Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chilli, Chili or Chile?

Chilli is a UK word referring to the plant I think. Mark, correct me if I'm wrong.

Chili is Californian for a stew made of beef (usually), beans and ground chile powder.

Chile is Californian for the pod on the pepper plant. Or a country in South America shaped like one.

This post is about chiles. Chiles grow for me. In pots. I don't know why, but they are so dependable unlike, say, tomatoes or eggplants. Only vegetables I have now are peppers and chard.

Poblanos in May

What I find so fascinating is that Mark in the UK many miles and degrees of latitude away has chiles, too. In pots as well.

What I don't understand is why they (and tomato trusses) won't ripen. Is it because of cold, day length or what? I lack knowledge here. They have flowers.

Mine will last until about December or in one case come back next year. Most are not blooming at the moment, but that is heat check and when it cools off a bit more, flowers will form. The nights this week are around 75 which is very warm for SoCal; days are between 95 and 100, not unusual at all for this time of year. Presently it is 94F or 34C at 9:30 am PDT. It is not chilly.

First, pictures of the planters. One plant has grown so large it wilts daily. Not enough soil to hold enough water in the pot, but most are OK.

They are staked with bamboo and tied with zippers

Some problems

Yellow spots on the leaves on a couple of plants, this is new to me, fatal or not, I don't know.

No blooms; heat check. Will recover with cooler nights.

Sunscald? Just this one plant.

The plants.

There must be hundreds of varieties of chile peppers.
At one time mine all had tags but they have disappeared, maybe sunk down in the boxes.

Serrano, the mountain chile, a perennial that produces year-round and is hot when red and shriveling like this one.

The kind of peppers I prefer are neither bells nor the kind that is dried and ground. They are very flavorful like the kind that is dried, yet meaty like the bells. I sort of soft fry them until tender. The skins differ; some are tough and you have to remove the skin from your mouth like an olive pit and some are tender and you can eat the whole thing. 

Nu-Mex 6-4 now and in April. It has returned for the second year. My favorite.

Six Alarm organic mild pepper variety pack ortega/paprika/poblano, not labeled individually

Don't know. It came in the mix of ortega/paprika/poblano. I don't think it is any of those.

The flesh of the one on the left is delicious. The one on the right is all skin.

Paprika, maybe.

Poblano, perhaps.

The early ones were Nu-Mex 6-4, serrano, and
Six Alarm organic mild pepper variety pack ortega/paprika/poblano.  The ones I bought later were improved Nu-Mex: Joe E. Parker, Suave Orange, and Hatch Red. You can tell I like Nu-Mex varieties. It is the Hatch chile grown in New Mexico.

Nu-Mex Suave Orange

Johnny's Seed catalog says:
Numex Suave Orange
Habanero with just a bit of heat. Distinctive fruity flavor and aroma of a habanero with only a hint of pungency. Compared to Habanero, the avg. 2¼" fruits are slightly larger, plumper, more wrinkled, and ripen to a bright yellow-orange (contrasting Habanero's orange). The tall, strong, upright plants have a high yield potential. Relatively early for an habanero.

Uh ... not so in my experience. No heat. No taste. Very thin flesh.  This is the one that wilts daily because it it too big for the pot. Very vigorous, very productive, if you have room. I will not grow it again, because there are better tasting ones that don't hog space and water.

Could be Joe E. Parker. Don't know.

Hatch Red, I think. Excellent flavor, thick flesh, tender skin.

Favorite pepper recipes

1. Scrambled eggs and peppers. Melt the peppers in oil until tender. Add eggs. Scramble. Serve.

A cultural note: here in East LA the eggs are not scrambled before hand and the cores are not taken out of the chiles. This is to show your restaurant customers that the eggs and chiles are authentic, not canned or dried. The cooks are very proud of the way they make rellenos which are best eaten at a restaurant. My favorite burrito is rice, nobeans, chile relleno (a poblano stuffed with melty cheese like jack) and green pork chili (chile verde).

2. Laghman sauce for noodles.   Any kind of peppers, onion, tomatoes and lamb over noodles to soak up the sauce; if you don't make your own noodles, use something like udon.

3. Denver green chili. Just pork, onions and lots of green chiles with potatoes or flour tortillas. The simpler, the better. Leave out the ground chile powder and tomato paste. It should NOT be red.

Forgot to change the camera setting to macro. Camera thinks it's sunset.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fall is Coming!

It's in the air.

It is intangible. Feels different. Hard to explain. Softer, heat is not as insistent.

But I know that there are many hot days, even some over 100 degree Fahrenheit, left before the cooling rains arrive.

A few flowers .. the ever reliable late summer bloomer gloriosa daisy, garlic chives ready for eating both leaves and flowers, and crape myrtle, the best year ever for number and brilliance of flowers and no mildew.

However .....

The sunlight no longer comes in the northeast window in the morning or the northwest window in the late afternoon. The sun is lower in the sky.

I am getting up later in the morning. I waken by the natural change of light, not a clock.

The morns are meeker than they were
The nuts are getting brown
The berry’s cheek is plumper
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf
The field a scarlet gown
Lest I sh'd be old-fashioned 
I’ll put a trinket on. 
by Emily Dickinson

Fruit is ripening.

At night, the crickets are chirping.

I hear little bird peeps early in the morning. The nestlings have fledged and lost their fluffy baby plumage.

A few birds are migrating southward: wrens, band-tailed pigeons, western tanager, black-headed grosbeak. Only Wilson's warbler and black-throated gray lead the colorful warbler migration as yet.

My friend Graham sent this picture of a summer-resident hooded oriole female in the bird bath with a southward migrating western tanager female.

He wrote: The attached photo, taken August 20, shows a scene one doesn't encounter frequently, a hooded oriole and a western tanager, both female, side by side. They didn't like each other; the tanager repeatedly thrust its opened beak at the oriole. A minute later there was a second oriole, I think a juvenile (very little color), splashing in the water.

But the best evidence for the coming of fall is the arrival of the autumn mist. In Aliso Viejo for the weekend, when I went out at 10:30 pm one night and started the car, the windows instantly clouded up. Wow! What caused that? There were two pockets of mist to pass through on the way to San Juan Capistrano. Next night looking northward toward Saddleback and Santa Margarita I saw what I first thought was smoke. Since there were no fires nearby I concluded it was radiation fog.
Radiation fog is formed by the cooling of land after sunset by thermal radiation in calm conditions with clear sky. The cool ground produces condensation in the nearby air by heat conduction. In perfect calm the fog layer can be less than a meter deep but turbulence can promote a thicker layer. Radiation fogs occur at night, and usually do not last long after sunrise, but they can persist all day in the winter months. Radiation fog is most common in autumn and early winter. --from Wikipedia
A longer, better explanation with diagrams is here.

Fall is near.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Drought Resistance Code

"Drought* means different things to different people and different plants. Maybe one day there will be drought ratings akin to frost ratings to help gardeners determine just how much dryness a plant can take.”

This post is an answer to the above comment on another blog.

A Drought Resistance Code is provided by Olivier Filippi in “The Dry Gardening Handbook”
See photos, number 10, for plant names 

From page 47 in the book:
“Each plant in the A-Z section is given a drought resistance code ranging from 1-6. Number 1 denotes the plants that are least resistant (being able to cope with about one month of drought) while 6 denotes those with the greatest resistance (six to seven months of drought).”

The idea is that if you have a plant that is rated 2.5 and it is thriving, you may try a plant with a higher rating, but if your 2.5 plant has drooping or scorched leaves, you need to try plants with a lower code.

Some examples:
Achillea millefolium, Yarrow, drought resistance code 2.5, it can only go two and a half months without water
Agapanthus praecox, 3.5
Agave americana, Century Plant, 6

More reviews:

Pacific Horticulture Review
Plants are rated from 1 to 6, where the lower figure suggests a tolerance for about one month without water, and the higher figure as much as six months without. This may be the first attempt to quantify a plant’s tolerance for drought, and is one of the most valuable features of the book. Comments (good ones!)
A complete and beautifully illustrated guide to creating a garden in the face of water shortages and dry conditions. A garden that can withstand summer drought and requires little watering is the dream of every gardener who is conscious of the need to conserve water and who wants to create a garden in harmony with the environment.

Emily Green, Chance of Rain

I already had this book which I bought used from I find that the usefulness of this book is limited by the fact that he is so concerned with frost, many suitable plants for southern California are missing. Filippi gardens in France. See in French and in English.

Questions and answers about droughts

Friday, July 31, 2015

Musings on the Last Friday of July

This July, 2015, the wettest since records began, occurred when monsoonal flow from the southeast met Tropical Storm Dolores from the southwest.

What's happening around the garden?

How tall do these things grow before they put out flowers?
The agave 'Rosa Gorda' grows above the porch.

There are four species of volunteer seedlings in this photo. All hard to see. Santa Barbara daisy at the very top left; glossy abelia 'Edward Goucher', top half; crape myrtle, center lower half; and silver mint Mentha longifolia, very attractive to butterflies, bottom. I'll keep them all since they are growing without irrigation, but need to prune and/or move them. I wonder what color the crape myrtle will be?

Glossy abelia and crape myrtle have reseeded themselves or resprouted from broken roots where the new sewer line was put in. No irrigation here. I'll nurse them along.

What's happening on the blogs?

Garden Autobiography  "My garden started the day that I was born, at least that’s the way I feel about gardening. I have adored flowers since I was a little girl running around the countryside looking at and picking colorful flowers . . . It is in the garden where I dedicate(d) areas to loved people who have left this world."

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
--part of the Canticle of the Sun, the Hymn of Saint Francis

A Memory Garden. I can do that, but not just for people who have died, but also for people I want to honor and remember. Sweet corn for my father, coreopsis for my mother for her bouquets, Rosa moyesii squidlets, for my sister still living thankfully. St Francis for the wisdom and writing by Pope Francis of the encyclical on the environment, On Care for Our Common Home. Read this post, Let the Dialogue Begin, for how it relates to gardening.  You do not have to read the religious and political parts of the encyclical. I didn't.

What's happening on the calendar? 

Blue moon tonight.  An astronomical phenomenon that occurs once in a blue moon is happening early Friday morning — a blue moon.  For the second time in July, skywatchers will be able to look up to a full moon.

Lammas Day
In some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere, August 1 is Lammas Day, the festival of the wheat harvest. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop, which began to be harvested at Lammastide. Tomorrow (early) I'll make something like this wheatsheaf loaf.

Found on Google via Pinterest to which I do not subscribe

"The tradition of common riding dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, during the continual land border wars both with England and against other clans. It was a Border Country custom to plunder and thieve cattle, known as reiving (a historical name for robbing), and commonplace amongst the major Borders families. In these lawless and battle-strewn times, it became the practice of the day for the local lord to appoint a leading townsperson, who would then ride the clan's boundaries, or "marches", to protect their common lands and prevent encroachment by neighbouring landlords and their peoples."

Tootlepetal's photo

Langholm's Common Riding is the last Friday of July. One of the best garden bloggers writes about it here:
Langholm’s Great Day (but not so great weather).

What's happening with the water restrictions?

Monterey Park was originally assigned to the ninth tier 36%,  but appealed on the basis of sending in the wrong information. The reduction has been changed to 20%.

The Monterey Park City Council declared a Stage 2 drought emergency. These additional restrictions begin August 1:
  • Bans watering public street medians and all watering between 9 am and 5 pm.
  • Limits all watering to two days per week: Mondays and Thursdays only. 
The city has no restrictions on the amount we use only on when we use it. My new rule is if a plant can't last between waterings it goes bye-bye.


Lady Gardener

Roses are keepers. The David Austins are doing really well, much to my surprise.

How differently each water company is handling the situation!

Froggy-surfer-dude,  a new garden friend. Surfboards in different lengths, body boards, skim boards, one Sabot, what a clutter in the garage for two boys. Some people like the hot summer weather. Sweet memories.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Vancouver Vignette

Not the Vancouver you were thinking of? Actually it's the name of the dahlia. It's a good year for dahlias here.

The small egg-cup-like vase is from a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, where my son visited recently. Thanks, Tom.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Double or Nothing

So far today (4:12 pm) we have doubled our average annual rainfall for the month of July, the driest month of the year, from 0.01 inch to 0.02 inch.

Attributes of rain almost forgotten

Rain shadow



Gray sky


Agave vilmoriniana collecting raindrops

Schefflera shedding raindrops

Crocs are making a comeback thanks to little Prince George. They are my favorite garden shoe. Wettable.

It hasn't stopped yet.

The all-time wettest July was recorded in 1886 when the city received .24 inches of rain. Note that Rolling Hills has already broken the record for the wettest July since records began. Some people we know who collect rain water should do well.
Silly, I know, but I'm lovin' it and the thunder and lightning as well. Thank you TS Dolores for such wonderful entertainment!