Archives for the month of: July, 2012

Kaye visits organic, sustainable Wild Farm in Woodside, California on a windy day in late June, 2012. Owners, and master gardeners, sisters Lisa and Kathleen Putnam give Kaye a fast-paced tour of their large, family farm. Please watch here, or high quality on YouTube.

“Maxine the Chicken,” set to motion by Late Bloomer motion graphics wizard, Mika Tanisaki, makes her first appearance at the end. Maxine lays a lot of eggs, but sometimes she gets a little distracted and loses track of an egg.

There’s no way to do justice to Wild Farm’s orchard, large gardens, chicken run, compost and bee operation in a short episode, and there were whole sections of the garden we didn’t get to, but what you see will inspire, as it did me!

Lisa said she hand-watered her garden for two years, and she recommends hand-watering especially for beginning gardeners, as you really connect with your garden that way. I am hand-watering, but my garden is tiny by comparison. She also said it’s not too late for late bloomers to be successful gardeners, and to think big, especially about your soil food web.

I also got to see one of the beneficial insects they attract with their insectiary, a hover fly, and Kathleen showed me a leaf full of live aphids,

and a leaf full of dead aphids that the beneficials had gotten to.

You’ll hear in the episode that July is the month for coastal climate gardeners (like me) to seed for fall crops, so I better get started! She also recommended a complete resource for coastal gardeners, Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Peirce, which I am happily reading. Thanks for watching, and please share! – Kaye

When my watermelon patch (about 6’x6″ with seven plants of baby watermelon) started showing fruit, I could count at least 50 little green balls emerging.  Now, it seems like things are amiss.

Several are misshapen. (I only have about ten round ones. I ate the first, and it was pretty good.)

Or shriveling up before they develop. There were four potential melons on this vine that dried up.

Could be inconsistent watering (I am rather stingy with water in water-strapped L.A.), or possibly a bug, though, I haven’t seen any.

Speaking of bugs, this metallic blue dome looked like a drop of liquid blue paint, till I got down beside it and could see legs. About half the size of a regular ladybug, it’s evidently a lady beetle as well. That’s my fingertip for scale.

I went to check the tag on my blueberries to see how long they produce (since I’m not getting any) and opened the tag to find this cabbage worm. It was already nestled in webbing in the folded card. I didn’t realize I was focusing on the back end.  Soon, it started moving from the other end. Sorry to disturb! You’ll see this worm in action in a future episode of “Late Bloomer.”

As I was capturing the cabbage worm, this critter ran up to see what was going on. I saw a photo like this on internet, but, it wasn’t identified. Know what it is? It was about a half inch long. It got away before I could squish it.

Some good news. Loads of tomatoes on the way.

Hundreds of cherry tomatoes, on my one plant.

Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I had such trouble germinating carrots after the rain of March dried up, that I thought I would try seeding them in a deep pot. I bought a wooden tub with wheels, and direct-seeded it using the same technique as planting lettuce in a pot, except I sprinkled in radish seed as well. I thought the quick-germinating radishes would shelter the long-to-germinate carrots and I was right. I kept the soil moist and covered with a towel and out of the sun till I got sprouts. But, the radishes came in way too thick, so yesterday, with the utmost delicacy, thinned the radishes down to one per inch. This is what it looked like after.

This is a carrot sprout hiding in the radish sprouts.

This is how many radish sprouts I gently pulled out. My neighbor says you can’t replant these, but I did it once before and got a few good radishes.

This motley crew is from the first go-around. Would it be easier and less expensive to buy a bunch of perfect, organic radishes in the famers market?

Yeah, but, then I would have missed out on a very meditative hour last evening. This is after I planted them in the tiny radish and beet bed.

Fingers crossed! Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I was just starting a blog post about my radishes, when the carrying-on outside my office window rang a familiar bell. I grabbed my camera and ran outside and a group of seven green, wild parrots were congregating in the top branch of the tree.

Want to hear what I hear?

I spotted this on a sunflower leaf about 8PM last night, and didn’t realize what I was looking at. I believe this is the back end.

John Dunstan’s “Total Metamorphosis” video makes it quite clear that this is one stage of a ladybug transformation. This little creature was racing along beside the one above, which wasn’t moving.

If I’d realized they were beneficials, I would have not deposited the leaf with the emerging ladybug in the recycling bin! 😦 Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I spent most of yesterday fussing over my tomatoes. I “didn’t get the memo” (from the movie “Batman Begins”) about pruning. As vines towered four feet over my head, I had to channel my inner contortionist to crawl into the jungle and clean up a big pile of limp or shriveled leaves and branches. That’s my hand sticking out (recreated today for effect, haha!). That’s my friend Lettuce (gone to flower) to the left of my hand, and a big clump of sage by my leg. Did I say, don’t plant things so close together?

My poor little orange tree (front, center) has been sandwiched on two sides by a Cherokee Purple Heirloom and a Brandywine. In protest, it has refused to produce a single orange. That’s the big set of vines on right that are leaning farther than the Tower of Pisa. You can see me planting these seedlings in March in Rainy Day in the Garden, episode 4 of “Late Bloomer.” If you don’t prune, I’ve learned, vines become bushy and heavy and those wire tomato cages collapse from the weight.

Recently, I spent a day pounding in stakes to keep them from falling all the way down. The promise of a couple hundred tomatoes urged me on. Here are three of the Cherokee Purple.

Another reason to prune is access. It is so much easier to spot problems. Until I crawled in there yesterday (I had been procrastinating the inevitable), I didn’t realize I had some problems with the Brandywine. My helper for really hard jobs, Rene, drove by and told me this was from a rat. He said squirrels and raccoons don’t like tomatoes.

I asked him if netting would help, and he said that would only keep my neighbors from picking a tomato as they pass on the sidewalk. I intend to hang a sign on the Brandywine, “If you would like a tomato, ring the bell.” I give away a squash almost every day. Next issue, remember those tomato trays in “Rainy Day?” I cut them to pieces and surgically removed them from the stems of my plants as they had overgrown the opening. And, guess what I found.

Slugs, one large and three small. I also found four snails hiding on the bottoms of various leaves. And this, which I suspect is a batch of spider eggs, but, what do I know?

And several rotten Brandywines (that was my only non-organic seedling), hmmmm.

And I’m not sure if this is bugs or disease.

But, the good news is my Green Zebra vines are looking good!

Some branches are really loaded. Which means I spent another hour tying up branches that were in danger of breaking.

I gave away a couple of Patty Pan squash, then rounded up my haul for yesterday.

My first baby watermelon, three different kinds of cucumber, a handful of beans and blackberries and a few tomatoes. The cucumbers, (left to right) A&C Pickling, Bushy, Japanese Climbing, were all a bit bitter and disappointing, even though they looked great on the vines.

The pickling cucumber leaves have taken to wilting in the sun, like the Patty Pan squash.

By evening, they have perked back up. So strange! I thought cucumbers loved the sun. I’m watering them every day, so, it’s not for lack of water, maybe too much?

It’s summer and so much is happening in the garden! Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I don’t have a Dapple Dandy Plumcot tree, but, I wish I did! I have a regular plum tree. See my blog post “Plum Silly” . My neighbor gave me a bag of Dandy Dapple Plumcots (or Pluots) that her friend grew in Visalia, CA, and I’ve never tasted a better plum.

The skin is tender and the flesh is bright red. I made lunch of fresh goat yogurt (I don’t have a goat, either, but I wish I had room for one) with a sliced Dapple Dandy, a drizzle of raw Heavenly Organics Raw Rare White Himalayan Honey and a sprinkling of organic ground nutmeg. Delicious and healthful!

Thanks for reading! – Kaye

One stem and it’s leaves had shriveled and turned brown, and that’s when my neighbor, C.L., had told me it was time to dig for potatoes. This was my first find from my second batch of potatoes.

Then I found two more attached to the little strands that stretch down from the stem. It’s so exciting to find that you’ve actually grown potatoes!

I didn’t want to disturb those other tiny strands, each one leading to a growing potato, so I stopped there. This is the plant that I included in my “Memorial Day in the Garden” episode, when you just see the small sprouts breaking the surface. Just over two months ago, I planted one sweet potato and two white potatoes, and mounded them up twice. This is the plant that’s left.

The maple-shaped leaves (right) are the sweet potato, a very different shape from a regular potato leaf (left).

Potatoes are so easy to grow (I have been lucky to get through bug-free), that I should always have potatoes on the countertop growing eyes, so that I have a continuous supply of potatoes. Thanks for reading! – Kaye

Kaye gets out of her front yard garden for a little inspiration, and visits beautiful Woodside, California. In this episode, she checks out the Woodside Library California Native Plant Garden and the Woodside Elementary School garden. With guest, teacher Brian Myrtetus. Watch here or higher resolution on YouTube.


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