Fireblight

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

I’m not talking about Mos Eisley Spaceport. I’m talking about Fire blight. It’s a bacterial disease that is very serious and really hits pear trees hard. I had planted a “fire blight resistant pear” (seckel) but that hasn’t seemed to help. The past two years the tree has gotten blight and you have to keep cutting those parts out, less you infect the rest of the tree. I was going to have to cut so many parts off I figured I might as well just take the tree out. I put a pluot there instead πŸ™‚

It’s probably called fire blight because the blossoms & stems turn black and shrivel, looking like they were burned.

Anyway, now you know. Don’t get burned by fire blight! Plant something else besides a European pear around here.Β IMG_1994

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Self Seeding Annuals

What is a self-seeding annual? It’s a plant that just lives for one season, but makes seeds and then new plants arise that area (or farther) the next year. So you can buy a packet of seeds once and have plants for many years from it.

Here is some climbing nasturtium. Really cool flowers & leaves. The whole plant is edible, including the flowers. The leaves/flowers are spicy like arugula, good for mixing into salad.


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This is borage. It’s a tiny flower that is edible and tastes like cucumber of all things. Bees really like this plant.

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Here is some calendula. Supposedly got that name from the Romans for always being in bloom on the first of the month. It’s a medicinal & culinary herb though I haven’t tried using it yet.

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I get lots of other self seeding annuals like parsley, cilantro, and peas which are nice to see popping up as I like to use them a lot. I don’t really call them “volunteers” because I intentionally let them go to seed so they come back.

This rainy week is a good time to plant some seeds….get to it πŸ™‚

Avocados

My neighbor has a large avocado tree that is full of fruits now. They taste very good. I took photos of the fruit and posted on a fruit forum. It looks like it is Fuerte variety. The only problem with this tree it is in my southern exposure, blocking a lot of light from the yard. Still, at least the tree gives something back for that πŸ™‚

Avocados oh my!

The Mighty Fuerte?

It’s cold outside!

Last December my passionfruit vines bit the dust because of a week where night temperatures dropped below freezing for 5-6 days in a row. I’ve posted before about growing next to a south facing wall for protection for your frost tender plants, but this post is about lights & blankets.

Looks kind of cool?

As you can see from the pictures I have my new passionfruit vines wrapped up with frost fabric (an old sheet or blanket can work too). Under that I have Christmas lights (not LED type, because they don’t emit enough heat). It’s a good time of year to buy them, post Christmas they are on clearance most places. The idea is the lights emit enough heat and the fabric traps it to keep the plant a few degrees warmer than the surrounding air. Hopefully that will be enough to avoid my vines getting killed this winter. Their first two winters were very mild, and survived with no protection.

I wrapped my lime tree as well. You know why you see lemons planted all over San Jose but not limes? It’s because lemons are much more cold tolerant. Last year I got no limes because of cold damage. This year I’m wrapping that baby up, need it for margaritas later πŸ™‚

This is how it looks at night :)

This is how it looks at night

Fermented Pepper Sauce

If you’ve ever had Tabasco or Siracha those are pepper hot sauces that have been fermented. This means natural bacteria on the pepper are allowed to ferment, creating an acidic environment usually (no vinegar needed). You will need a way to let the gas release form your storage jar, airlock or just cloth top.

So I have lots of peppers, lets give it a go. Put peppers in blender.

Blend 'em up!

Add sugar, salt, garlic.

Peppers, Garlic, Salt, Sugar

Peppers, Garlic, Salt, Sugar

Blend

Blended!

Store at room temp for a few weeks…hope this tastes good!

Pepper Sauce

Tomato Report 2014

So this year I grew 6 tomato plants, six different types of tomatoes…. my wife doesn’t eat raw tomatoes (sick!) so that leaves me with a lot to eat πŸ™‚

These three are Caspian Pink, Brandymaster Pink, and Navajo Moon. The first two are very good beefsteak type heirlooms, nice and meaty. Navajo Moon has a brighter taste along with its very cool orange color. It’s tasty as well, in a different way.

Bigger the better!

Bigger the better!

These three are Flamme, Blush, and a yellow cherry I’m forgetting the name of. Flamme have a very bright taste to me. I like to snack on themΒ out of hand like an Peach. Blush (oval shape) is definitely my favorite of the six and I will look to grow this one again next year. The taste is floral and tropical at the same time. They look great too! This heirloom supposedly originated in Hawaii. The cherry is very prolific and tasty as well.

Tomatoes

Still getting plenty of tomatoes (the best ones come late August/September I find around here)

Snack food....

Snack food….

Tomatillo Salsa

My first time growing tomatillos, and it won’t be my last. I love making salsa with them.

They have husks on them. I pulled them off and washed the tomatillos (kinda of sticky when husk comes off)

They start to yellow when getting ripe

They start to yellow when getting ripe

Some Jalapenos from the garden too.

This variety is called "Biker Billy"

This variety is called “Biker Billy”

Roast ’em on the grill!

Grill 'em up!

Add onions, lemon/lime, cilantro, and salt

Salsa Prep

Put in blender

Just a few short blends, I like the chunks :)

Just a few short blends, I like the chunks :)

That’s it! Serve hot or cold

Tomatillo Salsa

Made some tacos and put it on them….dang!

Tacos

 

May and the new raised beds

Well, it’s the middle of May and I’m in the process of changing out my raised beds from spring to summer vegetables. I didn’t realize how much bigger my new beds were than the old ones. We have more kale, lettuce, & peas than we can eat!

Loaded!

Loaded!

 

Peas freeze well, and we can freeze some kale but lettuce has to be eaten fresh. Lesson learned for next time! It was fun growing everything from seed.

What did we harvest in May?

Carrots, peas, radishes, arugula, lettuce, mustard greens, kale, parsley, cilantro, and beets. (Only my spinach seed didn’t germinate)

Beets & Carrots

Beets & Carrots

For fruits in May we’ve had raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, loqauts, peaches, apricots and it looks like some blackberries will be ready before May is over. Crazy…

Pickin' Stuff

Changed my front yard (Oh noes!!!)

Front Yard

Well, I redid my front yard (see above), and there are a few reasons for it.

Water. I think I was having trouble keeping the beds moist in the summer. The biggest beds were 3’x3′. I picked up the wood free off Craigslist, so I didn’t have a choice as to the size. Smaller beds dry out quicker in the summer heat.

The new beds are 4’x12′ and 4’x16′. I also would snake one piece of 1/4″ hose through the entire bed. So a 12 ft length of hose would be in there. I don’t think there was enough pressure towards the end of the hose, despite the manufacturers recommendation of 15 ft or less lengths. The new beds have 4 ft length strips, and good pressure throughout.

I also divided the drip system into two sections. One for the trees/bushes in the front yard, and one for veggie beds. Again, I think I had too many things dripping on one run of tubing and there were pressure problems. Also, now I can water better (trees/bush get less frequent, deeper waterings, and annuals get the opposite).

Timer

Finally, a stupid mistake I made was putting a Y-valve on so I could have a hose in the front yard as well. There was a on/off valve on the underside of the Y and it was partially closed. So this caused very low pressure until I discovered it late in the summer.

Soil. I got “free dirt” off CL from various places, so some of the soil was denser than others in the raised beds. I don’t think the soil was that much of an issue because the Fall garden did great in it. I did mix composted manure in the summer garden and I’ve read that can have residual herbicides in it and that could have stunted the summer garden as well. Now I have “planters mix” from a local supply company. It’s a mix of screened topsoil (lots of clay and tiny rocks) and compost. This will hold the moisture well and provide good nutrients. No manure this year! I also put in worm towers so those will hopefully feed the soil as well.

Worm Tower

Aesthetics. People in the U.S. seem to be very OCD about their front lawns. If my goal is to encourage others to do the same (rip out their lawns and put in gardens) I figure I should try and make my garden more visually appealing. Hopefully this will inspire a larger number of people to give it a go.

Here is a video of the yard: