Tomato as perennial, and other mysteries

Mid December, and not much rain. I’ve been looking around the garden, and thinking things like should weed and time to prune, but then the sun goes on shining and I lounge instead.

Maybe that’s the theme for this week’s Six on Saturday garden report: plants doing their own thing, with cheerful disregard for expectations. In that spirit, here are my Six:

The Chadwick cherry tomatoes I planted back in March are still going – in fact, I ate tomatoes on my hamburger two nights ago courtesy of this plant. I know tomatoes are supposed to die off in winter, but the Chadwick was the earliest starting, latest continuing, sturdiest, and most productive of all the varieties I tried this year. I’m pretty tempted to see if it wants to over-winter and produce next spring.

The alyssum under the roses is taking off in a lovely way. I’m hoping it keeps going, and out-competes the bindweed.

Speaking of roses, I just love this color.

And returning to the vegetable garden, this broccoli is a monster, in a good way. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the plant is almost three feet tall. I ate one entire plant of it (a smaller one) a couple of weeks ago, after a gopher severed the roots, but recently there have been no new gopher holes in the vegetable beds, and thus far this plant and the ones next to it are still standing (thank you local cat, fierce and mighty gopher-hunter). I’m looking forward to the flowering broccoli head growing bigger, and meanwhile snacking on a few leaves every so often.

Recent harvest bounty included green tomatoes (yes, Chadwicks); cilantro and parsley, which I can now tell apart by looking at the leaves – a personal victory; carrots; and a few first peas.

And finally, like so many of us, I’m looking forward to the new year, literal and metaphorical alike. I planted some flower seeds. Pink and buttercream poppies, please sprout!

(I’m also realizing this might be one of my more cheerful-sounding posts recently. Happy holidays, everybody! There’s nothing like a change of pace, even if this year it’s a shift in mindset as much as anything else.)

And with that, that’s all for my six this week! Head over to the Propagator’s blog for more gardening Sixes, and glimpses into what other gardeners are gardening, near and far.

Six-on-Saturday garden report: early December

The rain hasn’t really begun, and the roses are still blooming.

I turned the watering system off, then on again when I realized that November’s barely-there rain-slash-mist wasn’t going to become a trend. There are leaks in the system that still need fixing, but that’s for tomorrow.

Today, I’m grateful for the cat that left a dead gopher on the path – a gopher that I assume was responsible for these holes:

which used to be not so much holes, as dill plants. You can see a few fronds of a remaining dill plant in the upper part of the photo. I am hoping there was only one gopher.

It’s very definitely fall. The leaves are golden, and the apples and pomegranates are in the last days of ripe.

The backlit sphere near the middle is a pomegranate. I was trying to capture the light’s late-fall angled slant.

The flowering sage plant continues to be ridiculous. It’s taller and more aggressive than the baby citrus tree behind it – we have to keep cutting the sage plant back so it doesn’t entirely overwhelm the poor kumquat. We keep saying we should remove the sage, because it doesn’t remotely fit in the space or make any sense at all with anything planted near it (a maple tree, two citrus trees, a yellow daisy, two agapanthus, some kind of weird low ball-shaped shrub – admittedly, those things don’t make sense relative to each other either, and the tall ones are all entirely in front of the short ones; this is what happens when a bunch of plants get planted right before selling a house to two poor saps who’ve never had a proper garden and thus don’t realize the difference between mature and just-got-it-from-Home-Depot landscaping – but oh well, we’re learning) – but it blooms year round and the hummingbirds love it, so so far it stays.

Note the very excellent bee also enjoying the sage.

The lavatera maritima which I planted in place of a hibiscus which did not thrive, is thriving:

I love these colors so much. Also, I realized recently, I love pretty much all mallow plants.

And at least to my eye, there are few things more hot-sun gorgeous than a bougainvillea in front of a cream stuccoed wall – even if the weather isn’t actually hot, but just looks as if it might be.

Happy Saturday! I was glad to be out in the garden today. Good weather to you, whatever version of weather that might mean. And if not in the garden, then good dreaming & planning for gardening days to come.

For other gardeners’ posts in the #SixOnSaturday series, complete with lovely or interesting seasonal photos, click through here!

Six on Saturday: Garden Report

Since the California fires started a few weeks back, I haven’t spent as much time in the garden as I usually would. There’s just been too much smoke. Now the roses are overgrown; the drip lines around the citrus need work; half a dozen spent corn plants need to be pulled; and don’t even get me started on the bindweed. (Would I really have addressed all these things, even without the smoke? Well… a gardener can dream, right?!)

But. Two weeks ago there were two clear afternoons when the air quality index dropped below 100, and I snuck outside to pull weeds and put in seeds for my fall garden. I’m taking the lazy-gardener approach of direct-seeding everything, no transplants and no starting things in seed trays, just put in seeds, cross fingers, and see what happens. I’d expected everything to take weeks to germinate, but there were a few hot days, and I was wrong – the peas are taking off, and a few sprouts that I think are arugula and maybe some broccoli or collards (I’d like to get more reliable at labeling things, but that would require finding a Sharpie, which so far isn’t happening).

Tuesday night it rained, and the air here has been clear ever since. Every time I step outside, I take a deep breath and think how grateful I am for simply this. And today after a morning grocery run, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden, alternating between reading a book in a lounge chair and pruning the largest rose. Now I’m back indoors, and here are my six:

1. This is a lavatera maritima, a gorgeous tree mallow that I got the last time I was at a garden store; it’s still in a pot. In the morning its flowers stay closed, but they open in the afternoon to gorgeous purple blooms. I may get it in the ground tomorrow, or if not, next week. It’s going to replace a hibiscus which is struggling badly (I think the hibiscus needs more water and less clay-ish soil than is realistic here).

2. A lovely pink rose on the largest overgrown rosebush. The bush itself is about eleven feet tall and, although not visible in this photo, pretty much entirely blocks the garden path. Time for the spent blooms & branches to go. I started pruning it today, but it’s more than a one-afternoon project. I think cutting it back will increase direct sunlight hours for the vegetable garden over winter, too.

3. A tomato experiment that didn’t quite work. These are Thessaloniki, grown from seed. No idea what’s ailing them, but clearly something is – and even though it’s mid-September, these are the only tomatoes this plant set. Next to it are some basil plants going to seed. Turns out I didn’t actually need seventeen basil plants (!), so I’ve been letting some of them go. The other tomato is also Thessaloniki; so far it only has green tomatoes. I may give up on their ripening and just harvest and fry them up. If anyone reading this has a great recipe for fried green tomatoes, I’d be delighted to hear it!

4. On the other hand, a tomato experiment that definitely worked! These Chadwick Cherries, also grown from seed and direct-seeded under row covers, just keep giving & giving. If they look at little odd at the moment, well, that’s just ash from the fires (sigh). It washes off.

5. New sprouts! Peas in the first photo, arugula in the second. Next to the peas is the last of my earlier-season baby kale. It got harvested and turned into a salad slightly after this photo.

6. A raspberry bush that has, for reasons mysterious to me, decided to set berries now, after none whatsoever earlier in the year. Um…. Maybe these will ripen before winter? I’m not convinced.

It’s hard to believe it’s halfway through September already. I’m grateful for today’s warm weather, and the predicted similarly warm days coming over the next week.

Whereever you are – I hope you are able to find some good time out-of-doors. Happy Saturday to you, and clear skies, and clear air.


The Six-on-Saturday gardening thing is hosted by The Propagator, which also has links to other gardeners’ blogs. Especially in days without much travel, I’ve been enjoying reading about & seeing photos of other gardeners’ gardens around the world.