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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Disappearing Acts

I was going through my 2010 images folder and saw these ones (taken in early May).

I was right, I filled up all my planter beds up to the brim with amended soil. But for some weird reason the soil seems to have settled down quite a lot. I have kept adding a lot of compost on the top throughout this growing season.

Even then, I will still have a pretty big gap to top up after all my plants come out in winter. Maybe it is time to get a few more loads of compost before they close for the season. (Bay area residents- I pick up my free compost from the SMART station.I have also purchased compost from The Mountain View Garden Center when we had to amend the entire backyard with some of the good stuff.)


"When was it ever less than a treason
 To go with the drift of things,
 To yield with a grace to reason,
 And bow and accept the end
 Of a love or a season?"

-Robert Frost

The Autumnal Equinox is today (September 22) and marks the official beginning of Fall. But with a lacklustre summer behind us, it is depressing to think that it is going to get colder and colder. I also heard that this fall and winter are going to be much colder than usual. More snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and good a good ski season are the only flip side I can think of now.

"The last long aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"
-Robert Frost

This weekend is still supposed to be nice in the upper 70's and maybe even the 80's, and gives us more time to close out some of our long list of garden chores. Clean up all the dead plants, and maybe plant some of the cover crops. Add more wood chips/ mulch to all the flower beds to keep the weeds down, and maybe do some slug hunting at night !

I am not planting any winter veggies, and hopefully that will have us the ability to step out of town for a few days/ week for a much needed vacation.

Rose Planting

We went shopping for Roses over the Labour day weekend (see them here).

The last few weekends have been hectic trying to set them into the ground when the weather is good so we don't have to wait till next spring to plant them. With about 22 to plant on hard packed soil, it is a lot of back breaking work. We hired a guy to help with the digging.

We also had to put some hardware cloth around the roots to stop the Gophers/ Moles/ Voles or whatever they may be from digging. (Yes we have them in our here)

We were not quite sure if we had to do this, but is better to be safe than be sorry !

And we had all that hardware mesh left over from the lining we put under our new planter we put it to use.

The Roses are all set into the ground now. We were hoping to get the drip irrigation set up. But looks like that has to wait till next Spring. We will hand water until the rains come around in a few weeks.

Friday, September 10, 2010


The North American Mockingbird is now a regular in our garden. They have been feasting on the moths that live in our backyard lawn. These birds are pretty fast and nimble when it comes to catching these moths. We have seen them in action, but weren't successful in capturing them in the act.

Here is a picture of one eyeing its next catch....

To help them along in the summer, we bought these Bird bath's (3 of them ....on a sale). We managed to put one up so far. Hopefully, the remaining two will go up before the next summer.


During this past weekend we went Rose shopping at Regan Nursery. My colleague introduced me to this place and told me about their half off rose sale every year during the Labour day weekend.

We made a list of what we wanted and managed to find many that were on our list. Our list was long, we didn't need all of them. 

Most of the plants we picked up do not have flowers on them. Here is a sampling of the ones that do.

The veggie garden 2010-Part 4 (Exotic Fruits)

"While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes (as well as by the United States Supreme Court (see Nix v. Hedden) ), which has caused some confusion. "

When I did my earlier post on exotic vegetables, I had included the Tomato in there, but on second thought (actually after reading this one on the Wiki), I decided to dedicate one exclusively for the one exotic fruit I am growing
The Reise Tomato

The Cream Sausage Tomato

Luffa Gourd update

I had written earlier about my attempt at growing my own Luffa's (read here).

I have more updates on how they are doing. Why the special attention you may ask? Because they have been the most prolific in the garden. You can see that they have made it past the 8ft tall fence and have started climbing on to the Pine tree.

The Gourd's themselves are also pretty massive compared to the small dried ones that I have stocked up now.

The plant is also pretty aggressive in sending out flowers that attract the Hummingbirds.

...and Bees

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The veggie garden 2010-Part 6 (Inter-planting)

One of the biggest lessons we learnt this year was on "Inter-planting". I don't believe we did inter-planting the right way to begin with.

We planned our vegetable planting plan based on the plants that work well together, the friends versus the foes that should be kept separate.

This is the bed where we had onions and the Broccoli/ Cauliflower planted together. After this initial stage, the  Broccoli/ Cauliflower's took off and completely snuffed out the light to the Onions that never made it big.

We planted the Squash (Sugar Pumpkins) with Beans in the back. I ended up having to remove the Squash leaves that went towards the back of the bed and kind of moved everything to grow towards the front. I am not sure if it caused any stress to the plant. But looking at the production, it does not look like they were affected. 

The Pole Beans were able to pick up from there on and seem to be doing well now.

The Zucchinis were planted in the front with the Bitter Gourds in the back of the bed. I trimmed out the Zucchini leaves the same way I trimmed out the leaves of the Sugar Pumpkin. The Zucchini's were not affected but because of the way they grow (not spreading as much as the Pumpkins) they kept interfering with the growth of the Bitter Gourds. Till date, we haven't harvested even one Bitter Gourd.

The Zucchini leaves I trimmed early on....and kept trimming the entire season.

The Bitter Gourds languishing behind the Zucchini's

We also planted the Okras (Ladies Finger) and the Bell Peppers near the Tomatoes. They have also been dwarfed and stunted by the massive Tomato plants.

The only ones that seems to be co-existing in harmony are the Bell Peppers and the Eggplants that are together in one of the planter beds.


The Eggplant (Brinjal/ Aubergine) flowers have been blooming for a while. They took a while to set fruit (and lets blame it again on the weather).

I spotted these white Eggplants that are just coming along. 

The Fairy Tale eggplant are also just making an appearance.

The Black Beauty are just about getting bigger, hopefully I can harvest the first one in a week.

These have been the most prolific so far, we have harvested over 5 lbs in the last 2 weeks. Wonder what one does with 5lbs of Eggplant.....

And these are supposed to be long (sort of like eggs), except that this one looked kind of weird.


The Hummingbirds are drawn to this flower (I am not sure what this one is called)

And we have been busy trying to get friendly with these lovely birds.


The first of the Purple Peppers

The California Wonder Orange

They are way tinier than the ones I see at the supermarkets but the plants are extremely prolific. I am not sure if it is because of the mild summer or something else that we should be doing. I am not quite sure what I could do with these small peppers....pickle them maybe

Finally we have vine ripened Tomatoes

Thanks to the weather hitting the 90's for a short time last week, we have the first vine ripened Tomatoes of the season

The first vine ripened Beef Steak Tomato

And the first vine ripened Cherry Tomatoes

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The veggie garden 2010-Part 4 (Planning)

This is one of those posts that has been languishing in the "draft" stage for a while. Some of the pictures of our planning were stuck in our home computer that was out of commission for a few months.

This year, Spring and Summer of 2010 has been one fraught with trouble. All our planning and prep work was tossed out the door.

Our bible for planning the veggie garden was the Santa Clara County Master Gardener resources and especially their planting calendar.

So off we went starting our seeds in pots and fretting that we probably started a week or two late.

Weather played spoil sport with our the end of May and we still were having night time temperatures below 50 degrees.

We put together some planting plans based on "Edward Smiths's book"

Here are some of our plans

Plan 1
Plan 2

Plan 3

Plan 4

What we did not plan for was the bad weather and that many of our seeds might not germinate.

We have learnt a lot from what we did (and did not do) in our veggie garden planning this year, and we are hoping to do better next year.

Harvest Monday- September 6, 2010

We finally got caught up and entered the details of our harvest from our garden note book into the computer and summed it all up. 

We are getting close to our target of 450 lbs and with at least a month to go we hope to reach our target.

All this was in days harvest early last week, with the Cucumbers being the heaviest contributors.

This was our harvest on Sep 5. Mostly Persian Cucumbers yet again. We have harvested about 118 lbs of these lovely Cucumbers so far and they are still going strong. I have been sharing the Cucumber abundance with Friends, Family and Co-workers in addition to using them up everyday.

This is going to be my first posting to Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions. Not sure if I can figure out how to use the Mister Linky widget thing....but I am going to try.