Friday, August 31, 2012


We live at the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains just east of Los Angeles. It gets very hot here in the summer and occasionally down to about 28 degrees in winter.

Plumerias, especially white varieties, do very well here. We've tried other colors but only the white survive.

They go dormant in the cool season but grow like weeds in the warm months.

These flowers, used to make leis in Hawai'i, are beautiful. Sometimes, strong winds will break off a branch. We stick in in the ground and it grows...then we have another plumeria bush.

I only water with the same schedule as our roses, and fertilize a little when I put some on the roses too. We get bunches and bunches of beautiful, fragrant island flowers every year.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Now That's a Tomato!

So, I picked up these two sweet things at the farmer's market today.Why am I showing you what I bought at the market on a gardening blog?

These dog days of late summer are when we're more into harvesting than actual gardening in our vegetable garden. Tomatoes do real well here, this year we grew Big Red and Boxcar Willie varieties and have been enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Here, take a look at these two big tomatoes on our vine...

Anyway, we may be harvesting but I'm also thinking about next year's crop. 

I want to go a little bolder, and I think these heirloom varieties I got at the market would be great. I know they'll be great on a sandwich, in a sauce, or whatever we do with them, but the real reason I got them is to scoop the seeds out and will save them to plant next year.


Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Herbs My Mom Likes...and Bugs She Doesn't

Ok, so I don't know if my mom would really like it but I suspect she would. Her name is Rosemary, which is also the name of this very easy to grow herb that can develop into out-of-control bushes and hedges in warm, dry climates.

Great for mixing in with a lot of different food, just chop up the leaves and sprinkle in eggs, over pasta, whatever you think would be good. Be sure to wash the leaves real good first though...

You'll notice these little balls of foamy goo developing on your Rosemary plants from time to time. It's bug loogie.

Specifically, it's a ball of foam spit out by the appropriately named spittle bug and is used by it as a protective barrier while it eats and lives on the plant. They don't really do it any harm and can be washed off easily with a spray from the hose.

You can also us pyrethrum spray (available at the link on this page), a natural daisy-based insecticide, to kill them if you want.

All in all, it's a minor but slightly gross problem that shouldn't keep you from including Rosemary in your herb garden.


Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Beauty of Butterflies

Phaleanopsis orchids are very beautiful. They're also popular, being the best seller at flower shops, drug stores, department stores, and more as quick, relatively cheap ways of buying flowers for someone who wants it to last more than a few days by buying the blooming plant instead of the cut flowers.

It is also one of the hardest orchids for a beginner to grow.

Also called the butterfly orchid, Phalies are native to southeast Asia. Think the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. That's the environment you need to try to recreate...very hot and humid.  Most people need a greenhouse for this.

We usually avoid this variety but have received a few as gifts over the years.  Mostly, after they've bloomed, they're moved to my mother-in-law's house where she has a greenhouse and they can sit there until they bloom again.

We kept one back this time, however. The plant you see on this page was given to us at Christmas time in 2011. The blooms last for weeks and at the end of February, we moved it outside. This year's mild winter meant that the plant didn't freeze so we just let it live there as the weather grew ever warmer.

At the beginning of summer, I was in for a shock as the plant developed new buds and bloomed again. We actually got a phaleanopsis orchid to bloom again out on our plant stand in the back yard.

Since the area it sits in (shade on the north side of the house) gets a daily sprinkling, the plant gets enought water and humidity. Our temperatures over the summer ranged from 90 - 110...perfect for this heat-loving plant. I guess that was just the ticket for this guy.

We've moved it inside to enjoy the blooms but will put it back outside throught the fall. Let it winter in the house and move it back out and see if we can get a repeat performance.

We'll talk about other, easier to grow orchids as we go along here but if you get one of these butterfly orchids, don't toss it out when it's done. Put it in a warm place, water once or twice a week, fertilize every month or so, and see if you can't get it to thrive too.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

CLASSIC TRIP - Phoenix, Arizona 2001

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia

In 1990, we took our first vacation with a wheelchair. Our son, Tim, was three at the time and had just graduated to a chair from a stroller. This was also a time of very limited budgets so we stuck close to home and visited Arizona.

What really stuck in our mind from that trip was the Pointe hotel. For an unbelievable $59 per night we got a beautiful 2 room suite, full breakfast, evening cocktails, and full run of the resorts many amenities. There were many swimming pools to chill out the extreme desert heat, a fantastic golf course, and even stables to go on a desert horseback ride.

Ten years later, the Pointe is again on sale. AAA members can receive a rate of $84 a night from May to September. We decide to take them up on it and see if a weekend at the Pointe is still as magical as we remember.

Friday morning: we load up the van and head out on a 6 hour drive from L.A. to Phoenix. Mostly high-speed desert freeway along the way. At 3:00, we pull into the Pointe at Squaw Peak (note: last time we stayed at the Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs...there are three Pointe resorts in the Phoenix area).

First we stand in line for 15 minutes to check in and am presented with a paper to initial saying I’ll accept a rate that is $10 more than what I had reserved. When I question this, the desk clerk tells me that is an add-on fee for local phone calls, unlimited in-room coffee, miniature golf fees, fax service, and other business office services. I tell him I’m not interested in that stuff and he crosses off the extra charge. I’m glad of that but was not happy that the bill was just presented to me as if it was already a done deal. An explanation first as to what I was initialing would be helpful...this seemed a little underhanded to me.

At this point I should also let you know that the last time we were here, the Pointes were under independent ownership. Now they are a part of Hilton Hotels.

Next...that delicious breakfast and cocktail hour? Gone. OK, the worst part’s over. Now on to our room. Before we left for it, the desk clerk apologized because of our accessible room saying it was all he had left. I directed his attention down below the counter where he could see Tim in the wheelchair and let him know it was OK...we really did want the accessible digs.

Now we drive over to our room and yes, for the most part, it is accessible with wide doors and no steps. The bathroom is huge with plenty of room to roll. There is no roll in shower but the showerhead is on a hose and there are grab bars a plenty. After unpacking, we head over to tonight’s destination, the BOB (now known as Chase Field- Ed).
A view of the BOB Chase Field

Our local Angels are in town tonight playing the Diamondbacks. We called ahead for tickets and are looking forward to the game. Our seats are in section 105 in right field. We get to the top of the section and are about to take our seats when the usher tells us we’re in the wrong place...actually, we’re in the first row. Down we go to seats that are separated from Tim Salmon standing in right field only by a chain link fence. Another chain link fence on our left is all that keeps us from going into the Angels’ bull pen. I like these seats a lot.
Front row seats at the BOB...the umbrellas in the background is where the pool is

The stadium is practically brand new. It’s also unique in that it can be used in indoor mode or, with the retractable roof engaged, outdoor. When we take our seats, the roof is closed. Then, with serious sounding chanting music (think 2001 or a religious horror movie like the Omen) the roof parts revealing the desert stars and moon.

To our right is another unique feature of the stadium. The BOB (Bank One Ballpark) Chase Field is the only major league stadium with a swimming pool and spa. For only $4800 (in 2001) per game, you and up to 34 of your friends can splash in your own pool party while watching the game. The pool even has a lift to help disabled swimmers into the drink. And, if you’re a little sneaky, you can use the pool’s locker room’s roll-in shower since the hotel doesn’t have one! (The pool locker rooms double as the accessible restrooms for regular spectators)

The Angels lose even though we cheer our hearts out (and feeling very lonely in the midst of over 40,000 Diamondback fans) but we have a great time. The staff and the fans are very friendly here.

The next morning we have breakfast at a nearby diner. Then it’s on to highlight number 2 of our trip, the Hole in the Wall River Ranch. This is the Pointe’s very own water park right across the parking lot from our room. After slathering on a generous portion of SPF 30 sunscreen, we head on in.

There are several pools and spas here but for kids and the young-at-heart, there are also a big waterslide, a miniature golf course, and our favorite, the Lazy River.
Enjoying the lazy river at the Pointe

The Lazy River, where we would spend the next several hours, is a half-mile man-made river you float around on in an inner tube. It’s fun, wet, and very relaxing. The rest of the afternoon is spent with Tim swimming around the regular pool.
Another view of the lazy river

Dinner tonight is a decent t-bone steak at the Hole in the Wall restaurant, adjacent to the River Ranch. The next morning we return for breakfast and another couple of hours of tubin’ the Lazy River before checking out and going home.

Copyright 2001 - Darryl Musick

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Carrots...Are They Worth It?

This is the second year we tried to grow carrots. They're not hard, until it comes to harvest time.  Not real easy to know when they're ripe and the roots tend to tangle in themselves.

Carrots are a great food. Very nutritious, easy to cook, and tasty. When kids try veggies, this is one of them that they usually end up liking.

So is it worth it? Maybe is you have more room than us. On our tiny plot of land, the carrots tend to get crowded. When you pick them, there is a lot of cleaning to do...after all, the edible part is covered with dirt.

You need to take off the crown and wash the bejeebus out of them.  If you get nice and straight carrots, can easily peel them with a potato peeler. If they get all tangled up with each other, like ours do, there's not much a peeler can to. You also end up with a lot of trash.

This is about 1/3 of our harvest this year. After spending a lot of effort to clean the last of our crop, I ran it through a food processor and will freeze it so we can use it whenever we need it.

Delicious things but thinking of the work, the water, and the fertilizer that went into this...and then seeing a bag of clean, peeled, baby carrots at the store about four times as big as this for $1.26...I'm going to say it's not worth it for us to keep carrots in our garden.

Live and learn, not every crop is going to be for you.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Welcome! Come on in...

Welcome to my latest blog. My name is Darryl and I am better known as a travel blogger who specializes in travelers with special needs. I'm also an avid gardener and studied horticulture in college. No, I wasn't the valedictorian, but I did learn a few things along the way.

My gardening philosophy, as you'll see at the top of the blog, is whatever I plant needs to feed us...either in body or soul. What that means is anything I plant and grow either has to be edible or provide beauty.

Oh yeah, I don't like to spend a lot of money doing it either.

Another thing that limits me is room to grow. Whoever had this house before us was a paving nut...almost everything is paved leaving me only a few strips a couple of feet wide to plant things.  I have to get real creative to have the plant environment that I have.

I also have a postage stamp-sized lawn that defies anything I do to try to get it to behave and the small size isn't big enough to justify a gardener so that is still a work in progress.

So, welcome! I hope you enjoy this blog and are able to learn from it. Get some ideas, try them out (after all, they're cheap!), and let me know what you think.  I will also have links to products at that I use and recommend. It'd be nice if you like them enough to buy to once in awhile to help produce some commissions to defray the cost of producing this does not cost you any extra to go through those links when buying at Amazon but it does help support this site.

Thank you, enjoy the show!

Darryl Musick