All the photos in this blog were taken by me. The information is taken from friends, books, magazines, conversations at nurseries, the internet and a few of my own amateur-gardener thoughts. Please feel free to share your own knowledge and experiences in the comment section that follows each posting.

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Anyone's Guess

It's perplexing how a snail would know how to time his venture. Have you ever spent the time to actually watch how slow a snail moves? It should have been the Snail and the Tortoise, but the tortoise beat out the snail when the artists thought about book sales.  A snail has to time it's venture from some awesome hiding place all the way up the side of my vegetable boxes, into the dirt, then up the stem of a plant, out onto the leaf, EAT and then do the whole trip in reverse BEFORE the sun comes up again. That is a long distance to travel at such a slow pace. Maybe the little mollusks rev-up their motors in the evening. Several times I have gone out in the dark with a flashlight to examine the progress they are making. I rarely get to see them en-route, but I often do find them enjoying the rewards of their journey. I imagine that when they see me coming with the flashlight, they are saying, "Are you kidding me? I just got all the way up this box and now you're here?" No, I am not the smasher-type. I don't step on them and twist my ankle to grind them in the dirt like some people I know. I usually just pick them up and heftily toss them over the fence to my neighbor's open field and smirk thinking how long its going to take them to get back over the fence and  into the box. And, seriously, they must have one helluva headache after that landing, not to mention the beyond repair crack in their mollusky shell.

And then this is what I learned... I read that if you toss them over the fence, they will most likely find their way back AND if their shells are broken, the crack is able to heal over and they survive. You are SUPPOSED to crush them into the soil as they add back nutrients. Who woulda thought? Furthermore, the best method of reducing your snail population is by hand-picking them late at night or very early in the morning while things may still be covered with dew. That's right people, hand-picking! How many can we catch in a night? I have resorted to hand-picking and a sprinkling of Sluggo every now and then, when I am distraught because my entire bean seedling is gone and their silvery trail leaves its evidence singing naaa-naaa na naaa-naaa.  Pam Peirce believes that Sluggo will eventually be considered an organic method as its ingredients are not harmful to the environment. For further information from Golden Gate Gardener on snails, Sluggo and snail hunting, read here.

It's time to venture through the Trellis. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you will notice the beautiful pink and purple flowers towering over the left side of the trellis. Make note of them, and read on...

As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, I am a tidy gardener when it comes to my vegetable beds. At least at the start of the season. Eventually, I will learn to year-round garden which would mean I'd have to tolerate a large, often yellowing, drying-out plant ending its career next to a beautiful newly planted seedling yearning for the sun. Someday I will be able to do that, but today I am going to show you all four tidy beds and their darling little ingredients. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Bed Number One:
In this bed you will find Golden Wax Bush Beans, Red Chard, Arugula, Basil Fino Verde, Early Sunshine Yellow Pepper, Ancho Poblano Pepper, Spanish Spice Pepper, Pimiento de Padron Pepper. The peppers  are now staked like the one that you can see in the picture. It's possible that the peppers will shade the Chard eventually, but we will see. The far left corner has one Black Beauty Eggplant.

Bed Number Two is the Tomato Bed. In this bed you'll find Red Siberian from Carla, San Maranzo from Carla, Yellow Pear, Early Girl and one of Liane's Tomatoes (see "The Tomato, the Mother of the Summer Garden posting for the story). 

Bed Number Three is primarily lettuces right now. I've got Green Leaf lettuce, Bib lettuce and Collard Greens. The Fanfare Cucumbers are at the far end of the bed too shaded for you to actually see them in this picture. They will grow up on lattices that are currently holding up the tail-end of the Sweet Peas. Oh, wait till I tell you my pea story. There is a  Yellow Baby Watermelon (new to my repertoire) in the front right corner that will eventually consume all the salad green's space - about when it gets too hot for lettuces anyway. 

Bed Number Four has Bull's Blood Beets (nice name, eh?), Arugula, two more tomatoes, one, Green Zebra from Love Apple Farm and another of Liane's Special tomatoes. There is a Summer Squash in the forefront, which will overtake half the bed as it matures. And three Sweet Basil plants. I will add more Basil in a couple of weeks to stagger the   production. And check out the Green Seedless Grapes on the fence! I just planted them last year and they've really taken off. 

The view of all four together. Notice the piece of wood propping something up on the left box. Now read on...

AGGRAVATION TO ADMIRATION: I planted my Sweet Peas with all the other winter vegetables. For some reason, I can't find the little plastic label that comes in the seedling pack. The one that gives you planting information. The one that some people leave right next to the plant just to drive me absolutely crazy. Why would you adorn this beautiful, organic, colorful plant with a piece of white plastic? Anyway, as I was saying, I planted the Pea, it was slow to grow, THEN it started to flower profusely with out-of-this-world pinks and purples. I even took a picture of myself in front of the thing - something I rarely do.  THEN, it started to smell wonderful. So wonderful. I kept thinking I should pick those flowers and bring that smell inside. All the while, I was wondering where in the hell is the pea? THEN it came! Flat and hairy! Flat and hairy, people. What in the world? So aggravated! I think I  somehow planted an ornamental pea and not having the little plastic thing, I couldn't confirm my hunch. Well, more than a hunch because who is going eat hairy, flat peas? THEN, I decide its time to take the Sweet Pea down. Its a gardening embarrassment. It is taking up valuable real estate and its using my lattices needed for the cucumbers pretty soon. I start to hack up the plant, vigorously peeling it off the lattice, it starts to fall over and... STOP! There is a spectacular nest in there with two adorable little, light blue and black spotted eggs. OMG! I have babies. Just like that, I am responsible for the life of two birds. I stop in my tracks, admire these eggs and wonder, "now what?".  I decide that I can't possibly tear down Mother Bird's work (And no, these are not the crow's eggs. I honestly may have felt differently). I can tell she has put in numerous hours making this nest. She even found a piece of my paper towel and brought it back to her nest. Ahhh, and to think that my used paper towel will comfort my new babies. So Jeff and I carefully reconstructed the now bramble of a pea and drove support stakes into the soil so won't fall over and break the eggs.
We were worried that our human scent may deter Mother Bird, but Jeff saw her fly out of the nest! She is back. She is being a good Mother Bird to my two new babies. Am I going to actually see these little darlings all hatched? Or is a raccoon going to find them for breakfast? Or, are they too exposed to the elements now and they are going to fry? Oh geez, I didn't just say that. Fried eggs. No, I didn't mean that. I will keep you in the loop of the many goings-on out there. Its anyone's guess. 

Gardening Tip: Always keep those annoying plastic labels. OR, make sure to write down the exact names of everything you plant. This year, I am keeping the labels in a plastic bag. I just shove them all in there and include a piece of paper that reads, "Summer 2010". It doesn't seem like you really need to do it, until you can't remember what in the heck you planted! And believe me, that WILL happen. 

Garden Gossip:  Word has it that 1000 Redworms are being delivered to my house tomorrow. Next week's posting will feature the Worm Box and the Worm Delivery. I bet you can't wait. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Most Important Seedlings

What once was a peaceful environment has suddenly turned hostile. I have two crows, who think they are ravens dive bombing me every time I go outside. What are they doing that is making them claim MY garden as THEIR territory? The funny thing is, I am reading, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Enzo doesn't like crows either. I'm having a symbiotic moment with my book. Seriously, the crows are caaa-ing loudly everytime my dogs and I walk into the backyard. They angrily swoop down about two feet away from Charlie (my Doberman stuck in a Malti-Poo's body). Its unsettling to see this. One of my wisest friends, Lorna theorizes that these crows are protecting babies. Brilliant, Lorna and probably right on... but, a crow looks so masculine. Do they even have babies?

Let's talk succulents again. A few people were confused about the idea of breaking off a piece of the plant and starting a new one. It's really that easy.

I took these "pieces" off the plant and just stuck the stem right in the ground with a little potting soil because the ground is hard and dry under that gravel.

Can you see the plant I took them from? Its the darker one on the left. Just leave enough stem to plant it with three to four inches in the dirt (so it's firmly anchored in the ground).

This is taken from the other angle. Eventually that whole section will be large succulents growing up to the Ice Plant in the far end. By next year, those stems that I put in the ground will be quite large. I move rocks all the time. This time I moved them between the smaller newly planted stems. It breaks it up a bit so its not so boring. Look at the size of the succulent in the far right side of the picture!

Another way to fill in an area is by tucking a pot right in the bed. This is that same area bordering my pool, but the far end. The corner needed an interesting anchor after the frost had its way with my Agave plant. While I am letting the Agave grow back a bit, I moved this pot in front of it making the end of the bed interesting once again!

You can see the Agave peeking over, but you don't see all the frost damage. 


OMG! I met the my guru-est guru, Pam Peirce. She doesn't know she is a guru, but I did manage to tell her that I have a garden blog and get this: She asked me to write the blog address down. Can you imagine if she actually read it? I told her that I refer to her book as "the bible". So, if you live in the Bay Area and STILL haven't purchased Golden Gate Gardening, you really must. She was speaking about her most recent version of the book, which she "has made more appropriate for areas further from the coast." It was wonderful listening to her.

She read us a special opening and it went something like this: (Pam, if you read this and I have chopped it up, I apologize right now).

A garden is transformative. The gardener make the garden, while the garden makes the gardener. 
In a world of such consumerism, when we become a food gardener, we become a producer rather than a consumer. We transform our diets and live longer and healthier lives. 

I like it. Transform me.

Things I am now contemplating
Because of Pam
  1. Think year-round, not so much about Winter and Summer
  2. Study different varieties of plants and learn to purchase interesting seeds from catalogs rather than relying on what is available at the nursery. 
  3. Plant more edible things in and among other parts of my yard. For example, I can plant Nasturtium in another area and it's flowers will blend in with what I have planted.
  4. Experiment with a wider variety of leaf lettuces and edible flowers to make an interesting salad even more interesting. Look into things such as: Miner's lettuce, Mizuna and Ruby Streaks..
  5. Collect some horse manure from a nearby barn to use in my compost pile. It will heat it up. 
  6. Plant some African Blue Basil. Its a perennial basil that grows to 4' high. It doesn't seed because it is a cross species hybrid so you can go ahead and let it flower, which is great for attracting beneficial insects. 
These are obviously just a few things, but she got me thinking. Always good for the brain. Most of all, I appreciated her attitude about sharing, teaching and "hand-holding". She truly wants people to be happy gardening and she wants to share tips on how to do that.  I like her attitude and I want to be like her. In fact, come to think of it, all my gurus are like that! They just haven't written a book about it... yet.

I've been getting a little too wordy and I don't want to lose any readers so I'll end now by telling you that next week I will share my new Worm Composting Box I made with my friend, Polly and her husband Rob. (What did you do this weekend? Oh, I made a worm composting box.) And, I have pictures of my vegetable garden all planted and ready to grow!

This is the entrance to my Vegetable Garden. Next week, we'll go through the trellis.
Oh, one more thing...

These are my most cherished seedlings of all! 
Los Gatos High School Senior Prom for Jeffrey and a little hug for Carly. 

Back off crows. These are MY babies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reflections from a Garden Ninja

I have a few favorite photos and this is one of them. I took it at Butchart Gardens in Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island. If you haven't been, it's really a lovely place to see the potentials of a garden. This picture is a reflection off of a pond in the Sunken Garden. It's the kind of place you'd love to stop and hang out for awhile, if there weren't dozens of people milling around.

I am sharing this picture because of the reflection. I've been doing a lot of reflecting this week as my son turned eighteen. It turned out to be a bigger deal for me than I anticipated. I found myself reviewing years past in my head while making breakfast, playing tennis, grocery shopping, feeding the dogs, showering... you get it. As is typically the case for me, reflecting is satisfying.  It churns things up and renews my thoughts. It allows me to review my life so far and absorb it's wonders. As an Aquarian, I  can't help to think about the future and I then have a complete "circle of reflection" starting from the past and ending in the future. It's all good. My boy is eighteen now. Life is moving along.

I like tools. I love tools in the kitchen, but I am a stickler for only housing those that I'll use frequently. If the tool's use is to complete a specialized task such as an egg poacher or a melon baller, it usually doesn't get to stay in my kitchen. I am the same way about garden tools. I don't see the need to collect many tools with specialized uses so I tend to fall in love with a few that can do it all. During my trip to the Mt. Feed and Farm Supply in Ben Lomand last week, I acquired a new tool that is fitting my criteria.
It's called a Soil Scoop and it can cut a stem, puncture the soil to dig further, cradle a seedling and more. And it has a comfortable handle that makes me love it. 

My new tool will compete with the Hori Hori Knife, which is a Japanese tool. Could you tell by the name? I've actually been gifted two of them and intend to pay it forward to one of my Garden Guppies. This tool can dig and serrate. It's light and knife-like, which makes me feel quick and powerful in the garden, like a Ninja. It's a killer tool. 

Lastly, I purchased a Moisture Meter. I just got it and I am obsessed. Given my new philosophy of not "over-watering", this tool is providing me a lot of guidance (and entertainment). You simply drive the needle into the soil as deep as you'd imagine the roots would be, and it will give you a reading of dry, moist or wet. I wish I would have had one years ago. I've spent time going around my yard poking it in the soil and am amazed by it's reading sometimes. My kids think I'm off my rocker, but they can just add it to the list of the many things I do that bewilder them. 

Did you remember? Pam Peirce is coming? See previous postings regarding my admiration for this author. And she is going to be in San Jose?  I can't believe it. 
May 22nd, 10;30-12;30 am
Guadalupe River Park and Gardens: Year-round Food Gardening: Getting the most out of your food gardening space.
Visitor & Education Center
438 Coleman Avenue
San Jose, CA 9510
Fee class (fee amount to come)
For more information:, 408-298-7657

Dirty Story: A few of you mentioned that you went to The Wild Bird Center looking for the Superbac Nature Birdbath Scrub that I recommended and they didn't have it. How embarrassing! I inquired and they ARE planning on a shipment in June. (See April Blog: Best Laid Plants... I mean, Plans...). 


Ever wonder what to do with all the lemons on your lemon tree? If you're like me, you can't keep up. A mature lemon tree can generate a whole-heck-of-a-lot of lemons! My friend, Suzanne (and future featured rose guru) turned me onto the idea of making Limoncello. We made a batch last year and we doubled our output this year. It's one of those recipes that seems Martha Stuart-y, but really isn't. The hardest part is finding the cute bottles to put it in. I found mine at Pier One Imports last year. You can see it on the far right. 

Homeade Limoncello - From epicurious

15 lemons- choose thick skinned lemons
2 bottles (750ml) 100 proof Vodka - 100 proof has less flavor that a lower proof one and will take on the lemon flavor better.  Also, the higher alcohol level will ensure that the Limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

1. Wash the lemons and pat dry
2. Zest the lemons with a vegetable peeler so there is NO WHITE pith on the peel. 
3. In a large glass one gallon jar (see above in the picture) add one bottle of vodka and the lemon zest. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 40 days. As it sits, the vodka takes on the flavor and begins to turn a rich yellow color. 
AFTER the 40 days...
4. Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and cook until thickened (5 minutes) . Let the mixture cool and then, add to the Limoncello mixture. 
5. Add the remaining bottle of vodka to the Limoncello/sugar mix and let stand for another 10 to 40 days. 
6. Strain and bottle. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. (I keep mine in the fridge and it's fine).


Garden Gossip: Word has it that Garden Guppy, Tricia has her vegetable garden planted. Earlier in the week, I received a distraught e-mail that she was going "belly-up". Today, I received an exciting, proud e-mail that she is "swimming"! What a great guppy lesson. Take your time, do not stress, plant when you can, and in the end, you will be rewarded. Huge claps of congratulations to my first Garden Guppy for starting her project.  I am as excited as she is. 

Heads-up: Stay tuned for some funny garden stories. Tricia is one of the funniest story tellers I know, next to Barb, my BF in NYC. If I could get them together at a party, you would NOT want to miss it. The stories could start a gardening sit-com. Barb had a NYC garden for years that was growing between four huge buildings in the most toxic soil in the city, she would claim. But her Hydrangea was bigger than anything I've ever been able to grow. I love a good laugh and these two can provide it, let me tell you! 

This blog has been more fun that I imagined at the start. I have made some wonderful new connections with people, paid more attention to my own garden actions and felt honest excitement for fellow gardeners' achievements. I've been humbled by peoples' reactions and enjoyed thinking about my blog entries during the week. Please continue to provide feedback, suggest topics or ask questions. You can simply hit the comment button below and click on "anonymous" at the pull-down or continue to comment via Facebook. 

When I wake up, walk outside and see this colorful Ice Plant blooming alongside my pool deck, it starts the day out right! You would struggle to create this color from an oil color palette, but Mother Nature nails it with ease. I am in awe of that woman! 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Tomato, the "Mother" of the Summer Garden

It seems to me that the tomato is the most fussed-over vegetable in the summer group. Perhaps the rose rivals it with it's heirloom names and mystical fertilizing methods, but you don't typically eat a rose, so I say the tomato trumps the rose.  It's categorization is even fussy as it claims to be a fruit, but yet it plays a lead role alongside vegetables in most of it's recipes. Nevertheless, most agree it is a "must-have" in a summer garden regardless of its fussy fertilizing methods and wishy-washy watering needs.

My love for the home-grown tomato started when I was a child in Ohio. My mother's friend, Tish planted a very large garden on my mom's property. It didn't put a dent in her beautiful five acres, but it was larger than anything I can imagine taking care of today.  I used to roam the rows like a child in a toy store. When I discovered the taste of a warm, ripe tomato I was hooked. I used to take the disposable salt shaker out to the garden and sprinkle some on each bite. I now am as humbled by the incredible taste of my own plants as I was with Tish's so many years ago.

Elaine's husband Rex is an amazing gardener and perhaps the master garden guru of tomatoes.  He told me he is planting 35 tomatoes this year and that is not a typo. Elaine and Rex are a team of garden gurus on their land that they "Bewitched" from Tuscany. They have a vineyard, a vegetable garden in the shape of a wheel, an orchard of fruit trees, roses that could be at Filoli Gardens, bees and the most amazing succulent beds with the largest Aeonium I have ever seen.

An aerial view of Elaine's vegetable garden and Rex's vineyard

The wall to the left borders the round shape of her garden and she plants in rough pie sections.  The garden is a work of art as she plants flowers amongst the vegetables and always keeps it looking interesting. She is currently transitioning to summer vegetables.

The Bees

A new succulent bed in the front of her house. I had to take this angle so you could see inside the bed as well as the size of the bed. Click on it to enlarge the photo. The colors are brilliant!

One thing for sure is there are more ways to fertilize a tomato than any other vegetable that I know of so far. During a recent visit Rex told me he is planting his following a method he learned about through  Love Apple Farm. His mention of fish heads, aspirin and eggshells was enough to make me run to the computer when I got home and look up the web-site.

The past few Mother's Days we've been going to Wisteria in Soquel. Its a nursery and antique store that does a little Mother's Day spread so the kids enjoy eating chocolate covered strawberries while I meander through the nursery. Well, this year I changed the plan and we took off for Love Apple Farm and Mt. Feed and Farm Supply, both located in Ben Lomand.  Cynthia Sandberg from Love Apple grows the vegetables for Manresa Restaurant. Her method of planting tomatoes uses:
  • A fish head (or two handfuls of dry fish or kelp meal)
  • A handful of bone meal
  • Two handfuls of Sustane 4-6-4 dry organic fertilizer
  • A handful of 100% worm castings
  • Two aspirin tablets
  • Two tablespoons of Humic Acid (aka Humate Soil Conditioner).
  • Several crushed egg shell and, 
  • She sprinkles mychorizzal fungae on the rootball before planting. 
Isn't this amazing? All these things? I had to try it! So I bought a Striped Zebra Tomato, a decent sized box of worm castings at Love Apple for $10 and some dry kelp meal from the Mt. Feed and Supply Store (which sells all of Cynthia's ingredients). I had the rest of the magic solution at home (except the mychorizzal fungae - I didn't do that step). I now have my own experiment underway. Two tomatoes planted with this method and five that I planted earlier in the week with an organic fertilizer and John and Bob's Soil Optimizer from Yamagamis.

I was careful to clip the lower leafs off the base of the plant which enables it to grow a stronger root system.

Plant it deep in the hole so most of the stem is covered by dirt.

Water it in the ground right after planting. You can even make a little moat around the plant and let the water drain a couple of times.

One thing most gardeners agree on is that a tomato plant needs at least five hours of sun and deep waterings only when the plant really needs the water. I know I have over-watered in past years because when I pulled the plant out the roots were not very deep. This is s sign that the plant is getting all its water needs on the surface and it never needed to grow deep to find water. One web-site suggested a slow hose watering for a half hour per plant. I believe that each condition is different. It would depend on the heat and the size of your plant, but keep in mind that it takes awhile for water to reach below two feet deep.

Garden Gossip: Tomato fertilizers should be low in nitrogen. Too much of it promotes foliage growth and makes fruits taste watery and bland. Below are a few other garden secrets I've read about tomatoes: 
  • Water with 1T of Epsom salts per 1 gallon of water per each foot of your plant. Do this once every week or two.
  • Plant a banana peel at the bottom of the hole which acts as a slow-release of potassium and other trace elements.
  • Every week or two, crush eggshells in a blender and add water (about six shells per quart). The calcium helps prevent blossom-end rot. 
  • Soak two handfuls of worm castings in 5 gallons of water for a couple days. Sift the water and use it to water the plants. 

Beautiful Tomato Story: One of my best friends, Liane passed away two years ago from Lung Cancer, which is a reason I support the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation as a board member, fundraiser, and advocate.  Liane and her father, Richard had a ritual each year of planting tomatoes together. I didn't realize that Richard had been growing those same plants each year from the original seeds. I was honored last Thursday when we had our annual Liane's Birthday Luncheon and Sister Viv, Sister Ang and Mother Nora brought me two plants from Richard's garden project. I am so touched to have these tomatoes in my garden this year. It adds an element to my garden that gives me great, great joy.

Me, Angela, Viv, Nora, Myra, Barb, Adrienne
At our annual Liane's Birthday Luncheon

Dirty Garden Story: Were you wondering how Love Apple Farm got their name? Well, the tomato used to be considered an aphrodisiac (in fact, some people still believe it is) thus, the name Love Apple! 

It's been a full week of tomato happenings including my meaningful gifted tomatoes and ending with a fantastic Mother's Day with my family learning more about the fussy fruit. Whatever method you choose to use for fertilizing your Love Apple, a little prayer to the best Mother of all is advised. 
Happy Mother's Day, Mother Nature!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gurus and Guppies

I have Garden Blogger Overwhelmedness (GBO), a condition that happens when too much gardening activity happens in one week and the blogger doesn't even know where to start. I've been writing this in my head all week and it keeps growing into something just short of Pillars of the Earth, which clearly no one would have the patience to read. I will edit best I can, but things are really blooming these days.

As promised, I want to introduce you to Carla, one of my favorite Garden Gurus. I was so excited when she asked me to come see her new greenhouse that she got from FarmTek. Her garden is simultaneously, beautiful and functional. As we entered, the greenhouse is on the right housing several seedlings waiting for warmer weather. She also keeps supplies, fertilizers, soil and tools handy and organized. When you're inside it feels warm and inspiring. Of course I left wanting one.  

Carla also has several interesting pots featuring a nice selection of succulents immaculately dressed with naturally colored gravel. 

Garden Gossip: She told me that I gave her a tip to buy larger quantities of gravel at a pet store. Its the gravel that's used in aquariums and you can get different shapes, sizes and colors to match your pots or hues in the plants. Imagine that! I actually passed on something useful to one of my gurus! 

Carla will plant her tomatoes on trellises that she had built in the back-side of her vegetable beds. This is a great way to utilize space as she puts the tomatoes in the back and rows of other plants in front. For me, supporting a lumbering tomato plant can be a challenge. Mine always seem to grow taller than the cage and begin falling all over each other. Her trellis helps  keep them actually anchored to something. I look forward to seeing her garden when she gets her summer vegetables planted and her tomatoes on the trellis. 

She has several beauties in her yard, but one that sticks out is a variegated Euphorbia. It adds so much color and texture to a prominent spot. Take a look at it next time you're at Green Thumb (did you join their Facebook page yet?) and tell Carla you saw in on this blog. 

Among several tomatoes in her greenhouse (which are probably in the ground by now) she has San Marzano, Yellow Pear and Red Sibierian. I will be able to try these this year as she gifted me some!

Thank you, Carla. I am grateful to my Garden Gurus. They have taught me so much and my garden has grown into a place I love spending time in. It's become a place to relax, entertain, make beautiful bouquets for inside the house and most importantly, to eat from! Therefore, I am most excited to tell you about my new category of gardeners... the Garden Guppy! 

The Garden Guppy is someone who is excited to learn and who I can share a little bit of my ever-growing knowledge with. A Garden Guppy enhances my passion for gardening because I imagine what is around the corner for them. A bountiful vegetable garden that creates a salad to be proud of! Or, an amazing rose that hardly needs anything but a glass vase, or a sweet, sweet strawberry that puts a big smile on her daughter's face. 

My first Garden Guppy is Tricia! She called me to ask if I'd come over and help her get three vegetable beds started. Are you kidding me? So exciting! Even though she had to call me because I got the date messed up, I rushed over and was thrilled to see that this was going to be right up my alley. I told her to get some chicken manure and compost (as mentioned in my first posting, "Introducing"). We will be planting vegetable this week after her manure "cools off". We planned a simple garden with not too many plants as it's her first year. We're devoting half of a bed to strawberries because her daughter loves them! If you're a Garden Guppy, follow Tricia's garden with me and see what happens. I don't have photos because I screeched out of my driveway when I realized I messed up the meeting date and forgot my camera. Not the best start to becoming her guru someday. 

Full of good sense: Plant a pot of Heliotrope and place it next to a door that you frequently go in and out of. Preferably a partially shaded door. Mine is on my back porch. When you walk outside you'll be greeted by a strong scent of vanilla. The deep green leaves contrast the purple flower so beautifully, but the scent is over-the-top yummy! 

OMG! Did I not tell you yet? Pam Pierce is coming to town. Who is THAT, you say? She is the author of "the bible", Golden Gate Gardening. Okay, I understand those of you that don't live in the area may not feel the excitement, but bare with me. For those of us that are here, this is a great opportunity to hear a very knowledgeable gardener. The Guru-est. 

Garden Gossip: Pam Pierce, author of Golden Gate Gardener will be at Guadalupe Park on May 22nd from 10:30 - 12:30. The topic is, "Year round Food Gardening- Get the Most Out Of Your Food Garden Space"! Can you believe this? I am hoping to go, if you'd like to make a date of it! 

It was almost 75 degrees today as I went on a Garden Tour with Elaine and two of her wonderful friends. Today was South Bay Open Day, a program put on by The Garden Conservancy. The Garden Conservancy was established 20 years ago and is "a national institution to save and preserve America's exceptional gardens for the education and enjoyment of the public".  We went to four gardens on the tour. It was fantastic! And I mean fantastic! I've never been on a garden tour before and it caused my GBO (remember my condition?) to peak! I took over a hundred pictures that I will share with you in my next posting. I need time to edit and share only the very best. One of the homes had a two-acre Japanese-style water garden that may as well have been at Butchard Gardens. The pond, "dotted with waterlilies" was 2,000 square feet. Seriously. 
Most of all, I enjoyed meeting my new gardening friends, Judy and Melinda and spending time with Elaine, my next-to-be featured Garden Guru! 

One Garden tip before we go: Lorena, a lovely and highly educated gardener at Yamagami reminded me that when you plant tomatoes, pick off the lower little leaves to create "open wounds" that roots can grow out of. Then bury the stem deep in the ground leaving only the top of the tomato exposed. This will create a very strong base for the plant as roots will grow from several areas out of the main stem. Also, water it in the ground at planting (make sure to plant it with some vegetable food!) and then leave it alone for quite awhile. Lorena says don't water it for two weeks, but I don't know if I can do that. 

I think its finally warm enough to get some vegetables in the ground. I went to Yamagami on a rainy afternoon,shopped with an umbrella and left with: Black Beauty Eggplant, Yellow Baby Watermelon, Pimiento de Padron Pepper, Ancho Pablano Pepper, Fanfare Cucumber, Spanish Spice Pepper and Early Sunsation Pepper. Oh, I couldn't resist just one Early Girl Tomato to add to my collection from Carla! 

I feel my GBO getting better already.  May the sun shine brightly on you this week!