Sunday, December 9, 2012

Peter Rabbit is not playing nicely........

Each visit to Temecula lately have shown the handiwork of Peter Rabbit- he has NOT been playing nicely.

It started with my beloved Meyer Lemon tree, which was looking particularly bountiful. I was stopped dead in my track.....numerous unripe lemons was scattered on the ground all around the lemon tree. The lower branches were devoid of leaves. I guess I should be thankful that it was the rabbit gnawing at the leaves and branches rather than his co-hout the gopher eating the root of my Meyer Lemon tree. Then my tree would be dead...... That does not lessen the pain of seeing the unripe lemons on the ground and rolled down the slope.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Jewels

The Pomegranate tree is the star of my Temecula garden this month. The counterpart to the Persimmon tree in my San Diego garden. Like the Persimmon, they are larger fruit than most of their kind. Their size still astound me each year as I go to pluck them. I have to find new ways to use this fruit. My daughter made some pretty delicious chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Temecula Half Marathon

I walked into the garden this morning, thinking that the hot air balloons would make a nice backdrop to the tomato plants I tied up to stakes yesterday. I focus my camera to frame the picture, and heard the dogs in the neighborhood going crazy and barking none stop. I hear a low drone of something......Suddenly, into the frame of my shot comes a steady stream of runners!!! Not what I was expecting this weekend.

It is the Temecula Half Marathon & 5 K -The out-and-back course for the half marathon race starts at 7:30 AM on the grounds of Mount Palomar Winery, located just off Rancho California Road in the hills that lie just to the east of Temecula. From there, the course takes runners mostly along the dirt roads that wind through the vineyards between Mount Palomar, Baily Creek Winery and Wilson Creek Winery, and then back again through the same fields on the return route back to the race finish line. It runs through right in front of our house!!

Another new thing I am learning about this new home. Nice!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Public Enemy #1 - Tomato Horn Caterpillar

I suppose I should not be surprised that my tomato plants in Temecula would be visited by Tomato Horn Caterpillars. After all, those tomato plants were earlier attacked by tiny little green grasshoppers that de-leaf the plants.

And the Cucumbers continues.....

I continue to harvest those massive Armenian cucumbers. In less than a week those finger size cuke become huge! The joke around the house is the cucumber come in various sizes - single service, family size and party size. I think I mainly get party size cukes.

Single serving size

3 days later - family and party serving size cucumbers! Busy finding ways to eat them up and giving them away.

Friday, August 31, 2012


It had been 2 weeks since we were last up at our Temecula home. I was afraid of what else Mr.Gopher might have attacked! First glance - everything seem alive, particularly the weeds. Promising.

I hear an excited shout from my husband to come look at this amazing squash in the planter. I am puzzled as I did not grow any squash. Maybe a bird drop a seed? My jaw drop!! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A little gardening

It is frustrating trying to establish a garden when I spend so little time in Temecula. Each time I am there, I can imagine harvesting vegetables from my overflowing planters for the meals. Recently, frustrated by all the travelling of the summer and no creative outlet, I planted some vegetables, herbs and fruits in the planting boxes. I just needed to start.... I accepted that I would have a high casualty rate. I look at it as a learning process, finding out what will grow, how to adapt to the climate.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A creature so evil.........

I stood in utter shock, in front of my beautiful Navel Orange tree that had grown double in size since we put up the walled garden. It thrived from the reflected warmth and wind protection the wall afford it. This spring it was covered with hundreds of flowers, enveloping the garden with the of sweet fragrance of orange blossoms. Hundreds of fruits followed with a promise of sweet delight but it was not to be. My beautiful tree was brought down an evil creature that cut it off at its knees; it ate my tree from underneath. It ate the roots of the tree :(

Young navel oranges hanging on the dead tree....

Who is this creature you ask? None other than the vile gopher. I have not seen the gopher myself but here are some pictures I found on the internet. They are burrowing rodents about 5-6 inches in size.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Temecula Farmers Market

Yesterday morning we finally went to the Temecula Farmer Market. I do not know why we never went before this; I think it is  because we thought we would do so when we eventually move to Temecula. Anyway, I am glad we did but sorry I did not have my Nikon SLR camera with me. I took some photos with my iphone.

We were  pleasantly surprise at how large the market is. Much bigger and nicer than the Santa Monica. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

Mushroom vendor with all kinds of delicious fresh mushrooms. In the background you can see a vendor selling succulents potted up in hanging baskets and various other containers.

My California Pepper Tree is not what I think it is!

Pink Pepper berries
This property is blessed by 3 California Pepper  Schinus Molle trees. It provides shade and beauty on the west side of our house. They appealed to me because of their weeping willow like shape. The leaves will sway in the wind gracefully. In the fall and winter beautiful strings of red berries (peppercorn) drape down from the trees. It remain green 12 months of the year.

Following our principle of edible landscaping, we had to examine if this plant will contribute to our gardening scheme. It already had a lot going for it, as it was providing filtered shade for a growing area- the planter boxes. This will provide a micro climate in the hot Temecula garden.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lemons from tree to jars

Even before I could reach my Meyer Lemon tree, I could hear the noisy buzzing of bees hard at work and  smell the absolutely divine fragrance of lemon blossoms. My Meyer Lemon tree in Temecula is small, about waist high in height and maybe 4 feet in diameter. Even so it was so heavy with an abundant crop of beautiful, delicious sunshine yellow lemons. I decided to harvest as many of the lemons as I could, to lessen the strain on the tree as the new crop of lemons were developing on the tree. From all appearances, even more fruits will form as the little tree was still pumping out fragrant  blossoms.
So many lemons! Feels like a commercial harvest.
Although I was the only one harvesting the lemons, I was still shocked when I saw the filled crate of lemons. I had to stop harvesting as there was no way I could use all the lemons in a short time. This is posting is about what I have made with them so far.... not very much.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lemon, Lemon, Lemon

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But when life gives you LEMONS unlimited, you better think of what else to do!! The Meyer Lemon tree in both my houses are pumping out lemons like crazy. I use the lemons for lemonade, for marinade, for Greek Lemon rice soup Avegolemono and lemon infused desserts. There is still so many lemons left on the kitchen counter and still on the tree.

If only I was not so busy right now, I could be in my kitchen tinkering with delicious creations. But let me tell you something- just looking at the fruit laden lemon trees just puts a smile on me :)

Meyer Lemons galore! They are extremely juicy, flavorful and fragrant. As you can see lots of fruits of various sizes on the tree.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Metal Planting Boxes

We knew we wanted to build planting boxes for our vegetable garden. Our zone 24 garden we builded the boxes out of recycled lumber. This time round for our Temecula zone 18 garden, we were inspired by Sunset Garden article How to build raised beds with  scrap metal. Two pictures of inspirational garden below.

It was amazing how difficult it was to find salvage metal sheet at a reasonable price. What ended happening was we had planter made out of new steel plates at a cheaper price! The boxes had to have braces on the inside  to keep its shape. Our planter boxes were of various sizes. We kept the width of the boxes to 4 ft wide so that we that we can reach the plants from both sides.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Earthworks and ground cover

We took out all the plants that surrond the pool, with the exception of the citrus trees at the edges of pad.  Remember, we are sticking to the motto if you cannot eat it, you cannot grow it! Out went the Phoenix Roebelenni or Pygmy Date  Palms, some Bird of Paradise, a couple of Queen was tough to stay focus and get rid of those plants :( The landscapers took away the plants that were removed to be used in other homes, if that helps....

We struggled with what ground cover to install around the pool which seems to beg for cool, green grass lawn. With water being so expensive, we knew it was not the right thing to install. We considered artificial turf but it was extremely expensive and we were not sure how it would stand up to Temecula's scorching summers. Finally we decided to go with small pebbles which we could remove and use in other parts of the property if we did not like how it turned out.

We leveled the whole pad, laid down weed block over the whole area. Experience taught us that weed block laid down at this stage, will dramatically cut down weeding down the road. It allows water to permeate while at the same time prevent the weeds from sprouting.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creating a path.......

We finally broke into the piles of slate slabs and used them to create a walking path within the wall courtyard, at the door and along the courtyard wall. We broke the slates into large pieces which we then laid like a puzzle pieces to form the path. We filled the crevices with small stones to create a stable path.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Doors and Paths

Our aim from the very start is to work with nature and not against it. Following with that principle, we are planning to use as much natural material as possible.We are also pragmatic and not beyond using high tech material if it suits the situation. 
We purchased a couple crates of slates which we are going to use for stepping stone.It works with gravel service road that leads to walled courtyard garden.The door of the courtyard garden is made of fiber glass to better withstand the intense heat of summer and the cold of winter.It is wood grained so it looks like wood but does not splinter and does not need the maintenance of regular painting.We choses some decorative square wrought iron decoration which we learn is called clavos.Who knew that those decorative thingii had a name!! Another thing learnt!
I LOVE WINDOWS AND DOORS! During my travels, I am always on the lookout for vistas of windows and doors. They are fascinating to me. They are portals to the what is hidden. So very often they have lead me to beautiful garden, heartwarming scenes of children playing, craftsmen making beautiful handicrafts or just pure beautiful views. I love opening the doors to my gardens, no less this one in Temecula. This day the door open to beautiful sky above and beyond the garden.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Long live the ancient fruit - Pomegranate

Before everyone think that all  I am is a "murderer", my mother's favorite name for me after I failed to grant clemency to the roses, I do not kill everything on the land. Just outside the walls of the courtyard garden is proof - a large Pomegranate Tree, punica grantum. It is believed that the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit that Eve ate in the garden of Eden and not the "apple."Native to modern day Iran, it spread to Asia, the Mediterranean and Europe. Today, it is touted as a great source of antioxidants. 

Pomegranates are fruits that I want to love more..... In fact, I love drinking pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds in salads, pomegranate syrup in Fesenjen; a delicious Persian pomegranate and walnut chicken stew, pomegranate piled high in a fruit bowl.....But, there is only so much pomegranate one can eat. I need to find more recipes for them. Apart from the huge tree in Temecula, I have 3 other pomegranate trees in my current house - 2 regular red pomegranate and 1 white pomegranate. I must have given away more than 150 fruits in December alone!!

9/5/11 The fruits are starting to turn red in color.

"Look how many fruits there" are says the woman who calls me "Murderer."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rose of Sharon

I almost forgot that there was another casualty of the the Courtyard project - the Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus L. It belongs to the Malvaceae family. The bush was along the wall that backs the kitchen - between the two windows. It was a tall deciduous shrub between 10 to 12 feet high. As you can see from the picture below untrimmed, it was wild mess of a bush!

The bush was a favorite of the birds, particularly the hummingbirds. Look carefully at the picture below, and you will see a hummingbird resting in the cool shade of the plant.
When the petals fall off, a seed pod forms. It opens up to look like a miniature version of the flower- a five "petals" brown flower.

Currently, the plan is to use the space occupied by the Rose of Sharon for tropical plants which benefits form the warmth and protection of the wall. Maybe the curry leaf plant, some serai, kunyit and mint. The cement will prevent the mint form spreading to areas it is not wanted. The Rose of Sharon  will not have died in vain.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

See-Thru patio cover

The house came with a wooden patio roofed with redwood lattice panels. It provided dappeled shade but it did not provide protection when it rained. We love the rustic wooden beams so we wanted to keep it. The sky over Temecula is so Big - anyone living in the west knows what I mean by Big. Beautiful blue skys, gorgeous clouds formations and breathtaking star lit nights, especially in the country when artifical lights is limited.
Dappled shade of the redwood lattice patio roof

Existing redwood panels are removed. The beams and support were given a new coat of paint.

The polycarbonate roofing panels before being cut to length of the patio beams

We installed solar panels to take advantage of the sunny skies over Temecula, to heat the pool water. The panels were installed on the roof of the house.

View from below - the protection film still needed to be removed.

The house is significantly cooler with the polycarbonate cover installed while remaining bright but without the glare.