Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Summer, Finally, Really!

We have a dirty little secret here in coastal California, Summer starts in September around here. Hehehehe, just after most of the tourists have gone... We can finally sit outside in the evening without a jacket and no dashing indoors or lighting the outdoor heater the very moment the sun dips below the horizon and the fog starts its slow creep or mad dash inland.

Chalk it up to prevailing winds and water currents. In the months that most of us northern latitude folks call summer the prevailing winds and water currents conspire to create cold surface water temperatures (50's F) along the coast and thus plenty of cooling fog and breezes. But late summer brings a shift in the prevailing winds and that brings a halt to the upwelling of cold water along the coast. The water surface temperatures rise as high as 65F and the fog machine slows way down. That's the start of summer!

We had a couple of days of 100F weather last week and now we're having another warm spell in the 90F's. Last night the thermometer showed a low of 65F instead of the usual 50-something or lower. Most of the summer veggies are loving it!

Diamond eggplant, something nearing harvest size. Some of the early flowers survived the rabbit attacks.

Thai Round Green Petch Parisa eggplant, the happiest eggplant specimen in the garden. There are small green eggplant nearly large enough to harvest hidden in the foliage. I don't know why the rabbits didn't attack this plant.

Pimento de Padron, pumping out peppers. My new favorite way to prepare these are to roast them in a hot oven on a preheated cast iron grill pan (put it in the oven when you turn it on) for about 10 minutes, sprinkling some chopped pancetta over them for the last few minutes. I find it works best to turn each pepper about half way through. When I don't add the pancetta my honey looks at me and sadly says "just plain tonight?".

Marconi purple sweet peppers, starting to ripen. I'm thinking these will be good roasted and stuffed with a cheese filling.

Chilhuacle Negro, from Mexico, supposed to be good for mole, chili, and drying. These will ripen to a dark brown.

Aji Angelo, a relatively early baccatum pepper that ripens red and is supposed to be sweet with a medium heat, good for eating fresh.

Christmas Bell, not a bell pepper, another baccatum pepper. I chose this pepper to round out my order from Cross Country Nurseries, the description said it was useful as an ornamental. The first pepper ripened last week and I must say that it is more than just ornamental, it is delicious.

The first Chaco Canyon runner beans forming just above the "rat line".

Magdalena Big Cheese developing the first female blossoms.

This is an Italian herb, nepitella Calamintha nepeta, it is supposedly used to season mushrooms in Tuscany. It likes to volunteer in a modest way around my garden. The interesting thing here is that some of the branches on this plant are sporting white flowers, the lavender flowers are normal.

The female flowers on the Palace King cucumber survived the recent 100F heat and are now opening. There are male blossoms open lower on the plants. Cukes soon, I hope.

You can see the crispy leaf edges on the cucumbers from the recent excessive heat.

And the zucchini plants are getting a reprieve from the powdery mildew attack. The plants aren't as lush looking as a few weeks ago and there aren't as many flowers, but I'm still getting a fair amount of zukes.

And just to show that it is not all joy in my "Summer" garden...

Some of the tomatoes are not so happy. Paul Robeson is covered with crispy leaves but the tomatoes seem to be ok. Other plants have cripy leaves also.

The leaves on Aunt Ruby's German Green are yellowing and then turning brown and crisp. Again, the fruit seems to be ok. A few other plants look like this as well. All of the tomato plants are suffering to some degree.

Well, there are other sad looking things in the garden but I've chosen not to show all the blemishes. After all, I am celebrating the beginning of "Summer", Coastal California style.


  1. Enjoy the summer! The peppers and aubergines (egg plant) look wonderful. Our summer is carrying on as well - September is the best time for swimming in the sea as the water is still warm but all the tourists have gone! We could do with some rain, though.

  2. Hmm summer in September. I really do envy your longer season some days. Then other days I'm happy to live in zone 6. Sometimes it is nice to have your garden freeze solid for a while so you can come back fresh in the spring. I just wish the freeze wasn't 3 months long. Maybe one month might be nice.

  3. Those are pretty good looking "sad" looking things!

  4. Chaiselongue, thanks, I will! It's dry here too, but we can't expect much rain for a while yet.

    Daphne, on rare occasions I envy the winter break you get. But I really just don't like the cold so I'll put up with 12 months of garden chores.

    Susan, compared to the squirrel induced disaster in your garden I can't complain too much.

  5. Thanks for those ideas for the peppers, I must make a list! It's cooled down very slightly here, which is very welcome and the plants have all revived a little.

  6. My children ask me "Is this summer?" and I don't know what to tell them. Usually I say, yes by weather, no by calendar, and explain what an inversion climate is, but they wander off.

    The nepitella turned out to be an herb I cannot eat. Just ruined something for me. Hate the taste. Maybe done better, it would work for me.

    Some day I want to wander your garden. It's so impressive. Thanks for mentioning Cross Country. I'm doomed!

  7. Jan, you're welcome! Enjoy your cooler weather.

    Stefaneener, Do they ask the same question about winter? Hmm, probably not, only people transplanted from colder climes ask that here. It is easy to use too much nepitella. I don't use it much but it is easy to grow and provides nectar for the good bugs so I encourage it. If you wander down to my neighborhood sometime you are welcome to include my garden! But be forwarned, it's not really all that impressive, just cluttered. Cross Country is something of a guilty pleasure, ordering plants from clear across the country, but they carry such interesting chile plants that I can't find seeds for anywhere. Doomed indeed.

  8. Happy summer! I do hope it cools down, I'm going to Tassajara for a few days next week. Now that will be some great food!

    Aside from that, I've invited you to participate in the MeMe meme. The original meme asks you to list 7 things about yourself, and then list 7 blogs you like. I've taken some liberties with it... And you are very welcome to do what you like (ignore, participate, modify...)

  9. Oh yes isn't September nice? It'll only get better after this weekend. I hope that is the only heat wave we are getting though.

    I had to go to SC and sat in the worst traffic during the hottest part of the hottest day. 103 in Capitola that day....

    Sometimes I miss a few of the Padron peppers and they get big and hot. I like a little heat, but not that much. So I cook a pot of beans(pintos)with garlic, slowly, and add the finely chopped, grilled, peppers.

    Your peppers are looking great. PM is a problem here too. This year I have been doing an Aspirin spray(2 tablets to 2 gallons of water, with a little soap for sticking) every 2 weeks. It seems to help, most of my plants are surviving, putting out fruit, and recovering from massive trimming just fine.

  10. I left you a meme on my blog if you want to join in.

  11. Hi Michelle..
    You got an amazing kitchen a balcony gardener and manage some bit of green...:(

  12. TownMouse, the Me meme is certainly getting around, I'm working up a post... Ooh, it could be pretty warm at Tassajara, but the food alone will make the visit worthwile.

    Christine, 103 in Capitola! That sounds like an excellent use for the hot Padrons. Maybe they would be good in roasted tomatillo salsa too... Hmm, I didn't know aspirin worked for PM, that might be something to try on the plants that are sensitive to neem (my favorite PM treatment). Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Daphne, I'm working on that post... It was fun to read more about you.

    Urban Green, Hi and thanks. We gardening addicts will use what ever space we can manage, thank goodness you have a balcony!


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