Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The First Chore of Spring

I know winter has barely started but I've got a lucky break with the weather and a chance to revitalize my brown, bald spotted, drought parched lawn.

In the last couple of years, I've overseeded with drought resistant grass seed. That worked fairly well and gave me a lush, green lawn for about 4 months but wilted under our 100+ degree summer heat fairly rapidly with our states water rationing scheme.

This year, I'll add to that a bag of heat resistant seed just to see what happens.

It rained pretty good on Friday so I had a damp lawn, with soft soil, to aerate on Saturday. I then overseeded with the spreader.

We're expecting two days of rain on Sunday so that will give me two days of watering in and I don't have to worry about running afoul of the water cops.

It should be a wet winter here, so I'm hoping that it'll take a minimum of spinkler use to get it germinated and established. Then we'll see just how 'heat-resistant' this grass really is.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Weeds of Winter

Still not a lot to do in the garden these days but the weeds don't take the season off. 

A trowel helps me dig these out of the dirt.

In the rose garden, out front, this Chinese elm seedling has camoflauged itself within the roses. 

At this size, the root is very deep and it is impossible to hand-pull out of the ground, so I dig as deep as I can with my trowel.

This is as much as of the root as I was able to get. I hope it's enough because these weeds are very hard to get rid of completely once they take hold.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter's Tangy Harvest

Late fall...winter starts next week...and in the middle of a big drought, not a lot to do in the garden but we can find something.

December in Southern California is citrus season and our three trees are producing! 

The cara cara navel orange tree (at the top of this post) has put out the most fruit it's ever given us.

Our Meyer lemon is not far behind.

We harvest just enough to last us for a week or so and let the rest of the fruit stay on the tree til we're ready for more.

Along with the oranges and lemons, I also find a few rogue Anaheim chiles that will go into tomorrow's eggs.

These tart but sweet cara caras are just the ticket for a nice, healthy shot of vitamin C on the side of this sandwich.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Falling Through the Changes

With the summer growing season behind us, we look to the future of the garden.  

My son and I headed to the garden center to pick up some seeds for next year, wondering what Mother Nature has in store for us.

A large El Nino is headed our way, will that cure the drought? Will water rationing end next year? What should we plan on?

While we ponder those questions, we still have a fall and winter garden season ahead of us, which we think about as we do a sprinkler line inspection.

The roses aren't looking good but that's because we let them go over the fall to build their strength for next season.

It's the season of citrus and soon we'll be harvesting our citrus.

After that, it'll be time to prune the roses and till the ground for next year's food.

Stay tuned!

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Hanging Judge

I've got a line of annuals in baskets hanging outside of our laundry room. There's also a dendrobium orchid but the rest have died off. 

The green you see is weeds of oxalys growing in their place. The metal frames have also rusted through, so it's time to toss 'em.

Since each basket also has a dripper on our drip irrigation system, I need to plug them so the water isn't wasted just flowing onto the patio.

It can be hard work pulling the crusted up drippers off of the hose but I finally get them.

I have some plugs that I stick in to plug the holes.  Come spring, I can plant some new baskets and put the drippers back in.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Price of Beauty

A well-trimmed tree is a work of art. My neighbor has hers pruned every couple of years by her gardener.  This weekend, the crew showed up and did their magic.

The Japanese elm looks magnificent. Feathery, open, airy, without looking chopped.

The next morning, however, I go out to my patio and see this.  Seems like my walkway bore a bit of the brunt of their work.

No worries...when the gardener showed up for his regular Wednesday mow and trim, I pointed it out. He was over with a leaf blower immediately afterward.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It's Dragon Season

Eh, well we still got a few fruit from this plant in the corner. 

Now the question is, is this the last harvest of the summer or the first harvest of the winter?


Monday, October 5, 2015


Tomatoes are annual plants. At least they're supposed to be. I look out the laundry room window and I see that the hanging cherry tomato plant is gone.

I go out to uproot it but...what's this?...there are some new green leaves coming out.

Instead of uprooting it, I give it a haircut.

All the dead trimmed away, let's give it a chance to come back.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Parasols of Summer

You can tell it's summer on the Cheapskate's patio when the umbrellas are out.  It's a necessary accommodation where the peak temperatures can reach 110 degrees or more.

You can also tell when summer is over and the umbrellas come down.

This was that weekend as we start the transition from summer gardening to fall and winter preparation. 

Then we'll do it all again...


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


In my seemingly never ending quest to use all of our tomatoes, this week I made some guacamole.

I could have asked my neighbor for a couple avocados but since I was thinking about this while I was at the store, I took the easy way out and bought a couple of Haas avocados, some green onions, and a lemon. I probably could have used a homegrown onion but I used it last week on another meal and don't have another.

This tomato...

...and these chiles, however, came straight from the garden.

It's a pretty easy recipe, first dice up the tomato.  Take the dead skin off of two whole green onions, along with the roots. Chop it all up into 1 inch pieces.

Put the onions and the chile...I've got a very small Anaheim chile, a Thai chili, and a few serrano chiles..into a food processor and chop up into fine mixture of little cubes.

Scoop out the avocados into a bowl, add the tomatoes, and mash up like mashed potatoes. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic and another of salt.  Squeeze lemon juice over everything and add the onion and chile mixture.

Add half and half or heavy cream to give a creamy taste and texture. Stir thoroughly and add salt and cream sparingly to taste.

When done, we add it to our tacos, as shown at the top. You can also use it as a very tasty dip for your tortilla chips.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 17, 2015

September Harvest

Great haul this week.

Heirloom tomato, guavas, hybrid tomato, Anaheim chile, hot chiles, and onion. Time to make salsa.

These cherry tomatoes will be used for a Caprese salad.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Deacon Blues

"They got a name for the winners in the world, I wanna name when I lose. They call Alabama the Crimson Tide...call me Deacon Blues."
Deacon Blues
Steely Dan

Last week, I showed you some of the winners of the garden. This week, it's the losers' turn. Luckily we didn't have too many. Last year was an almost complete lost season. This year is much, much better.

I'm not complaining at all but let's see what didn't work this year.

At the top of the page is our grape vine, which is always a challenge. One year I got 50 pounds of grapes. The next, all the local animals ate them before they ripened. In the years since, I've tried various methods to keep the animals out and have had limited to no success.

This years, I kept the animals out by wrapping the clusters in nets but the resulting fruit was tiny and cracked.  Not nearly as good as the grapes I got at the farmers market for $2 a pound.  I'm just going to let the plant alone next year and see what happens.

The zucchini, usually the most prolific plant in the garden, only produced two very small fruit over the season.  I'll try a different variety next year.

I believe the corn was a victim of an unnoticed clogged sprinkler at the beginning of the season. It never came back.

The severe drought we're experiencing also hit some of the plants. These roses have no blooms because the deer have been coming down from the dry mountains in search of food. They found a taste for the flowers and eat them up as soon as they bloom.

Maybe next year we'll get that El Nino we keep waiting for and the deer can return home.

This rose just gave up the ghost.  I think I'll replace it with a Saint Patrick rose.

The biggest victim is the lawn, which is really a victim of the law. We're mandated not to water it more than two days a week, 15 minutes at a time.  With no shade at all, it just couldn't handle that diet so dormancy kicked in and it's just straw now.

I'm hoping we'll get enough water this year that I can overseed with a heat-resistant blend for next year.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved