Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I'm in Mendo... chillin'... literally. It's unspeakably beautiful and cool, yet sunny. Will report back on nurseries later. Whee!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Teapot wind chime from Uncommon Goods

I totally love this. I've never longed for fine china or silver... but this, yes. Where do I register?

Teapot Chime


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Black from Tula tomato

Robust plant here in my yard? No (might do better with more protection from afternoon sun).

Early fruiting in my yard? No

Tons of fruit right compared to other varieties in my yard? No

Taste? Out of this world (Thank you, Amy Stewart, for recommending it!)

Note: Of my two main tomato beds, the one receiving earlier afternoon shade contains the largest, most prolific tomato plants-- Early Girl and Costoluto Genovese. At first, I assumed they were simply more heat tolerant and robust, but it may be that they're benefiting from earlier afternoon shading. The two plants in the sunniest bed, Copia and Black from Tula, are looking more stressed. If I have time before leaving for Mendo, I will rig up some shade cloth for them. This is quite a heat spell we're having.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why we vacation

Don't get me wrong... I love Sacramento. And I can take the summer heat. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the fact that I am leaving this weekly forecast...


104°F 40°C
68°F 20°C THU

108°F 42°C
70°F 21°C FRI

112°F 44°C
71°F 21°C SAT

111°F 43°C
70°F 21°C SUN

109°F 42°C
68°F 20°C MON

107°F 41°C
68°F 20°C TUE

105°F 40°C
66°F 18°C

... for this one.


73°F 22°C
56°F 13°C THU

77°F 25°C
61°F 16°C FRI

80°F 26°C
61°F 16°C SAT

79°F 26°C
59°F 15°C SUN

78°F 25°C
59°F 15°C MON

74°F 23°C
57°F 13°C TUE

74°F 23°C
55°F 12°C

That's what vacations are for, right? Getting outta town for a taste of something different. Escaping the heat. Or basking in the sun. We know what awaits us when we return, but for one glorious week we get to walk around in a cool fog... or lie on a sunny beach... in appreciation.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mendocino area nurseries

I'm compiling a list of nurseries to visit while in Mendocino. I've only been to the Mendocino Garden Shop, the nursery at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and North Star Nursery.

Here's what I've programmed into my amaaaaaaaazing Garmin StreetPilot i5 Automotive GPS Navigator (Happy birthday to me!):

31101 MIDDLE RIDGE RD, ALBION, CA 95410 7.1MI from Mendocino

23201 N HIGHWAY 1, FORT BRAGG, CA 95437 10.2MI from Mendocino

32850 MILL CREEK DR # 45, FORT BRAGG, CA 95437 10.2MI from Mendocino

20103 HANSON RDFORT BRAGG, CA 95437 10.2MI from Mendocino

If you're interested in the Mendo gardening scene, here's a link to the Summer, 2006 Home & Garden section of the Mendocino Beacon newspaper.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Going back to Mendo

In the coming week I'll be busy cleaning house (oh, the backlog...), packing, troubleshooting my drip system and spending extra snuggle time with my dogs. Why? So I can leave in a week for a 7-day soul-soothing trip to Mendocino! This time, I'm going to make an effort to forge ahead into unkown nursery territory. In addition to being heart-stoppingly picturesque, Mendocino is home to several really cool nurseries.

And a cafe with internet, so I won't get the shakes.

And wineries. If I make it to Digging Dog Nursery and Pacific Star Winery, I'll be one happy camper. Shame on me for using "happy" and "camper" in the same sentence.

Fear not... I'll check in when I can. I won't be able to share pics until I get back because I don't have a laptop. Tragic, I know. The pics will be residing on my video iPod until I get home. So, yes, I will be roughing it. Just like camping.

Run, don't walk...

... to the Citrus Heights Costco for a rapidly dwindling (I'm sure), staggeringly beautiful dahlia selection in 3-gallon containers for around ten bucks a pop. Since snails ate my dahlia shoots, I justified hoisting a pink one into my cart.

They're located at the west end of the outdoor nursery area, btw. Other Costcos must have them too, but these babies I happen to know about.

OMG, almost forgot to mention that they also have mature... potted... fruiting... 'Early Girl' tomatoes! Procrastinators need not go tomatoless!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nature Sweet Tomato Challenge coming to Sacramento

Nature Sweet 2006 Tomato Challenge in Sacramento

First prize is $5,000 and three $250 store vouchers will be awarded to runners up. On September 9, contestants must bring three medium or large tomatoes OR 10 small tomatoes (entries must all be of the same variety) to the Raley’s at 25025 Blue Ravine Road in Folsom between 9 and 11 a.m. for judging. ONE ENTRY PER HOUSEHOLD.

What have you got to lose but that empty feeling in your wallet and that unsung glory for your oh, so deserving tomatoes? If you don't win, you can always go grocery shopping... or to the lake... or the Folsom Outlets or something. Any nurseries over there? Folsom Lake Nursery closed, right? Bushnell's isn't too, too far from Folsom. That's always worth a stop.

The Tomato Challenge Hotline toll-free number is 1-800-315-8209.

Good luck, Sacratomatans!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Homemade salsa virgin needs recipe

My 'Fresno' chile peppers are ripe and I'm not quite sure what to do with them. The tag said they're great for salsa. What a coincidence because I love salsa. But I'm also a big chicken when it comes to heat. If I'm feeling dangerous, I'll buy Pace Picante Sauce in Medium. Most of the time, I go for mild.

I just checked the heat rating on 'Fresno' peppers and here's what it said:

Fresno pepper
These are similar to jalapeno peppers, but with thinner walls. They're great in salsas. Green Fresnos are available in the summer. the hotter red ones come out in the fall. Substitutes: jalapeno pepper OR Serrano pepper.
Uh oh... jalapenos are hot! And most of my Fresnos are a deep, tongue-melting red. Having gotten myself into this pickle... or pepper... my next task is to find a great salsa recipe. Any suggestions for salsa recipe sites or actual salsa recipes? I've never made my own fresh salsa.

Muchas Gracias!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The garden at dusk

It's a magical time.


'Early Girl' tomato

'Costoluto Genovese' tomato

'Tequila' pepper

For local foodies and veggie gardeners

You might want to catch this PBS episode of Chefs A' Field on Saturday... looks fun.
Chefs A' Field: Culinary Adventures that Begin on the Farm:Chef Suzanne Goin---Lucques/A.O.C.: Los Angeles, Cal.
Saturday, July 8, 2:30pmKVIE HDTV - Comcast 906/Charter 786/DT 6.1

Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin (Lucques) and farmer Phil McGrath harvest organic
strawberries, tomatoes, squash and beans. Recipes prepared include “New World”
pork and beans; and kobocha squash and radicchio salad.

If you're not in greater Sacramento and need schedule times, or just want to learn more about the show, click here.

Reason to celebrate the 5th of July

Watch the video
My baby boy still has all his digits. That's him (and his best bud) holding giant sparkler thingies... and that's him playing the piano piece accompanying the video!

For dinner, we barbecued dry-rubbed skinless chicken thighs and home-grown yellow zucchini squash, the boys swam, and we were at least safe, if not sane. To add to the surreality of the evening, two thirteen-year-old boys fought over zucchini at the dinner table. I know... gives you chills, huh?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ok, so I guess

having another birthday (in six days) isn't such a bad thing. WOW!!! Super cool plants, basket, bow and tiny gold Buddha! Emily the cat concurs. Thanks, Weeder!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Magnificent lilies

I planted these lilies a couple years ago. This year, they came back with a vengeance and look like this without any effort or pampering. Seriously, I did nothing and I've got these gorgeous 5"-6" blooms. They're not even staked. Can't say that about many flowers, especially those with such a big payback!

I have two other lily varieties coming into bloom. One is an heirloom from Old House Gardens. I will definitely be ordering more lilies.

Sadly, my dahlia experience hasn't been quite so rewarding. Every shoot from my dahlia tubers has been devoured by snails and/or slugs. Hey, does that imply lilies are snail-resistant?

If you enjoy gardening at night...

and clematis, you'll want to read this recent New York Times garden essay.

Midnights in My Garden of Obsession
Published: June 15, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tomato Report

As of today, July 1st, here's how my tomatoes are faring:

Black: not a very robust grower, fruit early to color up, severe cat-facing and some sun scald

Black from Tula: for an heirloom, very hearty vine, prolific, nicely-rounded fruit

Copia: at a disadvantage since I accidentally sliced off half its limbs... plant is smallish, fruiting is sparse... my fault? I wasn't impressed with it last year either. Perhaps not a good choice for the Valley.

Costoluto Genovese: productive, attractive rippled fruit but individual fruits not very large, very healthy foliage

Early Girl: lots of uniform fruit, healthy foliage, not very early for me

Celebrity: compact plant, foliage looks ok, but not very full, lots of very uniformly round fruit

Sungold: still my fave cherry, earliest to fruit of all my plants

Sun Sugar: being grown as a hanging plant, early to fruit, sweet fruit but strange flavor undertones (my fault for allowing it to wilt a few times?)

Lemon Boy: R.I.P. (Great Snail Invasion of 2006)

Coming soon... how they taste!!!