Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Oh, it’s blissfully quiet on my street! Except for aircraft (jets high, coming in to LAX south of here, small planes going up and down the coast, occasional helicopters heading over the mountain), I don’t hear a thing! Not even the incessant barking of the dog at the end of the street. No drone of traffic on Sunset. Heaven! A perfect day to film “Late Bloomer.” But, I don’t have my script ready. I spent all weekend in the garden. A stroll out this morning with my cocoa and camera turned up these puzzlers.

When you are an urban gardener, every single berry is precious, so here’s a casualty from last night.

I first thought it was a bug, but maybe it’s just malformed. I thought growing strawberries in a pot might help with bugs, but, every night I find an earwig on them. But then, I find earwigs on everything. Are they eating the leaves, or, the bugs who eat the leaves? The proverbial question. Every one of nine spinach seedlings that I planted with the other seedlings has been chomped on.

Speaking of the other spinach seedlings, they are sending up flowers. Am I supposed to be pinching these off?

The leaves are not big enough to harvest. I got these fifteen seedlings from One Gun Ranch, and I don’t remember seeing flowers on them.

I thinned out my tiny beet and radish plot, and didn’t want all those tender shoots to go to waste, so I added more dirt around the perimeter and planted them. My neighbor, Dennis, said, “Radishes are tough, but I don’t think they are that tough,” meaning, he didn’t think they would make it. He’s been telling me since the beginning, that if you fail at radishes (“Radishes 101”), you probably aren’t going to succeed at gardening. After two days, though, some of these shoots look like they might make it.

Last question for today, when you see the center sunk in like this on a rose bud before it ever opens, this means a borer got to it, and you might as well “nip it in the bud,” right?

Thanks for reading! I’m a late bloomer at gardening, and have a lot to learn! – Kaye

Kaye triumphs over a host of garden pests to harvest, on Mother’s Day, her first ever cabbage. With neighbors, Sophia, C.L. and Larry. Click on youtube to watch high resolution. Thanks for watching! – Kaye

Something’s eating my tender Amaranth shoots.

I confess I planted Amaranth because the description on the seed packet sounded so enticing. “Elegant burgundy plumes add rich color to the back of a border. Striking maroon leaves in fall. Blooms summer to fall, 5′-8′ tall.” Well I’m off to a slow start. About half my shoots have the leaves chewed off.

And I have yet to catch any critters feasting on them. They took weeks to germinate. I guess the soil wasn’t warm enough. A few have escaped being eaten.

Fingers crossed I get that burgundy border! There is really no back to my garden so I planted them along the driveway. If they make it, I could harvest “beige seeds very high in protein and other nutrients that cook like rice or pop like popcorn, or pick the leaves when very young for salad or steaming.” I’m afraid I’m not going to have enough young leaves to sacrifice in a salad. I’m hoping for that burgundy plume. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

For the first-time urban gardener, like me, harvesting my first dozen zucchini is a glorious thing! So, for the one month anniversary of Earth Day and the premiere of “Late Bloomer,” I present my zucchini.

I handed a green one, plus two long stems of oregano, to a passing neighbor. We ate the big yellow one,…

…cut and slightly steamed, over kamut spiral pasta and sauce, along with a handful of tender green and yellow beans.

And I rounded up berries. This totals 12 berries so far that I’ve picked, only one dud, as I’m carefully keeping the berries off the ground with wood bark.

When you are gardening in a small front yard, each berry is a victory! Here’s my first handful of raspberries. Because the plant looks just like a blackberry nearby, I was waiting for these berries to get black, before picking, but, out on slug patrol last night, I realized they really were raspberries and I’d better pull them off before they were too ripe. One was a little too far gone.

Isn’t it amazing how it cleanly slips off it’s stem? I always wondered how they did that in processing, haha! It’s Mother Nature at work. Thanks for joining me on my first month of discovery in “Late Bloomer!” Look for Episode 8, “Purple Cabbage Saga” (and what a saga it was/is!) of “Late Bloomer” later today. – Kaye

After working all afternoon to plant my ten new organic corn seedlings, my neighbor, C.L., came over with a welding mask so we wouldn’t miss the eclipse. It’ll be 12 more years till the next one, so thought I would take a few photos. I shot through the green glass till the sun sank behind some clouds and I was able to get this photo.

I had spent a few hours conditioning my soil (that means putting my adobe soil through a wire screen, removing rocks, breaking up the clods, layering with alfalfa like a layer cake), and then planted eight seedlings in this 6’x 3′ slice of my parkway.

Yeah, I crammed them into the spot where I had 3 purple cabbages. I harvested two of the purple cabbages (which you will see in my next episode of “Late Bloomer,” “Purple Cabbage Saga,”) and transplanted the smaller one, so that I would have a clear rectangle for corn. I hear they love to be crowded together so they cross-pollinate. They are all the same variety, Double Standard. Nearly each seedling has two shafts. I happened to look closely at my more advanced cornstalks and discovered black aphid eggs! I got out my spray bottle and blasted them.

While I had my sprayer out (loaded with water, a few drops of plant-based dish soap, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and a splash of apple cider vinegar for good measure), I inspected my six remaining cabbages and found two were LOADED with grey aphid eggs! Does anyone have a non-toxic solution for aphids, or must I have my bottle in hand every time I step into the garden? Thanks for reading! – Kaye

Yesterday, I discovered I had grown potatoes for the first time in my life! When I noticed some of the potato shoots looking droopy, I thought I would dig down and investigate.

In the episode “Rainy Day” I had planted 6 small potatoes in a pot, 3 purple, 2 golden and 1 red. I kept digging and found some more.

It was very exciting! I didn’t want to disturb the roots too much as I ran across a couple of little babies, so I stopped with this batch.

Potatoes in a pot has been the easiest thing I have tried to grow. I’m going to keep planting them! Tonight we’ll have new potatoes with cabbage slaw made from my only green cabbage. I harvested it last night after I discovered three cabbage worms on it.

I didn’t want them eating it before I could. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

After many nocturnal visits to the garden, witnessing numerous snails and slugs, and the occasional Armadillidiidae (roly poly) foraging on my vegetables, last night I spotted a Dermaptera (earwig) lounging on a young spinach leaf.

I was curious what critter was eating on my new spinach seedlings, which I’d recently planted in a box.

Nearly every seedling bears a hole, or two. I suppose the earwig discovered last night could have been eating a smaller insect, as these holes are pretty small.

According to Wikipedia, “with about 2,000 species[1] in 12 families, Dermaptera are one of the smaller insect orders. Earwigs have characteristic cerci, a pair of forceps pincers on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short forewings, hence the scientific order name, “skin wings.” Earwigs rarely use their flying ability.

Earwigs are nocturnal; they often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects and plants. Damage to foliage, flowers, and various crops is commonly blamed on earwigs, especially the common earwig Forficula auricularia.” 

This appears to be a male common earwig, as the female pincers are straight. Earwigs usually move so fast, you can’t get your camera out fast enough. This one must have been too full from eating 1/3 of that leaf. It slid off after a few seconds. I blasted these young plants with a solution of water and a couple drops of plant-based dish soap, a dash of apple cider vinegar with a fresh sprig of rosemary. Someone told me recently they’d had luck with adding fresh rosemary to the sprayer. I’ll be back for tonight’s performance to see if this bit player makes an appearance. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

Seriously?? That’s the question always on my mind when I am trying to water and I look around and my hose looks like this.

This is actually a brand new hose (we call them hosepipes in the South) given to me recently by my neighbor, Sophia’s mom (Sophia appears often on episodes of “Late Bloomer”), because my retractable didn’t retract anymore, leaked and was always in knots. It was far skinnier, thus lighter, and this hose is heavy duty, and heavy when full of water, so when it gets knotted up, it’s a chore to straighten out.

Dealing with hoses is about the only garden chore that bugs me. Anyone have any clever ideas for easing the watering chore? Of course, with my seedlings, I use a watering can. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

Kaye visits Farmer Jack, biodynamic farmer, and he shares his foolproof method of planting lettuce in a pot. Check it out!

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Because our internet service was down all yesterday, Mother’s Day, I was not able to post this. I had intended to write that, because Mother’s Day is so closely associated with flowers – indeed, I received a flower arrangement – I would set aside my preoccupation with vegetables for a day and post the newest arrivals in my garden. What’s blooming?

Potato blossom:

Trumpet vine:

Nasturtium:

Truthfully, I was preoccupied with vegetables, and started the day filming the cutting of my first purple cabbage for a “Late Bloomer” episode, making it into cabbage slaw with Chinese dressing, grass-fed meatloaf with fresh oregano from the garden, and potato salad in fresh goat yogurt and fresh dill from the garden, which made a very nice, cold supper after a long day digging in the garden.

I knew I would never have the energy to cook supper after five hours of digging a 6’x3’x1′ trench, removing all the dirt, sifting it for rocks and to break up the clods, and replacing the dirt, alternating layers of alfalfa to create better drainage of my adobe brick urban soil. This will be the new bed for my corn seed, which I will plant later today. I had a little help with that.

Hope you had a great Mother’s Day! Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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