Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkin Eaters

DSC_2228_7051They have started their invasion.  Squash bugs.  Creeps.  Pyrethrum can help control the buggers; but I simply ripped out the pumpkin vines and did the Garden Croc Stomp on as many of them as I could.  Pyrethrum may need to be applied because you know that I had to have missed one or two – million!  The garden continues to be overrun with pill bugs too.  Diatomaceous Earth is supposed to be a great, natural way to control these cousins to shrimp.  I’ve never used it and will learn more about it with a visit to my local nursery.  I blame heavy seedling loss to pill bugs.  They simply need to get under control to allow my lettuce to flourish this winter.DSC_2226_7049These creeps have got to go.

Imagine my delight tomorrow when I say, “It’s October!”.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don’t Bug Me


DSC_2247_7040The tomatoes vines were ripped from their summer bed today.  12 plants that grew about 9’ tall was quite a jungle to mow down.  I started by hand; but Farmer MacGregor came to the rescue with a gasoline powered gizmo that made quick work to the labor.  Not only were the vines dislodged but their parasites were hopping all over the place.  Farmer MacGregor had them locked onto his T-shirt.  One flew into my hair on my neck.  Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww!  That was it.  War was in full swing.  I used my hands, feet, pruners, and shovel to push these creepy creeps to the other side of life.  Farmer MacGregor used one of his size 10 1/2 sneakers to smash the buggers into the wall they were clinging.DSC_2250_7043There’s gobs more hanging out in the spent tomato vines.  Once there is room in the green waste we will have another battle.  Hopefully, the birds will swoop in and help themselves to a Sunday banquet.  Hornworms, caterpillars, and grubs were cleaned out of the garden as well as the smashed hoppers.

Plans are to have the beds prepped and planted by Saturday, October 1 (or there abouts).

PS – Good news to anyone heading to Bakersfield.  The high today is only expected to reach 79°!  That won’t last long though.  Mama Nature will probably keep testing us well into October.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Summer, I would like to introduce you to Autumn.


This evening the garden tour revealed that most of the tomatoes and all the watermelons need to be ripped from the summer beds to make way for the winter garden.  As I was picking the first of the pumpkins and the last of the tomatoes, the wind kicked up and the big, fat splashes of rain came down.  Looking at the photo you could imagine that it was time to fly inside and get some warm, comfortable clothes on and hibernate.  Negative.  When I went back inside, I needed to crank up the AC.  It was 102° today.  With 100% humidity, it was gross.  If this is what it’s like in the South, count me out.

Tomorrow, the ripping commences with hopes of getting some seeds and seedlings planted.  Thank goodness Mama Nature is going to cool it down a bit this weekend.  There’s lots to get done before the real autumn arrives.

PS – What’s going on in the blogosphere?  Most blogs that I follow have slowed way down on posting…just like me.  There must be lots of stuff to get done before the real autumn arrives everywhere.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Things I Learned This Week

DSC_2242_7014These dinky grape sized golden tomatoes are called Gold Current.  Farmer MacGregor prefers these over the red cherry tomatoes.  He claims they are more “tomatoey” flavored.  Did you know that one plant can produce up to 100 tomatoes?DSC_2240_7012Leaving the watermelon patch in place for the last few hot weeks of summer did, in fact, produce more melons.  There’s at least a half dozen melons tucked in under the vines.  The irrigation has been cut back in an effort to intensify the flavor.  We’ll see.  Did you know that watermelon contains about 92% water and 6% sugar?  I have no clue what makes up the remaining 2%.  Do you?DSC_2221_6962Lemon-Cream Cheese Pound Cake continues to be the number 1 reason to grow lemons.  Did you know that a basic pound cake is made up of a pound each of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs?imageI wanna go to the National Heirloom (seed) Exposition in 2012.  Lisa Paul and Farmer Fred attended and gave a couple of nice posts.  Geez.  You would think something like that would be a smash hit in the gigantic San Joaquin Valley.  Oh well.  It will be a nice excuse for a little vacation.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I am the Lone Locust of the apocalypse. Think of me when you look to the night sky.

DSC_2224_7019Time to start cleaning out the 2nd bed of 3 Sisters.  Most of the corn stalks were yanked out some time ago; but I kept a few in to support beans that really weren’t worth keeping.  As I cleared out the corn stalks and bean vines I kept finding more and more baby pumpkins (Jarrahdale).  Before this evening, I thought that I had maybe 10 pumpkins.  As I kept clearing, I kept finding more and more promising specimens.  There are so many more producing that I’m sure to delight a couple of kids whose pumpkin patch was a dud this summer. I worked beyond sunset and had to use a flash for some of the final photos of the day.  DSC_2233_7027There was only a slight infestation of aphids this summer.  A blast from the hose along with lady bugs gobbling up the beasts seemed to keep the aphids remarkably under control.  I may have only seen 1 or 2 squash bugs.  Now I know why.DSC_2235_7029The more I cleared, the more I disturbed the population of my team of homeland security agents.  There were so many fat, happy, and apparently expecting praying mantises.  This one looked like Lamaze breathing would be necessary any moment.

Even though the 3 Sisters version of gardening was a bust this summer, one item did flourish – Jarrahdale Pumpkins (and praying mantises).


species:  Zoranthian

Zorak: My favorite episode of The Golden Girls is the one where they all took contaminated Geritol and died.
Space Ghost: That was never an episode!
Zorak: Well, it should have been.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mystery Tomato

DSC_2238_7010Never never trust yourself to remember something.  I thought I could remember the variety of this little tomato that a work associate started this from seed.  Probably underneath all of the massive canopy of the plant I may have a plant marker.  It’s a tiny little grape sized fruit that is golden to orange in color.  They take a mighty long time to mature.  I suspect they were started in the early spring and transplanted anywhere from May to March.  Heck.  I really didn’t track these little jewels at all.  They are a nice surprise in the the garden this summer.DSC_2243_7015

Farmer MacGregor enjoys snacking of these little tomatoes; so that’s a good thing, Martha.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Give a Fig

DSC_2232_7004The volunteer fig is the first of the trees to surrender to summer’s exit (if you consider temperatures in the 90s an exit!).  The leaves are moving from green to yellow to burnt orange.DSC_2579_6163In mid March of this year, one fruit was produced.  Success!  Now whatever happened to that fig?  Could the thief have been a stray possum?  A terroristic bird?  I don’t know.  I never was able to enjoy that one piece of fruit.  DSC_2580_6164Currently, the young tree is in a pot.  I think I would like to get it in the ground and train it to grow low.  I just need a suitable spot.

My hope is high for next year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

National Heirloom Exposition–Santa Rosa, CA


Anyone going to the National Heirloom (seed) Exposition in Santa Rosa this Tuesday through Thursday?  I would love to go; but it’s too far to drive for this infant gathering.  At $4/gallon, I would like to be sure this would be worth my money and time.  Once I get reviews of the 1st exposition, I may consider heading up that way next year.

If you go, please let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grape Lovin’ Caterpillars

Look down.DSC_2226_6998The water dish was seasoned with insect droppings this morning.

Look up.DSC_2228_7000Grape leaves have been skeletonized.  Note the grey sky?  That’s right – it’s been raining!  Come on October.

Look up further.DSC_2229_7001Ah ha!  Evidence of more damage along with bits of the culprit(s).

Look up still further.DSC_2231_7003There they are – anchor babies on the grapevines.  Now what?  Do I squash them?  Do I leave them for the birds?  Do I spray the vines with some organic treatment?  Are they doing enough damage to warrant any action?  What kind of caterpillars are these anchor babies?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thanks Pollinators

DSC_2235_6976Wow.  Pollinators are bombarding the Texas Ranger early this morning.  Bees, butterflies, and bumblebees were getting busy.  The activity seemed to slow down as the sun got higher in the sky.DSC_2236_6977The pollinators zoomed between the Texas Ranger, lantana, lavender, and pumpkin blossoms.  Texas Rangers grow great in zone 8-9.  Very low maintenance.  Very low water needs once established.  With the important work of pollinators in the garden I can enjoy harvests like the one I had this morning.DSC_2242_6983Granny Smith apples for an apple cake needed to be harvested to remove a bit of weight from the lateral branches of the tree.  I’ll spend some time after this post searching for a recipe.DSC_2245_6986A “dinky donk”, softball sized watermelon was cut up for taste sampling later this afternoon.  I’m guessing that it’s a Sugar Baby variety.  There are a few more forming.  I’ll keep the vines around for a few more weeks while the weather is screaming hot.  Maybe I’ll get a few more melons.  Winter crops (seeds) are waiting to be planted as soon as the melons get pulled.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Moon Flowers Celebrate Labor Day!


Here they come!  The Moon Flowers are starting to open.  This is one planting I did not track.  I didn’t keep the seed packet like I usually do and write down the date I planted the seeds, the date they germinated, and the date of harvest (if any).  Dang.  I do know that I didn’t buy the seeds any place fancy.  Most likely Floyd’s Hardware Store or the Rite Aid Drug Store.  I think I must have planted them sometime in July.

The perfume reminds me of soap – a very clean scent.  Too bad it’s too danged hot to keep my bedroom windows open.  These are growing up on a pergola off of my patio.

They are super simple to grow and just need something to climb up like a fence, arbor, trellis, or string.  If you see a pack of seeds for about $1.50, pick them up and give them a try next summer.  Sun and water each day seems to be all these needed.  I’ll post more pictures and the blooms open fully.

Check out the list and see progress.



There looks to be a small aphid problem on the blossoms; but it really doesn’t matter much to a flower that only lasts one night.


Friday, September 2, 2011



Today a variety of tools are being used to plow through the list.  Early this morning all the irrigation was finished up to allow enough time to prune the fruit trees.  There wasn’t enough fertilizer to feed them all; so that will get crossed off the list with the purchase of more fertilizer this afternoon.  Loads of deadheading was accomplished too.  Excellent.

Ajax had a great time of water sports by playing in the sprinklers until he was drenched.  I took the cue and went to swim in the late morning.  Excellent.

Now the scent of brownies with toasted pecans fills the kitchen.  Excellent.

I’m off to cross more off my list.  Going shopping at the nursery.  Farmer MacGregor cleaned up the boxwood clippings and washed the windows.  Excellent.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going to Seed



Hello September!  

The garden is transitioning into cool weather crops whenever the summer crops give up.  There’s junk that needs to be done in the garden but I’ve been busy.  I’ve been busy enjoying my new iPad, returning to lap swimming, working, and continuing to feed my addiction to  I have four days off in a row!  Those days will have a big chunk of time dedicated to the garden.  Here’s what needs to be done:

  • Harvest remaining tomatoes and determine if it’s worth keeping the plants or ripping them out to make way for garlic and onions.
  • Determine weather the watermelon is worth keeping.  No fruit but now massive growth with loads of blooms. Keeping watermelon for the next few hot weeks.  If no viable fruit is ready, the vines will be yanked to make way for fall crops.
  • Prune and fertilize all the fruit trees.
  • Pick the apples.
  • Visit the nursery and go shopping (oh dang – please read with sarcasm). 
    • Plants for side yard – Advised to wait a couple more weeks for cooler weather.  Delighted.  Thank you.
    • fertilizer Advised to use a 3-7-4 for everything right now.  Delighted.  Thank you. 
      • fruit trees
      • acid
      • all purpose
  • Pull out spent zinnias and deadhead viable plants.
  • Prune star jasmine before it eats the house.  Thanks Farmer MacGregor
  • Clean up trimmings from boxwood pruning.  Thanks Farmer MacGregor.
  • Wash windows.  Thanks Farmer MacGregor.
  • Check camellias for signs of life.  Some look viable while others look doubtful.  Still others looked dead.

Since it’s supposed to be a scorcher this weekend, this list may only be partially completed so that I can enjoy my new iPad, swim, and mess around with my crazy genealogical puzzle.

Come on October!