How Does My Garden Grow? Farewell to Summer… Welcome Autumn

by on September 24, 2018 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Kathy Blavatt’s back yard, with path and vertical gardening. All photos by Kathy Blavatt

By Kathy Blavatt

The end of summer has left me with an unwieldy forest that needs tending as autumn sets in. But with all the work it entails, my garden that was once primarily grass in 2004, has now grown into life force that only nature can create. Much like a watercolor painting, where as an artist throws ideas and paint onto a canvas, it metamorphoses into its own creation. The unexpected can and does happen.

Fourteen years of mulching, weeding, planting, and trimming, have brought beauty and death in the harmonic way nature works. September has brought multiple dragon fruit blooms!

Dragon Fruit blossom

After a decade of waiting! Large pale yellow blossoms, I saw a glimpse of in the morning light, just before they closed. But the question is will they produce fruit?

Then I harvested my figs, the last of the harvest. The gleaming green June Bugs had their last feast on the sweet honey flavor of the fruit. The turning leaves fall as a blanket to the earth as the tree gets ready to sleep. The figs had a challenger as being the sweetest fruit in the garden.


The name of these sweeties gives it away… “Passion Fruit”. The smell of a tropical island is packed into the red fruit filled with juicy golden insides. How can one judge such sweet fruits?

In a tie vote, I blended the two into a crunchy dessert with a layer of figs, a topping of passion fruit syrup, and a sprinkling of walnuts. Would I remember this recipe by the end of next summer?

In the back corner by the tall fence, absorbing the heat, are my papaya trees. I look at the fruiting trees with dismay. I was always envious of the tropical microclimates found in some of the yards in Ocean Beach, filled with exotic fruits, ferns, and unusual plants. Little did I know composting, mulching, vertical gardens, kelp tea and coffee grounds, would create such a wonderful tropical garden… my own microclimate.

The last few years of varying weather have been kind to mango tree’s growth. The 2016 storms, with its downpours, brought the dwindling tree back to life. This years hot muggy weather must have triggered it’s tropical genes into full gear as its mass and height expanded as an accelerated pace. Unfortunately the fruit were few and small, but maybe I’ll get more fruit next year.

On the west edge of my backyard tropical paradise is a cluster of tall sugar cane. Not just any cane, but given to me as a gift from a friend whose family had one of the early sugar farms in Hawaii. My ginger plants, and some of my exotic herbs, were also gifts from friends. These plants trigger memories of my friends and their shared love of plants.

With the warmth of these thoughts, I turn to tasks at hand, preparing for falls first cold snap and the rains to come, while I dream of next years figs, papayas, mangos, and passion fruits.

Fruit plate, June 2018

Kathy Blavatt will be writing a series of articles on gardening, horticulture, local trees, plants, and landscaping in Ocean Beach and the peninsula. Kathy is a historical book writer and a board member of the Ocean Beach Historical Society, so she will be incorporating historical content and figures that have shaped our local landscapes. Kathy is also a community advocate, environmentalist, and activist. She will write about the pros and cons about what is happening in terms of local and San Diego horticulture. Besides gardening, cooking and using herbs are two Kathy other passions. She has been a lacto-oval-vegetarian since she was 17 years old, so she has found many healthy and yummy ways cook produce. She will give readers hits and recipes for using their produce. ©Kathy Blavatt 2018, with permission to be used in the OB Rag.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

ZZ September 24, 2018 at 4:03 pm

I get lots of Dragon Fruit flowers, but usually only about two actual edible fruit per year. They get about half grown then dry out and fall down.


Rosalba Gottschalk September 24, 2018 at 10:32 pm

What a lovely article!!!
It brought deep memories of our living in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
That is our little paradise-home where everything grows “unintentionally”
Green positive vibes to your garden of love!


Bob Edwards September 25, 2018 at 9:12 am

Nice article, informative and poetic. Looking forward to more!


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