Archive for July, 2011


Soulful Plotting

July 29, 2011


An ornamental and sometimes whimsical structure in the landscape.


2011 August Events

July 27, 2011

It’s hard to believe that August will be here in a few days, that July is nearly over. But there are lots of August events for all ages! Don’t miss out — take a look at what’s on the calendar, then go have some fun!


The Rope Swing

July 25, 2011

The Rope Swing

By Julia Andre, 11 years old

Dangling from an oak, I spied a rope.

Perfect for swinging, I climbed up high.

Flowers of violet and white,

pink and yellow in the garden below

danced around like butterflies.

The sky above was as blue as could be.

The garden possessed colors of a rainbow.

I didn’t want to let go.

2011 © Julia Andre


Soulful Plotting

July 22, 2011


Acronym for Integrated Pest Management. A method by which gardeners can learn to manage and eradicate pests by choosing appropriate plants and providing good growing conditions.


Tomato Hornworms: Green isn’t always good

July 20, 2011

It’s mid-summer, when hostile green hornworms (manduca quinquemaculata) emerge from their eggs and make a meal of tomato plants.

Hunting down these ugly worms is a tedious job. Their green color makes them nearly impossible to spot. Oftentimes, you’ll find them above black droppings. Hornworms come out of hiding early morning and in the evenings when it’s cool. Although hornworms usually appear in small numbers, one can destroy an entire plant.

As awful as it sounds, the best control for hornworms is to pick them off the plant and chop them up. I hold a small tin can below the hornworm then scrape it off the branch with a trowel so that it falls into the can. I either chop it in half with the trowel or feed it to the chickens. Some people squish them with their shoe but I don’t care to have green flesh (hornworms are green inside and outside) on the soles of my shoes.

  • Hornworms are named for the horn at the rear end.
  • Hornworms are the larval of the Lepidoptera sphingidae also known as the hummingbird moth.
  • Hummingbird moths are grey or brown with yellowish spots. It lays eggs on upper and lower sides of leaves.
  • Hornworm larvae emerge from its egg eating the plant. They eat leaves, small stems, and part (only part) of the fruit.
  • Hornworms can grow four inches long in four weeks.
  • When a tomato hornworm has reached full growth, it drops from the plant and burrows into the soil to pupate.* Two weeks later, moths emerge and begin mating and laying eggs. During their late cycle, the moths overwinter in the soil and emerge to mate in late spring.
  • Hornworms bearing white egg sacs should be left unharmed. The egg sacs are parasitic wasps, Braconid, which will kill undesirable pests in your garden.

*Non-feeding stage between the larva and adult in metamorphosis insects. This happens when the larva undergoes complete transformation within a protective cocoon or hardened case.


Garden Slowdown

July 18, 2011

Don’t look now, but the weekend is over. Some people spend their work-free days fishing, camping, riding waterskis, or running a marathon. I usually pluck a few weeds, harvest veggies, and eat meals so fresh the food melts in my mouth like sweet, delicious butter. However, the harvest you see in the photo is from the previous weekend. These past two days, lettuce was the only produce to take the pilgrimage from my garden’s soil to the kitchen.

The cool fall-like weather, here in California’s central valley, has slowed down the yield. My bean, tomato, and cucumber vines bear pea-size vegetables. The zucchini plant isn’t performing like a zucchini plant. We all know this prolific vegetable normally yields a zillion little green logs. This summer is different. The vegetable plants are lush, buds aplenty but very little to harvest. The climate isn’t hot enough to swell vegetables into adulthood.

Instead of giving away zucchini, I’m praying there will soon be more than the two I picked a couple of weeks ago. Compared to commercial growers, I am a little gardening gal with pocket-size concerns. Still, it’s frustrating to have homegrown food restricted at ground level. The good news? There’s more time for fun. Maybe I’ll learn to hook  a worm and harvest some fish.


Soulful Plotting

July 15, 2011


The lowest part of a plant or stem.


Let’s Make Bruschetta!

July 13, 2011 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

If you have tomatoes ripening on the vine, oil and vinegar, garlic, seasonings and a French bread baguette, you have the makings for a wonderful snack or light summertime meal – bruschetta.

Contrary to common belief, bruschetta is not the delicious tomato garnish that adorns grilled French bread. The Italian term bruschetta, means ‘to roast over coals’ referring to the bread as opposed to the tomato topping.

Bruschetta, a roasting process, was implemented by old-world Italian olive growers, as a method for testing olive oil flavors drizzled on toasted bread. Over time, the combination of bread and tomato garnish became known as one in the same.

Bruschetta is inexpensive and easy to make. Try this refreshing tomato mixture, coupled with French bread for a delicious summertime appetizer or light snack. Enjoy!


• Slice French bread baguette into ¼ inch slices.

• Drizzle with olive oil.

• Panfry or bake bread slices on both sides.

• Set bread aside.

• Dice 6-7 medium tomatoes into pea size pieces.

• Add one medium size finely chopped onion.

• Stir in 1 Tablespoon minced garlic.

• Toss with 1 Tablespoon each, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

• Add 1 heaping teaspoon Italian seasoning.

• Salt and pepper to taste.


Include olives, crumbled crisp bacon, basil, blue, parmesan or mozzarella cheese.

Other favorite ingredients may also be substituted.

Spoon diced tomato mixture on roasted French bread baguette slices – Yummy!

Copyright 2011 Bernadine Chapman-Cruz  


Field Trip: gardens, gnomes, and goodies

July 11, 2011

In recent weeks, I took a day off from the demands of everyday life and hopped into my friend’s car for a garden tour. It was over an hour’s drive to Tuolumne County, a mountains community of red soil and narrow, roller coaster roads. Because the outing was my idea I hoped it would be worth my friend’s time. Most garden tours are $25 and up. This one was only $10. I was a little apprehensive.

The first garden was ah-la-natural with laidback qualities. The premium attraction was the complimentary snacks and cold lemonade on a table covered in white linen. While I wandered about, my friend, who had fallen under the spell of sweet chocolate, ate six yummy cookies! When she caught up me, we quickly scanned the mayhem grounds then politely exited to the car where I was told about the cookie disgrace. At this point the tour didn’t look promising. I was glad to hear pleasure was reaped.

At the next stop the garden was delightful. I had been redeemed. Tucked behind a white picket fence was a well-tended fairyland. Gnomes, fairies, small, medium and giant mushrooms, ponds, and gazebos adorned the large front, side and back yards. Although the garden was a little eccentric, it had the appearance of a charming village where mystical characters lived among 100 plant and tree species. My favorite was a beautiful Eastern Redbud tree.

From there we drove to a hillside garden with native and deer resistant plants. Barberry, beard tongue, lily turf, maiden grass and more grew under oaks, Japanese maples, dogwood, and ginkgo trees.

Another garden showcased a shed that resembles an outhouse, and recycled artifacts tucked here and there as landscape art or plant containers. Some of the 85 species included dahlias, calla lilies, aster, foxglove, and evening primrose.

The last garden on the tour was designed for wildlife and is certified as a Wildlife Garden by the National Wildlife Federation. The homeowners’ goal was to attract birds, bees, bats, butterflies and insects that crawl inside flowers. This was accomplished with 14 sage varieties, coneflowers, several milkweed varieties, rosebushes, flowering maple, coral bells plus 90 other flowering plants and trees.

Iceland Poppy

At day’s end, we had walked through mayhem pathways, entered a fairyland, trekked hillsides, and roamed a certified wildlife garden. The long drive to a little mountainous community with red soil and narrow, roller coaster roads, and a mere ten dollars was well worth our time. Any apprehension I felt beforehand had vanished.

Garden Touring Tips:

  • To avoid the heat and crowds, get an early start.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, a sunhat and sunscreen.
  • Use a GPS, especially when touring out of town gardens.
  • Many gardens are not wheelchair accessible or elderly friendly, so check on this beforehand.
  • Garden tours don’t always provide complimentary refreshments so pack a few – at least six yummy cookies.

Soulful Plotting

July 8, 2011


Vessels that conduct water or nutrients in plants.

Have a wonderful, fun, and safe weekend everybody!

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