Friday, September 30, 2011

Our smallest market harvest yet

Okay so this is it.

The bulk of the harvest

It's our smallest harvest day yet. Our harvest is always smaller than the average produce vendor, and more than a few people have laughed when walking by our booth; with our tiny amount of produce. I'm perfectly fine with that. My goal is to provide extremely local and tasty produce for myself and for the residents in Golden Hill, not the entire county of San Diego. The garden production rate will vary, as it should.

I understand that our garden is in the midst of a transition, on a couple of fronts. First, it was the coolest weather we've experienced in awhile and when the weather cools, growth slows. Secondly, we just expanded the roof and we are taking out some of the original warm season crops and replacing them with crops that are more suited to cooler weather. It takes time. I could bring my first harvest of baby Swiss chard leaves to the market but I am not going to. I am going to enjoy them with Farmer D.

What we do have, if you arrive early enough is:

  • Some Habanero Peppers
  • A couple baskets of cherry tomatoes
  • 4 beautiful eggplants in various sizes
  • 2 gorgeous Japanese cucumbers
  • A number of Poblano peppers
  • A variety of small spicy peppers
  • A couple of Bell peppers
  • A couple of pink lemonade lemons
  • A variety of herbs

This is one of the pumpkin habaneros. They're so cute. 

We're hoping there will be a sudden spike in interest for Aloe vera leaves
We'll have some lemon rose geranium stems, great for flower arrangements or to plant an intoxicating bush of your own.
I may try another flower arrangement this week

The avocados will be along soon enough, but not today.

More tomatoes are on the horizon
Gidget says; "I can't even look them in the eye. They really laugh at us?  I am definitely NOT going to show my face at the market with this pitiful harvest! Maybe I'll go next week." 

At least the butterflies seem happy about Gidget's Garden

We'll have another day like this soon, with next season's veggies. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plant give away after 4:30 pm until they're gone in front of the garden today

Gidget is feeling 10 feet tall today so she is going to give some more of my plants away.

"Get them out of here, we need room for chickens!"
Well, chickens aren't happening anytime in the very near future but plants do multiply like rabbits and I just don't have room for all of them so I feel sort of like a plant foster mom, caring for small ones until they're ready to be adopted out to their forever home. We also just love to help other people with their garden. We give plants away once a month and you never know what you'll find.

Here's a look at last months give away
Swing by the garden on B Street just west of 25th after 4:30 today to take your new baby home! We'll also have some seeds today. I will post a picture of them on Facebook when I put them out. 

Hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lemon boy garden gazpacho recipe

Gazpacho is a cold tomato and vegetable soup and it's one of my favorite summertime delights. We made a yellow version last night with some beautiful lemon boy tomatoes. Here's the recipe:

Lemon Boy Garden Gazpacho

Makes 2 large bowls or 4 cups of soup

  • 2 large tomatoes (we used lemon boys but you can use any tomato you wish)
  • A handful fresh basil - reserve a few nice pieces for garnish (we used a medley of different basil)
  • Half a lemon juiced - more or less depending on the acidity of your tomato variety
  • 1/4 Cup of olive oil, more as needed
  • Salt and pepper - we used a pepper blend called Fiery Chili Fusion by Spice Hunter
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped, depending on your tastes (not shown above)
  • Cucumber chopped, we used part of an Armenian and part of a Japanese cucumber 
  • 1/2 of a bell pepper chopped, we used a Big Bertha variety
Chop tomatoes in small enough chunks to go in blender or food processor. Put tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add more olive oil a drizzle at a time if needed. Taste and see if it would benefit from lemon and process again. Transfer to medium size bowl.

Add chopped cucumber and pepper and garnish with basil leaves. 

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving and then enjoy. 

Gidget exclaims; "Why God, Why?  How did I end up owning a vegetable garden when all I want is a chicken farm? "

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Finding a liquid fertilizer for boosting nutrients in an EarthBox in a long season

I generally do not like liquid fertilizers because my goal is to feed my soil and then let the soil feed the plant. That is the basis of a good organic garden; the soil is the most important thing.  I normally use only organic granular fertilizers, compost, and worm castings to build and feed my soil.

The reason why we were even considering a liquid is because some of our EarthBoxes needed a nutrient boost. Our growing season is much longer than average so while the granular fertilizer that you add to your EarthBox initially is sufficient in most places, it became apparent to me that some of our pepper plants needed a nutrient boost if they were going to produce to their full potential. We put them in during March and in our warm climate, on the rooftop, with full sun, they should have no problem producing into November if they have enough food.

My first thought was to dig out the trench that contains the granular fertilizer and add more to it. I did that with one of the boxes and about 6 days later, the plants look much better with lots of new blooms. The day I did this, I got nervous because EarthBox says you should never do this, so I called them for advice before doing the same to my other boxes.

This is the box where I dug out the trench and added more organic granular fertilizer 6 days ago
The person on the phone at EarthBox was trying to convince me that the plants had all of the fertilizer they need and proceeded to explain that the cold weather was fast approaching so these plants wouldn't stay productive much longer anyway. It was a bit of a frustrating conversation because I know we have plenty of warm enough weather left to keep these plants going for at least another month, if not more but they need food. She decided to have an expert call me. When that expert called me the following day I was not at home so she left a message and said that if I really felt the plants needed more food I should use liquid Miracle Gro! Can you imagine?

Miracle Gro is not allowed in my garden as it is connected to Monsanto which is the company that I believe is doing their best to completely destroy our food, not to mention it is not organic.

We believe EarthBox knows what's best as far as method for their boxes, so we set out to find an organic liquid that we could use to boost the nutrients in our EarthBoxes. Farmer D went to the nursery and found a FoxFarm product called Beastie Bloomz. I generally trust FoxFarm for our organic garden but I was slightly skeptical about this product, is it really organic? The misleading label led Farmer D to believe it was because it says; "for use with organic soils."  

The label on Beastie Bloomz says; "for use with organic soils."
I am a little frustrated about this because Farmer D used it based on this misleading label. I should have done more homework on it first. Some of our EarthBoxes and a couple of our planter boxes got a dose of it. We have a few cucumbers, one of our tomatoes, and a few of our peppers that can no longer technically be called organically grown. The plants do look great now though.

This is a mistake I will not make again. We later learned when a knowledgeable friend came to visit that it is not actually organic and if you go to FoxFarm's website they clarify this. You can use it with organic soils but they will not technically be organic anymore. 

I wish I would have checked the website before we used it but what is done is done. I feel a responsibility to post this because while we are not "certified" organic, we do grow using organic methods and I do not want to mislead anyone. We used this product on only a few plants once and will not use it again. This is still not as bad as using Miracle Gro as far as I'm concerned but I do not want to use anything that's not completely organic in our garden.

I am frustrated with the confusing label but I'm not ready to give up on FoxFarm because they do offer many wonderful, completely organic products. I did place a call to FoxFarm to tell them that I thought the label was misleading and they were very kind and helpful, they may even try to make up for it some way so I look forward to hearing back from them.

I couldn't return the Beastie Bloomz but I did pick up another FoxFarm liquid called Big Bloom that is completely organic. We will not water through the tube when using the liquid in the EarthBox, we will water the top of the soil with it.

Beatie Bloomz on left is not organic Big Bloom on right is
Gidget says; "Don't let this happen again!"

UPDATE: Fox Farm Rocks! They totally took care of us and made up for the confusing label! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

City Farmers Nursery

City Farmers Nursery is one of the quirky little gems in San Diego that you simply must visit at least once if you live here, even if you aren't a city farmer, there's something for nearly everyone to enjoy. We visit City Farmers Nursery on an almost weekly basis and I still love it just as much as the first time I stumbled upon it.
An escape from the city within the city
They offer ornamental plants, fruit trees, vegetable plants, herbs, seeds and  much more.

The welcoming committee couldn't be sweeter.

And all of the staff members are friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
You may not get the very best price at City Farmers but you will get expert opinions and advice from people who really care about the success of your garden. With all of the free advice that is patiently given to even the most inexperienced gardeners among us, the extra couple dollars becomes very worth it. They offer informative classes almost weekly, and most of the time they are completely free.

Sometimes I come just to take walk and clear my head
The grounds expand further than you expect them to when you first arrive. Bill Tall is the man behind this oasis. It has been family owned and organically maintained since he opened when he was 16 years old in 1972. He has created a wonderful retreat for city dwellers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, and who want the highest quality organic soils, products and plants for their garden.

They also love to help and work with schools, non-profits, bee keepers, contractors, professional landscapers and government agencies.
Gidget says; "They got chickens too! All I want for Christmas is a City Farmers chicken!"
They do have chickens too and other farm animals including a horse who is much older than me.

One of the free-range chickens

The turtle pond is one of my favorite spots to visit
And the Koi pond is spectacular
If you're looking for something to do for a family day-trip then City Farmers may just be the perfect place. It's free, fun and educational. There's enough to see to spend at least a couple hours. In addition to all of the plants and animals, there's a play area, a deli next door, a flower shop and a vegetable stand is coming very soon. Mention Gidget's Garden and they will not give you any discount whatsoever but they will smile!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photo of the week

Sierra enjoys the view as the sun sets on fall equinox 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fantastic Golden Hill Farmers Market

 It was another great day at the market. We are always so happy to see the familiar faces that come week after week, thank you so much for your support! We had a very pretty selection and by the end of the day it was neatly all gone.

Early this morning

I brought a flower arrangement this week and I was surprised that it did not sell

"And I suppose you came home without a chicken, didn't you?"
We did order our Thanksgiving turkey from Spur Valley Ranch so Gidget has that to look forward to.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Harvest day

If I was not a Puget Sound region native, the rain this morning may have dampened my spirits, but after 8 years I know San Diego never really has rain so I waited 45 minutes and enjoyed a perfect harvest morning.

Rainy garden

It is another beautiful harvest week at Gidget's Garden

We have a variety of gorgeous tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for our neighbors

More pretty peppers and a tomato 

Our large cucumbers are awesome; 4  Japanese and 1 Armenian

The eggplants are stunning with 1 large, 1 medium and 2 small. We have a large golden zucchini, more tomatoes and lots of peppers

"I can't even imagine being more bored by your so-called food."

Whatever Gidget.

We'll also grab an Aloe vera leaf or two

There's an assortment of fresh herbs including a variety of basil, sage and thyme.

We have some young rosemary

And a trio of different mints as well 
We plan to bring 1 small flower arrangement too, including roses, lavender and lemon-rose geranium 
We picked an avocado early last week. They're not ready yet but will be soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pruning the roses

Before I begin this post, I feel it's important to clarify that I do not consider myself an expert in gardening and the posts on this blog are geared toward beginners who are looking for tips and tricks from an advanced beginner.

Today I'm probably going to show you more about how not to grow gorgeous roses than how to do it properly. My ornamental plants get the least attention, especially during the full swing of the warm season vegetable garden as we're in now. Veggies are always the priority.

My poor roses were in desperate need of attention so I finally gave in and offered them some time.

Iceberg tea rose looking awful
One of the things that make roses happy is consistent pruning which I have not been doing. When you prune off spent blooms regularly then the next set of blooms your roses produce will be bigger and healthier.

About to make my first cut
The best way to prune your roses is to cut the stem of the spent bloom(s) just above one of the leaves where you can see that another branch is likely to sprout out. I waited so long that the new branch had already started to grow so I knew exactly where I should make my cut. At the top right of the photo above you can see there is a new reddish colored leaf set, I am going to make my cut just above that.

Now the new branch is free to grow without being slowed down by a dead bloom

An so on and so forth

This is what this plant looked like when I was finished pruning it
At some point I will prune these plants all the way down to the bare canes at the bottom but that time has not arrived in San Diego yet. We don't get a freeze here at all so I most likely won't cut my roses all the way down until the end of December. I do plan to go through and clean out any debris sitting on the ground underneath them and give them some food today.

While I was out pruning yesterday evening, a strange man pulled up in a strange vehicle with strange music bumping so loud it was about to completely ruin my serenity. Then the strange man rolled down his passenger window and proceeded to tell me how he was going to start taking my roses that are really nice looking to give to his girl, mother, daughter, etc. The entire thing was very strange and rubbed me the wrong way a little. I felt like he was doing a lot more telling me rather than asking me about my roses.

Don't get me wrong, I would be thrilled to know one of my neighbors took a beautiful rose to share with his wife, daughter or mother. And if one of my female neighbors wanted to take one for herself, I would love that too. I consider my neighbors to be the people that I interact with on a semi-regular basis, you know, the people that walk by and introduce themselves and who stop regularly to chat while I'm outside. 

The man I had never seen before, who didn't even introduce himself, and was not at all interested in understanding what Gidget's Garden is all about left a bitter taste in my mouth. If he had been more polite I am sure I would have felt much better about it. 

I decided it was high time that I actually clip my own roses to bring in the house and enjoy myself so I set out to make myself a pretty little arrangement. 

Starting with a gorgeous Mr. Lincoln

The finished arrangement also included some lavender and lemon-rose geranium stems

"Why do you call it Gidget's Garden when you refuse to grow something I like, like chickens?"