Well, it’s to be expected being summer but I am going to complain anyway – it’s HOT!   So Cal is experiencing our first real scorcher of a heat wave that leaves one finding sanctuary inside or in a cool spot in the yard for better part of the afternoon.  Luckily we have a slightly breeze that comes up off the freeway that cools the house down a bit.

Our outdoor shower is getting used quite a lot, though we rarely care for the water to heat up primarily using it just to cool our bodies down.

The two resident cats barely move – just to turn over to get the other side of their belly cool (what a life).  Out in the animal enclosure (one of the cooler parts of the yard with the pomegranate trees) the ducks take turns splashing in their pond and surprisingly even the chickens don’t mind the excessively splashing – anything to get relief from the heat.   The goats take their afternoon siesta,  dozing in the shade.   While tempted to join our lazy critters (who I think have the right idea) there’s much work to be done on the homestead.

Though in the throngs of canning season, with the muggy heat I can’t bear to heat up the kitchen (or myself) so am moving my canning efforts to later in the evening not that it does that much good but it does help a bit.  Last night I finished the last jars of squash pickles just before midnight.

Slowly the kitchen cabinets are filling up with food for the fall and winter.  I’m even reviving mother, scoby that is – that slimy looking pancake fungus.    With the excessive heat one needs a thirst quencher since water doesn’t seem to cut it.   So in between everything I’ve restarted home kombucha fermenting.

There’s also some other news tidbits from the homefront but will dribble it out a little at time.

The Summer Garden Report

Is a mixture of good & bad.   While some things are growing well, others, well, not so well.

The tomatoes are looking good – topping 8+ feet tall.    With the heat the tomatoes are ripening at a faster rate and man they are just so lovely and incredibly tasty.   When you grown heirloom tomatoes you can just grow one, you have to grow the rainbow – then it becomes an addiction.  Once again we have all sorts of colors – white, purple, greens, oranges and yellows.

While the squash, eggplant and cucumbers are producing the plants are battling a splotches of disease.  So we have to keep an eye on that and vigilant in our weekly spraying efforts of EM.

The apples, blueberries are still coming in and there’s a second flush of strawberries.   And the tender, cooler weather crops like lettuces and a few salad greens have been moved to the north side of the house.

Keeping the summer garden tidy and productive is what is taking up most our time these days.  With everything packed in it’s essential that we not let one plant overrun the others and for successful summer production one has to be on top of planting consecutive crops for a quick turn around.

The dip in the economy has certainly affected our produce business.  Similar to what we saw happen with our business back in 2000 with the “dot com” bust, sales have suffered.   Eventually we knew this would happen, but we are a little concerned since we do need to stay afloat.  So we  are turning our efforts more towards individual clientele – customers who care to spend a little extra for fresh and locally grown food.

Growing your own food is hard enough (dealing with weather, pest and disease) so when it comes to sales, well that’s just a whole different arena.

Not only are the sales “off” this year,  but one gets a sense that this year the garden once again is slightly “off.”  What “off” is, I can’t really point a finger at but there’s certainly a note missing in the symphony.

Tough times for everyone, even us.

How’s your summer garden coming along?  Care to share?

Before I go off to pound away at some shredded cabbage (good destressing exercise and if you are lucky there’s sometimes a “eureka” moment to be had), I just want to say on behalf of our family – thank you for the congratulatory anniversary wishes.  We truly appreciate and are humbled by the effect this little blog has had and the movement it now represents as city slickers turn towards a simple, back to basics lifestyle.

As people were coming up to me on Sunday, saying how much the enjoy reading LHITC, I get a little bashful. You see this journal is not me.  It’s a collective diary about our family’s journey and right now I am just the one who’s in the position to share the happenings with you  – taking tidbits and observations from each member and putting it down in one place.   So this journal would not be possible without the vital contributions of Farmer D (as one blogger so aptly put “the grandpappy of the city-farm trend”), Farmer Justin and Farmess Jordanne.

:: Field Hand Appreciation :: CD $10, thank you for your donation.  Fact is, we are hard at work at upgrading PTF/LHITC.  It’s taken longer than we anticpiated thanks to all the interruptions but we hope to have a brand new site up this year.   Not only are we doing these upgrades for ourselves (to make it easier to update) but I am certain that you are gonna to love the changes and your support is greatly appreciated and needed more than ever so we can continue to sow the seeds of a homegrown revolution.


  1. V Schoenwald says:

    Dear Anais,

    I am in Nebraska, zone 5 and we had a “wierd” spring.
    Wet and cool for close to 12 wk, then bam! bad bad boomers, and golfball to softball sized hail, my garden was hit twice, and recovered, but it took 8 wk of babying and trimming, then HOT HOT HOT now (July).
    Heirloom tomatoes are doing great, cucumbers great peppers Blah, Cherry tomatoes finally coming around after the hail and lots of trimming off dead stuff. lettuce is droopy some ok some not so good.
    Enjoy your journal, and please hang in there, the economy is very bad here also, I am glad I grow most of my own food, or I would be in bad shape.

  2. Daphne says:

    We live on the opposite side of the country (New England) and our weather has been really wacky. Our highest high in April was in the nineties, but we only had one day in the 80s in June – none in the 90s. We had more days in the sixties (and below!) than higher. It was cloudy all month long so we didn’t have any sun at all. It made the record books. This weather of course affected our crops, but weirdly not all of them.

    Our squash and cucumbers still haven’t produced and are over a month late. Our tomatoes and chiles are weirdly doing just fine. They are only a few days late. The corn was a bust and I had to pull it out. It was supposed to be the supports for my beans (late but just a couple of weeks). I had to scramble to get some other supports up since the beans totally overwhelmed them. The peas are still producing. The greens as one would expect with such weather are doing just fine.

    Since I didn’t get my June cucumbers I resorted to pickling my over abundance of snap peas. One has to make due and pickled peas are pretty good. They are even more crunchy than regular pickles. I just hope the raspberry season, which has just started, is a good one. I’m so looking forward to raspberry sorbet. It will keep me cool if we ever get some of that hot weather.

  3. Amanda says:

    I feel you… We live around the corner (in Pasadena). HOT. I know it comes every year, but dang it, it can be miserable!

    I am not growing a lot, just a few things. They seem do be doing ok for the most part. But I am still a beginner at all this. Trying my best to learn. I’ve made lots of mistakes… still keep moving forward! We have lots of herbs, and a few squash growing. Some cherry tomatoes and jalapenos. Only the rhubarb is looking miserable because of the heat – but I guess they are cooler weather-loving plants… ugh so much to learn!

    Since we live in the area we’d be interested in buying produce if its ever available. Let me know how and if thats ever possible! Thank you!

  4. Cycling In Hollywood says:

    im thinking that climate instability is going to be increasingly common worldwide in the future, we are all going to have to learn how to cope with these unfortunate gyrations and adapt…

  5. Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings says:

    We didn’t get a full garden put in this year due to a lot of rain. Can’t work in the mud and muck much less plant in it and expect the plants not to rot in the ground. The entire weather patterns for our area (zone 6-7 here on the mountaintop in se TN) has been weird this year. The last few days have felt like it was May instead of the hot humid July that us in the South is used too.

    We only have in a few tomatoes, peppers, beans, and just planted more lettuce seeds as well as peas. Already harvest peas and beans once and some kale, turnip greens, and spinach. We have some leftover onions and garlic that we are letting go to seed. And we have a bunch of beautiful sunflowers blooming. Oh and we did put in some free plants that were given to us of squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, and zucchini (even some of the tomatoes and pepper plants were given to us).

    The herb garden is established (started 2003) and I just keep adding new herb plants/seeds as we can.

    The fruit trees and grape vines are coming along… except we did lose one apple, one peach and two fig trees to something… not sure what they just didn’t survive. A goat ate one of our cherry trees as well as one of our grape vines and dh ran over the two small blueberry bushes with the lawnmower GRRRR!!

    The asparagus bed is doing ok and we just had to move the rhubarb as it’s not doing so great in the raised bed we had it in.

  6. bess says:

    rough year here in the catskills. but i am just a beginner gardener so i have no idea whats going on. just trying to learn the basics. not hot, mostly rainy and cold.

    best of luck

  7. Leigh says:

    I read your journal but never comment. I have a garden again for about the the 1st time in 4 years, and happily it’s doing great. It was planted late, because we didn’t move here until toward the end of May. We’re having a cooler than usual summer here in the southeast, which is good for the garden. We could use some of that rain some of the others are lamenting, but at least it hasn’t been as dry this year as in the past.

  8. kathleen bennett says:

    In Mission Viejo, California my heirloom tomatoes have been growing like crazy. This has been the best year for tomatoes so far. I have 8 quarts of tomato sauce in the freezer with many more tomatoes still on the vine. Luckily they have not ripened all at once. One tomato weighed nearly a pound and half!

    The zucchini and cucumbers have also been ripening in great numbers which I have shared with friends. The lemon cucumbers are a great favorite since you do not see those in the markets. As for lettuce and other cool weather type vegetables they have not done as well, even in the shade. I am still learning after 38 years in the same house about where the best spots are for certain plants.

    The new fruit trees and blackberry vines are growing but since this is their first year there will not be much to eat. But my two golden retrievers are still holding out hope that there will be more to goodies to sample as the summer goes on. They go on garden patrol everyday making sure that the birds do not make off with something edible. During the hot summer afternoons though they retire to the shade or in the house near the fan to take a nap. What a life!

  9. mollie says:

    I am inspired by you guys. i am a farm girl from up state new york living in the SFV and i missed the earth my father is a farmer with a chain of vegan restaronts and grows much of the food for them. I made a change this year ripped up much of my lawn and put in raised beds filled with veggies and put in 22 fruit trees along with grapes and olives. i am so happy to have my hands in the dirt agen back to my roots.
    thank you for being you in the world.

    P.S. It is sooooooooo f***ing hot.

  10. Jan says:

    We started clearing the land we have in our garden this January and are already reaping the benifits of potatoes, carrots and onions. This is a new experience for us and is changing the whole way we think about each day.

    My 84 year old aunt saw an article about your work and showed it to me, since then I have been delighted by your web site. It’s like your garden; packed tightly with well tended offerings that have both a history and a future!

  11. DoubleD says:

    Love the pic of the cats trying to stay cool!

    While no where as warm as you all get, we are experiencing a warm and quite dry summer (for us) and my garden is responding well to it so long as I keep up on the supplemental watering. Last year was our really bad weather year. They happen. I am sure glad this year’s is a boom year for the garden, because I could not manage two years in a row of super low producction of tomatoes, beans, cukes, etc. Setting extra by this year in case next year is indeed another foul one.

    Your garden and produce continue to look amazing. Don’t overheat doing the canning.

  12. CE says:

    Abnormal weather in the maritime pacific northwest also. It really became noticeable about 5 years ago. I have lived in several places ( former military) and have lived here for 20 yrs now. Normally we have cool springs- great brassica weather. Lately our springs have just sprung right into summer. Our usual warm and dry weather is from july to the end of October but now it starts in april or may and goes right through the fall. I enjoy the longer periods to get the garden going and growing and especially for the warm weather plants to get a headstart but the rain is important too.
    We usually tend to have BEAUTIFUL summners here. We do get the the odd hellishly hot week or two but normally it is 70-80 with a soft breeze, cool nights and rain once a week or so. Talk about Camalot!! (Of course then there is the 8 months of grey rain too. ) In the past 5 years the rains are less, the dry spells longer, the hot spells longer and more often and this is in the summer and winter. I love the sun but our rain fills the rivers and lakes, puts snow on the mountains for summer water and keeps us so very green all year round.
    As a gardener I notice the patterns of rain and dry, hot and cool and things have changed quite a bit in the past 5 years. This area does have 20 year cycles of weather so maybe that is what this is but that would not explain the oceans being too warm off the coast of Washington State to catch cold water fish. (They were catching tropical fish). Those ocean currants originate a couple thousand miles away.
    I have been looking at cistern construction but it would need to be so large to serve the garden through the dry spells so …..??
    Happy Gardening to all.

  13. LaVonne says:

    A belated Happy Anniversary and Thank You for all you are doing! I just came across this great article on different ways to make delicious salads and thought you might like the variety:


  14. Christine says:

    Beautiful pictures, thank you for posting! I’m curious about your squash pickles, they look tasty.. care to share your recipe?

  15. Marcia says:

    Well, this is our first attempt at a garden, per se. We’re in Santa Barbara (it’s been hot here too). I’ve had a few tomato plants in the past.

    This year, we built two 3’x3′ square foot gardens in the back (our lot is even smaller than yours), and then we have three 2′ long pots. Two of the pots hold 2 tomato plants. The other has green beans (planted late).

    My seeds are old, at least 2 years…I meant to plant two years ago. I figured I’d try them anyway. We got radishes and a couple of beets. The chard is doing fairly well…some wilting, but I’ve been harvesting from the same two plants (about a bunch a week) for a couple of months now.

    What I didn’t realize is that that ONE LITTLE CHERRY TOMATO SEED I planted would turn into a monster. It’s taller than my 3-year old, has completely shaded the rest of my beets, and has tipped over. Holy cow. I’ve never planted cherry tomatoes before. I think the plant has completely taken over the whole 3′ square now. I planted seeds, not plants, because I figured “well, if it doesn’t grow, I’ll have time to do plants.”

    Now that I know your plants are 8′ tall, it makes more sense.

  16. Jed says:

    It has been confirmed that we, in Western NY (Buffalo area), are experiencing our coldest July in the last 138 years. They predict that this has the potential to be the coldest July in recorded history for the area.

    We’ll take a little bit of anyone’s heat if possible. 🙂


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