Tuesday, March 31, 2015

At the End of the Falls

This hanging basket of tomatoes is called 'cherry falls.' It didn't do real well it's first year but I left it alone and another year of benign neglect led to some pretty good harvests this year.

Tomatoes are not really known as perennials, however, and I think it's the end of the line for this plant.

Easy enough...I have a batch of cherry tomato seedlings in need of transplant so I dump the old plant, line with a plastic bag (with a few holes poked in it for drainage), and fill with mix.

Tada! The new seedlings are ready to go.

They're hung up, got their own dripper, and are being watered in. 

Let's see how they do.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Deep Sixing the Seedlings

OK, 4 weeks in the nursery is enough. Time for you kids to go out and earn your keep.

At two weeks, they were poking their tiny, little shoots above the mix.

Three weeks, they were starting to show their differences.

Now at four weeks, they're about to bust the pots...except for the onions, whose leaves still look a little weak.

Tilling the ground with a little Amend and then popping those seedlings into their slots for the season.

The roots are very healthy, as you can see in this pot of corn. They're biodegradable...in fact, already dissolving...so I just pop 'em in the ground.

I need to find something to repel the pests. For now, I'm covering with some chicken wire, watering in, and then tend until harvest.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blessed Are The Pollinators

Ah, the sweetest smell of spring. I'm talking about citrus flowers, or orange blossoms if you will. Nothing smells like it and it's heavenly.

Our little citrus grove is in full bloom. Well, the orange and lemon, anyway. The tangelo is still just in bud. 

The Cara Cara orange has these gorgeous white flowers.

While the Meyer lemon isn't to be outdone with its pink-tinged flowers.

Last week, I planted some lavender nearby to attract bees.

It may be working. Let's hope these busy pollinators give us a lot of fruit this year.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How To Train Your Dragon

Our dragonfruit plants grow like crazy. I've given over this corner of the yard to them, where they intertwine with our aloe plants.

We only get 4-8 fruit a year off of them, though, so last night at the local farmer's market, I found the grower who sold them to us and asked him how I could get more fruit.

Very simple, he said. Cut them back one third. It's March, do this and you'll have lots of flowers in May.

Easy peasy...some pruners, cut at the closest joint to one third of the way down (it's a cactus with thorns, leather gloves are a must), and that's it.

Cuttings in the waste bin, now just to wait until May to see what happens.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ADVENTURES CLOSE TO HOME: An Ode to a Politically Incorrect Bag

It's quickly becoming extinct here in California and, as California goes so does the rest of the country, look for a plastic bag ban in your near future, too.

While I understand the reasonings behind the bans and the environmental ramifications of keeping them around, I will miss their extreme utility.

I do have to say that I never send a plastic bag to a landfill or litter the roadside with it. It's too valuable.  Instead, I use it until there is no longer any life left to it, then send it off to recycle.

Far from just being the bag the groceries come home in, that is just the beginning of the uses this bag will endure.

Leftovers in Glad bowls get taken to work in them for lunch.  I line our hanging plant baskets with them to conserved water.

Shipping boxes get lined with wadded up bags as packing material to cushion my parcel.

Christmas decorations get stored in them so the garage dust doesn't cover them up.

Put a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and fingerling potatoes in one. Shake it up and wrap with tin foil (after you remove from the plastic bag, of course). Throw it on the grill and you have a great side dish for dinner.

And, in the end, use it to line the kitchen waste basket for a trash bag (our waste disposal company sorts them out at the transfer center before being taken to the dump).

When there is nothing left, we can either toss it in our recycling bin (again, the waste disposal company says it's OK and they recycle them) or take it to our nearest supermarket where recycling bins are locating just for these bags.

We'll live with it once they're all gone but in the meantime, I've got a big container filled with a year's supply to take me through those lean times.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Trying to Give the Babies Some Room To Grow

A couple of weeks ago, I spread out a leftover bag of grass seed on the lawn. While from afar, it doesn't look to bad, up close, you can see a lot of weeds.

Here is some oxalis, which is relatively harmless.

Some dandelions, like this one, hide very well in the grass. Left alone, they will pretty much take over and spread like wildfire.

I need to get in there and start getting the intruders out so my grass seedlings can grow into a thick, lush mat. I'm also trying to go organic as much as possible and, while it would be very easy to just spray Roundup on it, I will try to hand pull the weeds.

Tools for today are a round edge hoe and a small fork.

The hoe is shoved under the weed to get under the roots and the fork finishes up by plucking it out and putting it into the bin.

It's backbreaking work, so I get my hand-held trowel and see how easy it is on my knees. Turns out, it's much easier than the hoe and fork method.

About a third of the lawn is done which also fills about a third of the green waste bin.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 16, 2015


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There’s too many to count, really. Maybe millions. Whenever I bring it up, I’m met with either shuddering disgust or local pride.

Here in this narrow alley, there is not one iota of wall space that is not covered up with a used wad of gum. This colorful fiesta of chicle and spit is Bubblegum Alley, where locals have been sticking their gum on the wall since World War II.

Welcome to San Luis Obispo.

Watch the Video!

The alley can serve as a metaphor. Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco but doing its own thing, this pretty college town lives in another California…the one not defined by big cities. Rather, it’s coastal, green, and laid-back.

While many people coming from L.A. take the coastal route up Highway 101 through Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria; our route takes us over the hills from the central valley via Highway 46, past the James Dean Memorial Interchange, and over the green hills on Highway 41, coming in to town on the rather steep Cuesta Grade from the north.

Our day will start with coffee, followed up by a quick stop to Bubblegum Alley to film the intro to our video. After that, it’s out the west end of the alley to Higuera Street and to Mission Mall on the other side.

While there are some fine shops in this little arcade, including a nice toy store and a shoe shop, it also makes for an easy, wheelchair accessible route to San Luis Creek in back of the building.

About 240 years ago, Father Junipero Serra hung a bell from the big sycamore here, rang it to call the faithful to mass, and founded Mission San Luis Obispo.

There’s still a big sycamore here but I doubt it’s the same tree. The creek still flows, however.

Steelhead trout find their way up this wide trickle of water to spawn. It’s about twenty miles or so from this point to the creek’s meeting with the Pacific Ocean in nearby Avila Beach. The fish numbers have severely dwindled. Now they’re protected and don’t even think about fishing here.

It’s serene and very beautiful to walk along the water here. Behind the mall, there’s a ramp down for wheelchairs to get close to the water.

On the other side, the massive adobe building is where Father Serra’s mission found a permanent home. Finished in 1819, visitors can now pay a small fee to visit, see the church, and its historic courtyard.

A wheelchair accessible pedestrian bridge spans the creek here.

Back on Higuera, we finish our morning stroll window shopping. We’re taking in a local Ross store, the Apple Store, a chocolate shop, and a Bath and Beauty Shop where my wife takes advantage of the after Christmas sale to stock up on lotions.

A twenty minute drive takes us over the hills, past Cal Poly University, the penitentiary, the community college, and the state’s first National Guard base to the Ocean in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay is a tiny seafront town with a giant rock. The wharf, rock, and bay have a spectacular view that is marred a bit by the big generating plant at the north end of town.

We can get by without it ruining our day, so we head to the waterfront for lunch at the Hofbrau. The star of the show here are the roast beef dip sandwiches that are hand-carved to your specification at the counter. 

We get a couple and wash it down with a cold, German hefeweisen. It’s very good, hearty, filling food under $10 a person with a million dollar view.

After lunch, it’s a stroll along the waterfront. The town has done a pretty amazing job of laying out an accessible route so wheelchairs can also roll along over the water.

We pop in to Rose’s bar, another whopper of a view, which features a completely wheelchair level and accessible bar shaped like a boat. The tequila sour goes down good with the view as we toast the end to this quick little trip up to the heart of California’s Central Coast.

Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Weekly View

It's springtime in Southern California. Last year we had nothing you could call winter at all. This year, well, maybe a couple of weeks. We did have two nights of freezing at the beginning of January.

Now that we're in March, however, the cold is just a memory. Flowers are bursting out all over (see our orchid bench, above), veggie seedlings are coming along fine, and now the concern is making sure everything gets enough water for the 90+ degree heat wave we have coming this weekend.

Mr. Lincoln, our bellwether rose, has some fine maroon foliage popping up after pruning.

Grape clusters are already showing on our vine.

The bletilla orchid has not only awoken from its dormancy, it's now in bloom.

Unfortunately, the bougainvilleas can't get their blooms synchronized. Only the red is showing off, while the others are only green.

I'll live with it somehow.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

ADVENTURES CLOSE TO HOME: Exploring Without a Car


While we had fun in Baja, the bumpy dirt roads to the beach weren't to kind to our wheelchair lift.  Not long after we returned home, it began to make all sorts of awful noises before quitting altogether.  The local mobility dealer said they could fix it but they had to order parts and we had to wait (it would eventually take over 3 weeks).

Being stuck in the house is no adventure, even for a homebody like Tim.  The only decent restaurant within walking distance to our house is a pizza parlor (which we walked to the first week) but after 2 weeks, with cabin fever setting in and our anniversary date arriving, we had to do something.

Consulting our local bus company's web page, we found that the line by our house would easily take us to Pasadena or Claremont, both fun places to kill time. We chose Claremont and walked to the bus stop.

It's about an hour ride to the Metrolink Train Depot in Claremont, where the bus drops us off.

It's a very pretty college town. If you saw our earlier report on Claremont or it's doppleganger...Davis, in northern California...you can get a glimpse of what we're in store for.

Browsing the shops, Letty gets some custom made lotion at one of the shops and I get this mini Hohner harmonica at one of the world's best music stores, the Claremont Folk Music Center.

Hungry for dinner, we end up at the Press for some vegetarian lasagna and drinks. It's OK, but Letty is not happy with the lazy service or the bread that comes out with the hardness of a hockey puck.

She declares we will not be darkening the door of this establishment again.  No worries, we've still got Eureka!, Union on Yale, Aruffo's, and many more restaurants we've still yet to try here.

After dinner, we go with something much more reliable, dessert at Bert and Rocky's ice cream parlor.

Grabbing some candy to go, we head over to the nearby bus stop to catch our ride home.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 9, 2015

Evicting Unwelcome Visitors

Kind of slow gardening weekend. Not much to report, except for hand-pulling weeds, like this oak tree seedling that popped up between a camellia and the herb garden.

Probably a scrub jay planting an acorn caused this to grow.

Luckily, the ground is well-tilled and a simple pull on the stem gets it all out (wear gloves, the leaves are sharp).

Off to the trash with you!

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved