A Maize maze, a buttefly garden and an I don’t know what

Time for a garden update now that we’ve got some things planted.

I’m giving corn another try, although I’m sure the varmints will get it again before it’s full grown. Even if we don’t get to eat it, we can still have fun—I planted a patch in a random pattern and figured the kids can have fun wandering around in there when it gets over their head.

H has also been interested in creating a butterfly garden so we’ve done some research about what butterflies around Berkeley like and have planted three different flowering plants. Here is one of the plants just starting to create some purple and yellow flowers.

The last plant is something that just started growing last year and has jumped up lately to around 5 feet tall. I have no idea what it is though (an Audrey 2 maybe?). Anyone know? I can take close-up shots of the leaves if that would help.

Cool Webs, Annoyed Spiders and Broccoli

Hayden and I had a pleasant surprise today when we found out that when you play with a hose in a backyard full of spiders you get a lot of cool dew-dropy webs (and some presumably annoyed spiders). I took a bunch of pictures and these were a couple of my favorites.

On the subject of our backyard, I’m sad to say the varmints won. Pretty much everything that we planted that grew above ground was eaten before it got ripe (D has managed to snag several almost ripe tomatoes but that’s it).

We did get some carrots and sweet potatoes that we had planted (but those were underground) and there were lots of blackberries and plums (but those plants were here when we moved in).

I think we’ll try out more underground stuff to see how that works (we put some turnip seeds in recently and there are some potatoes ready to go in the ground). We did plant a few broccoli plants though but I won’t be surprised if they get eaten at some point too.

Summer Harvest

We pulled some carrots up today and got a nice mix of red, orange and white. We also picked a bunch of plums and there is talk of plum cobbler (hopefully we’ll get to blackberry cobbler too since there’s also lots of those around).

Thankfully the squirrels have spared some of the corn and a couple of the plants are now taller than I am and we saw four ears growing. There are lots of pumpkins too—a big green one that will turn orange and smaller white ones that should stay white.

Sadly the two avocado plants I recently moved outside haven’t made it—I think they got too much sunlight since their leaves looked scorched before falling off.

Garden Update for June

Some of the corn is now taller than a 4 year old and baby ears have started growing. The pumpkin patch has gotten much bigger than it was a month ago and they look a lot like lilypads in a pond.

The cherry tree that got whacked when the huge branch fell last year seems to be doing fine and I just saw one cherry on it.

Two avocados that have been growing in glass jars also got big enough to move outside into pots—hopefully they do better than the last one that was promptly eaten (part of the pit was showing that time so I fully covered the pits in dirt this time around).

Late February Garden Update (Apologies To Those In Cold Places)

So our short, mild winter is almost over and the backyard has decided to start acting like it’s spring. The plum trees are covered in thousands of small white flowers (having those fall down when the wind blows is as close as we’ve been to snow lately) and the lemon tree has about one pitcher’s worth of lemons on it.

Look closely for the tiny bottle of Tabasco…

In the two planters, I’ve put lavender plants and the sweet potato we’ve had in a jar of water for the last several months. We picked up corn seeds and I’m interested to see if we could pull those off in the place where we failed to pull off strawberries. I also want one more lime tree (trees need love just like the rest of us) to see if we can get some limes this year and I’d like to dig in the compost pile to see what’s there.

BTW, I know it’s early March now but those photos are from a few days ago.

This End Up

I recently read two more gardening books—The Backyard Homestead and Sow and Grow. Both had useful information about growing plants in your home or yard that you’d only figure out after a lot of trial and error.

For instance, we recently put a sweet potato in a jar and the leaves started coming out the bottom and going into the water. The Sow and Grow book told us that potatoes have an up side and a down side (who knew?) so I turned it around and it’s much happier now with everything pointing in the right direction.

There were all sorts of other interesting bits that hopefully I’ll try to put into practice soon (except for the parts that talked about keeping chickens, pigs and cows in your backyard). Maybe I’ll work on an indoor pineapple grove next to go along with my one baby tree avocado grove?

Up next, I’ve started reading Norman Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon.

P.S. After the gardening books I read Home Game, a funny book about fatherhood. It felt like a long article that had been double-spaced into a small book and I don’t really have that much to say about it (other than the fact that I learned you can camp in Fairyland).

Someone Liked Their Plums


The house we’re renting has a great backyard that’s full of different things to eat, such as asian pears and blackberries. There are also plums, but I hadn’t paid much attention to those since I’m not a huge plum fan.

Now that we’ve been here a while and I’m more familiar with the backyard, I’ve noticed three different types of plums (from what I can tell they are mirabelles, damsons and cherry plums). There are a few cherry and damson plums out now and literally a bazillion mirabelles everywhere.


Someone who lived here sometime before us must have really liked plums and planted a bunch of trees. I guess this is a good opportunity for me to learn to enjoy something new.

I can use them in pies, tarts, smoothies, cookies, sandwiches, lemonade, mixed drinks and anything else we happen to be eating or drinking over the next several weeks — did I mention that there were literally a bazillion of these plums on the trees and all over the ground?

I Should Have Planted Another One

I recently cleared some space in our backyard and have been planting strawberries. We’ve done this in batches and after the last batch I noticed that we had thirteen little strawberry plants. For a minute, I half-seriously thought of going to get one more plant to avoid any possible bad luck, but didn’t think any more about it.


A couple of weeks later, I’m looking at our backyard through the kitchen window and things looked a little different. An enormous branch had fallen off of a tree and had fallen on the space with all the strawberries (plus the space with the carrots and melons I had also recently planted). You can see one little strawberry poking out near the bottom of the picture below.


It certainly feels like this was directed at me, since the pear tree and blackberries that were here when we moved in, and that are right next to the strawberries, were just outside of the reach of the branch. Next time I won’t question anything—I’ll just turn around, go back to the nursery, and buy another plant.