Thursday, June 30, 2011

We are officially certified producers

This morning was our inspection so that we could obtain the proper certificate, and sell our produce at the local farmer's market. We passed with no problem, but I spent yesterday making sure everything was labeled, and looking as good as possible.

Front view of garden
I went through and pruned, pulled dead plants, and generally spiffed everything up.

Right side of front garden, still having trouble getting strawberries established  in this bed
I had to make sure I had some variation of everything I put on my list, which I was almost certain I did. Some of it is out of season and looking a little rough.

Chard is out of season but I left it in so I could make sure it's on our certificate during the cool season
Many of our plants are looking fabulous which makes me feel better about the few that are struggling.

Fantastic looking strawberries above and various herbs below

I was delighted to find that the Lemon-rose geranium has given birth to a beautiful new baby all on its own. Farmer D may not be as excited, as this plant is taking over the garden, but the scent of it just makes me go over the moon.

New Lemon Rose geranium
I worked into the sunset making sure that everything looked as good as possible.

Sun setting behind the part of the San Diego skyline that is visible from Gidget's Garden 
This morning's visit with Jen from the San Diego department of agriculture was wonderful. I sincerely enjoyed meeting her, and showing her around our garden. She really seemed to appreciate the work we've done, and made the process as easy as possible. I did miss getting some carrots planted, but she was gracious enough to allow me to do it while she was here, so we could make sure they are on our certificate. The only thing left now is the process of actually getting the certificate, which should only take a couple of weeks. 

Gidget liked Jen too, and immediately passed out from relief and exhaustion, after we got the good news that our certificate is on the way. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This week's eats

It was an increasingly delicious week at Gidget's Garden. 

We're getting a handful of  Yellow Pear Cherry tomatoes each day
The Three Sisters plant is producing well
The zucchini is officially difficult to keep up with
Gidget says; "Wait. We are growing all these vegetables to attract some real food, like rabbits, right?"
3 more Three Sisters and two green Champion tomatoes that just fell off the vine
"Really, where's the real food?"

One of several cucumbers and yet another zucchini
We had 3 small but beautiful ears of corn 
Big Bertha peppers are doing great and more Three Sisters tomatoes
And even more zucchini
Zucchini chips ready to go in the dehydrator
Another nice mix yesterday morning. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My love affair with Jasmine

I received a Pink Jasmine last May from a neighbor who was moving, and that started a love affair for me,  that just keeps growing stronger. Luckily in San Diego, Jasmine can stay outdoors, and will thrive all year long. In some parts of the country, they would need to be wintered indoors.

First Pink Jasmine from neighbor in May of 2010
This plant wasn't in the best shape when I got it but I knew I could help her along, so I put her in a mostly shady spot, and gave her a bigger pot. My goal was to have a Jasmine scented living room in the Spring so I placed her under our living room windows.

It didn't take long for the Pink Jasmine to start going crazy. 
Pink Jasmine grows quickly but the blooms take an infuriatingly long time to develop and then to open.

Pink blossoms started to appear by the end of January
And finally opened towards the end of March, the smell is absolutely incredible
The bloom cycle didn't last as long as I would like, so I decided to put more, and different varieties of Jasmine in to try and prolong the amount of time I would be able to enjoy this scent in our garden, and in our living room.

An upright bush type of Jasmine above and a Madagascar vine type below. 

So far neither of these have shown any signs of blooming so I think we'll be waiting until next Spring before we smell the scent of Jasmine in the garden again. I did trim back the initial Pink Jasmine the other day and I played with trying to get some of the cuttings to root.

It's a good idea to serenade your cuttings with your totally awesome ghetto blaster  
I trimmed down some of the cuttings to about 10 inches long and dipped the ends with a leaf or two freshly plucked off into some rooting hormone and then planted them. I used PVC as a support because it's what I had handy.

If this takes then I'll do more of them. 
Jasmine is a beautiful plant even when not in bloom but while they are in their glory, they are simply intoxicating. This is a great plant to grow in San Diego. 

Gidget explores behind the wall of Jasmine and our crazy Pink Begonia

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chopped Caprese salad, Gidget's Garden style

Fresh basil medley
Big Bertha bell pepper, 3 tomatoes from the 3 Sisters plant, 2 Pear Cherry tomatoes, and a small zucchini

1 bell pepper, chopped
5 small various tomatoes, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced thinly
Handful fresh basil medley - keep leaves whole
Squeeze of a pink lemonade lemon (or whatever lemon you have on hand)
Fresh mozzarella cut into small pieces, I didn't use very much
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Mix and enjoy.

Nom nom nom

"I hate salad!"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Photo of the week

Gidget is unsure about the quality of the compost

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Plant propagation

One of the things I have enjoyed most about being a new gardener is learning about how to propagate plants. Buying plants that are already established is fun but it's a lot more fun to establish new plants for your garden on your own. There are several ways to do this and I am just starting to explore them.

Starting plants from seeds is fun and easy. In San Diego we still have a couple more weeks to get some seeds started to plant for the warm season so if you're thinking of starting your own garden, you still have time to start from seed.

We're starting seeds in 4.5 inch pots that we put in a kiddie pool so they can be watered from below.
Starting seeds is even more fun when those seeds are ones that you saved yourself from last season. We have some Chile peppers and our Mammoth sunflowers that we started from our own saved seed and moving forward we hope to start more of our plants with our own seed.

Some plants can be started from cuttings which is something I have just started playing around with, but I hope will be successful. Farmer D has been wanting to cut back our lemon-rose geranium for quite some time so I finally got around to doing it.

Lemon Rose Geranium after being pruned

Rooting Hormone
Larisa and I took the pieces that we cut off and removed the leaves from the lower part of the stem and then dipped the stem in rooting hormone and put a little of the rooting hormone on the nodes where the leaves were too. Then we planted the stems deeply in individual pots and now we will wait to see how they do.

Potted Lemon Rose Geranium cuttings
We're getting some shoots off our strawberry plants now too so we worked on getting those to root as well.

Shoots coming off strawberries mean future plants for our garden
Rooting strawberries is fairly easy. I just take some good soil in a small pot, I'm using some of my 4.5 inch pots in this case, and clip the plant that is developing on the shoot, to the top of the soil. 

Strawberry shoot with plant clipped to soil

I took the metal loops out of some binder clips for this as I was out of landscape pins.
Once the plant is secured on to the soil, water regularly for about a month, or until you are sure the plant has developed some roots and then you can cut the shoot, remove the metal clip, and transplant your new strawberry plant to it's permanent place in your garden.

More strawberry babies 

Gidget reminds us of Abraham Lincoln's wise words.  I hope we can live up to her expectations.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Got Milk? Another look at garden fungus

Last week we shared that we are starting to have some trouble with fungal disease on some of our plants. The tomatoes, especially our yellow pear cherry, our mystery squash, our sunflowers, and some of our cucumbers are showing the most signs of this problem. Our roses also broke out with rust, a type of fungus that can quickly get out of control.

Rust fungus on bottom of rose leaf
In addition to rust, we also have early tomato blight and powdery mildew cropping up throughout the garden.

Early tomato blight above and powdery mildew below

Last week when I told you about our fungal issues, I told you I was going to use copper spray to try and get them under control, but I have decided to change my approach. I am lucky enough to get advice from some more experienced gardeners than I am, and I am going to take that advice. 

Copper is an organic solution but like many organic sprays, it can have a negative impact on beneficial insects and I don't want to be responsible for injuring any good bugs. 

California Carpenter bees are good.
Copper can also build up in the soil over time and while in very small amounts, copper is essential for our health, too much of it can have a negative effect. I am keeping the copper in my arsenal to use occasionally if I feel like it's absolutely necessary but I am going to try milk instead to try and get a handle on the situation. 

I am not a fan of milk, or of the conventional milk industry, which was my initial hesitation in using it in our garden. I don't purchase conventional milk for my own consumption. Ever. Purchasing raw, organic milk would make me feel better about it, but that's not an affordable option. Milk is an effective solution, that is not harmful to insects, nor will it cause a build up of metal in the soil, so I'm buying milk for the garden. 

My more experienced friend says that powdered milk was as effective as fresh in a study, so that is what I am going to use. I have not had a chance to get powdered milk yet so last night I purchased a container of California, hormone free milk from the corner store, to get a start on trying to manage this fungus. 

My beautiful garden helper, Larisa, stealing Gidget's photo op.
We mixed a 9:1 solution of water and milk in the 1 gallon sprayer and applied it to all of the susceptible plants in the garden.

Larisa applying the milk solution 
We waited until the evening and sprayed the plants only after they were no longer in direct sun. With the 9:1 solution, we will be applying the milk every 3-4 days. Some people suggest a stronger solution and spraying less often.

Prevention is a better solution.
Doing everything you can to prevent these problems is the best way to go but even extremely careful gardeners experience issues with fungal diseases. Some of the things you can do to minimize these problems are:
  • Make sure your plants have plenty of air circulation
  • Mulch heavily under plants to help prevent spores from spreading from your soil to the lower leaves of the plants.
  • Don't water plants from above, especially during warm weather. 
  • Sanitize tools and wash hands after working with affected plants. I use 1 cup of bleach in a gallon of water and soak my tools in that for 10 minutes and then dry them well.
  • When trimming affected leaves, do not let them come in contact with non affected leaves. 
  • Burn or dispose of affected foliage. Do not compost it. 
  • Keep fallen leaves cleaned out from under your plants.
Sometimes it may be a good idea just to remove an entire plant or prune it all the way back if you have one that is badly affected. I chose to do that with a couple of my roses because of their proximity to the vegetable plants.

Mr Lincoln rose pruned all the way back
After cleaning all of the dead leaves out from under the plant, I worked some corn meal into the soil which can also help prevent the spread of fungus.

Gidget is not happy. She thought the milk was for her and she's concerned that  Larisa is trying to steal her garden.