Archives for the month of: September, 2012

I thought it might be interesting to go out the morning after my “Evening Observations” post to see what I missed last night. Turns out, there were a few things, particularly this critter lounging on my red cabbage. That notch of missing leaf just beside it’s head was in its mouth.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larvae on Red Cabbage

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva on Red Cabbage

I call a lot of caterpillars cabbage worm, and I know I’m not accurate all the time. This one appears to be. They are fuzzy, green with a yellow stripe, and this one was about 1 1/4 inches long. When threatened, they curl up in a ball, like a Roly-Poly. Caterpillars are one long intestine, and they eat and defecate constantly in their short life before metamorphosis. As I see cabbage moths in my yard all the time, I know to watch out for these. They’ll eat anything.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Coiled on a Stick

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Coiled on a Stick

This cabbage grew back from a stalk that I left in the ground in June, after I harvested my last one. Something’s been eating on it, maybe more of these, and nibbled off the head, so I’m probably going to pull it out and start over with cabbage when it gets cooler. As I went in for a closer look to see if there were more caterpillars, I came face to face with a pile of its feces. Like I said, one big pooping machine.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Frass

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva Frass

Next, I moved on to my watermelon patch. I’ve cut out so many drying up vines, that I’m starting to lose hope. There are several blooms still and a few little babies. If I can just get the watering right, maybe there will be time for these to develop.

Baby Watermelon

Baby Watermelon Sprout with Bloom

I’ve got five of these almost this size. This is the biggest. As I am the world’s worst at discerning when a melon is ripe (I always defer to the produce person at the market, and they are not always right, either), I have no idea whether I should cut it now. Clearly, they are never going to get as big as they were supposed to get.

Baby Watermelon on Vine

Baby Watermelon on Vine

I’ve got quite a bit of squash action, still. Here are blooms on my zucchini.

Green Zucchini Blooms

Green Zucchini Blooms

And a half dozen zucchinis ready to harvest.

Green Zucchini

Green Zucchini Growing

And there is life left in the patty pan squash on the parkway with new blooms and leaves.

Patty Pan Squash with Bloom

Patty Pan Squash with Bloom

And the little purple pepper plant is finally starting to produce. There are three little black ones and one red one.

Purple Bell Pepper, Red Stage

Purple Bell Pepper, Red Stage

I would happily spend the day in the garden, but my next episode,”Growing Tomatoes,” would never get finished. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

The days are definitely shortening. I took a break from the computer late yesterday afternoon to pull up a chair in the front garden and just sit and observe. Meditate on where I stand with things. As I sat staring at my tomatoes, an orange butterfly I am seeing more and more in my garden landed on my tomatoes and slowly started pressing it’s wings closed and open. I ran for my camera and shot two frames and it was gone. I learned it is a Gulf Fritillary. Like the Monarch, the larvae are poisonous if eaten, and they feed exclusively on species of passion flower. If I want more of these in my garden, I need to get some passion flowers!

Orange Butterfly - Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

After the sun had gone down, I looked around to see what was new. The Japanese Climbing Cucumber had delivered a lovely suprise.

Japanese Cucumber

Japanese Climbing Cucumber

There’s a fresh set of leaves coming, so I think I can expect more cucumbers! I had all but given up. Trimming off the nasty leaves and adjusting the watering must have given it a boost.

Japanese Climbing Cucumber Leaves

Japanese Climbing Cucumber Leaves

The two new Stupice Heirloom tomato plants have five and two tomatoes, respectively.

Stupice Heirloom Tomato

Stupice Heirloom Tomato

One of my Orange Sun Bell Pepper plants has five nice peppers on it. These last few hot weeks have really helped everything.

Orange Sun Peppers

Unripe Orange Sun Bell Peppers

I’m getting fewer, and smaller, but good tomatoes, with less blossom end rot. You will see my tomato story in my 18th episode of Late Bloomer.

Brandywine Tomato

Brandywine Tomato on Vine

It started to get dark and the nightlights came on. You can see from this shot who rules my garden, spiders!

Nightlight with Spider Webs

Nightlight with Spider Webs

Before the light was all gone, I got my clippers and trimmed dead tomato and watermelon vines and leaves, a few more zucchini leaves that were coated with mildew, and picked some tomatoes, gave a few to neighbors, and headed in as the mosquitoes were starting to bite. What’s still producing in your garden? Do you sit in the garden and meditate? Thanks for dropping by! – Kaye

This is how my front porch, aka my “pot station,” looked on August 4th.

Potted Vegetables on Front Porch, August

Potted Vegetables on Front Porch, August

By yesterday, there wasn’t much left of all this. So, I dumped most of it and started over. Here’s what it looked like after about a nine hour day yesterday.

Potted Plants on Porch, September by Kaye Kittrell

Freshly Planted Pots, September 23, 2012

The long box has spinach seed, as well as the round grey pot, two varieties. The white pot has baby kale (that pot won’t hold much). The round terra cotta pot has cilantro.

New Avocado Seedling by Kaye Kittrell

New Avocado Seedling

I planted the avocado I sprouted in this pot, even though I was advised that because I grew it from a pit, it might not bear fruit.

Parsley Planted Pot

Parsley Planted Pot Using Farmer Jack’s Lettuce Method

Germination of parsley is aided by darkness, so I obliged with Farmer Jack’s method for planting lettuce.

Carrots Growing in a Pot

Carrots Growing in a Pot

These carrots I planted on August 11. I thinned them two weeks ago, and they are growing heartily.

Carrots Sprouting

Three Week-Old Carrot Sprouts

I planted more carrots in a second pot on the first of September. I planted Arugula seeds in this pot the same day.

Arugula Sprouting

Three Week-Old Arugula Sprouts

I drilled holes in these two pots and planted some succulent cuttings. I won’t say where I got them. 🙂

Potted Succulents

Potted Succulents

Succulents in Oval Pot

Succulents in Oval Pot

The lower one is a salvaged bit from a dried out Japanese herb. At the end of the day, I discovered my orange pepper was finally orange.

Orange Sun Bell Pepper - Capsicum annum

Orange Sun Bell Pepper – Capsicum annum

What seemed perfection, at first, revealed upon closer inspection to be hosting this invader.

Orange Sun Bell Pepper with Cabbage Worm

Cabbage Worm on Orange Sun Bell Pepper – Capsicum annum

As I was sweeping up, I spotted these two pineapple guavas on the ground having fallen from the tree. Amazingly, they were perfect.

Pineapple Guavas

Pineapple Guavas

They usually don’t get this big, before squirrels take a bite out of them. I never see one that is intact. My neighbor, C.L., told me they are expensive to buy in the store, and that I should cut them in half (even though they were on the hard side), and scoop out the insides. So, that’s what I did, today.

Pineapple Guava ,Inside

Inside of Pineapple Guava

To my amazement, it was tender, and juicy and unlike any taste I have experienced. Yesterday was a long, tiring day, but I absolutely loved getting my hands in the dirt. Thanks for stopping by. – Kaye

Curbside gardening is an interesting prospect. Just when you think you have things under control and figured out, they change. If you have followed the Late Bloomer web series, you may remember how this whole gardening thing started for me. Our parkway Acacia tree died, and I got in touch with my soil. (See the whole story in episode 1.)

Dead Acacia Tree

Dead Acacia Parkway Tree

Still, I thought I wanted to replace the tree, as I’m a tree person. But, you just can’t grow vegetables under the shade of a tree. And the roots from a city tree in a plot of ground 6’x20′ will pretty much fill up that space. But, back in September, after the Acacia was removed, I got a free Jacaranda tree from the city, and they are so pretty, I planted it.

Dried Up Jacaranda Tree

Dried Up Jacaranda Tree with Seed Pods

It was only after that, that I realized my parkway was my best sun and I did not need a tree there. So, I stopped watering it. Not nice, I know. But, to my surprise, it lived anyway (they are originally from Australia, so they love it dry and hot), and yesterday I noticed the first purple flowers blooming.

Jacaranda Tree with Purple Bloom by Kaye Kittrell

Jacaranda Tree with First Purple Bloom

Now, it’s going to be interesting what happens. Obviously, I can’t let it get very big, or shade too much. But, I don’t want to cut it down, after it worked so hard to live. I need to see how ambitious I am going to continue to be with gardening, also. This is my first year, and I’ve spent all my extra time on the garden, the blog and the web series. So, it remains to be seen. Until the shade becomes a problem, I’m going to keep planting edibles and flowers to attract beneficial insects around it. You can see the bluish-purple bloom on the far left side.

To the right of the tree are my Mexican sunflowers. I LOVE these! They keep blooming and aren’t as affected by powdery mildew and bugs as the sunflowers. I wish I had planted more. They are supposed to get up to 6′ tall, but mine are between 18″ and 4′.

Mexican Sunflowers Tithonia rotundifolia

Mexican Sunflowers – Tithonia rotundifolia

The blooms are VIVID. Hummingbirds and bees love them. Well rotted mulch or compost, and trimming off the spent blooms will extend the blooming season.

Mexican Sunflowers Tithonia rotundifolia

Bright Orange Bloom on Mexican Sunflower

I’m out direct seeding cool season crops today. What are you up to in your garden? Thanks for stopping by. – Kaye

Bowl of Fresh Picked Tomatoes by Kaye Kittrell

Bowl of Fresh Picked Tomatoes, September 2012

For my 100th blog post since rolling out LATE BLOOMER on Earth Day 2012, I debated on what my topic should be. Should I do as usual, and simply report on the day, or should it be more meaningful in some way? I decided to report on the day yesterday, which turned out to be meaningful in a number of ways. What did I do? I pruned my pine tree.

Pine Tree Half Pruned

Pine Tree Half Pruned

Let me backtrack, a bit. When we moved to this street in Pacific Palisades, CA, in 1994, it was quite a bit different. There were three old, small houses on either side of us, where four McMansions (big houses with tall ceilings on small lots) now stand. In those three old houses, lived three old men, their wives long dead. Directly to our right, facing the street, was Werner Gerber. I called him Mr. Gerber, and he was very dear to me. Here he is with his roses in 1995. I photographed him several times for the next ten years, and wrote an article for the local paper when he died. He swept my driveway every day, and I gave him fresh green juice, and oatmeal, since he would often forget to eat. “Mr. Gerber, I’ve got your rocket fuel!” I would call out to him. I’d like to think it helped him live longer.

Werner Gerber ,1995, Pacific Palisades, CA by Kaye Kittrell

Werner Gerber with his Roses, 1995

Of course, back then, all I shot was film, usually on a 1953 Twin Lens Rolleiflex camera. Mr. Gerber was even more locally known for his dahlias, which he would bring out every August to display on risers just behind his rotting picket fence. He also grew beans and grapes in the back yard.

Dalhia 2003 by Kaye Kittrell

Mr. Gerber’s Dahlia 2003

In October of 2005, with Mr. Gerber moved to a facility in the Palisades, they tore down the house. They left the kitchen for last. He bought the single lot for $750 in 1939, but, couldn’t afford to build a house on it till 1941. The area was all bean fields when they laid out the lots and put in sidewalks in 1939. The neighborhood filled up over the next ten years with engineers who worked at Northrup. The lot sold for, well, a lot. Try to imagine his 50′ Coastal Redwood that resided near the back corner of our house.

Mr. Gerber's Kitchen 2005 by Kaye Kittrell

Mr. Gerber’s Kitchen 2005

To our left, lived Mr. Zordich, who had raised four kids in a 1300 square foot house on a double lot, which he bought for $1500, in 1939. A smoker all his life, his health started failing at 85, or so, and his son, Lee, returned from his wanderings panning for gold in Australia, to live in the shack out back and look after him. Lee grew up here and went to the local high school and had quite a reputation around town and spent every afternoon in the Irish pub in Santa Monica before retiring early. Here he is in 2003 in their wild, lush back yard. Out of view behind him soared two 50′ Coastal Redwoods. They were the first to go after the house sold for, well, a whole lot, when Mr. Zordich died at 89. Lee took up residence in Maui till he died, also.

Lee Zordich 2003 Pacific Palisades, CA by Kaye Kittrell

Lee Zordich in his Back Yard 2003

On the other side of Mr. Gerber, in the little mint green house, lived retired engineer, Ed, not to be confused with Eddy across the street from him. Ed had a prized avocado tree for which he engineered an electric device to keep the squirrels off. Ed had remarried after his first wife died, to an English lady who performed occasionally at the community theatre. Tall and lean, Ed was fastidious with his lawn, and into his late 80’s could be seen on his hands and knees popping out weeds. He died at 92. Eddy still lives in the house he grew up in, his mother having died in her early 90’s.

Next is Clarence Hagar, affectionately known as C.L., who lives across the street from me. If you have been watching LATE BLOOMER, you have seen and heard about C.L. He was also an engineer and has been here since 1961.

C.L. Hagar, Pacific Palisades, CA 2005 by Kaye Kittrell

C.L. Hagar in his Front Yard 2005

Here he is with neighbor co-hort, Dennis, who also grew up here and lives three blocks away in his original house. He’s been dropping by every day for years. Here they are in healthier times. Dennis has also made appearances in LATE BLOOMER.

C.L. Hagar & Dennis Toth, Pacific Palisades, CA 2006

C.L. Hagar & Dennis Toth Hanging Out at C.L.’s House 2006

The last visit of Mr. Gerber to the neighborhood was warmly received. C.L. drags chairs down to the sidewalk every afternoon to catch the last rays of sun. This was a chilly day in early March.

Werner Gerber, CL Hagar, Kaye Kittrell, Pacific Palisades, CA 2006

Mr. Gerber, C.L. and Me 2006

And the last character in this neighborhood play is my pal, Gene Cornelius, former effects man in the movies. He worked on a ton of movies, like, “Blade Runner,” “The Doors,” “Strange Days,” “Jaws,” (I have a photo of him and the shark) and has tall tales to tell. I met Gene hanging out at C.L.’s, where all these guys congregate, and Gene being a big swimmer, he got me to start swimming at the Santa Monica College pool. He’s an early riser from all those years working in the movies, so it’s easier for him to hit the cold water at 6AM, than it is for me. Gene lives with his wife three blocks away in the house she grew up in.

2005-09-10_GeneCornelius©KayeKittrell

Eugene Cornelius, Santa Monica College Pool 2005

But, back to the pruning. Because I have always worked as a freelance actress and photographer, I was around on the street during the day to get to know these guys. And we all helped each other out. Especially, C.L., who, ten years ago, could as easily been found up in my Acacia tree trimming it, as repairing my fence or rewiring my lamp. C.L. was very close with Mr. Gerber, and Ed, but they are gone, and he’s had his own health issues. So, yesterday, when he saw me pull out these old pruning tools left by the previous owners, he couldn’t resist being a part of my effort. His contribution was to advise me, then, he went and got his sharp clippers and trimmed the bigger pieces down so it could all fit into the bin.

C.L Hagar Helping to Prune my Pine Tree 2012 by Kaye Kittrell

C.L Hagar Helping to Prune my Pine Tree 2012

This took at least two hours, during which he reminisced about the good old days on the street. He said he missed Mr. Gerber, and the way it was. I do, too. I caught him by surprise with this shot. He was actually very happy helping me.

C.L. Hagar Trimming Pine Branches 2012 by Kaye Kittrell

C.L. Trimming Pine Branches 2012

He said this tree trimmer, which hasn’t been used in 15 years at least, must have been 50 years old. With a few drops of oil, it was good to go.

Seymour Smith Snap Cat Pruning Tool by Kaye Kittrell

Seymour Smith Snap Cat Pruning Tool 2012

The name “Seymour Smith U.S.A. Snap-Cat #113” was stamped into the square pole. Try finding a new pruner, or virtually any tool, made in the U.S.A. today.

Seymour Smith Snap Cat 2012 by Kaye Kittrell

Seymour Smith Snap Cat Brand Pruning Tool 2012

There was a shorter pruner, with a round pole, without a saw blade, with the brand “Companion” stamped in the metal.

Companion Pruning Tool 2012 by Kaye Kittrell

Companion Pruning Tool 2012

It wasn’t long enough, so C.L. duck-taped a fruit picker pole onto the end of it. It was a bit shaky hoisting that thing 15 feet up over my head, but, I wasn’t about to climb up in that pine tree, something I wouldn’t have hesitated doing ten years ago.

Lengthening the Pruning Tool 2012

Lengthening the Pruning Tool 2012

I posted a notice on Late Bloomer Facebook page yesterday asking what I should write about for my 100th blog. One of Late Bloomer’s followers, Lois Elden, wrote back “About you?” I thought, nah, I’m writing a garden blog. But, in recollecting all the pruning and helping each other out on the street over the years, and all my neighborly neighbors, some of which are gone now, I guess I have written about my life. Creating community is what LATE BLOOMER is all about, and I hope by sharing my story of my neighbors and friends, it will give you pause to think of the old-timers in your neighborhood – and old tools – and how they have enriched your life. These are my pals. What about yours?

Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

PS – Many of these photos were taken for a portrait photography book entitled “Old Friends,” which is yet to be published.

My Queen of the Night should have bloomed last night. It didn’t. The impossibly intricate, huge white blooms, are protected by long, pale salmon tubes, with sharp points. When the bloom looks like this, it will either bloom that night, or the following night. It blooms after dark, for one night only.

kk_lb-my-queen-38.jpg

Queen of the Night One Day Before Bloom 3/4 Angle

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Queen of the Night One Day Before Bloom with Shadow

kk_lb-my-queen-35.jpg

Queen of the Night One Day Before Bloom Side View

kk_lb-my-queen-44.jpg

Queen of the Night One Day Before Bloom Front View

It blooms for one night (see photos of my neighbor Zdena’s blooms in my Queen of the Night post) and is spent and limp by morning. These Queen of the Night blooms do not like to be handled, evidently, as in my zeal to get some light on the subject, I moved the pot a few times. The pot resides in the shade under my wisteria.

kk_lb-my-queen-50.jpg

Queen of the Night the Day of Bloom in Sunlight

By this stage, a heavy bloom is being lifted up by the stem. Monday night it had not bloomed. Yesterday, it had started to open. I moved it yet again, into the sun in an effort to see inside. The stem was probably stressed too much. When I returned from class last night, I found it hanging limp, never having opened. I’ll know better next time to leave it alone, and enjoy it’s stunning beauty from where it is. Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

I took Melissa, from Live Love Be Green’s, advice about my little lemon tree, and removed all leaves with mealy bugs. I agree it was mealy bug. I disposed of them in the garbage. Then, I mixed up a batch of spray: a few drops of plant-based dish soap, a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar, and for good measure, 2 drops each of peppermint and thyme essential oils (I have no idea if this will do anything, but, it smells nice!) in a large spray bottle of water and sprayed each remaining leaf, front and back. The ants, which were racing all around the cottony puffs of mealy bug, were not happy. Neither was a spider that had spun a web between two lemons. I also removed two sucker branches. This is how it looks now.

If I removed every yellow leaf on the tree, it would be pretty bare, so I left the few without bugs. I would cut back some more of those long sucker branches, but, they have lemons on them. This is the only lemon that’s starting to turn. This is a Meyer Lemon tree. I love Meyer Lemons!

I recently fed the tree and changed the watering schedule, so, fingers crossed! Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

We planted several olive trees before I ever started on the vegetable garden. Only two are in the ground, and they both have olives.

Naturally, I paid no attention to the variety when they were planted. When one of the potted olive trees grew a single olive, I read up on olives and it seemed like a ton of work. No more olives came, and I thought, “Whew!” And forgot about it. But, now, the two trees in the ground have olives. The smaller tree above, has two dozen and they are olive size. The larger tree has a couple hundred, I’m guessing, of these little olives, and they haven’t gotten any bigger in a couple of months.

I guess I better read up on olives again! Thanks for stopping by on a real hot day! – Kaye

My so-called “everbearing” lemon tree, has not born a ripe lemon since last November. It had quite a lot of blooms in the spring, but, it’s September, and, though carrying two dozen lemons, the leaves don’t look so well. I recently gave it more iron, organic plant food, alfalfa meal, worm castings and biodynamic compost, and dropped daily watering to twice per week deep watering. I’m hoping that helps. I could have been watering too much. There’s a long sucker branch that’s grown out of it this year. Are you supposed to cut those off?

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There is one bloom on it now. I’m not sure what to make of that. One of the green lemons is starting to turn yellow, but it’s got a ways to go.

I should have not taken on so many different fruits and vegetables for my first garden, since I didn’t know anything about gardening. But, I did, so any advice is welcome! Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

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