" situation. Before the seeds set on the weeds, the gardener threshed the foot-high "meadow" from our neighbor and brought it to our yard. In order to keep our newly de-paved soil from turning into crack bare ground, we decided to spread the threshed grasses all over the 20'x20' area.

BAD mistake.... Unbeknownst to us, the neighbors dogs had ticks!!! LOTS of dog ticks! And LOTS came on those grasses! So, our poor doggy Happy was covered with ticks! YUCK!!! We tried all kinds of natural remedies. We tried Neem Oil, Diatomaceous Earth, Beneficial Nematodes (they eat the eggs in small hatchlings in the soil), Organic Sprays with Cedar Oil, we even tried Tea-tree Oil. (Which turns out to be toxic to dogs! So don't use it on your pets!  Fortunately, we didn't put much on Happy before we found out)I even purchased this:


But it didn't work!  I sent it back and asked for a refund.

The only good thing was, the ticks didn't seem to have any interest in sucking human blood.  We groomed Happy from head to tail every day and we'd pick out dozens of ticks each day. It was nasty. They just seemed to keep multiplying as the days went on. Tiny ticks started to attach to Happy's ears, ticks so small you almost need a magnifying glass... NOTHING seemed to work so, after weeks of trying to battle it organically, we just had to resort to Permethrin. (Advantage)....sigh... It worked.

So, we have an Organic Garden.. or we used to... I wonder how badly this is going to affect our natural insect predators. We keep Happy out of our raised veggies beds.  Do you have any stories like this? How soon can I start calling my Garden "organic"? I feel like a traitor...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harvest Updates

Aug 14:
I didn't have time to take pictures of the other harvests that morning
Aug 16
Aug 17
Aug 18

Garden Updates

Our son is learning to be the right hand man to his Dad. Helping measure!
Sanding the posts
Here's one bed that's almost done
Cherry Tomatoes were mostly cleared and the Chinese Chives and Bunch Onions trimmed
Our messy parts
Lots of pots

Homegrown Meals

Spaghetti Sauce for freezing
Sun-dried tomatoes
Cucumber Kimchi fermenting

Flowers of Summer

Bees are busy on the Oregano blossoms (tiny white flowers).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garden Updates

So after all that designing and planning of the new opened 20'x20' area, we are going to go with the most basic plan with the rectangular beds.

Yes, I know... BOOORING! I have a rebuttal: Anne, who is one of my favorite followers of this blog mentioned a very good point. If we are going to have chickens, it would be ideal to let the hens peck around the beds after harvest to till and fertilized the soil. If we want to do that, we'll need to have equal sized beds to build a "Chicken Tractor" cage for these beds.
Elephant Head Amaranth
Alma Paprikas
The Sun-chokes are about 15' tall now, and still hasn't flowered! I don't think we'll be growing these next year. As robust as they are, we aren't very fond of the flavor of the tubers. This massive plant conglomerate is the growth of just 6 tubers we planted early spring! Isn't that crazy?
Here's part of the 20'x20' area being used as a nursery for now. Notice the stakes in the soil, that's where some of the new beds are going to be built. We placed the plants within the beds so that the watering will soften the soil so it's easier to dig
Here's the last of the zucchini blossoms for this plant. I've started another seedling but, it will be a few weeks before it will be productive.
Amish Paste Tomatoes
Lots and lots of figs, and our freezer is full already