Friday, July 24, 2015

Gardens of the World - Free Public Garden in Thousand Oaks, CA

My dear friend and I recently visited a lovely public garden in Thousand Oaks, California named Gardens of the World. What a treat it was. The garden is free and open to the public. It was created by Ed and Lynn Hogan, founders of Pleasant Holidays, as a way of giving back to the community. The garden features several separate gardens commemorating some of the cultures they have experienced in their travels around the world. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera, so these iphone photos aren't the best quality. 

There is an old-fashioned bandstand which is surrounded by lawn, and in August there is live jazz every Sunday evening. Apparently they also host art exhibits, but they do not allow weddings or private parties. This leaves the gardens open to the public, and the general feel is calm and non-commercialized. 
The most serene little Japanese garden features a koi pond and Japanese pagoda.
Entering the pagoda we were suddenly struck silent, our conversation paused to savor the calm.
We Californians are proud of our unique history which includes a series of Spanish missions established in the 1700's and 1800's by Catholic priests to spread Christianity. At the garden, a Spanish mission courtyard represents that history, and features a tiled entry and fountain with citrus and olive trees.
Perhaps my favorite area is the English perennial and rose garden. Shaded benches provide the perfect spot to rest and relish the lush flowers.
The French garden features a large cascading water feature which I neglected to photograph. Here you can see the trimmed hedges.
In the Italian garden we rested in the shade under the grape arbor and enjoyed the sound of the water feature which is lined by stately cypress trees.
The pathways are paved making walking easy, and also wheelchair friendly. The garden is relatively small, we spent a little over an hour there and enjoyed every minute!
Gardens of the World is located at 2001 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks CA 91362.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Handful of Tomatoes and Such

Here are a handful of the tomatoes we have harvested so far.
Red Pear Abruzzese
Red Pear Abruzzese
San Marzano
Amish Paste
Amish Paste on the left, with 3 San Marzano
Black Krim
Black Krim
Black Krim
Cherokee Purple
Cherokee Purple
Pineapple Hawaiian
Pineapple Hawaiian
I had to throw these in there, couldn't resist.
Kamo eggplant
California Wonder bell pepper

Happy gardening!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Arched Tomato Trellis

Luckily my tomatoes are doing well this year. In fact they are outgrowing their trellises which are about 6 ft tall.
We still have months left in the growing season, so it's time to extend the trellises. I have been fantasizing about an arched-shaped trellis covered in tomatoes since last winter. I built the arch using wire concrete reinforcement panels. They are approximately 4 ft x 7 ft and are made of rigid wire with a 4 inch grid. 

I attached the wire sheets onto my trellises and reinforced the center with 1 x 2's.
This trellis is ten feet long so I used two wire panels. I attached the panels to the outermost horizontal 1 x 2's using wire. 
It was clear that the arch needed to be supported in the middle so I used a 
1 x 2 that's about 6 feet long. I put it at the center of the arch and held it up with two vertical posts. At the highest point, it is about 7 ft high.
We have to be careful not to kick the vertical posts when we walk underneath. Sometime later, I may wire it together at the top for more stability, but for today, this is how it stands...ready for the tomatoes to grow.
...and it's all worth it for this.
Black Krim

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kamo Eggplant

Kamo eggplant is a baseball-sized treat, round and small. We used this one to make eggplant parmesan and it was just enough for the two of us. Unfortunately, that meant no left-overs for lunch the next day. My, it was delicious!
I find these plants to be so beautiful with their velvet leaves of purple and green.
This variety is especially showy as the purple is a deep color which creates a spectacular contrast against the green leaves. Kamo is attractive enough to plant it as an ornamental.
Pretty purple flowers hang gracefully.
 But don't let their beauty fool you. They are protected by thorns.
A wonderful eggplant, Kamo is shiny enough to reflect the blue sky.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pepper Sunscald

Ever have this happen to one of your peppers? You go out one day and there it is...a scar on your pretty pepper. Even peppers can get a sunburn. Too much sun and the flesh is damaged, leaving an indented, pale, tough spot. Sometimes the spots will crack and the pepper will go bad. Other times, the blemish just remains there while the pepper continues to grow. The pepper is still edible, just remove the scar and eat the rest. 

The healthier the plant, the less likely the peppers are to be scalded. If the plant has bushy leaves, the peppers will be shaded by the leaves, protecting them from the sun. Even the healthiest plants leave some fruit uncovered. In the center of this photo, you can see a vulnerable pepper next to the stick.
A closer look reveals minor sun damage. 

The skin is dimpled and pale. If left unprotected, this spot would become a deep scar.

The solution is to cover or shade the peppers. I used shade cloth and poles to provide some shade.
Simply use wire to tie the cloth to the posts.
The shade cloth does not block the sun completely and the plants will get enough sun during the morning to grow nicely. They just need protection during the heat of the day. I installed the shade cloth during the hottest hours of the day to make sure the cloth was at the right height and angle to give the plants shade during those hot afternoon hours.
They look happy under the shade cloth.
Here's another area where I'm growing some peppers. Improvisation is key.
In another spot, the peppers are shaded by cloth and some dead bamboo sticks I stuck in the ground to protect them from the side.
See the peppers under there? No sunscald to be found!

Here's to a bountiful and beautiful harvest!