Saturday, September 11, 2010

Can you say "corn pics"?

yeah....FINALLY. (i know).

these got boiled for about 8 - 10 minutes, and shocked in ice cold water for about 16 - 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

European Plums

My 15 month old son and I ate the very first 2 plums picked from our tree that I planted 2 yrs ago. It was not the type I expected but they were just as sweet and yummy! My son and I seem to love to graze the garden and papa barely gets a glimpse of some harvests we have. ha! that's what he gets for not coming out into the garden with us.

I know there is a third plum on that tree somewhere...we will have to find it...and possibly take a picture of it before it is eaten!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Yes, folks...since eating my first ear of corn, that I grew, with my 15 month old son, I decided to do more corn harvesting today. I picked the largest ears, which came out to a total of 12 ears.

I researched how to best preserve this corn, since there is no way 2 adults and one toddler can eat 12 ears of corn in one sitting, and I chose blanching. Blanching is a technique of quickly boiling and quickly cooling down the item being blanched. My ears of corn varied in diameter between 1" to 1 1/2". So blanching time is around 8 minutes, cooling time 16 minutes. I didn't have much ice to cool down 12 ears, so after bathing in some cold water, i put the ears of corn on cookie sheets in the fridge.

After they cooled for a while, I cut the corn kernels off the cob, packed them into 2 - 3 serving sizes in quart freezer bags and put them in the freezer. my husband ate a blanched corn cob and i ate a fresh one, so from 10 left over ears of corn, I got 3 quart bags.

This was my very first time growing my corn and watching them grow, as with everything else that is edible, was a great adventure! would I grow them again? Maybe. if there is nothing else I would like to try to grow next season, then I might just plant some corn, since I do have some seeds. They are very easy to grow, and I have to admit, I was lucky since there were no worms in my corn (I didn't use any mineral oil to prevent them from getting through to the corn).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Note to self on next year's growing season...

...more beans...all kinds.

...zucchini amount was good (although since we've been having freakishly cool weather lately, I could've probably had more by now). I have 6 plants. out the tomatoes more...I had 8 plants planted in one "plot". maybe plant 4 plants in a zigzag fashion and plant pepper plants where the other 4 plants have been removed. just plant plum tomatoes. forget about the round ones. maybe some grape tomatoes...

...more peppers...can do without the jalapenos. [ask me in a few weeks on this one. they taste very bitter and it may be due to less watering than it would like. one of my pepper varieties is supposed to turn red upon ripening, so i am waiting for that to see if the taste of them improve]

...depending on the corn development, maybe plant same amount of corn. (the cool weather seems to have slowed down the ripening process).PLANT CORN!! Corn was WONDERFUL. I had 12 plants, and got about 17 ears off of them. I blanched them, shocked them, and de-eared them to freeze and store for later eating. yum!! golden bantam cross. (i bought this year's corn plants as seedlings.)

...more flowers...i just love the color! plant earlier too. at least zinnias, calendula, and nasturtiums should be a mainstay. maybe marigolds as well. try yellow with red. purple/blue with white.

...eggplants are okay. can throw them into everything. No eggplants. Husband doesn't really care for them.

...can't say anything about the melons...none have ripened yet, although i've seen a few globes. I had one charantais. and like melons...they NEED DAILY WATERING. the biggest melons were eaten through by critters before i could get a taste of them, so they were quickly thrown into the compost pile. the one i got to try was small and the taste was sweet but.....weird. i didn't like it. if you want to grow melons, try watermelon again and WATER DAILY!!

...if i grow cucumbers again, i need to make sure they are watered every day as long as it stays hot during the day. they didn't even like the every other day watering. need DAILY watering.

...NOTE: grow the cukes and the watermelons near each other. they both need LOTS of WATER DAILY.

...any other suggestions of vegetables to grow?...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Growing Corn (Part II) and a Morning Harvest

Yes, I have to take pictures. They will come!

But, I wanted to share what I read up on corn. (This is the first time I've ever grown corn, so I find this info fascinating!) The flowers on the tops of the corn plants have the pollen that needs to fertilize the corn so that the corn develops the yummy juicy kernels on the ears. Well, for the fertilization to occur, the pollen needs to fall onto the tassels.

And to tell when the corn is ready to be picked, you look at the color of the tassels...the turn from whitish to reddish to dark red/brown. Most of my corn tassels are at the reddish stage. And I did kinda cheat...I cut some of the flowers and hand-pollinated all the corn tassels I could find. (hey, I want to make sure I get SOME corn out of this :-) ).

Also, normally you drop some mineral oil on the tassels to prevent worms from getting into the corn and eating it, but I haven't done that. I'm hoping they leave most of my corn alone. Since we don't eat too much corn, I may not grow this again, but it was truely interesting to see, since I've never saw corn grow before. Instead of corn next year, maybe pumpkin, winter squash or potatoes...

This morning, I decided to make my garden rounds since I haven't done that in over 24 hours. I was able to harvest quite a few things...first was 3 of the 4 apples growing on our small 4-in-1 apple tree. this apple is the early summer apple. I probably could have picked them a few weeks earlier, but I wanted them to become really red all around. The largest 3 were at that stage, so I picked them. I still have to taste them, probably tonight.

I also harvested 2 zucchini, my first 2 cucumbers (yum!) and it doesn't seem like there are any other cucumbers anywhere near close to picking, so I have to savor these. And I also picked some lettuce for our sandwiches for lunch.

Another exciting thing I saw this morning were small globes of charantais melon starting to develop! this is another first for me...kinda reminds me of the watermelons I grew 2 summers ago. I hope I get some to eat. I'd like to see what all the hype is about on these melons...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The following pictures are of my Golden Bantam Cross corn taken this evening...

Here is what my corn plants look like this evening. The parts sticking straight up on the corn stalks are the flowers. They need to be pollinated for the corn kernels to grow plump (from what I understand). Wind is the main pollinator, which explains why corn plants need to grow so tall.

Here are the flowers up close. the purplish/reddish parts look like they are actually hanging on by a thread and they all do the shimmy in the wind.

I have about 4 corn tassels sprouting out of growth coming from the sides of the corn stalk. So far, at most, I see 2 ears of corn on one stalk being produced.

Corn (part II) and Lettuce

You can see the tassels from the new corn coming out...woohoo....i may get some corn this year!

Here are some lettuce leaves I harvested this year. yum! I read that if you pick lettuce leaves and some milky substance oozes from where the leaf was torn off, the lettuce is bitter-tasting, but although some of my lettuce had this, it still tasted pretty good.

Growing Corn

This is the first year I have attempted to grow corn. The type I am growing is Golden Bantam Cross, I believe. It has been amazing to watch this grow! The flowers have shot out from the top a few days ago, and just yesterday afternoon, I saw the tassels show itself atop 4 growths that will soon be corn! I just hope the pollination goes well so the kernels grow nice and plump!

Yes, I do have to take pictures!

One error I made, tho, was planting a lot of heavy feeders in that plot. Not only do I have about 12 stalks of corn plants in the small area, I also have about 4 charantais melon plants around it as well. I thought they could take the place of squash to cover the ground. The melon plants do this well, but from what I understand, melons are heavy feeders too. I have some bean plants planted around the perimeter, but next time, I should stick with squash around corn plants and make sure that I amend the soil very well where corn will grow.

I'm not saying that my corn plants look unhappy, but just knowing that they are heavy feeders, I could've done more to help this soil. I will definitely be growing some peas/favas and some over cool cover crops over the winter. I better look into that now so I have it on hand when the time comes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Maintaining and Planning

I only have 2 more seedings that need to eventually be placed somewhere in the garden. It looks either like melon or squash seedlings (I was terrible at labeling!) and the BIG question is where to put them...But that's the fun part.

The rest of my garden is currently in a state of keeping maintained - weed out the small weeds (big weeds have been happily eradicated), water, prune, harvest, fertilize. repeat.

Sluggo has single-handedly kept the slug and snail population around my veggies way, way down. i rarely see them anywhere near my vegetables. if i do, they are promptly removed and disposed of. The only place where slugs and snails are immune to my wrath (unless i have a bad day) is in the compost pile. They actually help with creating the great fertile compost, so I let them be.

My corn plants are currently only about 4 feet tall, but they are starting to deploy their seed stalks. I thought that was odd and premature. Is this normal? Is my soil only going to allow 4 - 5 foot stalks of corn? I expected them to tower over me. well, i'm definitely okay with the manageable height...i just hope the taste of these corn will not be negatively effected by it. First time corn grower here, so its really a corn growing experiment for me.

Another experiment in the garden - Charantais melon. i've never grown melons. And so far, i believe the experiment is proving successful. they are starting to sprawl and show their first flowers! they look a lot like cucumber flowers - small, dainty yellow flowers. i hope i get to try some melons this year!

I've got about 3 - 4 different bean varieties growing throughout the garden, plus 3 different kinds of soybeans. They help build the nitrogen in the soil so i just kinda scattered them all over the place. EXCEPT for the tomato bed. I read in a few places that they don't really like each other. (how can they NOT like beans??) I want to plant more seeds for beans this weekend...i'll have to soak them tonight so they are ready (i find that they sprout faster after a good soak in water).

For the second part of that title ... "Planning"... I have been thinking about what to grow near the end of the summer. I've ordered a lot of greens and lettuce seeds (some asian varieties). I also want to plant some peas and fava beans for soil building. ooh, maybe some broccoli. but for some reason i really have a bad track record of growing broccoli from seed. i think i water them too much. and i don't use a seed starting mix, just because i don't want to spend more than i already do for this garden - otherwise the benefits of growing this garden will be slim in terms of saving money. :-/

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The 1st Nectarine

Today I picked the first of 2 nectarines growing on my tiny Nectazee tree I planted earlier this year. (When I say tiny, I mean TINY. It stands only about 2 feet tall. It will grow, at most, 6 - 8 feet). It had some color to it, so I thought it might be ripe. Well, it was partially there. Where there was a red color on the skin, the fruit was deliciously sweet. Where it was still green, the fruit was incredibly sour. So I will keep an eye on the other one and wait till it is completely red (or almost there). How exciting! My first Nectarine!

Monday, June 7, 2010

things accomplished...

Just thought I'd keep tabs on what has been done since the weekend...

- WEEDing: baby weeds are starting to sprout, so I am going to keep on top of that.

- Use home-made compost: I top-dressed most of my fruit trees with what I had.

- Harvest: strawberries. I wanted to harvest the two almonds that I have been watching for the past month, but some dirtbag varmints beat me to it! (#*#(!*@)#($!@#$&%*!!!)) sorry, I digress...

- Sluggo: sluggo the suckas!!! *composure* (hey, this stuff works!!)

- Water: well, I usually water seeds every day or every other day and the rest of the veggie plants every 3 - 4 days. I also decided to deeply water my trees.

- Seeds: Since a lot of my bean seeds are old (2 yrs old), I've been only getting about 50% germination. and on top of that, snails have been mowing down a few that I've missed lining with sluggo. ugh! it is so frustrating to put so much love and effort into the germination of seed, and to see all that hard work swiped down by mean snails and slugs! WAH! So, I've been germinating a lot more bean plants. For beans, I usually wrap the seeds in a very damp paper towel, put seeds and paper towel in a shallow container and put it on a slightly sunny windowsill. Roots usually appear in 1 - 2 days, after which I transplant in pots. Beans I am growing - Tendergreen, slenderette, blue lake bush, dragon langerie, royal burgundy, garbanzo, black jet soy bean, shironomai soy bean, and envy soy bean.

- transplant: my corn seedlings were getting too big for the pots that they were in and i also planted 5 corns in one small pot, so I had to separate them out.

- trim: plum tree and almond tree have been getting way out of hand with new growth. I am trying to keep them around 6 feet tall so I can easily handle them and harvest as well. So far so good.

- watch: most of the garden has been planted. so right now its all about enjoying the growth of the garden and waiting for the day of harvesting. i will eventually have to find homes for my seedlings, but Im not worried about that now.

- turn the compost pile: next time will be about 3 weeks or so.

What I need to do in the upcoming week/weekend:

- harvest: garlic. leaves are starting to turn yellow.

- weed: this is a never-ending job of the gardener.

- placement: tomato cages need to be put in place.

- fertilize: everything! last time i fertilized was back in March.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pictures - Part One

So here are the pictures I promised a couple of weeks ago. I'll try to post more pics as the days roll forward. (These pics are about a week old).

Seedlings...various plants - broccoli, cukes, corn, beans, etc.

Pictures - Part Two

Corn seedlings on the left, and recently planted flower seeds on the right (various flowers).

Home-made compost on the left, pot of recently planted seeds - mostly zucchini and cukes. (yes, I am lazy when it comes to labeling).

Onions - self-sewn last year. It is an open pollinated species (old australian yellow), so it should be okay.

Pictures - Part Three

South Garden

Onion patch on the left, garlic patch (somewhere in the middle) on the right. This garlic was something I bought from the supermarket. it was labeled as garlic grown in Gilroy so I thought it could do well here (i was too late in ordering garlic to grow from seed companies (in February)). It grew the average 5 - 8 leaves, but the plants are kinda small. I should've given them more room (less plants around it). The leaves are starting to turn yellow, so its probably time to dig them out. I should get other varieties later this summer to plant in october or so.

"Flower" patch on the left, south garden area being used for cover cropping this season on the right.


Pictures - Part Four

South garden overview on the left, 4-species cherry tree and corn/melon patch on the right (east garden)

more of the melon (Charantais) and corn (golden bantam) patch

Grapes - Merlot (which I plan to dig up and replace with table grapes) and concord grape.

Pictures - Part Five

The zucchini and cucumber bed (east garden), to the right of the grapes.

Sweet pepper patch and the almond tree at the very end (east garden) on the left, overview of the north garden on the right.

Tomato/pepper patch up close.

Pictures - Part Six

Tomatoes (I am growing a type of cherry tomato and san marzano tomatoes), and strawberries (everbearing - Sequoia and another one that starts with a "Q" - the name eludes me...)

Zinnia, marigolds and alyssums border the tomato/pepper patch in the north garden.

Beautiful calendula flowers - self-sown.

Pictures - Part Seven

Lavender and Calendula flowers (north garden). Beautiful combo.

Apples (Early Summer) growing on a 4-species apple tree, and a European plum (I've been waiting for fruit on this tree for 2 years!). Update: I actually found that I have two (!) plums growin on that tree...I can't wait to see how it tastes!

Overview of the apple (far left), dwarf nectarine (nectazee, middle), and european plum (right) in the north garden. (cherry tree, far right - technically in the east garden).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


forgive the pulled out woody herbs to the right...

more images to come as time allows.

(feel free to click on the image above to view a larger version).

Note: I grow my veggies/trees/flowers/plants on the outer edges. Since we have a child, we would like to keep our lawn space for play space for now. But I do have an eye on that space as raised bed areas....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

No Pics ?!?

What's up with posting no pictures?!?

um...cuz I'm lazy...?

yep, I'll work on that this weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the return of the garden jugger-whatzamacallszit

Yeah, I was back in the garden this past weekend. I finished planting most of the north garden (all that it is missing are some bean and okra plants, which I am currently trying to grow). I then WEEDed out the entire east garden (near the back fence), loosened up the soil in the two areas around the grape vines (not really double-dug it, but just loosened the top 6 inches or so and worked in some compost and organic fertilizer). I then realized that on the right side, I have enough room for 2 "plots" that are about 4' x 7' or so. So now I three plots total in the east garden.

first plot i planted my corn (golden bantam). i plan to also plant bean plants and charantais melon from my seeds.

second plot i planted squash zucchini (two veggies in one???) and japanese cukes. (more bean plants to be planted here).

third plot...i haven't planted anything in this one just because i never planned on having that extra space. not sure yet what I want there...suggestions? this area is near the almond tree.

all the plants I planted have been bought from nurseries - mostly small local nurseries...I just don't have the patience any more after watching my first batch of seeds being started in mid february (which i gave away). :-/ i do have some zucchini, beans, melon, and okra seeds that i am trying to grow, but only because they grow rather quickly.

am i going to continue to have this boost of energy going for this coming weekend? I still have the entire south garden to weed out, double dig/loosen up and ammend, and plant. what am i planning to plant there? i don't actually plan to plant any veggies there...probably a cover crop and some flowers that attract beneficials. maybe i'll use it for late summer planting of broccoli.

still lots to do, but i got at least 2/3's of it done!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A productive weekend

Last weekend I was a garden juggernaut...okay, spelling might be if-y but you know what I mean.

After coming home from my family trip to Germany, I was highly motivated to start full-force with my vegetable garden. Being away from the garden for over 2 weeks, the weeds were really coming back in with a vengence! I WEEDed the entire north garden (left side), double dug the two plots I have for veggies (both are about 2ft x 5ft), mixed in some organic fertilizer and soil amendments, and started planting - 4 cherry tomato plants, 3 chive bundles, 10 pepper plants (2 anaheim, 4 sweet bell, 4 jalapenos), 6 strawberry plants, and a sprinkling of basil, various lettuce, and cilantro seeds in between. That is all in one plot. And I still have 4 san marzano, 3 chive bundles, and a sprinkling of some other kind of seeds, as well as planting marigolds and seeds of other types of flowers (i don't know what yet) to be added to this space.

The second plot will have 4 eggplants, a bunch of bean plants (i've already started the seeds), and I don't know what yet.

Since I gave all my seed starts away before I went on my trip, I am starting anew. Right now, I've planted bantam corn, 5 different beans (blue lake, garbanzo, tendergreen, royal burgundy, dragon langerie), 3 different soy beans (shironomai, black jet, envy), cucumber, zucchini...and I think that's it. I still want to plant my charantais melon seeds, and some flower seeds to get some color into my garden. Yes, it's going to be a whirlwind gardening project again this weekend. I have to WEED the east garden (the part against my back fence), buy more soil amendments, and try to better plan what goes up in that area. oh, and i have to finish planting my north garden.

the following weekend will be to tackle the south garden (right side) - WEEDing, double digging and planting. If i stay on schedule, I'll have everything done and planted before June comes around. yay! I just feel a little late on everything, and I can't work in the garden during the week because my little 1-year-old is quite clingy when he comes home after a day in day care. Which is okay. I can recoup till then and plan more.

I'll probably get started on more seeds during the week - at least after he goes to bed. :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I have an excuse...I promise!

Sorry for not posting for a while. It's not because I haven't done any garden work (actually, I haven't, but I'll get to the reason why). Just 2 days after my last post, I found out I had pneumonia. I have been out of work for 2 weeks. People out there....PLEASE stay away from pneumonia. It's one of those awful things that you should definitely stay away from. If you have a cough AND high fevers (around 102 - 103 degrees F), go to your doctor and test for pneumonia - they can hear it by listening to your lungs and with a chest xray. I took strong antibiotics for a week and my follow up with my doctor shows that I am pneumonia-free! yay! but, it will take another week to get the antibiotics out of my system (I breastfeed, so this means that my son will be drinking from my frozen stash for 2 weeks!), and another 2 - 3 weeks to get my full strength back.

BUT, I have been occasionally tending to the seeds that I planted, and they are screaming to be transplanted - either in a pot to get bigger, our out into the garden. I will try to get to this, this coming weekend. I have to decide which ones go into the garden, which ones go into pots for now to be planted later in the garden, and which ones I will be donating to my son's school garden.

Seedlings I have so far are tomatoes (sun sugar, speckled roman, black cherry), zucchini (eight ball, a dark green type and a yellow type - don't know the name), squash (a yellow one - forgot name), suyo cucumber, burgundy okra, soy beans (black jet, envy, shironomai), charantais melon, cilantro, italian basil, peppers (anaheim, jalapeno, yolo wonder bell), beans (garbanzo, blue lake bush, dragon langerie, another red type). I think that's it. Oh, and I also planted some eggplant, but I unfortunately didn't label that and I don't know where I planted it (along with some tomato plants and bean plants...yes, I know....I lazy!).

Plus I have to bake more bread (I have been baking my bread since the beginning of this year)...we only have a few loaves left. If I have the energy for it, that is. If not, we'll have to buy some for now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coming to Reality

Yeah, I didn't write the past two three weeks because I didn't want to face the reality that I did next to NOTHING in the garden. I do have a good reason for not doing anything 2 weeks ago...I worked to create a vegetable garden at my son's day care. yay! After that, I think the inspiration hit me, so I did a few things that weekend in my own garden and this past weekend. (Don't ask me about why I didn't do anything 3 weeks ago).

2 weeks ago, I planted a LOT of seeds...but I do believe I have to plant more. I planted my warm weather crops - tomatoes, okra, beans, cukes, eggplant, melon (Charantais), and of course zukes. Oh, and a lot of basil. The first thing to pop up? it was a soybean - not sure which one tho...either envy or shironomai. i have black jet planted too, and so far nada.

This past weekend, I continued to WEED the South garden. I cleaned up the little part where I have my mandarin orange tree, lemon balm and calla lily planted. The mandarin orange tree is a s-l-o-w grower, but it was nice to see some new leaves coming up and I believe a few flower buds! I also realized I do need to thin out the calla lilies. I have to see how that is done since I never did that before. It's a very happy plant! The only thing I don't like about it is that it attracts a lot of snails...ick! Under one leaf, I found a whole snail family! Maybe that's a good thing? So that it takes away the snails from other parts of the garden? It's still icky in my book...*shudders*

I also planted some zinnia and dwarf sunflower seeds in that area too. I think that small plot needs some color (it is my designated flower area, after all).

I also put down compost over the areas I WEEDed, as well as under my fruit trees. I am happy to state that I have spied at least one nectarine growing on my tiny Nectazee tree, possibly (its too early to tell) a few plums growing out of spent flowers on my 3-year-old european plum tree (yay!), quite a few almonds growing (stay BACK, squirrels!!!), and a few flowers on the part of my apple tree called "early summer red". The other varieties show no sign of flowering.

My cherry tree is not showing any flowers either, although I have heard that they are the last to flower and first to bear fruit, so I am still hoping!

The veggies that I planted in the ground in February are either gone (wiped out, eaten - but not by me, dead, etc.), or getting bigger. I have 3 small broccoli plants, 2 small spinach, about 11 garlic plants, and about 10 - 11 pea plants. How many lettuce plants? A big FAT ZERO! Either my soil is not right for them (I have clay-like soil), or things are eating them. Maybe next time I try growing them, I will keep them in pots.

Okay, that's all to report. I'll do my best to keep up! My next big task (besides WEEDing)? Looking into drip and timed irrigation - I need a system so that my plants will continue to grow while I am on vacation for 2 weeks, which is coming up very soon!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Garden Goals

My goals are multiple, and maybe impossible, but one can try!

1) double dig the north garden
2) turn my compost pile (that I haven't touched for almost 2 years!!!)
3) add compost to the north garden
4) WEED the south garden
5) direct seed more broccoli, lettuce (more on that later)
6) WEED the east garden

Does the above look familiar? Yep, they are goals that I had made for last weekend, but completely failed to do. (In fact, I just copy and pasted the goals from the original post. ;-) ). I already have some plans for Saturday, but I hope to do at least ONE of the goals listed this weekend! Even if it means I have to do them at night!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It has finally happened!!

My "European" plum tree is finally showing some flowers!!! The flowers look a lot like my almond tree blossoms - white, 5-petal paradigm of daintiness...

No more blossoms on the almond tree and nectarine tree. I just hope that with all the rain we've been having since they first blossomed, they were not completely affected - I would like to see some nuts and fruits.

The apple and cherry trees are now just starting to show some leaves. I'm happy to report that each variety of apple (4) and cherry (4) are equally showing green growth.

I am soooooooooo tempted to pollinate the plum blossoms....I'm just filled with excitement that I may actually be able to eat a fruit off of that tree this year! woot!

Monday, March 8, 2010



Okay, ask me how my gardening goals went. Did I meet them all? short, no.

Did I get a few done? I couldn't say that.

Did I get at least one goal done???? Well,....if walking out into my gardens to view what is going on counts as one of my goals....darn, I didn't list that (will have to remember that goal for next weekend). Then no.

Not a single darn garden goal was met. I am ashamed. I am embarrased.

But I'm okay. I have a few veggies in the ground (that &#*!& squirrel better stay away!!!), 1/2 of my garden is still (for the most part) weed-free.

A few personal things came up in the family (no bigge, worrisome things) which hindered my garden work. But I did get to do some cooking...baked a few loaves of bread, and had a small early St. Patty's day celebration with some Irish soda bread and Irish chicken and dumpling stew, both recipes from (I love that site).

I started baking bread before I got pregnant due to the fact that we ate 2 loaves of store-bought bread a week, which averaged about $5. $5 X 52 weeks = $260. And my company was reducing my pay so we had to think of ways to save. with my bread recipe, it costs me less than $3 for 6 loaves (each one weighing a little over 1lb). So I am paying about the same to make 6 of my own loaves as I was paying for 2 store loaves. Plus, I know what is going into my loaves - whole grains, whole wheat, no oil - just the good stuff.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Goals for this weekend

My goals are multiple, and maybe impossible, but one can try!

1) double dig the north garden
2) turn my compost pile (that I haven't touched for almost 2 years!!!)
3) add compost to the north garden
4) WEED the south garden
5) direct seed more broccoli, lettuce (more on that later)
6) WEED the east garden

If I can accomplish all that, I definitely will need to think of an excellent reward for myself. But I wouldn't worry about that just yet...

I went out into the garden early this morning (the sun is coming up around 6:30am here, so I can actually do some snooping around in the garden before going to work. yay!)and either all this rain is completely killing my lettuce (by "completely killing" I mean there is NO trace of the plants being where I planted them...) or there is an animal trespassing on my garden and eating my edibles(!!!!!). I think its the latter because I occasionally find small holes dug (big enough to fit a ping pong ball down into it) in random places. *sigh*. I also think its a squirrel(s) since I see them climbing on the telephone wires. damn squirrels! I need to find some rubber snakes or something to scare them away. Oh, and the broccoli is slowly disappearing too.

The weird thing? It is only happening in the north garden. The south garden has hardly been touched *KNOCK ON WOOD*. So I will try to plant more of the broccoli and lettuce by direct-sowing into both gardens and see what happens.

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 1, 2010

to the WEEDs

This weekend's update will not be a spectacular one. All I did was more WEEDing. I've removed all of the weeds from my North garden. Of course there are some new WEEDs popping up (GRRRRRRRrrrrrr....) but no worries for now. I also did about half of the upper (east) garden (where the almond tree and the grape vines area). Next weekend I will tackle the south garden.

Am I going to plant more cool weather crops? I'd like to actually, but since I will be gone for two weeks between late April and May, I don't know if I should. Isn't that when all of my current edibles will be in full production mode? I guess if I plant more cool weather crops now, I may have something to get out of it when I get back. But, I also don't want to take up much more space than I currently do now so that I have space ready for the warm weather edibles that I will direct-sow when I get back from my trip. Maybe I'll sprinkle some seeds around my current edibles and see what comes up.

BUT...I did want to say something about my WEEDs. As much as I don't like to work at pulling these guys out of the ground, I must say that I am a little thankful that they sowed themselves in to my soil...especially the clovers. Cloves added nitrogen readily available to the plants that I will be sowing into the ground, and also kept the soil loose with their roots. The California poppy (which can get extremely invasive!!) also has deep roots - like a nice carrot! - which kept my soil nice and aerated. Seeing all the wonderful earthworms in the soil as I was pulling out these weeds just put a big smile on my face. (When I first worked this soil - I didn't run into a single earthworm and the ground was rock hard!). The soil amendments with the weeds helped to keep the soil light and loose. I've added some organic fertilizer to fill in the nutritional gaps, and it is very soon till I sow in my warm weather seeds (I may even plant a few before I leave.)

So, to the WEEDs! Although I still intend to call you out in disgust as I unmercifully tear you out from my soil and unflinchingly toss you into the recycle/bio bin, you at least do your part in keeping my soil healthy.

Now, what is with those icky GRUBS???ACK!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Garden Pictures #1

Here is the "north" garden (one of two sections I have planted so far). Here are some sugar snap peas, snow peas, broccoli, various lettuce, and spinach. all sprinkled with a bit of sluggo to keep those icky beasts out of this area.

Here is the 4-in-1 apple tree (Gala, Early Summer Red, Fuji, and Granny Smith). I don't have a close-up of this tree, but some of the buds are starting to swell! Very exciting, tho I don't really expect any fruit this season since I just planted it in the ground. we'll see.

The apple tree is in the foreground and a Nectazee is planted in the background. Nectazee is a dwarf nectarine tree that, if left untrimmed, will not grow taller than 8 feet. I plan to keep it around 6 feet for easy fruit access.

Currently the Nectazee is in full bloom and is hardly 1 foot tall. It is so exciting to see all the blooms - I wonder if I will get any fruit during its first year in my garden....

Garden Pictures #2

Here is the little Nectazee tree and the European plum tree behind it. Notice how small the Nectazee tree is (I think it is barely a foot tall).

Here is the plum tree and the 4-in-1 cherry tree in the background. I am trying to keep this plum tree (and the cherry tree) between 5 and 6 feet tall to keep it manageable and easily pickable. Dave Wilson nursery ( has great photos and information about how to keep a backyard orchard manageable. key is to prune about 3 - 4 times a year, and especially early summer when the growth of fruit trees explodes. It will, of course, affect the amount of fruit I get off the trees, but who needs bushels of fruit?? Even with this tree size, (if I take good care of it) I will still probably have to give away some of the fruit. But really, that is the best part of the whole backyard edible gardening for me - sharing the bounty.

Finally! Some proof of life in my plum tree! Ready to possibly produce some fruit for me this season?? Please?? It's been 2 years since I first planted you and so far not a single flower/fruit. :-(

Here is the 4-in-1 cherry tree (Bing, Black Tartaine, Vans, Lapins). I didn't get a closer shot of it, but there are some buds starting to swell! It may fruit this year, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Some cherry trees take a few years to bear fruit.

And on to the "South" garden...