Sunday, August 28, 2011

You Are Out

In the garden, one day your are “in” and the next day you are “out”.  Most of the corn has been cleared out of the garden to make way for winter seeds – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, onions, and beets so far.  Some stalks of corn remained to allow the beans to finish up and to provide a bit of shade to the pumpkins below.  Fine.

DSC_2237_6957Garden inspection this evening revealed an infestation of biblical proportions.  Tassels resembled something that had been dipped in batter and deep fried like a Twinkie.  The corn was covered in critters.DSC_2237_6957


The stalks were yanked and broken down into the green waste.  This isn’t going into MY compost.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ginger or Maryann


I’ve never grown ginger before and don’t really know if zone 9 in Bakersfield, California is a successful area to cultivate the stuff; but my brother gave me some rhizomes to try.  They aren’t fat, full rhizomes either.  The odds may be against me.  I’ve looked at a few ways to try growing them and it looks fairly easy.  My thought is to plant them out with a bed of daylilies.  Sunny, warm/hot location in well drained soil that gets watered daily. 

According to Botanical.comNaturalized in America after the discovery of that country by the Spaniards. Francisco de Mendosa transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain, where Spanish-Americans cultivated it vigorously, so that in 1547 they exported 22,053 cwt. into Europe. 

I’ll give it a shot and plant some tomorrow.  In the meantime, if anyone has any words of advice please post them in the comments section.  Thanks

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Corn Dog


Is eating corn bad for dogs?  Not the cobs…the plant.  Ajax enjoys shredding the leaves.  I don’t think he actually eats the leaves.  He shreds them.

Every dog I’ve ever had enjoys popcorn.  Not the microwave junk.  The real deal.  Ajax is no exception.  I don’t know why he’s attracted to the corn; but he is.

Is that bad for the dog?  It can’t be good for the corn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


DSC_2221_6942There are sunflowers in the garden this summer.  They have thrived in the summer sun and are now heavy with heads full of seeds.  Moonflowers were planted too.  The vines are growing from a hanging basket and in the ground.  All are growing skyward.  When are they going to bloom?DSC_2232_6952I’ve never grown them before; but it looks like it could be any night now.  Stay tuned.  Now go sing Moonshadow to yourself just like me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

3 Sisters Review


This summer, two beds were planted in the 3 Sisters method of gardening.  Corn, squash, and beans are those three sisters.  Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn was planted in both beds…not all at once.  The seeds were planted weeks apart to insure ears of corn throughout the summer.  The first planting was in the east and gradually worked westward. Both beds were planted with Borlotto Solista beans.  The eastern bed was planted with Lemon squash.  The western bed was planted with Jarrahdale pumpkins.

Here’s the critique: 

The corn sucked.  No matter when I picked it, it had a doughy texture.  The taste was fine.  How can you go wrong with butter and salt?  The texture was always bad.  It could be the variety or it could be the gardener.  This is my 1st year growing the stuff.  Although the critique rates corn as bad…very bad, I consider this summer a success.  My goal was to get at least one ear of corn.  I surpassed that; but I will have to think carefully if I want to grow corn again.  It does take a lot of water.  Several rows were planted to insure pollination.  Elvin Bishop plants his 3 Sisters garden in a circular pattern; but I’m completely satisfied picking up a few ears at the Farmers’ Market during future summers while humming a Bishop tune.  Let the professionals mess with the mess. 

The beans produced less than last summer when more seeds were sown this summer.  Not good.  Sure the plants climbed up the corn stalks just fine; but I would like a lot more beans to show for the effort.  These beans are great dried and I’m disappointed that not many were produced.  If you plan on using this method, make sure the corn has sprouted about 6” before planting the beans.  Their growth catches up to the corn quickly; so giving corn a head start will provide a nice bean pole for the vines.

Lemon squash produced but not as vigorously as last summer.  It could be that the seeds were left over from last summer.  I would recommend using a squash that trails all over the place when considering the 3 Sisters method.  Bush varieties do not serve the purpose of providing shade on the garden floor beneath the corn stalks.  Aphids attacked the squash in this bed pretty badly this summer.

One success is the Jarrahdale pumpkin.  They have produced quite a few blue-green squash and provided nice shade for the garden floor.  Aphids were around for a brief time.  A power blast from the garden hose seemed to clear things up with the help of ladybugs.

Right now, in the tail end of summer heat, I wouldn’t plant a 3 Sisters Garden again.  Once I have the time of a cool winter to reflect, I may come to my senses and rise again to the challenge.  Maybe I need to go all the way and put a dead fish in the planting bed like Indians did long ago.  Nah.  This pale (or pail) face steers clear of fish.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How Do You Roast Sunflower Seeds?

DSC_2217_6938The sunflowers are now so heavy their heads are hanging down all day long.  It seems they are also bowing to the power of the sun.  The strongest of us must cry “Uncle” at this time of year.  Enough is enough.  Summer is the price I pay for having a 365 day growing season; but come on already.  DSC_2219_6940I’ve only grown sunflowers before for decoration then for bird seed.  This season, I think I may try roasting and salting them for Farmer MacGregor to enjoy.  These are supposed to be the Teddy Bear variety; but I think I got gipped.  Are they edible?  If so, how do you prepare them?  There’s a bunch this summer.  Any suggestions? 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

oooooo! Super Scary Tape

DSC_2261_6933She’s baaaaack.  I will believe that this is the same mama dove that built a lame nest on the other side of the beams a few weeks ago.  Why?  Because that lame nest she built fell down causing the death of her two newly hatched chicks.  So.  She went out on the town and got knocked up again.  Come on girl.  Don’t you know that Dove Season is less than two weeks away?  Nonetheless, I don’t believe that the manufacturers of scare tape will be contacting me for a testimonial even though it works pretty good against the other breeds of birds around here.DSC_2260_6932Can’t blame the old girl though.  The wisteria is still blooming and provides some relief from the summer sun.  I hope she knows that Dove Season starts on September 1 outside of the garden; but it’s Dove Season all year long inside of the garden.DSC_2181_6876

Monday, August 15, 2011

Here Comes Fall!!!

Well, here comes fall planting.  It’s still hot enough for swamp pants.  It’ll be that way through October.  The seeds need to get in now that the first 3 Sisters bed has been pulled.  There’s a few beans that remain on the west end of this east end bed.


The photo is oriented north and each drip line has something planted (or soon will have planted) on either side.  It looks pretty pitiful now but so would you if you spent an endless summer under blistering sun.    Here’s what’s planted from west to east.  (That’s from left to right).  I’ve noted the dates the seeds were planted and the days to maturity.

  • Lettuce – Merlot (8/15/11, 50-60 days) – loose leaf, dark burgundy.  It grew well last winter.
  • Onions – White Lisbon (8/15/11, 60 days)– bunching.  These grow fast and will give immediate gratification.
  • Beets – Early Wonder (8/15/11, 50 days)– dark, round, and delicious pickled.  It’s the seeds I had on hand.  I ran out on this row and need to grab more seeds.
  • Cabbage – Copenhagen Market –  Planting is pending acquisition of seeds.  This variety has grown well in the garden a couple of years ago.
  • Beets – Early Wonder (8/15/11, 50 days) – Do I like beets?
  • Cauliflower – Early Snowball (8/13/11 & 8/15/11, 65 days)- tight and white.  Does great in this garden.
  • Beets – Early Wonder (8/15/11, 50 days) – What the heck?  I plan on canning pickled beets.  Sue me.
  • Broccoli – Waltham 29 (8/13/11, 80 days) – A proven variety in this garden.  Tender, tight, easy to grow.

At the top of each irrigation line are planted Buttercup squash(8/13/11, 95 days).  It’s a winter squash I’ve never tried; but Floyd’s had the seeds and I was game.  Sparkler radishes (8/13/11, 25 days) are sprinkled throughout.

This bed is about one month ahead of planting last year.  My goal is to harvest by Thanksgiving.  It’s nice to have goals.  Another goal is to survive swamp pants season and enjoy a cool – cold and wet winter.  Come on October!


The garden was pumping along nicely at Thanksgiving 2010.  Come on October!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Aunt Vera

DSC_2243_6923I think that Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show is a great role model on how to age comfortably.  She was not fussy really.  No hair dye.  No make up.  Comfortable clothes.  But Aunt Bea could not can.  Remember the episode when everyone had to try to spare her feelings because her pickles were awful?  With that, I need to replace Aunt Bea with my Aunt Vera.  Vera could can anything in any kind of jar – shampoo, mayonnaise, recycled pickle jar.  If it was glass, she could use it.  I remember her specialty was Chow Chow.  Fig jam was one of my brother’s favorites, if I remember right.  I liked her pickled watermelon rind.  This weekend I canned salsa.  I hope I did Vera proud.  I would like to think so.

Vera had flare too.  She was always tanned.  I got you covered there, Vera.  This is where I will stray from being like Vera.  She always wore makeup.  Green mascara and Ponds face cream were on her vanity along with a jar of bobby pins.  If her hair wasn’t styled or in the process of being styled, she threw on a wig to make her appearance presentable.  Another way I will not follow Vera is having a cigarette lit in every ashtray of every room of the house.  I wonder if she ever inhaled those cancer sticks or simply used them as incense.imageVera’s been gone since 1999; but she was in my thoughts this weekend.  Thanks for the inspiration, Vera.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bean Eater!

Settle down.

Take it easy.

It’s not what you think.


Did you think…

Never mind.

DSC_2238_6918There’s some real, live bean eaters in the garden.  I can’t spot them to squash them and control the problem.  I’ve looked for grasshoppers and caterpillars.  I can’t find anything.  Yet.DSC_2241_6921These stealth like terrorists are not only eating the leaves on the vines, they are eating through the pods to the beans.  Crickey!  The search continues or I won’t have enough beans to make a decent pot of beans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What to Plant. Your Help is Welcome.

The packets of zinnia seeds from the drug store have really grown well this summer.  The native soil in the garden is pure junk.  Even though it’s been amended over the years to help grow stuff; some plants simply can’t take the heat.

DSC_2234_6914These seeds seem to thrive.  They’ve been fed a few times and get adequate water but no special pruning or primping.  They’re out in the front yard so they’re exposed to cats, dogs, and miscellaneous children.

DSC_2236_6916There was a problem with snails when the seeds were sprouting.  It only took a few early mornings of garden clogs stomping their ambitions and the snail problem was eliminated.  The crows seemed to enjoy the escargot that was pitched out in the street too.

The lawn  weeds on the sideyard were removed by Farmer MacGregor to make way for a temporary flowerbed.  He even trimmed back the surrounding hedges to give me a little elbow room to maneuver.  This spot will, most likely, be paved over when a new driveway is installed.  Now here’s the problem: 

What should be planted in this space?DSC_2232_6912The space is about 15’ X 5’.  It’s in full sun for the most part of the day.  As the picture shows, garbage traffic is heavy (The bins are stored on the other side of the gate.) so fragrance would be nice.  I’m looking for low growing plants along the driveway moving up to taller plants in the back.  The tallest should be no taller than 4’.  I don’t want to see the neighbor’s weed bed but I don’t want to be overwhelmed.  The soil will be amended to insure sturdy growth starting now.  I’m open to annuals or perennials for this temporary bed.  Here’s a checklist:

  • Hardy plants in Sunset zone 8 – 9.
  • Full sun - up to 10 hours a day.
  • Fragrance is desired.
  • Drought tolerant is important.
  • All colors will be considered but lavender compliments Farmer MacGregor’s house paint work.
  • Nothing edible.  Remember – cats, dogs, and miscellaneous children?

Any suggestions are welcome.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Make It Work!

DSC_2225_6905Project Runway meets Maybelline’s Garden.  Tasteful scarecrow attire this season is all natural cotton fabric in pink tones.  Pink is complimentary to every complexion.  Since my scarecrow doesn’t have a complexion, the palette is lost.  Don’t forget accessories.  Using scare tape in two tones of silver and red metallic give just the right amount of “bling”.

The scarecrows were put to work this evening due to the fact that birds had pecked a peach off the tree and knocked down 4 apples.  They do a great job.  Ajax thought 2 strangers were in the garden and barked his disapproval.  Nevertheless.  He couldn’t deny that they were smarty dressed.DSC_2223_6903


Thursday, August 4, 2011


I sometimes keep a small ruler with me in the garden to track the progress of a few things of interest.  Here’s how things are moving along this summer.

Jarrahdale Pumpkin in the second 3 Sisters bed.  This one settled on the ground.

DSC_2268_6784               DSC_2206_6901

This pumpkin climbed up  the bean support for a better view of the garden.  It’s getting to be a fat, happy baby.

DSC_2198_6806             DSC_2207_6902

The Variegated Pink Lemon is producing a few fruit and currently blooming.  The scent is great.

DSC_2266_6782          DSC_2199_6900

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the Good Guys

The sunflowers are really attracting the “good guys”.






As a result, this bounty is enjoyed about every other day.


The oblong tomatoes are Cour Di Bue – ox heart type tomatoes.  That nice round one is a Heinz.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

3 Sisters Review

DSC_2177_6859This summer, 2 beds of 3 Sisters are growing.  The first bed was planted with Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn.  Dud.  Oh I grew corn.  Some of the cobs even matured fully.  The result was a chewy one.  Maybe I waited too long to harvest.  I’m hopeful that the second bed will produce better results.DSC_2176_6856A lot of the cobs didn’t mature fully and sometimes there were simply freaks in the garden like these kernels that were forming on the tassels.  The Borlotto Solista beans did fine and continue to produce.  The squash was Lemon Squash.  It produced fine until the aphids showed their muscle.  That’s fine.  Four squash planets can help feed the planet.  DSC_2175_6855

Today, the first of the 3 Sisters beds is getting cleaned out to make way for winter – and I’m glad.  Seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, carrots, beets, and lettuce are waiting their turn.

I can’t give a full review of the 3 Sisters form of gardening yet because the second bed is flourishing.  Hopefully it will help change my thumbs down to a sideways review.