Halloween Garden Gnome

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Halloween Garden Gnome

My fall garden is guaranteed to be a success! I found this young garden Gnome in my front yard and I think I have him convinced to stay for the winter – at least! I promised to feed him, send him to school, since he is still so young – 400 years old in Gnome years which is like – 16 in people years, and provide transportation as needed. I know he likes the environment….he ate all of the green beans I picked this morning – just plain and raw.

He seems to have a lot of energy but that may be a good thing. I will see if he can patrol the garden at night or at least up to his curfew! Last night the garden was raided by either the racoon or the possum! I’m pretty sure it was the racoon as one of the newly planted broccoli transplants was neatly dug out and just plain GONE!

I will update all y’all in the near future on how well my Gnome is working out! I hope we get to arrest the broccoli thief soon.


Returning Home From Midland

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The Right Side is the Sunnier Side
Left side gets winter shade.

I returned Friday morning from a week in Midland Texas. Kathy kept the thirsty guys and gals in the beds well watered. We finally got some rain Thursday – not nearly enough to put a dent into the drought but it was a good soaking rain. I used my iPhone to shoot the two pictures shown. Not bad for an early generation iPhone…. I havent upgraded yet.

At the entrance on the left side my “volunteer” cucumber plants have been rewarding me nicely. I picked two very nice cukes for my salads and another 6 or so are maturing nicely. The green beans are doing well and I gathered about 3 handfuls. As you can see on the front right… the sugar snap peas are just reaching up to grab the twine. The bush cucumbers, back right, are beginning to produce little cukes but the weather may not let them become full-sized. Also in the right side beds are some radishes – I picked a few yesterday to go with the salads.
The butter crunch lettuce doesn’t seem to want to germinate so I reseeded two rows Friday AM…. hopefully the cool temperatures will help out. The kale has really taken off and the white onion sets put out a week ago are reaching skyward. I need to share a few  sets with my buddy John this week along with some of the extra garlic.  I also transplanted some broccoli today. The plants looked really healthy and they should do well.
I should be getting my strawberry plants week after next. I have 150 coming. 48 of them will be used to fill my vertical PVC towers, 24 per tower.  I am anxious to see how well they do in the towers. I will feature the strawberry plantings in a future rambling.
I am still waiting to see if the tomatoes will break color before the temperatures put a halt to their ripening.  It will be sunny and slightly warmer for the next 7 days and beyond!!!! So, fingers crossed, I will get some home-grown fall tomatoes.

A Hint of Fall in the Air

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It is so nice to be back in the garden again. My daughters and wife do a very nice job in maintaining the garden in my absence. I like to get some dirt under the nails, pull some weeds – a never-ending task here , stagger plant a few more so everything doesn’t ripen all at once and thin out some of the new seedlings. I always tell myself that I will thin the rows so they are spaced appropriately but I seem to fall down on that task with great regularity.

As I worked through the  beds today I did my thinning, pulled my weeds, pinched off the terminal ends of a few blackberry vines and snacked on some very fresh veggies. The asparagus ferns are huge, heavy and falling forward. The lean exposed some new shoots that begged to be picked and sampled. Asparagus snapped off and enjoyed in its ultimate fresh state is incredible. It is sweet and very tender. I found some blossoms ready to pick on my squash….not my favorite to snack on but not enough to add to a salad. I picked a few handfuls of the pole beans and enjoyed a few alfresco as well. I will steam some to go with the BBQ chicken tonight. (Kathy already had asparagus planned – not as fresh as mine but still good)

The Carmelo tomato plant looks like it will ripen up a dozen or so tomatoes before it gets too cold. In the past week the grape tomato has sent forth many dozen blossoms but I am afraid time is running short for them to mature. They may behave like me, flirt with maturity and stay in the vicinity for appearance sake. I may have to age but I can choose whether to behave or misbehave – it is my choice. PS – The right answer is always – “Yes Dear!”

The Meyer Lemons are turning yellow… I will have to quiz my urban farming friends, Jane and John, on how to determine the time to pick them. I saw them down at Starbucks this morning. We chatted about all things growing except for the lemon talk….

The Kale has really taken off and so many articles I’ve read say that it is so good to eat and a healthy choice. I sampled some way back in the days when I worked the docks for Anglen Produce in Bakersfield. My memory says that the flavor was quite unremarkable. But then again that was commercially grown kale and not the homegrown, naturally raised plants – mine must be better……. we’ll see. Did I ever tell you the story about packing up bags of Serrano and Jalepeno peppersat  the produce warehouse and absent mindedly going off to the men’s room – Kathy says I can’t tell that story….sorry.

Pulled some radishes for tonight’s salad and added another two dozen seeds to the row. Staggered in two more rows of beets for spring harvest. The volunteer cucumbers look to be doing well and I should have some to pick soon. I am also feeling like a neglectful farmer…. I have not checked in on my worms nor fed them for nearly two weeks…. Not good! They have consumed everything in the bin and needed some attention. I prepped the new bin and placed it over the well worked mass of worm poop. They should now start the upward migration into the new clean home…..Sorry little guys!

Less gardening on my list for this Tuesday – On my list to do is boiling the wort for a new batch of beer. I am trying a clone recipe for a Northwest US brew called Dick’s Danger Ale. http://www.dicksbeer.com/brews/brew_1.php?key=1 Dark but not nearly a heavy as a Porter of a Stout. Should be yummy – is yummy a robust enough word for a beer? Hmmmm. Maybe- “hearty and satisfying!” – yes that sounds better.



California Dreamin’

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Graceful and Uuuuuugly

No, I wasn’t really calling it a winter’s day and “all the leaves are brown” but I was dreaming of owning my own piece of ground in California. I spent a week in California, five days in Bakersfield and then a quick visit over to see mom in Los Osos. I am  envious as I drive through fields of green and, in this case, field of orange pumpkins. The little valley on the way to mom’s house has the most beautiful dark – almost like dark chocolate-colored soil. Cabbages, broccoli, lettuces, sunflowers, seed flowers of brilliant hues, winter squashes and the list goes on. In the rolling hills are cattle grazing in lush pastures…Does it get any better than this?

My dreamin’ continued as I took a back road to avoid the construction delays on Highway 101. I cut over at Santa Margarita, through to Creston and hooked back into the Highway at Shandon. I fell in love….Santa Margarita area is temptress, rolling hills, big oaks, digger pines and beautiful little ranchettes. The seduction was complete as I rolled through Creston. I heard the Syrens song – I almost stopped and dug my hands in the soil. Here is a place where your California Dreams of getting back to the land can become reality. Warm summers with cooler nights, temperate year round, open spaces and rolling hills. The view is made up of vineyards, pastures, grazing animals, wonderful plots of land …… I didn’t ask about mosquitos! I think I could put up with them here…….I get so tired of them in Houston.

Note to wife….. Kathy – somewhere down the road we may want to consider a little hideaway in these hills. Still close to the beaches but not overrun with tourists and other crazies.

I also chastised my self for not pictorially documenting my field of dreams – oh yes, did I mention corn??? I had my camera and with all the beautiful land around me …..  all  I captured was the image of a buzzard. Now, don’t get me wrong they are beautiful in their own right – graceful in the air as they glide along the ridges searching for their next meal. But on the ground – butt ugly

The drive along Highway 46 back over to I-5 is a growers smorgasbord. Grapes of all types, table grapes green and red, wine grapes, olive tree, pistachios, almonds, citrus, cotton, hay, carrots, black-eyed peas, and so much more. Last spring I was driving along  I-5 and saw some little trees that where both new and, to me , unrecognizable. On this trip I saw that they were loaded up with pomegranates. Oh my…… I absolutely love pomegranate jelly and my mouth was watering thinking about a piece of hot toast, melted butter (real butter!!!!) and pomegranate jelly.

This is my California Dreamin”!!!!!!! Hun….. I want to share it with you. XOXO – Bishop

Fall Harvest is Getting Closer


The start of a homegrown tomato!

I wasn’t sure if the tomatoes I planted in late summer would give me any “maters” before the so-called winter chill hit. I was out this morning watering, looking and planning for what I want to put out next when I spotted this tomato. I had been brutally hot for September, too hot for blossoms to set so I had almost given up. Well, we may have homegrown tomatoes at Thanksgiving and probably earlier this fall. I looked a little closer and saw that I have a dozen or so that have appear to have set and lots of blossoms that are healthy.

I will pick probably a serving or so of green beans this weekend and I’m getting some good help from one of my green buddies wearing blue eye shadow. It is a don’t ask don’t tell issue…. as long as he does his job protecting my green beans I am a happy camper. Just an FYI…. sometimes they change colors and blend very well with the bricks. It seems that the blue eye shadow disappears when patrolling the bricks. They are called green anole lizards, Anolis Carolinensis. read more here; http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-19_lizard_green_anole.htm

One of the volunteer cucumbers.

My experiments continue…. I had spread some compost from my bins in early August and have found a pleasant surprise… I have some volunteer cucumber plants. Just for grins and giggles I let them grow and now I have some cucumbers beginning to mature. Time will tell which variety made it through the composting process, obviously my heap did not generate much heat.

Temperatures are still touching the low 90’s and lows in the high 60’s for the next week or so. We did have a few sub 60 degree mornings but they were fleeting.

On a last note, I am chastising myself for being so naive and trusting. I went down to Lowes and purchased some Miracle Grow brand “organic” soil for one of the beds that I reworked at the end of summer. I spread the “organic soil” and it looked a lot like sawdust. As I sorted through it I saw what looked to be saw dust and wood chips, and little else of the possible ingredients listed on the bag. A closer examination of the bag has a disclaimer for bags purchased in Texas and California…. it says the contents are “regionally formulated forest products – that is the first ingredient listed. I could not tell if any of the remaining ingredients were present – but to the naked eye I saw nothing but sawdust and wood chips…. The label says organic and I guess it is true but it won’t add any benefit to the soil until it breaks down in a year or more. Caveat emptor….. read the labels before you buy!!!!



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