East Sac Edible

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Garden Clean Up and Leaf Hoarding

DSC_0346 DSC_0354 DSC_0348Well a week ago I spent some time trying to clean up the remnants of the summer garden. I always get lazy this time of year and put this off as long as I can. This year I called in my dad and he did most of the work. We took out the tomato plants, basil, tomatillo, and spent squash vines. We chopped them up with clippers and added them to the huge compost pile. I have been battling two mice who decided to live in my compost and then move into some tunnels in my raised bed. I am not sure if the mice made the tunnels or if something bigger did. For now, I disturbed the tunnels to let the mice know they are not welcome. They don’t seem to be making a home in my now open-air compost which is good and I haven’t seen them living in my raised beds lately so perhaps they got the message.DSC_0350 DSC_0349

Did you know that Sacramento has the most trees per capita than any other city in the world? This is a great thing for gardeners looking to improve their soil. Huge piles of leaves form in the streets waiting for city pick up. My property doesn’t have any large trees on it so I am lacking in brown materials for my compost. Last week I took two huge bags and helped myself to one of my neighbors piles. The neighbor came out and asked what I was doing… I’m pretty sure she thought I was a bit strange. Free material people! This stuff is gold! Some of the leaves went straight into my compost. Others I spread over my newly cleaned up garden beds. I am hoping that these leaves will decompose straight into the beds in time for spring planting. I plan on collecting several more bags of leaves to use in the spring because I tend to run out of brown material for my compost to keep the compost pile happy. I use the brown material to cover freshly added kitchen scraps which will hopefully help discourage the mice. I hope to have enough leaves to make a leaf mold pile as well.

Not much is happening in the garden although I did pick the last kabocha winter squash (Hokkori) and the butternut squashes. We roasted these for dinner the other night. The kabocha was delicious and I will definitely plant this next year. The kabocha yielded a little over 9 pounds and was happy growing out of the compost pile. The butternut was pretty good but several of them split before I picked them so I may experiment with other varieties next year. DSC_0345 DSC_0344

Another little small victory in the garden: In August I threw some Italian Parsley seed below my garden hose faucet. Every time I use the hose (which isn’t very often because of the drought) I noticed that when I turn off the water, some water backfills and leaks right under the spigot. I decided instead of wasting these few drops of water, I could plant something fairly hardy so I chose parsley and look at it today! I have never “intentionally” watered this plant. Also California is in a severe drought so every drop of water counts!

DSC_0353Also in my garden I am anxiously waiting for my Owari Satsuma Mandarins to ripen. This is the second year for this tree and although it is tiny it is pretty heavy with fruit. I had to prop up one branch with a tomato cage just to make sure it wouldn’t’ break off. DSC_0351Hope you are able to eat something from the garden with your loved ones this week! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Cowpea success then failure

On June 12, I started some California Blackeye Cowpeas and transplanted them into one of my raised beds on July 1. By August these were really healthy and robust looking plants and by mid September these plants were drying out ready to be stored. My daughter and I had a great time shelling the cowpeas and got a respectable haul from just a few plants.


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We stored about two mason jars full of the cowpeas which I marked down as a gardening success. In the past I have saved enough seed to replant the next year but this was my first time attempting a storable harvest for later use. Two mason jars is not a ton but would be enough to throw into one or two meals.

Well, I should have done a little more research. Once my daughter and I happily harvested the beans and put them in the jars I forgot about them. This morning when I took a closer look I saw some crawly grey insects in the beans. Bean weevils! I’ve never seen bean weevils before but this is what I gather they are. Take a closer look at the picture below (sorry my camera is not as great at close ups as I would like). DSC_0283

See those little guys about three rows of beans down from the top? Yuck! Here’s another shot of a few crawling around on top.DSC_0284So after a little reading up on these guys I have some new strategies for next time around but this harvest went straight into my city green waste bin. I think the main problem that went wrong was that my husband was trying to be “helpful.” Let me explain: My daughter was helping me sort the beans. She was really helping as much as a toddler can. I asked her to put all the beans we had shelled into a colander and move them into a mason jar. She did quite well at this task and it kept her busy on the kitchen floor long enough for me to make dinner. Well, while I was showering she had spilled many of the cowpeas onto the floor so my husband trying to be “helpful” and decided to wash the beans. Immediately he realized his error and tried to dry off the beans that were meant for storage. Well the beans dried out just fine but perhaps this triggered the eggs of the weevils to decide it would be a great time to hatch. I will spare you on the details of the weevil life-cycle because it may make you queasy.

That is just one theory I have of what happened but I shouldn’t blame my husband entirely. Wetting the beans probably only sped up the process since the eggs were already there. Another strategy I read about is after putting the beans in jars, to freeze the jars for a few days. Apparently this helps kill the eggs. Also there are strategies of preventing the adult weevils from laying eggs in the first place by planting companion plants that will repel weevils.

It amazes me that my garden feeds me anything at all given all the problems you can run across! But each time I try something new I definitely learn something new too. On to the next experiment!

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October 2014 Harvest Tally

DSC_0279We always love October with the cooler temperatures and Halloween festivities. I haven’t been spending too much time in the garden lately so no garden pictures this time. However, I’ve included some of our Halloween decorations in this post. I painted the first pumpkin we grew and my husband carved bigger store-bought pumpkins. Also I made this super cute ghost garlands (traced from this free printable)!

DSC_0276My total poundage for October (2014) is 58.77 pounds.

My total poundage October (2013) was 43.61 pounds.

DSC_0277So far I have harvested 342 pounds this year. My one Trombetta squash plant that has given me a whopping 58 pounds of squash with many, many more to come. October’s harvest was mainly made up of Trombetta, tomatoes, basil, kale, peppers, pumpkins, a few runner beans and various herbs. I expect the harvest to slow down a bit now that we are in November.

Also a shot of our celebratory pumpkin…