Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rainforest Safari Soup

We went to the Rainforest Cafe (at Disneyland) for dinner last night. In the front of the cafe there are related things for sale. There was a huge saltwater fish tank that you walk under to go into the cafe! You can see someone walking under the tank in the picture. The food was really good. My dinner came with the option (for an extra, but reduced, cost) of having one of their two soups and two salads. I opted for the Safari Soup and it was excellent! It came with a piece of freshly made bread that was brushed with garlic and herb butter. Next time I will make the soup and bread my dinner--it was so good! I googled the recipe and found that there were several listings for it, and it was the same recipe repeated over and over, so I guess it is authentic. I will make it in a few weeks and see if this recipe is as good as I remember. Here's the link to the recipe--if you try it, please let me know in a comment!

Fall Gardening

Yesterday we drove to Anaheim, so I wasn't able to post. My husband is having a birthday this week and wanted to go to Disneyland for a few days. On Friday I got my vegetables planted, so they would get settled while the ground was still moist from the rain we had.

From the front of the box to the back, I planted chives, lettuce, parsley, and chard. Under the trays I have garlic, and bush Sugar Ann peas. I have some old straw that I placed around the plants and thought it would help keep them moist. It will also deter weeds that are starting to come up again in the yard.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garden Checklist

This is the time thougths turn to family and friends.

Tasks: Top dress warm-season lawns with well-composted manure.
Pruning: Leaf fall is the time to start pruning--except for apricots and olives, which should have been done in August.
Fertilizing: Feed cool-weather plants and vegetables.
Planting: continue to plant cool-weather annuals early in the month; Canterbury bell (Campanula); allium, anemone, Babiana; from seeds--carrots, lettuce; snapdragon (Antirrhinum), calendula, chrysanthemum paludosum; azalea.
Things to Ponder: do not be too eager to replace plants damaged by frost as many have remarkable powers of recovery.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."
- Edwin Way Teale

[My newspaper went to the office today, so I will post the Garden Checklist tomorrow!].

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Container Class

I had a good time today--I went to the Colorful Container class at the Garden of the Sun. They even had a drawing, where they gave away three things. I won the pot and plant that is in the first picture! The plant is just sitting there, it's not planted yet. After the class I ran a few errands and then went to Lowe's. I got a few veggie plants and, of course, some flowers to put in my new pot (plus flowers for another container I have). Nothing like a class to inspire!

The veggies I bought were: chives (a perennial that will die back when the frost hits, but will grow again in the spring), 2 kinds of parsley (not cilantro), lettuce, and chard. The flowers I bought were: the large mum, apricot and white pansies, and a cranesbill (just because I like it!). The plant in the pot is a ground cover called: bacopa.

I'll post pictures of my pots when I get them planted.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My To-Do List . . .

I have forgotten to do my to-do list for the garden, so I will start with today. I will be gone for about a week (leaving in a few days), so I will give the "planting by the stars" for the rest of the month. I haven't been working in the garden, partly because of the rain, and partly that I haven't planted any veggies this fall. I didn't want to plant veggies and then have them dry up while I was gone, but I may get some tomorrow anyway--it's hard for me to resist! And, looking at the planting signs below, it looks like I will have good planting days before I leave!

Planting by the Stars:

(Oct. 20-25)
Tuesday--Libra–not good planting root crops; very good for above ground crops
Wednesday-Thursday--Scorpio–2nd best for planting root crops; #1 planting above ground crops; good to set out fruit trees, flower bushes, vines
Friday-Sunday--Sagittarius–fairly good root crops, above ground crops; no transplanting

(Oct. 26-Nov. 1)
Monday--Capricorn–#1 planting root crops; 2nd best planting above ground crops and transplanting
Tuesday-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

Monday, October 19, 2009


About 7 years ago I had a little begonia plant that had been in it's pot for too long, and one day I just stuck it in the ground near my front door. Each year it has gotten bigger until now it's about 2 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. It is definitely happy where it is!

Because it is fall and cooling off doesn't mean there isn't anything blooming in the garden--my lantana and roses are still going strong; my pincushion flowers, dahlias, vinca, and alstroemeria are blooming. Not only that, by I have 2 kinds of hedges and 2 kinds of groundcover that are blooming! This was not by design, most of the garden design in my yard is done by accident.

The big-box stores have garden sections that are full of blooming plants that can be put into the garden now for fall/winter color. Planting in containers can help brighten up a shady area.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Here in the fall, once we get rain, the fog is not far behind.
This was my view from our back yard, looking south.

Re: Comment on Black Widows

Jill posted a comment about the black widow spiders I wrote about and I'm answering it here.

Jill: I've never heard of black widows coming in the house like that, and being in plain sight. I have never had pest control come inside our home, but if I ever saw even one black widow inside I would be calling them. Ants I can handle, ear wigs, most other spiders, but not black widows. Sounds like you must have a nest somewhere in your house. Please keep us updated on these.

Gard'n Judy: It is kind of creepy. I think I have solved the problem, though. Both rooms have sliding glass doors. At the top of both stationary doors, there are 3/4" openings. Both doors are next to the patio cover which is an extension of the roof. The extension has a lot of gaps and we have a wasp's nest in there, so I know there is enough room for the spiders. Over the years, during warm weather we have had the occasional wasp in the house, mostly in the bedroom. We must have had a good year for black widows, and with winter coming, they are looking for a better place to live. I stuffed the openings on both stationary glass doors with cotton balls and haven't seen a spider since! I didn't realize there were openings where these critters were getting in until I was desperate and finally located the holes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Black Widow Spiders

We have been invaded by big black widow spiders the last week or so. There were three in our bedroom (one each of three consecutive days), and four in our living room. So far no one has been bitten, but the spiders in the bedroom have been very close to where I sleep! Today I came home from the market and found this one on the inside of our screen door. She is the largest one that I have ever seen. Normally, we use a plastic cup and a large index card to take the spiders outside and then step on them, but this one was too big--it gave me the willies, which is unusual. I got the vacuum out and sucked her up, did a little more vacuuming, and then took the vacuum bag and put it in a plastic bag. I closed the bag with a twist tie and threw the whole thing in the trash bin outside. We have always had a few these spiders around, but generally they stay outside and are a lot smaller. They tend to hide in places that are not disturbed, so it has been strange that they have been in plain sight inside the house. We have found them on the middle of walls and on the room-side of drapes. Maybe a bad winter is around the corner and they are coming in to keep warm. Whatever it is, I don't like it at all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, October 15, 2009 (edited):

Flower Bulbs Need Special Care To Thrive In The Valley--Elinor Teague

Out of Elinor's spring blooming bulb plantings, only the grape hyacinth (muscari) have naturalized. Getting other spring bulbs to rebloom for several springs is more difficult.

We have long, hot summers which can bake the bulbs, especially the tulips that are heat sensitive. We need to keep them watered, although it may rot the bulbs during the summer. Keep them moist in winter, too, but not soggy. Our winters are short and mild, lasting about 2 1/2 months (mid-November until late January), but many bulbs need 3-4 months of cold weather to bloom well. Buy bulbs in mid-September and keep them in the refrigerator for at least 6 weeks.

Amend clay soils with lots of compost to increase the drainage. Add a tablespoon of bone meal or a "bulb-booster" type of plant food to the holes dug for the bulbs.

When removing the faded blooms in spring, sprinkle a few tablespoons of bone meal or booster food over the green leaves so the bulbs can store the nutrients for next year.


Garden Checklist:

Pick a bouquet of herbs in the early morning to retain flavor. Keep them in a vase, and use them all week. [One year I did this and some of the herbs grew roots!--Gard'n Judy].

Tasks--Monitor soil moisture after rain and add water if needed, especially for trees and shrubs.
Pruning--divide and then cut back perennials.
Fertilizing--do not feed citrus andother frost-tender plants.
Planting--Start cool-season lawns from seed or sod; stock (Matthiola), forget-me-not (Myosotis), Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule), pansy, violet; from seed--Swiss chard, turnips, snow peas; lupine (Lupinus) from seed; sago palm (Cycas), gardenia, magnolia, myrtle (Myrtus), flowering cherry (Prunus), oak (Quercus).
Things to Ponder--Use organic mulch around permanent plants, and add organic matter into soil to prepare beds for spring planting.


Upcoming garden classes at the Garden of the Sun:
1944 N. Winery Ave., 456-7285


Planting Bulbs for Spring

9:30 am, Saturday, October 17


Colorful Container Gardening Secrets
9:30 am, Wednesday, October 21

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall Color

We will have fall leaf color soon, and it will likely look like this picture--with fog! In northern Idaho, where my parents live, they had a record freeze (14') a few nights ago. My Dad said that they won't be having any fall color this year, even though it is heavily forested, because the leaves froze, and are turning brown and dropping off. What a shame. I love to see the different colors of leaves, even when they are blowing around. If you have a lot of leaves dropping in your yard, rake them up and put them on your flower beds--next year you won't have any annual weeds! If you don't have any trees that drop leaves, rake your neighbor's yard! They will think you are wonderful, and you will get to use the leaves!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mystery Spots

This morning it started raining, the first rain since last early spring (normal for here). When my husband was leaving for work, he saw these spots of foam on our sidewalk. He called me out to see them, and I took pictures. The first picture shows how random the spots are.

This picture shows the spots closest to me. Very strange looking!

This is a closer picture of the largest spot. I don't have a clue as to what they are--do you? If you do, please let me know!

[We are lucky here to have such nice weather--a couple of nights ago my Dad said they got down to 14', a new record for that night by 5' (Sandpoint, Idaho)].

Monday, October 12, 2009

Citrus Splitting

Do you have citrus trees with fruit that looks like this picture? There are several possible reasons for citrus splitting.

Fluctuations in the weather, temperature and watering cause fruit split in citrus, especially in navel oranges. A period of high humidity followed by a dry period can trigger the splitting effect. Usually only a few fruit on any given tree are affected. Monitor for extreme or sudden climate changes and keep the soil under citrus trees evenly and consistently moist, not soggy, to alleviate the problem as much as possible. Irrigate when the top 3-4 inches of soil have dried out.

From the October Master Gardener newsletter]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bananas and Apples

There was an interesting question in the Parade Magazine of today's (Sunday) newspaper that I thought I would share today. It's in the "Ask Marilyn" article written by Marilyn vos Savant:

Q: We have Jonathan and Winesap apples; we have Anjou and Bartlett pears. But bananas all seem the same. Why don't we have any Granny Jones or Yellow Delicious bananas?

A: Unlike apples, pears, and oranges--all grown in the U.S.--bananas are tropical fruits. They must be transported long distances in special cooled containers, and they don't last long. (By contrast, apples will keep for months in the fridge.) To keep the cost low enough to compete with locally grown fruits, most growers in banana-producing countries export only one variety all over the world. Yet more than 1000 varieties exist.

I didn't realize there were so many varieties of bananas! I suppose that's because we don't grow bananas here, and I never really thought about it!--Gard'n Judy

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Garden of the Sun

I usually don't post a lot of pictures at one time, but I was at the Garden of the Sun this morning for a class (Raised Bed Gardening) and decided to take pictures of the different boxed gardens they have. The materials are varied, as are the heights.

This picture shows a flower bed that is raised just a few inches. The bricks help to keep the soil in place, so that it looks tidy.

Even dwarf fruit trees are boxed! With trees, the box is prepared and filled with soil, then the tree is planted. These trees have been growing for close to 20 years and are still producing fruit.

This picture shows green beans that are flowering, which will produce a nice crop before it gets too cold.

This picture looks like the box is sitting above the ground. Actually, I believe the box was placed on the soil, but over the years the dirt walkway has been hula-hoed and raked away, until the box is sitting up higher than it used to. It has a structure so that a crop cover cloth can be draped over to protect plants from a late heat or early frost.

This shows the cover cloth protecting growing plants, perhaps from the whiteflies or aphids. It also keeps the soil cool underneath.

This last picture shows pepper plants that are being shaded from the high heat we recently had.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, October 8, 2009 (edited)--
Steps Taken Now Can Control Garden Pests Later--by Elinor Teague

"Regularly and thoroughly cleaning up in the garden during the fall months is truly one of the most efficient means of disease prevention insect control." Raking leaves every few days and removing weeds helps to decrease insects next year. Try to remember what insect problems you had last spring and summer in the garden.

Hoplia beetles chew holes in light-colored roses and other flowers in May and June. The hoplia beetle larvae hide in the soil in undisturbed areas. Removing weeds and sprinkling beneficial nematodes over grassy areas this month will kill many of the larvae.

"Earwigs make nests and lay their eggs to overwinter in decaying garden debris." Getting rid of decaying leaves and such will lessen nesting areas.

If winters are mild, whiteflies can breed all year long. Broad-spectrim insecticides are not effective in eliminating whiteflies, and will kill the beneficial insects that feed on them, resulting with an increase in whiteflies. Remove plants that seem to have been a whitefly magnet to remove whitefly eggs.

"Fungal spores can easily survive our fairly temperate winters." Be sure to rake up all fallen leaves of plants that have had problems with powdery or downy mildew. Remove any dead leaves still clinging to the branches.

"Anthracnose is a group of fungal diseases that are spread by splashing water or rain in late winter and spring." Sycamore, evergreen elm and ash trees can be devastated by anthracnose. Signs of anthracnose is that the first leaves in spring turn brown and fall off, then new green leaves appear when it turns warm and dry. Keeping leaves, weeds and garden litter cleaned up will help decrease anthracnose next spring.


Garden Checklist:

Enjoy the last flush of blooming roses along with the bounty of the fall harvest.

Tasks: Adjust watering cycle
Pruning: Deadhead and shape rosebushes to promote a final fall bloom
Fertilizing: Wait two weeks after planting new flowers and vegetables before feeding with organic or complete fertilizer
Planting: This is the best time to plant shrubs and ground covers; larkspur (Consolida ambigu), delphinium; iberis; garlic and onion sets clematis, dogwood (Comus), hawthorn (Crataegus), sago plam (Cycas), pineapple guava (Feijoa)
Things to Ponder: Do not replace vinca with pansies in the same bed due to a soil borne fungal root rot that affects these plants


Raised Bed Gardening class--Garden of the Sun
9:30 am, Saturday, October 10, $15.00
1944 N. Winery Ave

Going to the Fair

On Thursdays I do volunteer work until 3:00, then I come home and do my posting. Yesterday, I got home and my husband called, then we went to the Fresno Fair, so no posting.

There were the usual vendors, quilts, fruits and vegetables; the photos were OK; and then we went to the Jr. Exhibits. We like these the best, and I think one reason is because we get to choose our favorite exhibit, and put our vote in the box for the "People's Choice" award. I am always amazed at what these kids can do!

The first picture is of a fish created by making dots with a felt pen!! It's incredible and got "Best Of Show". That was my husband's choice.

The second picture is done in pencil and I thought the artist drew the man extremely well--this was my choice.

The last picture is of a double trailer. A high school student built this whole thing himself!! Can you believe it?!? I don't know how long it took him, but he did an incredible job!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Summerfelt Beans

While I was in Idaho visiting my parents, I helped shell Summerfelt beans. They area a dry bean and are great used in place of navy beans in soup. The Summerfelt bean is from Germany, going back to 1800. Summerfelt is also the last name of one of my ancestor lines, who are also from Germany. There is no connection between the beans and my family that I know of, but it is fun to grow them just the same.

I brought some of the beans home and poured them into a container. I was amazed to see how the beans lined up! It almost looks like a row of corn on the cob--I have never seen such a thing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Planting in Bags

I was looking through a gardening catalog and saw another way of planting--it's in bags! You can see that there are drainage holes so the plants don't get soggy. It is reusable, and once empty, collapsible. This would be good for an apartment balcony, where you could garden during the summer and then remove the bags in the winter, with the stored bags not taking up much space. Bag planters would be nice where you want to be able to move the plants, but don't want the weight of the pots. Keep in mind that if you use them here in the Valley during the summer, they may need to be watered more than once a day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Planting by the Stars

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

Tuesday-Wednesday--Aries–very good planting root crops; not good planting above ground crops or transplant

Friday-Friday--Taurus–#1 planting root crops; not good planting above ground crops; good for all transplants

Saturday-Sunday--Gemini–2nd best planting root crops, above ground crops, and transplants

Picking Peppers

This almost looks like it's Christmas--there's a lot of red and green going on! Actually, it's my Black Hungarian Peppers that have ripened and need to be picked. Once harvested, I will remove the seeds, and then slice the peppers, so it can all be dried. The seeds go back to my son, Bryce, who will give me other seeds to grow out next year. The dried peppers themselves will be ground into a powder and I will have some nice hot Hungarian Paprika!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Old Farmer's Almanac

The Old Farmer's Almanac for 2010 is in the stores (markets, drug and hardware stores). It is full of fun, interesting and useful information. I use the almanac on my blog when I post about planting by the starts.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Looking at these pictures of shrubs in my back yard, can you see the common thread? If you said that I am way behind in my pruning, you would be right! On the other hand, I see it differently! There is a lot of what I call "bio-mass" in that mess of green! What I will do is cut back the vegetation and shred it, then spread it around the plants in the front yard. It only takes a couple of days to turn the green mulch to brown, so that it makes a nice looking mulch. It breaks down slowly and feeds the plants, and it feeds the earthworms, too. It is good at keeping the annual weeds from sprouting. By spring the mulch will need replenishing, but that's OK, the bio-mass shrubs will be producing more greenery!

Have you noticed that the Mocking Birds are back? They go away when it gets really hot here. I love to listen to them, especially at night in the spring. Their songs are so beautiful and peaceful.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Flower Planting Tips

P. Allen Smith has a great (free!) weekly newsletter. He has timely information about gardening, and includes a recipe with something from the garden. Recently he has written some things that might interest you:

Dividing and Transplanting Perennials

Making a Dramatic Tulip Container

12 Principles of Design

Mr. Smith also reminds us that if we are planting bulbs and then topping them off with 2-3" of mulch to keep the soil cool and moist, and the weeds down, that mulch needs to be included in the planting depth.

Doug Green has a 1+ minute video showing how to quickly divide perennials. He has some other tips, such as how to tell when the plants need dividing. He is in a colder part of the country, so he says to divide them in September, where here we can divide them from October through February.

Janet Macunovich, at has some nice pictures of dividing perennials, too. If you view each of these web sites, then you will be a master at dividing perennials! Once you see it done, you will see that it is really a simple thing to do!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Garden Checklist

There wasn't an article from Elinor Teague in the paper today, so I will share what she wrote a couple of weeks ago. From The Fresno Bee, September 17, 2009 (edited):

Gardener's Crucial Questions: How Much Sun and When?

This question was presented to Elinor when she was at a cafe. The cashier wanted to know why the flowers, in pots by her front door, died so quickly. It ended up that her front door faced west and got 6 hours of direct sun each afternoon.

There are two crucial questions we should ask ourselves before we plant--(1) how many hours of sun, and (2) when, morning or afternoon. One way is to check the area you are considering planting, a few times a day in every season, and note the sun and shade patterns. "Our climate differs significantly from other zones. The information we see on plant labels and in gardening guides often isn't specific enough for our needs. A label that reads 'full sun' doesn't necessarily take into account the effect of the full sun on a late July afternoon in Valley gardens."

The cashier's potted flowers sat in the blistering afternoon sun. The walkways and structures heated up as well, and radiated the heat back during the night. The plants withered in the constant heat. The woman's solution was to use shade cloth or an umbrella to shade the plants during the hottest part of summer. The pots could also be moved to a shady area and then brought back to the front door in early fall.

"Calendulas, stock, snapdragons and violas planted in late September can provide a colorful welcome until mid-May when temperatures are again too warm for the pots."


Gardener's Checklist:

(from 9/17)
September and October are great months to do major lawn renovation.

Tasks--Clean up around the base of fruit trees, and compost or dispose of all fallen fruit and nuts.
Pruning--While cutting and deadheading roses, prune lightly to shape bushes and encourage fall bloom.
Fertilizing--Pear and plum trees.
Planting--Phlox, rosemary (Rosmarinus), Mexican blue sage (Salvia leucantha), thyme; Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule); grape hyacinth (Muscari), narcissus, peony; purchase now and plant by Thanksgiving: raunculus, squill (Scalla).
Things to Ponder--Chill tulip and hyacinth bulbs in the refirgerator for 6-8 weeks. Do not store apples in the same area.

(from 10/1)
If you don't have a fall or winter garden, prepare for spring planting.

Tasks--Repair damaged spots in lawns by scratching the surface with a rake, seeding and covering with mulch. Do not allow to dry out.
Pruning--Divide and thin perennials.
Fertilizing--Fertilize cool-season lawns and flowering annuals and perennials to promote fall growth.
Planting--If weather is cool enough, plant spring bulbs and annuals; Canterbury bell (Campanula); dianthus; broccoli, cauliflower; barberry (Berberis), redbud tree (Carcis), fringe tree (Chionanthus), chitalpa.
Things to Ponder--Cover remaining tomato and pepper plants with a garden blanket to extend the harvest season into November.