What's in Your Garden?

Garden time! Excited about the tomatoes this year. I found a type of San Marzano and will be interested to see how it produces. There is nothing more rewarding than growing your own produce. What's in your garden this year?

Question image


Lyle S. July 12, 2019
I love pickles, so I have cucumbers.
702551 December 3, 2018
I yanked out my last peppers today, was able to harvest a few from the fushimi and padron plants.

My garden will mostly hibernate over the winter with the exception of some winter greens which are doing quite nicely with the cooler temps and recent rains.

Already starting a checklist for next year!
Smaug November 30, 2018
OK, that's it, taking out the last of the cherry tomatoes, fall is here. Still have a couple of quarts of ripe cherry tomatoes, but haven't harvested anything for a week or so. One pot of basil still going well, and quite a few Poblano peppers- they always produce late, and often overwinter. Down to an occasional strawberry, and some lettuce and suchlike stuff. Time to pull out the seed catalogues.
BerryBaby November 30, 2018
Wow that's an incredibly long growing season! Congratulations to you! I've moved on to cookies. Now I start my very long baking season! Thanks for participating so faithfully here's to next year!!!
Smaug November 30, 2018
Where do you get cookie seeds?
BerryBaby December 1, 2018
At the store .... sesame seeds, poppy seeds, some are nuts, some are chips, many different varieties. There are even fruit variations!
Smaug October 19, 2018
Still ticking here- a few tomatoes left that have some chance of ripening, a lot of cherry tomatoes still coming in. It's been hitting 80-85 pretty much every day, but fall is becoming obvious-zukes have apparently given up (more mildew than cold), but I managed one last from the garden, zuchinni/ red poblano/ tomato/basil combo with dinner last night. Older lemons and limes are dropping off to make way for the new; lots of tangerines waiting for some cold weather to finish ripening. Basil that I started in August still hasn't bolted and is excellent, best of the year- I'll be freezing some more today. Saffron up but not blooming as yet. As the "mists and mellow fruitfulness" of fall take over, the seed and plant catalogues grow in fascination.
BerryBaby October 18, 2018
This is the last white rose of the year. It has the sweetest aroma and gave me one last farwell to summer.
scruz September 25, 2018
we've been downright cold, ok cool. doors/windows open and house in low 60s. haven't even barbecued much. but, still waiting on my tennis ball sized cantaloupes to show some beige color where there is only green under the webbing. while the bay area might have some sun and heat, we've had marine weather. that's ok because on sunny days it's been bad air from the no. ca. wildfires. even with blue skies it has caused me to wheeze. i'm saying goodbye to summer fruits and veggies. until next year.
BerryBaby September 26, 2018
I bought a couple of tennis ball melons at the farmers market this week. Have not seen them before and they are delicious! Envious that you can grow them. All my gardening is done for the year so I'm enjoying the farmers market as a nice back up. Looking forward to all the squash and pumpkins. Love this time of year! 🍁
Susan September 22, 2018
Still? Eggplant, okra, fugitive cucumbers, zucchini, and an avalanche of tomatoes.
Smaug September 22, 2018
Summer is officially over, but seems to be just starting here in the SF Bay Area. After a fairly brutal summer (there was about a month and a half where every day was at least in the mid 90's) temperatures have come down to something plants can accept I'm currently awash in ripe tomatoes, zucchini, peppers etc. Currently putting a lot of stuff- peppers and basil especially- in the freezer. Still barbecuing, too- I've found that the best way to roast peppers -which I do-if at all- before freezing. Actually the best results are from putting the grate over a half full chimney starter and grilling them on that- hot enough to easily reach into hollow spots and overcome the heat-sink effect of the internal ribs. In general, while charring over an open flame on the stove is often the only practical way to peel a pepper, a larger flame at more distance (barbecue, broiler) produces much better results. Incidentally, while many methods of resting the peppers after roasting are recommended- paper bag, bowl covered with plastic, etc.- I've found that wrapping them in a damp cloth produces the best results. I've also found it's not really necessary for peppers roasted on the barbecue or broiler- I just let them cool down at room temp. Started watering saffron (crocus sativus) yesterday- hoping for a big crop (they bloom in fall). Lot of tangerines on the tree, but it probably won't get cold enough for them to finish ripening until December or later.
BerryBaby September 6, 2018
The growing season here, Pacific Northwest, was so incredibly hot and our plants really struggled this year. Still, it was rewarding. Have 3 tomato plants holding on with sone fruit. I'll baby them until the end!
Cleaning out pots and storing away for next year. Have purchased a few little mum plants transitioning into the coming fall season.
Lori T. September 3, 2018
Well, here up north the garden season is drawing to a close quickly. Lately it's not been so much gardening as it has been preserving the harvest. The last of this years tomatoes are now safely in jars, in various forms. Bambi and Thumper's cousins managed to get through the fencing, and finished off the late beans for me. The potato harvest was acceptable, though not exactly prolific as I hoped. But what my family refers to as the "Zombie Apocalypse Pantry" is very nearly fully stocked against the coming winter. Now I just await the arrival of the annual apple harvest to top it off. Then it will be time to spread the fall leaves and compost on the garden, tuck in in beneath a landscape fabric duvet, and let it dream of spring.
Smaug September 3, 2018
Come on you guys, there's still most of a month of summer left, you can't quit now. I'm getting better production in squash and tomatoes after a too-hot July/ early August more or less shut them down, peppers and tomatillos are just starting to get serious, third batch of basil seedlings are just reaching harvestable size. Time to be planting onions, garlic etc. as well as perennial herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary. Time to plant winter crops like lettuce, broccoli and the like. I don't go in that much for food crops in winter, concentrating more on ornamentals, but I do like to have some stuff going. Big season for composting, especially if you have large trees. In areas with winters too cold for fall planting, it's still a good idea to do some prep for spring now; it's a good idea to give soil amendments time to settle in before planting, and if you want to plant bare roots it's better to prepare your holes now before soil gets too wet or too frozen to deal with. Also important to keep cleaning up plant debris that can provide shelter for over wintering pests- still lots to do in the garden.
BerryBaby September 3, 2018
Wow! Thank you to all my gardening lovers for sharing incredible tips and stories! This was a great year for gardening. May you all enjoy the bounty of your harvest!🌽🍆🥔🌶🥒
scruz September 3, 2018
well, a couple of potato plants showed up as volunteers, the unidentified squash has turned into beautiful little pumpkins and we have a couple of volunteer tennis ball sized cantaloupe. went to the farmer's market yesterday and have been getting the best romaine and butter leaf for a buck and gorgeous red leaf for 75 cents. blackberries are an inch long and sweet, and dry farmed tomatoes are outrageously ripe and sweet. corn sweet and crunchy and got a couple of eggplants to play with. oh, and the peaches and nectarines are nothing short of divine. waiting for grapes to show up other than at costco.
BerryBaby September 2, 2018
Hard to believe the growing season is almost over for this year. It was a bit of a struggle with the extreme heat we had, but I managed to get beautiful tomatoes off many of the plants. Yesterday I roasted a pan at low heat for a number of hours and then store them in the fridge in olive oil, they are absolutely delicious. Now I'm off to the farmers market to see what treasures I can find there.
Smaug August 17, 2018
Fall is approaching, and the Farmwife's Curse is almost upon us- tons of produce to process during the hottest part of the year. Got an early start by roasting a bunch of Tiburon peppers (a variety of Poblano) on the barbecue- really works better than anything you can do with a stove. If I plan to roast peppers, I do it before freezing them.
BoulderGalinTokyo August 17, 2018
What's in my garden? Hahah, MUSHROOMS!! We did NOT plant them.../Users/andra/Desktop/IMG_1625.JPG
Smaug August 11, 2018
My favorite plant supplier, Annie's Annuals of Richmond, CA is offering a new-to-me basil variety called "Pesto Perpetuo" that is sterile and therefore bolt free. Pretty late in the season, but I have to try this- I think I can keep it going over winter with cuttings. If interested, Annie's does a really terrific job with mail order. anniesanuals.com- also in their latest promo, a dwarf (6") culinary oregano (origanum vulgare) that could be just the thing for window sill growers, an improved Rugen alpine strawberry and lots of other neat stuff.
scruz August 17, 2018
i had some beautiful a.s. marigolds from a nursery and called a.a. to tell them how great they did in my garden. (sometimes i get lucky and find a sweet spot for plants). the woman on the phone said to visit them in richmond and that their nursery is really nice. haven't done it yet.
Smaug August 17, 2018
By all means go if you have a chance. And while you're at it you could check out Berkeley Horticultural Nursery nearby.
scruz August 9, 2018
so, one of the composted old yellowish cloves of garlic produced a really nice globe of garlic. and for all of you zuch farmers, yesterday was dia de los zucchini or the day you put some excess zucchini on your neighbors porch. i cut one of the little globes of squash that came up from compost as a volunteer and put in gift bag with yellow peruvian lilies for neighbor who is a gardener. it's not too late to gift some squash to your neighbors. if nothing else, it drives them crazy trying to figure out who done it.
BerryBaby August 6, 2018
Tomatoes are ripening! Picked the Black Cherry and Yellow Zebra. The one marked Purple Bumblebee was apparently mismarked. Lots of marble size yellow! Not what I was expecting but they are looking good!
Smaug August 7, 2018
Cursed nurseries- my only nursery bought pepper, an Italian sweet, turned out to be some sort of dwarf with blazing hot fruit. It's tough when you're starting lots of seeds though- I sometimes get seeds stuck under my fingernails that find their way into the wrong pot. We've had a long run of hot weather here and the tomatoes have been pretty quiet, but peppers are starting to come ripe; I usually harvest well into the fall, sometimes winter. I'll have to try potatoes next year. A potato plant was actually my first ever attempt at horticulture; I decided for some reason to try it as a young child (always liked potatoes). Looked it up in the Western Garden Book, which recommended sandy soil, so I collected some at the beach to use. This, not surprisingly, did not work very well, but I did get 3 or 4 tiny spuds. They were, of course, magnificent, but I never tried it again.
BerryBaby August 7, 2018
Plant my potatoes in a big pot with plain potting soil. I cure the potatoes by cutting the seed potatoes into chunks. Each chunk needs to have at least one eye. They are placed on a baking sheet to cure for about 3-5 days.
I place about 6" of potting soil in the pot. Add potatoes, eye side up. Cover with soil, about 2-3".
When plants start to poke up, cover with more soil so plants are entirely covered. Keep doing this until about 5-6" from top of pot. In 5-6 months the plants start to lose leaves and look dead. Indication potatoes are ready to dig up...my favorite part!
Do not rinse off dirt! Lay them on a baking sheet for two weeks. They have a lot of moisture so need this time to dry. Now you can rinse and enjoy!
Smaug August 7, 2018
Why not rinse off the dirt?
BerryBaby August 7, 2018
Helps cure them and extends storage. Also need to keep them in the dark to prevent sprouting.
The dirt should flake off and then wash before cooking.
Smaug August 17, 2018
There was a story in the paper about someone in Brazil digging up a 17 1/2 lb. potato shaped like a six toed human foot- not sure what the message in this is- be careful what you wish for, perhaps.
BerryBaby August 2, 2018
So today was potato harvest. I had one huge pot that I planted on St. Patrick's Day for good luck and a pot of gold this year. Before I started acting like Little Jack Horner, I somehow lifted the pot onto the table chair. Then, with garden gloves on, started searching through the soil. I thought I had found a freakishly big potato but it felt odd. I pulled it to the surface to find a chunk of an ear of corn the squirrel had buried!
It made me smile that she thought my pot was a safe place. Then the fun began. A truly bumper load of rosy fingerlings! What fun digging and finding potato treasures.
The most potatoes I have ever had in one pot, which is a great sign. That pot of gold may be in my future!
BoulderGalinTokyo August 2, 2018
Back to Gardening: I make my own organic fertalizer (in addition to compost) and my husband's Worm Farm "pee". Anyone interested in this stuff?
Smaug August 2, 2018
This thread generated a spinoff thread on composting that further spun off into a recycling thread- short answer- yes, people are interested; personally I grow almost all of my vegetables in a potting soil based on homemade compost, but I'm not sure how much there is to discuss about it.
BoulderGalinTokyo August 9, 2018
Smaug, I guess I missed those threads. I laughed about your asparagus and rhubarb--I've tried 5 different rhubarb plants over several years in different shade/ sun and it never lasts more than one year. Just too hot in summer I think. But asparagus is good-no trouble.
Anyway this is 3rd year with artichoke plants (not common here) and I read they need calcium. So I wondered if egg shells or crab shells or shrimp were better. ( 10 years organic, over 50 rose plants.)
Smaug August 9, 2018
Hmm- I'm not really a soil chemist- all of the above are good sources of calcium in compost, but I couldn't quantify it. Calcium absorption is also strongly influenced by soil ph (among other factors, like the plant's transpiration rate)- I usually rely on mineral sources- agricultural lime and gypsum are the most common and will raise the soil's ph- as well as bone meal. You can do a hotline search under "composting" to find the thread, but I don't remember it really going much of anywhere.
Smaug August 9, 2018
You may be right about heat/rhubarb- I've only ever grown it in Berkeley, CA which has a lot of maritime influence. Good drainage around the crown is also very important.
BerryBaby August 9, 2018
Have not attempted rhubarb. I don't use enough to justify planting it. Although when we were kids our neighbors had beautiful rhubarb growing and she shared it with us. We'd peel it, get a small cup of sugar and sit on the front porch dipping and puckering! We loved it.
Smaug August 9, 2018
I don't really like rhubarb as a food, but it is kind of a neat plant if you like big leaves. In Oregon, you might be able to grow Gunnera, rhubarb's big brother (not edible, so far as I know, unless you're a dinosaur)- I'm not sure how much cold it can take.
BoulderGalinTokyo August 17, 2018
Smaug, I haven't tested ph levels lately, so that is probably really good advice. Easy to keep doing "more of the same".
BoulderGalinTokyo August 1, 2018
cv= It wasn't a translation problem (My Japanese husband talking to his Japanese staff) but I think an URBAN one. So many people don't know what the plants look like.
Culturally, I understand your point about soybeans. We used to play in the rows of Indiana soybeans called "pig food". Now soybeans play an important part of Western diet.
And Japan has also evolved. Tomatoes are readily available and even commercially grown on a tremendous scale.
This picture is from the cover of a 22-page magazine from a city in Northern Japan promoting a city-wide Tomato Fair with detailed picture, maps and descriptions of each dish (everything from curry and katsu, ramen, marinades, egg custards to skewers).
Smaug August 1, 2018
These kind of cultural differences are- for better or worse- on the way out in our increasingly generic world. More distressing to me is that recent generations seem to feel no connection with plants in particular or the real world in general- I question if any of my neighbors' children could identify a tomato plant.
BoulderGalinTokyo August 1, 2018
Smaug--thank you about the fruit split info. With the typhoon dumping buckets of rain after drought and then the tail whipping around again 18 hrs. later, it is very hard to control the water (planted in about 30cm of excellent dirt, but directly on the top of our cement garage). Followed by this heat wave-- all that would fit what you described. Thanks for explaining it.
Smaug August 1, 2018
You're welcome- wish I had more to offer by way of solutions. If they haven't grown visible mold in the splits they should still be usable if ripe. Probably best to discard them if they're not.
BoulderGalinTokyo July 31, 2018
I once had a Tokyo guest ask me which tree I picked my tomatoes from.
Smaug July 31, 2018
There is such a thing as a "tree tomato" (Cyphomandra Betacea) which is related but not a true tomato. It makes fruits somewhat similar in appearance to a tomato, with a hint of tomato flavor, and grows into a smallish treelike plant. It used to be commonly encountered (along with peanuts) in little growing kits sold in toy departments and such. I grew one once- as I recall it was eventually decimated by some sort of caterpillar and I declined to replace it.
702551 July 31, 2018
Probably just a language barrier incident.

That said, tomatoes are a relative latecomer to Japanese tables and the vegetable is not used in traditional Japanese cuisine. It is grown in many home gardens in Japan but there is no significant commercial acreage.

Most Japanese adults visited a variety of farms on field trips during their school years and would have seen a variety of different crops being grown but not tomatoes so their lack of familiarity with tomato horticulture is understandable.

In a similar way, you will probably get a blank stare from the average American if you ask them how soybeans are cultivated.

People are most familiar with the things they eat the most frequently and tomatoes are definitely nowhere near the top of the Japanese culinary larder.

Remember that tomatoes are a New World crop and not native to Asia unlike some other veggies. Eggplant is one vegetable that is native to Asia and unsurprisingly the Japanese are connoisseurs of this particular veg.
BoulderGalinTokyo July 31, 2018
I looked up the curly-top virus on tomatoes but that's not what I have. Or blossom end rot. My tomatoes get splits from the crown to half way down the sides like the inside is bursting out--anyone know what causes that?
BerryBaby July 31, 2018
From my experience split bursts are from too much watering. Smaug may be able to help. Very knowledgeable about gardening,
Smaug July 31, 2018
Fruit split is generally the result of irregular water supply- fruit will basically try to grow beyond it's capacity during wet periods. This is usually a result of watering practices, which can be a bit tricky for tomatoes, but can also be a result of heat. During hot periods- temperatures above 94 degrees or so- the plant may be transpiring moisture faster than the root system can replace it, however much is available in the soil. Susceptibility seems to vary by tomato variety; I've found thin skinned cherry tomatoes, such as sweet 100s, to be particularly susceptible in my area.
BerryBaby July 30, 2018
So pleased! I put my hand in potato pot and there are lots of fingerlings in that pot! Pulled out six for now. Will dry them inside for 10 days, then remove the dirt.
Can't wait to eat them. Some of the tomatoes will ne ready as well.
BoulderGalinTokyo July 30, 2018
Sorry, I'm late-was busy picking blackberries (grown in 2 pots over a rose arch) what a crop. Always have basil and tomatoes, shiso, and shishito peppers (easy). Spaghetti Squash and Kabocha. Passion Fruits and other citrus fruits. Quince.
If you have some land, plant asparagus- very rewarding when it comes up!
BerryBaby July 29, 2018
I was checking my tomato plants and freaked when one Italian tomato vine had tomatoes firming dark, brown spots on the bottoms. I pulled off about 8 small tomatoes and checked the other tomatoes and they were fine. Took to the Internet and found out it's a lack of calcium in the soil. I had a fertilizer with calcium and fed it to the plant. Fingers crossed it works.
Anyone else ever encounter brown ends on tomatoes? What did you do? Thanks! BB🌷
Smaug July 29, 2018
Yes, it's a very common problem and is, indeed, caused by calcium deficiency. It can be caused either by lack of calcium in the soil or by soil acidity making it unavailable for the plant. I use a healthy dose of agricultural lime (calcium carbonate) when I pot my tomatoes and that takes care of it; I've no doubt that there are expensive tomato-specific products for this, and commercial tomato foods should include calcium. It may seem that the tomatoes will develop with only a small bad area on the bottom, but it's best to remove the effected tomatoes as soon as you spot the problem- you'll actually end up with very little usable tomato at considerable cost to the plant.
Smaug July 29, 2018
ps The problem is known as "blossom end rot"
BerryBaby July 29, 2018
Thanks, Smaug! Blossom end rot...boy, I could not remember that, thanks for the memory jog!
Smaug August 7, 2018
I have come across a product from Bionide- a widely distributed brand- called "Rot Stop"; it's a spray on product, and should produce faster results than a soil additive. On Amazon (wonders of Amazon pricing) you can pay $13 for a quart premixed or $10 for enough concentrate to make 8 gallons.
Smaug July 24, 2018
You know it's summer when... I've reached the point where the cherry tomatoes (Juliette is the only variety I grew this year) are sweeter than the strawberries, and the strawberries (Elan and Albion, mainly) are pretty good. I also grow some alpines, but mostly for decorative purposes- it's really too hot for them here, and the flavor is very undependable. My grandfather started some Muscat grapes 60 odd years ago, and they are one of the treasured memories of my youth. Unfortunately, the area he planted them in is very difficult and borders on undeveloped land- the vines became serious victims of the gophers, and can't be watered without making it worse. I started a cutting a few years back and planted it in a somewhat safer area, and it's making some grapes this year. Muscats are one of the most flavorful grapes- and extremely sweet- but seem to have fallen into disuse, despite the development of a seedless cultivar (mine have seeds).
scruz July 23, 2018
well, smaug, i've taken your advice about dry farming and actually have a couple of squashes/cucumbers/melons. as i mentioned on composting thread, i direct compost and a couple of seeds have germinated. i don't dare water them or the gopher will find. one plant is 20 fee long going from n.e. to s.w. with plant in between. several round zucchini green balls on them...did not have any squash like that. the other plant(s) in different location are more delicate intricate smaller leaves. no telling what that is...maybe my french melons have lent their seeds to my very own plants. and yes, i agree, i love hearing what is in others' gardens.
BerryBaby July 23, 2018
Tomatoes are getting lots of fruit!
Black cherry are the first and only ripened. Bumble Bee pinks should be next followed by all the others. New photo from today.
Lucy M. July 13, 2018
I have a few vegetables, mostly in containers, in my Atlanta area garden. I have a single tomato plant that has about half dozen Romas ripening with another dozen flowers. The basil and parsley are thriving. The blueberries are gone, we left a handful on the bush and the birds found them. I have a grow bag (see below) filled with strawberry plants that is still pumping out fruit even in the heat; they're truly everbearing. It's too hot for radishes, I'm going to wait another month to plant a crop, but the carrots are still growing. I tried a potato barrel this year and plan to dig into it this weekend.
BerryBaby July 14, 2018
Sounds wonderful! I have a huge potato pot that I started on St Patricks day. Not ready to harvest as the plants have not died off. Most likely end of August.
702551 July 13, 2018
*MASSIVE* tomato crop this year, the weather conditions during bloom were perfect.

Peppers (five varieties) are starting to come around, the eggplants are slow this year.

Picked a very delicious Japanese cucumber earlier this week; I'm going to stick with this variety for the foreseeable future. The other ones are so bitter (particularly the skins).
MMH July 13, 2018
We live in a 100 year old urban neighborhood in Omaha. These are 6 foot tall tomato plants in our south facing alley which were planted in April. In our zone it’s really not safe to plant them until Mother’s Day but because of the southern face and the reflection from the concrete we can plant really early. We ate our 1st on July 1 (Early Girl) which is unheard of here. There are a variety of plants there. Lots of our neighbors grow in the alley. We use frames from Gardener’s Supply. I don’t know if you can see them. They are growing against our garage. On the other side of the garage we have raised beds.
MMH July 29, 2018
Cucumbers in the raised beds on frames are quite prolific so we are making Alton Brown’s bread and butter refrigerator pickles - easy and delish!
PHIL July 12, 2018
BB , this is the best hotline question and you ask it every year. FOOD52 should make this thread into an article.
BerryBaby July 12, 2018
Thank you, Phil! I'm truly very flattered by your kind response.
It's very gratifying to see so many interested in gardening and sharing their successes and tips. We can all learn from each other, which is wonderful!
Lori T. July 12, 2018
I garden primarily in a combination of raised beds, the old fashioned ground way, and some in containers. For the soil I use a combination of compost, vermicompost, composted manure from the garden center, and add in pulverized egg shells and blood meal. In the fall, I get bags of leaves from my neighbors, which I spread out on the garden plot and cover with landscape fabric. In the spring it gets tilled in. For spot feeding, I drain liquid worm tea from my vermicompost setup. I got into the red wiggler composting shortly after moving to MN, because for so much of the year a regular compost barrel is not active. Just recently I was gifted a setup of bokashi bran which is supposed to let you compost leftovers, meat and dairy. It really pickles them, and after the pH drops you can add it to the usual compost. I'm not sure how that will work out, but I'm giving it a shot. I really hate putting organic material in the weekly garbage collection, so I am holding out hope.
I did think about getting better soil brought in for the garden area, as our original dirt left a lot to be desired. But that's pricey around here, so I'm going the slow route. I've been at it three years now, and this year things are really looking better.
Smaug July 12, 2018
In California, they are now taking all sorts of food scraps for composting in regular green can pickup- meat, bones, anything, as well as food-contaminated paper; pizza boxes and the like. Restaurants now send most of their scrap to composting projects. Maybe it'll spread around the country, though we're dealing here with a lot of self-imposed recycling goals that are making people work to keep up with them. I always avoided anything with anything with any salt, but I guess there's little enough and it tends to leach out- a lot of people are using that compost. I've gotten more liberal with my own piles; I usually put my (very few) table scraps in there, and shrimp and crab shells and the like.
Lori T. July 12, 2018
My county just started a food recycling program, with two sites for drop-off. However, you have to register and be sent an ID code to put in to get into the site itself. They accept all the food scraps, if you deliver them in a compostable bag. It's taken to a commercial composting site, so they will now accept meat and dairy scraps. But no food contaminated containers - like pizza boxes. I have to haul any used oil to another site entirely. My compost is generally food scraps, rather than table scraps, garden and yard waste, and shredded paper, paper towels, etc. I've not had much in the way of seafood shells to contend with, but I did want a means of dealing with things like post-stock bones, trimmings, and plate scraps. Our local garbage collection companies provide two cans- one for garbage and non-recycle stuff, and one for recycle stuff they will accept. That's your bare basic stuff, cans, glass jars, cereal boxes, some plastics, etc. It doesn't include plastic bags, styrofoam, plastic wrap, etc. For some of that there is the county collection site, some for a fee, some not. We have a ways to go yet, in terms of getting more people on board with the idea. It's still too easy to simply toss it all in the garbage.
Smaug July 13, 2018
The programs in California (and I suppose elsewhere) have resulted in a huge increase in the amount of recycling pickups, but there's a big downside. There are still a lot of people who simply don't do it, and a lot more who dump things in whatever can comes to hand first. It's also not easy to determine what the rules are, sometimes- I do not at this point know if they are taking Styrofoam or not, or whether their sorting machinery can deal with things like cardboard cans with metal bottoms and rims,and I have tried to find out. Articles about recycling dos and don'ts abound, but they are completely inconsistent. There is currently a big backlash from the people who do most of the actual work of recycling- largely Asian countries- against contaminated loads, particularly of paper and mixed plastics- loads, a lot of them, are simply being refused or sent straight to landfill, prices paid for raw recycling have plummeted while prices for the finished product are on the rise. plastic water bottles are now cheaper to make with new plastic. What the solution to all this is, who knows? Recycling totals have risen largely because they make it so easy; whether people can be convinced to pay attention to their waste is still to be seen; in the meantime, the whole system is in serious jeopardy.
Bevi July 11, 2018
Alas I travel for work too much to tend to a garden. However, I did plant 3 varieties of cherry tomatoes in a small, enclosed area of what I call my "holding bed", where I put plants that have no permanent home. I laid down landscaping plastic to keep out weeds and heat up our Vermont soil. We are enjoying ride tomatoes - Sungold, Sweet 100, and a purple variety. I also planted parsley in my container pots, along with coleus, dracaena, Arabian ivy and nicotiana. There's a container of rosemary, lemon verbena, and sage. Thyme grows everywhere on our property. That's the extent of vegetables and herbs for me.

BerryBaby July 12, 2018
Sounds wonderful! All my plants are in pots on the patio....even potatoes! Much easier for me and I get great results.
Smaug July 12, 2018
I do most of my summer gardening in pots because of gophers and tree roots, which will converge rapidly on any spot I'm foolish enough to water; the backbone of my garden is pretty much all drought tolerant stuff. I'm curious what others do for potting soil- I've found that tomatoes and most peppers need at least 15 gal. pots, and filling them up with commercial potting soil would be outrageously expensive. I make my own mix with homemade compost, manure, lime, bone meal and vermiculite and/or perlite as the main ingredients- do others make their own mixes, or just pay for the commercial stuff? I suppose in a lot of areas, you could have some sort of mix delivered by the yard fairly cheaply- tends to involve a lot of shoveling and wheelbarrow work, but I suppose doable.
scruz July 9, 2018
i'm a bit south of cv along the coast and the spring was very cool and we had some late rains, but not near enough for the season. then, we've had very marine low clouds (coolest 4th i can recall and if i hadn't turned pilot off on furnace would have turned it on) and then a couple of days of heat. however, my garden only has drought tolerant plants and no cutting flowers or veggies. i'm saving all of my expensive water to keep my 14 or so trees alive. you can see the stress on trees driving around town. mine get monthly watering with soaker hose. however, i was given by my neighbors on both sides some lovely santa rosa plums and aromatic fat white onions. i need some suggestions on what to do special with the white onions...some pico de gallo for sure. farmers market yesterday had some wonderful orange fleshed french named melons, terrific straw and blackberries, fragrant white polar nectarines and some slightly bitter, dense heads of tender red leaf lettuce. wow and pricey but get it while you can and it is still available and grown locally. i do like hearing about everyone's gardens though. my drought tolerant front yard, planted 3-5 years ago, now requires only once a month waterings to look tip top.
Smaug July 9, 2018
If you're interested in growing vegetables, you might look into dry gardening; it's a popular subject now and there are a lot of materials available- Mr. Google would no doubt be glad to guide you. I'm not up on the current literature- I've gardened a long time and have my own ways of doing things- but your climate should be very good for it and it can produce fine results; tomatoes in particular do well with it. Incidentally, if you were to plant stuff that you had to water, you can be sure that your trees would find the water- between tree roots and gophers, I grow all of my summer plants in containers- if I water they will find it.
BerryBaby July 8, 2018
Freshly picked in Oregon right now are berries, which were priced way higher than directly from the farm, and cherries. Lavender is ready to pick but I have a beautiful pot on the patio. Corn, tomatoes, melons all next month. Still interesting to see the other vendors and who is participating this year.
Lori T. July 9, 2018
I'm fortunate here because the farmer's market in my town doesn't allow reselling. The vendors are actually usually part of an extended family who works together in market gardens. Our market operates in the late afternoon to early evening, so lucky for us- we do actually get produce that was picked that morning, or at least in the last 24 hours or so. I believe they use a distance limitation to determine who is considered to be local and who isn't. But not all markets do that. The big farmer's market in Minneapolis allows wholesalers and resellers, but they have to have that clearly posted at the front of the stall. There are also a few Pick Your Own farms within reasonable reach. I wouldn't say their prices are lower than the market or store, but at least my money is actually going in the pockets of those who do the hard work. Been eating more than my share of cherries lately, enjoying the glut while it lasts. I should have beans of all sorts by the end of the month, the cherry tomatos have gone on overload production, and the last of the leaf lettuce will be cut and eaten this week. We are supposed to be back in the heat and sun this week, after just over a week of rain and overcast, lower temps in the 70's. Ordinarily I wouldn't look forward to the heat, but the garden would like it at this point.
Smaug July 9, 2018
In retrospect, I would say that I overstated the case. I live in a densely populated area where there are numerous markets everyday, and the sellers tend to become full time retailers, but there do still exist farmers who run limited operations and are passionate about what they do, whether it's organics, the perfect plumcot, growing normally unavailable varieties. It is unfortunate that we mostly hear about them through stories about their struggles to survive, but farmers' markets do remain the best chance of making contact with them.
BerryBaby July 9, 2018
Next month it will be all local produce. I’m guessing they didn’t want to make new signs.
The store get their produce from local, California, Mexico, Canada, Washington and off-season from South America countries. It’s all very good. However, when local (and my garden tomatoes) are available, it is the best!
BerryBaby July 8, 2018
Exciting ALL the plants have fruit now! Won’t be ready to pick for a good month so visited the farmers market. Beautiful produce but had to laugh. Many of the signs read ‘Locally Grown’. Got home and noticed little stickers on the peaches and nectarines. I wonder when California merged with Oregon to now be considered ‘local’? No complaints about the produce, it is delicious!
Smaug July 8, 2018
California is barely keeping merged with itself, but we try on the produce. I'm afraid that the farmer's market is staffed by farmers who got up a 3AM, picked their finest ripe produce and drove it straight to market is outdated- or maybe just fiction; it seems to be pretty much just another retail business with middlemen, hired salespeople and the whole bit. Still probably your most direct method of buying produce, but a long way from the farm.
Smaug July 8, 2018
"… I'm afraid that the notion that..."- I swear that I typed that.
Lori T. July 2, 2018
Our annual battle of the Japanese beetles is underway here. So far this year, it's not been so bad though. My usual defense is to use neem oil, which is pretty effective. I know you can use dish soap and water, and knock them off into it, but I hate being caught up in the midst of the flock which flies away. I've also had to fight the squirrels for tomatoes. My most effective defense to date has been a home-made concoction of hot peppers, garlic, and mild dish soap, blended up and sprayed on. Plus I sprinkle the ground around each plant and the plants with cayenne pepper. At the moment, most of my tomato plants have set pretty large clusters of fruit. Plenty of cherry tomatoes as well and leaf lettuce, so nice salads to enjoy. My bean plants should flower this week, and the japanese eggplant has set three or four small fruit on each plant. The sour pie cherries finished last week, and I was pleased with the yield. The tree was planted four years ago, and this is the second year I've harvested fruit. It provided enough this year that I figure I have at least four pie's worth frozen, and we had one fresh cherry pie last week. The red currants have started ripening as well. The basil plants are lush, as are the mint, oregano, marjoram, and sage. I candied some mint last week, plus made flavored oil with the basil, oregano, marjoram, chives and sage. Once I've got some room in my freezer, I plan to make up herb cubes to tide me over for winter. When the chives blossomed earlier in the spring, I made up chive vinegar as well - and this week it will be time to strain off those flower bits. It turned a lovely shade of pink-purple, darker this year than in the past for some reason. And tasty on fresh tomatoes and leaf lettuce. Farmers market had new potatoes this past week, so the plan for this week is to buy and can some of those. I have some blue potatoes and fingerlings in grow bags, but of course we'll have no idea how prolific those have been for a while yet.
BerryBaby July 1, 2018
Tomato plants have fruit! Many little ones starting and lots of blossoms. End of July and into August should be fun!
How's your garden progressing?
Smaug July 2, 2018
Getting some salads out of the garden- lettuce is very late due to some bizarre supply side problems, but coming in nicely. Looking like a squirrel year for the tomatoes- some years they leave them alone, other years not. It's not only that they eat them, they PEEL them, and leave the peels where you can't help finding them. Nothing like funny rodents. The gophers aren't funny- I've successfully destroyed their active tunnel networks the last few years, but they pop up in unpredictable places from deep tunnels probably dating to when these lots were graded in the 50's. If it weren't for the example of humankind, I'd find it unbelievable that a creature so destructive of it's own habitat could survive. Fortunate that I'm comfortable with hundreds of potted plants to take care of. Very happy with my new zucchini, "Poquito"- the plants seem reliably compact, and the more or less spherical fruit are delicious; I usually pick them small, about 5 oz.; I'm tempted to let one go and see what they turn into. The birds haven't discovered the berries this year- I just grow a few strawberries and boysenberries that I eat right off the plant. Decision time on the cork oak I planted a few years back- they're very well behaved trees, and it's a spot I'd really like to have a tree, but it's a bit too close to some electrical lines- have to decide to remove it, bonsai it, or just count on routine care to keep it from touching the wires. Herbs are mostly all the time here, but not basil- my cooking always improves noticeably when it's available. Lot of peppers now, but I rarely pick them green, so it'll be a while. I'm usually harvesting until Christmas or beyond, though. No serious heat waves so far, which makes me and my tomatoes very happy.
Dawn June 25, 2018
Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, lemon balm, chocolate mint (for tea), tomatoes, strawberries. Will try garlic this fall and asparagus and rhubarb next spring.
Smaug June 25, 2018
Keep up the good work. Asparagus requires a lot of prep work, that's probably best done in fall for spring planting; it's usually best to give heavily amended soils some time to settle in. Actually, in my (quite mild) area, it's more commonly planted in fall. Rhubarb is lots of fun- I don't even like the stuff, but it's a great plant. Be careful about leaving it enough room; the plants will soon become bigger than seems possible when you plant them.
Smaug June 24, 2018
Hella hot, but a little bit of stuff coming to harvest. A few tomatoes (a variety called Juliet, which I suppose would be classed as a grape tomato) remind me why people bother with these ungainly and troublesome plants. The Poquito zukes are quite good- these relatively small plants are looking to be the real deal for people seeking a smaller growing zucchini plant. Getting a few peppers now on live over plants- despite fairly regular light freezes in the area, I usually have some that live over; Poblanos seem to be particularly hardy, and I'm getting some of those; I also have a Piquillo plant in it's fourth year; these are one of the best tasting sweet peppers, but are a little bit of a pain; they're small, and almost comically thick skinned, so they have to be peeled.
Kat June 23, 2018
With a local Amish market just down the road from me, I try to stay away from things like corn, broccoli and instead focus on specialty items: like heirloom tomatoes, different varieties of cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash and of course, a variety of peppers that range from green to cooking peppers to jalapeno ( which already have processed up 2 jars of ) to ghost to reaper. I also have an herb garden that is in pots and scattered about in the landscape along with a "sipping" garden that I planted for making tea and for drink mixers like lemon balm, chamomile and of course mint. So far everything seems to be doing well here in Eastern Shore Maryland. So much love for this time of the year!!!
BakerBren June 21, 2018
I have many herbs and native medicinal/edible plants thriving in my garden. I hang and dry the herbs each fall. My basil isn't growing so well yet, but I let fennel, chives, arugula, parsley, garlic, and Egyptian walking onions reseed themselves each year and I pull the weeds around them as necessary. My sage and tarragon overwintered well but my rosemary is barely growing. I keep hacking back the lemon balm to keep it under control, but it makes a great salad with mustard, parsley, and strawberries. The St. John's wort is blooming nicely and the wormwood is happy to be welcomed into the garden. Alas, my sugar pumpkins and elderberries never sprouted. I'm a millennial, but I'm patient and interested in ethnobotany.
Lori T. June 21, 2018
We have several birdfeeders up, and the deer do routinely help themselves to them. Deer damage is just a part of living in my neighborhood, when it comes to it. Some of my more effective defenses have involved hanging old CD's and jingle bells on my younger fruit trees and around the garden fence. They are accustomed to human and pet smells, so the usual fur trick doesn't work. Actually, I fuss tongue in cheek. We've had a small number of does living nearby for several years now, and they routinely leave their fawns in the tall grass I leave to border against the wooded area. I sip coffee on the deck most mornings in the company of two or three of them. Though I fuss at them to leave my garden in peace, in truth I guess I'm willing to sacrifice a few plants. I found it odd they would eat the pepper plants though, given there was a lush patch of leaf lettuce just beside them.

Gardening with kids is always fun. Mine started out with flowers as well, then migrated to other plants. It was so much fun to watch them wonder over the way veggies developed, and how the plants grew.
One thing I plant every year which gives you the benefit of flowers and veggies are Scarlet Runner Beans. Gorgeous red flowers, which attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, and produce loads of long flat beans. It's a nice show on a teepee trellis, or fence.
We tend to have wet springs here, so mildew and fungus can be problems. I use Neem oil spray as a hopeful preventative, and since I started doing that I've had many fewer problems. Otherwise I use pyrethrin spray if I have to. A couple years ago I started growing pyrethrum daisies and chrysanthemums in the garden, and I believe that has helped as well. Fortunately I don't have many bug troubles, partially because my garden sits beside my pool. That attracts a host of toads and leopard frogs, plus the occasional snapping turtle. So when I fish them out of the pool, I relocate them to the garden.
I'd be curious to hear what other gardener's find challenging, and how you deal with them.
Smaug June 21, 2018
Interesting about the bird seed- deer can be pretty individual, but that's a new one on me. Of course, if they're hungry enough they'll eat the stucco off of your house. I grew peppers untouched in my front yard for years, but one drought year they developed a taste for them, even eating the fruits- presumably in search of moisture. For the most part, they seem to come around here looking for dessert- their A1 favorite is flower buds from rose bushes, with dahlias a close second, but they'll eat a lot of different flower buds. Tomato flowers are another favorite, and they'll tend to knock off a lot of fruit going for them. Fortunately, this localizes the problem and repellants are usually effective. Deer do get used to smells, so it's a good idea to change repellants periodically- most of them are based on rotten eggs, with blood, garlic, cloves, fish, and other additional smells. They need to be reapplied regularly, especially in rainy weather. I've had some success in the past with predator urine; it's always fun to walk up to someone in a nursery and ask if they have any cougar urine. It's pretty undependable, though- they get used to it, and they talk to each other-"Dude, there ain't no cougars back there, you been had..."
Lori T. June 21, 2018
I've tried a variety of the stinky deterrents, but haven't had much luck with any of them. I even tried moth balls. The trouble with the smelly ones is that to be effective, the stink has to be so strong that the rest of us suffer. Last year I did actually use coyote urine, both in spray and bag form. They ate the leaves off the little apple tree, even those around the bag. Since they ate the pepper plants, I added a layer of mesh fencing to the perimeter- so far that seems to work. I've also started using dried blood meal, so even if that doesn't work- at least it will add something to the soil.

All of the neighborhood deer here routinely empty bird feeders. They can stand on two back legs if necessary to reach one. They will even eat the suet seed balls. In spring they like to eat fruit tree buds, as high as they can reach. Come fall, they knock apples and pears off the branches. It's normal to see the doe tip one so the fawns can get it off the ground. I honestly believe they are actually teaching them how it's done.
Cougar urine? Oh there's a joke there just waiting to happen. I think I'm the wrong age to ask as well. Be afraid they'd tell me where to donate. But I love your approach.
Smaug June 21, 2018
My experience has been that the commercial rotten egg repellents lose almost all of their smell when dried, but the deer can still smell them just fine. There's usually a bit of breeze here, which may help. Mesh fencing is effective- though not usually awfully attractive. The light bird mesh, however, they will sometimes crash through without even seeing it. The mamas definitely teach the deerlets how to forage, and will come stand guard while their offspring crawl under fences or go through tiny holes in a fence to get into your garden.
Lori T. June 20, 2018
Yep, I did. Sorry. As far as the curly top tomato disease, as I understand that's a virus carried by a little critter. Unfortunately once your plant gets it, there's no cure. Plus it acts like a source for other critters to spread around to other plants. I haven't had a problem with it myself, my challenge is blight as a rule. I lost three plants to it last year. This year, praise be to the garden gnomes, it's not been a problem. And though I hate to admit it, I'm radish challenged. Can't grow them, not even with seed tape. And I'd love to grow some of those watermelon radishes. Has anyone tried growing those little Peruvian peppers, I think they are called Sweetie Drops? I ordered some of the seed, but had no luck in germination. I'm not sure what the problem there was, as the other peppers I had did fine. At the moment I'm hoping the replacement Sweet Heat plants hang in there. I mean, I like the deer well enough, and I get grass is kind of bland, but I wish they could add interest to their diet someplace else.
BerryBaby June 21, 2018
I have grown watermelon radishes from seed in a Deep rectangular planter. The trick is thinning them out IMO. They were fat, round, and tasty.
ktr June 21, 2018
Try hanging a bird feeder up. We have a group of deer that make their rounds daily through the neighborhood and they eat all the bird seed out of the feeder most days, and then leave everything else alone. Last year when we didn’t fill the bird feeder for several days, they ate all my hostas instead. I don’t particularly enjoy feeding the deer bird seed, but the kids enjoy watching them and it keeps them away from everything else.
702551 June 21, 2018
Curly top tomato disease is caused by Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV) and is spread from plant to plant by the beet leafhopper.


Infection takes only a few minutes and there is no effective treatment. The best course of action is to remove the infected plants so other nearby healthy plants have a chance of surviving.

Anyhow, best of luck.
BerryBaby June 21, 2018
Not all leaf curl is a virus. Sometimes of plants curlleaves because there's too much sun or watering is quite right. Check out the leaves for insects, discoloration, if noticeable, a virus. If only curled the plant is using this as a defense and nothing to worry about.
mr-tomato-kingblogspot.com explains the differences.
Smaug June 20, 2018
I'm hardly the one to deprecate a good rant or three, but we do seem to have wandered a bit from the subject of gardening here.
Lori T. June 20, 2018
I disagree that Americans don't care about taste. I also know that it is possible to get bad tasting food abroad. I lived most of my life in Europe and the Far East, most recently in South Korea. They have bad fast food, and some poor quality stuff in their stores as well. The produce and meat are probably of better quality, but then it doesn't have to travel as far to get to them, and they aren't into mass produced beef, chicken and pork. When I lived in Europe, the produce came from farms within 3-4 hours drive or less, and the meat generally came from farms even closer by. It wasn't unusual to see a card in the case telling you specifically which farm, where the animal was born and raised, and where it was butchered. Plus it gave the dates for all that. It isn't like that here in the States, and hasn't been for some time. Even at the Farmer's Markets in some places, they allow wholesalers to bring in produce from out of the state, because consumers want that produce sometimes before it is available locally. Or somethings which can't be grown locally. There aren't many avocados grown on farms in MN, for example. We are lucky to have local butcher shops which do purchase local meat, but again some of it comes from the large meat processing plants. The only way I can get a pork roast with enough fat to make a nice crisp roast is to go to a local live meat market, buy the animal on the hoof, and oversee the cutting. But that costs a lot of money, and even though my budget is fairly generous, it doesn't stretch that far all the time. For some families, it is a matter of what is available inexpensively at the local grocery store. They don't know egg yolks should be bright yellow orange, because they've never seen, little alone eaten, a fresh country egg. Even our butter is a pale imitation of the real thing. Most people don't realize there are bazillions of different kinds of tomatos, eggplant, corn, green beans, or whatever. Worst of all, too many people don't know how to cook, or have the time to cook from scratch. I've lost count of the times my kids invited friends for dinner, and we discovered they only knew cauliflower as a vehicle for cheese sauce, from a little plastic packet. Or had never eaten it. Had one young man who didn't recognize it in the head form.
Fast food is pretty gnarly stuff no matter where you are- if you are discussing the American style of it. Then again, if you are in Europe, you can also get some pretty lousy offerings at the friteries, soggy fish in England, and nasty noodle dishes in Korea. Their frozen food dinners are not a lot better either, and yes- they exist outside the US. Rich people eat quite well, high quality food. Poor folks, not so much.
While I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from traveling and experiencing life abroad, you can most assuredly get good German, Italian, Korean, and other ethnic food here in the States. We are a nation of immigrants, and all those grandmas brought their recipes in their heads with them. They taught their kids, and grandkids. In some cases, some of the family opened restaurants. Das mehl ist anders, nicht besser oder schlechter. ( The flour is different, not better or worse) But the kuchen I made with sour cherries yesterday is what I learned from my own Oma, and once made for a German landlord. The concept of terroir does not automatically mean a thing is better or worse than the same item from elsewhere. It will be different, that's all. Does that mean it can be transfered elsewhere? No, because the terroir will not be the same. Poulet de Bresse makes some fine roast chicken. You can even breed your own version here in the States. It also makes a nice roast chicken. It's not the same because the environment is different, but gosh- it's still good. But even the best chicken is no good to you if you only know how to microwave stuff. Or can't afford or locate a source of it. Does that mean your local bird is bad? No. You can't get a true Poulet de Bresse here in the States. To make the trip safely, it would have to be frozen, and it would take some time to arrive. It would not be much better than a supermarket bird by the time you got it. Now if you've never had this particular brand of chicken, you probably think your organic, free range bird is just as good. Truthfully it might be. If you've never had such a bird, and all you know is the poor little supermarket bird, then you think that's good too. But if you can't cook to begin with, it just doesn't matter what kind of bird you have. And if you don't know there's a difference, you don't know to demand better. We don't need to import fancy French chickens to get a decent chicken dinner. We need to start raising our chickens for flavor, not for quick growth and large breasts. We need to get people educated about their food, starting with how it is raised or grown, and how best to honor that as we get it to our plates. My neighbor needs to be less squeamish about things like compost and less obsessive about her lawn. She just doesn't know that, yet. The best bratwurst isn't the one made in Germany, it's the one made either in your own kitchen or by a butcher with a passion for great wurst.
Lori T. June 20, 2018
I agree that non-season produce lacks taste, and is not worth my grocery dollars. And while composting is an old process, I've discovered it's not a thing a lot of people are familiar with. We are still a country very much accustomed to throwing everything in one bag and tossing it in the refuse container for weekly pickup. We might separate out the glass and metal, sometimes paper- but more than that makes a lot of folks squeamish.

I think the reason people buy produce out of season isn't because they are not concerned with the taste- but because a lot of folks don't know what the good stuff tastes like to begin with. Even the best store tomato will not taste as good as the one from the Farmer's Market, or the one from the garden. But if that's all you've ever known, it's acceptable. Plus there is the misconception that a canned or frozen product isn't as healthy as the fresh one. As long as store produce is grown primarily for the the qualities of shipability and uniformity, and until more people are made aware of the lack of taste and quality, it's going to be a problem. I can and preserve a lot of the stuff my family eats during winter, and I've had different friends tell me it's not as healthy as the fresh stuff at the store. So yeah, I get a little nutty and frustrated myself with it, too. About all I can do is plug on with what I do and teach my kids to know the difference.
702551 June 20, 2018
Well, the majority of Europeans and Asians (two continents I've visited many times) live in big cities and they don't seem to lack awareness of seasonality and what good food tastes like.

Plus, Americans spend more on dining out than ever before so there is some exposure to tasty seasonal produce even if it's a tomato slice on your hamburger.

My guess is that most Americans simply don't care.

Go to Japan. It is really really hard to get bad food there. Even the junk food and snacks they sell in convenience stores (like 7-Eleven) is tasty. Go to any American airport and try to find a take-out item (like a sandwich) that tastes halfway decent. Nearly impossible. Then go to any train station in Japan and by an "eki-ben" (bento box). They are AWESOME.

Heck, McDonald's in Japan blows doors on McDonald's in America. Even fast food is better there because the people care a little more.

Japan has its own version of Yelp and even the top restaurants rarely have more than 3.5 stars. The Japanese diners have way higher standards than American diners who frequently give 5 stars for absolute crap. Tokyo has more 3 Michelin star restaurants than Paris (if you like that type of food). At least in terms of food quality, a 1 Michelin star restaurant in Japan is easily the equivalent of 2 Michelin star restaurants in the USA.

Most people in America would happily eat cardboard if you called it food.

If you think that American grocery store produce is picture perfect, it's not. Just go to a Japanese department store's food level. Not only is it insanely beautiful, IT TASTES GOOD.

Here in the USA, it's easy to find magazine cover photo like produce that is tasteless.

The people here in America generally do not care about taste.
702551 June 20, 2018
Getting out off the couch and seeing the world was a large part of what Tony Bourdain was trying to do. Find something different, find something better, expand your horizons, increase expectations, meet other people and get a glimpse of how they view the world.

Appreciating German food isn't about driving five miles to a nearby beer hall and eating a bratwurst and washing it down with a beer. Appreciating German food means flying to Germany. Meet German people, see them shop for food, enjoy how they cook it. Sorry, you won't get blueberry pancakes or a toaster strudel for breakfast.

Appreciating food doesn't start with Instagram. It starts by what you put on your plate whether it's something you bought at the store, something you grew yourself, or something that a restaurant serves to you.
Lori T. June 20, 2018
Yes, I agree. You would think especially now, with all the attention on going green, eating organic and all- things like composting would be nothing new. I live in MN, so I can't actively compost outside all year round- which is why I also keep the red wigglers. But when I need to reduce their population, and post free worms available on the neighborhood website, nobody ever takes me up on it. I get lots of questions about them, but mostly it's a fascination thing and nobody wants my extras. At the local Farmer's Market, everyone wants organic produce, but they want it to look like what's in the grocery store, and not have any evidence of dirt or bugs. I've actually saw one lady freak out when she discovered a worm (oh the horror of it) on an ear of corn. Others don't seem to get the seasonality of things, so ask why there isn't asparagus in August.

Yeah, during the conversation with the neighbor, there were a lot of things I didn't dare mention to her. I didn't want to shock her too badly, in case her head exploded before she got off my property. Not sure if the home insurance would cover that, and she's got a 4 year old boy at home. I don't need that on my conscience or garden. I highly doubt she's as organic as she claims to be. And my compost tumbler isn't that big.
702551 June 20, 2018
Perhaps she's a bit slow. People have been composting since Roman times and the process was largely modernized about a hundred years ago with the advent of organic farming as well as development of biodynamic farming by the French.

Composting is not some newfangled process developed by agricultural scientists for Millennials. It was developed by farmers thousands of years ago.

Funny, someone here mentioned that after the rains stop, there is no more sand on produce.

Our farmers market is been going on for several decades, so perhaps the overall understanding is a bit higher, at least by those who regularly attend over a couple of years.

Even in "seasonless" (a myth) California, one can see the progression of the seasons and what produce is in peak form (some farmers markets here send out e-mails or post on social media about what to look for).

The people who exclusively buy produce at grocery stores tend to be the most oblivious of all about seasonality, buying tomatoes in January and asparagus in October, etc. I guess they don't care about flavor.
BerryBaby June 20, 2018
Tasteless tomatoes in the winter are a waste of my money and iceberg lettuce. A close friend asks me why can't the stores have good asparagus all year round! Every year I go over this with 'certain' people and it drives me nuts!
Smaug June 20, 2018
Plants have lived on compost since the dawn of life on earth. It is absolutely essential to life processes throughout the animal and vegetable kingdoms.
Lori T. June 19, 2018
I have Black Krim, San Marzano, Old German Striped, Yellow Pear, Golden, and Sweet 100 tomatoes, japanese eggplant, korean cucumbers, Ronde de Nice, Italian flat green beans, yellow pencil wax beans, limas, sugar snaps, mix color carrots, celery, and ground cherries planted so far. The Sweet 100's have just started coming in, and two day ago I got the first four of the season. I had Sweet Heat pepper plants, lovingly nurtured inside since February. But unfortunately the local wildlife decided they looked tasty. I kind of hope that with all the hype on food awareness, local eating, etc, things will improve- but I'm not so confident as I'd like to be. When a neighbor saw me at the compost tumbler, she asked me what it was. I ended up having to explain what compost was - and she was rather horrified to discover it was "rotten stuff" that makes my tomato plants so happy. Gosh, imagine how horrified she'd be if she knew about the red wiggler vermicomposting set up I have in the utility room. She's a self proclaimed foodie, so she's got the eating side of it down pat - but the growing side, not so much.

Voted the Best Reply!

Smaug June 19, 2018
Probably best not to tell her about mushrooms.
BerryBaby June 19, 2018
Does she know how often manure is used on growing produce? I have used it a few years back when I had an inground garden. Bumper crop!
702551 June 19, 2018
She has likely never been to a plant nursery or garden center. The bags of chicken manure are next to the potting soil.

I suppose it will be a revelation to her when she finally understands that much of what is growing this year is from stuff that died last year.

While I don't know what sort of vehicle she drive, I wouldn't dare tell her that dead dinosaurs are the likely power source.
BerryBaby June 20, 2018
Years ago I use to be amazed at how much people knew. It seems nowadays I'm amazed at how much people don't know!
Smaug June 24, 2018
I'm not up on modern trends, but I believe knowledge has been replaced with a smartphone app.
BerryBaby June 19, 2018
We are into a 90+ heatwave already too. Watered early this morning and used organic soray for the little critters. Didn't see any today. Sprayed last week so maybe it caught whatever they were. Tomatoes are doing great I cannot believe how rapidly they're growing. I also have a pot of potatoes are planted on St. Patrick's Day. I did all fingerlings and they should be ready end of August but I think I let them go until September just to be sure.
louisez June 19, 2018
I have a lot less space for growing, and a hot summer climate to deal with now -- with the compensation of a much longer growing season. Bit of a learning curve....
Growing tomatoes and herbs -- all going great guns. At least at the moment....
PHIL June 19, 2018
Off to a slow start in NJ. cold rainy weather delayed my usual early start. Hopefully the warmer weather will get the tomatoes and basil growing.
BerryBaby June 20, 2018
On the positive side, you'll have fresh tomatoes later. My dad would grow vegetables so some would be later on purpose. Made for a great, long season to enjoy the fresh produce.
Smaug June 20, 2018
Although it can be difficult to keep tomato plants healthy, there's no intrinsic reason that an indeterminate tomato started later should end it's season later; they should keep producing until the weather stops them. Basil, on the other hand, usually has a pretty short life before it bolts; you should really start new seeds 2 or more times a season.
Nan June 18, 2018
Very disappointing this year. I planted 15 heirloom tomato plants, peppers and zucchini only to discover a"top curly leaf disease" in which I had to remove all plants and now starting over :( hoping for a better garden
702551 June 18, 2018
That's a bummer, hope the new ones fare better.

I have a habit of transplanting small seedlings a little too early so I have a lot of avoidable losses there. I'm getting better and this year some of my pepper seedlings seem to be getting a foothold in the soil. Others such as eggplant were not so fortunate. I really need to be more patient when transplanting.

Still, it is better than last year when a few nasty heat waves at inopportune times killed off many of my promising seedlings.

Anyhow, best of luck.
BerryBaby June 19, 2018
Had that happen with one tomato plant but haven't gotten rid of it quite yet. Read it could be from too much direct sun when transplanted. I used an organic vegetable spray on it so we'll see what happens. Lots of blossoms on it.
Smaug June 19, 2018
Beware; inopportune heat wave this week. That's a yearly problem in much of Northern California. Unless you're right on the coast (and I'm not far), the springs tend to be very pleasant up to a point, and then unsuspecting and unprepared plants are suddenly faced with days of triple digit heat when a temperature inversion occurs. I grow all my vegies in pots (gophers and tree roots) so I can move them around, but it's a problem every year. That sort of weather also can help pests get established (spider mites are the worst)- reproductive rates skyrocket, and water stressed plants have less resistance.
702551 June 19, 2018
There's nothing I can do about the weather and I'm ambivalent about spending money on shade cloths, etc.

As a California native and a longtime resident of the SF Bay Area, I'm pretty familiar with these mini-heat waves. It usually starts to cool off after three days.

Last year's June heat wave came very early in the month. The one forecasted for this weekend is at a more normal time and the seedlings have had a couple more weeks to develop and strengthen.

It was the September heatwaves that were particularly brutal to my garden, especially the heatwave that broke all-time records.

Even grape growers said that their vines shut down in the 105-110 degree heat.

I doubt if my town will break 90 degrees on Saturday but it will still be warm. I'm planning on getting a good dose of water on the ground that morning.

LOL, it looks like this is another one of those threads where it's only a few people conversing over their drinks, lying about the good ol' days.

Smaug June 19, 2018
Well, we're up to five of us, and people need somewhere to gripe about the weather. Actually, as I remember it the good old days were worse- seems to me the last ten years or so (global warming?) have actually been relatively benign as far as Bay Area weather.
702551 June 18, 2018
There's a 5-year waiting list for plots at my town's community garden so there's certainly no lack of interest.

I do note that there are very few people in the community garden who are under forty. The folks in their 30s and 40s seem to have the highest turnover rate as they move more frequently and have other life distractions such as young children.

From my vantage point, it appears that Millennials are the most instant gratification oriented generation in history. That is decidedly not a conducive attitude for gardening which takes months even years and a certain time commitment without guaranteed ROI. The customers at the local nurseries are mostly middle age and older, the average age is probably 50. You almost never see a Millennial at a plant nursery around here.

Back to the original question. I have a bunch of herbs that survived the mild NorCal winter and have sprung back and some others that reseeded themselves. To these I've added some additional herbs so that part of my plot looks great.

I've developed an appreciation for Japanese vegetable varieties in the past few years so I have taken to growing some of those since most of them are not sold in the farmers market and only a few appear in a couple of Japanese grocery stores.

I also have a trio of tomato plants since even the farmers market tomatoes I often find lacking. None are ready to pick, but it is promising to see a lot of green fruit hanging. These are typical varieties: Early Girl, Sweet 100, Yellow Pear.

I have a bunch of very small pepper plants, some eggplant, some cucumber plants so hopefully there will be something in the future to harvest. We are supposed to have a burst of heat later this week which should help things along.

This year, I'm also experimenting with growing a few things (mostly herbs) in containers at home where there is an abundance of shade as my community garden plot is in full direct sun.
Smaug June 18, 2018
BB Can we be the only gardeners left? I know I've had any number of younger people tell me that they wanted to learn gardening, but they tend to lose interest when they find that you have to go outdoors and dig holes and stuff. So much easier to "have a landscape installed"- one of the most outrageous locutions of an age that seems to treasure linguistic outrages.
BerryBaby June 18, 2018
I was thinking the same thing. Is gardening becoming a lost passion?!
My niece, who is 14, grows a fabulous garden. But then, it runs in our family. The joy of gardening! There's something special about picking that first tomato, eating beans off the vines, digging up perfect potatoes, harvesting pumpkins. Connecting with nature, feeling the earth and seeing the magic happen is worth every second of labor.
We get it, others are missing out.
ktr June 19, 2018
I'm in my early 30's and enjoy gardening, but I am not doing any this year. Every summer we do projects around the house and last year was landscaping. This year we plan to build some raised beds for gardening as well as some more landscaping. We didn't get the beds done early enough to do any gardening this year so next year will be our first year gardening at this house. My kids are already planning out what they want to grow!
Smaug June 20, 2018
ktr Glad to hear you're out there- I have a neighbor in his thirties who gets out and does stuff, maybe there's a future for mankind. You might consider growing some plants in containers this year-- it's not only fun and a source of food, but it gives you a chance to move things around, see how different plants do in different exposures and in general get an idea of how the garden is going to work for the plants.
ktr June 21, 2018
Pots are a good suggestion. This year the kids are enjoying helping me with the flower pots and plants we put in around the house. Some of the flowers weren’t exactly what I would have picked out, but they loved picking them out and planting them. And now that they are in, I love all the crazy bright flowers they picked out. I’m slowly learning that the joy I get from growing something and seeing that joy in my kids, is the most important part of gardening for me at this stage of life. I grew up around large farms and never understood the point of flower gardens, but now I’m hoping to have one myself in the next several years.
Smaug June 21, 2018
By all means, keep those kids coming- they tend to love not only bright flowers, but plants that do stuff 9like carnivores), weird stuff (voodoo lilies, giant sunflowers), things they can do for themselves, and places they can think of as their own.... Some of the best moments of my childhood were in my grandparents' garden. It probably wasn't more than a few hundred square feet, but it seemed to contain whole worlds; paths would go around corners and take you to a whole different place, likely with something (a tree in fruit, plants in flower etc.) happening to make it unique. While the old folks discussed politics or fishmongers or whatever grownups talk about (still haven't really figured that out) my brother and I would live out endless adventures amid the loquats.
BerryBaby June 21, 2018
I love my grandparents garden. I remember how big everything was and how fun it was to walk through it. My grandmother and I would pick red currents and raspberries. We get bit by chiggers all over her legs. I remember she take me inside and that the chigger bites with clear nail polish. Strangely enough it work to get rid of the itch. Has anyone else ever heard of this method? it was way before all the ointments and bug bite treatments that are available today.
Lori T. June 21, 2018
Oh yes, I remember using clear nail polish to take the itch out of bites. My grandmom and mom both used it for chiggers and mosquito bites. It shouldn't work, but it does. Grandma had a huge blackberry patch, and picking them meant getting eaten. But one of her pies made every bite worth it.
tia September 24, 2018
Hey, a lot of us have small or non-existent outdoor space and I haven't got the time to drive to a "community garden plot" or whatever. :P

I'm lucky enough to have a small patio and en even smaller balcony. I have three teeny citrus trees (makrut lime, Australian finger lime, and a really finicky meyer lemon up on the balcony for better sun), some native beach strawberries in with the finger lime (they've never produced, sadly), lemongrass, cardamom, black pepper, thyme, basil, some sad, spindly mint (it hates me) and a GIGANTIC aji amarillo. I neglected to read the entire description when I bought the plant. Did you know that they get up to 6 feet tall? It makes the citrus look even smaller than it really is. I'm very, very glad I happened to have a gigantic (approximatly 3 cubic feet) pot sitting around, empty, because the 11" pot didn't cut it. The plant didn't drop any of the baby peppers when I moved it and it seems much happier now. None of them are ripe yet (it's almost October! Come ON!) but I keep hoping.

I also grow a bunch of random things, including a California native orchid, Epipactus Gigantea, some random succulents and a rikrak cactus. I'd really like to grow passion fruit but I'm pretty sure the HOA would have kittens if I put any holes in the walls to hold up a trellis for it.
Smaug September 25, 2018
I've grown peppers for years, and they still surprise me regularly with how deliberate they are about ripening; probably why commercial growers mostly sell them green. I'm usually harvesting the larger peppers well into the fall and even winter; most of the plants will take a bit of light frost. Peppers do ripen of the plant pretty well- certainly far better than tomatoes. Growing passion fruit is an interesting ambition; you can probably, with sufficient determination, arrange a trellis without poking any holes in the wall, but all the passifloras I've experienced are monstrous plants, suitable for covering large stretches of cyclone fence. This may seem like an easy solution to an ugly fence but these things take a lot of maintenance; like so many vines they will continually grow over themselves and without regular clearing you'll soon have a fence 4' thick composed mostly of kindling. And clearing them is no joke; not only is it physically difficult, but with vines you can never be sure what's growing out of what and a mistaken cut can result in a major die off.
tia September 25, 2018
Oh, the gigantic vine problem is pretty much the entire reason I'm not trying to grow passion fruit. My patio is only about 8x10 feet. If I'm not careful there won't be any room for me out there! It's too bad. I love passion fruit and it's ridiculously expensive in stores.

Good to know about ripening the peppers off the bush if that's what it comes to. I'm hoping this week's heat will help me out, though. This is the first time I've tried to grow food so I'd like to succeed.
Smaug June 17, 2018
Well, mostly the usual stuff- a lot of green tomatoes so far, but coming fast. Time to start a second crop of basil (the season starts early here) and some more lettuce. For some reason, the only nursery I can easily get to doesn't ever have lettuce starts and the seeds I ordered from Park got backordered- hard to believe that Park seeds was out of lettuce in March- anyway, they finally got here and the plants are ready to transplant- time to start the seconds. Trying a new zucchini (Poquito), also from Park- the plants are so far living up to the promise of (relatively) compact plants, but the fruit hasn't so far advanced to a size I'd pick. I've been growing a new strawberry, "Elan", the last couple of years; a good grower and the fruit is the most reliably sweet I've found, but sometimes seems a little watery. I'm a little surprised every year by how deliberate pepper plants are up until they have three sets of leaves or so. Nothing new there for me- several Mexican types, Turkish Aci (a personal favorite), and I've returned to the Italian Long Sweet (far as I know that's it's only name) as the best sweet pepper. Other than that, some mixed color mini bells, mostly for fun, and Tiburon- apparently a cross between Poblano and Pasilla varieties that matures to a dark brown.
Recommended by Food52