Here’s a rose for Mother’s Day (in the USA). It is from my garden, and I took the photo last week to make a card to send to my Mother and my Sister.
Happy Mother’s Day to all everywhere!
(Look under “flowers” category for roses from past Mother’s Days.)
The many squash plants in the garden this season all started a rather cluttered rush of fruiting. Some of them stalled in their growth, and overall it seemed a good idea to remove these small ones and some others, generally thinning the plants a bit to allow them to focus their energy resources into fewer squashes. A bonus of this procedure… an early Summer squash banquet!
Earlier this week I made a very tasty bean stew with some beans harvested from last Continue reading ‘Baby Harvest’
Because Winter is coming… (?)
Here’s a rather pleasant surprise from just outside my front door.
This started out as a “volunteer” tomato plant. It just showed up in a patch of soil somewhere, and so I planted it in the front garden and left it, occasionally watering during a particularly dry spell…
Now it is very late in the Fall, and it is producing some tomatoes! It’s not a particularly interesting variety, but nice to see all the same, this late in the year. (And to taste…)
Because of the unusual warmth of the Fall, the main line of tomato plants in the vegetable garden (that were quite prolific during the Summer – see some Continue reading ‘Late but Still Great’
…And this time they mean business…
That wonderful giant cactus plant in the back garden has done its trick of suddenly producing a host of lovely large flowers again. (Click to enlarge photo, and see below for links to earlier years’ posts on the very same phenomenon).
I saw them Tuesday morning, and I think they’ll be gone very soon (by Wednesday or the day after).
So lovely, so massive… and so sad that they last for so short a time.
But such is life. Enjoy and revel in things while they last, and then move on, holding the essence of it close inside you.
Little cherry sized tomatoes always seem to be the ones that survive the extremes most readily. At least in my experience. The many varieties (see a previous post) that are out there in the garden have been suffering a lot in the extended heat wave of late, and although more or less healthy, don’t flower, and hence there’s no fruit. Not so for these red cherries. They just keep on giving. (I took this photo near the end of August, when I Continue reading ‘Survivors’
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, the garden continues to produce tasty things. (I had to sneak back from Aspen for a few days for some meetings, and a couple of business-social events…) There are still several varieties of tomatoes producing, and I got to spend some time building new stake supports for the various plants as they are much more extended and weighed down than just a couple of weeks ago…
There’s a runaway giant flying saucer squash, ready for turning into something Continue reading ‘Red, Gold, and Green’
I stopped off in LA after Amsterdam, to recharge and to just be home for a bit. The garden is now bursting with tomatoes of various types, I’m happy to report, and you only need to wait a day or two in order to pick a variety pack such as the lovely one above. (Click for larger view.) I brought a bunch of them to Aspen with me, and continue to work through them, in cooking, sandwiches like the ones I’m just about to eat for lunch, and so forth.
I’ve had none of the rodent problems with the tomatoes this year, since I Continue reading ‘Tomato Bounty’
No, not some geometrical artifact of immense power… It is the containment for my next batch of compost. Click for a larger view. I made it last year out of PVC pipes and chicken wire, and it was a huge success (see recent posts with pictures of the produce that has been appearing from that compost batch…) with one design flaw: It was a bit high so that digging in it to turn the forming compost over and so forth was tough on the back – I put my back out for days one time. So I’ve cut it down to a smaller height and now it Continue reading ‘Containment Cube’
I go away for a few days and this happens:
Monster!! See here and here.
I am beginning to think that gamma rays were involved, Marvel Comic style!
Some of the bounty from the garden mentioned in the previous post. (Click for larger Continue reading ‘Bounty’
This is actually a picture from Saturday (click for larger view)… Several plants in the squash family are going crazy in the garden and producing fully mature tasty vegetables already! A friend of mine has suggested that the compost I produced in the last cycle (that everything is planted in) is somehow super-great for them. Maybe that has indeed helped. (See earlier posts, e.g., here and here, for more on making your own compost, how it works, and so forth, by the way…)
I’ve been running a bit late on posting things, so since then I’ve harvested some of these, and I took a few pictures. I’ll show them to you tomorrow!
I’ve finished my four weeks of back and forth between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. It was very rewarding, although it (of course) meant that I had to make several adjustments to my usual routine, putting aside a number of things (including and consistent work toward moving The Project forward). This is fine, as it was part of the plan to put things aside somewhat and focus on the visit. It meant an interesting process of trying to put most of my Los Angeles business (including teaching and any meetings, etc) into Monday and Friday as much as I could, and catching up with reading and lecture writing in the in-betweens, often on the three to three and a half hour journey on the train. (People universally assumed that I’d driven up, and were mostly surprised when I mention I took the train. One person even inquired as to whether I don’t have a car. I politely explained that I do, but I don’t feel compelled to drive it everywhere. One person could not understand how I would get to the train station in LA without a car. I explained there was a subway system… Others talked about how they never visit LA from Santa Barbara because they can’t get around without a car and the traffic is terrible… They prefer (in one or two examples related to me) to go all the way up to San Francisco where they can just leave the car and explore without it. I smiled politely and mentioned that you can do this in Los Angeles too. This had no effect on their belief system, as far as I can tell. I am constantly amazed at the incredibly limited images of Los Angeles that people hold in their heads. In all cases, we agreed that getting to work on the train was in fact a good thing. I explained, as a bonus, that I get over the business that the train takes twice as long as it should be simply pretending it is twice as great a distance than the 95 miles it actually is. This is true.)
So anyway, sad as it was to leave the KITP behind, with all the stimulating conversations, great talks to attend, friends old and new, and so forth, it is time to Continue reading ‘Back to the Routine’
Somehow after Wednesday I lost track of time, in a sense, in the natural course of having another very busy week. There were several things competing for time, and some of them may be of interest to you. (Left: Some lovely pink gladiolus flowers that have sprung up in my garden.) The Nobel Prizes kept coming, of course, with some very interesting winners announced. In addition to the ones I mentioned already in two earlier posts, I’ve got to find some people among our faculty who’ll be willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes making some informal remarks about the Who/What/Why aspects of the prize at one of two lunches I’ll be hosting in the coming weeks about the Nobel Prize. I’ve mentioned this before. It is an annual event I’ve tried to get going as part of the Dornsife Commons (formerly known as College Commons) series. I’ve locked in Physics and Peace, and want to get people for all the others. This year I know that if I have problems with Chemistry, I can step in if need be, although I’d rather not have to do that – I want to broaden participation, not do everything myself. Look out for those lunches (see here) and come along!
Speaking of doing everything myself, I’ve been continuing the weeks long struggle to get support, interest, and participation for the Science Film Competition I told you about earlier. Having spent a lot of time meeting with many faculty and other parties to build support and understanding, getting lots of faculty to make announcements (one time even coming down from Santa Barbara to campus to give a ten minute announcement in a class at the film school and going up again after!) and so forth – and thanks everyone who has helped! – I decided to amplify my focus on tackling Continue reading ‘Looking Back and Forth’
The garden is suffering quite a bit from the heat. I think I am going to lose some of those lovely tomato plants that are producing this sort of bounty:
and the beans that have been producing a lovely variety (I don’t recall the name) that is now drying out on the vine rapidly before maturity*:
Continue reading ‘Hot Plants’
One of the great things that greeted me upon my return to Los Angeles was a varied Continue reading ‘Red, Gold, and Green’
Ah. First morning back in LA, and I see that the fig tree at the front is under attack by lots of small birds. I managed to rescue some, picking a few maybe a day or two earlier than I’d prefer, for optimal flavour, but they’ll still be great. Of course, the ripe ones bursting their skins with flavour are wonderful.
I’ve left some of the half-eaten ones on as a distraction to the feathered visitors. The Continue reading ‘Fig Goodness’
These are lovely. The dark ones are very unusual, perhaps. They are Purple Russians, usually thought of alongside the Black Russian varieties that I think are usually more round.
There’s a whole black tomato category in the tomato-growing world, and this is one of many. (Click for a larger view.) These were the second of the clusters of handsome green tomatoes in a previous post.
The garden continues to produce a variety of tasty things. These were from a little over a week ago. The downside is that one part of the garden is under attack from Continue reading ‘Dark Red and Orange’
…And the green of a few posts back is now a tasty red:
Very tasty, it turned out.
One day a few days ago I decided to make a quick meal from some things I’d find in the garden: Two orange food items were available – some crookneck squash and a few small orange tomatoes. Excellent.
How did the meal take shape? Quickly, simply, and tastily.
I chopped an onion, diced the squashes, crushed a few cloves of garlic, and chopped a red tomato into small pieces too (the three tiny orange cherry toms were not enough). I also finely chopped a small piece of ginger. I heated a tablespoon or two of olive oil in my large deep (high-sided) frying pan (another All-Clad treasure), and Continue reading ‘Orange on the Table’
The tomatoes are coming! Here are two of several clusters of tomato-ey goodness about to go from garden to table. The benefits of having remembered to plant early this year… (Click for larger view.)
Continue reading ‘Green Anticipation’
…And that lump of newness continues to rise for a day or few…
(Quick snap taken in evening light, so colours drained somewhat… not to mention focus… Ack!)
That last set of leaves of the cycad was quite battered. So I am quite happy to see this new beginning.
More to come.
(I think that perhaps Prince ought to write a song with this as the title. Hmmm…)
So to accompany the other types of squash that have begun to appear (see previous post), I’ve some courgettes (or zucchini) coming along nicely. It seems I have two plants of these this year (with a bit of leaf mould infection that I ought to see to), and so in the next few weeks I should have some nice additions to various meals…
Still to be unveiled are some Mystery Squash plants that I put into the soil a bit late. I grew them from some seeds that Continue reading ‘Little Green Courgette’
Ok… So that was a bit unexpected. I was not expecting these when I planted them. Crookneck Summer squash.
I’ve got several of them coming along in three clusters… They look very much like tough, inedible gourds, and I imagine that they can be like that if picked at the wrong time. So I’ve picked a few small ones and the bigger one in the second photograph (below) and will see how they deal with being tossed into a stir-fry.
* * *
Continue reading ‘Gourdy Goodness’
It is earth day today!
Celebrate it, meditate upon it, be mindful of it, check out the website…
…or some subset of those things.
I’ve got some new plants in the ground, and I’ve leak- and block-checked the drip system.
Hoping for some tasty results later in the year.
There are a lot of silly, ill-informed things said about Los Angeles, mostly in the form of lazy clichés. Sometimes said by people who are otherwise quite sensible, but the power and groove of a truism is hard to resist, even when it is an untrue one. One of them is that there are “no seasons” here. This is just a silly thing that people say in place of saying that they are used to seasons from a different climate and they have not taken the time to listen and watch for the march of the seasons that is evident here. (I think also that we have it amplified by popular culture that the standard symbols of the Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter cycle involving snow and red and gold leaf colours and bare trees and jack frost nipping at your nose and so forth are “the way things are supposed to be”.) A friend of mine has in her email signature the slogan “I have a life. It is just different from yours”, and so I will retool it here: “We have seasons. They are just different from yours.”
Just like anywhere else, the seasons wink or call (sometimes even shout) at you through certain combinations of colours, smells, temperatures, and so on. I think people miss a lot of cues in Los Angeles because they don’t get out of their cars and walk the streets very much. Even a few gardens or hedgerows passed along the way can show a lot about the mood of the season the city is in. For me, colours and smells are very big cues in Los Angeles, and there are times when large parts of the city seem to be dominated by a single plant’s smell or colour or sometimes both. For me, it is the Jasmine time of year now. This is when the night-blooming jasmine bushes (cestrum nocturnum, apparently) of the city all seem to work in concert and fill the air with a great scent, and lovely clumps of creamy Continue reading ‘‘Tis the Season’
The Camellia tree is blooming again, and I’m so delighted! Click for a larger view.
This afternoon marked a somewhat late return to the back garden in earnest, preparing beds for a new cycle of plants, cutting back overgrown bushes of various sorts, checking the integrity of the drip system, clearing lots Continue reading ‘Camellia’
Another succulent in the garden is flowering. I love these flowers, which stretch way up from the plant itself, right in front of the drawing desk at my study/studio Continue reading ‘The Bells’
A closeup snap of the core of one of my favourite succulents from my garden. It is Continue reading ‘Core Values’
The hankering I had for some marmalade on fresh bread on Sunday last was satisfied a bit later by simply making some. It was a lot of fun. I always like making bread as it Continue reading ‘Bread and Marmalade’
This is a regular sight that nonetheless always fascinates me. This very compact pair of palm trees (or is it one tree? I’ve never been sure…if you follow the trajectory of the two trunks they look like they might fully join just below the surface of the ground) produces such a delicate flowering and fruiting extension that looks a bit like a drooping hand (with a lot more fingers than normal, yes). An alien hand, perhaps, but of a friendly, curious, tall species that would simply gather small samples from our planet to study out of curiosity… Ok, perhaps I am getting carried away with my imagination. Still only on my first morning cup of tea.
It was Labor day here yesterday, and I deliberately use the American spelling Continue reading ‘Emergence’
So I had a big payoff.
The War has dragged on for a long chunk of the Summer, with attacks on three fronts, air (Flitty), ground (Slinky), and, most annoyingly, tree (Fluffy). While I do counterattack, including pointless and potentially embarrassing bouts of fury that see me rush outside early in the morning, sometimes in various states of undress, waving a broom, towel, pan, cup of tea, machete, or whatever I can lay my hands on, most gain is made by thinking through useful purely defensive countermeasures (perhaps in another post I will share with you a rogue’s gallery of the results of other countermeasures – see e.g. here). These were first laid on in July, while the figs were still far from interesting to the enemy, and also while they Continue reading ‘The Rewards of Countermeasures’
After spending more than half the day writing a report, fiddling with data gathering for the report, and dealing with various annoying issues in background over email, it is nice sometimes to be able to walk outside into the garden, pause to take a deep breath in the warm sunlight, and harvest some lovely tasty things.
I really need this sometimes. It is good.
Continue reading ‘A Vial of Calm’
No, I am not going mad. Well, no more so than normal, perhaps. The Green Zebra tomatoes are here, and they are lovely. (Click for larger view.)
Continue reading ‘The Zebras are Here!’
Well, here’s the first batch of the season (not counting the onesies and twosies I’ve nibbled over the last few weeks as I go by), representing four different varieties… By the way, my compost played a role in all this, so it is quite satisfying.
If the War goes well, I ought to get more of these soon. Several plants are producing tomatoes.
News from the Front? Fluffy has started the above ground Continue reading ‘Produce’
In other news…
It’s a long story. You should refer to last year’s start of The Troubles, starting with the Great Tomato Atrocity. This year it began with the lovely tomato on the right… (click for a larger view).
At first I thought it was an early attack by Fluffy (in the 3.x series, presumably – I did battle with series 1 and 2 last Summer – especially since I’d deployed the first level of countermeasures already this season, the shields around the main tomato area of the garden.) Had Fluffy found a way past those? Would I have to fortify them? I was very annoyed since I wanted to make a gift of that tomato and had been admiring it every day since it began to ripen, waiting for the moment to pick it. Evidently mine were not the only admiring eyes. And my paws were not the first to get to it. So I decided to launch more level one of the offensive countermeasures, to test the possibility that something other than Fluffy was a work here. Perhaps one of Fluffy’s allies. The Fluffy series with less good PR: Slinky. I might need to be fighting a war on two fronts.
Seems I was right. Slinky is involved, and I caught one of its agents a day later. Peanut butter is a great bait… A picture of the result is after the fold. Don’t go there if squeamish!!
Continue reading ‘Victory!(?)’
I don’t know what they are called, but they’re lovely. There’s a succulent plant that is very common around here (Los Angeles), often growing wild by roadsides, or in no Continue reading ‘Yellow’
Greetings of the birthday sort to my younger nephew.
I made a card for him out of these lovely passion flowers (click for larger view) from my garden, and I posted it, but apparently there are postal delays due to volcano ash and so forth, so it might not get there in time.
So this blog post is to serve as a card and wish him Happy Birthday.
It has been a wonderful Spring for me so far, I must say. On many fronts. For example, work is trundling along steadily, with small but regular landmarks in my project being set and met, and the garden is planted with lots of new vegetable plants that carry promise for tasty treats in the months to come. In the mornings the garden has a cacophony of sounds from all sorts of birds, all determinedly busy with whatever it is they think needs to get done that morning. It is good to start that day hearing all that activity. (Fully half of that sound comes from a remarkably energetic Northern Mockingbird that manages to run through several distinct birdsong choruses at high volume while flying from tree to tree in the neighbourhood. It is almost as though it is trying to create the illusion that there are several mockingbirds in residence…) In the photo you can see a pair of mourning doves (the same pair I think I spoke about earlier), surveying the activity in the air and on the ground below.
There’s a feeling of promise, hope, and growth all around at this time of year. It’s everywhere. A nice surprise waited for me early last week. I was filling the kettle at the sink for my first cup of tea of the day one morning and noticed something green Continue reading ‘New Beginnings’