Wednesday, November 29, 2006

They've got my number

Here come the catalogs. I had to drag this one into work and show it to a co-worker. I think she's been amazed at the different colors, shapes and tastes of the different tomatoes I brought in to work. I don't know if I will buy anything, however. I have plenty of seeds saved.

The Thanksgiving holiday was busy. I was hoping to have more from the garden on the table. But I guess it was alright to have onions, some remaining fresh tomatoes and butternut squash. I had wished that I had some turnips, but perhaps I'm the only person who really likes them.

Once everyone had left, I had a small amount of time to work. I transplanted some of the Artemisia so that each one of the plugs have a plant. I also am trying to sprout more of the Beach Aster. But of course Sunday brought rain showers. I was so focused that I just kept planting in the rain. Mr. C finally brought me an umbrella. But I was glad to get that done. Now I have my fingers crossed that more of the Beach Aster will sprout.

Monday the gauge read 3/4-inch rain. However, a high pressure system has brought in a cold front and now it's really freezing. We're on frost warning from 2 am until 9 am and I've already dragged my kumquat into the green house. Ugh.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quick look in at the garden this morning

I believe this is Castilleja affinis which was growing on a beach in Seaside.

I'm a little worried about my dune sprouts. There aren't many beach aster sprouting.and I think I should see if my seed envelope have any more in them and try to sprout the rest.

On the other hand, the giant red mustard has shown an amazing amount of growth for just one week. The transplanted onions look like they'll take. I have so many more to plant. The swiss chard and cabbages are hanging in there.

So much to do before next week, and I'm hoping to put some flowers in to pots to make them look nicer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A rainy night brought a sunny day

A photo of the terrace from August. Now, it''s looking rather bare.

The rain yesterday was light but persistent until evening. Then it really came down. After months without rain, you sort of forget what it sounds like when it comes down. I was glad that I'd gotten most all of the transplants in on the weekend. I put in some more cabbages (Red Jewel), some Giant Red Mustard, and Bright Lights Swiss Chard. I transplanted some of the Walla Walla onions, but not all of them. Most of the transplants went into the terrace but I also was able to clear and plant bed 2. Now all I need are some flowers that will survive the cold and wet; probably some pansies, icelandic poppies and calendula. I put in some poppy seeds, but I'm not sure if they'll sprout as they are a little old.

Precipitation 1 1/2-inch

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What's bugging me

Okay, for a gardener the following pictures may be disturbing.

Here are the blasted caterpillars that have devastated what used to be nice cabbages; these two and about 3 dozen of their cousins.

And this is just too aggravating for words. The picture is of the blasted ants, which I have been fighting with borax and diacomatous earth and ant bait traps. I wouldn't be so aggressive if they didn't import or "farm" the aphids and the scale which coat entire plants. I have blasted them off time and time again, and the ants quickly bring the aphids back, repopulating every tender dahlia bud, rhubarb leaf, or lettuce. It's enough to drive me to .... well, I don't know what. The ants are everywhere. I know this is a very active time for them, but I sure can't wait for the rains to drown some of their population. Unfortunately, they have set up home in the greenhouse, which they love in the winter, incubating their young. I bait them again and again, but it's a losing battle.

On to other things. Woke up to a rainy morning (3/8-inch precipitation). Took a few pictures, two of a confused squash that came up from the compost. Now if I thought for one moment I could get a squash, I'd hand pollinate it. But I give the plant about 2 weeks before mildew has its way. The picture below is a female flower:

And this one is male:
Notice at the base, there isn't any fruit/squash forming. The most common reason why zuchini don't grow (and just drop the fruit) is because there weren't any male flowers open and ready when the female flowers are. I've observed that the plant will put a number of male flowers out before the females, but they usually fade before the female flowers are ready. I'm assuming that this is so the plant will cross with other plants nearby instead of self pollinating. I don't do seed saving for squash because they cross so easily (and the results can be disappointing) so I leave it to the experts and just buy a few seeds to sprout. But if I'm really anxious to get a few squash, I'll borrow a male blossom from another squash plant (even a compost sprout) to get the job done. Thank goodness they are so productive. What I might do is fry a few of these blossoms for lunch tomorrow. It would be a nice "off season" treat.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The rustling of leaves

October slipped by. This blog has become a cobwebsite. I thought that I could talk endlessly about plants and gardening. But of late, I've been pre-occupied with other thoughts and tasks. None of which have been about the garden. Well, mostly.

A few of the things I have been doing:

1. Working on a dune restoration project. Sunset magazine featured an article in September (which I haven't been able to find - I need to stop by the library) about the Monterey Dune restoration project. Currently, I have 2 trays of California dune natives that are sprouting (ever so slowly). One tray is beach aster (Lessingia filaginifolia) and the other is Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala). Once they get their true leaves, I'll be able to thin the seedlings down to one plant per cone. They are planted out in January and February. Sounds like cold, wet, windy work. And I'll probably be there.

2. Going to evening lectures at Cabrillo Horticultural Center about Sustainable Landscaping. I missed the first two classes, but have attended the last two and the final one is in a couple of weeks. I have some interesting notes; maybe I'll share them. (I hate promising that I'll write an entry and then never do it, so I'm hoping that I really will write up what I learned at the lectures.)

3. Trying to put away the harvest and take down the tomato vines. Rather dull work, but it needs doing. Don't feel like blogging every time I go out on a pruning or weeding expedition, because what more can you say about it?

4. I put some cabbages into bed 3 a couple of months ago. The sulfur butterfly caterpillars have devastated the poor things. They look more like lace than cabbages. I don't seem to have the heart to pull them up. But I just might have to.

The garden is pretty dismal. As the evenings are darker and time is shorter after work, I never get around to watering. I don't have things set up on timers. Maybe next year. I've lost a few plants, but so far, nothing that I'm upset over. I was even thinking of a Thursday 13 meme of what plants I've killed this year.

I had a short visit by Bambi one week. He took every single autumn rose bloom off, and de-nuded a couple of plants. But again, not much of a hit so I am thankful. I need to spray the back part of the yard again with the nasty anti-deer spray. So far, there's nothing they are interesting in. Or the neighbor's dog is keeping them spooked. (Good dog!)

I have been haunting the garden center on occasion, hoping to spot a 6 pack of walla walla onions. I really loved the crop I produced this year, and I was hoping to get another run on them. I finally found a set at a natural food store, and I purchased them with a 6 pack of Japanese red mustard and ruby cabbages.

Rain started on Thursday, but I barely received an 1/8th inch. But apparently Aptos/Cabrillo college (their weather station site) had only seen 0.26. But driving through La Selva/Freedom on Highway one in the morning, you would think that there would be more in the rain gauge. And although I was enjoying the small warm spell, I am looking forward to the rains and the greening of the landscape.