Monday, June 27, 2011

Magical Fruit


Organic Garden Bean Blue Lake FM-1 (Pole Type) from Park Seed Co. was finally planted on June 19, 2011 after the sweet peas were cleared from the support.  The beans germinated a short 6 days later on June 25th.   Here’s what Park Seed Co. uses for a description:

Extra Early Pods are Stringless and Fiberless!

White seeds are tender and delicious!

60 days. A classic choice for early beans of highest quality eating, Blue Lake FM-1 sets pods that remain stringless and fiberless at all stages of growth! The dark green pods are tender and rich, filled with white seeds and an incomparable flavor.

Many gardeners prefer pole beans for their distinctive "beany" flavor. Because they use vertical space, they free up the horizontal rows in the vegetable garden for other varieties while bearing abundant harvests. They're easier than bush beans to harvest as well. Direct-sow after all danger of frost, and for best harvest, keep sowing at 3-week intervals until late spring. For fall crops, begin in late summer and continue until a month or so before first frost date. Support the 5- to 8-foot vines on a trellis, tower, or poles spaced 3 feet apart. Pkt is 2 ounces (about 100 seeds).

More seeds will be planted this week and the following week to insure a bunch of beans for the freezer.imageUniversity of Illinois Extension

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Maybelline’s Garden will be having regular podcasts for a short time.  Not those “techy” kind of podcasts.  Nope.  I’ll be chronicling the progress of a special pod in the garden.

Remember last June when my split leaf philodendron produced a very unusual flower that morphed into a very unusual fruit?   Well, it’s doing it again except about 3 weeks later this year.



Updates will be made as this thing progresses.  In the meantime, I would like ideas on how to use the fruit.  This is a strange one to me and if it’s edible, I would like to give it a try (if it’s good).  Research commences.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Radio Nuts

An “elegantly mature” neighbor up the road likes to sit out in his driveway with his garage door open and listen to the radio broadcasts of the Dodgers’ ball games.  He likes to sit out in his driveway shirtless.  Fine.  At least when I stroll by he will relay the score and his opinion of the game so far.  I listen to all kinds of things on the radio but I do not like to listen to baseball.


I prefer to listen to opinionated talk shows, fun game shows, oldies rock, or old country music.  Country music and Bakersfield have been paired together for sometime.  There used to be great live broadcasts.  Now there are only broadcasts on KCWR  Friday and Saturday nights from Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.  Fine.  Old country music is great to sing along and dance to…and I do.  Sure the neighbors probably think I’m nuts; but at least I’m not sitting out on the driveway shirtless.

It’s always nice to have goals.

Note:  Dang it.  The link to listen doesn’t work.  Seems the only way you can enjoy a live broadcast from the Crystal Palace is to either be there or in Bakersfield listening to the radio.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


It’s too hot to go work out in the garden until the sun sets.  Even then, butter melts and so do I.  Taking photos require the use of the flash and that means harsher images like this.

DSC_2154_6651Blenheim Apricot

I had my first taste of a garden fresh apricot this morning.  Rather, it’s the first taste I’ve had from this apricot tree.  The sun wasn’t over the Sierras yet while I enjoyed the deliciousness of a juicy, just picked apricot.  Dang it.DSC_2159_6656Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn

Okay the lens is kinda dirty; but that is giving a twinkling effect caused by the street light on the other side of the wall.  There are some ears of corn in there (the garden bed – not the lens) and quite a few bean pods.  Everything in the garden is enjoying the heat (103 today – gross).

These flash pictures may be harsh; but I’ll tell you what harsh is in the garden.  Harsh is how I deal with grasshoppers gnashing on my tomatoes.


Goodbye, turkey.  My attorney will be in touch.

Can you name what classic Jerry Reed song that line is derived?


Note:  Listening to Jerry Reed in the garden helps the work more enjoyable especially if you’re dancing with your dog.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Oh yes.  The heat is here.  Thank you very much.  Most everything in the garden is responding to the heat positively with fruit ripening on the trees and vines, beans climbing the tall corn stalks, and tomatoes popping on every single plant.  There is one group that is not enjoying the heat – the garden crew.  Some of the staff has taken to the notion that it’s hibernating time.


Hiding behind the curtains is the best Ajax can do in trying to hide.  Our 8 month old prefers naps on the cool stone floor in front of a fan with the air conditioning doing what it’s supposed to do.

I’m with you, boy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thanks Guys

It’s time to honor all those dads and granddads that contributed in so many ways besides in the garden.  Happy Fathers’ Day to all great dads.imageI never new my grandfather, Clark.  Neither did my father; so much of Clark’s life is romanticized by those left to carry on.  Me?  It doesn’t matter if I’m right or not.  This is how I see it.  I fancy him in the role Brad Pitt played as Tristan in Legends of the Fall.  Clark was more than a handsome farmer/rancher in Wyoming in the early 1900s.  He was a bootlegger.  So was Tristan.  I have heard that he (Clark) was one of the best between our two borders.  He died in 1931 of rabbit fever leaving 10 children and a tough woman to raise them.imageI only met my Grandpa, Jimmy, twice.  Once when I went to visit him in Scotland and once when he came to visit me in America.  His quick banter in a very thick brogue is one thing I remember.  He was excellent in the garden and had a high pitched laugh.  I know.  Those reel-to-reel tapes need to get converted so I can share his conversations.  Reels were exchanged over the Atlantic to avoid the steep charges for a telephone call.  I have a bunch that need conversion but need a trustworthy source.imageFarmer MacGregor has an incredible knack with tools and paint brushes.  It showed at a very early age.  Honestly.  He’s a great painter.  Not like Dali and Monet.  More like Dutch Boy and Benjamin Moore. The man takes great pride in his ability.

imageOne of the fellas that encouraged Farmer MacGregor in so many ways was his grandpa, Lee.  Sure.  He’s pictured with fists full of carrots; but I don’t believe he was ever noted to be a gardener.  A kind, sweet man – yes.  An Angels fan – yes.  A gardener – no.  He also passed on incredibly blue eyes.imageFarmer MacGregor’s father was a character.  He had one skill that I would like to obtain.  The man knew the Latin names of plants.  Dang.  For you, Jerry, Marco Polo If You Can.

imageItzzy is Farmer MacGregor’s other grandpa.  His family’s business was produce.  I would like to have been able to pick his brain a bit.  One day I will know the end of the ping pong table story, Itzzy.  Count on it.imageMaybelline’s Garden blog was started so my father could enjoy what was going on the in the garden from the comfort of his computer chair.  He enjoyed most everything out in the garden.  He enjoyed reading.  He enjoyed listening to and playing music.  He enjoyed laughing.  Looks like he just told a funny one.  Genealogical addiction has brought me to discover many stories about many relatives.  Not one story is bad about my father.  EVERYONE has something nice to say about him.  Remarkable but not surprising.

Our fathers have such an influence on us.  Thanks guys.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Don’t Know Nothin’ ’Bout Lemon Verbena


Went to the farmers’ market first thing this morning.  The list was pretty long today because Farmer MacGregor wants a special Fathers’ Day meal.  Things aren’t mature enough in the garden to fulfill his wishes.  Eggs, beets, cherries, green beans, onions, zucchini, red potatoes, and a small pot of herbs – Lemon Verbena.  The Lemon Verbena was one of those items that really isn’t needed; but, dang it, I wanted it.  They didn’t have any horehound that I need to use as a repellent to grasshoppers.  I was won over by the Lemon Verbena.

I’ve never grown this herb before and figure it grows like most all herbs – full sun, well drained soil, more dry than wet conditions – perfect for my garden.  If I’m wrong, please let me know.  There are all kinds of uses for the clean, sharp lemon scented leaves.  My plan is to add the dried leaves to dried lavender buds to make potpourris.  However, I’ve noticed some interesting recipes using this herb.  Both of my garden gnomes LOVE lemon curd and I think they might enjoy this lemon custard recipe:

Lemon Custard with Lemon Verbena

14 2- to 2 1/2-inch-long fresh or dried lemon verbena leaves (optional)
10 2 x 1/2-inch strips lemon peel (yellow part only)
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in medium saucepan. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 4 minutes. Add sugar; simmer until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream. Whisk yolks to blend in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture. Whisk in lemon juice.  Strain custard through sieve into 4-cup measuring cup. Divide among six 2-cup ramekins or soufflĂ© dishes. Cover ramekins with foil. Place ramekins in 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.  Bake custards until just set, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let custards cool in water in pan. Transfer ramekins to refrigerator. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

Serves 6

Did you know that In Gone with the Wind, lemon verbena is mentioned as Scarlet O'Hara's mother's favorite plant?  Feeling smart?  Do you know the name of Scarlet O’Hara’s mother?


There entered with her the faint fragrance of lemon verbena sachet, which seemed always to creep from the folds of her dresses, a fragrance that was always linked in Scarlett’s mind with her mother. – Margaret Mitchell 

Danged good writing, Ms. Mitchell.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teddy Bear Dud

Teddy Bear sunflowers were planted to enjoy in the garden this summer.  They are described by Lake Valley Seed as Giant six inch puffballs of sunny golden-yellow flowers.  These dwarf plants make a stunning show even when planted alone.  Flowers begin in mid-summer.  Very easy to grow and great for kids.  The surviving seeds I planted are dwarf alright; but puffballs they are not.


They look nothing like the images I’ve seen.  Check out the seed packet at Lake Valley Seed.  Nothing puffy about what I’m growing. 

Do you suppose the seeds are wrong OR am I doing something wrong?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Purple Solution

DSC_2128_6625I’ve determined that photographing purple is usually best in the shade.  There are some exceptions like the sweet peas featured above.  The sun seems to wash out the intensity of the color.  I need to learn a lot more about photography (some day) to conquer the purple dilemma.  Until then, I’ll try to provide a bit of shade.DSC_2125_6622Here’s a package of Giant Violet Queen Zinnia seeds in the shade of the garden shed.  The purple really punches out there doesn’t it?  These were planted in the front yard yesterday.  They were half price down at the Rite Aid.  It’s an easy gamble.DSC_2130_6627See.  The Santa Rosa plums are getting ripe.  Underneath that haze on the skin of the plum is a beautiful reddish-purple, delicious piece of summer taste explosion.  How do I know?  Cuz.  I had one yesterday.  It had dropped.  I picked it up, wiped it off and enjoyed a surprise treat.  Delicious gamble.


Yesterday I picked the winner of the Belmont Stakes – Ruler On Ice.  Love the colors (pink/orange).  I won $2,400!  It was a fantasy gamble.  Dang it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Color Purple

How can I capture purple a lot more realistically?  In the garden I have several plants that are various shades of purple.  Lobelia?  Forget it.  It always gets so washed out.  I just can’t figure out what the problem could be.  A Nikon  D90 is being used with no flash.  The sun is setting in the examples provided below.  Settings for each photo are provided.

Black Knight Butterfly Bush is practically black.  Whenever I take a photo, the color seems to fade or brighten.  It’s just not the blackish-purple that you can see in person.DSC_2255_6611

F stop f/56
Exposure time 1/50 sec
ISO speed ISO-3200
Exposure bias 0 step
Focal length 55 mm
Maximum aperture 5

Although my butterfly bush photo is similar to others I’ve seen while researching the topic, that doesn’t make me feel any better.  It simply means I have company with this problem.  (Note:  Farmer MacGregor is not posing for The Nursery at Ty Ty.)


Lavender is really stumping me.  It completely washes out no matter what time of day the photo is taken.  Too blue.  It’s as if the images are Photo Shopped too heavily.  Too processed.  None of my photos are touched up but what you see is a bit different than what you get.DSC_2266_6619

F stop f/56
Exposure time 1/15 sec
ISO speed ISO-3200
Exposure bias 0 step
Focal length 55 mm
Maximum aperture 5


Not only do I want to conquer this hurdle to correctly capture the color purple in the garden, I want to conquer this hurdle before the plums and grapes ripen.  The Santa Rosa plums are more red than purple – so are the Red Flame grapes.  Purple zinnias will be planted soon.


Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

3 Sisters Update

Planting a 3 Sisters garden is supposed to be one way of growing plants that benefit each other.  The corn (Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet) is supposed to be the oldest of the three sisters growing the tallest.  The squash (Lemon) is the next sister growing over the garden bed to create a shade that keeps the soil cool and moist while preventing the growth of weeds.  Beans (Borlotto Solista) grow through the squash and up the corn to complete the trio.  Those beans add nitrogen to the soil helping to fertilize the garden.  Pretty cool.DSC_2242_6599Farmer MacGregor’s support

Corn has been planted in waves along with beans.  The squash was planted at the head of the drip lines to enjoy extra irrigation.  Now that I’ve just planted the final wave of corn (Planted June 1. Germinated June 7), I’m going to do things a bit differently.  Waiting for the corn to grow about  6” before the beans are planted will help the corn keep pace with the superior growth rate of the beans.  This last planting has pumpkins (Jarrahdale) planted for their melons.  There is a row of corn that is way too short for the aggressive beans.  Farmer MacGregor had to erect a bean support so the vines could stretch over and grow while the corn catches up.  I planted additional beans on the other side of the support with hopes it will be filled with beans.DSC_2243_6600Borlotto Solista showing off.

Corn has never been grown in the garden before so my hope is to at least get one ear of corn to try and determine if it’s worth growing in the future.  So far, the corn seems to be growing very well.  Tassels have started to form and it’s not even hot yet.  Mother Nature is getting a helping hand from me as I’m out there shaking the stalks to encourage the pollen from the tassels to fall down to the silks and form kernels of corn. I’m encouraged.DSC_2247_6603Tassels on Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn

Yes.  Silks are starting to form.  Is anyone impressed with my Midwestern corn speak?  Dang.  I’m a Californian and feel like I’m out in tornado country successfully growing a crop of corn.  Sure.  I know the stuff grows here.  It grows here big time; but  I’m out there whistling songs from the Wizard of Oz or Oklahoma when I’m working in the corn.DSC_2248_6604Silks on the Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn waiting for pollen.

The Lemon squash has really started to grow with vigor and the pumpkins are just beginning to break through the soil.  Jarrahdales were planted on June 1 along with some radishes.  Remember my theory that world hunger would end if every person had just 2 squash seeds?  Sure there’s the additional problem of fertile soil and a source of water to consider.DSC_2251_6607Lemon Squash starting to spread on the floor of the 3 Sisters garden.

The rest of the country is supposed to be experiencing gross, hot weather this week while I feel like I’m at the Pacific coast enjoying the cool breezes and warm sun.  Oh.  My time is coming.  Until then.  Ahhhh!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Espalier Growth

Most the fruit trees in the garden are espalier trained.  Sorry if the word “espalier” is misused.  Though the trees grow two dimensionally  along the XY axes sometimes they need to get their Z  clipped too.    Since the weather has been so incredibly tolerable, gardeners are out in force to doing what chores they can before someone opens the furnace door.  This evening a few of the trees got trimmed a bit.

Here’s some before and after shots:

Plum – Santa RosaStill growing strong, Santa Rosa is an excellent variety for this climate.  This is the first year that a harvest is expected.  There is still loads of fruit tucked up under that thick, green canopy.  Early June is the expected time to harvest.  This year things are going slower because of the cooler weather; but Santa Rosa should be the first of the fruits to harvest.

DSC_2229_6586       DSC_2236_6593

Peach – O’HenryThis tree has produced fruit before but this season is a bit heavier.  The leaves only grow on the tips of the branches but this season they are growing denser.  This should help filter out the sun and prevent sun scald.  Umbrellas will be planted next to the trunk and opened when the sun gets more intense.  The fruit may be harvested starting in mid August.

DSC_2231_6588       DSC_2237_6594

Nectarine – FantasiaThe peach and nectarine are similar in growth with the leaves growing at the tips of the branches.  The nectarine is doing a great job producing leaves.  This tree almost fell to pruning shears to make way for another tree.  I really thought this tree wasn’t going to work out.  An umbrella is set up already for this tree and has been opened to help shade the exposed trunk and branches and prevent sun scald.  Sadly, the one fruit that formed failed.  An future harvest should be from mid July to mid August.  I’m hopeful.

DSC_2234_6591        DSC_2238_6595

Apricot – Bleinheim:  The apricot produces an abundance of leaves.  It’s more productive than the successful plum tree.  No fruit has been harvested yet but it’s hanging under the cool shade getting plumper and more delicious with each day.  Harvest is expected in late June.

DSC_2235_6592        DSC_2240_6597


A couple of the trees didn’t warrant a pruning.

Apple – Granny SmithThese should be ready in August or October sometime.  There are conflicting opinions.  Regular sampling will be needed to determine harvest time.


Pear – WarrenNo fruit this year.  I have no idea when to expect a harvest; but this tree takes well to being trained espalier.      DSC_2233_6590

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Love Global Warming!

DSC_2215_6572Sweet peas continue to bloom in the garden.  Sure.  They’re starting to go to seed but there are still sweet peas blooming in the garden and it’s June 4th!  Once they have petered out, the green beans will be planted.  Shoot.  Green beans probably won’t be ready until Labor Day.

DSC_2216_6573Typically I’m whining about the hellish heat by the time the calendar pages have been torn down to show June.  I’ve been in a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans all day long.  Right now I have some comfy slippers on keeping my cold feet a bit warmer.  What the heck?!  I love it.  Please hear my gratitude.  I hope it’s as loud or even louder than my whining.

DSC_2221_6578Sure.  There are some around here complaining that it’s not hot yet.  I only smile at them and nod hoping not to trigger anything in their obvious mental unbalance.  Rather than me rant about the foolishness of “global warming” or “climate change” or whatever else it’s called now, the bees and I are deliriously happy with things the way they are now and will enjoy buzzing around the garden as long as this weather holds.  It’s good to be content.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mother Nature Continues to be a Mutha

DSC_2199_6556Apricot – Blenheim

Okay.  It’s difficult for me and many like me to thin vegetation in the garden.  Things like onions are much easier as the baby onions are harvested to use as green onions.  Items like apricots are something I leave completely to Mother Nature.  The outcome seems to be the same whether it’s me or nature doing the work.  The strong survive.  The only fruit on the nectarine dropped recently.  It was a sad piece of fruit that was destined to wither.

This evening I was clipping the parsley, thyme, and chives when my pruning shears demonstrated exactly how sharp they really are.  Slash!  The drip line was clipped clean through.  Luckily Farmer MacGregor has extra line in the shed and the repairs were made.  While cleaning up the clippings (along with the black widows and earwigs) I noticed that Mother Nature was again having her way in the garden.  A few more apricots will not reach maturity.  They rested on the gravel almost as helpless as a young mourning dove.

The trees are due for another trimming/fertilizing session.  No threat of sunscald yet with the wonderfully cool weather that is lulling most of us into a very false sense of security.  July is on the way.

Garden Note:

  • Radishes planted as beneficials amongst the pumpkins.
  • Parsley and green onions planted as beneficials to the tomatoes.
  • Coneflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias, and some other flower seeds I picked up at the Rite Aid were planted in the front yard flower beds.
  • The 1st tomato set on a plant mislabeled as Al Kuffa.  This is a mystery variety.  It looks to be a tall, lanky variety.  Maybe as time goes on I’ll be able to determine what variety it is.

Tomato – Variety unknown

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pumpkin Planting Time

imagePlanting pumpkins in June should allow enough time to develop some nice squash to enjoy starting in September.  Today, I planted 4 hills (3 seeds each) of Jarrahdale Pumpkins.  Peat moss, sand, and soil amendment was added to help fluff up the raised bed.  Terroir Seeds description on the package lists 95 – 100 days should be allowed to produce 12 – 20 pound blue-grey fruits with stringless, thick, medium-sweet flesh.  The vines are known to give high yields of pumpkins that are good keepers.  I hope to eat the pumpkins as well as use them for decorations.  Aphids, pill bugs, earwigs, and beetles are expected pests.  Yes.  I’m still looking for toads.

In addition to the pumpkins, 2 more rows of Golden Bantam Corn were planted.  When my new order of Borlotto Solista Beans arrive, they will be planted amongst the corn to help establish a second 3 Sisters bed.  A few more Sugar Baby Watermelons seeds were sown in the melon bed.

Now everything is planted and ready for the summer heat although this weekend there is a chance of rain down here in the valley and snow up in the mountains.

Summer’s Cast of Characters:

  • Corn - Golden Bantam
  • Squash - Lemon
  • Beans - Borlotto Solista
  • Pumpkins -Jarrahdale
  • Bell Peppers – Red Beauty, Red Marconi, Super Heavyweight
  • Watermelon – Malali, Sugar Baby
  • Tomatoes – Al Kuffa, Beefsteak, Brown’s Yellow Giant, Heinz, Rutgers, Santa Clara, Tigerella,

There will be onions, carrots, radishes, and French marigolds planted whenever the seeds arrive to act as beneficials for the main crops.