Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Favorite Varieties - 2015 Summer Garden

Romanesco zucchini
Variety is the spice of life, right? With that in mind, I thought I would share with you my favorite varieties from our summer garden. I tried several new varieties this year and many of them were hits! Maybe you will find something new to try next year.

I think the most shocking winner for me was the Romaneso zucchini. I am not a lover of zucchini, but this type has won me over with its delicately crisp texture and sweet flavor. Everyone who tried it said the same thing, "This is the best zucchini I've ever tasted." With raised longitudinal ridges, it creates beautiful gear-shaped slices. I love it lightly sauteed in butter and sprinkled with tarragon.
The tomatoes always steal the show in the summer garden. I grew 12 varieties and my favorite was Black Krim. This is a hearty, robust, flavorful tomato.
Black Krim tomato
One look at the deep color and you can just imagine the rich complex flavor. It tastes how it looks.
Black Krim tomato
Pineapple Hawaiian tomato is light and fruity. This was my most prolific grower. The fruit is incredibly sweet, and when the sun hits it the bright orange color glows. It has a pink blush at the bottom too, making it even prettier.
Pineapple Hawaiian tomato
Pineapple Hawaiian tomato
What a treat it was to share my Black Krim and Pineapple Hawaiian with my dear friend, Jane, on our little get away to Ventura Beach. This is why we put up with the traffic to live in L.A. One hour in the car and we are at the beach, at the ski resort in the mountains, in the desert, or in farm country.
The tomatoes were fabulous with pita chips and red pepper hummus, topped with fresh tarragon and basil.
When I bit into my first Red Pear Abruzzese tomato, it finally made sense why tomatoes are considered a fruit. By far the sweetest tomato I have ever eaten, this one is like candy.
Red Pear Abruzzese tomato
Red Pear Abruzzese tomato
Out of the 12 pepper varieties I planted, my favorite are these Italian heirlooms. Quadrato Rosso D' Asti is a red sweet pepper which is deliciously flavorful with a slightly spicy finish.
Quadrato Rosso D' Asti bell pepper
Its yellow cousin is Quadrato Giallo D' Asti. Isn't it beautiful? It's also crisp, sweet and tasty.
Quadrato Giallo D' Asti bell pepper
This little melon is not much to look at, but it is fantastic. Sakata's Asian Melon is a small crisp melon that is intensely sweet with a hint of cucumber flavor. I will grow this one every year.

Prosperosa eggplant is stunning with its embre effect. The plant was a prolific producer and its upright growth habit takes less room than my spreading Kamo eggplant. 

I purchased all of my seeds from Annie's Heirloom Seeds. (I am not compensated by them in any way, I am just a customer.) One thing I like about them is they have collections of seeds which makes trying new varieties easy. This bush bean collection was just fabulous. They call it "Annie's Rainbow Beans" and it contains Contender, Golden Wax, Royal Burgundy, and Dragon's Tongue. 
And finally there are the Cosse Violetta pole beans. With flowers this pretty, and pods that are striped then mature to a deep violet, these are a stunning (and delicious) addition to the summer garden.

I hope you are inspired to try a new variety next year. Now I am off to start looking through seed catalogues for unusual additions to try in my winter garden. 

Oh, the possibilities!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Raindrops on Papaya Leaves

We were blessed with a sweet summer rain earlier in the week. It was the perfect lift-me-up my garden and I needed after some terribly hot weeks. To say I relished the next morning is truly understating my joy. Refreshed and revitalized, the garden sparkled like my happy heart. As I strolled through the drenched garden I bent to examine my one and only watermelon when something silver caught my eye. Thinking it was metal, I turned to look, then realized it was rain drops on the papaya leaves shining like jewels.
This cabochon appears to be backed with silver.
Some jewels have imperfections like this raindrop that has something floating at the top.
Reflections of branches appear to be inside this drop.
Impossibly round, this one reminds me of a child's marble. 
See the storm clouds reflected in this one? 
They are welcome to come again soon!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Using an Electric Fence to Deter Opossums aka "This Restaurant is Closed."

This is not okay. 
Somebody has been visiting in the night and digging throughout my garden, no doubt enjoying the plentiful supply of juicy grubs. This critter has left a tell-tail sign...and I do mean tail.  
Across the pathways there are drag marks, perhaps little trails made by tails.
What else could it be? A raccoon with a ball and chain? No, it is an opossum. 
The drag marks are about the size of my finger. Yep. An opossum has been here dining on grubs. Little feet walking here and there. 
Come back again tonight, I dare you!
My electric fence awaits!! One little touch of the wire and you will know to go somewhere else. You are not welcome here.

The design is simple. The unit plugs into an extension cord. From the left side, the ground wire goes to a rebar stake pounded into moist ground. 
From the right side comes the fence wire which will be "hot" when the unit is plugged into the extension cord. In order for the critter to be zapped, it must be in contact with both the surface of the ground and the hot wire. For this reason, I placed the wire close to the ground so that the critter will bump into it while walking along. 

I hung the electric fence unit from my compost bin since the critter has come there the past two nights. The wire goes from the unit down to the plastic pvc pipe and across the front of the compost bin, then around the beds and across the pathways throughout the garden. (My garden is fenced so no dogs or children or unsuspecting people will get zapped. To avoid zapping birds, I only have it plugged in at night. I taped signs at the entrances to warn people too. Once the weather cools down I'll use nematodes to control the grubs, less temptation for the critters.)
The wire passes through holes drilled into the plastic pipe.
Care must be taken so that the wire does not touch anything except the plastic, or it will not work.
I am pretty sure the pest is coming into the garden under this gate. 
Well, a little surprise awaits. 
The dining room will be lit tonight but the restaurant is closed.
We reserve the right to refuse service to opossums.