The Parasols of Summer

You can tell it's summer on the Cheapskate's patio when the umbrellas are out.  It's a necessary accommodation where the peak temperatures can reach 110 degrees or more.

You can also tell when summer is over and the umbrellas come down.

This was that weekend as we start the transition from summer gardening to fall and winter preparation. 

Then we'll do it all again...



In my seemingly never ending quest to use all of our tomatoes, this week I made some guacamole.

I could have asked my neighbor for a couple avocados but since I was thinking about this while I was at the store, I took the easy way out and bought a couple of Haas avocados, some green onions, and a lemon. I probably could have used a homegrown onion but I used it last week on another meal and don't have another.

This tomato...

...and these chiles, however, came straight from the garden.

It's a pretty easy recipe, first dice up the tomato.  Take the dead skin off of two whole green onions, along with the roots. Chop it all up into 1 inch pieces.

Put the onions and the chile...I've got a very small Anaheim chile, a Thai chili, and a few serrano chiles..into a food processor and chop up into fine mixture of little cubes.

Scoop out the avocados into a bowl, add the tomatoes, and mash up like mashed potatoes. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic and another of salt.  Squeeze lemon juice over everything and add the onion and chile mixture.

Add half and half or heavy cream to give a creamy taste and texture. Stir thoroughly and add salt and cream sparingly to taste.

When done, we add it to our tacos, as shown at the top. You can also use it as a very tasty dip for your tortilla chips.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

September Harvest

Great haul this week.

Heirloom tomato, guavas, hybrid tomato, Anaheim chile, hot chiles, and onion. Time to make salsa.

These cherry tomatoes will be used for a Caprese salad.


Deacon Blues

"They got a name for the winners in the world, I wanna name when I lose. They call Alabama the Crimson me Deacon Blues."
Deacon Blues
Steely Dan

Last week, I showed you some of the winners of the garden. This week, it's the losers' turn. Luckily we didn't have too many. Last year was an almost complete lost season. This year is much, much better.

I'm not complaining at all but let's see what didn't work this year.

At the top of the page is our grape vine, which is always a challenge. One year I got 50 pounds of grapes. The next, all the local animals ate them before they ripened. In the years since, I've tried various methods to keep the animals out and have had limited to no success.

This years, I kept the animals out by wrapping the clusters in nets but the resulting fruit was tiny and cracked.  Not nearly as good as the grapes I got at the farmers market for $2 a pound.  I'm just going to let the plant alone next year and see what happens.

The zucchini, usually the most prolific plant in the garden, only produced two very small fruit over the season.  I'll try a different variety next year.

I believe the corn was a victim of an unnoticed clogged sprinkler at the beginning of the season. It never came back.

The severe drought we're experiencing also hit some of the plants. These roses have no blooms because the deer have been coming down from the dry mountains in search of food. They found a taste for the flowers and eat them up as soon as they bloom.

Maybe next year we'll get that El Nino we keep waiting for and the deer can return home.

This rose just gave up the ghost.  I think I'll replace it with a Saint Patrick rose.

The biggest victim is the lawn, which is really a victim of the law. We're mandated not to water it more than two days a week, 15 minutes at a time.  With no shade at all, it just couldn't handle that diet so dormancy kicked in and it's just straw now.

I'm hoping we'll get enough water this year that I can overseed with a heat-resistant blend for next year.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

A Labor of Love

Well, Labor Day 2015 has just passed, marking the unofficial end of summer. How did our garden do? This year was much better than last. We had a lot more good news than bad.

Let's start with the good stuff and save the bad for next time.

On the sweet side of things, the guavas are ready to start picking. Some are already dropping on the ground. Lots of fruit on this tree.

The dragon fruit aren't ripe yet but they're getting there.

The tomatoes have done great. Three plants have put out enough that we haven't had to buy tomatoes for two months now. Maybe not enough to share with all the neighbors but a banner year still, especially compared to the lousy year we had last year. 

The hybrid has put out many in clusters like this.

The heirloom has been a bit stingier, only giving us about a half dozen but they were pretty big, tasty, and spectacular.

Although the leaves could look healthier, the hanging cherry tomato has been loaded down all summer with tiny, tasty fruit.

On the spicy side of things, the pasilla I planted last year that I gave up on because it was ravaged by squirrels has made a comeback and is providing a good, late harvest. When done, I will transplant it into a more suitable spot.

Another plant that was rodent plagued last year was our Anaheim chile plant. It has also produced handsomely this summer. Great with eggs or in salsa.

Need some more heat? I've got more than enough serrano and Thai chiles for the whole neighborhood. This shows just a tiny portion of those plants.

And coming soon, this Meyer lemon should be leading our late fall and winter citrus parade.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

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