Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What to Do with All of Those Eggplants, Zucchinis, and Tomatoes

The kitchen counter is piled high with tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants. This year has created a bountiful record harvest.

William Sonoma has the answer with this recipe which uses all three of these garden items.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Only Mother Nature Can Paint Like This!

If you are in a decorating mode and someone says stick to a natural palette, you most likely think of browns, taupes, beiges. But Mother Nature is a bit more inventive with her natural colors. Look at the vivid, screaming tones of these sunflowers. AMAZING.

And look how effectively these sunflowers camouflage the two bees collecting pollen.

A Weekend Get-Away with Friends

A group of friends took a late summer weekend to visit Santa Barbara. I love ivy covered buildings.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Yellow Zucchini

Renee's Garden loves to package seeds from like vegetables with color variations in the same package. I love it, too. I love my tri-color beans (gold, burgundy, green) and tri-color zucchini (under squash) which are fancy pastel green, buttercup yellow and dark green. I often prepare zucchini by slicing with skin on then sauteeing in a little butter. With the various color skins, the dish takes on a whole new look.

Planting an Eagle Scout Project

We helped with an Eagle Scout project on Saturday. The project was for the city of Mission Viejo. We helped a soon to be Eagle candidate plant 1200 gallon plants on a good sized slope at a local park. The city had decided a few years ago to have the whole slope help local boy scouts achieve their Eagle rank. The slope stretches throughout the park and the entire area was planted by boy scouts. The city official thinks it has saved the city over $100,000.

Our troop kicked it up and started around 8:00. We were finished by 10:30. This was amazing. Lucky for us the hillside was just about perfect for digging--although a few patchy areas were like concrete. Additionally, we had a good mix of adults, past Eagles, and scouts. Most did division of labor--one person dig, the other person plant. Worked out beautifully.

The mix of plants are plumbago and honeysuckle.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Three Cloud Nines

This is the year of the eggplant. I have had great success with my standard eggplant, my Japanese eggplants and my cloud nines. We've friend eggplant twice and I think some ratatouille is in order for the weekend.

Here is a great English recipe for ratatouille. I like using aubergines, courgettes and tinned tomatoes in my recipes...instead of eggplants, zucchinis, and canned tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Stephanotis always takes my breath away when I see it growing on the vine. Its thick, waxy flower is so stunning among these other plants. This vignette was located under a tree where it clearly was in partial shade throughout the day.


This sunflower is slowly opening its face to the world.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Nothing tastes better than a slice of garden tomato topped with a leaf of fresh basil. This robust basil plant should keep me satisfied for the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Garden and Gun...

Garden and Gun. Great alliteration...and an interesting magazine concept. It's a southern lifestyle magazine.

Purple Beans

First photos of the purple beans. They are a bit greener than I remember them from previous crops and definitely not as purple as the photo on Renee's web site. I still think they make for a very beautiful garden.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Japanese Cucumbers

Spiny and prickly, these cucumbers are a surprise to me. I thought I had purchased English cucumbers (hot house cucumber) and couldn't figure out why they looked so different.

Finally, I double checked the tag. Japanese cucumbers! I think the largest one is ready to harvest. My son is coming home from university tomorrow so it will be perfect to pick and prepare for his first night home.

Gardenias Ready for Round Two of Blooms

This is one tough little gardenia bush. I have two bushes which flank both sides of my entry doorway. It is a heavenly experience when they are in bloom to enter and exit the front door. The alcove of the entry creates an envelope of frangrance.

Anyway, these bushes have been subjected to a host of problems. First the landscape company changed the grade by the door and their crowns are below grade. Next, the landscape company topped of the beds with three to four inches of soil topper. Then the landscape company flooded the beds with massive irrigation. About this time, the leaves were turning yellow and brown, blossoms were dropping unbloomed and leaves were dropping to the ground. Not realizing all of these things were happening, I purchased a little soil amendment with low pH (which gardenias prefer). I went to apply the amendment, and found out all of the above. I cut back the watering, removed all of the topper, applied cottonseed meal (lowers pH). Slowly the plant has responded. Now, it is ready for the second bloom of the summer. You can see some flowers are already present and buds for scores more.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Peach Rose

This beautiful blossom is on a favorite rose bush. The color is vibrant as a bud and mellows as the blossom unfurls.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Zucchini in My Vegetable Garden

My zucchini plant has tried to be prolific this year. The problem is the zucchini is a single speciman. This leads to a problem. As growers of zucchini know, there are male and female flowers on a zucchini plant. The female flower sits atop a very small zucchini waiting to be fertilized. The male flower sits atop a stalk. To have fertilization, both flowers need to be present in the same window of opportunity. If you have multiple plants, the likelihood of having both a male and female flower in bloom is much higher.

In the photo, you can see one zucchini which has been fertilized. It appears healthy and green. You can see the yellowish, withering stub of an unfertilized zucchini under a leaf. You can also see the growing male and female flowers at about 8 and 9 o'clock in the photo. The female flower is less developed and is at 8 o'clock. The male flower is at 9 o'clock.

So far, I have had two occurences of the simultaneous blooming the male and female flowers. And since I help nature along by assisting in the pollination process, I have had two zukes this summer. Currently there is a maturing zuke on the vine which probably will be harvested within the next 12 hours.

Oh, note to year more than one zucchini plant, please.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Artemisia: Fragrant Plant for the Garden

I'm not sure about this plant which is an addition to my garden. It does have a nice fragrance. It seems to grow quickly but the inside of the plant becomes unattractive with browning folliage. This particular plant is young and a near perfect speciman at this point. It is just beyond this stage that things start to run amuck


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