Friday, July 29, 2011

Hiking in Garland Ranch

If you come by here regularly you've perhaps noticed that I mention Garland Ranch Regional Park at times. It dominates the view from my house and garden and it's where I spend a number of hours every week hiking to stay in shape. Perhaps you might like to see a bit more of it? Then come along and see a few highlights from my last couple of hikes.

Here's a couple of recent photos of the park from my garden. The highest point in the first photo is the top of Snively's Ridge and in the second photo Snively's Ridge descends into the center of the photo and the top of the ridge behind is the Vasquez Knob.

Here's the view from the highest point on Snively's Ridge looking down into my neighborhood.

From this angle you can see down the Snively's Ridge trail and on the right is the Vasquez Knob. Off to the left is Carmel Valley Village where the defunct airstrip is still a prominent feature. The mountains in the distance are the Santa Lucia range.

The high point in the distance in the next photo is Mount Carmel (elevation 4,430 feet), the highest point in the northern Santa Lucias. There's a trail that goes to the top of that peak from the other side of the ridge, you get there by driving down highway 1 and then inland about 7 miles. My husband and I hiked to the top a couple of weeks ago. It was a very beautiful hike with spectacular views along the way of the peaks to the south but we were disappointed to find that the peak itself has too many trees to allow any views in this direction.

Pinion Peak is behind Snively's Ridge and sports an abandoned fire watch tower.

From the top of Snively's it looks like you can skip to the top of the Vasquez Knob and then on down the Santa Lucia range...

If you look closely you can see the East Ridge trail that follows the center ridge up to the top of the top and connects with trail to knob.

From this angle you can see the Veeder trail, another route that takes you up toward the knob.

Here's the view of the Santa Lucias from the Vasquez Knob. In the foreground is yet more of the park, the Kahn Ranch Addition.

Looking back in the other direction you can see Snively's Ridge which almost connects with Pinion Peak. The fog in the distance is obscuring the view of Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz.

I haven't been to the top of Pinion Peak, it's outside of the park and from what I've heard the casual trail is rather choked with poison oak.

You can just make out the Snively's Ridge trail from here.

Here's some of the last wild flowers of the season.


One of the benches along the East Ridge trail affords a lovely view over the Carmel Valley towards Monterey Bay.

Not all the trails make you slog up the ridge lines. There's a trail down into the Redwood Canyon. The tallest Redwood tree in this canyon seems to have been struck by lightning at some point.

The Eastridge trail starts in the shade of Garzas Canyon.

And the Garzas Canyon trail starts out following Garzas Creek which still has a bit of water flowing in it. The creek will most likely be dry by autumn.

I feel so lucky to be living within such an easy distance of this wonderful park and I have taken full advantage of if. What I've shown you today is just a fraction of the 50 miles of trails here. I'm only about 2 miles short of having hiked every one of them - but not for long...

Sleepy Bumble Bee

This little guy made his bed in a pepper leaf last night.

Isn't he cute!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Part III - The Garden on July 19, 2011 - Plus a Preview of Coming Attractions

These final beds have the remnants of the spring garden and will soon be transitioned to a few more summer vegetables and some fall ones.

In this corner, in a triangular layout rather than my usual rows, is Diamante Celery root. This variety has done extremely well for me over the last two years. This spot was home to the volunteer patch of chamomile over the winter and spring. I let the chamomile bloom and set seed like crazy so I suspect that I will have my work cut out keeping the new batch of volunteers weeded out.

Pea shoots used to be in the foreground and the space will soon be home to some Neckark√∂nigin pole snap beans (I hope). Off to the left are the puny napa cabbages which are now starting to bolt. I figured out why they did so poorly in this spot when I prepared the bed for the summer/fall plantings - the bed was full of invading oak tree roots which were sucking up too much water and nutrients.  The plants look better already now that the surrounding competition is gone but they are using their new food and water to bloom. Out with them, the chickens will love the treat!

This is the rest of the spring garden - on the left are Oregon Giant snow peas and on the right is the Piracicaba broccoli. The broccoli is still producing a respectable amount of shoots so it gets to stay a while longer.

The pea plants look like they are truly on their last legs.

But they are actually managing to produce some good peas, still sweet and tender, and in enough quantity to merit keeping around until the Stregonta borlotti beans that I've started need to take their place.

Down at the end of this bed are the Golden Chard plants - four in this photo but now down to three plants thanks to a gopher (but I got you, you little ...). These plants could stay here through the winter if I let them, but they may have to make way at the end of the year. On the left are the struggling Calabrese broccoli plants - I think that they weren't getting enough water either, they seem to be doing better now that I've increased the water to the garden. I don't think that this planting will recover enough to produce a decent crop but I'll leave it for now since I don't really need the space right away. I've sown seeds to try this variety as a fall crop, I really want to try to get this variety to grow, it looks very interesting, almost like Spigariello broccoli but with a cut leaf.

Sweetie Baby romaine and Garden Babies butterhead lettuces coming along. I've had to swathe these plants in row cover to protect them from the blasted rats. I've redoubled my ratting efforts in the last few days - you can keep track of my efforts on my sidebar under Rat Patrol. I've reduced the local rat population by 15 over the last three nights, plus one confirmed kill by Zeke the Rodenator (good boy!).

One last look at the garden overall. The bed down on the right needs to be cleared out and prepared for the fall vegetables.

The only vegetable remaining in that bed is one last radicchio.

Outside the main garden, here's the potato plants in the old compost bin experiment. The plants seem to be healthy. I've been covering their stems with the chunky stuff that I've sifted out of the finished compost.

I have to keep it all covered up to keep the deer from munching. The plants seem to like a bit of shade which I suppose keeps them from getting too hot inside all that black plastic.

And here's the preview of coming attractions. This is the first round of sowing for the fall garden and I'll be sowing more in the coming weeks.

- Two flats of beans in paper pots - Stregonta borlotti pole beans, Neckark√∂nigin pole snap beans, and Rolande bush filet beans.
- Some 4-inch pots of Genevose basil and Dorato di Asti celery (in desperate need of thinning) that are growing well.
- More 4-inch pots newly sown with Piracicaba broccoli, Purple Sprouting broccoli, Calabrese broccoli, Cavolo Nero kale, Sweetie Baby romaine, Garden Babies butterhead, and Ear of the Devil lettuce.
- A flat of six-packs with Tender Leaf amaranth seedlings and newly sown packs with more amaranth.
- One flat of paper pots sown with Florence fennel, Golden beets, Chioggia beets, Baby Ball beets, Egyptian Flat beets, Charming napa cabbage, Hybrid One Kilo napa cabbage, Tenderheart napa cabbage, and Green Rocket napa cabbage.
- Oh, and I'm giving some Zinger Hibiscus one last desperate late attempt in the last 6-pack. I've tried starting the hibiscus a few times this year and always get great germination but then the plants languish in the cool weather and wither up and die. Our summer weather should be starting in earnest soon and if we get our typical fall weather we should have warm days through October and into November - perhaps I can keep the plants alive long enough to produce a few flowers.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Garden on July 19, 2011 - Part II

Let's move on to the rest of the "summer" vegetables. I put summer in quotes since these vegetables are harvested in the summer in most gardens but I'm coming to realize accept that summer in this part of the world tends to come into full swing when other gardeners are accepting that summer is quickly turning into fall.

The solanum bed - tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.

Most of the tomato plants haven't even filled their cages yet and there's a scarcity of even green fruits to be seen.

Here's a closer view of some of the eggplant, from left to right there are 2 plants each of Black Beauty, Rosa Bianca, and Orient Express. These plants are just starting to set fruits.

To the right of those eggplants are the Ear of the Devil lettuces that I let go to seed. I was cutting them down but stopped to take some photos of them so that I can remember how big they got for future reference.

The seed heads certainly are weedy looking! I've got enough seeds to last a loooong time.

Once the plants were pulled I immediately dug some amendments into the soil and planted out some pepper plants that I had sitting in reserve. I'm not so sure that these runty things will amount to much, but what the heck, I'll give them a chance to surprise me.

Next are the Diamond eggplants that I started from seed. This variety is quite well adapted to my cool climate and has reliably produced very high quality fruits.

They are being slowed down a bit by an infestation of spider mites. You can see the yellowing leaves in the photo above and in the two photos below you can see the white stippling caused by their feeding, you might even be able to see the tiny red dots that are the mites themselves.

Here's the advice for treating spider mites from UC IPM:
If a treatment for mites is necessary, use selective materials, preferably insecticidal soap or insecticidal oil. Petroleum-based horticultural oils or neem oils are both acceptable. Do not use soaps or oils on water-stressed plants or when temperatures exceed 90°F. These materials may be phytotoxic to some plants, so check labels and/or test them out on a portion of the foliage several days before applying a full treatment. Oils and soaps must contact mites to kill them so excellent coverage, especially on the undersides of leaves, is essential and repeat applications may be required. Sulfur dust or spray can be used on some vegetables, but will burn cucurbits. Do not use sulfur dust if temperatures exceed 90°F and do not apply sulfur within 30 days of an oil spray. Sulfur dusts are skin irritants and eye and respiratory hazards. Always wear appropriate protective clothing.
I've successfully treated spider mites on eggplants with insecticidal soap in the past so I'm going to give these plants a treatment as soon as I can get around to it.

Here's the first Diamond eggplant coming along.

More peppers in the foreground, all of them are varieties that are harvested as baby green peppers. From left to right are Fushimi, Shishito, and Pimento de Padron.

The Padrons are the most vigorous of the bunch.

The Shishitos are setting peppers but the plants are not growing well and the fruits are quite small. Same goes for the rest of the peppers, although the Padrons seem to be doing ok but not as well as expected.

I suspect that the tomato plants are out competing the pepper plants for water and nutrients. When I pulled out the Ear of the Devil lettuce plants and dug the area over I noticed that the tomato plants had already sent a LOT of roots into that area. Next year I will have to segregate the tomato and pepper beds like I've done in the past. I'm going to try giving the peppers and eggplants additional liquid feedings to see if I can give them a boost.

As I mentioned before the tomatoes are very slow to set this year, the nights remain mostly on the cool to cold side which inhibits fruit set. Here's the best performer so far - Fiaschetto is an heirloom tomato from Puglia. It's a small roma type tomato that is supposed to be a good all round tomato. I'm really surprised by how well it has done since I didn't expect it to be a cool climate performer. It's actually doing much better than my cool climate adapted varieties - go figure.

Damned rodents...

The chickens got the rest of that head of Sweetie Baby romaine lettuce. Damned rodents.

Some of the pot grown pepper plants elsewhere around the property:

These Padrons got off to a great start but are sulking now. Not enough water I suspect or perhaps they didn't transition well from being under cover to the direct sun, perhaps the black pots are cooking their roots in spite of the cool weather.

The Padrons in the terra cotta pots are happier. Hmm, perhaps the black pots are cooking the roots, I think I'll try to screen them from the sun. The rat depredations in this part of the garden have slowed enough that I can leave these plants uncovered for now.

Pimento de Padrons



Chile Manzano going into year three in the back, Puerto Rico No Burn making a slow come back to the left, Suave Orange also still going in year two, a new Aji Angelo going strong front and center, and a new Chiero Recife off to a slow start front left.

The Suave Orange is covered with small seedles fruits and lots more flowers. I hope it starts to produce some better fruits as the season goes on.

A new for me baccatum variety starting to take off in another cozy corner. Here's the description for Rain Forest from Peppermania: Pendent pods of varying unique shapes grow on medium plant, ripen from a light green to coral to red. Medium Hot when ripe and beautiful when loaded with pods on a branching shrub-like plant. Short season for the species.

Here's a happier Chiero Recife plant, also a new variety in my garden. Peppermania's description: Tasty, aromatic teardrop morsels grow pendent on smaller shub-like plant. Pods ripen from light white/yellow to a coral red with a medium heat. Prolific so plenty of these yummies for fresh bites and to process in salsas and sauces.

Aji de la Tierra going on three years (the baccatum peppers can be perennial in mild climates). This plant has always been a very late producer and I haven't been able to harvest much before the plants and pods get zinged by the first frosty weather. It's nice to see a pod already so perhaps I'll get to try more of these this year. I also moved the pot closer to the house so that I can easily move the pot to a protected spot next to the house when frost starts to threaten.

That's it for today's part of the garden update, come on back for the rest of the tour in the days to come. Thanks for stopping by!