How to harvest leafy greens -- on the left side is the tatsoi plant ready for harvest. On the right side is the plant after harvest, with only the 3 or 4 tiniest center leaves remaining to continue growing. It'll be ready for another harvest in another 2 weeks. Be sure to remove each complete leaf so no remaining stubs will attract munching pests.
Cilantro transplants are growing nicely. I've reseeded more in the entire bed that will develop into a mass for harvesting.
Parsley and carrots usually take a full 3 weeks to finally germinate and send up their little green leaves.
Fuyu-type persimmons can be harvested firm or squishy.
Let asparagus fern die back completely before trimming so energy will be reabsorbed into the crown for next year's shoots.
Grape cuttings turning yellow and browning edges as they go dormant for the winter.
Begonia boliviensis 'San Francisco'
Begonia boliviensis 'Santa Cruz'
Potatoes that I'd missed harvesting have resprouted.
Bougainvillea's rich color
Transplanted three weeks ago, my lettuce, tatsoi, and pak choi provided their first harvests for last night’s dinner and the rest of the week. If I’d purchased the greens from a farmers’ market or the grocery store, with this one harvest I’ve paid off the expense of purchasing the 6-packs. And I’ll have some six more months of harvests to look forward to before the plants bolt in the late-Spring heat. Even factoring in the cost of the compost and manure that I’d incorporated into the soil and the water that I’ll apply in coming months, growing your own is infinitely worthwhile. Especially adding in the superior nutritional value and just-picked freshness! There’s nothing quite like pronouncing at dinnertime, “This and this and this all came from the garden!”
Seeding Augmenting 6-packs with starting your own seeds increases the bounty and variety, even for “weekend” gardeners who are more periodic in their attentions. As long as night-time temperatures are still in the 50s, most cool-season seeds will germinate, albeit slowly. Parsley and carrots, especially, usually start finally showing up some 3 weeks after you’ve sown them and kept the seedbed moist. Just about the time you finally give up, thinking that you had old seed or they’d rotted, that’s when they start showing their little green leaves. That’s when I resow, as well, since I know that the environmental conditions – soil, sun, air temperature, and moisture – are ideal for them to germinate.
Harvesting Persimmons Harvest persimmons according to type. Hachiya (the heart-shaped ones) are astringent when hard, so wait till they’re squishy-ripe. Fuyu (the squat ones) can be eaten hard like an apple or allowed to get soft and sweeter. The Fuyu type can be stored by drying or freezing. A friend of mine who has a huge orchard of the Fuyu type washes them, removes the stem-end foliage, slices them crosswise into 1/4-inch disks, and dries them until they’re leathery for wonderful sweet snacks. My Dad used to freeze them whole and retrieve them sometimes months later for a really-appreciated treat -- long after the rest of us had enjoyed ours fresh.
Hold Off On Trimming Asparagus Ferns Wait to cut asparagus ferns until they've turned completely brown, generally after the first hard frost. By then, they've reabsorbed all their energy back into the crowns for next year's edible shoots. Cutting them sooner means throwing away this recycled nutrition. Trim the fronds at soil level rather than yanking them from the crown to avoid injuring the crowns.
Encourage Winter Dormancy and Protect From Early Frost Give one last deep watering to grapevines and deciduous trees but discontinue feeding. This will begin hardening them off for cold weather. You want to discourage new growth now that will be tender and susceptible to frost damage. Even if we don’t get any frost, we want the trees and vines to go dormant to rebuild their energy for next Spring and Summer's exertions. Provide protection for deciduous tree trunks, as the trees can be damaged more by first frosts than by later ones. Support coverings away from foliage with stakes to prevent conducting the cold directly to the leaves and freezing them.
Cool-Weather Gardening I enjoy gardening during our cool winters much more than during summer’s heat. The coolness of gardening now makes digging and incorporating amendments – or even just spreading them as mulch -- more pleasurable. Watering is more effective since there’s less evaporation. Plants grow more slowly, so you don’t get overwhelmed with produce and the urgency to harvest every day.
Transplanted broccoli raab and bokchoy. The 5-gallon buckets are buried up to their rims,. The hose fills them so water exits bottom holes directly into the foot-deep root zone. Alternatively, add a shovelful of manure or compost to the bin so the water becomes "manure tea" or "compost tea", feeding the root zones every time the bin is filled.
Transplanted Romanesco brocoflower, celery, lettuce, and spinach
Cilantro 2 ways: one six-pack cell every 2 feet, plus seeds scattered along the entire bed. Nursery trays allow filtered light to keep soil moist to help seeds germinate.
Artichokes resprout from planting several years ago. Note that several new clumps develop at the outer edges of the gap which was the original planting.
Amaranth seeds are beige. Young leaves are edible greens.
Feijoas are welcome November fruit. As a kid, I loved to shake the tree so the ripe ones would fall; then I rolled the fruit in my hand to soften it, and finally bit off the blossom end to suck out the sweet flesh. Definitely fun finger food!
Still-blossoming sunflowers that reseed themselves every year. This is 15 years so far!
Ongoing color of California fuchsia, Epilobium canum.
Chocolate-scented flower, Berlandiera lyrata, on green foliage. Yellow-variegated foliage is lavender.
Stock that's almost permanently in color.
Fortnight Lily seedpod
Allow asparagus fern to die back naturally so the roots can reabsorb all the energy produced through the summer.
Green pepper continues to bloom and set fruit through the winter unless it frosts.
Pilea peperomioides in "bloom"
Odontonema strictum "Firespike" blooms now, but with that name you'd think it should bloom for the 4th of July!
We’re having wonderful weather, albeit without our very-much-needed rain, and plants are thriving in the garden. Now that they’re relieved of the brunt of the summer heat, they’re enjoying the mild temperatures and moister mornings and evenings. With warm days sandwiched between chilly evenings and mornings, we need to get our transitioning from the worn-out summer crops to thriving overwintering ones. You may even be still relishing those still-hanging-on tomatoes that should ripen by Thanksgiving or even the end-of-the-year holidays. Remember to let the garden sit for a couple of weeks following incorporating the amendments like compost, manure and coffee grounds so the soil can heat up and then cool down sufficiently to not burn roots of new transplants. I’ve finished transplanting most veggies and flowers that I purchased at nurseries, and will now start sowing seeds of even more varieties for greater diversity in the garden. When you’re spacing transplants, be sure to crowd transplants as close as you’ll estimate that each mature plant – or whatever size you’ll harvest it -- will barely touch the next plant’s foliage. This way, you’ll get the most effective use of the soil surface and nutrition underneath since plants will grow so much more slowly during cool weather than they did during warm weather. Vegetables and herbs to sow or transplant include fava beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard, coriander (cilantro), garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce (especially romaine types and small-heading bibb and butter¬crunch types, which thrive with only minimal damage from light frosts), mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier than the curly one), peas, radishes, shallots and spinaches, especially the curly-leafed savoy types. While these plants won't grow much till early spring, they'll have well established root systems ready for the great growth spurt with the first warmth in Spring. Flowers to sow or transplant include alyssum, Japanese anemone, baby's breath, bachelor's button (cornflower), bleeding heart, calendula, campanula (canterbury bell, bellflower), candytuft, columbine, coral bell, coreopsis, cyclamen, gazania, English and Shasta daisies, delphinium, dianthus (carnation, pinks, sweet William), forget-me-not, foxglove, gaillardia, hollyhock, larkspur, linaria, lunaria (honesty, money plant, silver dollar plant), lupine, penstemon, phlox, California and Iceland and Shirley poppies, primroses, rudbeckias (coneflower, gloriosa daisy, black-eyed-susan), snapdragon, stock, sweet peas, violas (Johnny-jump-up, pansy, violet), and regionally adapted wild¬flowers. Plant azaleas, camellias, forsythias, dogwoods, and oriental magnolias so they'll settle in nicely. Renew acid mulches under azaleas and camellias. Scatter regionally adapted wildflowers where you can let their seedpods mature and scatter for future volunteers. Besides California poppies, include baby blue eyes, chia, clarka, gillia and phacelia. Plant California native plants like ceanothus, grevillea, mimulus, sage, but disturb the rootball as little as possible. Fill the planting hole with water and let it drain away before filling it with just the soil dug from the hole and then watering again once the plant is in place to settle it. Divide cool season native grasses like carex, calamagrostis, festuca, juncus, leymus, melica, muhlenbergia and stipa. Also divide clumping perennials like heuchera, native iris and potentilla. Water well until new growth appears. Shear back Cleveland sage, coyote mint and galvezia by about one-third, and matilija poppy to the ground.