Browse Month: June 2016

NED Gardens Across America — Episode 5

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During the usual up-before-the-bees morning garden stroll, a female Xiyuan Sweet watermelon blossom was spotted. A corresponding male flower was located on a nearby plant and hand pollination ensued. Because the goal of this project is to seed save, the pollinated blossom is later wrapped in order to guard against cross-pollination by means of wind or insects.

During this exercise, we see that the Abigail’s Coffee okra is doing well. To our surprise, we discovered an okra sprout. Sowed in Episode 1 and talked about in subsequent episodes as sprouting failure, it popped out of the soil to let us know that it was down but not out.

Not to be out done, the Kirlangic melon shot out a female blossom for us to get excited about. The Powder Star beans, meanwhile, continued on with their pole dancing. This is a family show; as such they were not featured.

GARDEN TOUR: Raised Planter June 22nd

Things are really heating up in the garden. The Black Prince and Italian Roma tomatoes are forming good looking fruit. The jalapeno and Himo togarashi (chili peppers) are blossoming. There is a bud on the Black Beauty eggplant.

The Thai Holy Basil (Krao prao) have grown in and are starting to bolt. The Kuroda carrots are doing its thing and relaxing in the planter.

NED Gardens Across America — Episode 4

Summer. Warm sunny days have turned into hot bright days; with temperatures reaching 106F. The plants growing for the Gardens Across America Project do not seemed to be bother. In fact, the Abigail’s Coffee okra is loving the heat! Along with the Xiyuan Sweet watermelon, powder star pole bean, and kirlangic melon, they all seem to be doing quite well.

The pole bean is starting to form and the seed saving effort is getting into full swing. Next up look to be the melons.

Tips For Growing Corn



Corn is one of those crops that are especially fun to grow. They are pretty easy to grow in the home garden once we take into a count a few things:

  1. Plant them close together. Because pollination happens by wind and gravity, planting them close together increases the chance of the corn being pollinated. One mistake most first time corn growers (yours truly included) make is planting them too far apart and in a single row. Rather than have one long row of corn, it is best to have them in rows of two or more. In the video below, the corn were planted in clusters of two; with each plant about 4 inches apart. Each cluster was then spaced about a foot part in two rows.
  2. Give them all you got. Corn need a lot of energy and water to produce a filled out ear. Give them your best planting soil and the spot with the most amount of sun.
  3. Water. Water. Water. Provide corn plants with lots of water. Especially when the ears are developing. After all, most of the kernel is made of water.
  4. Start before the bugs start. Sow/plant corn as early in the year as possible. In southern California Zone 10b, many of the heat loving corn varieties can be directly sowed as early as March. I have found that the longer I wait, the greater the chance that I will find corn earworm in the corn. In fact, I found an earworm in one of the ears. The earworm was about 3 mm long (a real baby). By starting early, we are able to get a jump on the earworm life cycle and get the corn before it does.
  5. Get them suckers! When the corn is about a foot tall, they will start to grow suckers at the base of the plant. What I like to do is to rip those off since I do not heavily fertilize the soil. Suckering corn seems to be a debated topic. Growers have reported equal success with leaving the suckers on the plant. What has been your experience? Do you regularly fertilize your corn?

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NED Gardens Across America — Episode 3

The month long cloud cover has dissipated and it has been sunny days since. The weather is warming up and the plants are loving it. In particular, the ‘Kirlangic’ melon grew so much that they started to take over the bed. A trellis woven from tree branches was installed for the melons to climb on.
The ‘Abigail’s Coffee’ okra was transplanted from its pot. The ‘Xiyuan’ watermelon and ‘Powder Star’ pole beans continue to grow merrily along.

Growing out Botanical Interests’ Holy Basil

One of my favorite Thai dishes is ka prao gai (holy basil chicken.) I typically make this minced chicken with Thai basil. However, the authentic version is made with ‘Thai Holy Basil.’ Naturally, I prefer to grow my own. As it turned out, tracking down the exact seeds and germinating ka prao (Thai holy basil) ended up being an unexpected quest. In this quest, I learned that “Holy Basil” is as known as “Tulsi” in India. Holy basil or tulsi or sacred basil are general terms for four types of basil: Kapoor, Krishna, Rama, and Vana. The next part of the quest was to figure out which of those for is ka prao. The internet had limited information and I was not very good at decoding what is there. I then turned to the brut force method– grow them all out. Based on pictures, the one I sought has asymmetric leaves.

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‘Rama’ aka’Ka Prao’ sprouts

I started on this quest last year and I finally found and successfully germinated the holy basil used in ka prao gai. The plants are still growing and I plan to do a post about it. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, this post is about how it is neat to find that one of my favorite seed companies is now offering (as of the 2016 growing year) Holy Basil. Continue Reading