Thursday, May 26, 2011

Toe-may-toe-, Toe-ma-toe

Ah, tomatoes. The most popular garden endeavor. I am not immune, and I am expecting...


These are Sungold on a plant still hanging on to life from last fall. Yes, this orange color means they are ripe :) Very sweet and tangy itty bitty fruits.


The Mexico Midget should be the first of my 2011 tomatoes to ripen... I am anxiously awaiting these red cherry tomatoes. (and crossing my fingers they really are as prolific as reported)

This why little naked guy is a Clint Eastwood's Rowdy Red, Tomatofest says it will be "robust not for sissies bold, tomatoey flavors, with a firm, juicy flesh"

Amy's Sugar Gem looks like she's gonna be a good producer already! From Tomatofest: "sweet flavor and the tiny light gold sparkles in the red skin"

And finally miss Brandywine. Yet to set any fruit, but this is only the first flower cluster - I have high hopes for this summer. Although it may be too cold at night for them to set yet. It was very frustrating to coddle a rooted sucker off a Brandywine last fall all through winter checking daily for new fruit - only to learn they have a much higher temperature minimum to set fruit than cherry tomatoes :Z

Oh my! I forgot about my Purple Calabash! I am a bad green mother :'( I know she's flowering... I can't say for sure off the top of my head if she is setting fruit....

Next time... worms :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Discovery of Archie Jr.'s

 Last week I talked about Archie's Garden, when I got free worms and milkweed. Turns out those milkweed came with a bonus prize:

On May 8 while tending my seedlings to my great surpise there was an Archie Jr.!
As if things couldn't get any better, the next day I found...

Two monarch caterpillars at once - and we've never had any! I am extatic. Mother was less thrilled, her first reaction when I did the happy dance and "I got Archie's" song was "oh no, now you're naming caterpillars?". She was a bit cheerier when I explained why they are named Archie Jr and why they are so special, as well as making the promise that they don't come inside the house... (I accidentally brought a green one in with some salad greens last year and her reaction when I found it was rather hilarious)

Three days after discovery Archie Jr #1 has most definitely grown... Also, they each tried to stop my heart by disappearing for a day, but they each came back.

And by one week later:

Ok, at this point I was starting to have doubts about those Milkweed seedlings keeping up with the Archies. And those doubts turned out to be well founded because by the 15th they'd eaten one milkweed seedling bare of leaves and were working on the stem; and the other seedling triplet was only a degree better. Commence emergency nursery runs...

First I went to my local nursery: asked for milkweed, got a funny look, clarified "butterfly milkweed, butterfly bush" and got pointed to the only variety they had (and also picked up a purty columbine and echeveria because I am weak) only to discover a couple of hours later that the Archies weren't eating it... wrong butterfly bush. They gave me buddleja, similar common name, way wrong species :/ (I will be returning it, just haven't gotten around to it quite yet)

So I zoomed over to Home Depot because damnit, milkweed is popular now and it's blooming season and they ought to have it! But no, they don't. *&#%$^@!!!

And it was off to the International Garden Center (I could wander that place for hours... alas it is a bit pricey and reserved for special days *sigh*) where they're nicest little old guy happily showed me each of the milkweeds they had. Real milkweeds - Asclepias tuberosa (there was also a buddleja in bloom, thankfully I learned the first time though). I finally picked out the all yellow one first previewed in my Belated Bloom Day post. I also took home a blue annual dwarf delphinium *coughcough* for my mom of course.

And at home I wasted no time repotting that sucker and relocating the Archies!


Naturally a day after that one of them disappeared again... he has not come back yet `:( Then my remaining Archie Jr. started doing the Dracula here:

 He did the Dracula for 3 days straight. I thought he was going into crystalis mode, but no it was just a ruse. He started nibbling again...while I did battle with his cousins - the Fuzzy Terrors!

  You deplete my Kale, you get banished to the ornamentals in the front yard... :P

Anyway, last time I saw Archie Jr. he was still happily munching away his milkweed and getting super chubba. I didn't see him for a couple of day again, but then he reappeared this morning. I just wish he'd get to the crystalis stage so I can stop fussing over him!

 *sigh* I am a sucker for living critters.

Btw, the little milkweed seedlings look like they may acutally survive. The one that was eaten bare is trying to sprout new leaves, as are the other ones. Hoorah!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Southbay Gardeners

Hi there. So I've been exploring Folia which is another online gardening community. It has some similarities to the Dave's Garden website, but quite a bit more user friendly. There's the free subscription which so far seems very useful especially for new gardeners to keep track of things. There's also a few more bells and whistles if you want a paid subscription which is by a donation to the site for whatever you can afford ( I think I may actually do that next pay period).

Anyway, one of the reasons I started blogging about my green children is I want to connect with other gardeners, and especially others in my area. Because my growing climate is very different from most of the county and general advise can be confusing. I had found one gardening group near me on gardening, but their meetings have been kind of sporadic, and many of them quite a distance from me. On Folia I was able to make my own free group, and so I did. If you're in the LA check out Southbay Gardeners  :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My visit to Archie's Garden

On April 30th I had the pleasure of riding through the Mar Vista Garden Showcase with John and Mike :)

 Always nice to have an escort that's easy on the eyes ;)

I want to show off my favorite garden from the day - which sadly Mike missed out on since he had to return to his work :P Anyway, it was Archie's Garden! You can see their Mar Vista spread here. Their Mar Vista article got my attention for them being a certified wildlife habitat and focus on Monarch butterflies. I though it'd be interesting but had no idea how much I'd really love it.

 I want their grape vine...

the *not so* Secret Garden entrance...

The place is literally overflowing with native plants and charm. Everything is blooming and thriving. The whole place has a laid back country cottage charm that held me there much longer than it should have. It was also educational - there was information on becoming a certified wildlife habitat, native plants, Monarch butterflies and worm composting.

I will admit it - I shamelessly came for the free worms! And put them to good use, half went to John's own brand new DIY vermicomposting setup :) They were very generous and nearly filled the 6 quart container I brought with me! I think my favorite moment of the visit was when I explained to her that I'd gotten such a small number of worms to start my vermicompost I was afraid they'd inbreed - and she said well if you start hearing *mimickedcountrybanjomusic* then I'd start to worry. Ok, in print it sounds really dumb but in person it was hilarious :9

They also had a display about choosing solar panels, NOT about what setup is cheapest or most efficient, far more important. How to choose solar panels that are properly tested and certified so they don't spontaneously combust and nearly burn down your house. Seriously. It happened to them because they didn't know to check for certification, and their building & safety office didn't either. One day they started burning and luckily the fire department got it put out in time to save the roof. They have one of the faulty panels left which was up in the backyard for guests to inspect. They already have new panels on their roof - UL tested and approved now that they know. Their building department knows now too and their local fire department is using their near tragedy as an educational tool for others.

And lastly what won me over (as if the rest wasn't enough) were the free milkweed transplants and seeds they were giving out. They labelled the different varieties, and even had some that came with Monarch eggs or caterpillars! I took a couple which were not supposed to have any wildlife coming with them because I don't have any other milkweed they could eat and I wanted the seedlings to survive! They would have sent me home with many many more but luckily I was limited in carry space w/the bike n' all ;) There will be more about those milkweeds I picked up soon... *hinthint*

So I give a huge THANK YOU to Archie's Garden for sharing!

LOTB Community Container Garden Update 1

I have been wanting to post about my green children participating in the LOTB Community Container Garden project. Fern came up with the idea of selecting a small variety of plants that can be grown in containers in many climates for her readers to give a try. She figured it'd be cool for many people to be able to give input on the same plants to help each other. She also set up a forum for participants to have one central place to post about it.

So out of the five varieties chosen I am growing 3 because I already had seeds for two and I was excited to hear about the other. I already had my tomatoes and cucs picked out for the year.

Here's how my green babies were doing on April 12, about a month after sowing:
 sunflower Sunspot
This was doing so well I had already potted it in a plastic 12" pot I found somewhere

 basil Purple Petra

 garlic chives

On April 22 I planted another of the Sunspots in one of my tompots from last year with some lettuce Marvel of Four Seasons for contrast. I also tucked in a cambridge blue lobelia that had volunteered in another pot.

On April 29 I stopped by home for lunch and to my horror...

 I have no idea what happened
My best guess is it just got so hot that day it cooked :;(

At least it's two sisters have been flourishing. Here's the tompot one on May 2:

Incidentally, somehow during the month of April I managed to grow a very nice set of nails despite all my mucking about without garden gloves... They've since been broken, cracked, snagged, ragged, clipped & etc.

May 8th I was finally able to transplant the garlic chives into the Utility Rack Planter and I put a basil in with my tomato Mexico Midget.
Clint Eastwood is bending to greet them hehehe...

 btw, that 13" pot was $6.99 at Ikea..*hinthint*

 the tompotted sunflower and it's lettuce entourage seem happy
the fudog to the bottom right was a Goodwill find :)

it spends its days taunting me with the promise of flowers to come...

There is another sunflower I've left in a 1 gal pot because I can't decide another spot to put it right now. I will also probably grow some more the rest of spring through fall.

Oh, and instead of thinning the basil seedlings I managed to carefully separate them so I now have 5 more transplants. I am going to pot a couple of them and if anyone in the LA area would like the others lemme know...

So as of today the sunflowers have still not yet bloomed :( The anticipation is making me antsy :/ I'm hoping by this weekend the chives will be doing well enough I can snip some to put in a meal. I don't think I'll glean anything off the basil for a few more weeks.

And that's it, we're all caught up on my Community Container Garden :) Good luck to everyone else participating too!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Belated Bloom Day May 2011

 I didn't have time or access to a computer yesterday, but damnit I want to share my flowers! So here they go :) First the backyard containers:

cosmo Seashells Blend

common chives & lobelia

I think these may be a creeping Jenny, they came home hiding in fountain grass from the nursery two years ago. I like the peach colored flowers which only open in sunlight (it was cloudy when I took the pic)

And this is a calendula Kablooma,  not quite what I was hoping it would be :/

 annual blue salvia among my tomatos

 common thyme

 heliotrope :)


 the new tomatoes are finally blooming!

nasturtium Alaska

I allow some oxalis with lavender/pink flowers to hang around

 I'm highly surprised that my pansies Bewitch'd are still around this late into spring

 lots of alyssum this year, bringing tons of hover flies  :)


Three of these have come up so far. I think they may be volunteers from my guara last year (which have since been transplanted to the rental property). The plants are tall and thin, the flowers miniscule and they keep disappearing (see the stumps?). The blooms don't look like the guara though. Any ideas out there?

strawberry Fragola Quattro Stagioni
The other Sequoia are blooming too, but forgot to photo them

 my peach miniature roses (99 cent store find!) are starting to bloom again :)

I think this is the purtiest onion flower head I've seen :)

and my new yellow milkweed (more on this emergency purchase later)

And now the front  yard:

Da's shastas are going nuts

 the sweet pea Princess Elizabeth

They had been blooming wonderfully, but yesterday they were down to the last and it was time to cut them down. That was the last photo I took, and of course saved some seed pods.

 the geraniums (unknown variety) by the front gate are back in their full glory

 Da's lavender rosebush is happy again

 I've added kalanchoe from the 99 Cent Store along the strip behind the sliding gate

 the blue butterfly bush is coming out nicely again :)

 we've got a profusion of calendula Zeolights by way of a seed trade with Mike - thanks dude!

 Yarrow in the gate strip

 a volunteer nasturtium Alaska that popped up by the yarrow

 Da's new Peace rose just planted a few weeks ago, the snap dragons around it aren't blooming yet :(

 this second year scabiosa Isaac's House it finally blooming, I was hoping for a more bluish tint

 and no clue why but the bluebells have been doing terribly this spring, perhaps too wet?
anyway, finally got some going with Da's new Beloved rosebush

 still ridiculously happy the larkspur Shades of Blue which are actually purple :/ re-seeded itself :)

 new sweet lavender in the front

 the statice that refuses to die :)

I finally have borage! and it's a bee magnet as promised :)

 a new geranium I got for Ma, forget the variety...

zinnia Art Deco is finally opening up :)


lobelia Crystal Palace recently transplanted below the white rosebush

 and Da's white roses

and of course you can't leave without admiring my Felis catus "Watching You"

Other things blooming that didn't photograph well are my new spanish lavendar and lavender Lemon Leigh, columbine, morning glory Heavenly Blue and an unknown purple morning glory.

The poppy Mission Bells and Lauren's Grape were already spent and whacked down for the year :'(

I was very frustrated that my bolted lettuces and sunflower for the Community Container Garden project are budding budding budding - and not yet bloomed in time :P

Happy Belated Bloom Day to everyone!

Mary's Gardening Calendar