Friday, September 24, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch--now at your local garden shop

Knowing a good thing when they see it, the local garden shops are gearing up for one of our favorite holidays--Halloween. Plant Depot has set up a special area replete with pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, container trees turning autumn colors. Very picturesque.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Basil Plant for the Garden

I've picked up a new basil from the garden shops. It is a dense, compact domed-shaped plant. It can be used in the vegetable garden or as an interesting border plant in a border garden. The scent is wonderful.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hand Pollination--Helping out the Bees

I have shocked my friends recently. They are amazed that I go to my garden each morning and "help" out the bees by providing mechanical or hand pollination to my zucchini crop. One friend indicated that she knew I was a type A personality and a bit of a control freak, but perhaps this activity had crossed over to a whole new level.

I disagree. Home gardeners have been hand pollinating for years. And after go to the trouble of planting a garden, watering it, weeding it, dealing with over zealous bunnies and an onslaught of powdery mildew which occurs so easily near the coast, I am sure going to try to get the most produce I can from my little green garden.

My zucchini flowers are open early morning for several hours. I take this time to identify which female flowers are blooming and selecting a few male flowers to provide the pollen. My technique involves removing the open bloom (corolla) from the male flower and brushing the anther of the stamen on the pistils of the female flower. Even then I do not reach 100% success but I have been reaping a very bountiful harvest.

My nongardening friends want to know how I know the male from female flower. I've included a few photos showing what to look for.
Female flower with view of stigma

Exterior view of female. Small unpollinated zucchini visible. If this flower is not pollinated, it will stay this small size, yellow, and whither on the plant.

Male flower (no zucchini--just stem below the flower)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tomatoes Grown at Home

Ripe Tomatoes
More on the Way
Finally. The first tomatoes of the season grown entirely in my garden. I cheated a bit with an earlier plant which had quite a few green tomatoes on the vine when I purchased it. It never felt right to enjoy those tomatoes. Now, I have had the thrill of picking tomatoes grown entirely in my garden. Lunch today: BLT!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Bounty

If adding orange to the home decor doesn't fit your design aesthetic, try the white pumpkin this year as Halloween season comes upon us.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Succulents Popular Indoors and Outdoors

With the focus on water wise planting in California, I've been watching a trend develop over the past few seasons. Succulents are becoming a prominent plant group both indoors and out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Raised Bed for Herbs and Lettuces

A recent visit to Roger's Gardens allowed me to discover this beautiful raised bed vignette. Three different units were displayed. Each was a different size and height.

Typical to Roger's Gardens, which has style and flair to spare, the beds were planted beautifully with lettuces and herbs. Even the smallest of the three beds would allow for the gourmet home chef to have ample herbs for cooking and delicate greens for salads and garnishes.

Lion's Tail

I recently planted a lion's tail plant in my garden to provide late summer/fall color. I love the flower: furry and orange. Great for a shock of color in my border. The progression of the bloom is interesting to watch. First the flower ball appears. It is very geometrical and interesting. Soon, small orange dots appear. Finally, like a firework explosion on the fourth of July, the furry "tails" appear. Ka-Boom!

Bonus: Once established, low water user.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sugar Snap Peas

I've started my fall, cool weather planting. I purchased 15 sugar snap peas from Roger's Gardens and this morning (very early) I built a climbing trellis for them. I like to use bamboo (one pole vertical and one pole at an angle lashed together for stability). Next, I use jute twine to create the climbing trellis.

Cucumber--Staying Cool in the Shade

The cucumber plant has been growing and tucked away under all of the leaves is this lovely specimen. I think a pickled cucumber salad is in my future.


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