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Diary of an Urban Gardener

Garden Pic 1


Installment: 1

Information provided by a gardener living in the City of Los Angeles, California


I prepared the garden the week prior to Good Friday the 2nd of April 2010. This is a tradition in the South and I still do it even though I am in "Sunny California" I think because of the maturity date of the vegetables, is the reason the Southern gardeners' planted on this day. Preparing the garden means to turn the soil and get the entire weeds out of the dirt and fertilize the soil. Next you need to think about what you are going to plant and how much room there is because some plants stall tall and some produce (runners) leaves that branch out and spread on the ground. I have three separate spaces for different vegetables. I have a watermelon garden, a raised garden (above ground) and an all in one garden. Today I planted snow peas, corn, strawberries, red bell pepper, okra, cabbage, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, garlic, Kentucky pole beans and carrots. I still have plenty of room left and I think I will have to share with my neighbors. I also have a lemon tree, apricot tree, black berry bushes and potatoes growing in my yard. I am thinking about planting sweet potatoes. The maturity date of the vegetables is between 50 to 100 days. So I will plant a second garden when these vegetables mature.

 The rain during April has been very good for the plants except the okra. Okra plants don't like a lot of water and the rain was a little too much so I will have to replant. Also the watermelon plants didn't survive; it wasn't because of the rain it was just a little too early to plant watermelon from plants I should have started from seeds. But I did have a backup plan, I have started some seeds in a planter box and I will transplant the plants when they are tall enough and the weather is a bite warmer. August 18th is National Watermelon Day so they will be ready for the big celebration.

For all the 'Gardeners' who don't have the space you can still plant a potted garden. Use large pots for tomatoes, planter boxes for corn on the cob and strawberries. To start your plants from seed use the following simple method. Use an egg carton and save the empty eggshells and use them as 'pots'. Just poke a hole in the bottom of the shell, fill it with soil, and then plant your favorite seeds. When transplanting, simply crack, and then bury the eggshells. They'll protect the plants and provide much-needed nutrients to your tender young plants. Eggshells are also good for pepper and tomatoes. Just soak crushed eggshells in water for 24 hours then use the water to water your plants.

A garden requires lots of water and with the recession a higher water bill is not something we need. Some of the thing that you can do is to use the 'gray' water, that water that you can use from changing the fish tank, boiling eggs, vegetables, pasta and water that run down the drain while waiting for the faucets to get hot. The rain water caught in a barrel is the best use of water, but this is California and we all know it doesn't rain in Southern California.

Installment: 2

May 2010

Cabbage tomatoes peppers corn

Zucchini Strawberries Blackberries Peaches


string beans

white potatoes peppers

I harvested my first strawberry and it was g-o-o-d! The cabbage 'WORM' ate all the cabbage plants and now I have to start over. I didn't sprinkle worm powder on the leaves and the worms got fat and happy. I replanted the cabbages and I will be dusting often to beat those worms to my cabbages. I also had to replant the okra plants, I was not aware that okra plants love hot weather and that just because they are available at the nursery doesn't necessarily mean they will survive if planted before their time. I also replanted corn and watermelons from seeds. The corn plants are growing tall and green. I decided to try to grow corn and watermelons from seeds, to see what difference there is in growing from plants rather than seeds. The squash plants, string beans, tomatoes and peppers are in bloom and there are small fruits forming. I harvested my potatoes and there's nothing like a fresh potato-baked- they cook fast. I just took an ordinary white potato, cut it into quarters and dug a hole and put into the ground. When the tops grow tall and start to brown and the ground starts to crack, they are ready to be dug up and eaten.

Now is a good time to visit the nursery to get more plants that are available. I am now starting to plant more container gardening. I just purchased a big bag of gardening soil (get some now while it's on sale). Onion, garlic, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, mint, and basil are just some of the things you can grow in a container on your porch, side yard, or at the end of the driveway.

Here's one of the ways to keep pesky pests away from your garden- treat them to a little heat. Just mix 1 cup of hot pepper sauce and 2 Tablespoons of baby shampoo in 1 quart of water. Pour the solution into a hand held sprayer bottle; then apply it to any of your troubled plants to the point of run-off. It'll keep the unwanted 'diners' from coming back for more.

Container Booster Mix- When you're planting vegetables in containers, add this miracle food to a half-and-half mixture of good commercial potting soil and compost.

1/2 cup of Epsom salts

1/4 cup of coffee grounds (rinsed clean)

1 tbsp. of instant tea granules

4 eggshells (dried and crushed to powder) per 2 gallon of soil

Combine the ingredients thoroughly with your potting mix. Then plant your seeds or set in your transplants, and get ready to enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Installment: 3

June, 2010

Green Beans


During the month of June, some additional goodies were produced from the garden. The cabbages are doing better now that I sprinkled them with some worm removal dust. The new corn and watermelons that I planted from seeds are looking healthy. The Italian squash and green beans are plentiful so either I will share with others or I get to eat squash and green beans every day.  The carrots and the onions didn't produce very well so I will have to try another spot in the garden the
next time.

It's time to harvest more potatoes, the tops have turned brown, that means the growth period is complete. I'm still trying to get my sweet potatoes to produce some spuds (growths on the potato that look like small dots that are cut off and placed into the ground to start new plants).

"Salsa" made easy:

Tomatoes - onion - jalapeno peppers - garlic - lime juice
Cut up all of the ingredients and mix together in a blender.  You have just made fresh salsa from the garden.  Salsa can be made as you need it, but try to make it at least a few hours before service. This additional time will allow the flavors of the different vegetables the time to blend.