Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

Last ripe tomato of the season

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.

Mystery pepper plant

2. Mystery peppers! The plant marker’s long been faded and I don’t remember if this plant originated as a volunteer last year, so it’ll be exciting to take a bite and try to figure out what it is!

Prolific sweet basil

3. The vintage clawfoot bed fared best this summer, since it’s partially shaded by our feijoa tree for several hours in the afternoon. Our basil plants have grown over 3 feet tall and are still going strong!

Summer blossoms on a floss silk tree

4. Every summer, my floss silk tree (Ceiba speciosa) bursts with beautiful pink flowers that attract monarch butterflies. It’s truly a sight to behold. The tree towers two stories above the street and, unfortunately, also turns my driveway into a skating rink with its natural (and very slippery) litter.

Freshly seeded foraging bed for the chickens

5. Ahead of the trickle of rain we received a few days ago, we seeded the chickens’ raised foraging bed with clover, flax, buckwheat, alfalfa, and rye.

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Avatar
    October 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Aww, goodbye last tomato for 2015. Your peppers, if anyone hasn’t mentioned this yet, look just like the orange habaneros I grew this year.

    We had a normally wet season here until this autumn, and now we’re falling behind. It’s very dry and crunchy up here in the north country. We’ve lost most of our leaves too. I did my last seed collecting today- and this week I’ll finish pulling up tender bulbs and tubers and setting them on the counter to cure before storage. I also harvested the last of the winter squash and pumpkins, and I planted the cold frames with greens.

    I have admittedly been letting my chickens tear into the rest of the property occasionally, in hopes they’ll clean up weed seeds and stuff. Mostly they just make dust wallows and lay eggs in planters.

    I love seeing you make the forage platforms. I have yet to try it but I want to.

    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      October 31, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      They do look like orange habaneros, except I’ve never grown them in my garden! And after taking a bite, I know they’re definitely not – they have a milder spice.

      We’re starting to prep the garden for fall and winter, but it will be a while before our fig and mulberry trees lose their leaves. They still think it’s summer! (And rightly so.)

  • Avatar
    October 12, 2015 at 3:44 am

    I love your blog because I feel your pain! But, I’m in Perth Western Australia, on the flipside of your seasons. Technically, it’s Spring here, but with a 91F (33C) degree day today, it appears summer has already trampled into spring territory. We also have strict water restrictions. So I’m experimenting with alternatives to irrigation, like ollas. Also, looking closer to home for seed suppliers who have hardier varieties. So far I’ve planted moringas, jack beans, chickpeas, asparagus peas, snakebeans and switching to cherry tomato varieties for summer. Nothing demonstrates the challenges of local food security quite like trying to grow your own, does it? I hope your cool change arrives soon!

    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      October 15, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Growing your own food, traditionally and outdoors, is quite humbling! And certainly makes me grateful for what DOES come out of the earth! Good luck with your upcoming season as well. We are all doing a rain dance on this side of the world. 🙂

  • Avatar
    October 10, 2015 at 7:01 am

    I love the lone picture of the last tomato of the season. Yesterday, I picked the last tomatoes and made a sofrito to use them up. I snuck the one last hot pepper in so it would have a little bite. Here in Missouri we are having our “second spring”. It only lasts for a few days, then it will get really cold. Now the sun is out and it’s 72 degrees. There seems to be a slightly chill breeze blowing down from Canada, but I can deal with that after some of the hot days of summer. I love Five Things Friday. For some reason I feel like I’ve missed a some lately.

    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      October 15, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      I put Five Things Friday on hiatus for the past month because of travel and other projects, but they’re back now! Enjoy your second spring… I’m actually praying for the cold to come as I miss making a fire in the house (which we didn’t do at all last year because of the unusually warm winter) and all the other fun rituals that come with a cooler season!


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