Monday, September 28, 2009

My To-Do List . . .

This week I need to get busy with my fall planting before it's too late! I plan to plant from seeds:

--onion sets

--plus, get my little Meyer lemon tree into the ground


Planting by the stars:

Monday--Sagittarius–fairly good root crops, above ground crops; no transplanting

Tuesday-Wednesday--Capricorn–#1 planting root crops; 2nd best planting above ground crops and transplanting

Thursday--Aquarius–not good planting root crops; very good planting above ground crops (but not seeds, they will rot)

Friday-Sunday--Pisces–2nd best planting root crops; #1 planting above ground crops and transplanting above ground crops, trees, bushes, vines; good to weed

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This is Millie and she is a scaredy-cat! A lot of things frighten her, but she is a sweet kitty. She doesn't like to be picked up or sleep on my lap, but she sure does love to have her ears rubbed!

While I was in Idaho last week my husband told me of Millie and her "mouse". One day another one of our cats got a mouse and left it on our porch step. The next day Millie was outside and just "talking" up a storm as she was playing with what looked like a mouse. My husband said that Millie played with and talked to the "mouse" for over half an hour. Upon closer inspection, the mouse was seen for what it really was--a dried hot pepper! She got it from my garden and played with it for three days! She is so funny! Usually, she brings grasshoppers in the house, after removing one of the back legs. She also is good at catching dragonflies. She generally doesn't catch birds, although she likes to stalk them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Farewell, Butterfly

In death, butterfly's

Beauty fades, she's becoming

Mere dust of the earth.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Freezer Vegetable Soup

As you are harvesting vegetables in the garden, you might find yourself with an abundance of several different kinds and overwhelmed with what to do with them. Freezer Soup is a good solution, one that will benefit you all winter long. Meat, noodles, rice, potatoes or barley could be added when heating to make the soup more substantial.

Freezer Soup

When harvesting vegetables, do four different kinds at a time. Cut up and blanch each vegetable separately, and cool well. Layer 1" of each vegetable in a freezer bag (6"x8"). Place washed parsley, green pepper and/or tomatoes on top of the last layer.

To cook the soup: Boil a soup bone two hours (or use prepared broth). Add the vegetables and cook 25-30 minutes.

Tomatoes and Perennials

How were your tomatoes this summer? Would you like to try a new variety? P. Allen Smith grew several kinds of tomatoes and shares which ones he liked best. You can see his choices here.

Mr. Smith also has an article on dividing and transplanting perennials. Go here if you are interested.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, September 24, 2009 (edited)

Garden Checklist:

The cooler weather is perfect for working in the garden. Finish fall cleanup.

Tasks: cut warm-weather grasses short and seed with cool-season grasses--annual or perennial rye or fine fescue.
Pruning: Deadhead and shape rose bushes to promote a final fall bloom.
Fertilizing: Do not feed citrus and other frost-tender plants.
Planting: winter and spring annuals and cool-weather vegetables from cell packs; snapdragon (Antirrhinum), English daisy Bellis perennis), campanula glomerata, chrysanthemum morifolium; vegetables from seed: beets, carrots; abelia, acacia, horse chestnut (Aesculus), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo).
Things to ponder: There is a slight chance of frost in October, as the frost date varies from year to year.


Garden Calendar for Fresno:

Curing and Preserving Olives--9:30 am, Saturday at the Garden of the Sun (1944 N. Winery Ave), 456-7285--$15.

Fall Plant Sale--benefits the Clovis Botanical Gardens--8:00 am to 1:00 pm, Saturday (945 N. Clovis Ave), 349-1811.

Fresno Catus and Succulent Society--meeting with Nels Christianson, speaking on succulent flora of Bahis, Brazil--7:00 pm, Oct. 1 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center Inc., 5340 N. Fresno St.), 252-2360.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Harvesting . . .

My husband took really good care of my garden and I was able to harvest several eggplants, sweet peppers, and a couple of funny looking squash. I will harvest the hot peppers in a couple of days. I know that there are a bunch of tomatoes that are hiding, but they will soon be made into pizza sauce.

You may have noticed that some of my pictures have a brown smudge in the upper left corner. I am not sure why it is there as my camera is pretty new. I will try to find out what the problem is.

One Last Picture From Idaho

This is a picture of an apple tree that is in my Dad's yard, and it is full of apples. I was walking through the small town of Sandpoint and saw that there are many apple (and pear) trees that were full of fruit, with the ground underneath littered with more fruit. I think it would have been easy to get permission to gather the fruit--think of the applesauce it would make! Apple pies!! Makes my mouth water! [Click on picture to enlarge it].

Monday, September 21, 2009

Community Garden

This is a little community garden that is on the edge of Sandpoint, Idaho. I snapped a few pictures to show how others grow vegetables. Above, the gardens look to be 4'x4' and covered with a thick layer of straw.
This garden seemed to be covered with a thick layer of fine compost.
Here are box gardens that are really close together--it might be a bit difficult to work from between the boxes.
This shows a few larger plots that may not be for individual gardeners, although I don't know for sure. No post tomorrow, Tuesday, as I will be returning home!

Winter Squash

We woke up to 32' this morning. There was a frost warning last night so we covered the tomatoes and summer squash; this is how the winter squash looked without being covered. There are still green leaves under the frosted leaves, so they will continue to mature the fruits that are there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Deer Fence That Works!

This is a picture of my Dad's garden. Across the back of his property is a three-rail fence, one that does nothing to deter deer from entering the yard. My parents used to live on a 75 acre farm that is not far from here, and is located in a mountainous area. My Dad had a large garden with a 5' field fence, plus 3 strands of barbed wire on top. The deer just jumped over that and he was about to add another couple of feet to the top of the fence. I told him that I read that placing a 3-line strand of electric fence 18" outside of another fence was suppose to keep the deer out. The theory was that when the deer saw two lines of fence, they wouldn't know if there was more, and would not cross it. He added the electric fence and it worked!
This is his garden now and he still used 2 fence lines. He is using 2 electric fence lines that are irregularly placed, between 18" to 3' between the lines. He has a section that he uses as a gate so that he can enter and exit the garden.
This picture shows more of the variation between the fence lines. At the farm and here, the only time the deer have gotten into the garden is when he forgot to close the gate! He also has his dwarf fruit trees behind the electric fence to protect them, too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wild and Tame Plants

I went down the road, towards the main road, to get a picture of a garden that I saw each time we went to town. In front of the garden, there were wild snow berries and a red burning bush. It was a pretty combination.

The second picture is a close-up of the snow berries. They are all over this area. They are slightly sweet, but have no flavor. The snow berries are rather pithy and would not amount to much if cooked.

I went up to the front door of the house where the garden was and a dog came running up to me barking, but I ignored it like Caesar Milan, "Dog Whisperer", says to do and it worked! The dog sniffed me and then walked away! Whew!!

Anyway, no one was home so I went back out to the road and took this picture over the fence. They have two pumpkins growing on the fence (one is seen here), just hanging on. Like a lot of gardens at the end of the season, they have weeds--don't you feel better now? Almost everybody has weeds in their garden by the end of summer. There wasn't much left in this garden besides the pumpkins.

This year my Dad did not turn over his garden, but put a thick layer of mulch over the ground and planted through it. He was amazed that he has had very few weeds.

I found that removing the nutsedge and bermuda, then laying down thick layers of wet paper or cardboard, and putting thick layers of straw has been good enough that I have few weeds, too. I have had about 2 scraggly weeds per month in each of my new garden beds! That I can handle!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lake Pend Oreille

These are pictures of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint, Idaho. The first one is from a state beach, looking northwest, next to downtown Sandpoint, and located at the north end of a long bridge that crosses the lake. The second picture is looking west from the south end of the bridge. This bridge is a main route for truckers and goes right through the town. A bypass has been considered since 1945 and work was finally started this year.

Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pon-da-ray) is French for ear-hanging or pendant. The Kalispell Indians called this area home and were know for their ear pendants.

The lake is 65 miles long, and 1,150 feet deep in some areas; it is the 5th deepest lake in the U.S. The southern end, where the lake is the deepest, was formerly the home of the Farragut Navel Training Station during WWII. It is still used by the Navy's Acoustic Research Detachment to test large-scale submarine proto-types. The depth gives acoustic properties similar to open ocean.

The last picture is of a slough that is near my parents home.

Go here for more on Lake Pend Oreille.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Evening Walk

Every morning and evening my Dad and I take Pepper, the dog, for a walk. The road goes up through a cemetery and loops around, connecting homes to the road that goes to town. The first picture is halfway up the through the cemetery, looking back down towards the east. The mountains can be seen above the tops of the trees.
In this picture, we have cut across the cemetery (on a dirt road) and this is looking towards the south-east. More mountains can be seen.
This picture is just up from my parent's home, looking towards the east. A home can be seen nestled in the trees.
This is a picture of another home, just up the road from the last picture, also looking east. Can you imagine living in such an idyllic place? You might think so until snow season arrives! The winters are long and the snow can continue into April or more! I was visiting here at the end of last March and it snowed every day. It's hard to garden in the snow!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today we shelled Summerfelt Beans. They are a dry bean and really good in soups and chili. My Dad has his own unique way of growing these beans--in the spring he sows the beans, and when they don't come up in a reasonable amount of time, he plants them again. When they don't come up a second time, he plants them a third time. Then, in about 2 weeks, they ALL come up! He does get anxious to get them in the ground, he just needs to be more patient! He has done this for years and it works every time!

We picked an acorn squash that we will have for dinner. We also picked apples from his tree and will have apple pie for dessert tonight!

The third picture is of his cucumbers that were touched by the frost. The plants are still growing and the cucumbers are really good!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vacation Time!

My computer is still slow, although not as slow as it has been. I am in Sandpoint, Idaho, and the weather is beautiful. I am finding it difficult to have time to post, so I may not post much until after I get home late Tuesday night (Sept. 22).

This is a picture of my Dad's garden. It is fall here (zone 6) and they have already had a frost (Sept. 6th) that nearly wiped out the garden. My Dad says that they have 90 days of growing--if they are lucky! That's why I live in California--where I can garden year-round.

The second picture is looking beyond their yard to the forest, which surrounds their home, although at at a short distance. They live on 2 acres.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

I was lucky to see this beautiful Swallowtail butterfly outside my dining room this morning. I quickly ran out with my camera and took pictures of it, which was somewhat difficult because it didn't stay in one place more than a few seconds. You can see the sunlight coming through it's wings as I was facing the sun.

Trouble Again

I am having trouble getting on websites again--I think it's my internet provider. It gets much slower than dial-up, so if I miss any days posting, that will be the problem. Except for Monday, when I will be flying to Idaho--I'm not sure I can get a post in then. I will do my best!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, September 10, 2009 (edited):


Garden Checklist:

Spend a little time each day doing fall garden cleaning and lawn renovation. This is a busy month!

Tasks: Mulch with existing compost.
Pruning: Sharpen your pruning tools in preparation for fall pruning.
Fertilizing: Fertilize pear and plum trees.
Planting: Transvaal daisy (Gerbera), Texas ranger (Laucophyllum), oregano (Origanum vulgare); stock (Matthiola), forget-me-not (Myositis); purchase now and plant by Thanksgiving-- snowdrop (Galanthus), amaryllis (Hippeastrum), hyacinth (Hyacinthus), lily (Lilium); from seed-- carrots, lettuce, parsley; Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica), star jasmine (Trachelospemum).
Things to Ponder: Avoid evening watering to prevent powdery mildew.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I am amazed at how productive my Little Spook Eggplant has been! It has spread out because the fruits are weighing the branches down. I have harvested 4 of them, and there are 25 more that I am leaving to mature so I can harvest the seeds. I have never grown an eggplant before and have found it to be nearly care-free. Now that the nights are cooling off and the daytime temperatures are up and down, the plant is becoming stressed. The ants are farming the aphids on this plant, but there are also beneficials taking care of things. At first I was spraying the back sides of the leaves with water, where the aphids were, but then I saw the lady bugs and other good bugs increase in numbers to offset the aphids. This picture shows 10 eggplant fruits! The leaves are really more green than it shows in this picture.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ginko Tree

I had a comment from Lisa on yesterday's post, the part about not topping trees, and it got me to thinking about a Ginko tree that I used to see every time I would drive by. For five years I drove back and forth to Fresno State University, where I was attending classes. There was a Ginko tree that was a beautiful tree, seemingly perfect in form. I especially looked forward to fall when the Ginko leaves would turn a bright yellow, and then seemingly overnight drop to the ground below in a thick blanket--it was gorgeous! I never took a picture of that tree, and the pictures I have here don't do justice to how brilliant the yellow leaves are.

This summer I saw that the "butcher" had been there. The tree no longer is beautiful, but is really ugly. I almost cried. I don't know what people are thinking when they hire someone like that to prune/trim/thin their trees, maybe they just don't realize what will happen. The best thing to do to prune/trim/thin landscape trees is to hire an arborist, a certified tree specialist, who will take care of the tree and make it look even better than before. The cost may be higher initially, but in the long run it will cost less than trying to keep the tree(s) cut back.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My To-Do List . . .

We have a nice few days, where the temperature is suppose to be below 90', then it's back up to about 97'. The past two nights have been nice and cool, too--great sleeping weather! I haven't been planting any seeds because I am going to be in Idaho for a week and I didn't want to burden my husband with taking care of seedlings while I am gone--it's going to be hard enough for him to keep up with the watering of my producing vegetables! He is not a gardener, doesn't enjoy anything about gardening, but he is a good sport!

--now is the time for the last summer pruning of dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, cutting back half of the newest growth. This is also the time to trim the top any fruit trees you might want to bring back down to easier picking height. DO NOT TOP LANDSCAPE TREES!!! Fruit trees are not landscape trees--fruit trees are pruned for production. Do not remove much each year, only the new growth. If you drastically cut back your fruit trees, the result will be the same as landscape trees. This is what will happen if you top landscape trees:

"Topping won't work to keep trees small. After a deciduous tree is topped, its growth rate increases. It grows back rapidly in an attempt to replace its missing leaf area. It needs all of its leaves so that it can manufacture food for the trunk and roots. It won't slow down until it reaches about the same size it was before it was topped. It takes at maximum a few years before your tree returns to near its original size.

An exception to the grow-back-to-size rule comes if you damage a tree's health so it hasn't the strength to re-establish itself. It is, in effect, dying and will continue on a downward spiral for years. Topping can't make a significant size difference-not for long. The species or type of tree you have determines its size. A dogwood or Japanese maple may grow from 10 to 30 feet in its life, an oak or an ash from 10 to 90 feet. You can't "stop" trees with topping. If you succeed, you have killed them."

[From: Plant Amnesty]


Planting by the stars:

Monday-Tuesday: Pisces–2nd best planting root crops; #1 planting above ground crops and transplanting above ground crops, trees, bushes, vines; good to weed
Wednesday-Thursday: Aries–very good planting root crops; not good planting above ground crops or transplants
Friday-Saturday: Taurus–#1 planting root crops; not good planting above ground crops; good for all transplants
Sunday-Monday: Gemini–2nd best planting root crops, above ground crops, and transplants

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Carrots come in many different colors and shapes! I grew some that were purple outside and orange inside--really pretty! Besides that, they are good for you in different ways.

Carrots need really good soil, without a lot of organic chunks in it. Sandy loam is the best, but you can work the soil to make it more fine-grained so the carrots can grow straight and long. If there are rocks and organic chunks in the soil, the carrots will fork and twist, making it harder to peel and eat.

There are carrots that look like billiard balls, some that are tiny (like in the markets), some that are long and slender, some that are half-long and fatter, and some that are long and thick. The ball carrots would be good for tough soils because they don't penetrate the soil very deep.

Carrots can be planted now, and generally, carrots are planted 1/16th of an inch deep, and spaced10 inches apart in all directions (or as close as 6 inches if your soil is really fertile). It can take up to 14 days to germinate, and 90-100 days to mature. Carrots tolerate partial shade, and are a heavy feeder (they remove a lot of nutrients from the soil).

This is a good time to use the planting squares (I posted about them a few days ago) because the seeds are so small. Make sure to keep the seeds moist until they sprout, and then water normally. Over the winter carrots will keep well in the ground or in the refrigerator. If the ground freezes where you live, you can put a bale of straw on top of the carrot patch to keep the soil from freezing, and then you can up-end the bale to pull carrots when you want to have them--just be sure to mark where the carrot patch is before the snow arrives!

[Picture from: Mother Earth News]

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly

Flowers reaching for

The sun, a butterfly stops

To rest before flight.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Fennel is a plant that just doesn't get along with other plants. Many plants don't like it, and it has a harmful effect on bush beans, caraway, kohlrabi, and tomatoes.

The seeds smell and taste like anise or licorice, and the root part can be cooked as a vegetable. The leaves have an anise-like flavor and the stems can be eaten like celery. Fennel seeds can be made into a tea for colicky babies; and peppermint and fennel tea is delicious for everyone.

If you do plant it, make sure it is away from the garden by itself, and never near coriander or wormwood (Artemisia). Coriander seems to prevent fennel from setting seed, and even a small amount of wormwood prevents fennel from germinating.

Plant fennel seeds directly into the garden about 1/8" deep about 6 to 12" apart. Fennel prefers well drained soil and full sun. Heavy clay soils will hinder seed growth. The beds should be kept moist for 2 weeks or until the first leaves appear. Take care then not to over water. Fennel grows 3-4 feet high.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, September 3, 2009 (edited):

"Choose Wisely When Planting Trees In Yards"--Elinor Teague

New homeowners generally plant trees in their yards before anything else. "Shade, privacy and a nice view are priorities and homeowners want all three quickly." Frequently the fast-growing redwoods and Chinese pistache are the trees of choice. These trees are often planted too close to structures, and in spaces that they will outgrow within a few years.

There are new varieties "of smaller, very attractive, moderate or fast-growing trees" that are becoming available for homeowners. "September and October are the best planting months for new trees." Look for "compact growth habit" or "dwarf" along with the description of the height and width at maturity.

Dwarf trees are not necessarily small trees--some can grow to 20 feet high and 15 feet wide. Trees should be planted at least 12 feet from buildings to keep roots from wrecking havoc on foundations.

The new tree cultivars include:
--Columnar shaped ornamental plums, that can be planted next to fences without the canopy going into the neighbor's yard.
--Vase-shaped redbuds, that won't create problems with branches growing over pools or houses.
--Ornamental cherrys, "are extraordinarily showy in spring; some are also fruitless and some provide great fall color as well."
--New evergreen trees include yellow- and white-flowered magnolias.

"Many nurseries will place special orders for trees and let you look through their catalogs for additional choices that may not be in stock."


Garden Checklist--

Soak in the peace and quiet as late summer is winding down and days should cool soon.

Tasks: Use old vegetable plants and summer annuals to start a compost pile.
Pruning: Divide and cut back perennials.
Fertilizing: Feed flowers, vegetables, young shrubs, and trees.
Planting: French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), foxglove (Digitalis); from seed--coneflower (Echinacea), calendula, delphinium; purchase bulbs now and plant by Thanksgiving: daffodil, crocosmia, crocus, freesia; cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, garlic; forsythia, cape plumbago.
Things to Ponder: This is the time to choose and buy bulbs for indoor forcing and outdoor planting. Buy bulbs now and plant them by Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swiss Chard

Chard is another easy vegetable to grow, and now is the time to plant out the seeds. There are different colors of Swiss Chard and they all taste the same. There is the basic white chard, and the red chard (sometimes called Rhubarb Chard). Then there is the rainbow chard. I grow the rainbow chard because the colors are so pretty.

One recipe that I use is to dice the chard ribs and blanch them 2-3 minutes. Add the leaves and cook another 3-4 minutes; run cold water over them and drain. Saute in a little oil and stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

"One of the best of the summer [and winter, here] greens, Swiss chard is actually a beet that produces leaves and stalks instead of a root. The leaves can be cooked like spinach or used raw in salads, and the stalks can be cooked and served somewhat like asparagus. The outer leaves can be picked throughout the season, without hurting the yield or the entire plant can be cut off about 2 inches above ground level, and new leaves will appear."--From: "Getting The Most From Your Garden."

To grow chard, plant seeds 1/2-3/4" deep, and 10" between plant centers. It takes 7-14 days for germination, and 55-60 days to maturity. If chard is started indoors, it will take 4 weeks to transplant size. Chard will tolerate partial shade

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Planting by the Stars

Tuesday-Thursday: Capricorn--#1 root crops; 2nd best above ground plants and transplants.
Friday: Aquarius--very good above ground plants; not good for seeds as they will rot.
Saturday-Tuesday: Pisces--2nd best root crops; #1 above ground crops, transplants (especially trees, bushes, vines).

Re-Energizing A Garden Bed

Now is a good time to revitalize a garden bed or portion of a garden bed if your vegetables seemed to be bug-ridden and the harvest was less than expected. Nutrients need to be added back into the soil on a regular basis, and this method is more for tired soil. This particular plan is from the Happy Earth website.

"Last weekend we set about ‘revamping' two of our five circular veggie beds. We used whatever materials we had on hand, and picked up some free horse manure from the local horse stables at Kembla Grange. Here's what we did:

1. Cleared most of the vegetation in the beds (we left just a few tomatoes as they were still going strong, and we could easily work around them) and gave the bed a good watering2. Scattered half a bucket of trace minerals plus the contents from our compost bin and worm farm. This was then watered with diluted liquid seaweed
3. Spread the horse poo and again watered with diluted liquid seaweed
4. Spread some mulch on top (chopped down comfrey, lucerne and lemon grass etc)from around the veggie beds)

Just a few days later, when we poked a trowel into the revamped beds, there were worms and lots of other little soil building critters going mad – just what we want to see! We'll leave all of this new goodness to break down for a few weeks, before planting them out – and then enjoy watch our little autumn seedlings jump to life!"


This could be considered a recipe for the garden, and instead of using exactly what these people used, use what you have available. The bed doesn't necessarily have to be cleared, just knock down the vegetation and cover it with thick layers of wet newspaper. Trace minerals, compost (purchased or homemade), and liquid seaweed is always good to include. Manures are good, although sometimes cow manures have a lot of salt and wood mulch in them (that's why they are usually so cheap). You can make as many layers as you want, top it off with a nice thick layer of mulch, and let the bed rest a while. The worms and other biological life will explode in such a mixture! And, by spring the bed will be ready for whatever you want to plant.