Gardening

I’m enjoying life in my seventh decade and doing so many things that I was unable to do while still working.
Especially gardening.
Tomatoes & Peppers Heirloom varieties
The high desert in southern California presents several problems for gardeners. Any moisture drains very rapidly in the sandy soil (ancient sea bed) and nutrients are rapidly depleted. Also, my garden is surrounded by fruitless mulberry trees that have extremely invasive roots that invade planters, plant pots sitting directly on the ground and make most in-ground planting an exercise in futility. My solution is to plant almost everything in large plant pots or planters set on top of concrete pavers. This works, only too well.
Evidence: Tomato plants in partial shade, early June 2010.
tomato plants
My garden is beginning to overwhelm me. Tomatoes are appearing at an alarming rate and the growth of the plants is reminiscent of “The Day of the Triffids.” I advise visitors to stay out of the garden at night… Just kidding!__The cucumbers are so abundant that pickle time will soon be compulsory. That’s fine because I love pickles and love preparing them (the bread and butter variety), eating them and giving the lovely jars as gifts.
Eggplants (the Japanese and white varieties) are so plentiful I am giving them away – there is only so much ratatouille one person can consume, although I like it both hot and cold.
Tucked into pita bread with some crumbled feta cheese, it makes an excellent lunch.
Several varieties of peppers are competing to see which can produce the most fruit. The bees are very efficient at doing their job and the sweet banana peppers have been especially happy with this situation.
I harvested a lot of green beans in June and early July but as the daytime temps soared to over 100° F., the production slowed and now only a few blooms are showing.
I do most of my gardening early in the morning while it is still cool. Then it is time for breakfast for myself and Aston, my basenji dog. Aston is a creature of habit and prefers his meals at a regular time and simply won’t eat too much earlier or later than his usual schedule.

This year I have tried a new way of growing strawberries. I purchased these Agropots that are stackable and assemble into an “Agrotower” which puts a lot of garden in a very small space.
Here’s a photo of the towers soon after planting:
Agro tower early

And here is the way they look today. The strawberry plants produced very well and continuously and still are producing a few strawberries.
Agro Towers today

Here is a link to the website: AgroTower
The company is in Paso Robles, California and I like doing business with “local” businesses.

I buy most of my vegetable and herb seeds from Nichols Garden Nursery
I’ve had very good luck with the seeds I order from them and excellent results with the live plants.
This year I purchased Yacon plants, something quite new to me and the growth has been steady and vigorous. I planted them in very large pots (24×24 inch) and am hoping to find a good crop of tubers at the end of the season. I bought two plants but they produced some scions around the base of the main plant after they reached about 2 ft tall and I was able to remove them from the parent plant and pot them up on their own. Now the original plants are nearly 5′ tall and the “babies” are 2′ tall. I’m going to try moving the babies inside when our nighttime temps fall below 45° F., to see if I can keep them going until they mature.
I also harvested four of the lateral tubers closest to the surface. They have a texture that is very like a jicama and the flavor is slightly sweet with a hint of anise or licorice, but not overpowering. It is very nice cut into sticks and eaten as a snack, along with carrot sticks and celery.

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One Response to Gardening

  1. chez cherie says:

    wow. such a green thumb, even in the high desert! i love the photos of your garden growing, andie. and it seems your blog is also blossoming. beautiful!

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