Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Green in the Garden

Our gardens are thriving! But one thing you can count on when you garden; everyone wants a share. That includes white flies, aphids and caterpillars. Most gardeners believe in sharing the bounty, but we want some for our own tables too! So how do we discourage the wholesale destruction of our plants by little critters?

Insects are a vital part of a healthy garden. We can never completely eradicate them nor should we try, since the ecosystem is first of all a system, in which every species plays a role. The belief that insects and weeds must be totally eliminated from our gardens has led to the acceptance of the use of poisons which are ultimately harmful to our own vitality. Pesticides contribute to an increasingly toxic environment marked by rising rates of autoimmune disease and even cancer.

Maintain a Healthy Garden

Healthy plants are resistant to insect infestation and disease, so consider these tips for keeping your plants healthy.

1) Don't wash cars or trailers on the grass or garden areas, as soap and waxes contaminate the soil.
2) Add compost to your soil in the spring and fall.
3) Don't use too much fertilizer, as insects love the fragile leaves produced by plants which are overfed.
4) Mulch plants to keep roots cool and conserve moisture.
5) Keep plant roots moist but not saturated, and don't allow plants to dry out and wilt.
6) Water early enough in the day that leaves have time to dry off completely before dark.
7) Avoid crowding plants together, as they need air circulation to avoid fungal diseases.
8) Remove tomato branches which touch the ground, as they are a pathway for soil-borne pathogens.
9) Remove any diseased or dying plants immediately before they infect the plants around them.
10) Pull weeds when they are small.
11) Rotate families of vegetables; for example, don't plant members of the cabbage family in the same space or soil two years running.

Some of these things we can do now, like pruning low hanging branches and mulching, but others will have to wait for next season. In the meantime, how do we cope when white flies, aphids and caterpillars are eating their way through our tomatoes and cucumbers, ants are marching by the hundreds across the kitchen counter and the weeds are taking over?

Think Yellow

Aphids and white flies are attracted to the colour yellow. Smear a thin layer of Vaseline, vegetable oil or Crisco on yellow cardstock and tie them to plants to attract and trap these insects.

Ants in the House?

Ants invade our homes only during a short period in early summer as they get ready to launch a new generation of queens. To discourage ants store food in sealed, air-tight containers. Wash away even the tiniest spots of all sweet foods like juice and fruits, and wipe down counters with vinegar and water to destroy the ant's scent trails. Sprinkle cinnamon, cornmeal, baby powder or black pepper over and around their entry point.

When ants stay outside they need no "controlling" unless they move a herd of aphids onto your plants. Ants “farm” aphids like we farm dairy cows, and it is the aphids which do the damage. So we target the aphids. But whatever we use eventually ends up in the the soil and ground water. Take responsibility for the environment around you and don't use toxic chemicals. There are many economical non-toxic ways to protect your garden from pests.

To reduce insect infestations first remove any leaves which are more than 50% damaged and discard them in the garbage (not in the compost pile). Then spray a fine mist of one of the following non-toxic sprays over the leaves and stems, twice, completely covering them each time. Repeat this treatment every three-four days for 12-14 days. You should see a reduction in the number of pests within a day or two after each spraying. Always spray in the evening when beneficial insects like bees are less likely to be affected.

Natural Citrus Spray – Kills aphids and discourages ants

Ingredients: 2 cups of water and the grated rind from one lemon.

Bring the water to a boil. Remove the water from the heat and add the grated lemon rind. Cover and allow to steep overnight. Strain the mixture and pour it into a spray bottle.

Apply the citrus spray to both top and bottom of plant leaves that are under attack by aphids or other soft-bodied insects. The spray must come in contact with the insects' bodies to be effective.

White Flies

White flies are so small you can hardly see them but they can suck a plant of its life in a few days. White flies evolve from egg to nymph, to pupa, to an adult fly in 8-10 days. No method of control will kill all four stages with one application. Repeated application every 3-4 days is needed for 12-14 days to ensure that eggs do not mature to start the cycle all over again.

Onion Juice and Peppermint Spray - Effective on ants, caterpillars, aphids and white flies.

1/4 tsp dish soap; 1 litre of water; 2 drops peppermint essential oil; one large onion

Instructions: Juice the onion or blend it with ½ litre of water, and strain through a fine strainer or cloth. Put the onion juice in a one litre spray bottle, add water to almost fill, then add the dish soap. Stir gently. Add one or two drops of peppermint essential oil (peppermint essence or flavouring won't work) into the mix.


In the garden there is no alternative except to pull weeds, preferably when they are small, and before they have set seed. But if there are weeds growing in your gravel driveway, or along the roadside, use this non-toxic weed killer.


Into a one litre spray bottle pour:
1 cup of vinegar
½ cup of regular dish washing soap (not dishwasher detergent)
Fill the rest of the bottle up with water.

Shake well before each use. Spray mixture directly on the weed; be careful not to spray any other plant material! The vinegar is what kills the weeds, but the dish soap holds the vinegar in place so it stays on the plant instead of running off. Best time to spray is in the middle of the day when the sun is beating down.

Under no circumstances should you put borax or chlorine bleach on weeds or soil, as this contaminates the soil and ground water, and kills adjacent plants.

New Compost Project

The two compost bins we have going now are doing so well that Cat and Jed are going to set up a larger bin exclusively for lawn clippings. Please read the signs and add only approved items. Kitchen trimmings may be added to the green compost bin at the back of Deb's site near the hose for the Community Garden. Please cover your scraps when you add them. There's a small hoe by the bin. :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Tilling Tale

What every garden needs is a deep tilling to bring mineral-rich soil up to the surface, work organic matter down to the root level, improve water penetration and improve aeration. No other preparation can match it. But any gardener can tell you that digging over a garden this thoroughly is a big job. Blisters and sore muscles predicted, even if you have a powerful garden tiller and the strength to keep it from taking off across the lawn and chewing up the flower beds.

But there's a little four-legger who deep tills, adds organic matter by the bushel and aerates your garden (and lawn) for free, while the gardener sits on the deck and watches the clouds float by. Granted, the four-legger's wages may be the occasional bulb or potato, but no one could be expected to do all this work for free!

In the Okanagan the resident "burrower" is the Northern Pocket Gopher (Thomomys talpoides), a cute little fellow who looks as if he might have been dreamed up by a Disney animator. He's about five or six inches long, and weighs about half a pound as an adult. He has fur-lined cheek pouches which he uses like we use shopping bags. He stuffs them full of grass (which is his primary food) and turns them completely inside out to empty them.

The pocket gopher has short soft fur which is nearly uniform in colour, but the colour depends on his habitat, and it usually closely matches the soil of his home territory. He's stocky with short legs with small ears and eyes. His claws are long and well-developed as would be expected in a burrowing animal.

The pocket gopher digs an extensive network of system of burrows consisting of deep permanent galleries and shallow feeding tunnels and spends most of its life underground. Galleries can be from three to nine feet below the surface. These contain centralized nesting and storage chambers. The feeding tunnels radiate from them. Feeding tunnels can be from two to 18 inches below the surface of the soil, and are about two inches in diameter.

Tunnel entrances are marked by fan-shaped mounds of dirt surrounding the holes. These entrances are usually blocked with a plug of dirt. The pocket gopher seldom strays far from the entrance during the day. They are somewhat more adventurous at night, venturing as much as three feet from the burrow entrance. They do not hibernate, and in areas where there is deep snow cover they build passages through the snow, lining them with excavated earth. (Apparently white walls are not to their taste.)

Their diet consists of roots, bulbs, leaves, and other vegetation. If possible, they will burrow beneath a plant, chew off the roots and pull it through the ground by the stem. This behaviour has been well-documented in such epic Mel Blanc films as A Bone for a Bone and Gopher Broke.

The gopher is a polite animal, cutting its food into small pieces before stashing it in their cheek pouches for transportation. Pocket gophers do not drink water, as they get the fluid they need from their food.

Except for a brief courting period in early spring the pocket gopher is a loner. They do not gather on the lawn for croquet tournaments or hold family reunions to remember their foregophers. In fact they are such loners that if one pocket gopher's tunnel intersects another's one of them will seal the intersection, quite possibly swearing in gopherese at the inconvenience.

Males are allowed to enter the burrows of females only during mating season. Female pocket gophers have one litter of 1-10 young each year. Pregnancy lasts a mercifully short 18 days, and the babies remain in their mother's burrow for eight weeks, at which point they are teenagers and insufferably untidy, and their mother gives them the boot. Young pocket gophers breed at about a year of age, which is convenient since life expectancy is only two years. A prey species, they live fast and die young.

Though they are often accused of damaging grasslands, their burrowing actually benefits the ecosystem by aerating the soil, and their stores of underground plant matter enriches the soil by creating humus. Their tunnels also allow rain and snow to move deep into the soil.

Unfortunately most people get uncomfortably excited when they find a mound of soft earth on the lawn, but it's probably best to simply rake the nice fresh soil from the mound onto the surrounding area and not to get too stressed about it, as stress is bad for one's heart.

If you have a mound show up on your site and you simply have to do something to discourage the gopher who put it there, try Cat's Gopher Irritator, which is a soda or water bottle sunk into the tunnel entrance. Burrowers are exquisitely sensitive to vibrations, and the low frequency sound waves produced by the wind as it blows across the bottle neck apparently aggravates them enough to make them head for greener (or at least less noisy) pastures. Here is one of the Gopher Irritators Cat has placed in various locations around the Park. The pink ribbon signifies that technology is at work encouraging the gophers to go live on the other side of the fence. Please do not pluck the "Irritators" from their burrows, as they are costly and time-consuming to replace.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Potluck

Edit 23 June Ruth's Pineapple Desert Recipe added at the end of this post!

Now we know how to end a dry spell in the Okanagan; schedule a potluck and post the information where the weather witch can read it! Two inches of rain guaranteed!

Despite the wind, rain and 12 degree temperature a record-breaking crowd showed up to chow down, visit and be neighborly. I am guessing 30-35 people attended! :) It was a packed house which was even more surprising given the state of the weather! I like this picture, even though it is out of focus. Food and fireworks, what could be better? Although the only "fireworks" was my flash, which is out of synch with my camera's shutter, resulting in some surreal photos. Special effects, yeah, that's what it was. I meant to do that!

Some highly intelligent person made the decision to move the whole shebang into the office, though the brave and hardy souls went out under the "Sunshine" canopy and sat at the picnic tables.

There was so much food we almost had to stack it! Such a rich and delicious assortment. The only disappointment was that it was almost impossible to try everything. There were the pot-luck standbys, without which no potluck could deserve the name; i.e. lasagnas and tuna casseroles, macaroni and vegetable salads, plus surprises like ginger beef, sausage rolls, chicken wings, pulled pork, chili, . (Stops typing to wipe away drool.)

A big THANK YOU to all who came out and brought food, their smiles and their appetites. It was so nice to see people we don't often have a chance to visit with. THANKS to Ruth, Linda and Judy for playing hostess, and for setting up the room on such short notice. They may have had help, and if you were a helper hold up your hand for acknowledgement. I know everyone appreciates your contribution toward making this a very pleasant social occasion.

I am twisting arms for recipes; Loretta was almost stampeded by requests for her recipe for Thai Chicken/Shrimp Salad. She brought it to me this afternoon, and I hereby officially share it with the entire Park.

Loretta's Thai Chicken/Shrimp Salad

The Thai dressing makes the flavour of this salad. You can use chicken or shrimp, or a mixture of the two.


Farkay Brand steam-fried noodles (in Asian food section) 14 oz package
1 lb cooked shrimp or prawns and/or cooked cubed chicken
1 each red, yellow and green sweet bell peppers diced
3 green onions finely sliced
Thai Sesame Dressing and Marinade (Safeway deli section- orange & green label)
Olive oil

1) Put half of the package of noodles in a bowl or saucepan with a little salt. Cover with boiling water and leave for 90 seconds. Drain and immediately drench with cold water and drain to stop the cooking;

2) Combine noodles, cooked shrimp/chicken and vegetables in a large bowl. Add 1/4 bottle of the Thai dressing, a dash of black pepper and 1 tbs. olive oil. Check for flavour, add more dressing and oil if required. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For a less spicy version decrease the Thai dressing by half and replace it with 2 tbs of Ranch or Caesar dressing.

Thank you Loretta!

Ruth's Pineapple Dessert

Crust Ingredients:
1/2 lb Cristies Vanilla wafers, crushed to make 2 cups fine crumbs
5 tbs melted butter

Mix the butter and wafer crumbs together. BUtter and flour a 12 x 18 inch pan, press half the butter/crumb mixture into it, pressing it down firmly.

1/2 cup butter
1 c. icing (confectioner's) sugar
1 package cream cheese
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 c chopped nuts
1 c crushed pineapple, wel-drained
1/2 pint cream, whipped

Cream butter, sugar and cream cheese. Add the well-beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. Spread over crust in pan. Layer nuts over mix, then add a layer of pineapple. Spread on whipping cream. Top with remaining crust mix. Refrigerate 24 hours. Serves 8-10.

Thank you Ruth!

I still have to arm wrestle the recipe for Judy's rhubarb/strawberry crumble from her. If there was a dish you especially liked let me know and I will attempt to extract it from the appropriate person and post it. I know there's one I am forgetting to mention one which was requested by several people. Remind me please, I have a great memory, it's just a little short...

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Orgy in the Garden!

The goings-on in the Community Garden are definitely x-rated, but the nice ladies who diligently water, weed and tend to their little plots are missing the entire thing!

Well girls, what do you think all that flowering and fruiting is about? And where do little seeds come from? Time to take these innocent gardeners behind the woodshed and share the facts of life with them. Hold on to your sunbonnets!

Flowers are the sexual organs of flowering plants. (blush) I don't know how anyone else feels but I worked hospital wards for years and for looks I think almost any flower beats the heck out of what we've got to work with!

There are two types of reproduction in plants: ASEXUAL and SEXUAL

Asexual reproduction (as practiced by mushrooms or plants which send out runners or suckers) requires only one parent. No mate is needed, all offspring are genetically identical to the parent and there is no diversity in the species. This is potentially dangerous because the entire species can be wiped out by a pathogenic, environmental or climatic disaster. If one is vulnerable, all are vulnerable since none of them will have any greater resistance than its clone.

But flowering plants use sexual reproduction and they have developed it into an art form. Flowers can be pistillate (female), staminate (male) or perfect (both male and female).

Sexual reproduction requires two parents, a male and a female, both of which contribute DNA. (Any mother will understand this perfectly well since all of a child's irritating traits come from their father's side of the family.) Sexual reproduction insures genetic diversity, which is needed for vigor. Each new offspring is genetically unique.

So peeping through the petals we see the Androecium - the male reproductive part of the flower. The individual units of androecium are called the stamens. Each stamen has a thread-like filament at its free end where a four-lobed anther is attached. The anther contains four pollen-sacs, one in each lobe. These pollen-sacs produce pollen which contains sperm cells. When the pollen is mature the anthers burst open and the pollen is released onto the surface.

The Gynoecium is the female part of the flower. The individual units are called the carpels or pistils. A flower may have any number of carpels each of which is made up of an ovary, a hollow tube called a style (think fallopian tube), and a stigma. The ovary contains many ovules each of which consists of an egg and associated cells. The stigma is a sticky structure that receives the pollen. The style is hollow and provides a passageway for the sperm to reach the eggs.

Transfer of pollen to the stigma is called pollination. When the pollen is transferred to the stigma of the same flower, it's called self-pollination. If the pollen grains are transferred to the stigma of another flower of the same species it's called cross-pollination. Cross pollination is helped along by wind, water, bees, birds, bats and other animals including people who stick their noses into one flower after another. That's the reason for the extravagant colours, the lush fragrances, the nectar, the wild shapes. It's all a part of the plants' strategy to attract some creature which will carry out its reproductive cycle.

When the strategy works and a grain of pollen reaches a stigma, the pollen grain immediately puts out a tube which grows down the style and enters the ovule where it bursts at the tip releasing a two-man sperm team. One sperm fuses with the egg and fertilizes it. This results in the formation of single cell with both parent's DNA - the zygote - which develops into the seedling. The other sperm fuses with a separate part of the egg and forms the endosperm, the plant equivalent of the placenta, which nourishes the zygote. The ovule then becomes the seed and the ovary changes into fruit. Think tomato - the ovule becomes seeds and the ovary gets sliced and eaten with your salad.

And the reason I was out in the garden with a paint brush this morning - no matter how small the blossom, a female squash blossom always has a micro-version of the squash it will eventually produce behind it. If there's no baby squash behind the blossom it's a male blossom. And unless that male blossom has a chance to get its pollen over onto the female blossom's pistils, her baby squash will wither and fall off. No sentimentality. Fertilized ovules get all the energy, because they carry the genetic material of that plant forward to next year. I was out making whoopee with the squash.

And that, ladies, is as why I am able to say there's an orgy going on in our gardens.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

She SAID It's a Competition!

We were looking at the first blossom on my zucchini plant when Judy said, "Your zucchini plant is way bigger than mine!"

I said something like, "There, there, it's not a competition."

And she replied, "It is if you don't have the biggest zucchini!"

I can see it now, steely-eyed judges assessing the size, shape and colour of our tomatoes, squash, beans, cabbages, peas, and peppers. (Not the flavour. Unless I get to be a judge.)

Are we competitive? NAW.... But if I can believe the stories I've heard a couple of the neighbours down the way got into a "friendly" competition a few years back over who could grow the biggest, or best, or first ripe, tomato. This "friendliness" led to one of them contriving to somehow attach tomatoes bought at the nearby produce outlet to her tomato vines.

This chicanery was discovered and she went down in defeat but absolutely no shame. Gardeners are a bad lot. No telling what we will stoop to given motivation.

But not keeping score or anything, just reporting, Ruth has the biggest cabbage plant, which is as pretty as any flower! And she has loads of large delicious strawberries too. I got one pea-sized strawberry that tasted like medicine. I don't have any hope of being crowned strawberry queen.

I'm not sure who has the largest tomato plants. Mine are big but Ronnie's may be bigger. Judy has an enormous tomato plant, loaded with little tomatoes. However it was already about four feet tall when she bought it, so she may get disqualified on the "bought your win" technicality.

Our Groundskeeper "Cat", shown here with the Park's lipstick pink truck, improved my advantage yesterday when she trimmed the tree up front. She thinned out the lower branches so we get some morning sun. I know the plants in my vertical planter will appreciate it. Poor things are starved for sun.

Cat also brought an old rain-barrel which we recycled into a compost bin. Art from next door drilled several dozen 1/2" holes in the bottom and each side of it, and blessed it with several loads of freshly cut grass mixed with leaves. The thing is out there cooking like crazy. The two compost bins should eliminate the need to haul the grass clippings and leaves to the dump, and lots of people bring their kitchen scraps to toss in. We will have fantastic compost for the gardens next spring. Mine will be bigger and better than... oh... it's not a competition.... Oh sure.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Worse, things that go "munch" in the night! Since the two or three night raids on the gardens a couple of weeks back we haven't had any more trouble, although something upended and emptied a neighbour's recycling fountain a few nights ago, and the pump burned out.

The big live catch trap has been sitting about six feet from the back end of our trailer for those couple of weeks, and hadn't caught anything. That changed at 11:45 last night when we heard a clang! and some very vigorous cage rattling.
We couldn't see what was in the trap from inside so we got the flashlight and went outside to have a look.

Here ya go... although this was taken this morning. I'd say a 10-12 pound raccoon. It snarled and growled and threatened and we decided to go in and leave it in peace. But the racket would have awakened any dead who happened to be nearby. So, with hopes that it (and we) might sleep if it had a full stomach I cut a half of a sweet potato into strips, opened a five ounce can of turkey and giblets cat food and took it outside. Though the coon threatened to do me serious injury I managed to poke the sweet potato strips inside and spoon the cat food through the wire onto the metal floor.

The cage had a 1/4 thick piece of plywood laid over the floor, about 12" x 20". We could hear the raccoon ripping this plywood apart as it growled. Eventually I heard munching and the scent of sweet potato drifted through the window. Things got a bit (but not a lot) quieter. We closed the window and turned on the fan to mask the noise, and at about 2:30 I finally went to sleep.

This morning when I went out at 7:00 the coon was sound asleep in her cage. She woke as I approached, but didn't growl at me. I took a couple of pictures and fed it more sweet potato and cat food. Also tried to give it water, as I imagine ripping up that much plywood would work up a powerful thirst.

Catherine arrived and covered the cage with an old sheet, and as the sun moved around, she moved the cage to a sheltered, shady position while we waited for the fellow to arrive to pick the coon up for relocation. He came, rebaited the trap, put down a new plywood floor and said we may catch this one's mate.

The one we caught is a female, and he said he could tell she'd had kits this year. While she may not have any surviving kits I hate the thought of little baby coons on their own too early. They might be weaned by now, but would be easy prey for the coyotes, eagles and hawks. Still there's no way you can allow a coon to roam a campground like this. It's too dangerous for tenters, and the pets people tie and leave while they go to the beach or town. Nature and man collide violently all the time, sadly. While the Mama coon will be relocated to a lake farther up in the mountains, all we can hope now is that the young ones will follow her scent here and be caught themselves, so they can be reunited.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Community Garden is looking great! The 4 x 4s are in several stages from "planted three weeks ago" to "planted last weekend". But every garden has green growing things in it, and everyone seems to be enjoying tending their little plots and comparing notes. And, of course, quite a few people have planted tomatoes, herbs and veggies in their own sites.

As you may recall we are trying a number of techniques to increase our gardening room, from upside-down tomatoes, 4 x 4 raised beds, using a child's wading pool as a container bed for squash, an adapted version of the Japanese tomato ring, pots of every size, tiers for containers and even some in-ground gardening.

Sometimes you come across something that ought to be glaring obvious to any gardener, but isn't. Compare the two pictures; Ruth's 4 x 4 24 hours before and 24 hours after application of ground volcanic lava.

There's a gentleman camping here now who is giving away bags of a product called "Supragrow" which is basically ground up red volcanic lava. He brought me a bag and said, "Tomatoes can grow two inches in 24 hours after an application of this stuff."

I was a bit skeptical but I had transplanted a row of four inch tall tomatoes into my 4 x 4 a couple of weeks ago, just because I couldn't bear to throw them away. Poor little things were purple as eggplants because of the cold nights they had endured. Though they had gradually turned from purple to green they hadn't really grown that much.

So I did as he suggested, adding four tablespoons of the ground mineral to a two litre bottle of water. I watered them at about 4:00 pm. When I went back at 6:00 pm to water everything else I was astounded to see that my little tomato plants had grown visibly in that two hours! By the next morning they had all grown two inches in height and put on a new cluster of leaves! They are still growing. I staked them this morning, something I didn't think I was going to have to do.

So yesterday I took five two-inch tall tomato plants I hadn't even been able to give away and transplanted them into the bed under the willow tree, adding the ground minerals to the soil around the hole and in the water I watered them in with. When I transplant anything I dig the hole, fill it with water, poke the plant in and push the soil up around the root ball. This is a technique I learned from a botanist in the 70s and I have not lost a plant to transplant shock since.

Results? One plant is six inches high today. Three are about four inches high and the fifth hasn't gotten much bigger but has a new set of leaves. Everything I "doctored" with the minerals grew faster than usual and developed a much more intense colour. I watered the Brussels sprouts with the mineral and water combo last night and not only did they grow a couple of inches, I can't believe how green they became, overnight. They looked fine before, but now they are the darkest, glossiest, healthiest-looking brassicas I have ever seen!

This is not a fertilizer. It does not contain nitrogen or potash. It contains a lot of iron, as well as calcium and potassium, other minerals and trace elements. Calcium and potassium are charged ions essential to the exchange of energy in biological systems.

So we add yet another experiment to our growing techniques. Several people have bags of the minerals now and are testing them. This is the kind of thing that makes growing things so exciting and so much fun. You just never know what you will learn, what is waiting around the corner!

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Garden and Down the Lane

The weather has finally turned hot and the plots 'n pots in the community garden are doing very well. Some people had help planting their plots, and you know that good help is hard to find these days!

Things are springing out of the ground, and while some of us have had a critter snacking on the plants in our sites at night, so far (knock wood) no critters have eaten anything out of the community garden.

I have promised to make up a sign, as everyone who passes by wants to know what exactly is going on. You'd think they'd never seen a farm before!

As far as gardens around the park go, any number of people report that they have big fat buds on their tomato plants. My Brandywines have flowers! It seems that everyone's tomatoes are doing really well. And there are radishes, carrots, lettuce, beans, peas and other assorted veggies coming up from seed, and the "starts" are doing equally well. We're going to all have to eat a lot of squash if all these squash plants we've planted produce as well as they usually do! There are lots of cukes, strawberries and cabbages around as well.

We have already harvested several meals of greens, including bok choi and Chinese kale. I'll be planting my second crop of Asian greens in a day or two, and in this kind of weather they are often ready for harvest within three weeks!

The flowers in the park are just spectacular this year, so last evening I did a flower tour with the camera, and will share the pictures with you. I have a bunch, so I put most of them on Flickr. To see them click here.

But one I will put here is a picture of Judy and Annabelle's purple clematis. To describe these as spectacular is doing them a disservice. Breathtaking is more like it. I've never seen such enormous blossoms on a clematis. The only one I ever got to bloom had one pitiful quarter-sized bloom. These are almost the size of dinner plates! Well, the old-fashioned 10" dinner plates, like we had when I was a kid and everything was "regular" size and not super-sized, including dinner plates.