Thursday, April 29, 2010

Summer Crops – Part I

DSC_1405_4064 There are four raised beds in the garden.  Three of the four beds are ready for planting.  Let’s start the tour with bed number one.  Notice the tomato cages laying on their sides.  This is kitty litter prevention.  All four rows have been sewn and I do not want garden kitties to help themselves.  This should do the job until the seedlings are established.  All four rows will be planted with a variety of heirloom tomatoes.  I wanted to get the companion seedlings started before the tomato supports are installed and the tomatoes planted.

Here’s what has been planted from left to right.

DSC_1409_4068 Atomic Red Carrots are brilliant red and unique looking.  The 8” roots are high in lycopene which is helpful in preventing several types of cancer.  They should mature in 75 days.   They are supposed to be good companions to tomatoes according to Carrots Love Tomatoes.

DSC_1408_4067 Genovese Basil is very popular with cooks claims the seed package and catalogue.  It’s supposed to help tomatoes to overcome both insects and disease.  The flavor of the tomatoes is also improved with this companion.  Did you know basil repels mosquitoes and flies?

DSC_1407_4066 Yellow of Parma Onions is described in the catalogue as a Long-day type--Large, golden onions are oblong-globe shaped. This late onion makes an excellent keeper; a rare and hard-to-find Italian variety.  Like garlic, onions help repel insects from tomatoes, not to mention they taste great.

DSC_1406_4065 Jaune D’Or Ovale Radishes are golden.  The package has this to say:  In 1885 the French seed house Vilmorin mentioned “Jaune D’Or” as a new variety.  This French variety starts out a pale tannish-white and turns a yellowish-tan as the large roots mature.  The egg-shaped roots are medium-hot, and are great for salads; they seem to remain tender over a long period.  Be sure to try this unique old classic that France has been enjoying for over 125 years.  Radishes repel the two-spotted spider mite.

This bed is on the western most edge of the garden and in full sun.  With temperatures expected in the 80s next week (yuck), the seeds should be sprouting at a record rate.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


DSC_1397_4056 Bird damage control just got cranked up a notch.  The checkout stand at Von’s had a variety of miniature kites for the kiddies on special.  Butterflies, turtles, dragons, and owls once filled a display.  The inventory was reduced to turtles and owls.  For a little over $3, I had something to add to my arsenal of bird detractors.  Perfect.  I snagged an owl to stand guard over the strawberries.  Along with the scare tape, things look fairly good.DSC_1391_4050 This little guy is tethered to the post for the squash support.  Strawberries are planted in the cinder blocks that form the bed where squash and watermelon will grow this summer.  The squash is called Squash Lemon and the watermelon is call Malali.  It’s from Israel.  More on those crops another time.DSC_1394_4053 Farmer MacGregor was not distracted by Hootie’s bobbing and weaving in the breeze.  The gentle farmer was on a mission to complete the installation of the squash support.  I’ve planted the squash along the right side of the support.  The plants will be trained to grow up the wire.  I will help the blossoms poke through to the other side.  The squash should dangle down on the other side out of the dirt, moisture, and sun.  Pretty cool.DSC_1395_4054 Since the area on the left side of the support should be shaded, I may plant beets under there.  I have a few days to decide.  Note the drying rack in the background behind Hootie taking a dive.DSC_1396_4055 This evening was nice enough to not only plant the squash and melons, but I planted radishes and onions too.  Then the storm moved in and it rained.  It rained!  This weather is spectacular.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

DSC_1349_4002I went to the local farmers’ market this morning because I’m between crops; so I need to supplement.  Farmer Tesch’s tables provided lettuces and summer squash.  Murry Farms had some strawberries.  Flossie Faye Farms had local honey.  I didn’t catch the name of the citrus farmers from Dinuba; but I picked up oranges and mandarins.  With this and stuff I had, I made a smashing fruit salad.

Why on earth did I buy strawberries?  I have exactly one gajillion plants.  Yes.  The birds are killing me. They peck at one and move on to another.  Couldn’t they just finish one berry before moving on?  So I bought the basket of strawberries then went to buy some scare tape.  Three stupid dollars for strawberries?!DSC_1354_4007 Strips of the reflective mylar tape is now being used to scare birds from the strawberries, peaches, and grapes.  So far, so good.DSC_1358_4011 I do not want to lose any of these peaches to pesky birds.DSC_1364_4017 I then stopped by Floyd’s to pick up a couple containers of night crawlers.  This big babies were split between the four raised beds.DSC_1351_4004

Other stuff going on in the garden:DSC_1357_4010 Second tomato bed ready for planting.DSC_1360_4013 More grapes are forming.DSC_1382_4027 The lavender is beginning to bloom.DSC_1373_4020 I finally captured a close up photo of the lobelia without washing out the color.DSC_1372_4019 We’ve got about four days like this without rain.  Tomorrow I will probably plant the seeds for radishes, chives, carrots and onions.  I may even start the lemon squash.

Then again, I may just read the Sunday Bakersfield Californian and take a nap.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crossing Paths


In 1967, my granny and grandpa from Edinburgh came to visit Bakersfield, California.  This was the 2nd and final time that I was in contact with them.  It was quite amazing that they flew here since my grandpa wasn’t going to come to the U. S. A. until a bridge was built for him to walk across the Atlantic.

Nevertheless, here they were for a visit.  One day, my father took my grandpa to visit a stockyard out at Famoso (pronounced by locals:  Famosa).  This was interesting to him as he was born a country boy and worked in the stockyards of Edinburgh.  My Wyoming father had a bit of livestock knowledge so this was probably an enjoyable “guy” thing.

In the picture above, off in the horizon, there is a derrick, Texaco, and a motel sign.  Under the motel sign is a cafe sign.  My mother-in-law ran that cafe.  She ran that cafe in 1967.  Farmer MacGregor kept his horse, Sugar, at the stockyard.  I would like to imagine that my dad took my grandpa to the cafe for a bite to eat and that my mother-in-law was pouring the coffee.  Farmer MacGregor may have been at the counter eating pie.

 Scotts1967semar cafee My mother-in-law met her father-in-law before meeting my father-in-law.  I met my father-in-law before I met Farmer MacGregor.  Small world really.

For any of my gajillion cousins that may read this, I would love to share any scanned images with any stories they may have.

I’ll return to the garden after this brief detour to the stockyard.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It Ain’t Summer Yet

Thank goodness the warm days of early summer have been  blown away with a nice, refreshing storm.  The temperature peaked at 68 around 10:30 this morning.  Then, dark clouds blew in fast.  The skies opened up and it was great.  There must be snow in the mountains.  The air is cool and fresh.  Why would anyone want summer to hurry and get here?


Sunday, April 18, 2010

What a Weekend

Here’s what’s been happening in Maybelline’s Garden this weekend.

Ladybugs are everywhere -  the lawn, fruit trees, and even my rear view mirror on the was back from the grocery store.  Here are a few shots of the ladies working on the strawberries and lavender. DSC_1312_3965

DSC_1316_3969 Farmer MacGregor was busy constructing the supports for the tomatoes and lemon squash.  He even has plans to make drying racks for the garlic and onions.  Neighbors are in awe of his talent.DSC_1319_3972 The green onions were planted in one bed they will share with tomatoes.  The other tomato bed will also house radishes.  Farmer MacGregors supports will allow the tomatoes to be strung up allowing plenty of sunshine to hit the onions.  The companion gardening of placing onions amongst the tomatoes should help with pest control.  The same goes for the radishes.DSC_1322_3975 DSC_1323_3976The hot peppers were transplanted into their final stage before being planted in the garden.  They join the tomatoes in the nursery that looks like its making  the best use of cups after a kegger.DSC_1326_3979 My mother’s lemon tree is loaded with small lemons.  I squeeze the juice and freeze it in ice cube trays storing the cubes in freezer bags.  Juice is always available that way plus the cut lemons make the house smell great.DSC_1329_3982

I’m pooped.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Minding My Peas

DSC_1269_3923 The last of the peas have been pulled out in preparation for the summer plants to get started.  The stakes were pulled.  The dried out plants were pulled.  And the garden wagon was pulled up to be filled with the vines to continue drying.DSC_1266_3920 I’m waiting for the remaining pods to dry out so I can store them for split pea soup.  I sure hope that’s how it’s done.  My mother told me that that is how my Granny did it; so I’m giving it a shot.DSC_1267_3921This bed still has carrots, beets, and garlic growing.  I think the peppers will grow here for the summer.  I have Serranos  and Black Hungarians waiting in the wings.  Last summer there were pumpkins, onions, beets, and carrots.  DSC_1270_3924

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Flower Power


The Spring flowers will be winding down as the temperatures wind up.  Stock, pansies, and lobelia will have to make room for the summer bouquets.  I need some suggestions for low growing summer flowers that can take the heat.  No sissy flowers will endure the zone 9 heat.  The hottest hot could be around 115.

Any flower to be considered needs to be drought tolerant.  Rain doesn’t happen around here between May and October.  Irrigation will hit once each morning then they will be on their own.

Petunia or maybe dwarf zinnias are being considered. Lemon thyme and lavender may work really well though. 

The search is on.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Strawberry Festival

DSC_1499_3914The strawberries are really starting to pop.  I have two types – Sweet Pinky and Fern.  They were purchased as bare root stock in early 2009.  The plants have spread and multiplied so that now I have no idea how to tell the two apart.  I’m having my own personal strawberry festival in Maybelline’s Garden.

DSC_1472_3880 Oxnard, California has a Strawberry Festival coming up on May 15 – 16.  Looks like they may have those spinning strawberries that kids ride in for chuckles.  Long ago, one of my kids rode in one a barfed.  Think of that the next time you consider going for a spin.  Hey, Budweiser is a sponsor.  Enjoy a few and go for a spin.

image I’ll just stay in the garden and fight the birds for what is rightfully mine.  Think of me if you go to the festival.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When the Wind Blows

imageWind reached an estimated 192 mph in Arvin and lifted in excess of 25 million tons of soil from local grazing lands alone. The wind was strong enough to cause drifting sand to pile-up and plug highways, bury cars, blow-out windows in vehicles, and denude the landscape. The raised dust from the event dimmed the sun as far north as Reno NV.  That was December 1977.  The photo above was taken in the skies above Arvin which is just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield.  I remember that day.  Anyone that was in the San Joaquin Valley then remembers that.  And they probably hate the wind just as much as me.

Usually the wind ushers in the promise of a rainstorm only to blow so hard that the rain goes some place else.  Yesterday, it was windy.  It wasn’t 192 mph windy; but it was dirty windy just the same.  It was windy all day long.  Yuck.  The tomato seedlings were whisked into the shed for protection.  Anything that might blow away was moved or tied down.  We spent the entire day inside watching the dirt get thicker in the air.  Then it finally rained.  It rained most of the night then on and off today.DSC_1493_3908

Today, I surveyed the damage.  My giant whirligig twisted off the shepherd’s hook it hung from.  The wind chimes got a bit tangled.  Some potted plants tipped over and were up righted.  The tender growth on many of the trees and vines had damage.

DSC_1482_3897 Wisteria -  Both the wisteria vines have similar damage as if the leaves are melting.

DSC_1484_3899 Santa Rosa Plum – The plum tree damage looked as though caterpillars had had a food orgy on them.

DSC_1487_3902 Granny Smith Apple – The leaves have been bashed about so much it looks as if they’re bruised.

DSC_1488_3903 Warren Pear – This damage looks as though the leaf had been slapped around a lot.  The leaf could have been slapping against a post.

DSC_1490_3905 Fantasia Nectarine – The wind must have whipped these leaves around smashing them against each other until they broke.

DSC_1491_3906 Blenheim Apricot – This guy just looks all tired out.  The leaves are flopped over to one side.  Here’s how they look just a few days ago.DSC_1497_3865

Thankfully, the peaches (O’Henry) are hanging tough.DSC_1485_3900

The rain had settle the dirt out of the air so much that I could see the base of the grapevine very, very clearly (The hill going south to LA that Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen made even more famous.).

For anyone who thinks that 1977 was a long time ago, for anyone that likes hot rods, or for anyone that would like to hear good ol’ Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen…enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tomatoes Gone Wild


During Spring Break, other types of tomatoes (the real ones) go wild.  The heirlooms were planted on March 1, 2010.  Less than one week later, the seedlings sprouted on March 6, 2010.  On March 28, the seedlings were transplanted into the kegger type Dixie cups until they are ready to be planted in the ground.

Here’s how the varieties look today.

DSC_1465_3873 Al Kuffa (red) – This variety is the stockiest of all the varieties I’m growing this season.  It really looks like a healthy start.  Mule Team will be another red competitor.  Manicure mandatory.

DSC_1466_3874 Arkansas Traveler (pink) – Taller and more slender than Al Kuffa.  This pink variety will compete with Henderson’s Ponderosa Pink for the Best in Pink competition.

DSC_1467_3875 Carbon (purple) – Will win the purple competition by default.  It’s the loan entry in this slot.

DSC_1469_3877Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa (pink) -  These seeds were sent to me courtesy Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  This is supposed to be a big, beefy variety introduced in 1891.

DSC_1470_3878 Mule Team (red) – These were ordered because they were out of Jersey Girl.  They are described as being resistant to heat and disease on vines that bear heavily over a long season.

DSC_1471_3879 One bed is ready to accept 16 (4X4) of the 53 tomato plants.  53?!  What the heck was I thinking?  There will be a second bed planted with tomatoes once the peas, garlic, beets, carrots are finished.  That leaves me with 21 plants to adopt out.

Farmer MacGregor will be designing and constructing the frames to string these plants.  Stay tuned.