Friday, May 27, 2011


Tonight it was off to the local big-box store to take advantage of the 2x20lb pack of Kingsford charcoal  for $7.97.  That's a great price and even though I have enough charcoal to host my own version of Burning Man, I couldn't pass it up.  No trip to the Depot would be complete without making a pit stop in the garden center.  You know how some people can't walk through the local animal shelter without taking home the whole lot, I'm the same way in the garden center.

Successful in my restraint, I only came home with three plants:  Lemon cucumber, Santa Fe Grande pepper and the herb Stevia.  I've never seen or heard of it until this week when it was mentioned on two separate podcasts (I couldn't survive my 90 minute commute to LA without that iPod). So there it was, sitting on the shelf. 

The leaves of this plant are reportedly 10 times sweeter than cane sugar.  When I got home, I tore off a leaf and started chewing.  Guess what it tasted like - yup, sugar.   Now I have to figure out where it's gonna live this summer.  I'm thinking it can be added to fresh tea and probably a cocktail or two.  I also read that the aphids can't stand it, so maybe I'll put it next to the cucumbers.

By the way, what to do with all that charcoal?

The new addition to the family

Friday, May 13, 2011


My Labrador Maxie is a pooping machine.  Twice, sometimes three times a day, the world truly is her dumping ground.  Funny thing is, she sees us picking up the poop everyday and I know what she's thinking:  "Look, they must really like my poop since they collect it all the time.  I love them so much, I'll just keeping making more!"   Lucky for her she's such a great dog.   Why am I writing about poop? 
You guessed it:  worms.   That's what I'm after with those things, so I figured I'd give you a quick update.

The worms seem to be doing nicely and I'm learning what they prefer (cantaloupe) and what they're not too crazy about (potato peels).   I've been real careful not to overfeed them - an all-too-common mistake for the newbie.   I am having an issue with some of the worms who like to wander off into the bottom collection tray. It's just a few of them  (maybe the same ones) and since the hundreds of others stay in the top tray I'm not too concerned.  I don't know why these rogue wanderers like to slither off into the abyss since there really isn't anything there for them to eat except a few small patches of castings.  Maybe they're just tired of the obnoxious giant who roots around  the top tray with the plastic rake checking on their status.  I can almost hear a collective moan every time I take the lid off,  "Uggh,   he's back again."   I can't help it!

Worm castings - garden caviar

Top tray progress.  The black things are banana peels.

I did manage to collect a small amount of the fresh castings and scratched them into the dirt around an eggplant and one of my zucchini plants.  I'm interested to see how this "soil inoculation" experiment  works with those plants as opposed to the non-inoculated.

Lots goin' on in the garden - too much for one post, so I'll put up some pictures.  Busy time of the year  with my oldest graduating, baseball playoffs with another, and band performances with the third.  Good times!

Black Beauty eggplant
Tomatoes on the left, bush beans in the middle and carrots on the right

I used all of the compost from the pile I started last year and now have a new one cooking on the side of the house.  Last week, I threw one of the tomato starts which was still in a red cup and looked nearly dead into the pile.  Apparently, it still had some fight left and has come back strong in the compost pile.  Maybe I'll let it be and see what happens.