Friday, July 15, 2011


I can't believe it's been one year since my first blog post. A lot has happened in that year but unfortunately none of it includes growing a bounty of vegetables in my garden. I've had moderate successes, but to to put it into perspective, had there been a man-made or natural disaster that disrupted our food supply and left me to grow my own food, well, I would have starved by now. The fact of the matter is that growing vegetables from seeds is a lot harder than I imagined. Even with all the claims of "Guaranteed to Grow!!" on the many different type of seeds I've tried over the past year I have yet to really grow much. But all that aside, I can consider my first year of gardening as truly trial by error period in which I've acquired the rudimentary gardening knowledge I hope will allow for a more successful second year in the dirt.

A longer post filled with pictures and progress will soon follow....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

June 2011

As I approach the one year anniversary of my blog I am once again hopeful that my garden will actually produce something of value.

The yellow squash plants surprisingly started blooming just a week or two ago. I say surprising because the first time I grew them the plant was much larger, as can be seen here.

This time, the squash plants only grew to about 6 inches in height, which I believe is due to the much smaller container in which I planted them. Clearly I knew that the size of the container is important, however, I didn't realize it made this much of a difference. This is a good lesson to learn, and going forward I will be more mindful of the size and type of containers I use when planting my seeds.

Spinach, it seems, does better when grown in a smaller container. The first time i attempted to grow spinach I used too large a container and this was the result. Quite different this time around as you can see in the picture below.

I do have to mention that I planted the seeds much earlier in the year when the weather was still cool. Whereas, last year I planted the seeds in the middle of summer and we went through a few bouts of unusually warm weather and the combination contributed to the demise of my spinach. Same can be said about the flowers. The cooler temperatures have certainly helped my flower box and although I have yet to grow any actual flowers, I am optimistic that I am somewhat close to success.

The large thick seedlings are all part of the sweet william flower mix that I planted in the box, you can also see a few traces of the oregano but they don't seem to be doing quite as well. The tall thin seedling in the top left part of the flower box is mystery to me.

Could this be a powderpuff aster plant growing? If you look closely you can see the dozens of tiny yellow dots on the plant. Is this a sign of a plant about to flower? I certainly hope so but I will not get my hopes up too much as the plant also seems to be covered in what looks like powdery mildew. I have cut off the leaves with the white marks on them but each time it just seems to get worse. It has not affected the overall growth of the plant so I have decided to just let it be for now.

Finally, there is the yellow banana pepper plant. These seeds I planted well over 6 months ago and although they initially grew quite fast their maturity stalled and only in the last few weeks has it begun to pick up again.

After some heavy pruning a few weeks ago I started noticing a bit of a growth spurt and the plants became thicker and sturdier. I contemplated pulling out a few of the seedlings and re-potting them in individual containers but I do not want to disrupt the progress.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Arbor Day

Arbor Day was a few weeks ago (yes, I know this post is pretty late) and my work building decided to celebrate by giving out trees. That's right, trees. Or at least what will hopefully one day be full grown trees. I chose to take a maple tree and one of my coworkers gave me her honeysuckle tree. As you can see from the picture the trees merely look like a branch. The roots are covered in a gel to keep them moist until planted. There are also some very detailed instructions that came with the trees.

I thought I could plant the trees in front of my house, but as it turns out there was not much room, so I opted to buy a planter. I figure that if I actually manage to plant this correctly and the tree does indeed grow then I can find a roomier home at a later date. Plus, it's not like trees grow very fast so I figure I have some time before I have to worry about that.

And of course here is the obligatory shot with She-ra in it. I was afraid she was going to think the tree was a stick (which she loves to play with), but so far she has only sniffed it, instead of making it her new chew toy.

I ended up planting only the maple tree. The honeysuckle tree is sitting in a bucket of water where the roots are keeping moist. The instructions suggested this until the tree is planted, but to be perfectly honest I don't know that I will ever get to plant the tree. I think one will be enough of handful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Salad (Grape Tomato) Recall

If you eat prepackaged salads make sure to check out the link below for all the latest information concerning the tomato recall issued this morning. It is believed that a variety of prepackaged salad mixes containing grape tomatoes may be tainted with salmonella. The salads in question come from Taylor Farms Pacific and are sold at a variety of supermarkets primarily in the West Coast and include Albertson's, Safeway, Sam's Club and Walmart.

***UPDATE 5/4/11****

For a complete list of the products affected by this recall make sure to visit the FDA's homepage listed HERE

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do April Showers Really Bring May Flowers?

March and April have been particularly wet months in Los Angeles. The rainfall received thus far has surpassed the average for the entire rainy season. Along with the rain, we've also seen record temperatures at both extremes. But will all this rain actually lead my plants to bloom in May? We're still a couple weeks from finding that out, but so far I like the results.

Here is a healthy looking onion seedling.

A couple more onion seedlings. The one on the right already looks like a tiny onion. Using individual seeding trays has proven to be a much better for the onions. When I previously used a larger container to plant multiple onion seeds, the seedlings died after a few weeks. I recommend that if you plan on growing onions, you start them off in seed trays then transfer to larger containers once the seedlings are sturdier (at least this is what I am planning to do)

Above are the banana yellow pepper seedlings. Overall, the plant looks healthy but I haven't seen much growth in the past few weeks. I am thinking about taking one or two of the seedlings and transplanting them to individual containers, but I am afraid of disturbing the root. I will wait a few more weeks and observe their progress before I proceed with that plan.

Here's a couple pictures of the flower box. The rain and sun have definitely helped these seedlings as I've noticed tremendous growth over the past couple weeks. I had all but given up on the flower box a few months ago, but it appears like i may one day see actual flowers growing here.

The two squash plants each with two squash seedlings. Depending on how quickly they continue grow I may split them up and place each seedling in individual containers.

Italian basil. I had plenty of success with this plant last year so I expect no problems this time around.

This here is a spinach plant, which has proven to be the most difficult to grow. In past attempts the seedlings get to about the point where they are in the picture above then shrivel up and die. This time, however, I am using smaller containers to grow them in. In the picture below the plant at the front is also a spinach seedling.

So far, they seem to be doing well, but the real test will come when the temperature are consistently above 80. Spinach does best in milder temperatures, which is why i planted them earlier in the year this time around. Ideally, in Los Angeles, you should plant spinach seeds between November and January. Since I was in the process of moving at the beginning of this year, I was not able to plant them until mid February. Hopefully they mature enough during the cooler temperatures of spring and are able to withstand the heat once summer rolls around.

Here is a wide shot of all the plants. At the moment they are sitting in the middle of the patio, but once I get new patio furniture I will need to rearrange them so that they don't take up so much space.

Finally, I thought I'd throw in a picture of one of the bougainvillea plants. As you can see, the rain and sunshine has helped the bright and colorful flowers attain full bloom. To anyone looking to add a vibrant splash of color to your garden or patio I recommend picking up one or two of these plants. They are relatively cheap and very low maintenance. The plant is native to Southern California, so it does quite well in full sunshine and requires little watering. Below you will find the "Before" picture and above is obviously the "After" picture. Very dramatic transformation in only a few weeks.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Spring is here and I am settled into my new place. This makes it the perfect time to get back to my garden. Three weeks ago I returned to the Xotx-Tropico nursery to pick up some additional supplies. Now, I know I said I would not be returning here after my first trip last year, but I was in the area and decided to give it another try ( here is the link to the post from my first visit Nothing has changed. The same eccentric man greeted me at the door and followed me around making himself available for any questions. I asked for seed trays, of which he had none. He then told me he had a seed tray container he would give me (i'm pretty sure that's the same thing i asked for). I also didn't know if he meant for free or whether he was going to charge me. He took me to where it was. It was definitely used. I really just wanted to take it and leave, but it was unclear whether he was giving it to me or if i had to pay for it. Either way, I now felt compelled to buy something so I asked for potting soil. He pointed to a half used sack of potting soil which again he said I could have. Hmm. I told him I needed a whole sack, he didn't have any. I was puzzled. He remembered he had another half used bag and suggested I combine the two to make one full bag he would charge me for. Ok I thought, this is weird, I usually don't go to the grocery store and buy two half boxes of spaghetti, but I decided to just go with it. I then asked him about seeds. Once again, he said he didn't have many as he was expecting a shipment the following week (sounds familiar). There were maybe 10 total packets available, none of which I was interested in purchasing so I paid for my two half bags of potting soil and a used seed tray and got out of there. The whole experience was strange and although the guy is very nice I will definitely not be going back there (I mean it this time)

At home I laid out my purchases and dug out my old seeds in preparation to start sowing them. I am taking a different approach this time by using the seed trays. Instead of planting the seeds directly into the larger containers, my plan is to use fewer seeds in the seed trays and then transfer them to larger containers once the seedlings are sturdy enough to survive fluctuations in weather and general stress from the elements (or unsuspecting attacks from a sneaky shiba inu). As you can see from the pictures, She-ra is very curious and immediately is drawn to what i'm doing and makes sure to inspect everything:

While prepping to start sowing the seeds I came across an old potting soil bag filled with an assortment of gardening supplies. Among the items in the bag were a variety of containers in various sizes. My plan is to use the small containers and the seed tray for most of the seeds except for the squash. As I learned last time, the squash did pretty well being sown directly into larger containers. I will therefore be using the large black containers to plant the squash seeds.

Additionally, there is a small plant that was left behind that is now beyond the point of being saved. I removed the dead plant, soil and all, and replaced with some fresh soil and several basil seeds.

In addition to sowing squash and basil seeds, I also planted onion, spinach, swiss chard, aster, banana pepper, oregano and sweet william (flower mix) seeds. I used a sharpie to write out which type of seed is in each of the seed cells.

This was all done approximately three weeks ago. Since then, we've had a large amount of rain which was a bit worrisome as the containers and the soil were soaked continuously. During some of the heavier downpour I protected the seeds by shielding them from direct rain. Today is the first day in a few weeks where the sun shone the majority of the day. The rest of the week looks just as promising. The weather is expected to reach into the 80s by Thursday. As of now, a few of the seedlings have begun to sprout and I expect that the sustained sun and warmer temperatures will result in an explosion of sprouting in the coming days.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Settling in to the New House


I have been in the new place for almost three weeks now and I am down to my last four unpacked boxes. Moving is never fun and it took a few days to get used to the new place (especially for She-ra) but we are very happy in our new home. I am especially thrilled by the potential presented by the large outdoor patio in the new house. The two plants I brought with me from the apartment are adjusting to their new surroundings.

Above is the wooden box with a mixture of wild flowers and the oregano. I thought for sure the seedlings would all wither but they are once again proving me wrong. The peppers also continue to grow and appreciate their new sunnier home. I never realized how little natural light actually reached my plants on the balcony of my old apartment. Here, the plants are exposed to direct sunlight for a much longer period of the day. This will be key when I once again attempt to grow vegetables.

In addition to my plants, I have also inherited a few others from the previous tenants. I will need to research each of these plants if I am to care for them properly. Two of the plants I already know their names because they happen to be one of Ryan's favorites: Bougainvillea.
It appears that the previous tenants had given up watering these plants as they were severely dry when we first moved in. After about a week of daily watering the plants began coming back to life. I don't know much about this plant but I was surprised by how quickly they started to recover. In particular, the one below went through a noticeable growth spurt in a matter of days.

I did not take pictures of the plants prior to commencing the recovery process but I can assure you they were quite barren. All of the blossoms seen here are fairly new. The tallest of the branches jumped upwards so fast it started to bend sideways so I decided to use a stake to secure the plant and ensure further growth. The effort was rather crude on my part, I simply used some leftover packing tape to hold the plant in place (as seen in the picture below)

Also seen in the above picture are a couple of the other inherited plants. I can identify them as a mix of succulents and cacti but other than that, I know nothing about them. As for the other bougainvillea it has taken it a bit longer to recover, but it too has been making good progress as seen below:

As for the rest of the plants you can see pictures of them below. For the time being I will be focusing a lot of attention on these plants until I return to growing vegetables (or at least trying to). I will need to take another trip to the nursery to find additional pots, soil and more seeds. It is like I'm starting over, but that's ok because I'm a little less clueless about this whole gardening thing than I was the first time.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Moving Day

Tomorrow is the big day. Everything is packed and ready to go. I am not looking forward to the move itself (after all who likes moving?). However, I AM looking forward to having greater outdoor space for my garden. As I make the move, only two plants will go with me to the new house. The yellow banana peppers and the wooden box with flower and oregano seedlings.

As you can see in the picture above, the banana pepper plants are doing quite well. They have turned out to be a very hardy plant that has dealt well with both sides of the extreme weather we've had these past few months.

The oregano and wild flower mix has also fared relatively well throughout the wild swings in weather. I'm taking them with me hoping their new sunnier home will help provide a much needed boost.

As for the rest the plants. Well, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves:




Like I said before, despite the failures, I have learned a great deal about gardening these past few months and I think that knowledge will help me as I proceed with a second try in the new more garden-friendly setting. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I hope you all had an amazing and relaxing holiday season with friends and family. Like many of you, I got very busy during this time and as a result have not posted in the last few months. As much as I'd like to give a positive update, I am afraid I have some bad news......fortunately, however, it is paired with some very good news that ultimately be great for my garden.

Let's get the bad news out of the way. Most of my garden has died : ( This includes all of the once promising squash plants. Shortly after blooming, they began to wither and die. The unusually cold winter did not help and I think hastened their demise. Same goes for the thyme and basil. Luckily I was able to use quite a bit of the basil in my cooking before it met its doom. The flowers are still questionable and the onions aren't really showing any progress past the seedling stage. The one plant that seems to have a shot is the banana pepper plant. This is clearly a sturdy plant as it was planted during the heat wave and is now withstanding the record lows and record rain. I will post pictures of all the plants by tomorrow, but first I want to share the good news. After nearly three years of living in this apartment Ryan, She-ra and I have decided to look for a new place. We are hoping to find an apartment or house that has a larger and sunnier outdoor area than we have in our current apartment. We move at the end of the month and already there are some great options that could support a healthy and even larger garden. I have learned quite a bit in these first few months of gardening and am hoping that with the new year I will continue to learn and hopefully grow a bigger and better the meantime please don't totally abandon my blog....I promise much more to come.....