Archives for the month of: December, 2012

I’m from the South, and there’s nothing I love more than corn, tomatoes and watermelon. I knew if I had a garden I had to grow all three. You’ve seen my tomato episode. Please watch and share “Kaye’s Watermelon Story” – Episode 19. Since I only had a 6’x6′ space, I had to grow baby watermelons.

If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I would grow them in raised beds with trellises to save space. Hope you enjoy my little tale! – Kaye

Kaye Kittrell Holiday Card

Happy Holidays – 2012

Christmas Eve Salad from my garden.

Spinach, arugula, baby kale, baby finger carrots, Stupice tomato, Japanese pepper, cilantro, Meyer lemon, drizzled with raw olive oil with cracked pepper. Merry Christmas, everyone, all over the world!
Red and Green Christmas Salad

Christmas Eve Salad, Homegrown

As the sprouts surge from recent rain, the number of species left to sprout is winding down. A few more seeds have sprouted, with a few more to go. Check out the last post, if you missed it, to see what’s sprouting in my Late Bloomer garden. I sprinkled dill seeds on the parkway to fill in where my sunflowers were. It is sprouting up all over!


Dill Bouquet Sprout

This buckwheat has self-seeded in my flower island.


Common Buckwheat Cover Crop Sprout

These poppy sprouts are tiny and incredibly delicate at this stage.


Hungarian Blue Bread Seed Poppy Sprout, Rare

Sort of looks like red tongues already! That’s a nasturtium top left. It has reseeded all over the former watermelon patch.


Red Deer Tongue Lettuce

A packet of wildflower seeds of 14 varieties of annual and perennial species came as a gift for ordering seeds, so I sprinkled it between the milkweed and sidewalk to fill in. It will bloom in the spring.


Wildflower, Alternative Lawn Blend

A fellow blogger in Ireland kept mentioning borage, so I thought I must try it. I planted it in the flower island. We shall see if it attempts to take over!

Borage Sprout

Borage Medicinal Sprout

Thanks for stopping by! What’s growing in your garden? Or, what are you planning for next year? – Kaye

In Southern California, growing food is a year-round activity, passion, and, for some, profession. There are no long, winter months to perfectly plan for the following year, we just do the best we can with what we have and keep going. This is a follow-up to Fall Sprouts – Part 1.

Here are eight more sprouts from my fall garden. It’s amazing that so many of the sprouts look so similar after just opening the first set of heart-shaped leaves. Only the next set of leaves begins to identify the plant. With the exception of the celery seedlings I planted on Labor Day, my entire fall garden was direct-seeded in November.

Various Baby Lettuce Sprouts

Mesclun Salad Mix


Cascadia Snap Peas Hybrid


Mei Quing Choi Baby


Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard


Redbor Kale


Wild Farm Garlic


Veronica F1 (Romanesco) Cauliflower Hybrid


Cherry Belle Radish Heirloom

As you can see, I have some bug and slug damage on a number of the sprouts. I’m going to have to be very vigilant (didn’t I say this in Episode 8 of “Late Bloomer?”) to nurture these plants to maturity. Seeds are from Botanical Interests, West Coast Seeds, and Seeds of Change. I planted 18 cloves of garlic  from a head given to me by Lisa at Wild Farm in Woodside, California, Episode 15. I intermixed them with the leftover Mexican Sunflowers along the street, and it took about six weeks for them to emerge. Nothing was happening till we got three solid days of rain over a week ago, then they started shooting up. I haven’t watered the garden since it rained, as the ground is still wet. Just think how much Colorado River water (that we we exist on) would have been saved if all the homeowners turned off their automatic sprinklers for a week. Grow food, not lawns!

If you haven’t visited Late Bloomer Facebook page, please do, and subscribe by following the simple directions in the top post. There are lots of great links to inspire, educate and encourage, so please Like. And post your own garden photos! Let’s get the conversation going. You can see a clip of my small, front garden here. Thanks for stopping by! What are you growing? – Kaye

The sun came out today and it warmed up in the afternoon, so I was keeping an hourly watch on this caterpillar, as another curled up cat, that had been curled up for two days, formed a chrysalis in a couple of hours and I missed it. This one looked pretty much the same as it did for the last couple of cold days. I checked on it about 1PM, and it still had stripes.

Monarch Beginning to Form Chrysalis

Curled up Monarch Caterpillar

I went out for celery and herbs for my soup after 45 minutes, or so, and glanced over and it was mint green and writhing! I ran for my camera.

I missed the part where the green appeared, but the mystery of how it changes shape is now evident. It goes inside this sock and writhes around, rocking back and forth, till it’s in position. An hour later, it looked like this!

New Monarch Chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillar Chrysalis

It’s not all fun and excitement in the garden. With my new fall sprouts come slugs and snails and earwigs chomping on the tender shoots. So, my nightly flashlight prowls have resumed. Squishing all those is not something I look forward to, but, I have to protect my plants, and several seedlings have already been damaged, so squish I must! I’m also using crushed eggshells around them to discourage slugs and snails, as I hear they don’t like to move over the sharp pieces. But, what organic preventative will stop an earwig? Thanks for checking into “Late Bloomer!” – Kaye

Did you know that Fungi are not plants? They are unique and separate life forms and have their own kingdom. After three solid days of rain, this group of fungi popped up in the back garden in a shady area of soil. They are not growing on rotten wood or tree roots. I looked through literally hundreds of mushroom photos on the internet, and didn’t see anything like this. Images are in order of how I imagine they progressed. They seem to actually bloom!

Brown Mushroom

Unidentified Fungi – Image 1

First, a round, brown mushroom pops up, then the whole surface cracks open.

Unidentified Fungi - 2

Unidentified Fungi – Image 2

Looks like an alien from another planet! More mushrooms pop up alongside the first, and when the surface is cracked open enough a darker “bloom” pushes out, right.

Detail of Brown Mushroom

Unidentified Fungi – Image 2 Detail

This I am calling a “bloom.” The surface is now peeled back like petals, and in the center, a cup pushes out, and inside that is a layer of blue mold.

Brown Mushroom Opened

Unidentified Fungi – Image 3

This one appears to be decomposing without a cup. The texture is very much like damp sand.

Brown Mushroom with Mold

Unidentified Fungi – Image 4

I assume this one got covered in mold from all the moisture in the air, before the surface cracked open. Taken by itself, it looks more like a truffle, but when I see the others, I don’t think so. Help me identify this if you can. And what should I do with it (with any fungi for that matter)? Thanks for your help! – Kaye

It’s been gently raining, on and off, for the better part of three days. The ground is soaked, and so are my cats. I go out several times a day to check on them, and count them. This AM, I found 13 caterpillars, five chrysalises, and one forming a chrysalis. About nine, like this one, are polishing off their last meals.

Monarch Caterpillar in Fifth Instar

Monarch Caterpillar in Fifth Instar Stage Eating Milkweed Leaf

Everything on the milkweed plant is consumed, leaves, flowers, stems, even the outside of the seed pods.

Monarch Caterpillar by Kaye Kittrell

Monarch Caterpillar Eating Tropical MIlkweed Seedpod

This one moved across the garden to a short wire fence where it will likely start to form a chrysalis.

Monarch Caterpillar by Kaye Kittrell

Monarch Caterpillar Hanging from Wire Fence

This is why the caterpillars usually move away from the milkweed plants before forming a chrysalis. There is a danger of getting pooped on! With up to a dozen large cats hovering above, chomping away, you are likely to get pooped on. This chrysalis is covered in rain-melted frass.

Chrysalis Covered in Poop

Monarch Chrysalis Covered in Rain-Melted Frass

I would have been happy to relocate it to the bush, where this one is forming now. You can already see the overall greenish cast. At this stage, there is still a bit of movement in the head and front legs.

Monarch Caterpillar First Stage Chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillar Forming Chrysalis

Tomorrow, it will be solid milky green, like this one, but lighter. It takes a couple of days to become this translucent green. I was amazed to see the cats (there are two in this bush) attach to one single thick strand of grass.

Monarch Chrysalis in Grass

Monarch Chrysalis in Mexican Feather Grass

It’s taking a long time for the butterflies to emerge from the older chrysalises. I’m sure they are waiting for a sunny, dry day to emerge. It’s hard enough for those wings to dry on a sunny day! And they can’t fly away from danger till the wings are dry. I haven’t seen a Monarch butterfly since the first one hatched and flew away. I feel sure when these small ones complete their stages, that will be it till next year.

Fourth Instar Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar Third Instar

I hope so, because most of the milkweed is bare stalks by now. Thanks for checking in. Are you planting milkweed for next season? – Kaye

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Documenting my collections for posterity

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Confessions from a Mom in Haiti

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The Barefoot Farmer

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Information for commercial vegetable production in Ontario