Archives for the month of: October, 2012

This is the first year in the ten years we have had the pineapple guava tree that the squirrels have left the guavas alone, and I have been able to gather a handful of fallen guavas every day. I also have guavas on one of the bushes planted in pots.

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Pineapple Guavas

I’m not a fancy cook, so I really didn’t know what to do with them and regret I’ve let some go to waste, but there were so many today, I had to come up with something. I’ve never even eaten one, so my neighbor, C.L., told me to slice them in half and spoon out the insides. I decided to make a simple non-dairy smoothie.

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Pineapple Guava Fruit

I scooped out about two cups of fruit. And since guava juice makes me think of Hawaii and pineapples, I added a cup of pineapple chunks and a cup of ice. I did not grow the pineapple!

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Blender with Ice, Pineapple and Pineapple Guava

I blended it, and gave a cup to my teenager, who loved it, and knowing how he loves popsicles, decided to pull out the popsicle form that I haven’t used in several years, and poured the rest into that.

Popsicle Form Full of Pineapple Guava

Popsicle Form Full of Pineapple Guava

I froze them for a couple of hours, and my son tried one, and he loved it! These no-drip forms are really cool and you can suck the melting juice from the built in tube.

Pineapple Guava and Pineapple Popsicle

Pineapple Guava and Pineapple Popsicle

Pineapple guava has a very distinctive, indescribable taste, so blending in a little pineapple gives it enough familiarity to make it delicious, and you don’t need sugar. With all these warm winds that have been blowing, I’ve been feeling a little tropical, so this cool treat hits the spot!

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Pineapple Guavas Hanging from the Tree

Pineapple guavas are exactly the color of the back of the leaves, so they are really hard to see until they fall to the ground. Luckily, the skin is hard, so unless you have squirrels taking a bite out of them, harvesting is as easy as picking them up off the ground. Anyone ever tried growing pineapple guava or making something with it? Have a recipe to share? Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

My baby watermelon plants are confused. Do they not know it’s nearly Halloween? I think they think they are pumpkins!

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Baby Watermelon Growing in Late October

I photographed four baby watermelons, on separate vines this morning at 8AM.

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Two Baby Watermelons

After a long summer of low production, my neighbor, C.L., remarked he thought I should be watering more. Because I hand-water everything, I get tired of standing over my watermelons with the hose, and the water was staying near the surface and not penetrating through my hard clay soil to the roots. When I started leaving the hose dripping over each vine overnight once or twice a week, the plants started coming alive and I have numerous blooms and more little melons.

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Yellow Watermelon Blossom

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Sweet Baby Watermelon

The infamous Santa Ana winds are blowing and did a number on my newly planted Asclepias speciosa milkweed last night. But, the baby watermelons are snug to the ground so it will be interesting to see how these develop and how long it goes. I vow not to pull up my vines as long as there is a melon growing on it!

Thanks for stopping by! Are you still nursing summer crops or is that all finished for this year in your garden? – Kaye

Today, October 24, is Food Day, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be the featured Farmer of the Week on UrbanFig.com, Backyard Farming for Urban Dwelling. UrbanFig features a different urban organic farmer every week, and this is my week! Please check it out by clicking here, or the title below. Also included is my recipe for Chinese Cabbage Slaw from my Purple Cabbage episode of “Late Bloomer.”

FARMER OF THE WEEK ON URBANFIG.COM

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Kaye Kittrell with her Tomatoes

With loads of helpful articles, as well as a full store of gardening necessities, make UrbanFig your source for all your backyard (or, in my case, front yard!) urban farming needs, and sign up for their newsletter!

Thanks for stopping by! I’m going out to plant some broccolini, chard and beet seeds. How are you celebrating Food Day?- Kaye

Today, October 22nd, is the 22nd birthday of my son, Walker. He’s a senior at Stanford, and I’d hoped to be up there, but the life of a college athlete is very busy, and he didn’t think he would even have time to dine with me. So, I am not going to see him in person on this special day, a day that only happens once in a lifetime.

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Walker & Kaye, at the Getty Center 2012

My birthday is on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, and I remember well my 14th birthday. I was learning to sew in 4-H and made a heart shaped (top and bottom) apron out of red-checked cotton, and trimmed it with red rick-rack. I also baked a heart-shaped cake, and my mother got the town paper to photograph me for the weekly paper. I have that article in one of the many scrapbooks my mother made me.

Anyway, after a long day in the garden yesterday, I wasn’t too energetic today and felt my energy was supposed to be in Palo Alto, not Los Angeles, so I didn’t get off to a great start. In the afternoon, I forced myself to go out and check on caterpillar C (A & B have left the building, ha), and spent an hour trying to relocate him or her to a safe place for cocoon-building. As it was exploring what I considered to be the Ritz Carlton for Monarch cocoons (underneath the overhang of my pop-out kitchen window), it FELL about four feet into a bucket of bamboo sticks! I gasped and picked it up by the piece of straw it was grasping. Talk about grasping for straws!

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Monarch Caterpillar 5th Instar Stage Grasping Straw

Stunned, it lay in my hand for a couple of minutes. I decided that I was violating the “Prime Directive” (any “Star Trek” fans out there?) and I put it back on the milkweed bush. When I looked again 20 minutes later, it was nowhere to be found. Luckily, I have another caterpillar coming along.

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Monarch Caterpillar 4th Instar Stage

And I found several eggs.

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Monarch Egg

And fluttering around my head was a female Monarch butterfly feasting on the pollen of the Mexican Sunflower. It’s amazing how the stripes on the caterpillar turn into polka dots!

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Female Monarch Butterfly on Mexican Sunflower

I have limited space in my garden. Some parts gets more sun than others. Some soil is more amended, but most of it is compacted clay. So, when I buy new plants, it takes me awhile to figure out where to put them. Almost every spot that gets maximum sun will be used to plant edibles. Today, I made a hard choice. I had bought two California native blueberry bushes from Grow Native Nursery last week, but hadn’t figured out where to plant them. I kind of wanted to keep them together. They grow in light shade, which is a plus, but, I just couldn’t figure it out, till it hit me to turn my Flower Island (see My Flower Island episode of Late Bloomer) into a California Native plot. I just planted two Asclepias speciosa milkweed in there yesterday, and after my caterpillar adventure, I planted three Phyda nodiflora Frogfruit ground cover there. Then, it hit me. I’m over roses.

I had an Iceberg Rose bush out there that was high maintenance and rarely bloomed, got lots of rust, and of course every time you tend to it, you somehow get pricked by a thorn. I’m over it. I dug up that rose bush, and planted two Vaccinium “Indians Wanderer” California native blueberries under the newly pruned Princess flower bush, which I trimmed to grow up more like a tree than a sprawling bush, giving more light underneath.

Vaccinium - California Native Blueberry

Vaccinium “Indians Wanderer” California Native Blueberry

Well, it’s technically not a native garden, yet. That’s an African daisy bottom left, and Mexican feather grass top left, which I happen to love, but the other seven plants are natives. And they all will bloom and attract bees and butterflies.

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California Native Garden

So the day wasn’t a complete wash. And I am Skyping my son tonight! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

Excellent, well-documented, thought-provoking piece from Green Momma Adventure. Highly recommended! – Kaye

Green Momma Adventures

“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.”

–Lyndon B. Johnson, upon signing the Wilderness Act in 1964

Looking forward there is potential for a rich, environmentally sustainable future, as well as for a future where we face turmoil and collapse. Each day I read articles full of hope and articles full of depressing science, leaving me full of uncertainty as to what kind of planet my children will inherit from us. As problems grow, the need for an environmentally literate society is increasing rapidly. The job of environmental educators and interpreters is not an easy one, as we face many challenges. Three challenges that stand out in my mind include:…

View original post 1,844 more words

Rhino Beetle Grub

Fig Beetle Grub, on It’s Back

At least, I think that’s what I just dug up! However, a Fig or June Beetle was in my garden this summer, and could have laid eggs, but I think this grub is too large. Please correct me if I’m wrong. You can see the size measured against my finger near the end of the clip. It is dragging itself on it’s back, as those are it’s short legs sticking up in the air. And it can move fast! I plan to gift this to my neighbor’s chickens.

Click here for video on Late Bloomer Show Facebook page. Thanks for stopping by! Isn’t the natural world amazing? 🙂 – Kaye

One of my Monarch Butterfly photos appears on GardenStalking today! (Click on the photo to go the blog post.) GardenStalking is a sister site to DessertStalking. Join GardenStalking and submit photos!

October Garden Vegetables

October Garden Vegetables

Today is Blog Action Day. The Power of We is the theme. When I think about the Power of We, and how it relates to this most pivotal year for me – creating an urban edible garden in my front yard, creating community in my neighborhood, meeting gardeners and farmers, creating an online community with my blog, entertaining people with my web series Late Bloomer – my mind immediately goes to two people in particular that have changed my life for the better this year, Mark Dubrow and Andy Sehic. They connected me to the Power of We.

Three Friends

Kaye Kittrell, Mark Dubrow and Andy Sehic in Front of my House, April 4, 2012

I remember well one chilly morning in February, when I was returning from my neighbor, Dorie’s, house around 7:30 AM (I was getting ideas for ground cover for shady areas of my yard), and Mark and Andy were standing in front of my house looking at my garden. I only had a couple of small citrus trees, herbs, nasturtium and cauliflower growing at that point. We chatted and I knew immediately these were people I wanted to get to know.

Mark and Andy have devoted themselves to a life of serving others and the planet, and they had returned from their home in Arcata, CA, to be caregivers for his ailing mother who lives three blocks away. They were out for a stroll and passed by my early attempt at converting my front yard to an edible garden. Having a large edible garden in Arcata, they had some suggestions for me, and we vowed to keep in touch. They went back up north for a few weeks and I didn’t see them again till April 4, the day of the photo above. That day, they pointed out to me that, with so little space to grow vegetables, I couldn’t afford to have a row of low-climbing camelias right along the sidewalk, as that was my best sun. I vowed to move them and I did.

But, my connection with Mark and Andy goes much deeper than my garden. They introduced me to peace activist and student of permaculture Brian Willson, who lost his legs protesting the U.S. shipment of arms to El Salvador which is accounted in his new book, Blood on the Tracks; director Tom Shadyac, and his mind-awakening documentary I Amwho, after huge Hollywood success has devoted himself to a life of serving others; and Safe Place for Youth (S.P.Y.), a charity focused on improving the lives of homeless teenagers and at-risk youth in the Los Angeles area where we are visiting tomorrow. And they continually shower me with encouragement.

I have been passionately outspoken against mountaintop coal removal in the Appalachians, where my consciousness to nature was first awakened, thanks to my dear friend Guy Zimmerman (I managed to get back to the Smoky’s last October where we camped in Cade’s Cove); I am deeply concerned about fracking, the rampant, seemingly-out-of-control rush to dig natural gas wells all over our country, which is contaminating our ground water while using it up at the same time; and especially involved in the issue of food security, and Monsanto (Cargill, ConAgra) attempting to control every aspect of our food supply system.

But, when you are a lone voice sending emails to Congress and occasionally making calls, you really aren’t accomplishing much, as Mark reminded me. But, the Power of We is how you can accomplish great things. In 2001, a small group of us protested, and won, the right right to have raw dairy on the shelves of stores in Los Angeles County. That was a small victory against a continuing wall of government pressure to shut down family farms, and not just because of raw dairy. Now, the march is on to shut down any small family farmer who is raising something that competes with Big Ag and the chemical companies.

I have known for a long time that fluoride was bad, but, was not aware just how toxic it is, and how deceitful institutions, companies and the government have been in forcing the fluoridation of our public drinking water, until Mark recently made me aware of it. When these issues all seem so overwhelming, we have to remember that there have been times in our history when the collective voices rose up and changed things. We were told cigarettes, lead in gas and paint, and asbestos were good for us. And public awareness caused change, and now that must happen with fluoride. Please share this video, The Fluoride Deceptionwith everyone. The people can make a difference, if enough of us wake up to the facts.

I am in awe and humbled by the online community I have connected to this year, and it all started with growing food in my front yard. Most people choose backyard gardening (easier to fence off to keep critters out), but, growing food in my front yard started a conversation that I would never have had in my back yard. I would have never met Mark and Andy, for example. Growing food in your front yard makes a statement to your neighbors that knowing where your food comes from is important, and should be part of the conversation when you are raising children. For, the benefit is not just that you bring a few zucchini and tomatoes and herbs in to your table instead of buying them at the market (it’s important to support farmer’s markets), it’s an amazing education to watch vegetables grow, witness friends and foes in the garden and who eats who, and what you can control with beneficial insects (and what is out of your control) and their life cycles, and if you can inspire a few neighbor children, maybe you can make a difference in their lives.

I have connected to a group of bloggers so diverse: a thoughtful young woman raising her young daughter in cloth diapers (I did that two decades ago); an American midwife specializing in water births working in China; a homesteader in Pennsylvania who is 80% self-sustained; a do-it-all mom, farmer, artist living on a farm in rural New York; a mom and farmer raising grapes and pastured pigs and chickens in Central California; a very funny writer from the U.K., daughter of a gardener, ex-pat living in Turkey who makes me laugh on a daily basis; a young woman with her first garden plot in Ireland; a wonderful chef and recipe creator that lives a few blocks away; and a mom to two special needs adopted sons living in my home state of Tennessee, in love with the natural world, who made me aware of Blog Action Day; and there are many more, interesting, caring, thriving people in the world that I have connected with, all as a result of making that one decision this year, to grow food in my front yard. They all inspire me to a better self, and I am deeply thankful for the connection. Especially Mark and Andy. Thanks for reading. – Kaye

Not all of my blog followers make it to Late Bloomer Facebook page, and because I feel so strongly about food security and family farmers, and I know some of you are raising pigs and chickens and other animals, I am passing along this video of pig farmer Mark Baker, fighting the new ISO pig rulings in Michigan. Mark is a retired Air Force veteran who raises the heritage breed Mangalitsa pigs on his farm, Baker’s Green Acres, in Marion, Michigan.

http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/news_wp/?p=2027

Mark asks, “Where does it end?,” meaning, it could happen with chickens and other animals, and it IS happening right now with heirloom seeds! This is why voting “Yes” for Proposition 37 in California on November 6 is so important! We have to send a strong signal to Monsanto that the people have the right to know what’s in their food.

Care about food security? Support family farmers and the work of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, “a 501(c)(4) nonprofit [EIN 20-8605130], (which) defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and artisan food producers while protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods.” It takes a lot of guts, and money, to stand up to the government, so please support the FCDLF.

There is apparently no limit to government harassment of family farmers (which is fueled by Big Agribusiness, aka, Monsanto, ConAgra, etc.). In my view, no one has more integrity than the family farmer today, and Mark Baker and family are a perfect example, as are all the dairy farmers producing raw dairy products for human consumption. This is a very deep issue in our country that cuts to the very core of our freedoms, one of which is to grow, sell and eat the nutrient dense foods of our choice. (And don’t even get me started on the forced fluoridation of our public drinking water.) Thanks for reading and taking a stand for food freedom. – Kaye

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Confessions from a Mom in Haiti

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Kaye Kittrell's Garden Web Series and Blog

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kick your shoes off and come on in ...

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The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

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"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan

enlightenedlotuswellness.wordpress.com/

Awareness. Education. Motivation.

ONvegetables

Information for commercial vegetable production in Ontario