Fire Mountain Garden Exchange

September Plantings by Editor
September 1, 2011, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Vegetables

As ever, I am using Charles Ledgerwood’s 1994 “Reliable Seeds” pamphlet for my reference.

Best bets are in all caps.
For September:

Bush beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, CARROTS, Corn, CELERY, Cauliflower, Endive, Kale, Kohl rabi, LEEK, Peas, Mustard, Lettuce, Bunching onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Radish, Turnips, Swiss Chard and WINTER ZUCCHINI.

I really suggest beets for the local garden; they grow so well here, the greens are absolutely delicious in salads or steamed like spinach. They are great in quiches. The best part is canning the beets for winter consumption; it’s very easy and very rewarding.

For the flower garden we have:
Calendula, Centaurea, Cineraria, Cosmos, Delphinium, Dimorphotheca, Foxglove, Gypsophila, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Linum,  Lunaria, Nasturtium, Nemesia, Pansy, Phlox, Petunia, Poppies, Primula, Salpiglossis, Snapdragon, Stock, Sweet Peas, , Viola, Verbena and Wildflower.

Please refer to Sunset Western Gardens for plant descriptions and water requirements.


August Rant by Editor
August 19, 2011, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Fruits, Vegetables

Well this is certainly a different year from last. I like to refer back to the previous year’s monthly missive. Last year the tomatoes were suspect and the basil was rocking, Well the tables have turned, and the basil is crying, why I am not sure, most likely sourcing of the plants. I think I purchased mine at Anderson’s in La Costa and they were very root bound. I have also purchased two of the Trader Joe’s $2.99 basil bombs, one I planted on the deck in a five gallon of pure potting soil, one in the garden. I didn’t separate either.

You may remember that a few months ago I referred to a load of mushroom compost that I picked up in San Marcos. The stuff was pretty hot with horse manure and a little salty looking; I put it in the bottom of the garden and sprayed with water to leach our some of the horse urine. I dug a good portion into two rows of my garden as a test. I will have to say that the green beans and tomatoes loved it. Please check out the accompanying pictures.  I think I have the biggest bean plants (simple Kentucky Wonder) I have had on FM in 25 years and they are just getting ready to bust loose with a beanapalooza. It is going to pickling time on the ranch for the next two weeks. The tomatoes after a slow start are ripping it up; I am particularly pleased with Black from Tula, Green Zebra and Black Prince. I bought all of these at Grangetto’s in Fallbrook. The lettuce is a little lame, but I can still make a salad every other night and I am now starting a major push for fall planting. I will also be putting up beets this week and prepping beds for another crop. I just don’t feel right without at least 40 pints of pickled beets for the winter. My cukes are producing too although the ones I bought at Home Depot marked as Japanese, turned out to be regular old 9 inchers. Not complaining I get one a day for salads. We had a nice summer meal of grilled salmon, chilled fresh cukes, green beans and tomatoes with Montrachet cheese. Pretty darn good to be here now.

I would suggest a major move on green beans, they are a very rewarding crop and can be enjoyed fresh or pickled. Just look up a ‘dilly bean’ recipe on the Internet, easy to do and delicious. Make sure you have REALLY tall poles to support them. My plants are over 10 feet tall and I am going to have to use a ladder to harvest.

One last thing, for the first time since I moved here in 1985 I put herbs in pots on the back deck (slow learner) off the kitchen. I have basil, thyme, dill (now needing replacement) two types of parsley and Mexican Oregano and chives. I built nice little redwood surround to disguise the black 5 gal pots and got plastic pot trays at Home Depot for $2/per. Very Happy with the result.

August Plantings by Editor
August 19, 2011, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruits, Natives, Vegetables

So as is our custom, we refer once again to the 1994 “Reliable Seeds” catalogue from our inspiration Charles Ledgerwood, if this is your first visit to our site, please look back on the previous issues to find out more about Mr. Ledgerwood.

For the month of August he recommends

(Caps indicate best plantings for the month)

BEANS, beets, carrots, CELERY, CORN, CUCUMBER, leek, LIMAS, okra, , NZ spinach, Swiss chard and marrow squashes. You can keep planting bunching onions and radishes of all sorts all summer long to spice up your salads.

This is the time to start staging you garden and growing space to prepare for the September to December planting season, arguably the best time to grow things in SoCal. Look at you lawn and think how much water you put on it and think how much lettuce, arugula and spinach you might be able to grow if you just give up a small part of it. Start preparing extra space for fall crops and watch this blog for the fall planting tips.


On the flower side of the path, this month you can plant:

Centurea, Cineraria, Cosmos, Gypsophilia, Hollyhock, Pansy, Lunaria, Marigold, Nasturtium, Phlox, Salipiglossis, Snapdragon, Stock. Sweet Peas, Verbena, Viola and Zinnia.

Please refer to the last  several year’s August missive for some great suggestions.

The July Rant by Editor
July 5, 2011, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Fruits, Vegetables

Such an interesting month it has been. If you perchance follow this blog you will note that I was shocked and dismayed with my tomato production as of early June. All is forgiven; they have turned around and put out. I will say I understand why the Kentucky Wonder is so aptly named, “you wonder where the tomatoes are”! Read back on last month and last year’s June issues to check out the information on culling the sun leaves on your plants, remember you are growing tomatoes, not leaves. The pole beans are crawling rapidly up the bamboo trellis’. Still having a slow time with the eggplants, but I have become murderously cavalier in my approach, no growth or sets, away they go and I replace them. The French lettuce continues to amaze us; I have seven varieties, a little less lush than in April but still way better than store bought. This is a good time to start a crop for late summer /early fall. Just started a bunch of purple bush beans, they are so pretty when they grow, but don’t be surprised when they turn ordinary green when cooked.

Beets, oh goodness do I have beets, four varieties and all just muscling out. I will be pickling this weekend and replanting. I finally got enough confidence in

Trade Joes Basil - $2.99

the overnight temperatures to plant cukes, they are only 8” tall right now, so no telling what goes on, last year was wonderful with 18” Japanese cukes hanging from a wire fence. I am going to rip out the basil I got from Armstrong at the flower fields. I think those plants are boosted with drugs to sell and then just collapse. Next year I am going back to starting my own seedlings for everything. I used to do it all the time, but apparently got side tracked into laziness. My late season fall back for the basil is the Trader Joe’s 2.99 pots out in front. Last year I separated, planted and pinched back as low as I could go and got a decent crop. Basil also grows remarkable well from seed too.

I decided to grow herbs close to the kitchen this year so I planted 8 of my favorite herbs in 5 gal pots (using potting soil from the new Home Depot Garden spot in the abandoned Saturn Dealer (boy does that end of the center look like the lost world –ugly) 2.5 CU ft for $10 is reasonable. I built little redwood frames to gussy up the pots so they don’t look so industrial and put the fake terra cotta plastic trays from the old HD ($2.18 per) under them and installed them on the back deck near the kitchen.

A Fire Mountain Drive neighbor said he shopped at Anderson’s Nursery on La Costa, so I went looking for herbs. Hadn’t been for a coon’s age, and my beer drinking/ tomato growing competitor/friend and I were quite impressed. High dollar plants. They had a nice little veg and herb section that was very reasonably priced, but I will say the herbs were almost totally root bound. At $3 for a 4” pot it is iffy but I think I will be able to reclaim the French tarragon, chives, African basil and basil. They had a very nice selection of heirloom tomatoes but I would suspect they were also root bound, not necessarily a deal breaker, you just have to rip them up a bit, but it slows the program for a week or two. Nice people, very savvy and the nursery is dog friendly.

Don’t forget to let your neighbor’s who think they can send off personal fireworks know that they will reap what they sow.

July Plantings by Editor
June 30, 2011, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Fruits, Vegetables

Thanks once again to the Reliable Seed Catalogue of 1994 and our on going respect for Charles Ledgerwood for the planting information he provided us.

For the Vegetables we have:

BEANS, beets, carrots, cantaloupe, celery, CORN, CUKES, LIMAS, okra, SQUASH, NZ SPINACH and Swiss chard.

For flowers:

Cinerarea, Centaurea, Cosmos, Dusty Miller, Fountain Grasses, Gypsophilia, Lunaria, Nasturtium, Pansy, Phlox, Salpiglossis, Snap Dragon, Verbena, Viola and Zinnia.

I would add a second planting of tomatoes ASAP, lettuce and basil, we are having a late season this year or we are having climate change issues, in which case we might have to edit some of Mr Ledgerwood’s advice.

No Nectarines for 2011 by Editor
June 5, 2011, 8:29 pm
Filed under: Fruits

a flourishing young tree

I have planted a few fruit trees in my time. All to no avail. Avocados…too far away, forgot to water them. Nursed a peach tree back to health in the bottom of the canyon, then the birds ate all the fruit.

So this year I was determined to have a lovely nectarine tree and make it work. Well, first it became diseased with peach leaf curl (I think it came from a neighbors tree that happens to creep over into my yard). Then it also had some type of bug eating some of the leaves…bah! I search all over the internet and looked in my gardening books and found that Neem Oil was the most recommended for both situations. I was fairly vigilant in spraying the tree – every few days or so and to my surprise, it worked!  Here’s a link to a great site I found while dealing wiht that issue that has a very straight forward list of green solutions for bugs, etc.

Evidence left from the animal party

So one day my husband reminded me of the peach tree that was ravaged by birds. I said “…that was down in the canyon, this is close to the dogs, etc…” blah blah blah, it won’t happen to me again. But of course, the next morning I came out and the promise of yummy nectarines next month vanished.

I’ve posted a photo of the tree and a close up of one of the fruits left from the party. I’m not sure if it was birds or another animal, but of course now I’ve searched the web to find solutions for next season. There are a few ways that seem most effective and here’s the short list:

  • Put something shiney in the tree- suggestions include tin cans (aka hillbilly windchimes), old cds/dvds, and shiney silver twist ties.
  • Put a fake plastic owl or a a scarecrow in or near the tree (seems like most birds eventually figure these out and get brave enough to come back)
  • Place a fake plastic snake in or around the tree
  • Put up a small circular wire fence around the base of the tree – wide enough that it can grow and any critters can’t get up over it.

Next season, I’ll be trying out a few of these. Wish me luck!

June Rant by Editor
June 1, 2011, 8:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Thanks for small blessings, as I reviewed last June’s missive I noted we were deep in June Gloom. This year, who knows, yesterday was low 60’s with overcast and blustery winds, today was mid 70’s and full sun. The poor plants must be spun out. I don’t have high hopes for the firs


t part of my tomato crop, they have grown to 30” with some sets but more lost blooms than anything else.

I just planted 6 more heirlooms on Saturday that seem to be doing well. I bought them at Green Thumb in San Marcos, their selection was substantial and the tomatoes were not root bound (do not be shy about knocking the plant you want to buy out of it’s container to check for root growth before you purchase, as we get later into the planting year some of the nursery offerings are a might long in the tooth!).

My egg plants have been really slow to take as have the basil sets, I attribute this also to the lack of consistent warmth.

I sprouted Kentucky Wonder green beans( in a moist paper towel on a plate in the kitchen) and put them in small pots of potting soil as soon as the bean had popped, I let them sit in the small pots until they got their first set of real leaves then put them in the garden. They are bootin’!I set up a four legged tee-pee of bamboo poles for them to climb on. It has worked really well in the past.  It is still a great time to plant lettuce and my arugula continues to take over the garden paths.

My beets and onions continue to rock out, I don’t think I have bought a bunch of onions for 3 years; the ones in the garden just keep propagating. I am waiting on planting cucumbers until the night time temperature stays above 55 F. I just planted a bunch of different herbs in 5 gallon pots to keep near the kitchen, I have had great success with oregano, Italian Parsley, Parsley and thyme.

I wrote last month that I got a truck load of mushroom/manure compost from a mushroom farm in Escondido, so far it seems that it has not been too “hot” for the baby plants and seedlings so I would recommend it as an amendment to our sandy soil.

Get to work!