Archives for the month of: April, 2012

Planting vegetables and caring for them is glamorous compared to the big jobs in your yard that have to be done every spring. Since my vegetables are growing in the front yard, except for tomatoes and potatoes in pots in the back yard, I tend to ignore the back. But, yesterday was the day to pay attention! And I had to get my trusty helper, Rene, over here to help me with some BIG JOBS. If you are a late bloomer like me, you know when you just can’t handle it by yourself, and you have to call in a professional!

I went through the day’s agenda with Rene:

1) Remove a few giant, climbing bamboo (which we planted when they built large houses on either side of us) that were hitting the house when the wind blew;

2) After the glorious bloom in February, the wisteria grew like crazy and needed to be cut back off the art studio and garage;

3) Relocate 400 pounds of polished stone that I had taken out of the planter and had been sitting in trays for a month collecting rainwater and smelling bad;

4) Finally, to the front yard where I wanted a guardrail built around my gas meter.

The Guardrail: Because a good portion of my vegetable garden resides in the parkway, I built the soil up a few inches from street level, but that was a problem near my gas meter, where the mud kept washing down over it. I needed a small retaining wall around it. I was all set to head off to the gardening store and procure some curved bricks when Rene suggested we use pieces of bamboo that he was going to be cutting anyway. I was thrilled at the idea of reusing something natural and we made quick work of that assignment. Well, Rene did most of the work with his sharp saw and hammer. I held the long pieces while he cut them.

The Wisteria: Rene heads up the ladder to the garage roof.

When Rene was on the roof, he said he really should clean out the gutters, so I added that to the list.

While Rene was cleaning out the gutters, he found excrement in them from a raccoon, or very large cat, he surmised. He found it on top of the art studio as well. Rene said he had a friend who had a cat problem and the man bought coyote urine online and set it out in a dish and it kept the animals away!  Maybe I’ll try that. Here he is on the art studio roof.

While we were at it, Rene said we really needed to cut back the neighbors’ vines coming over the fence, and clear out the mountain of leaves that were choking the walkway behind the garage shed.  So, we forged ahead with that task and he cut while I hauled.

We only have one green recycling bin, and that was full in no time.

It was at this point, while Rene was climbing the wall like a monkey cutting back vines behind the garage, that I plowed head first into the extension ladder that protruded from it’s hook. That pretty much sidelined me for the rest of the afternoon.  Here I am with an ice pack.

The most I exerted myself afterwards was to make us some fresh ice tea. Here I am somewhat recovered.

There was NO light back here before he starting hacking away and the wall was covered in vines. Now, it’s clean as a whistle!

Rene finished that job, and moved all the stones without me.

By the end of the day, I was out front resting with an ice pack on my head, when my neighbor helpers (you will see them a lot in “Late Bloomer”) came over wanting to plant something. So, we planted corn seed! They were fighting over who got to pour in the dirt and put the seeds in the hole! Gardening is so rewarding, even when it’s big jobs you’ve got to do, but, it’s especially sweet when young people are interested in seeing things grow!

Coming up tomorrow, “Catch-up Day,” Episode 3 of “Late Bloomer.” Thanks for reading! – Kaye

If you have watched “Curbside Cauliflower” – Episode 2 of “Late Bloomer,” you know I am growing cauliflower in the parkway, and you heard me say, “One morning, you go out and it looks like this…and the next morning, this is staring back at you.” And there is a photo of a fully-formed white cauliflower peeking out of its protective inner leaves. Today, I had the same experience with my one-and-only cauliflower, which I planted on March 8.

This is my first green cauliflower, about three inches in diameter at this point, and though I was in the garden doing maintenance for several hours yesterday, did not notice it. This is what is so wondrous about growing your own vegetables! Unlike my five cauliflower plants before, this plant has been nearly pest-free and only has one hole in one leaf. But, I have been out several nights with a flashlight picking up snails and slugs! Days to harvest, 80-100.  It’s been 50, so I think it will be ready early.

Here’s a view of my ruby red cabbage patch this morning. (There is one green cabbage hidden from view by the Princess Flower bush.) The two largest on the end I planted on February 1. Days to harvest, 55-85. It’s been 86 already for the two biggest, so I am deducing the topsy-turvy weather in March put them behind 10-14 days. The other six were planted on March 8, so they are behind as well.

That’s okay, because you don’t want everything ready to harvest they same day, or it will have to sit in your refrigerator. I discovered with my first round of cauliflower, if you leave them in the ground too long, a cutworm will think you’re not really interested and make a home in the middle of it, and when you cut it open to eat it, he’s gotten a head start!

I apparently have powdery mildew on my yellow zucchini plant.

Powdery mildew can affect almost any kind of plant. Remove affected parts, improve air-circulation, and prevent over-crowding. That’s a mistake I made. Zucchini seedlings are deceptively small and the plants really spread out and the leaves are huge. I planted way too much in my 6’x3′ raised bed. There are the two zucchini, a cherry tomato, 1 sugar pea, 1 green bean, four strawberry plants and a pepper plant, which is completely shaded by the huge zucchini leaves. Too much! Don’t do this!

I read powdery mildew is host-specific, which explains why my green zucchini plant right next to it is not affected. However, powdery mildew thrives in high-humidity, which we’ve had a lot of, so, I could find it anywhere in my garden. I read that spraying with a solution of 10% milk in water can get rid of it, so I’m going to try that. Because I have an organic garden, I’m always looking for non-toxic methods of disease management.

In spite of the powdery mildew on my yellow zucchini, it appears to be producing well!

Episode 3 of “Late Bloomer,” “Catch-up Day,” will be coming today, so check it out! Thanks for reading!

I just discovered this mess under my birch tree. This one, about a foot across, was the largest of several piles. Now, I was already worried about keeping the base of the tree dry to keep the oak root fungus under control, but it’s rained a lot and I had to dump some of my, shall we say, ripe collected rainwater onto already rain-soaked ground. (Watch for “Downpour!” – Episode 5 of “Late Bloomer” coming soon!) A few days later, I’ve got yellow fungus, also called slime mold, from some gardening forums I just read. It’s very unpleasant and from a distance looks like scrambled eggs, but apparently it’s harmless and will dry up and become brown and hard. I’m sure this adds to the over-all biodiversity in my garden, so, why does my stomach feel a little queasy?

Please watch Late Bloomer, episode 2, Curbside Cauliflower. Kaye’s first vegetable is quite a challenge, but rewarding!

I’ve just come in from Round 2 of investigating my garden with a flashlight.  My neighbor, C.L., (you’ll see him in my episodes of “Late Bloomer”) has been telling me to come out at 2:00 in the morning and see what’s crawling around, that I could gather the snails and slugs in a bucket.  I want to be sleeping at that time of night, but, in a dusk cruise around the garden, I saw one slug on a purple cabbage.  It looked pretty vulnerable with the light in its eyes.  But, I’m afraid I had no pity for it, or the other 15 or so slugs and snails I rounded up.

At 10:00pm, when it was fully dark, I decided to go back out and take another look around.  It was a convention!  You know, snails move very fast!  Really!  No sooner than you drop them in – in this case I was using a paper bowl – than they are scooting right back out.  There’s a patch of my neighbor’s grass no more than 4’x5,’ right next to the end of my cabbage patch, surrounded by concrete and asphalt, and I picked up 20 slugs in five minutes.  They all seemed to be headed my way.  I’m sure I would be pretty crazed if I knew just how many were down in there.  I sprinkle Sluggo all around the garden, but they seem to navigate around those little pellets.

In the 7:30 garden cruise, I spotted these tiny white flies, aphids maybe, a pair, on my heirloom rose bush. (I just cropped the photo further and now I see a third creature bottom center.)

Now, you have no idea how hard I’ve worked to get these roses to thrive.  I salvaged two rose bushes from my neighbor, Mr. Gerber’s, yard before he passed away and the lot was bulldozed.  They were heirlooms and the scent was unforgettable.  He never did a thing to these roses, and they were spindly and shoots went up 6′ high.  Not for me.  I’ve transplanted them about four times in four years, trying this spot and that.  This past January, I went to a rose workshop, so I would do everything right.  They start off nicely after pruning, with healthy leaves, but before the buds would open, some creature would bore down in there and they would turn hard and brown before they opened.

Then, the leaves get eaten up by one thing or other.  I was recommended to use a Spinosad for the borers, and after one treatment, I got one nice bloom that smelled intoxicating, but now they are not looking so good.  And there’s the aphids.  I could barely see the white specs with my naked eye – well, the sun was down – so I grabbed my macro lens.  I sprayed them again tonight.

Then, I discovered another one of these.  I’ve seen them before on what’s left of a sunflower leaf.  I think it must be excrement from a very hungry caterpillar, the one that just ate the leaf.  It’s like a little pretzel.

Then, I discovered what my neighbor calls rust on my iceberg rose bush.  I had noticed it on my neighbor’s roses, but was hoping it wouldn’t travel.  Wrong.  I guess I’ll have to buy something to treat that. I removed all the infected leaves.

This Sunscape Daisy, Nasinga Purple, was closing up shop after the sun went down.

Earlier in the day, it had been proudly displayed in the sun.

For more photos, check out the Late Bloomer Show Facebook page.  If you have advice for me regarding pest management – for an organic garden – please let me know!  Thanks for checking in!

You never know what you are going to find when you go out and inspect your garden in the morning.  You have to be vigilant when growing cauliflower and cabbage, as there’s a ton of critters that enjoy feasting on them.  Today, I was met with these on one of my 8 plants.  I picked them off and squished them.  I suppose they could be aphid larvae.  Anyone know?

They leave a little stain around where they are and they don’t move very fast.

While I was attempting to photograph very tiny white bugs, my trusty helper Brooke (she will appear in several “Late Bloomer” episodes!) dropped over wanting to help.  I set her to watering.

Then, I noticed my first fully opened zucchini blossom on my green zucchini plant, and she held the leaves back, while I grabbed this shot.

I have two zucchini plants in the raised bed, one green and one yellow.  The yellow zucchini plant, right beside the green, has a mold problem, and there’s been no mold on the green plant.  I trimmed off a lot of the leaves and sprayed with Neem Oil a week ago, but there’s still spotty white mold coming up, at least I think that’s what it is.  This foggy June gloom doesn’t help.

Hope you have a wonderful Earth Day, and get out and enjoy Mother Nature!  Thanks for reading! – Kaye

Check out “Welcome to Late Bloomer” – Episode 1 of urban gardening web series “Late Bloomer” on Kaye Kittrell’s Channel on YouTube.

Hope you enjoy and tune in again.  Happy Earth Day!

Details, details, it’s all in the details!  As I am premiering the first episode of my web series “Late Bloomer” tomorrow, Earth Day, there is much to be done!  Facebook, Twitter, linking everything together, etc.  You will be able to see “Welcome to Late Bloomer” at Kaye Kittrell’s Channel on youtube starting tomorrow.  I will insert the link here to go directly to the video which will open automatically.

Meantime, the garden waits for my attention.  My sunflowers are stupendous and most cheerful on this foggy day!  I planted Lemon Queen Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), 5′-7′ tall, and I just counted 26 blooms coming on this one plant alone!  And the bees are buzzing all around.  But everything needs a drink of water!

I collected rainwater from last week’s storm in three LA city bins (see Episode 5 “Downpour!” in one week), but a week later, what was left of the water was a bit rank, so I dumped it on my few remaining bushes.  Clean out your rainwater collection receptacles before the storm hits and rainwater will keep for a month my neighbor says!

There also were about a dozen snail shells laying on the alfalfa this morning (this will all make sense when you see “Welcome to Late Bloomer” tomorrow!) and wondered what had happened.  I’m all for dropping the snail population in my garden!  That’s another episode coming soon!

Welcome to the Late Bloomer Show blog!  The blog and web series are about gardening.  “Late Bloomer,” the web series, will premiere this Sunday, Earth Day!

I didn’t fall in love with gardening – specifically growing food to eat – until last fall.  I’m Kaye, and I’m a late bloomer.  In fact, that’s how I open every episode of my web series “Late Bloomer.”  Please tune in to the blog and the web series, where I seek to entertain, enlighten, and educate, about growing your own organic food, through the lens of a late bloomer – a complete novice – me!

We live in Los Angeles County, and after our parkway tree died last August, I got in touch with my soil.  I met a biodynamic farmer, Jack McAndrew (you will be seeing him in an episode of Late Bloomer), who convinced me I needed to be growing my own food, and that grass and bushes were a waste of resources, so I ripped them out and set off on a course that has changed my life…for the better!  “Late Bloomer” chronicles my experiences of learning to garden (farming on a small scale, ha!), which has enriched my life (and my soil!) immeasurably and I wanted to share that with as many people as I can.

I have the most amazingly talented contributors working on Late Bloomer.  Check Late Bloomer Team above for names, bios and contact information.

Please tune in and subscribe to the blog, latebloomershow, and the web series, “Late Bloomer.”  Let the blooming begin!

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