Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do You Know What is Sprouting?


This final blast of heat was good for something.  All the fall seeds are up.  The broccoli pictured here came up in about 2 days.  BAM!  Not only did the seeds that were lovingly planted in straight rows successfully germinate; but clumps of seeds punched through the damp soil into the hot fall air.  An example is that stand of seedlings behind the dirt clod above.  Do you know what is sprouting?

DSC_2185_5205Two of the vegetable beds have these seedlings coming up in random clumps.  Do you know what is sprouting?

You can submit your guess here on the comments or shoot an email.  Oh, there isn’t any prize except the fact that you know you’re right.  And sometimes knowing you’re right feels pretty good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eenie Meanie Beanie Surprise


As I was ripping out the last of the tomatoes I noticed that the Borlotto Solista Beans had gotten intertwined with the Al Kuffa tomatoes.  No big deal.  Those bean vines are getting ripped out too.  Those danged beans didn’t produce much of anything.  Shoot.  I planted them way back on May 18th.  Once I untangled the beans from the tomatoes look what I found.  There are a bunch more just like this big, fat baby.  With that, the Borlotto Solistas are in.  The Al Kuffa are out.  More broccoli will be planted.

Most all the seeds have germinated – cabbages, lettuces, onions, radishes, cauliflower, carrots…This recent flush of summer’s hot toilet has helped to push those seeds right along.  Next, the peppers need to be harvested to make way for garlic.

Things are just movin’ right along.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Mystery Solved

It’s not much of a mystery.  Not much of a mystery at all; but it was something that needed to be solved. 


Who left me this gift of bird parts just outside my patio door?  The evidence was fresh.  I had to act quickly in order to find and stay on the trail of the culprit that was responsible for this slaughter.  Oh yes.  The carcass was that of a mourning dove.  Dovie was not on her nest in the grape arbor.


The chick had flown off after the start of Dove Season; but Dovie would hang out in the sweet apartment she was claiming as her own like a squatter in a McMansion.  She flew down one evening feeling very safe as she landed very close to Pumpkin.  Her escape should have been a lesson.  Doves have never been guilty of being smart.  Since Dovie was nowhere around the garden, I assumed that my patio gift were her remains.  Now who committed the deed?

DSC_2173_5193 As I collected samples for the CSI lab (waste can) I noticed blood dripped onto the garden steps and pathway that had just been sprayed with grass clippings from the gasoline powered lawnmower (Note:  carbon footprint citation should be issued.).  As I was spraying off the walk and steps to loosen the blood evidence before a stain took hold (Note:  enviro citation should be issued for use of water with abandon.), I noticed that one garden kitty wasn’t hungry.  This kitty is ALWAYS hungry.  It’s hard to be hungry when your gut is full of dove.



aka Doo Doo’s

aka The Cutest Baby One

aka Stinky

aka Devil Cat (not by me)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon / Planting Moon

DSC_2158_5178 Fall planting is almost complete.  I’m a bit late but I hope to see some results.  As expected, the radishes are up.  The radishes pictured above are Jaune D’Or Ovales.  These were planted on September 16 and the photo was taken this evening (September 22).  These radishes are planted in the lettuce bed that was most recently the Lemon Squash bed.

I use stakes and old tomato cages to keep garden kitties (any kitties) out.  Redwood stakes are used to mark the rows.  Even though I write down what I planted on the seed packet and on my garden plan, the stakes are a handy reference.

DSC_2166_5186 This evening, I planted as long as I could thinking that the light of the harvest moon would help me complete my planting.  No way.  I’m almost done though.

Here’s what’s in the ground now:

Bed 1

Bed 2

Bed 3

Bed 4

Peas – Tall Telephone Lettuce - Merlot   Cabbage – Early Jersey Wakefield
blank Radishes - Watermelon   Onions – Yellow of Parma
Peas – Tall Telephone Lettuce - Cimmaron   Cabbage – Mammoth Red Rock
Peas – Tall Telephone Beets - Crapaudine   Beets – Early Wonder
Carrots – to be determined Radishes – Juane D’Or Ovale   Cauliflower – Purple of Sicily
Carrots – Atomic Red Onions – He-Shi-Ko   Onions – Flat of Italy
Carrots – to be determined Lettuce – Brune d’Hiver   Broccoli – to be determined
Carrots – Cosmic Purple Lettuce - Iceberg   WILD CARD
  Stevia   Lavender
  Strawberries - established   Orange Thyme
  Basil - established    

The beds are listed from west to east.  The crops are listed from west to east with framing crops at the bottom of each list.  Grey italic means the seeds still need to be planted.

The hot peppers in bed 3 (Serranos and Black Hungarians) are producing like mad and I’m going with the flow.  This bed may be reserved for early tomato planting in about six months.  I don’t know.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall 2010 is Underway – Finally!

DSC_2136_5156There’s loads of work to do in order to get fall planting underway; but it’s finally underway.  Tentative plans, seeds, a reference book, and a pencil (erase as needed) come out with me to get things started.

DSC_2150_5170 The twine is cut from the tomato supports.  Any good fruit is harvested for distribution to neighbors, work associates, and family.  There are only 5 tomato plants remaining; so my source for fresh tomatoes is coming to an end.  The plants are clipped and tossed into the green waste leaving only a stump from what started out as seeds planted on March 1.

DSC_2154_5174 All the tomatoes had companion beneficial plants growing with them.  Radishes, basil, onions, carrots, and chives were planted to benefit the growth of the tomatoes.  If anything was harvested from those beneficials, that was a bonus.  One bed of tomatoes had chives growing with them exclusively.  I found that those plants grew the tallest (some over 9’) and the roots were extensive.  Some of the plants needed to have their roots cut with a shovel to enable the rest of the plant to come up.  Sheesh.

DSC_2152_5172 Grasshoppers were thriving in the remaining tomato patch.  When they were disturbed, they flew everywhere.  My exterminator Crocs got busy and did the pest control clog dance on as many bugs that would hold still.  Pumpkins were ripped out and a wave of squash bugs was crawling along the ground like moving gravel.  My dance routine moved to the pumpkin patch to send as many squash bugs to the other side as possible.  Note:  The pumpkin vines did not produce any pumpkins worth putting up with the squash bug infestation; so out they went to make way for blueberry bushes (I think.).

DSC_2139_5159 There were more tomatoes planted this year and there were more hornworms.  Here’s one with it’s winter coat on already.

DSC_2145_5165 So far, this is the list of seeds planted:

Lettuce (2 types)  - germinated
Radishes - germinated
Bunching Onions

Still to be planted:

Carrots (2 types)
Cabbage (2 types)


The planting schedule may be a bit behind schedule but I’m doing the best I can.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy


I’ve been busy getting the garden ready for fall planting.  Growing a successful crop of tomatoes has delayed planting broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, onions, radishes, beets, & peas.  The garlic can go in as well IF the seed company ever ships my order from August.  I’ll reveal more about them if they make good on my order OR if they continue to ignore my inquiries.  I’ve never ordered from this seed company out of Missouri. 

I placed a backup order with Baker Creek for carrots, cauliflower, lettuces, beets, and onions. 

A good source for organic potatoes is what I’m looking for now.  The last time I tried growing them, they were planted in February so I have some time still.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Wee Giftie

Why are people drawn to the sea?  I know why people in the San Joaquin Valley of California go to the coast…cool air, fog (or sun when it’s foggy in the Valley), a breeze, ocean mist, sounds of waves crashing against the rocks, seal watching, sea otter watching, whale watching, and a chance to wear a sweater.

DSC_2099_5121 We had a road trip to Cambria on Saturday as a birthday celebration.  Traffic wasn’t too bad.  Lunch was nice.  The ocean view was great.  Shopping was fine (You had the knit shop. I had the garden shop.).  The trip back was just as nice while we listened to Garrison Keeler on the San Ardo NPR station all the way to the Kern County line.


Thanks for sharing a fond memory.  Happy Birthday!

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Going West


Road trip today. 

I’m heading west over the Coastal Range of Central California, through the vineyards of Paso Robles, and on to the Pacific Ocean at Cambria. 

9/11 thoughts in mind as I drive.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I’m Late!

I was looking through photos from last year at this time.  Most of the summer crops had been cleared.  DSC_1612_1809 The fall planting of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage had been sown in place.  I was much, much further ahead in 2009 (above and below).DSC_1610_1807 Only one of the four raised beds has been cleared.  All 37 tomatoes remain and have blooms. 

However,  any fruit produced from this point on is usually a bit inferior so I’ve made the decision to yank out all the tomatoes. DSC_1935_4885 Time it ticking and the calendar pages keep flipping.  Those seeds need to get started.  I’m Late.

But as Farmer MacGregor is famous for stating…It’s better late than pregnant.

It’s nice to put things in perspective.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

O’Henry Peach 2010

The O’Henry Peach is enjoying its 2nd season.  It was planted in early 2009 as bare root stock and has been trained as an espalier.  All the fruit trees were sprayed with cooper sulfate and pyrethrum on New Year’s Day.  The fertilizer used during the 2009 and 2010 season was Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer.  Sweet Peas were planted under the peach and other fruit trees but I will not do that again.  I’m keeping the trunks clear to discourage any kind of boring insects to cause any damage.

O’Henry grew well and formed many more fruit in the early spring 2010 than in 2009.  However, many of the fruits were knocked off during a spring wind storm.  That’s fine.  The branches are still too weak to hold fruit.  Even so, about five peaches made it to maturity.

Here’s a picture journal of peaches growing into big, luscious, sweet fruits you should covet.  Yes, they are just that sinful.

DSC_1117_3514 March 13, 2010

DSC_1485_3900 April 12, 2010

DSC_2022_4969 August 21, 2010

DSC_1960_4910 This one dropped off around August 13, 2010 and is being used as an example of the form, color, and size of an O’Henry Peach.

DSC_2091_5060 September 6, 2010

Dark orange-red and very sweet.  O’Henry is an excellent peach to grow in the Bakersfield, California (zone 8-9) area.

Monday, September 6, 2010

On the Grapevine

DSC_2098_5067 The 2nd season for the Red Flame Grapes is coming to an end.  Production was great.  There were many bunches of grapes although the size of the fruit was pretty small but flavorful.  The vine has grown vigorously over the arbor and along both sides of the adjoining fence.

DSC_2097_5066  (Notice the Luffa Gourd in the background, right?  Not one stinking bloom.  Nothing.  Also note Pumpkin loitering around the grapevine.  This will come into play on the last photo.)  The grapevine is doing great with few pest problems.  Throughout the summer I found a few hornworms on the vine as well as on the ground below.  Those critters were squished.  This evening I saw something a little unusual.

DSC_2094_5063 I’ve never seen a hornworm any other color but green.  Because of the unusual color (to me), I’m leaving this guy alone to see what happens.  Maybe the birds will spot it easier.  Maybe it will form an unusual pupae.  It can’t do much damage now and I’ll deal with any of its offspring next year.

DSC_2096_5065 Is it peculiar for grapes to form a 2nd time in one summer?  If not – will these grapes mature in time for Thanksgiving?

DSC_2095_5064 Old Dovie seems to be making it through dove season just fine.

The End

Get it?!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

DSC_2088_5057The variety that wins the growth (height) contest in Maybelline’s Garden this year is Henderson’s Pink Ponderosa.  The wooden supports are about 6’ tall.  Old Henderson overshot that by some distance.

DSC_2089_5058 There’s still a bunch of tomatoes remaining.  One of the DBE gals came to harvest with her husband.  I really appreciated that someone came to pick and enjoy the tomatoes.  Things are slowing down a bit though.  There are still blooms on all the varieties.

DSC_2087_5056 I can’t decide whether to say good bye to the tomatoes and pull them out so I can prepare for the fall or continue to harvest tomatoes. 

In 2010, I had 72 tomato seedlings with 37 staying in the garden.  All the others were given away for other gardeners to enjoy.

Notes for 2011: 

  • Try to settle on one variety with a focus on seed collecting.  I learned that I planted different varieties too close to each other producing seeds that may give me an unusual variety.  I may save the seeds regardless to see what happens.
  • Don’t thin the vines.  That seemed to be unnecessary work.
  • Consider varieties that will grow within the limits of the supports.  This support system is great and is much easier on my busted back.  I would love to try draping thin cloth (cheese cloth?) over the tomatoes ala the Godfather.
  • Plant only three rows per bed to allow movement between rows for the gardener.  It got pretty cramped.
  • Don’t plant as many tomato plants.  How much salsa can be eaten in a few months anyway?!  This will be a difficult suggestion to follow.  Perhaps this should be altered to “Give more seedlings away.”
  • Plant companion crops like basil, carrots, onions, and chives to benefit the tomatoes.  Start the seeds in the beds allowing germination before transplanting the tomatoes.  Don’t expect fabulous production from the companions.  There will be something to harvest.  Just bare in mind these are being planted as beneficials.

Here’s my rating for the varieties grown this year:

  1. If I decide upon a sturdy, red, medium – large sized tomato it would have to be Arkansas Traveler.  The fruit is a nice round shape.  There was only rare occurrences of blossom end rot.
  2. Al Kuffa was my favorite plant with its sturdy, bushy plant growth.  There was an over abundance of fruit but they were pretty small.
  3. Mule Team was similar to Arkansas Traveler but there were problems with hornworms loving this variety the most and sunburned fruit.  This variety probably ties with Al Kuffa.
  4. Henderson’s Ponderosa Pink was a large vine with large fruit.  The tomatoes were odd shaped with blossom end rot being a problem.  The bottoms formed with lots of scars and bumps so peeling is a bit difficult.
  5. Carbon just didn’t do well in the heat that Bakersfield, California is famous for.  Most of the fruit cracked and had to be used for slicing or fresh salsa.  The tomato is a beautiful deep, dark purplish red and is rich in flavor and color.  However, because I would like to be able to preserve my tomato crop I do not believe I will grow this variety again.

If you would like to know more about these varieties, there is a list of labels on the right side of your screen. Scroll down and click on whatever you like.

I’m in search of recommendations of heirloom tomatoes grown in zone 9 (Bakersfield, California in particular).  If you have a recommendation, please leave it in the comments section.

Thanks -

Please enjoy this fun 3 minutes:

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Finish Line is in Sight


Autumn officially begins in less than 3 weeks.  The days are getting noticeably shorter and there is hope that this weekend will be some of the last days over 100 degrees.  The chrysanthemums are showing up in the nurseries.  I just picked up a big potted Mum at Costco.  I know.  I know.  That’s not a nursery; but I was filling my cart and had room for one.  Come on.  It’s not like you never did any impulse shopping.  To be fair, I put back some shorts I was going to use for fall gardening; so it’s a wash.

Some official markers of summer ending in Kern County are the Wasco Rose Festival, Village Fest (sells out regularly), Bakersfield College FootballKern County Fair, and Oildorado Days in Taft.  None of these events are big time Disneylike galas.  They are all small town good fun.  If you’re travelling down the spine of California and find yourself looking for something to do, give one of these a shot.  All of us here in Kern County have something to celebrate.  We made it through another summer.