Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Full Speed to Halloween

My homegrown Cinderella's Coach is the belle of the ball.
Second biggest holiday of the year for kids! I did not fully appreciate that until this year. My family
and I are loving the crisp morning walks to school, spotting and admiring many spooky decorations around the neighborhood, and endless chatter about costumes. (Maybe that last one is enjoyed more by the kids than by me.) Only two more days! It's so exciting to be a kid this time of year - magic around every corner.

In the garden - oh, right, the garden! - I brought myself to pull my green beans. Boy, was it time. The cilantro is doing great, the lettuce I planted at the same time - not so much. I just can't seem to get the hang of lettuce's timing. I want to plant more peas and new carrots this week, and - hope springing eternal - lettuce. We're still getting a few golden cherry tomatoes. "We" meaning my little locusts, who swarm the bush and promptly eat the fruits before anyone else can get to it. I may need to pull the tomatoes for room.

Locusts at work.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Indian Summer

Meager October harvest
 Indian summer in the Bay Area is the best. It *almost* makes up for the lack of a real summer. It's warm but not hot. The light is gorgeous. You can wear whatever you want - shorts! t-shirt! pants! jacket! - and you'll be fine. Houses are putting out their autumn and Halloween decorations. We've started playing "Count the Pumpkins" on our daily walk to school.

A good 30 minutes of entertainment
Preparing to throw away my cilantro because she doesn't care for it
This week's weather has been amazing so we've spent some time in the backyard. I pulled out the remains of the Angry Birds birthday party knockdown game, and my son entertained himself for quite a while setting it up in new configurations ("levels"), just like the real game. Tip: Used the soccer goal behind the set-up to help with picking up and re-assembly.  My husband made the components of the game from rinsed-out cans, boxes that were in the recycling, the color printer, and some kraft paper with drawn-on faux-bois (to simulate the wood in AB). We definitely have gotten our money's worth out of his effort!

 Lots of cilantro going to seed because it's hard to use it all up when the kids don't eat it and my husband doesn't like it anywhere near as much as me. Sadly, very little else to pick. I still can't bring myself to yank anything, but Plantapocalypse is coming....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Season

Nothing much new to report in the garden, other than that I really need to get out there and make some hard decisions about yanking plants. I am too tender-hearted for this part of gardening! I don't think it will be today; I am pumpkin-hung-over from a pumpkin-treat-themed playgroup yesterday. I got myself in the mood with pumpkin ravioli for lunch, then friends brought over steamed pumpkin bites with garlic yogurt, pumpkin pie made with an actual gourd, a variety of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin crackers, pumpkin cream cheese... and to top it off I cracked open a bottle of pumpkin hard cider (for moms only, needless to say, in dixie-cup-sized servings!). I felt distinctly queasy last night, then forgetfully chose pumpkin bread for morning snack today. D'oh!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Uh, guys, hate to break it to you, but it's October.
I get it, you're beautiful and perfect. Jeez.
Today not only is the berry bush blossoming, but so is the third of the three pumpkin plants I planted this summer. The pumpkin has only one tiny fruit bud on it - if it survives, perhaps it would be normal size by December or January! And the blackberries - man, they are just confused. I got only one pumpkin from the four plants this year, although it was a Cinderella's Coach beauty. We picked it last week and it is gracing the front porch now. I trimmed back the two berries yesterday as the new canes were trying to mate with the neighbor's plum tree over the fence. The berries were great producers in June/July but have decently wrapped up... or so I thought.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

When to Yank?

Almost too cute to eat
The thing that always strikes me about the weekend is that, with kids, it is as busy or busier than a weekday. However, at least my kids are old enough so that they can run free out in the backyard while I am fretting about the garden, a.k.a. watering and weeding. I can't do any real work, like planting, with their help. Well, I mean, I do it with their help, and then I go out later and do it again. Anyway, so we grabbed some time this morning on one of the hottest days of the year to go out back and fret, and/or poke your sister with a stick, and/or take your brother's tub of tomatoes that mommy said not to mess around with (depending on your age and weight class).

My main fret-tage currently concerns when to yank my summer/fall harvesting plants. I get - literally - a handful of green beans every couple days at this point. Worth keeping the plants? A few tomatoes are ripe, with a few more still green on the plant preventing me from pulling it. Am I a sucker? Am I letting these overripe plants suck the nutrients out of the soil and I'll never ever get it back? Remember - I'm the "undergardener", not the head gardener. I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

However, on the plus side - and the awesome thing about gardening is there is always a little bit of a plus side - my pea shoots are up, cilantro is abundant, and I got one cute lil' strawberry today, just about the size of my thumbnail. And picked up some free compost from the city recycling center. Fall planting is just around the corner, as soon as I get rid of these summer plants...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Basil Forever

... That's what it seems like, anyway. As long as I pick off the flowers as soon as I notice them, apparently no harm no foul. I bought it in April or May, from a local nursery, potted it, and after a slow start, it's been a faithful producer all summer. (During the slow start, I panicked and bought a bonus basil from Trader Joe's, which shriveled up by August.)  I am going to leave my producer alone as long as it seems happy and healthy - maybe it can be a year-rounder if we have a mild winter? Ah, gardening fantasies.