Beyond the Bell Pepper

Picture courtesy of Leslie Seaton
under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

While I will get around to planting bell peppers this season, first I wanted to plant some pasilla chile.

The pasilla chile is a large pepper, usually used in dishes like chile relleno.  It's a very mild pepper and, where bell pepper seems to generate a lot of stomach acid even though it has no heat at all for me, the pasilla leaves me without any indigestion afterward.

I was about to go to our local Latin supermarket to buy one and get the seeds out of it but my wife said she already had one so I scooped some seeds out of that.

I keep a few egg cartons on hand because our local egg ranch sells beautiful, loose jumbo brown eggs. Or they did, Friday was their last day in business so suddenly, I don't have such a pressing need to keep the egg cartons around anymore. I'm using one as a seed tray.

Fill it up with potting soil...

...put a couple of seeds in each compartment...

and water in.

I really hope these do well because I'd like to use them in place of bell peppers in many of my recipes.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

The Season is Springing Out All Over

The blooms...they just keep on comin'.  Cymbidium hybrid Lloyd Hawkinson 'Madrigal' put out two spikes with these white and pink flowers.

That's not all, you can browse our posts for the last couple of weeks to see more cymbidiums in bloom.

This little dendrobium is blooming... are our bletilla orchids. 

I always recommend the bletilla to people who say they can't grow orchids because these literally take no care at all from me.

Not to be outdone, our hanging basket dendrobium has opened too. This climate is perfect for dendrobiums.

This little Angel Face rose will be the first bloom for us this year.

And finally, after getting a big haircut last season, this Superbells Calibrachoa hybrid in a hanging basket is back.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Dastardly Dandelion

I've got a small zucchini plant doing it's best to survive from fall, through winter, and now spring. I'm willing to give it a chance at a good warm season but this darn dandelion grew right underneath it.

Do you think I can get the weed out without killing the zuke? Let's see...

Gingerly, I put my trowel between the two plants. I wiggle it back and forth a bit to get down to the roots and pull up on the weed.


Now, let's see if this poor little plant can survive the shock and produce some good fruit for us. Like they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Old Man Winter Never Got Old

OK, I guess I have to admit we're never going to get a freeze this year. Our winter turned out to last all of three days, maybe four if you push it, and it never dropped below 45 degrees (F).

I'm sitting here a week before the official start of spring, temperatures should hit 90 by tomorrow. Like the governor, I'm officially declaring the end of winter and an early spring.

Time to get back to work...

I've cleaned out the west wall and dumped a bag of Amend in it. This is an organic soil and soil amendment. How can you tell it's really organic? Just follow your nose.

Now that I've got that wonderful barnyard smell worked into the soil, let's plant.

I had a tough time with the tomatoes started from seeds last year. This year, it's a couple of buck-99 hybrid seedlings from Lowe's.

They pop in easy enough.

I will be growing most everything else from seed, though.  My wife found this little seed starter kit somewhere deep in the garage. It even comes with a free sample of fertilizer.

Each cell is a biodegradable square with a pellet of dried potting mix.  I water it and wait for the mix to expand.

Today, I'm planting onions, zucchinis, and...for the first time...I'm going to try some cantaloupe.

The onions are on the left and I'm putting in 2 zucchini seeds in each cell. Let them duke it out and I'll keep the best 2 or 3 plants to transplant.

Same with the cantaloupe.  Once planted, I'll put it on top of the whiskey barrel where I plant to transplant it later.

One last test of the sprinkler pattern then I'll count this job as done.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Attack of the Killer Mockingbirds

Well, maybe not killer. I'm not even 100% sure it's mockingbirds but something's been eating my tomatoes and I've heard their calls mocking me in the morning (mockingbirds are an ongoing pestilence in our garden).

Before I get to that, however, we've got to take a look at the status of the backyard.

Our last in-ground tomato plant has just been played out.  I was going to harvest it this weekend before pulling it out but, as you can see from the top, something beat me to it.

No use delaying the inevitable, out it goes.

Now, it rests on the top of the weekend's clippings in our green waste barrel.

Next, I'll need to prepare the two blank spots in our side garden, above. Zucchini on the right; onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and something else to be determined on the left. I think I'll skip the corn this year, maybe some nice, big pasilla chiles instead. Those are delicious!

It's citrus bloom time again. Here's the Meyer lemon buds...

...and here's the Cara Cara orange blossoms.

Finally, I'm able to scrounge this little last harvest. The last Meyer lemon, some tomatoes from our Cherry Falls hanging basket that'll go on some burgers I'm grilling tomorrow, and a tiny little zucchini I'll chop up into tomorrow's eggs.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Mow, Mow, Mow Your Lawn...

It's my least favorite gardening chore to do. Mowing the lawn is like doing the matter how much you do it, you're going to have to do it again.

This week was a little extra painful. My schedule is to mow every two weeks. Last weekend...the due date...we had a (dry) year's worth of rain over the course of three days.  With the deluge, lightning, and thunder, I didn't want to become a human lightning rod.

So I waited one more week.

Now, I've got a very thick and shaggy lawn in need of a haircut. The picture at the top shows what three weeks of growth looks like on this lawn.

I won't begrudge you if you hire a gardener to do your lawn. Heck, I had a gardener at my old house where the backyard grass went on forever but with my tiny 500 square foot front yard, I really can't justify a gardener or even a riding mower.

Plugging in my string weed whacker to a 100 foot extension cord, I get to work on trimming the edges. I'll sweep that debris back onto the grass before mowing.

Next, it's just slogging through the grass with my lawn mower. I've just got a basic Craftsman from Sears but I'm happy I opted to go with the large back wheels, which are much easier to push through the thatch.

Still, it took about 6 stops to empty that bag of clippings to get the job done this week.

After all the effort, I must admit the front yard looks pretty sharp. Until another two weeks...

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Presenting the Musick Channel Family of Blogs

You may have noticed the change in banners at the top of the pages and maybe even our new Twitter feed.

Tim Musick has joined me as a partner in blogging and we've put together five blogs for your enjoyment.  This conglomeration of blogs is going under the umbrella banner of The Musick Channel.

In addition to The Cheapskate Urban Gardener becoming part of The Musick Channel, we've also got four more channels for you to check out...

Tim's Sports World - where Tim Musick muses on the world of's triumphs, controversies, and news.

The World on Wheels - The premiere travel site geared to those who use a wheelchair and their companions.

Tinseltown, USA! - An entertainment blog featuring the best of Hollywood in movies, TV, and more.

Musick's Music - How can we have a name like that and not be into music? Come here for our observations on the world of music, videos, and criticism.

You can find links to all of our blogs at our main web page,, or follow our Twitter feed (www.twitter.con/musickchannel) where you'll get notices of all of our channel's posts. Please add to your favorites so you never miss news from our sites.

As always, our content is always free (but it is copyrighted, so ask before you use it).  You'll never be charged a penny to read our reports, see our pictures, or watch our videos.  We do appreciate it if you notice our Amazon links and do your shopping through them as we make a small commission on each purchase at no extra cost to you.

Thank you for you support, as we head towards our 5th anniversary of blogging, we hope to have a whole new world of information and entertainment for you.

Darryl Musick
Publisher, Writer, Editor, and Co-Owner of The Musick Channel

Tim Musick
Writer, Editor, Social Media Manager, and Co-Owner of The Musick Channel

The Deluge

Yes, we're still in a drought here in California, one of the worst on record. Still, some rain must fall and fall it did.

Over the last 7 days, we received more rain than during the entire year of 2013. It makes a good down payment on our water deficit but the heavy downpours kept me out of the garden. 

During a lull, I got to take a few pictures to see how the garden is doing. The orchid bench is loving it, as you can see in that picture at the top of this post.

There's a couple of tomatoes peeking through the foliage of our hanging baskets.

Speaking of the baskets, being at the edge of the roof, they get the brunt of all this water.  Later in the spring, I'll need to redo them.

The roses are coming back and fast. 'Angel Face' is already showing a lot of buds.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...