Maybe we won’t starve after all–July 21, 2015

There is hope for my summer garden. I finally found the energy to plant veggie bed #3. And just in the nick of time for it to enjoy a surprise rainfall. I say surprise because coastal southern California normally gets 0.01 inches of rain for the month of July. Right, it NEVER rains in southern California. But as the song goes, but when it rains, man it pours.

Hurricane Delores shifted direction on its way up from Baja a few days ago, and dumped nearly an inch of rain on southern California. Some areas got more, as in flash flooding, with roads and bridges washed out. In fact, Interstate 10 between California and Arizona got a bridge washed out and is closed indefinitely. Mud and rockslides closed other roads. And yet just days before, wildfires had closed the I-15 at Cajon Pass, burning 20 cars as the flames swept over the freeway. We live in interesting times.

Newly planted veggie bed #3 on July 17, with transplanted tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers, with mesclun, carrots and radishes from seed.

Newly planted veggie bed #3 on July 17, with transplanted tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers, with mesclun, carrots and radishes planted from seed. There are also three big collard green plants that are going into their third summer and still producing.

My garden experienced none of those disasters. It just got a nice gentle rain over the course of two days. The timing couldn’t have been better as I had just planted  veggie bed #3.

Here is veggie bed #3 in the foreground, with #2 and #1 in the background.

Here is veggie bed #3 in the foreground, with #2 and #1 in the background, on July 21.

Here is bed #3 from a different angle, with zucchini in the foreground.

Here is bed #3 from a different angle, with zucchini in the foreground.

I planted some French Breakfast radishes in the carrot rows to mark the rows. The mesclun has also sprouted, but not the carrots. Yet.

I planted some French Breakfast radishes in the carrot rows to mark the rows. The mesclun has also sprouted, but not the carrots. Yet.

In my last post, I was worried that we were going to starve because the male flowers were  blooming out of sync with the female flowers, and none of the female bud had gotten fertilized. Well, I took matters into my own hands. When this female flower opened, the male flowers had closed the day before. I stripped the petals off the male flower and used the old stamens to fertilize the pistols of this squash bud. It looks like it worked.

Hand-fertilized butternut squash on July 17.

Hand-fertilized butternut squash on July 17.

Here it is today, July 21. Yep, it got fertilized. It looks like it will have a nice long neck too. That is the best part.

Here it is today, July 21. Yep, it got fertilized. It looks like it will have a nice long neck too. That is the best part.

This is the third butternut that I have hand-fertilized. The male and female flowers are still blooming out of sync. With six plants, you'd think that they would have the common decency to open a male and a female flower on the same day. But not so far.

This is the third butternut that I have hand-fertilized. The male and female flowers are still blooming out of sync. With six plants, you’d think that they would have the common decency to open a male and a female flower on the same day. But not so far.

I have a nice row of scarlet runner beans coming along.

I have a nice row of scarlet runner beans coming along.

The first vine to grab hold of the trellis is now up to my eye level. They don't really take off until they can latch onto something to climb up. I am carefully training each vine up a metal post or a string. So far, I have no red blossoms from them, much less a bean.

The first vine to grab hold of the trellis is now up to my eye level. They don’t really take off until they can latch onto something to climb up. I am carefully training each vine up a metal post or a string. So far, I have no red blossoms from them, much less a bean.

Veggie bed #2 has been in the ground for two weeks and is growing like crazy. I have tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, Blue Lake pole green beans and yellow squash in this bed.

Veggie bed #2 has been in the ground for two weeks and is growing like crazy. I have tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, Blue Lake pole green beans and yellow squash in this bed.

Two tiny Roma tomatoes have set fruit. I also have a couple of Yellow Pear and a couple of Better Boy tomatoes that have set fruit.

Two tiny Roma tomatoes have set fruit. I also have a couple of Yellow Pear and a couple of Better Boy tomatoes that have set fruit.

This is veggie bed #1, with an old collard green plant, a couple of red cabbage that I planted in january that STILL haven't made heads, some tomatoes and bell peppers, and a dill plant.

This is veggie bed #1, with an old collard green plant, a couple of red cabbage that I planted in january that STILL haven’t made heads, some tomatoes and bell peppers, and a dill plant.

This is my best head of red cabbage so far. It is between the size of a baseball and a softball. Not very impressive. But it is almost as big as the red cabbage being shown at the Orange County Fair. Looks like no one here got good cabbage this year with our hot winter.

This is my best head of red cabbage so far. It is between the size of a baseball and a softball. Not very impressive. But it is almost as big as the red cabbage being shown at the Orange County Fair. Looks like no one here got good cabbage this year with our hot winter.

This is my view from my deck, looking west over my tiny garden. The green wall behind the beds is the back edge of our property. Not much space.

This is my view from my deck, looking west over my tiny garden. The green wall behind the beds is the back edge of our property. Not much space.

My herb garden is just to the south of the veggie beds, and the chicken coop is south of that.

My herb garden is just to the south of the veggie beds (which are out of sight to the right), and the chicken coop is south (left) of that. Yes, the chicken coop has art work hanging on it. It also has a solar light.

The good news is that Chicken Little decided that she would lay more eggs this summer. And Dino-Peep, my little Velociraptor that masquerades as a chicken, continues to lay an egg a day. So we are once again flush with eggs, even though lazy Miss Hillary has gone into molt and isn’t laying.

So the good news is that I have hopes of getting a harvest from my late-planted summer garden, especially since we got that miracle rain. I rushed around in the downpour and set up my rain barrels that I had already emptied.  I managed to collect and store about 300+ gallons. Whoopee! That’s what living a green life is all about.

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.

10 Responses to Maybe we won’t starve after all–July 21, 2015

  1. daphnegould says:

    Congrats on the fertilization. I don’t think I’ve ever hand pollinated a butternut. I tend to get so many flowers. Sometimes the first females fall off, but more follow.

  2. Norma Chang says:

    Glad you had timely rain and will not starve after all 🙂 I join Daphne in sending congratulation on the fertilization your squashes are looking good. The red cabbage should size up nicely after the rain.

    • Norma, I’m not expecting any miracles on the red cabbage. I planted it back in January or February, and the head is about the size of an orange now. Good thing that there are grocery stores and farmer’s markets around.

  3. Michelle says:

    What a lovely view you have from your deck, your garden looks great. My butternut squash are playing the same game that your squash are, I may have to try your fertilization trick. Dolores saved some rain for us, but she wasn’t gentle about it, we got a huge dump of nearly an inch along with a scary lightening show. I wasn’t home when it happened but I could see the evidence, mud in the streets and water collected in various places around my garden. My pet sitter said it was quite dramatic.

    • Michelle, it sounds like you got even more of the rain than we did. Do try hand fertilization. It’s easy and it works. The poor honeybees just don’t seem to be around to get the job done, and with the male and female flowers blooming at different times, the bees can’t do the job anyway. Sometimes Mother Nature needs a helping hand.

  4. I am so glad you got rain. And you saved some in your rain barrels. That will make that rain go that much further. The garden looks great.

  5. mattwebr says:

    Nice planning and implementation ! Obviously helped by the rain of course ! Please have a look at my new site http://summerhouseblog.co.uk/tag/lugarde-log-cabins/ about garden cabins and summer houses if you get time and leave a comment. Really enjoyed your article and photos, thank you.

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