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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

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Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Empty Re: Modesto, Central Valley, CA...

Post  Denese 8/31/2011, 9:37 am

PNG_Grandma wrote:

Did you know that dehydrated tomatoes can be ground to make a tomato
powder that is absolutely AWESOME when added to omelets when you don't
have fresh toms???!!

Hey!! Just curious, did you peel your tomatoes before you dehydrated them? Also, how long does it take to dry them to that point? I'm hoping to purchase a dehydrator soon, and need all kinds of help. Laughing
Denese
Denese

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Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Empty Powdered anything??

Post  PNG_Grandma 8/31/2011, 1:29 pm

I'm wondering if I can grind some of the other things we've dehydrated?? We're doing lots of the herbs, and the peppers...tried the eggplant and it worked but didn't re-hydrate as well as I thought it should, maybe because I tossed into the soup late in the cooking...it was a bit chewy, not the texture we wanted.

We also dehydrate mushrooms and keep them in a baggie in the freezer. I grab a handful, crush them in my hand then toss into whatever I'm cooking... omelet, soup, casserole, etc...and they add a great flavor boost! We buy the packs that have been marked down for quick sale because they're beginning to turn darker...great for popping in the dehydrator!!

Al just brought in a bunch of really big Toms and more peppers. Our weather heated up a bit this past weekend so things began to ripen, not all of the stuff...thank goodness! ... but enough to keep us eating healthy! Today is the last day of August and we've had absolutely NO days of triple digits...amazing!!
PNG_Grandma
PNG_Grandma

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Join date : 2010-06-20
Age : 76
Location : Modesto CA, Central Valley, USDA Zone 9b, Sunset 14, AHS Heat Zone 8, whew!

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Post  PNG_Grandma 8/31/2011, 1:49 pm

Denese wrote:Hey!! Just curious, did you peel your tomatoes before you dehydrated them? Also, how long does it take to dry them to that point? I'm hoping to purchase a dehydrator soon, and need all kinds of help. Laughing

Hey Denese! Nope, didn't peel the tomatoes but Al uses a mandolin to slice really thin slices, probably not the thinnest setting, but thin. We have an Excalibur 3900 dehydrator with 9 drawers and a heavy duty motor...I thought it was a bit over the top when he bought it but we use it almost daily. He said it takes about 24 hrs to dry the tomatoes. There are settings listed on our dehydrator for doing herbs, veggies, etc. We've also done figs, apricots, apples, and plums with varying degrees of success. Some of these turn out like candy but sure get stuck in your teeth...tasty treat, better than gummy candy!

If your budget allows it purchase the biggest "bestest" dehydrator you can get...I'm really glad we got this one. I just looked on Amazon and they have this same one at just over $200. I really thought it was way too much for what I imagined to be a "toy" type thingy that we might use once in a while...but Al was right ... yes, I said that...Al was right!! Rolling Eyes We have lots of baggies of stuff in the freezer for the winter when these fresh veggies and herbs will be memories! Oh, we also have the FoodSaver thingy...that vacs out the air in the bags before we freeze them. Good thing Al bought this stuff when we still had jobs...now I consider them investments, and really good ones too!

Do some research and buy what fits your needs for now and what you think you'll need over the next couple of years...and how it fits your budget...I don't think you'll be sorry! Good luck...and happy drying!! Very Happy
PNG_Grandma
PNG_Grandma

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Location : Modesto CA, Central Valley, USDA Zone 9b, Sunset 14, AHS Heat Zone 8, whew!

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Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Empty Rats!!!

Post  PNG_Grandma 9/9/2011, 1:41 pm

Ya know, we've won the war against the worms (well, at least for last season!) and we stopped the slugs and snails in their tracks... but this newest critter is unbelievable! We have RATS! affraid

We have rats eating the bottom half of any the tomatoes that are hanging low on the plants. Sooo, we are now putting containers of D-con under the plants, and Al has set a few traps. Our park has a huge population of feral cats...those are the same cats that used our beautiful garden boxes several months ago when the new seedlings were coming up...guess we got rid of the cats enough around our Apollo Garden, and in our backyard that the rats have set up housekeeping!

Ahhhhh, just one surprise after another, right?! Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 950477
PNG_Grandma
PNG_Grandma

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Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Empty ...and Cats, again!!

Post  PNG_Grandma 10/9/2011, 8:00 pm

Wow, I can't believe it's been a whole month since my last update...time flies! The gardens are still in transition, many of the gardeners have already cleared out the summer stuff and started planting seeds and seedlings for our Fall gardens. Everything still looks beautiful, especially earlier this week when we had some heavy rains. Here in Modesto we received right at an inch of rain in 24 hours...amazing! The wood boxes always look great when they're wet, and the soil in the boxes looks so dark and rich...even the spindly remains of the cherry tomato plants, and the almost dried squash climbing on the trellis looked good. I guess you have to be a gardener to appreciate the beauty...there were a few people walking by asking why everything looked so dead...ahhhh, so little they know! Wink

As you can see, our weather is staying warm...almost 80 tomorrow. The plants are loving it! So is Al...he can hardly wait to get new stuff planted! At the moment he's out in the garden harvesting all of our peppers. Tomorrow we'll make the
Mexican Pepper Relish and I'm sure we'll wish we had more peppers!

I'm starting seeds in our greenhouse...this should be interesting! I'm hoping to have some success with tomatoes but I doubt I'll have the huge success that Carolyn Phillips does! Oh, I wish!!

Oh, yeah, about the cats...we've been trapping cats lately, all female feral cats, yet there are more still getting into the newly planted areas of the boxes. Today I helped Al wrap another garden box with birdnetting...at least that stuff allows us to reach over the top to work in the box but keeps the cats out...so far.

More updates soon!
PNG_Grandma
PNG_Grandma

Female Posts : 297
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Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Empty more changes in the gardens...

Post  PNG_Grandma 11/6/2011, 1:12 pm

The Apollo Garden is changing again, more summer stuff is being pulled out and new little green seedlings are popping their heads out of the ground. We seem to have survived this year without the terrible worm infestation. We had a few, but nothing like last year! The bug zapper may have helped too. I know the netting on several of the boxes helped because the moths were caught inside the netted box once the moths hatched out of their cocoons. They were then trapped and ... well, they didn't get to continue the life cycle!!

We have some new gardeners this season, a few others have decided gardening just isn't for them. For the rest of us, it's a new season and we're finding new things to grow, and learning better ways to grow, harvest, and cook what we've grown. Last night Al fixed oven roasted beets and the beet greens sauteed with onion and garlic. YUMMMM!!! He also fixed some of the halibut he caught recently...(yeah, Al's the fisherman right now so you might not see him too often here on SFG!) Rolling Eyes

Here are a couple of pics taken yesterday of my butternut and spaghetti squash growing on nylon trellis netting. This is two year old netting and seems to have held up well through 2 summers and a winter. We built the wood frame last year and I had the trellis on the south side of the box. This year I was smarter and put it on the north side so the squash plants didn't shade all my other stuff!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Dsc_1611

Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Dsc_1610

The squash plants are still putting out blossoms so I think I'll just let them keep on doing their thing...there are a few small squash growing towards the ends of the plants...it's just fun to see how long they'll grow. One lone cucumber plant is still growing in the middle of the squash plants, and still putting out a cucumber or two. All the blossoms are great for the bees too!

At the far right corner you can see the eggplant is still producing...it's the last plant standing! We had 10 plants, 3 different varieties, that produced way more eggplant than we could eat and give away. I blanched and froze a lot of it, and we ate eggplant just about every way I could find to fix it. Our favorite...the long, slim Ping Tung variety...peeled, sliced very thinly, dipped in egg and then into a cornstarch/flour mix and quick-fried to crispy deliciousness!! Sprinkled with coarse salt these little chips are THE best ever!!

The hanging strawberries did OK, nothing spectacular but we're still picking a few at a time, even this late in the season! We have bird netting over the top and on the other three sides...on the side with the squash vines we pulled the netting up and the birds didn't try to get in on that side. We pulled the netting all the way to the bottom on the other three sides to also keep out the darned cats. We still catch a few every month...the feral cats around her are as productive as our gardens!!

If you look closely through the hanging squash pic you'll see the little seedlings poking up...we have spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and more beets...the cylindrical type that are sooooo smooth tasting!

That's it for now...time to go get my hands dirty!! happy hi
PNG_Grandma
PNG_Grandma

Female Posts : 297
Join date : 2010-06-20
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Location : Modesto CA, Central Valley, USDA Zone 9b, Sunset 14, AHS Heat Zone 8, whew!

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Post  PNG_Grandma 12/30/2011, 8:40 pm

Just thought I'd add some comments here before the end of the year. The Apollo Gardeners are a bit quiet this winter...we've had some hard frosts during the past couple of weeks...no rain, some fog...no rain...no rain. We NEED some rain! Mad

A couple of the PVC fittings broke during the 25-28 degree nights we had last week. Al fixed them and now turns the water off at the main valve if we think the temps will drop below 30. Because the average age in our senior community is around 78 yrs old, most of our gardeners would rather be inside and not outside doing any type of gardening during our icy cold days...I know, all of you from other regions are rolling your eyes at what I'm typing Rolling Eyes but ya have to understand...here in "sunny" CA we're just not used to having such cold nights, for more than one or two at a time! Not like my brother in MN, or other cold places!!
lots o

I keep eyeing our still unused greenhouse...trying to figure out how to keep it warm enough at night. We have no electricity available. Any ideas for some VERY inexpensive solar type panels??

More posts soon...I promise! happy hi
PNG_Grandma
PNG_Grandma

Female Posts : 297
Join date : 2010-06-20
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Post  PNG_Grandma 1/30/2012, 5:31 pm

Our Apollo Garden update...

Sadly, we've also lost one of our original gardeners, our friend and neighbor Joe Kravanja. Joe helped Al and me from the beginning of our Apollo Garden, offering his truck to haul the compost, discovering the cutworm infestation and finding ways to battle the little rascals! Even after Joe became ill he enjoyed being in the garden, especially with his grandson, teaching gardening. Joe offered his opinions on many of the issues of our community style garden, including ideas for how to set up the green house.
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Joe_an10

Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Joe29j10
Joe 1943-2012
He will be missed.

PNG_Grandma
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Post  llama momma 1/30/2012, 6:49 pm

Condolences to you on losing your gardener friend and neighbor. You could plant a living memorial in his memory, maybe a tree near your Apollo Gardens with a nameplate honoring him.
llama momma
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Post  PNG_Grandma 1/30/2012, 6:58 pm

llama momma wrote:You could plant a living memorial in his memory ...

Thanks for the kind words. Yes, we're planning to plant something near the Apollo Garden sign ... that area has been a bit of an eyesore and needs sprucing up...this is the perfect solution. I'll post pics after we get it planted. thanks
PNG_Grandma
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Post  RoOsTeR 1/30/2012, 8:17 pm

Grandma, sorry to hear of your loss of a great friend and gardener.

It looks like you have some great lil helpers there Very Happy
Keep us up to date with the progress and thanks for sharing the pictures.

____________________________

Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Logo-111
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/30/2012, 9:54 pm

PNG_Grandma, really sorry to hear of your loss of a great friend and mentor for your Apollo Garden.

Very glad you are planning a memorial that will enhance the garden.
Furbalsmom
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Post  Chopper 2/1/2012, 4:10 am

Sorry to hear that. It is a shame. How nice for you to memorialize him here.
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Post  Ha-v-v 2/1/2012, 11:10 am

So sorry for your loss. Sad The days spent in the garden now will be a tribute to him Im sure. Hugs to you all from over here, hoping for sun shiny days.
Ha-v-v
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Post  PNG_Grandma 3/2/2012, 1:32 pm

Just a bit of an update on our garden boxes...they are changing!
Al has redone (what a surprise!) several of the boxes and outfitted them with removable panels...frames with bird netting. These keep the darned cats out of the newly planted boxes, AND keep the birds from snacking on the newly sprouted seeds! I'll post some pics soon.
happy hi
PNG_Grandma
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Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Empty hey there PNG-Grandma!!!

Post  mrsfish94 3/4/2012, 11:03 pm

HI there!!!

I just wanted to give a shout out to the other side of town...LOL!!!!

I was just so sad to hear that Scenic Nursery was closing. Yesterday I went looking for some organic seedlings (transplants), of course, there was none to be found. I have started my tom seeds twice now...with no luck. I went out to till the garden space and guess what I found???? I found some tom seeds that seeded themselves. So, I transplanted them to the tomato area (for this year) and I am going to cross my fingers for the seeds I planted yesterday.

I have to say I was rather surprised to see zucchini, eggplant and cucumbers at Westurf for sale already.
I will admit...I purchased those. I usually only need one of each of those plants because I have a rather small family and don't really need more than that. I am hoping for a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. I want to can them so, I don't have to buy "tin" canned tomatoes.

So there you have it...what has been going on in my garden so far this year. I'd love to come for a visit ...maybe on Saturday...if your not busy and the weather is nice.

Blessings to you!!!

Susan
mrsfish94
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Post  PNG_Grandma 3/9/2012, 1:25 pm

mrsfish94 wrote:I'd love to come for a visit ...maybe on Saturday...if your not busy and the weather is nice.
Yay! We'd love to have you visit again. Looks like the weather is gonna be great, for a couple of days, then, can you believe it? We're supposed to get rain during the week! Al has been building some "structures" in our Apollo Garden...they look nice, and they'll really support just about anything...well, you'll see when you get here.
happy hi
PNG_Grandma
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Post  mrsfish94 3/25/2012, 7:10 pm

Sorry not to have stopped by a few weeks ago. Had a bit of a family issue to tend to.

I hope all is well at the Apollo garden! I am thinking about putting a raised flower bed in my side yard.

How tall are the sides of your garden beds? Do I use 8" or 10" boards? I noticed Home Depot had a kit for $20.00 but, it is made of cedar. Is that ok to use?

Any advice would be great!

Thanks,
mrsfish94
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Post  PNG_Grandma 4/21/2012, 7:26 pm

On April 1st I asked Al to take some new pics of our Apollo Garden...and he did. It's taken me until today to finally get them posted! During the past 21 days so much has changed out there...guess I gotta get some new pics to update these new pics!!
This season we were able to use the Greenhouse!! Yay...here are the little guys hanging out in the warm sun, out of the wind:
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Greenh10
...and more little guys. The extra slats from window blinds make great label sticks!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Greenh11
A day later and those big poofy clouds got together with all their friends and dropped a lot of rain on us...our plants were safe inside! You can see our famous "bug zapper" on the far left. Needs new bulbs, but it really does zap those bad guys!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Greenh12
These are the snow peas and sugar snap peas planted in our backyard. They grew to 8' tall!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Peas_a10
Al had to really tie them up to support the weight of the humongous crop we had!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Peas_p10
...and more peas!! They were soooo good right off the vine, or in a stir fry, or...we had them so many ways!!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 And_mo10
We've had a lot of trouble with the feral cats this year so Al had a new idea...build a better frame and cover it with bird netting. This 4x4 box will eventually have two tomato plants on strings going up to the overhead crossbar, and zucchini plants down below. For now it has kale and spinach.
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Keepin10
The side frames are removable with a cool hook and eye method. When Al needs to get into the box to pull a tiny weed, or for any other reason, he can just lift off the side frame, do his work, then replace the frame to keep the cats out. Works really well! Here's a closeup of his hooks and eyes.
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Hooks_11
Another box protected from the cats...Swish Chard, Spinach, and Kale with a worm tube in the middle!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 No_cat10
This box is taller for the hanging strawberries. The peas, kale, Swish chard, and spinach are doing well...so are the strawberries! The netting will be overhead to keep the birds off the strawberries, and more netting on the side frames for the darned cats! But it works!!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Kalesw10
Al's fennel crop this year was amazing!!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Al_s_f10
...with huge bulbs!! We put it raw into salads, cooked with the other greens, or in all types of casserole dishes. The frilly fronds are great added to just about anything!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 Al_s_f11
And we have our first volunteer sunflower for the year...grew just behind the peas. The bees love it!
Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 First_10
Soon, I promise!! Soon I'll post some updates...the garden is really changing!!
happy hi
PNG_Grandma
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Post  mrsfish94 4/21/2012, 8:10 pm

Wow! The garden looks great!!! I am so happy to see it looking and producing so well. All that hard work really does payoff.

Susan
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Post  camprn 4/21/2012, 8:22 pm

Super Duper IMPRESSIVE! I Love the look of the fennel (can't stand it to eat it tho, it's the licorice thing.) Thanks for sharing.

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Post  Chopper 4/21/2012, 8:35 pm

Wow, you are really improving every year. How is overall participation? Are all the boxes taken? Looks so cool. Al is a smart man. Smile
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Post  RoOsTeR 4/21/2012, 8:38 pm

WoW! Looks fantastic Grandma Modesto, Central Valley, CA... - Page 8 3170584802 thanks for the wonderful update!

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Post  PNG_Grandma 4/21/2012, 8:54 pm

camprn wrote:I Love the look of the fennel (can't stand it to eat it tho, it's the licorice thing.)
Yeah, me too...when I said "we eat it raw in salads I meant HE eats it...I can't stand licorice!! No
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Post  PNG_Grandma 4/21/2012, 8:58 pm

Chopper wrote:Wow, you are really improving every year. How is overall participation? Are all the boxes taken? Looks so cool. Al is a smart man. Smile
Thanks Chopper! Your "signature" on my garden box is fading, but we were talking about you today when I pointed to the sig...thanks so much for stopping by that day...it was great fun!
As for overall participation...it's great! Yes, all the boxes are taken some gardeners have multiple boxes and we may lose one, but I have others waiting. Spring does that, ya know!
Shhhhhh, don't say things like that about Al too loudly... his head will explode!! Very Happy
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