Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another Quail Sighting

I didn't get a picture but as I was getting in my car at about 8 p.m. last night I spotted the quail pair again. They were in the road and at first I thought they were just pigeons which are abundant here, but on closer examination I realized it was the happy couple once again. As I pulled out of the driveway into our cul-de-sac, they quickly walked over to the neighbors lawn where I saw them pecking for supper.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Curious Quail

A pair of California Quail have been living in the neighborhood this summer. We spot them every few days or so roosting on our fence or our neighbors roof. This weekend they seemed to be having a turf war with our resident Scrub Jays. They had a noisy show down for about a half hour early Saturday evening. No apparent winner as of yet.

August 9 Harvest

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Garden Update

Although the pace of summer is more relaxed while school is not in session, I haven't had much time to post much less read blogs. Intermittent internet access problems have also made posting difficult.

We have been reaping the benefits of our kitchen garden and enjoyed our first batch of fresh salsa using our own tomatoes and chiles this week. The latest cilantro I planted is for some reason stunted so we had to run to the store for that. My husband is the salsa chef so I'm not sure what combination of chile and tomato varieties he used, but the result was wonderful. He made a fresh salsa earlier in the season using store bought tomatoes and homegrown chiles and cilantro. Timing all three to be ready simultaneously has proved as challenging as making a Thanksgiving dinner and timing everything so nothing is cold by the time it all cooks and makes it to the table.

We had a little heartache because our first large tomatoes were enjoyed by birds or some other critter. Our Sweet 100 cherry harvest has been steady and abundant but remains untouched by local wildlife. I placed some bird netting over most of the tomatoes and we have enjoyed about a dozen Brandywines so far. I’ve been picking them a little early before they are completely red to make them less likely to become bird bait. It looks like we will have one or two every other day or so for the next month.

The zucchini has been particularly fruitful and my next-door neighbors have been enjoying them regularly. It is my cucumbers that have been most challenging. While they need steady watering, tomatoes do better with less, so I’ve begun a spot watering schedule so everybody stays happy. Homegrown cantaloupe has been a first-time treat and I am excited they grow so well here.

June 16 Harvest

June 13 Harvest

Monday, June 04, 2007

Zucchini Harvest

Sunday morning I pulled these out of the garden. I took two from the “Black Beauty” and one from a generic labeled simply “Zucchini Squash.” Both were from nursery starts I picked up at Capital Nursery.

Here’s how they looked April 29 going into the ground.

Within a couple of hours I’d baked one into this golden loaf of zucchini bread. I used a basic recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Before long, when temperatures hover in the high nineties and threaten to spike into the hundreds, I won’t want to turn on the oven for any reason so I plan to get my fill of this early in the growing season.

Here, the remaining two sit brushed with olive oil awaiting their turn on the grill. With four zucchini plants producing already and two more I planted from seed this morning, we’ll likely be able to enjoy them prepared this way through September. Next harvest I’ll probably make some Zucchini Fritters as my 8-year-old son has already requested them.

Here are some seeds I started Sunday. The cucumbers and basil seed I bought last year. I’ve had good success with leftover seed in the past so I’m optimistic they’ll sprout. The “Romanesco” Italian Zucchini I bought this year and have one already producing in the garden. Although I haven’t harvested any, they are really pretty.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Anticipation . . .

I am eager to see things happening in the garden. The vegetable nursery starts I set out last week are doing well even though the temperature spiked to 93 degrees today.

We installed soaker hoses to take the hassle out of watering. I'm a little worried that the snails will discover these still-tender sprouts and devour them in a single evening. However they are situated in an area previously overrun with weeds that never attracted the slimy critters so I am forcing my anxiousness away.

I am especially impatient for the zinnia to bloom. I think they are my favorite flower because they grow so easily yet are so pretty.

Without many blooms in the garden it appears as a blank palette, much like this colorless illustration.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ready, Set, Garden

Until this weekend I’d only been puttering in the garden. I put up some seeds in starter trays and pots in early March with only little success. I put in some zinnia, alyssum and cosmo seeds around the trees in the front yard which haven’t done much after sprouting. A few new Nasturtium seed varieties I planted out front are doing well. I’m trying two mounding varieties from Renee’s GardenCreamsicle and Vanilla Berry. The colors will be much softer than the Dwarf Jewel Mix that is out there already.

But the most exciting news is the completion of two raised beds in the backyard. We had been talking about doing these for the last couple of years now and were inspired by a how-to article in the newspaper. Although we enjoyed our plot at the Community Garden last year it was a six-mile roundtrip with poor bicycle access along the route. With gas hovering at more than three dollars a gallon it just didn’t seem practical or convenient.

Yesterday I put in several vegetable and herb starts purchased from Capital Nursery. Including some large pots we’ve got four varieties of zucchini, two cucumber varieties, six chile peppers, one sweet pepper, six tomato varieties, some cilantro, two different kinds of basil, watermelon and cantaloupe. For color and to attract pollinators, I put in some zinnias and marigolds.