Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ever have that little voice say "didn't I tell you so"?

Saturday I was working on one of the gardens in the Master's Tour and it was pretty cold and damp. I was thinking to myself, "I'm not dressed properly for this, I'm going to catch my death of cold." and thereby fulfilled my own prophecy.

Summer colds are the worst, I think. At least when you are smacked with one in the winter, you can feel assured that hiding under the covers and sipping hot lemon tea will not seem contrary. It's cold outside; it's likely I'd be in bed with tea anyway. However, a summer cold you think, why would I willingly miss a day out in the garden?

I did don a sweater and go out for a quick look around once or twice.

One, I ask myself, how many times must I lose a set of freshly planted out seedlings before I remember to use shadecloth? I mean how many times can you chalk it up to a "learning experience"? Well, I'll be sprouting more "yuppie chow" salad mix to replace the sad, wilted & dead seedlings I left to roast in the sun.

I had ripped up the three dying tomato plants and turned the bed. I added an entire box of vermicompost, 2 cups of blood meal, 2 cups all-purpose organic fertilizer and another bag of compost from the nursery. I wanted to increase the organic matter in the soil and boost the macronutrients that seemed to have "bottomed out". This is where I thought I was going to have some cabbages and leaf lettuce. The cabbages might just make it with the "now in place" shade cloth.

Two, what the devil is going on with the tomato monster? It's dying off in places, but it's also flowering like mad. And much to my surprise, some of the flowers are keeping fruit. Maybe it's true that you have to stress the plants a bit to get them to fruit.

"No more lounging in the garden boys, time to make tomatoes or become extinct!!"

I'm still not holding my breath for an overwhelming bounty, because botrytis can settle on any of the young green fruits and rot them out completely. But I've ordered the pressure cooker just in case the monster proves me wrong (again). I have been surprised by the Northern Lights tomato, which now has two fruits forming. I was resigned to not get any this year. Maybe I will, fingers crossed.

In addition, the lack of sunshine here has affected the pollinators. When it's foggy, the garden is oddly quiet. Moment the sun shines through, the place is a-buzz. During the weekend, I was so concerned the butternut squash not being fertilized; I ended up hand pollinating it (once I picked the correct male flower - couldn't believe I mistook the first one for a male, please tell me it's the Sudaphed working on my poor brain!)

I noticed one google search land here with the question "how to pollinate pumpkin". I'll try to post my method later, minus using a female flower as the pollinator. D'oh!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Masters Garden Tour 2006

If you are in the Monterey area on the weekend of September 9th, consider going to the Masters Garden Tour. It is a self guided tour of 5 gardens around the Monterey Penninsula to be open from 10 am to 4 pm. There is also a Raffle, art galleries and a Plant Sale (see "gardeners and their gardeners for locations). There is also a vermicomposting exhibit and of course Master Gardeners to ask all sorts of gardening questions. For more information, please see their website

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oh, snap out of it!!

Tomato Monster July:

Tomato Monster August:

I'll have to admit, I've been in a bit of a funk of late. Who can say when it started? Last weekend was frankly, cold. I needed a sweater while I was putting down mulch. The tomatoes are definitely getting the signal that summer is coming to a close. The crookneck squash is succumbing to mildew, and my strong and productive Black Beauty Zucchini also has a bad case of mildew. I'm not ready to give up on having fresh zucchini, dammit!

I've finally come to admit that the Cossack is dead. It didn't even flower properly. How come after such a tremendous beginning? The Ukranian Pink Pearl is declining fast and so is the Jaffe's cherry. I think I could get a cutting from the Ukranian Pink Pearl, but I wonder, is it worth the effort? At least the last two actually bore fruit. The Jaffe's cherry has terrific taste, but doesn't have any branches that would make a decent cutting. All of these tomato plants were in Bed 3. Perhaps they didn't have enough compost and fertilizer worked into the soil. But I'm leaning more and more towards the constant exposure to the sea breeze as an explanation.

I am enjoying tomatoes. I've gotten more this year than ever before from my garden. But I'm certainly not putting up 11 quarts! I'd really be grinning! No, I think I will barely get enough to freeze for the months up until the next tomato season. And of course my friend from Scotts Valley sent me this picture:

Beautiful, but I can't help but see it with envious green eyes. I have to look at the wonderful harvests of other bloggers with the unattached fortitude of a Buddhist monk. But after a while in my garden, picking handfuls of fresh green beans, I gain enough strength to say "this isn't a contest, I'm not entering the county fair". What I have is enough, and I should be grateful. I am grateful. I just have to remind myself.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Off Topic Post

A post for Sweet's wilder cousins.

Okay, so this doesn't qualify as gardening as such. But I was reading Susan's blog "Farmgirl Fare" and I have to admit, this story made me think "I'll post this and perhaps it will help". The basic gist is there is a wildlife preserve in Colorado and its affiliates, and they need help. They are having to close due to lack of funds and maybe, just maybe, we, the blogsphere, can make a difference.

So what am I asking? If you can, send some money. Or if nothing else, write a post about The Wild Life Sanctuary. Spread the word. I know from my own life, we all have "connections". Some bloggers are writers, some are in the entertainment fields, some know people connected with foundations and or other money sources. I don't have a large "readership". But some other people do, and perhaps we can get the word out enough and find a way to keep the Sanctuary running.

Here's an article by the Denver Post regarding the refuges: Animal Sanctuaries may be on last legs.

The three sanctuaries are:
The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg, CO
Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Ellicott, CO
Prairie Wind Animal Refuge, Agate, CO (no website).

Susan wrote a beautiful appeal, and I'm hoping that somehow these preserves can survive. Thanks for your time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What to do with an apple bounty

So a co-worker of mine heard about my apple "disappearance" and low and behold a "package" shows up on my desk on Friday. He has too many apples and he doesn't have any interest in "dealing" with them. Well, I don't mind at all. First I got them sized, and determined which had so much moth damage or bruising that they wouldn't make a decent pie apple.

And I had plenty for a nice batch of applesauce. The nice thing about applesauce is that you don't have to peel the apples, especially if you have one of these:

I think this is called a food mill, but I actually think it has a different name as it is used to make jam and fruit juice. It makes the job really much easier because it clears fruit of the skins and you have a quick batch of applessauce.

Now usually I can the finished product, if I'm feeling industrious, I'll make apple butter, but instead I was inspired to make Applesauce Cake. Someday I'll post a really old family recipe for applesauce cake, but it is pretty involved and I'd like to publish it with pictures of the 6 layers of cake. But today, I must get more mulch put down in the garden, although it's looking foggy and cold.

(I apologize if your blog aggregator shows this a million times, but I've been having problems with this post. So much for point and click publishing)

Monday, August 14, 2006


I think I should get a hint when it comes to things like this.

I went to extra effort (asked a friend to bring a flowering apple branch cutting) to pollenize the Pink Pearl apple tree. It took on a single apple, which was growing quite well. I was excited to find out what this apple would be like. I checked on it and watered the tree and fussed and worried.

I looked out my bedroom window this morning, and I couldn't see the lone apple. In disbelief, I went outside to see if it had ripened and dropped off. But to no avail. It's gone. Just like the first tomato in my garden from years before.

I didn't even get a picture. Sigh.....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Seeing more red in the garden

Beauty Lottringa

Cynthia described this tomato as so beautiful that you will bring visitors down into the garden just to look at it. It's so true. Her tomato stand is open now, if you want a really tasty heirloom tomato! She will be open Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays from 9 to 6. And there's more than just tomatoes to enjoy. It looks as if she'll have a variety of vegetables and dahlias for purchase.

The "pumpkin" is finally ripening. Again, I can't believe I have a tomato that is this big. I wonder what it will weigh? Can you see that it has grown?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I wish I knew what this plant was

Anyone who gardens regularly gets asked "what's this plant?" I like to try and identify them, if I can, but sometimes it's impossible from a simple description (usually "well it was about a foot tall and had these cute purple flowers) or a photo (mostly because the concentration is on the flower and not the leaf or growth habit). Here is a plant I saw at a winery in Amador County. It was a shrub about 5-6 foot high, and was in the protected area of the winery. I'd say it was a hibiscus but the flowers don't look like a hibiscus. Leave a comment if you know what it is. Thanks.