Thursday, October 20, 2011


I wanted to take a moment to share a new member of our family with you.

Xavier has lovingly named her Betsy. She was found by a coworker of mine behind our office building. She was left in a bag behind the trash cans. She looks good in this photo but this is after two baths and a hair cut. The vet said she is about 4 months old, 4 pounds, and a mix between a Poodle and a Shih tzu. I'm not sure what you would call that...

Betsy is adapting really well to our family. In fact now that she is here it feels like she has always been with us. She gets along great with the boys and they just adore her. In fact everyone that meets her tells us if we aren't sure we want her they will take her ha ha! Betsy is here to stay. The universe works is mysterious ways.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pomegranate Tree

When I was little I loved fall because it meant Halloween was coming. Now that I'm an adult (and a homeowner) I adore fall because it means the Pomegranate tree in the backyard is going to produce. This particular tree is actually our neighbors tree but it is positioned so the majority hangs over our fence, oh darn!

When the tree first blooms in the summer it has tiny red flowers all over. The flowers grow a red tube like shape and the flower wilts and falls off. This tube is what is eventually becomes the end of the pomegranate at picking time. The easiest way to open them is by scoring the outside flesh with a knife and breaking it open. I've been told it's easier if you freeze them first but I haven't tried it.

Poms are known to be high in vitamin C about 19% of a persons daily intake. They are also a good source of vitamin B5. And if you eat them with seeds in they are high in fiber. In India Poms have been used as a remedy against diarrhea (by eating the rind) as well as a tonic for the heart and throat. Although this sounds strange some studies have found that the consumption of Poms help with diabetes, rhinovirus, and the common cold (from Wikipedia).

Besides the health benefits there are so many delicious recipes to use with pomegranates. Grenadine syrup is derived from the pomegranate and the seeds are used regularly as a spice in Indian cuisine. Last year I basted pork chops the pom juice from our tree for Christmas dinner. Here are some recipes for great food made with pomegranates that I love: Pear and Pom salad, Apple and Pom crisp, Pom Margarita, Roast Pork with Pom and Ginger glaze, and Avocado, Grapefruit and Pom salad by none less than Ms. Martha Stuart.

Usually the squirrels get a large amount of our crop before we can get to them. This year I've been determined to pick them as soon as they are ripe. Do you have a favorite pomegranate recipe? do you have a favorite fruit that is out of the ordinary? I would love to hear about them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Velcrow Plant Ties

What will they think of next? I was in the gardening section and found Velcro plant ties. At first I though - nah, but then I wondered would they be reusable? I had been using little twist ties that I found around the house but sometimes they were just sort of a pain. So I purchased the Velcro ties. It looks like this...

It is actually quite convenient and it sticks to its self well. Its softer than the usual Velcro and it has been doing well outside. Here is a picture of it on one of the tomato plants. Its nice because as the plant grows I can take it off and reposition it and it isn't a funky mess like the twist ties.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I had read an article in Better Homes and gardens on planting edibles in pots for showy fall arrangements. I was so taken with it I decided to try planting lettuce in pots for myself. So far so good. But because our weather here in California is so wonky they do better then worse as we get heat here in the 90's, on and off, till the end of October. Here are some pictures of the pots.

Right now they are up with the strawberry plants on our outdoor bar. But I'm hoping to eventually have them next to the back door to have accessible while making dinner.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Planter update

It has definitely been a while since my last blog post. Our camera was broken so I had to purchase a new one. Definitely not a purchase I wanted to make right now since we just started saving for a DSLR camera. To top it off after we purchased the new camera we figured out there was smutz stuck in the lens of the old camera so it was unable to open fully. Lesson learned, keep your camera away from tiny fingers (our children). So now we have a backup in case the old one fails again.
Planter one has had a bug infestation that I have been diligent at working on. Since we have desperately been trying to only use organic products to fight the bugs eating the plants in our planters it has proven to be a long road to recovery. Planter 2 on the other hand has been doing gangbusters! Here is a picture...

The tall bushes are the tomato plants. They have just about taken over the planter! A helpful hint I learned from one of my mothers friends, is to pinch off the ends of the buds. This will help the tomato plant use its energy to produce tomatoes, instead of using all of its energy to produce long lanky lengths. The same friend also said that sometimes pumpkins will take a year to develop fruit. We definitely haven't seen any this year and our vines keep getting eaten by green caterpillars that we keep removing. As you can see in the right hand bottom of the photo. So it seems that the food is still in growing mode. Gardening is not for the faint of hear, for sure!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Strawberry Plants in Pots

I just love Saturdays, with the whole weekend ahead to enjoy. It really puts me in good spirits. I love spending the morning in the garden, or attempting to spend the morning in the garden. This usually never works out the way I think it is going to, and I get sidetracked with the boys. But I still just adore walking amongst my little green 'children' planted outside.
A few months back at the begging of summer I had purchased strawberry seeds and if you remember they took forever to bud. So in mid-August I went to my local garden store and proceeded to purchase (break down and purchase) a couple of strawberry plants. Since I, as a new gardener, know nothing about strawberry plants, I just decided to purchase one of each type they carried (they carried three types). I figured worst case secenero, I kill them ... right?

Fast forward to October and they are all still alive! The seeds are finally growing but the little leaves are only the size of a pen cap. One of the varieties I at the store very well the Quinalt. All the plants I purchased at the store are by Bonnie Plants. But the Quinalt put out offshoots, and one of the offshoots took. Apparently the secret is if you lay the offshoot in dirt it will grow roots, and grow roots it did. It is still small but it is growing as well. So now I have 7 strawberry plants that are still alive!

The Quinalt has been blooming and has even produced flowers and teeny-tiny strawberries. Just big enough to keep me going back to adore the little guy. Here is a picture...

I decided to plant them in pots only because they shouldn't be planted were potatoes, tomotoes peppers, or eggplant have been planted becasue they can contract Verticillium Rot. So I decided to keep them out of the planters. We have a big bar area that I keep the pots up on in attempts to keep the bugs away. So far this has worked.