Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mystery Onions...Will Be Eaten

In 2010 it didn't seem I could find a decent onion anywhere for purchase.  And of course, the ones I grew in the garden were never ready for the next fab meal.  It seems every supermarket onion was old, weak tasting or sprouting once you cut into it.

I managed to save seed from several of the onions that were left in the ground but I left the seed with the marker outside far too long because by the time I got ready to place them in a packet, I couldn't read the variety name.  Well, that was not going to stop me from planting them.

The seeds were placed in my stand-by soilless mix of perlite and peat moss and left on top of cafe table on the deck. Full sun and moisture exposure seemed to work well as they are extremely sturdy little seedlings considering they've only been sitting out for a few weeks.

Don't think I've ever been so excited to see onions!  These popped up almost over night and I was absolutely tickled.  Of course I wish I had a small clue what type and kind they are but what the heck...they will definitely get put to good use.

Oh and in the meantime, think I've started about 15 more varieties but this time I wrote the varietal name with a black Sharpie AND a pencil.  Don't think we'll be without an onion for a few years at this point.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do You See What I See? Part 2

Okay, here's the second part to the I'm-walking-down-the-street-minding-my-own-business...and I notice in a neighbor's yard there's what appears to be a palm tree that has fallen onto the grass.  Palm trees are a dime a dozen in California so it really wasn't that big a deal...that is until I did a double take.

Do you see what I see?

Looks like some kind of palm...

It's actually a banana tree!  Fantastic idea.  

Wow, it was actually a banana tree (with a nice bunch of bananas too!).  I certainly hope they were able to harvest the bananas before those pesky squirrels found them!

Thought the inclusion of bananas into the landscape was brilliant.

Monday, November 22, 2010

French Fingerling Potato

Earlier I'd raved about how thrilled I was to obtain such a fine selection of potatoes which I planned to eat and plant.  Well, the Buttercream potatoes were simply outstanding.  Petite, round, creamy, buttery and sweet.  By far one of the best potatoes I'd ever had the pleasure to eat and that's saying a lot because potatoes and I are the best of friends.

For dinner the other night we had some of the French Fingerling potatoes and what a shock.  They were absolutely vile.  The more cream and butter added to the pot the stiffer and bitter they became.  More Parmesan maybe?  Not even the Parmesan worked.  Now, it could have been my cooking but there are few potatoes I can't eat, no matter how bad I muss up a recipe.  So off to do some research and what I found is that this particular potato is considered a 'dry' potato.  Dry?  It was like mortar.  Should be considered extremely dry by my standards.  Now to give them a bit of credit, they'd probably make outstanding chips.  Short of that, I can't imagine trying them for anything else.

I refuse to eat anymore of them so I'm going to dump them in the garden and plant them (especially since they're beginning to sprout anyway).  I'll get a bundle of them in several months and will try them as chips unless you know of something else they're good for?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blue Coco Pole Beans

Blue Coco is by far my absolute favorite bean to grow in the garden.  This French heirloom dates back to around 1775 and is one of the most productive and cold tolerant bean plants I've ever seen.  Years ago when I first grew it I actually got tired of harvesting the beans and I allowed it to stay in the garden while I literally planted around it.  Well, those plants stayed in the garden from that June until the following spring when I finally just pulled them up.  Winters here are not severe but to last that long made it one of the hardiest and most rewarding beans I've ever grown.  And during that time, I didn't even water them much and they still outlasted any bean plant ever grown in the garden.

I've planted out additional plants this month (November) so I can have an ample supply of beans for our holiday festivities.  They're quite delicious and  tend to be eaten up rather quickly.

Flowers are produced from tall dark green leaves which have a tinge of purple with purple veins  and purple stalks and produce long purple, flattish pods.  They are very flavorful and don't become woody and pithy unless you pick them just before the pods start producing beans.  The color of the beans are coco or chocolate making them ever more distinctive.  Highly recommend this bean.

Plant Profile:  Blue Coco Bean
Type:  Pole
Days to Maturity:  59
Preference:  None observed
Level of Difficulty:  Easy
Characteristics:  Purple pods, green leaves with purple stalks and speckled purple throughout the leaves, chocolate colored beans, very ornamental 
Taste:  Delicious

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do You See What I See?

I'm walking down the street, minding my own business and I see movement near my left foot.  Then suddenly something crossed my path and some furry brown blur circled the tree to my right and the scurried up the tree to a rather large, tall branch (as if I was going to follow it up).

Do you see what I see?

Do you see it?

There's just nothing quite like a know-it-all squirrel.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Schweitzer's Mescher Bibb Lettuce

Lettuce is one of those plants I absolutely love for its simplicity to grow and its vast production.  One of the many new additions to this year's garden and seed collection is Schweitzer's Mescher Bibb Lettuce.  It's an Austrian heirloom that is said to have made its way to the US sometime in the early 1900's but is dated as far back as the 1700s.

It's supposed to grow well in cold weather so I've started a small batch to plant out in November. Growing in the form of a small round ball, one of its unique characteristics is that it has a red edges on the leaves.  Looking closely at the leaves of my seedlings, you can catch a slight glimpse of a red tinge forming.

Unfortunately, there's little information available beyond these small details.  Anyone with additional information is welcomed to provide additional details.

Plant Profile:  Schweitzer's Mescher Bibb Lettuce
Type:  Bibb
Days to Maturity:  50
Preference:  Cold climate
Level of Difficulty:  Easy
Characteristics:  Lime green leaves with red tinge
Taste:  ?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rare Site - Clear View of the Mountains

Rarely is the day so clear you can see the mountains while driving.  This was such an amazing moment I had to quickly snap the photo while sitting at a red light.

mountains above Beverly Hills

Nothing quite like a good strong wind to take away the smog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Walk around the Neighborhood

Unique garden gate

Part of neighbor's front orchard

From neighbor's front orchard

Love the way creeping fig creeps.

Up close this bush is stunning.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween in the Garden

Several of the neighbors spooked out their gardens:

These guys were hanging from a tree waiting for their next victim.

Clever - a pumpkin princess (or maybe she's the queen?)!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Much to my dismay, I missed out on being able order a nice variety of potatoes, onions and garlic this year.  By the time I actually got around to even thinking about it, all I could find were OUT OF STOCK references.

Certainly wasn't as if I needed to order any more of these items but what gardener can resist adding to the garden when an opportunity presents itself?

Well, amazingly, I went into my local green grocer and found a boat-load of fine potatoes to eat AND plant!  Yeah, I know I really shouldn't plant the ones from the supermarket but it's an organic grocer and I'm going to try it!

For all of $5 per variety (some were actually only $2.99 for a 3 pound bag) I purchased several pounds of

Russian Banana Fingerling
French Fingerling
Ruby Crescent Fingerling

That was nearly 20 pounds of potatoes!  Shipping costs alone for a quarter of what I purchased would have cost me nearly double of what I paid for one meal of each variety.

Looking forward to eating, planting and harvesting these gems.