The Home Growers Circle: Real people with a passion to grow real food

Ethel & Bill Robert Charmaine & Brian Brandon Nancy Lewis & Tara Malika & Donny Andy & Susanna Craig & Gary Warren & Lovejoy

Lewis & Tara / Santa Monica

Midsummer Garden Update 2011

Lewis & Tara

Friday, July 22, 2011 at 9:20AM

Hiding apricot

Rio Grande Cherry Cereal Bowl

Berry harvest

Patanga harvest

After a morning working in the garden, we wrote this update while driving to Los Olivos for Stolpman Vineyard’s Feast in the fields. On the radio was brilliant physicist Michio Kaku's report that consequences from the recent nuclear disaster at Fukushima may last for 100 years. And a later speaker, the space defense analyst, Mike Moore, indicated that our hesitancy to sign a treaty regarding weapons in space may lead to collapse of our internet systems and electrical grid.

What a feast it was: Santa Maria style barbequed goat, roasted vegetables, Full of Life Flatbread Pizzas, green salad with an interesting flax seed dressing were highlights. Vertical flights of sangiovese and nebbiolo were poured by Stolpman and Palmina with its tasting room a bit off the beaten path in "Lompoc Wine Ghetto." What would a full weekend be without venturing further north where we visited our winery pals in the Locavores lifestyle at Locatelli and Ranchita in the adorable historical town, San Miguel.

Back in the "Yard," a few Santa Rosa plums are ready to eat. The skins of the monstera deliciosa are peeling back signaling it's time to harvest. We're in a race with the birds, as to who's first to pick the selectively ripening soft figs and apricots. The Cherry of the Rio Grande surprised us with an abundant second harvest after a wan and premature one early last fall. The second crop of Pakistani mulberry drupes are doing fine after pruning helped focus the tree's energy back to its fruit. What a nice hostess gift the cherries and drupes made, especially with a bottle of AmByth’s Adamo.

The young Persian mulberry has pungent burgundy knobs the size of blackberries. Speaking of the ruddy spectrum, though there were 50 pomegranate blossoms, there are scarcely four that will likely turn into actual fruit. A huge number of Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons will be ready for the fall. Now we're enjoying a couple of handful of Patangas every week. These grow more sparsely than coffee beans, making it difficult to grow a substantial crop with only a few bushes.

Despite our dire expectations, the Kona coffee continues to thrive with minimal nestling foliage due to our southern neighbor's drastic pruning last year. Farming in an urban environment reminds us how truly dependent we are particularly vulnerable to decisions made by other homeowners on the south and west side boundaries, as that is the direction of the light. Shaded only by a bed sheet, we don’t know yet about the productivity of the Java bush.

Most people don’t realize there’s a lot of fruit around a coffee bean. Always interested in what to do with it, we give special thanks to Balconi Coffee Company owner Ray. He tipped us off to a traditional Hawaiian punch called Kona Red that has a lusciously distinctive watermelon/strawberry flavor. It combines coffee cherry pulp and pineapple juice. This could prove to be a new smoothie base for us and perhaps an agua fresca for Forage. Seems we’re moving into a truly tropical climate here in Santa Monica. Hence we just added to its own little plot in the earth, a jackfruit from fresh Cambodian seeds.

That all for now, Ma and Pa Locavores.

Lewis and Tara live and grow in Santa Monica, California, where Tara works as a family therapist and Lewis works with clients as a real estate, insurance, and securities broker. You can learn more about Tara's work at Lewis' websites are and

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We know how much everyone in this city loves the movies. Have you seen this one? The Garden is an Academy Award nominated documentary that tells the story of urban farmers who struggle against land developers to keep their community farm in South Central Los Angeles alive. This film offers a revealing look at the challenges of urban farming in a megacity once known for its agricultural output. The director of the film, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, is a Silver Lake resident and he has offered to not only sell DVDs of the film at a 10% discount, but also grant 10% of proceeds to support the certification fees of future participants of the Home Growers Circle. Buy a DVD and help us build support for an eleventh urban microfarmer. Maybe we'll have to ask one of the microfarmers to raise some corn so that we can make some home-grown movie popcorn. Click here to order a DVD and support the Home Growers Circle. Remember to use promotional code FORAGE.