Friday, October 24, 2014


 Relying on my memory to recall what seeds were planted where is not a good plan.  When the seeds are sown, I try to mark the information on the seed packet.  Date, location, etc.  Germination dates are jotted down if I think of it; but that's typically not recorded. 

The information noted on the seed packet is then transferred to a wooden stake and pounded into the ground in the general area of the crop.  This system works pretty well.  The ink gets weathered down and can be erased with a light sanding making the stake available as another marker.

Carrots - Chantenay Red Core
 Even if the crop is easily identifiable, the variety may not.  This group of carrots are Chantenay Red Core.  They are supposed to grow well in heavy soil.  The raised beds aren't heavy.  These were planted because of other factors:  One of the sweetest, this variety was introduced in 1929 and is a large, stump-rooted carrot with a deep red-orange center; great for juicing or fresh eating.  A good market variety that is smooth and refined in shape.
Lettuce - Cimmaron
The salad bed has several varieties of lettuce that were planted at different times.  The south 1/2 of the bed was planted about a month before the north 1/2 to allow for the impending shade when the Earth tilts away from the sun creating more shadows over the garden.  The markers for the lettuce have that information recorded.

If more time could be dedicated in the garden, it would really be a Jeffersonian organization.  But I live in the real world and simply do the best I can.  Martha Stewart I am not.

Garden Update:
Apples - Granny Smith
The harvest is complete from the Granny Smith apple tree.  At one time, I wasn't sure that tree was going to recover from scorch.  It really performed well this year.  Now I will be busy in the kitchen making sticky apple muffins and apple/cranberry pies...all freezer friendly.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October Skies

Flying Saucer Morning Glory
Earth has tilted so the sun's rays are a more tolerable angle.  Not quite so harsh at noon.  Have the shorter but still blazing hot days encouraged the morning glories planted in June to finally grow vigorously and bloom?  Is the increase in irrigation because of the pea seedling sprouts planted in the same area the reason the vines are popping with flowers bringing all kinds of pollinators into the garden?  The seed package said this variety does not like a lot of water.  Lies.  It's probably a combination of everything.  Maybe even the blood moon had something to do with a trellis of blue and white blooms.

Dorothy (Soil Sister of the San Joaquin), up in Visalia, was bragging about her beautiful morning glories back in early September. I was always under the impression that morning glories were like weeds in the garden and my measly vines weren't growing much at all.  Kind of an ego crusher.  But Dorothy seems to be able to grow pretty much any kind of flower.  Then the calendar page turned to October and my measly vines are coming right along.

This variety reminds me of soft, old blue jeans that have been splattered with bleach.  Or white painter's pants splashed with indigo paint. Blue and white are the colors of my high school - Bakersfield High School.  It's the name of the school paper - The Blue & White.  The Drillers are great.

Most all the flowers are blue and white.  Of course, nature throws in a peculiar nonconformist once in a while.  Almost perfect except for the blotch of something at one o'clock.  I'm glad I tried to grow these weeds called morning glories.  So far, no regrets.  I may change my mind once the seeds start to explode.

Enjoy your October skies wherever you are.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Hip hip hooray!  October finally arrived.  It's the gateway to cooler weather ahead.  We just need to make it through this last furnace blast and we'll be into excellent gardening weather.  Seedlings for the winter vegetable bed are coming along; but I may supplement the beds with nursery bought plants to fill in the bare spots.  Lettuce, beets, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower are sprouting. It will be nice when they don't need constant moisture supplied by the garden hose.  Pray for rain.

Granny Smith - store bought & garden grown.
Granny Smiths are still being harvested to bake in tarts, muffins, apple sauce, and pies.  How are store bought apples so perfect?  I understand the glossiness from the wax; but why is the stem end perfect.  There is a scab of sorts that develops on the stem end of the apple.  How does it develop?  It doesn't effect the taste.  It doesn't effect me.  Just a curiosity I have.

Since publishing this post, I have found out that the "scab" is called russeting and is caused by humidity as the apple develops.  The example in the image above is an excellent example of very low humidity russeting since California is in the midst of an historic drought.  Chemical supplements can be applied to have apples of more consistent size with a pleasing appearance.  I found this interesting post regarding russeting.  UC Davis also has an interesting explanation of russeting on apples.  Scroll down to page 4 and read the article regarding russeting.  Irrigation after the petals fall and there after seems to be important in avoiding russeting. This is similar to cracking in tomatoes when soil is allowed to dry out then water is applied.  The plant sucks up the moisture and as a result, stretch marks are created. 

All the fruit trees and berries have been fertilized and given a layer of compost to tuck them in for the winter whenever it arrives.  The apples are the only fruit left.  Once the leaves start to drop, I'll have a better view of the limbs to enable some pruning before Farmer MacGregor applies the dormant spray.  Until then, we're still dreaming about some cold, wet weather.