Thursday, July 29, 2010


this is the salsa i made with my tomatoes. there are 3 varieties in the salsa. mostly the yellow pear tomato, which is why it looks more green. it turned out super yummy, and i have been eating it everyday for breakfast.


i came home to my apartment to find a package wedged between the screen door and front door. it said "open immediately, perishable plants inside." uh oh. someone sent me flowers! but who???

i have some friends in mind who send me flowers once in a blue moon, so naturally my mind goes there first.

i open the box and it is a real cute lil' bonsai tree, a bougainvillea bonsai to be technical, and it is sometimes called paper flower bonsai from the bright showy flowers, which fade and become brittle (like paper) with age. i open the card to see who sent it...

"Always see you taking care of your plants, hope you like this one. Anthony, one of the contractors across the street. Next time I see you I will ask if you like the plant."

uh oh.

this is gonna get awkward.

it was very thoughtful and thoughtful of my secret admirer to send me a plant and not flowers. and it is a beautiful bonsai plant.

i am watering my plants at night from now on. this is gonna be soooooo weird when this dude talks to me. i am praying that it rains today. oh man. i don't know what to do. i want to thank him and not be a jerk, but i do not want to invite any extra conversation that might lead to the impending awkward rejection part. maybe i am jumping to conclusions. maybe he is not trying to woo me with plants. maybe he is just being a nice dude who appreciates gardens cause his grandmother use to garden. ughhhhhhhh.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

sweet mother of all herbs

also known as cuban oregano and puerto rican oregano.

this succulent looking plant is beautiful and thrives in most gardens. it is good to use with meat or super savory dishes. it also makes an excellent sleep aid. chop it up and added it to some hot tea as it steeps. i have never slept so solidly!

i really love the plant though. it is quite fragrant and i think it is super cute. looks at the veins pattern! it is so awesome!

i got problems

lately some of my tomatoes have been looking a little rough. and my radishes have failed. and my cucumbers gave up all together.
it's all my fault. not the plant's at all. i have been to lazy to look any of the symptoms up before they worsened. and honestly i am ok this year with the failures. i am just happy i am getting some fruits and veggies this year, seeing as though i did not even think i would be gardening at all in my new spot. just being able to organize all my plants and watch them grow and flourish for at the very least a month was gratifying, and i am satisfied with the results i have had so far in my new space.
now next year these mistakes will be unacceptable. i gotta learn from them. and that's really why i started this blog (besides for bragging!). i wanted to keep track of my setbacks, issues, successes, and so on by logging it in the "journal" for my future growth and hopeful success as a gardener. i certainly don't expect people to be reading this for the enthralling text, as i completely suck at writing. blegh.

ok so down to business. i scanned two tomato leaves displaying different symptoms:
the above image displays some yellowing and browning of the leaves. they completely dry and shrivel up. i thought this was because of the intense heat and my not watering them... but now i am not so sure because of the next image below...

on what is an otherwise perfectly healthy tomato leaf, there are little whitish spots. in my limited knowledge i automatically think its powdery mildew. but i don't think that would cause the appearance in the first image...

also my purple cherokee tomatoes have not produced any fruit. i am guessing that is just a nutrient deficiency and i need to figure out which it is. possible problems... and organic treatments...

  • leaf curl: described as the leaves curling upward and yellowing on the outer margins. fruit production drops and flowers fall off. 
    • treatment: there is really no effective treatment for this. 
      • bummer. but i don't think this is really the culprit, so no biggie. 
  • nitrogen deficiency: described as the plants yellowing and having poor growth. 
    • treatment: add organic matter (such as my worm poop), keep soil properly aerated, maintain ph of 5.8-7.0, and maintain adequate moisture.
      • ok. so this is a definite maybe. what i can realistically do here is add the worm composting and worm pee i have collected. but as far as aeration and ph. forget about it. i just am not there yet. maybe next year or the following. i am just not that level of a gardener yet. adequate moisture i can do better at. i've got to stop watering when the sun is beating down.
  • potassium deficiency: this is what i think may be effecting (affecting?... i hate these two words...)  the purple cherokee. potassium is necessary for formation of flowers, leaves, and fruit. and since my plant has really no flowers or fruit, this seems most likely. the plant looks great other than that.
    • treatment: kelp and seaweed. 
      • guess i need to go to the beach and collect some!!! always a good excuse to go to the shore!!!
  • calcium deficiency:  described as yellowing in the leaves, then browning. can cause blossom end rot. 
    • treatment: eggshells and oyster shells.
      • so i am really liking this organic treatments, i will totally go eat some oysters for the sake of bringing home the shells to my garden. sweet. 
      • by the way, i do think this is the problem with my yellow pear tomatoes, as i have seen a few with blossom end rot. 
now, as far as the powdery mildew...i just don't know. it could be that... but i can never quite figure it out for sure (i have had this problem before..) i just looked on the back of the leaf and i can see the tiniest of raised specks. first thought- aphids. but they are much tinier than the aphids i am used to seeing... oh snap! just did some research... spider mites! i think it's spider mites!! the pictures i googled seem convincing. garlic seems to be a repellent to them... i can also make an insecticidal soap. dang. i feel good now that i know... but i think its gonna take a lot of care and attention to kill those little suckers. ugh. i feel all itchy now thinking of tiny ass little spiders crawling all over my tomato plants and maybe even on me. ewwwwwwww.

Monday, July 26, 2010

mini harvest

i picked some of the first of my tomatoes yesterday. as well as one green bell pepper, 2 japanese eggplants, one cherry pepper, and one jalapeno pepper. a bit bare of an assortment, but i think i will make salsa with what i have. the eggplant will get fried up and i will add to some pasta for dinner. mmmmm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shard= Swiss Chard

I have an abundance of shard right now. And I have two Salmon fillets in the freezer. I see a delicious dinner being made in my near future. Salmon lightly grilled with lemon, pepper, salt, and thyme (from the garden of course), and the chard sauteed with a little garlic, salt and pepper, and some hot peppers (just a pinch). mmmmm.

In other news... the other day one of my neighbors, a chatty ol fellow, commented on my garden and asked if i had any _________ (enter undecipherable word here). I looked at him with my eyes crossed and said, "Huh?" He repeated. I was all like,  "I have no idea what you are saying." And he crossed his arms and said to himself, " How do you say it in English??" So I start listing things off in my garden, and he finally shouts out "Basil!" So he's probably first generation Italian here.... and so I think what he was trying to say was Basilico... but it came out sounding like basagooliio... hmmm. ok. I pointed it out to him, which he did not recognize, and told him to help himself to it whenever. He said he needed some for a picnic. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

the garden... in full bloom. so far this year has been good to my tomato plants. nice beautiful disease free leaves. the plants are so full and look so healthy. green fruits are popping up everywhere, and i can't wait to taste the first tomato. i already have an eggplant and a few jalapenos to harvest. i also notice a cherry pepper ready to go. i keep waiting for the blossoms on my crookneck squash and cucumber plant to turn into something...but they mostly just fall off. gotta figure out what i am doing wrong there... i recently added compost and mulch to my planters. it really had an immediate effect, especially on a couple of my tomato plants that were looking a little bare. they are suddenly flowering and are becoming more full.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My garden as a social forum...

While working in my garden I have met quite a number of my neighbors. They walk by and compliment my garden, then introduce themselves. I have come to realize very quickly that my garden is a "conversation piece." Without it, I might not have had the opportunity to talk to or meet some of my neighbors. One neighbor asked me about my currants, and I told him that I made a jam from them. He quickly brought me over a jar of some of his homemade fig preserves.

South Philly really is a great place to live. My neighbors are awesome, and they don't bother my garden (knock on wood). I don't mind if they want to pick a tomato or two though. Having my garden here and meeting new people has opened up my eyes more to the potentials of awesome neighborhoodness. I am so glad I decided to go through with my garden after my move. I am glad I have the motivation and inspiration to pull it all together. It makes my everyday better, just seeing my plants, and from what I hear from my neighbors, it makes the street look better, and smell better! Yay!