I’m often the first to admit that there’s not much you need if you want to start from seed — just a good growing medium, sunshine, and water.
But sometimes there are forces working against us, and if there’s a way to boost our chances of seed starting success, I’m all for it.
My basil have been going gangbusters in the vintage clawfoot bed. All summer long, the bees have been flitting about the fragrant flowers — dozens of them, to the point where you can hear a collective buzz as you walk by.
Moments like these make me wish I had a beehive, because a colony feeding on all my basil would produce the most amazing honey! (Sigh, one day.)
Of all the vegetables one can cultivate, radishes are one thing that’s always in abundance in my garden. I love their top-to-tail usefulness in the kitchen and grow them year-round for the greens as well as the roots (and even the flowers as well as the seed pods — yep, all edible).
When the first sign of fall arrives, those tight little bunches of palm-sized orbs start to make way for larger, starchier roots like black radish, watermelon radish, and daikon — or what are known as winter radishes.
The five little things that made my week…
1. Seeds! I inventory all my seeds twice a year (spring and fall) and so far I’ve counted a little over 300 packets of seeds, ordered from seed houses or saved from my own garden over the last couple years. Seeds don’t last forever, unfortunately. Have you looked at the dates on some of your older packets? Check out my cheat sheet on seed storage life to determine when it’s time to throw them out.
Camping. Climbing. Kayaking. Biking. None of these adventures feel right in a minivan to me… heck, not even a road trip feels sexy in a minivan. I’ve always associated minivans with soccer moms and suburban families, so when Kia offered up their Sedona MPV (that’s Multi-Purpose Vehicle, not minivan, mind you) for The CSA Cookbook Road Trip this summer, I’ll admit I was a little hesitant at first.
But the large windows, ample storage, and great gas mileage swayed me enough to give it a go, and seven weeks later, it was a sad, sad day when I had to return the vehicle. The Sedona has completely changed my impressions of MPVs and their possibilities on the road.
Indian summer in SoCal. It sounds rather nice at first, with visions of balmy beach days and barbecues and frozen drinks with umbrellas in October, but I think I can speak for everyone in SoCal right now that we are ready — hoping! — for fall to start soon. (It was 102°F in my town today, which is unheard of for the coast. We usually average in the 70s this time of year.)
The ceaseless heat this summer (hotter and drier than I remember from years past) means there hasn’t been a whole lot of gardening happening on the homefront. In September, we reduced (or completely turned off) the drip irrigation in most of our raised beds and let our summer crops start to die back. With the ongoing drought and rising water costs, we simply couldn’t afford to keep our water-intensive vegetables (the annuals, at least) hydrated through the constant heat waves.
We’re continuing to water our containers, and our perennial beds, and of course our fruit trees and shrubs, but the edible garden is mostly empty and mulched in straw at the moment.
Here’s hoping for a little relief from the weather soon! In the meantime…
1. The last ripe tomato of the season. This little cherry lingered for weeks after all the other tomato plants had withered. A true survivor.
Coconut, Coppertone, saltwater, freshly cut grass and charcoal heating on the grill. These are some of the smells that reminded me of summer while I was growing up. And now as a gardener, tomato leaves make that happy list.
While there’s no shortage of Coppertone and saltwater on a California summer day (or any day in any season here, for that matter), the one smell that truly ushers in summer and closes it out is the heady, earthy, viney, fragrant aroma of fresh tomato leaves as you brush against them — either to stake up the vines in June or to pull up the last lingering plants in September.
Have you ever wondered where, exactly, that distinctive smell comes from? It’s not in the fruit, no matter how richly perfumed that heirloom variety may be. It’s only in the leaves, stems, and sepals (those little green “hats” on the flowers and fruits), and even on tiny seedlings that have barely seen the sun. It’s an unmistakable scent that no other plant shares, and people either love it or they hate it.