Sunday, April 26, 2009

Onions for Spring

I planted some onions in the winter in my garden. They have grown steadily through the months. Now, some of the onions are blooming. These onions are both green and purple/red. I've roased some of them and diced some for inclusion in recipes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Tomato Cages

My birthday gift from my mom this year was new tomato cages. I've been waiting for tomato season to start using them. This past week I finally set them out with my new tomato seedlings. One cage is already getting full use because I had a volunteer which has been growing since the early part of the year.

These tomato cages are going to be a terrific addition to my garden. I got four cages which are 60 inches tall. I might go back for two more which are 72 inches tall. They are constructed of very sturdy metal. I have found the smaller round, cages have been constructed of cheaper, less sturdy metal in the last few years. This becomes a problem as the plants grow because they deform under the weight of the plant and produce. Additionally, these square cages fold flat for easy storage in the off season.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Artichoke Buds Appear in Numbers

Ah, my darling artichoke. The central artichoke bud continues to grow while new buds appear on the plant. Dinner will include artichoke this weekend. I have practiced the art of removing the hairy choke prior to cooking. This process is quite laborious. I have talked with a friend about her technique where the choke is removed after cooking during the deconstructing/eating phase. I think I will give that process a go this year. I'm tempted by the idea of an easier process. Anyone who has removed the choke prior to cooking knows it is a bit of a surgical technique. Care must be taken to remove all of the fibrous hairy choke while leaving the heart (which lies directly below) untouched.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daylily's First Bloom

This season's first daylily bloomed yesterday. I guess the heat gave it what it needed to pop open this bloom. The bloom is soaked in spray from the irrigation system. That was one way to try to stay cool when the temps were so high.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Protecting Lettuce from the Heat


We've had unnaturally hot weather (98 degrees) the past few days--in fact a heat wave. I say unnatural because April in California near the ocean usually sees temps in the 70s. We rarely get heat waves even in August!

This lovely devise is my meager attempt to shield the lettuce from the withering heat. Feel free to comment if you would find this contraption too tacky for your garden! I might step it up a notch to lengthen my lettuce growing season. I am picturing garden cloth stretched between a pvc frame stretched to keep a shady spot into June.

Yesterday two of my artichoke plants went prostrate in mid afternoon. Upon witnessing the meltdown, I doused them with buckets of water. This morning they were at full attention again. I'll be monitoring them throughout the day but hopefully the deep watering yesterday will do the trick.

Artichoke after buckets of water and a chilly night.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Nibblers Beware

Five coprosma shrubs were planted in the garden and in just that many days, rabbits had defoliated them to the stems. What to do? Tomato cages were sitting in the garden unemployed. I placed them upside down over the plants and draped them with plastic netting. Now five weeks later, they are back with folliage. I will wait until they are more established to remove the protection.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rose Pruning

I just pruned the rose bush this past weekend. I like to wait until the end of March to prune. I read about this plan when I first moved to Southern California. The idea is that the roses will put out new leaves when the weather is warmer and less wet. The hope is to minimize powdery mildew forming on the new leaves.

Normally, I would strip the whole bush of leaves. This year, however, I left a few leaves and rosebuds on one part of the bush because the buds were just about to bloom. After the petals drop, I will prune this part of the bush. Since the weekend, each day has been sunny warm. This enticed the buds to bloom.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Artichokes 2009

I planted this artichoke during the winter. It has grown day by day. These are one of the most interesting plants to grow. The leaves are grey-green and have great texture. As it grows from the inside out, the center gets quite dense and looks like a whirling vortex of leaves. Before you know it, the first flower bud appears at the center of these leaves. The flower of the artichoke is an edible bud. At the early stage the leaves of the artichoke are bright green and tinged with pink on the edges. If left on the plant, it will burst forth as a spikey purple flower like the thistles which grow in the open spaces here in SoCal.

The first year I grew artichokes I thought this had to be a joke. This enormous plant and all you get is one artichoke. I couldn't figure out how farmers could afford to grow these delectable treats. Then the truth was revealed. Suddenly little 'chokes started growing all over the plant. That year, my one artichoke product 12-15 artichokes. Amazing.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Calla Lilies

The calla lilies at the front of the house are in bloom. Watching them in their various steps as they unfurl their bloom is interesting.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I turned the composter over this weekend. Worms! I love finding my friendly worms busy in my composter. I took a few out and placed them in my vegetable garden. The others were returned to the composter to keep working their magic.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Irises Blooming in March

Yesterday afternoon was a garden day for me. I had to turn my compost and I had a lot of weeding to do. So when I tripped out the door at noon I was delighted to see the iris blooming.

This iris is offspring to tubers given to me when I was attending Master Gardener classes back in the early 90s. Someone in the class had separated her irises and brought in tubers to share with anyone who was interested. I took three tubers and they have been very productive members of the garden. I separated them a few years ago and shared them with two friends.

When we did the garden update last year, I grabbed a few tubers out of the garden and tossed them in a container with potting soil. They stayed there all summer until the work was done. Then I planted them back in the soil. Tah-Dah. This spring they are back at work creating flowers which would make Monet proud.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Purple Onions

Last fall I planted a patch of onions, both green and purple. I plucked a few from the earth this week to use in a vegetarian lasagne. They were stunning when they were cleaned but even more amazing once I sliced them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Amazing Eggplant

In the fall, the eggplant was still loaded with small growing eggplants. I couldn't bring my self to pull it from the ground. It was a good decision. Yesterday I harvested two good sized eggplants. The leaves have taken several hits from very cold weather in January and February but not enough to kill the plant.

Now I am deciding if I should take the pruners out and clean up any lackluster foliage with the hopes that this plant will continue to grow a second season. I think the decision will be made if I see a flourish of purple blossoms as the legnth of time the sun shines in the garden increases.


I stopped by the garden center earlier this week to pick up some ground cover plants. I couldn't resist a six-pack of baby round carrots which were in the vegetable section.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Because our growing season is year round, plants which would normally cease their existence in climates with frost and snow, just keep on growing. This parsley is out of control. I love it though. It is such a vibrant green.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's in the Composter?

A quick peek inside the composter reveals some of the components of the more recent meals. You can see strawberry husks, tomatillo skins, onion skins, acorn squash skins, pea pod shells, orange peel, and the unfortunate celery stalks which went bad before I could use them.

Broccoli Keeps on Giving

Broccoli is an amazing plant. First, you harvest the main stalk which grows in the middle of the plant. DO NOT REMOVE THE PLANT FROM THE GARDEN. Wait patiently. Before you know it, the plant will be growing mini broccoli flowerettes. This plant easily provides lovely dinner servings of broccoli for my small household once a week. So awesome.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Beet Goes On

My winter garden has been quite prolific this year. I have tried some new items which I have not grown before. Because I love beets, I gave them a try. Here are two beets which I plucked from the ground this week. I am going to roast them and serve on a salad of mixed greens and goat cheese.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Salad Bouquet

The bunnies are on hiatus--perhaps off to Big Bear for ski week. The lettuces are growing strong. Most of my lettuce plants are single varieties. I'm not sure how this bouquet grouping came to be but stunning it is. The lettuce bouquet is comprised of arugala, romaine, oak leaf lettuce, and red leaf lettuce. This will make a perfect single salad serving.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Experimentation has been the practice in my winter garden this year. Over the years, my winter garden had become less productive. Lower productivity was the direct result of my neighhbors' trees which line the downhill slope of my garden's perimeter. These trees coupled with the lower arc of the sun in the winter prevented my garden from getting any reasonable amount of sunlight. However, the trees fell ill and were felled. SUN!

Now I am back to planting a full winter garden. I am delighted that for the next few years, I will enjoy garden salads, brocoli, cauliflower during the winter months. I say for the next few years because alas and alack the neighbore replanted with three new trees which will eventually block the sun again. But I will make hay, or should I say, salad while the sun shines.

Spinach has done quite well since like many children bunnies do not like to eat their spinach.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


In the late fall when I was selecting plants for the winter garden, the nursery had one bokchoy plant. I never had grown bokchoy...or prepared it...but my sense of adventure was up for the challenge.

Well, things have gone very well for the plant. Apparently, it is not a favorite with the bunny locavores, which has allowed the plant to flourish and grow. I think it is time to search the internet for recipes.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Paperwhites--Forcing Bulbs

My paperwhites bloomed this weekend. I found the bulbs at a lovely shop in Laguna Beach, Aero, at the beginning of December. I purchased three bulbs. Paperwhites are one bulb which do not require chilling to force so I planted them immediately. I used a tall, clear glass container with a little potting soil. I thought it would be pretty to cover the bulbs with clear, glass marbles. After five weeks, the reward: blooming paperwhites. I love the scent.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tomato Volunteer and Dill

Volunteers are always appreciated in my garden. This tomato plant is getting an early start for Garden 2009. I planted the dill plant in the fall and it is growing quite well. I love a little dill with green beans or mixed with sour cream and served over cucumbers. Sounds like some of the 2009 garden is already being planned.


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