My southern California garden in August

My how time flies. Where has the summer gone? I know where mine went. Bye-bye.

My last post was in April. In May, I went to Yellowstone National Park, driving by myself. I was on assignment from Desert USA magazine, an online publication, to write about wolves. I stopped in Zzyyx near Baker California, and got an article out of that too. But have I written and submitted the articles. No, I have not. My computer crashed (OK, I did it, human error, I erased my entire photo library by accident) and I lost all of my photos. Fortunately, I have a Seagate backup drive, and with the help of the nice Apple genius guys, I was able to retrieve all of my photos. But it has left me afraid of my computer, especially in regard to photos. I haven’t uploaded any since. Until today.

Also upon my return from Yellowstone, I discovered that a good friend was seriously ill. Somehow that seems to have consumed my summer.

I have managed a tiny bit of gardening. I did a bit of work on improving my butterfly garden.

Bloodflower milkweed supports Monarch butterflies, and is pretty to boot.

Bloodflower milkweed supports Monarch butterflies, and is pretty to boot.

We raised more Monarch caterpillars this summer than ever before.

Butterfly garden with lantana in front

Butterfly garden with white lantana in front

Fiery Skipper on a zinnia

Fiery Skipper on a zinnia

But I didn’t get my summer vegetable garden planted until July. What with the drought and unseasonable heat in May and June, it has been a struggle keeping it going. I have yet to harvest a summer squash, tomato, or cucumber. But the garden is looking nice. Here is a brief tour.

We still have five hens. The Black Sex-linked hen went broody this summer, and is now molting. She is not in the picture.

We still have five hens. The Black Sex-linked hen went broody this summer, and is now molting. She is hiding in the coop, and is not in the picture. These are my three Barred Rock hens and one old Black Australorp, now six years old.

Here is half our backyard, looking north past the herb garden. This is where I grow most of my vegetables.

Here is half our backyard, looking north past the herb garden. This is where I grow most of my vegetables, in three 6 ft x 3 ft raised beds.

We have been harvesting a steady stream of bell peppers all summer.

We have been harvesting a steady stream of bell peppers all summer.

Not trusting our neighborhood bees, I hand fertilized this butter squash flower this morning.

Not trusting our neighborhood bees, I hand fertilized this butter squash flower this morning.

We have three butternuts already growing. This one may weigh in at 5-6 lbs once its harvested.

We have three butternuts already growing. This one may weigh in at 5-6 lbs once its harvested.

I am growing summer squash in a barrel this year, an experiment. there are three squash plants in here, plus a half dozen Scarlet Runner Beans.

I am growing summer squash in a barrel this year, an experiment. There are three squash plants in here, plus a half dozen Scarlet Runner Beans.

I expect to harvest our first Yellow Crookneck in a couple of days.

I expect to harvest our first Yellow Crookneck in a couple of days.

I am still waiting for cucumbers. It's going to be a long wait.

I am still waiting for cucumbers. It’s going to be a long wait.

We are getting a nice harvest of Asian pears this summer. They are hard and crisp like an apple, not soft like European pears such as Bosc and Bartlett.

We are getting a nice harvest of Asian pears this summer. They are hard and crisp like an apple, not soft like European pears such as Bosc and Bartlett.

We might get some apples if the squirrels and possums don't get them first. These are Gala apples.

We might get some apples if the squirrels and possums don’t get them first. They already ate all of the Fuji apples. These are Gala apples.

There are Granny Smiths. Right now, I have enough to make only one apple pie, but they aren't ready to harvest yet. Stay away, Critters!

There are Granny Smiths. Right now, I have enough to make only one apple pie, but they aren’t ready to harvest yet. Stay away, Critters!

Lemons are providing a steady harvest, but our navel orange tree set only ONE orange for our winter crop. Dang drought!

Lemons are providing a steady harvest, but our navel orange tree set only ONE orange for our winter crop. Dang drought!

There was a hiatus in limes, but the next crop is about ready to harvest.

There was a hiatus in limes, but the next crop is about ready to harvest.

We still have about a half dozen avocados left.

We still have about a half dozen avocados left.

So with a lack of much to harvest, I mostly sit on the deck and sip wine.

So with a lack of much to harvest, I mostly sit on the deck and sip wine.

From the deck, I can keep an eye on the chicken coop and veggie garden.

From the deck, I can keep an eye on the chicken coop and veggie garden (our of sight to the right).

And that is my garden update as of August 17. Sadly, I don’t seem to be able to make comments on Daphne’s Dandelion blog, and a number of others. I don’t know why not. And some of my favorite blogs (Henbogle, Diary of a Tomato) don’t seem to be active right now. “Annie’s Granny” passed away, so there goes another of my favorite blogs. I know I miss my favorite blogs when they aren’t posting. I wondered if people missed mine. So…. here is a post. Please leave a comment if you enjoyed the update.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to My southern California garden in August

  1. Dawn says:

    Wonderful post Lou! I enjoyed every work and picture of it! Your garden does look very healthy and abundant! Happy Harvesting!

    • Thanks, Dawn. I took another long sabbatical from my blog (and my garden). Maybe the rain coming tomorrow will inspire me to get back to the garden.

      • Carleen Ono says:

        Lou, I have a message for you or Vic. I found what is definitely a Native American arrowhead (or a copy of one) while digging out an old rose bush in my back yard. I live in the low area tract that is kitty-corner from the Fernhill Golf course–I think that’s its name–off of Warner and Graham. Is this a find that should be recorded?

        Thanks, from Carleen Ono. cono3@socal.rr.com

        (I once took Vic’s Bolsa Chica class–long ago, and I am retired from teaching at Santa Ana College. I am on Lou’s blog list, and I have chickens!)

      • Carleen, what a great find! I envy you. If you found the arrowhead on your property, it is yours. Since this is an area where the Acjachemem lived, it could be made by them, or their long-ago predecessors, the Cog-stone makers. Without a proper dig to document the earth layer in which it was found, it is hard to say. You might try sending a photo to the folks at the Bowers Museum to see what they have to say about it. If this were a human burial, it should definitely be reported, but a single arrowhead? I think not. Lucky you. Lou

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Hi Lou,

    Sure glad to see your post and pics of your garden in all it’s current glory! Have not made an update to our blog since last Sept and feeling real guilty about that myself. Technology is looking like it might not be the great thing it is made out to be and updating to windows 8.1 locked me out of my pics! Probably my fault too!! Have been thinking about chickens myself but would probably cook them in my backyard here below sea level. Looking forward to your story on the wolves of Yellowstone and if it never makes it to publication well I know that feeling very well so you are not alone in that. Too darn hot to sit out and sip wine here so am sitting here in my air conditioned confines sipping Jack. Woohoo!

    • Bob, I have not been keeping up with my blog. I neglected both my blog and my garden all year long. Maybe I’m back on track now, who knows? Sorry that you too have been experiencing computer issues. Technology! Ain’t it wonderful?

  3. daphnegould says:

    It looks like your garden is growing well. Welcome back.

    • Daphne, you can see that I didn’t do a good job of blogging. My photo/computer crash really scared me off using my computer. I hope I am over that psychological barrier, although my first draft of my latest blog post disappeared and I had to start over.

  4. Tonie says:

    I have very much missed your posts ! I would love to be sitting on your back patio sipping a glass of wine, and partaking of those wonderful avocados and limes.

    • Tonie, you wouldn’t want to be sitting here today (December 1). It is cold (for us) and rainy looking. It is going to really rain tomorrow. i am so excited. I will be sipping that wine and watching it rain from the comfort of indoors.

  5. Carleen Ono says:

    I am also glad you are back. Love your beautiful photos. With a bit of inspiration from you, my grandson, son-in-law, and I are now raising chickens in my back yard. Question: A neighbor just gave me a bunch of milkweed seedlings. Will the chickens eat the monarch caterpillars, or the milkweed? (I let my chickens out to explore the yard once or twice a day.)

    Also, how do you keep your limes healthy? Mine (key limes) have been all but wiped out by the white flies. The Meyer lemons are always under attack, but they survive and produce anyway. The kumquats seem to be resistant–they did well this year. (I also live in Huntington Beach.)

    Enjoy the lovely fall–my favorite season.

    • Carleen, I am WAY behind on my blog. I have been neglecting both it and my garden. I am SOOO happy to hear that you have chickens!!! I would not feed either milkweed or monarch caterpillars to chickens as they contain a bitter poison that keeps birds from eating them. As for the limes, I don’t do a darn thing. Some years we have white flies, some years we don’t. I do put homemade compost around the trees, which contain a lot of worm castings. If you don’t have homemade compost, you might try buying some worm castings to spread around the tree.

  6. curbstonevalley says:

    I’ve missed your posts! But I haven’t been blogging much this summer. We didn’t plant a garden at all this season because of the drought, so it was so nice to drop by and see that you have some of my favorites growing. Other than the tomatoes, I think I’m going to miss the fall and winter squash the most this year. It’s been a tough summer all around. I’m hoping to plant a fall garden, with at least some kale, mustard greens, and garlic, but if the winter rains don’t materialize again, all the work will be for nothing! I love that you can just pop out into your garden and harvest avocados. It gets a little cold for them some winters here, but I have been tempted to try to grow one. Again, might have to wait until this wretched drought is done! (Thank you mentioning Annie, I hadn’t heard 😦 )

  7. T. Wolf says:

    Thanks for identifying the Fiery Skipper in your photo of it. I remember seeing them a lot more back when I was growing up in Southern California. Until now, many years later, I finally know the name of that Orange moth/butterfly that isn’t the Monarch Butterfly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s