The cilantro is basically harvestable now, which I’m happy about, but it’s rather floppy and leggy.
Additionally, the marigolds, which are planted next to the cilantro, have weak stems and small flowers.
These plants are in a garden box that my landlord built. He decided to put the box under this large honeysuckle shrub so as to shade it a bit. He was worried that the plants would bolt almost immediately if they got too much sun. I thought he was being excessively cautious about the sunlight, but I’m new to California, so if he says they need shade, I’ll take his word for it.
After seeing how these plants are performing, I wish I’d pushed harder for more sunlight.
Fortunately, the day after I mentioned to him that the cilantro and marigolds might need more sunlight, he moved the garden box!
Keith seems to think the cilantro is already looking better. I don’t notice that much of a difference so far, but hopefully they’ll put on more growth soon. The arugula on the other hand (planted right next to the cilantro), apparently, doesn’t like the extra sunlight…oops…can’t please everyone.
How do I have powdery mildew already? In California?! This photo is from my squash plant. Both the zucchini and winter squash have it on a couple of leaves.
I thought powdery mildew was supposed to happen in humid environments, and the Bay Area is anything but humid… hmmm… I have some things to learn about powdery mildew…
Powdery mildew is a disease caused by several different types of fungi (437 different species within the order Erysiphales). The spores or conidia of the fungi are carried by the wind to a host plant. According to the Penn Extension, ideal conditions for powdery mildew are high humidity at night and low humidity during the day with daytime temps of 70-80 degrees. Additionally, the University of California Master Gardener’s website says that placing plants in full sun can help prevent or kill the fungus that is causing powdery mildew, since powdery mildew fungi don’t like really intense heat.
Here in Palo Alto, we have low humidity during the day and 70-80 describes pretty much every summer day here. I occasionally water in the evening, after I get home from work and see that the garden looks a little dry, which may make for relatively humid local conditions during the night. The squash plants are in the most sunny spot we could find, but there are several trees in the area, so it is mostly shaded in the afternoon. Overall, not ideal for my squash plants, but pretty ideal for powdery mildew fungi.
Fortunately, it’s a very mild case at this point, so I’m not going to bother trying to treat it, but it’s a good lesson for me to water in the morning rather than at night. Ideally, I would have a drip system set up on a timer, but those are dreams for a garden a few years from now.
One other thing I learned about powdery mildew is that the fungi are obligate parasites, which means they need a living host to survive. Therefore, (apparently) it’s ok to throw powdery mildew-infested plants in the compost pile, since when the plant dies, so does the fungus. Huh. Is this really true?
Did you know that prior to becoming “Silicon Valley” the Bay Area used to be called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight?” Apparently, it got this name because of all of the fruit orchards in the area. In the 1930s, San Jose, which is just south of Palo Alto, was the world’s largest cannery and dried fruit packing center. El Camino Real (a major highway through Palo Alto that connects San Diego with San Francisco) used to a a dirt road line with orchard trees between Palo Alto and San Jose.
Although there aren’t many orchards left in the immediate area, fruit trees are not infrequently seen. The plum and peach season seems to have just ended, and we’re starting to get into pears and apples. Fall is coming! But some citrus (like lemons) are also ripe, which confuses me.
There’s a map of Stanford’s campus that identifies all of the fruit trees in the area. When Nate visited me, we tried to find as many as we could.
At firs we weren’t having much luck…the campus was pretty, but the first few fruit trees we tried to find weren’t where the map said they would be.
And then, we found our first citrus trees!
The photo above is of a citrus tree in a small cluster of them that were marked on the map. I believe this may have been an orange.
After that, we found tons of fruit trees! Mostly citrus trees, to be honest. Lots of lemons, limes, oranges, and pomelos.
But also some interesting ones, like kumquats
….and Buddha’s hand.
I also found some volunteer tomato plants that had sprung up next to a community garden. They didn’t seem to be well-cared for, so I decided to harvest the tomatoes. Yum yum!
I started to propagate jade plants from jade plant leaves 46 days ago. I simply laid the leaves on soil and kept them moist.
Here’s how they look today:
Huh. They’re standing up. I guess this is a good sign – that they’ve rooted – but it’s not exactly what I was expecting. I thought they would produce baby succulents at the point where the leaf end meets the soil and the main mother leaf would involute or something like that…. I’m curious to see where this is going…
Last Sunday, I volunteered for Village Harvest again. This time we were harvesting pears, and it was in Los Gatos hills. The Los Gatos hills are about 40 minutes from me. I drove down some narrow and windy, but scenic roads to get there.
The pear trees we were harvesting from were on four adjacent residential properties. My guess is that this area was once a large pear orchard, but over the years, the land was broken up and sold off. Here are some surreptitious photos I took during the harvest to give you a sense of the place.
The pears were going to the San Jose food bank.
We got to take home fruit that had fallen on the ground again (they can’t take them to the food bank, since they can’t verify that they will be washed before being consumed). It turned out to be quite a lot of pears! There was a huge thunderstorm the night before (very unusual for this area), so there was already a lot of pears on the ground when we got there. Then, as we’re picking the fruit, pears inevitable fall from the tree when you’re trying to pick from a cluster of pears, so those came home too.
I’m planning to make pear sauce with some of the pears, and freeze some pears for cooking in my oatmeal, but if anyone has other suggestions for what to do with an abundance of pears, let me know!
A couple of weeks ago, I dug up a 3×3 square of dirt in the backyard to plant zucchini and winter squash. The squash are doing well, which has increased my confidence in planting things in the dirt here.
I have some seeds that I brought down from Seattle, and there was a bit more space around where I planted the squash, so I decided to put it to good use.
My landlord/roommate had been talking about putting stepping stones around the “garden” (squash plot), and when I decided to expand the garden, we decided to use the stepping stones as a path through the garden.
I mapped out where the path would be.
Then I laid down my seed packets roughly where I though different plants would go. I planted carrots, beets, spring onions, beans, peas, kale, mustard greens, and spinach.
Most of these seeds are a few years old at least, so I think I’ll have so-so germination rates at best. But it’s worth a shot! The zucchini was old, and that still came up, so why not?
Here’s the finished product (without all the shadows from the sun).
Not much too look at right now, but hopefully we’ll get something soon!
One of my attendings gave me some plant starts — rooted cutting, and small seedlings. Her mother (who is in her 80s) does a lot of gardening. She plants everything from seed and always has a lot of extra seedlings.
She gave me rooted cuttings of pineapple sage, as well as seedlings of basil, mint, and a couple of small eggplant.
I planted the pineapple sage in a bed at the edge of the yard amongst other types of salvia.
The one of the left is doing well, but the one of the right looks pretty dead a few days after planting.
The eggplant is supposedly a Green Apple eggplant. I’ve never heard of this, but I’m excited to see if it will grow well here. She says it grows well in containers.
I planted it where the parsley had been planted but didn’t come up.