Archives for category: Maintenance

Cold, wet days drive Kaye inside. Good thing the garden is planted. But, you have to venture out once in a while to thin seedlings, deal with pests and encounter wildlife. Check out Season 2, Episode 2 of “Late Bloomer,” “Maintaining the Winter Garden.”

Please Like and Share and Comment! Thank you! – Kaye

Please watch and share Season 2, Episode 1 of “Late Bloomer,” “Planting the Winter Garden.” Featuring the original guitar composition of “Late Bloomer’s” new composer, guitar man Jon Pileggi. I’m very excited to add Jon to our lean and creative Late Bloomer team!

I’ve been busy planting a garden, making Late Bloomer episodes, creating an e-book “The Late Bloomer Show’s 10 Steps for a Great, First Garden,” redoing my website, and dealing with my sprained ankle and all the other stuff of life. Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately, but I will get back to it very soon! Are you able to grow food in the winter? Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

P.S. Did you watch the Super Bowl? My American Airlines commercial ran during the game. I play a waitress. I’d love to know if you see it. Thanks!

I had been alerted that rain was coming this weekend, and I knew I had to get a fresh layer of alfalfa down on my hard-baked clay, otherwise, every trip into the garden would result in mud-caked shoes. So, this morning, I spread it out. Rain was coming down gently on my back. I had my office window open (that’s Linden sitting in the window watching me) and Puccini wafting out to inspire me to work in the sprinkling rain.


Alfalfa Spread on Grassless Lawn

Next, I popped in a couple of red Cyclamen in the far back corner to cheer me up. There’s too much shade for edibles. In front of the window sits my new birdbath. Not one bird has visited it, yet. The “rain” stopped fairly quickly, but not before all the leaves got a few drops.


Raindrops on Roses

This is the second light sprinkle since the mid-April downpour. I wish it could have lasted longer. Now that I pulled out the tomato vines that enshrouded my little orange tree, it is coming to life with a hundred blooms!


Valencia Orange Blossoms

And I discovered a potato popping up under my birch trees! I had dumped the dirt from the big pot there after pulling out my potato vines. Because the soil back there is as hard as a rock and choked with birch roots, I am mounding it up as it grows. I will be very curious to see if I get potatoes.


Potato Plant

Next, I checked in with my Monarch caterpillars. These three fat ones were chomping away on perhaps their last meal before they head off to build a cocoon.

The longer antennae are on the head, and they bob back and forth as they eat. The caterpillars anchor at the top of the leaf near the stem, grasping onto the vein in the leaf and eat from the tip up the leaf, backing up as they go. They are always hanging upside down, so it’s hard to get a good look at the head. When I do get my camera close enough for them to see it, they sense danger and freeze, and hope their big, beautiful, yellow and black striped bodies won’t be noticeable. Ha! That’s Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma” (along with the sound of a jet plane) in the background. With big dumps of frass (insect poop) like these, I know these caterpillars are about ready to morph.

Frass (Insect Poop)

Monarch Caterpillar Frass

Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

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.


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.

I’ve been concerned about splashing water on the leaves when hand-watering from the hose, so I installed a drip line in the parkway this week. The area where I had corn is empty, so I need to get celery, broccoli and chard started there. Here’s the bed after I broke up the clay soil.

My Stanford son gave me a hand removing the sprinkler heads and capping them off.

Measuring lengths of hose.

Finally, getting down and dirty working in the soil amendments. You gotta get in your dirt to work in the garden.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Today, I must poke holes in the lines. Thanks for stopping by! – 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

Please check out Episode 5 of “Late Bloomer,” “Downpour!”

Kaye learns an important lesson about being prepared BEFORE the storm hits! With neighbor Brooke and a red-backed jumping spider.

Thanks for watching!

Planting vegetables and caring for them is glamorous compared to the big jobs in your yard that have to be done every spring. Since my vegetables are growing in the front yard, except for tomatoes and potatoes in pots in the back yard, I tend to ignore the back. But, yesterday was the day to pay attention! And I had to get my trusty helper, Rene, over here to help me with some BIG JOBS. If you are a late bloomer like me, you know when you just can’t handle it by yourself, and you have to call in a professional!

I went through the day’s agenda with Rene:

1) Remove a few giant, climbing bamboo (which we planted when they built large houses on either side of us) that were hitting the house when the wind blew;

2) After the glorious bloom in February, the wisteria grew like crazy and needed to be cut back off the art studio and garage;

3) Relocate 400 pounds of polished stone that I had taken out of the planter and had been sitting in trays for a month collecting rainwater and smelling bad;

4) Finally, to the front yard where I wanted a guardrail built around my gas meter.

The Guardrail: Because a good portion of my vegetable garden resides in the parkway, I built the soil up a few inches from street level, but that was a problem near my gas meter, where the mud kept washing down over it. I needed a small retaining wall around it. I was all set to head off to the gardening store and procure some curved bricks when Rene suggested we use pieces of bamboo that he was going to be cutting anyway. I was thrilled at the idea of reusing something natural and we made quick work of that assignment. Well, Rene did most of the work with his sharp saw and hammer. I held the long pieces while he cut them.

The Wisteria: Rene heads up the ladder to the garage roof.

When Rene was on the roof, he said he really should clean out the gutters, so I added that to the list.

While Rene was cleaning out the gutters, he found excrement in them from a raccoon, or very large cat, he surmised. He found it on top of the art studio as well. Rene said he had a friend who had a cat problem and the man bought coyote urine online and set it out in a dish and it kept the animals away!  Maybe I’ll try that. Here he is on the art studio roof.

While we were at it, Rene said we really needed to cut back the neighbors’ vines coming over the fence, and clear out the mountain of leaves that were choking the walkway behind the garage shed.  So, we forged ahead with that task and he cut while I hauled.

We only have one green recycling bin, and that was full in no time.

It was at this point, while Rene was climbing the wall like a monkey cutting back vines behind the garage, that I plowed head first into the extension ladder that protruded from it’s hook. That pretty much sidelined me for the rest of the afternoon.  Here I am with an ice pack.

The most I exerted myself afterwards was to make us some fresh ice tea. Here I am somewhat recovered.

There was NO light back here before he starting hacking away and the wall was covered in vines. Now, it’s clean as a whistle!

Rene finished that job, and moved all the stones without me.

By the end of the day, I was out front resting with an ice pack on my head, when my neighbor helpers (you will see them a lot in “Late Bloomer”) came over wanting to plant something. So, we planted corn seed! They were fighting over who got to pour in the dirt and put the seeds in the hole! Gardening is so rewarding, even when it’s big jobs you’ve got to do, but, it’s especially sweet when young people are interested in seeing things grow!

Coming up tomorrow, “Catch-up Day,” Episode 3 of “Late Bloomer.” Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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