Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cauliflower extraordinaire

It has been a good year for the cauliflower in my garden.  I tried some new varieties this year based on descriptions in the catalogues.  I've had excellent heads of Cheddar hybrid (a yellow head) from Territorial seeds, and Hermon, a white cauliflower from Stokes seeds.  Here are some pictures taken today of the wonderful harvest (our neighbors had to be enlisted to take some).

Thursday, June 14, 2012


     Today was a weeding day.  Illijana and I got to spend time out in the garden weeding together...this is one of our favorite activities, working together in the garden.  We weeded a large perennial bed out back of our house, and took the weeds over to our perennial compost pile - the one pile we don't turn or do anything with.  Every few years we pull compost from its lower reaches and spread it on the garden beds.
     The other event of the day was the discovery of rabbit damage in the garden.  There has been a large rabbit hereabouts for several weeks, and I think that the damage done to brassica plants is due to this rabbit.  Time to get out our Scarecrow water sprayer to ward him/her off.
     Here is a photo of a portion of the weeded bed, and a photo of the compost pile with the new weeds on top.  Click each to enlarge.
weeded bed
compost pile

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A day in the garden and a new roof

I did my usual practice in the garden today, starting with opening the greenhouses in the morning, watering seedlings and plants, picking 13 different fixings for a salad, washing and assembling the salad for lunch, then doing more watering in the afternoon.  Here is what it looked like:
The final salad
(click on the pictures to enlarge them)
The makings of a salad

Broccoli almost ready to pick
Quinoa experiment
1st zucchini
The quinoa growing experiment is going well with seedheads forming.  We also have our first zucchini, a light green type with a creamy texture called Cavili.
We spend alot of time here watching birds.  The Stellar Jays are particularly present at the moment.
Stellar Jay
Our house with new roof
Finally, we had a new roof put on the house last week.  This entailed taking off the solar panels before the roofers did their work, and the re-installing the panels.  I think it looks good. You can see the bottlebrush plant, the angelica plants, and the rust covered garlic in this photo.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remay, covering peas and beans, parsley pesto

I noticed that several voracious stellar bluejays were hunting around where I had planted peas a few days ago.  Normally I cover the peas and beans I plant from seed with a covering like Remay fabric, but I had not done so yet.  Spotting the birds (who will eat the yummy seedlings) spurred me to get going.  So I covered the peas today, and checked on the beans I planted awhile back (and had covered).  Here is what it looked like.
Uncovered but already planted with peas
Covered with fabric

Bean seedlings under cover
One other pic I'd like to share shows a section of beans planted two weeks ago that have been covered with fabric.  It is so much better to have this kind of germination than to come out and find the bean seedlings decimated by birds.
      Finally, here is a picture of our parsley.

 We have been letting it self-seed for a few years, and now have a bumper crop.  What to do with it?  Make parsley pesto!  I used a recipe created by Annie Somerville of Greens restaurant in San Francisco and found at  It uses parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, roasted pine nuts, and a touch of water in a blender to make a wonderful pesto sauce.  Here is a pic from the blender (before we used it as a salad dressing).
parsley pesto

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sometimes it is just work

What a busy day in the garden and yard!  We have been wildly weeding some of the garden beds over the last week, dumping the weeds on the grass by the beds.  We haven't been keeping up with the lawnmowing until today.  In order to get the lawn mowed we needed to unload the compost tumblers of their loads of compost in order to use the grass clippings for more compost.
Yesterday, my wife Illijana weeded the artichoke bed.  I then unloaded the compost tumbler and put the compost on the bed.  I also put compost in the rose bed, around the roses by our rose gate, and around the Queen Cox standard apple tree.
As Illijana mowed the lawn I weed whacked the edges and then used the grass clippings mixed with redwood sawdust, coffee grounds from Starbucks, and a mix of secret herbs and spices (blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal, and chicken manure) to fill the compost tumbler.  It will probably be composting at above 140 F by tomorrow, and will be ready to use in 3 to 4 weeks.
The yard looks great now, and it is raining, so we got the lawn done just in time.
There are some plants that need to be planted out shortly.  Here is a pic of the plants in the greenhouse. Click to enlarge.
lettuce starts
The picture on the right is a close-up of the small leaved basil growing in the greenhouse.  It is almost time for pesto making!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bearded Iris

We have been trying for some years to establish consistently producing bearded iris plants in our gardens. We have had some wonderful plants in most years but getting all the ones we have planted to bloom successfully has not happened until this year.  We are, of course, unsure of what we did or did not do to make this year such a good bloom time.  Here are a few of the iris.  A few of the pics emphasize the beards. Click to enlarge.

Monday, May 28, 2012


It was bean planting day today.  I have five different varieties to plant, and planted three of them today.  I put some garden inoculant in a dish, added a bit of water and then the beans, and then went outside to plant them.  Since we didn't have much room left in the garden beds at the moment, I planted Provider, a 50 day bush bean variety which will probably take 90 to 100 days here on the north coast, Fresh Pick, another bush variety scheduled to take 53 days (100 if I'm lucky), and Speedy, bush, and I'm not sure how long this will take.
Beans have a hard time here along the cool coast.  They look terrible every year for quite awhile until they finally start looking better after about 60 days of growth.  They usually produce pretty well for us once they get around to it.  I think the culprit is the lack of heat we have, and the cool, foggy weather.  It is rare for it to reach 70 degrees F here.  Germination is usually slow because soil temp is at the low end of possible germination temperatures.  I do love the fresh beans when we harvest them though.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dinner prep

I just love vegetables, growing them and eating them.  Last night I combined fresh broccoli, two kinds of kale, and garlic, all grown in our garden, into a lovely meal with sticky rice, tofu, and an alfredo sauce.  Yum.  Here is a pic of the ingredients:
Tonight, I've picked asparagus from both asparagus beds, three types of swiss chard, and some parsley to combine in a tomato sauce based baked ziti dish.  Yum again.  I have some Italian Dolcetto wine to go along with it.  Here is a pic of the just picked goodies.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moon in Cancer, waxing

One of the nice things about planting by the moon cycles is that when I notice a planting day, it pulls me out of procrastination mode (perhaps spending too much time with the computer), and into getting things done in the garden mode.  This was the case yesterday as the moon is waxing, it is in a water sign (Cancer), and so it is theoretically a good day to plant upward growing crops.  I took advantage and planted 3 types of spinach in the concrete bed I constructed last year (varieties planted: Corvair from Johnny's Seeds, Bordeaux, a red veined variety from Territorial, and Oriental Giant from Renee's Garden).
I also planted a tray of 6 packs (that is 8 of them).  I used mostly 3 cells in each 6 pack for each variety with one seed in each cell.  Lettuces planted included greenleaf Black Seeded Simpson, red butterhead Skyphos, green butterhead Dancine, red Grand Rapids type Vulcan, green butterhead Victoria, red loose leaf New Red Fire, and iceberg Summertime.  I also planted broccolis Belstar, Packman, and Apollo, pac choi Win-Win, and oriental green Tah Tsai.
I also weeded the asparagus bed which is still producing well, and weeded the tomato patch in the hothouse.  I pulled out a tomato that had overwintered but was not growing well, and left a volunteer Stupice tomato, a potato leaved variety in its place.  All in all a great non-procrastinating day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Busy bee

One of the Osmia Californica solitary bees has sprung from its tube and is somewhere (polinating we hope.)  Today was a busy garden day with weeding the main asparagus bed, emptying three compost tumblers of their finished compost and spreading it on the two asparagus beds and the apple/pear tree espalier.  We also rototilled the two upper beds in the main garden, weeded the "no till" bed, spread epsom salts under the roses,  and planted zucchini starts (golden and green), two different pumpkins, and four types of winter squash.  Tonight I went out and did slug patrol by the light of the moon - just kidding, the moon wasn't up yet, but I did kill slugs and snails.  All in all a very productive day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Full moon, red lettuce leaves, salad for lunch

     Since tonight is the Scorpio full moon I was spurred to get the planting of my next round of lettuce seeds done.  I planted 8 six packs full of lettuce seeds (12 different varieties.)  One of the things I like about lettuce is the amazing array of colors, textures, and types of lettuce.  Today for lunch we had a nine types of greens lunch salad including three distinct types of lettuce (green butterhead, green romaine, and red looseleaf).  Here is a picture of the washed greens before I assembled them into a salad. (Click to enlarge.)
I'm focusing this year partly on growing a wide variety of red leaf lettuces.  Here are photos of some of the types I've planted this year which are now growing in my garden.
Skyphos red butterhead
Yugoslavian red butterhead

Vulkan red Grand Rapids type

New Red Fire
red radicchio

Friday, April 27, 2012

Planting, tilling, and an experiment in quinoa

I did get to spend the entire afternoon gardening today.  I first rototilled several sections of the garden to prepare them for planting.  I had to put plants in the ground because they were getting a little overgrown in their seedling containers.  I planted four or five types of lettuce, other varied salad greens like tah tsai and endive, and then planted my big experiment of the year, quinoa, a grain generally grown in South America.  Here are a few pictures.


Concrete bed is full!
For dinner tonight, I picked a lot of asparagus, gave a bunch to a neighbor, and still had plenty to eat over a piece of toast with alfredo sauce.  We also had steamed beets and beet greens also picked today.  Yum!  I love that we have lots of lettuce and other greens as seen in the photo of the concrete bed.
Planting peas tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tomato jungle to be, and greenhouse madness

Today I planted tomatoes in the ground in the hothouse we built out of used windows, and I am sure it is going to be a tomato jungle in no time.  I wanted to get at least one of each type of tomato I had started as seeds, and I left a couple of seedlings that started on their own in the hothouse.  I dug holes with a hand trowel, watered the hole with Maxsea, transplanted the plant, then put a cage around it.  Here are two pictures of the result.

You can see one plant which I allowed to overwinter (middle left) which has already set a few tomatoes.

I also worked on transplanting some of the seedlings in the greenhouse.  I'm way behind in the transplant department, but here are two pictures of the plants in the greenhouse today. Click to enlarge.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A year in the rhododendron world and blooming flowers

It has been a year since I planted the rhododendron bush that I blogged about here: planting a rhododendron .  The plant seems to be doing quite well.  It is growing (not flowering yet) but I thought I'd show you a picture of the plant after a year in the garden.
purple rhodie
There are quite a number of flowers blooming away in the garden
these days.  Here is a sampler.
pink rhodie

dutch iris

mixed daffodils and tulips


Friday, April 13, 2012

Weeding, weeding, planting

I had plants that needed to get in the ground today.  These were primarily cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower), chard of different colors, collards, and a bit of lettuce which I had seeded and raised in the greenhouse for the last 6 weeks or so.  They had several sets of true leaves, and I didn't want them to get root bound in their six packs. (Check out the picture in the previous post.)  In order to plant them, I needed to do some weeding in the garden beds.  So with my trusty hand hoe I went out and weeded three garden beds and then planted the plants.
We have one bed which is strictly a "no till" bed.  We try not to break up or mix the soil levels in this bed, and I planted this bed extensively.  I watered them in with Maxsea fertilizer, then used some Sluggo Plus slug and snail bait (iron phosphate and spinosad bacteria) to protect the plants.  It was fun to be outside in the sun!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Transplants, lunch, dinner

hardening off outside
I worked in the greenhouse this morning, transplanting teensy baby plants (primarily quinoa plants and mixed salad greens) that had grown too close to each other from the April 1st planting.  To do this required washing out six packs to reuse, adding potting soil, using a dibble to prick out the little plants, and then labeling them before setting them back on the heat mat in the greenhouse.  There are some plants from earlier seedings that are ready to go out into the garden.  Here is a picture of some of them. I usually put plants out of doors for a few days to harden them off when ready.
Soon to be hardened off
One other nice thing about gardening is the ability to eat the results of our work with nature.  Yesterday, I made lunch from different salad greens and dinner from the asparagus patch and from some young beets.  Yummy!  We had the beets simply sliced into rounds and steamed, the asparagus steamed in an asparagus cooker, and quinoa, all with an alfredo sauce.
Here are pictures of the produce before the meal preparation
kale, chard, beet greens, spinach, radicchio, green  lettuce, red lettuce

asparagus, beets