Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pumpkin Thief - Meep Meep!

Cinderella Pumpkin 2018
Cinderella pumpkins were nurtured from seeds sown during Memorial Day weekend 2018.  Young plants thrived well enough to enable me to share a few with some work associates for their young children to enjoy the process of growing their own pumpkins for Halloween.  The balance of the plants went into the Pumpkin Patch - Bed #1.  As the summer heat increased in intensity, sun umbrellas had to be installed to relieve the drooping leaves and encourage pollinators to enjoy the shade. 

Sunflowers, zinnias, and morning glories for pollinators, people, and birds to enjoy.

Sunflowers, zinnias, and morning glories were planted to encourage those pollinators to stick around awhile.  Sunflower seeds are now drying for the birds to enjoy.  Zinnia seeds have already started to germinate for one last blast before frost.  Morning glory seeds are sprouting too but most will just be wildly sprouting in the spring.

Immature Cinderella Pumpkin
The pumpkin plants were blooming and producing many fruit throughout the summer.  It was bound to be a bumper crop this year.  But wait.  Soon after fruit were about golf ball size, they disappeared.  Did they wither from the heat?  No.  Did insects ravage them?  No.  How about some pest like a possum, raccoon, or rat?  No evidence.  The fruit simply disappeared without a trace.  All that work all summer long only brought 4 pumpkins to maturity.  FOUR?!  Unacceptable.  My work associates had experienced the same thing.  This mysterious thief must be found.  Time passed without a clue.  The vines were withering.  It was time to harvest and get that bed ready for winter veggies.

Farmer MacGregor did the heavy work on 3 of the 4 beds then I smoothed and planted.  It was still hot; so I was under the shade of the patio admiring all our hard work when a bird shwooshed in to the shade tree, dropped down to the lawn then jumped over the plum tree and into the former pumpkin patch.  It looked around quickly sizing up the change of the place then jumped up on the fence and moved on to the neighbors' yard looking for groceries.  The bird?  It was a roadrunner!  THIEF!

Roadrunners are not new to Bakersfield.  In fact, they are the mascot for the local university.  They ARE rare in suburban neighborhoods - I thought.

With this discovery, I went to the internet to learn more.  These guys eat anything.  Anything.  The internet also provided inspiration for a roadrunner feeding station that might help eradicate this problem in the future.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tomatoes 2018

Tomato Bed 2018
Getting ready for summertime usually starts with getting the tomatoes situated.  In the past, I have been too ambitious or not ambitious at all.  This year, I hope to land squarely in the middle.  With a mix of heirloom and hybrids (and not too many of either) there has to be a balance.  Farmer MacGregor selected most of the varieties and I think he did a great job.

The heirlooms are planted on the western most edge of the bed (circled in red) to form a shade for other tomatoes as the blazing hot Hades sun moves from East to West.  These plants will be strung as they grow.  The green posts form the support.  Twine will be installed as the heirlooms grow and need support.  Fingers crossed for a nice curtain of tomatoes.  There are 1 of each:  German Johnson, Kellogg's Breakfast, Old German, and Pruden's Purple.  (Hmmm.  Planted in alphabetical order - top to bottom.  That sounds like me.)

The hybrids have cages for support.  They shouldn't get very tall; but hopefully they will get heavy.  There are 2 Better Boys, 1 Sweet 100 (cherry), and 1 Sun Gold (cherry).

All the plants have been stripped of their lower branches and leaves and planted deep to encourage a strong root system.  Each was provided a good dose of Garden & Bloom Harvest Supreme soil amendment and some organic tomato food.  Fortunately, the recent rains made the soil soft and easy to work with. Overcast skies also helped all the plants with a gentle introduction into the garden.

There are already blossoms that should thrive with the coming heat.  Here's to low weeds and high tomato production this summer.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lilac Success

Lilac (Allen)
Lilac (Helen)

 Both varieties of lilacs are blooming.  Helen hasn't bloomed in years.  She was relocated in the fall (2017).  Maybe that did the trick.  Allen has always been a steady and reliable bloomer.  Neither are ever pruned or fertilized much.  Both are in the same size pot and are located close to each other.  Their growing conditions are the same.  Why is Helen so shy to bloom?

The Old Farmer's Almanac offers some good points for growing lilacs successfully.  Maybe I should consider starting some cuttings of Helen and see if I have success.  It is impossible to have too many lilacs.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wisteria Rain

Blue Wisteria petals falling with the rain.
The recent bounty of wonderful rain was terrific.  The garden is washed.  The soil is soft.  While sitting on the patio and enjoying watching the rain come down, I noticed the plump wisteria petals fall with the rain.  There's still plenty hanging from the pergola above.  The bumblebees get busy between rain storms making the area sound like a botanical helipad.  The hummingbird feeder is a hugely popular stop for migrating nectar suckers.  In the meantime, the perfumed confetti continues to fall like a springtime ticker tape parade.  It's pretty great to enjoy this.  Summertime and swamp pants will be here before long; but until then the garden is very sweet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Getting Back Into Blogging

Santa Rosa Plum Bud Break February 18, 2018

I've been away from blogging for sometime.  The process of blogging takes focus and purpose.  It just isn't as immediate as all the social media available.  However, as a garden journal it is invaluable.  Using the blog as a reference to refresh my mind on what worked, what didn't work, where things were planted, etc., is just so helpful.  I was reminded of this when I noticed the buds breaking recently on the Santa Rosa plum. I really thought the plum bud break was super late this year; but when I look at my blog post regarding the matter, February 18, 2018 is right in the ballpark.  In fact, it's pretty close to average. 

Since February 18, I'm pleased to report that the summer of 2018 looks like there might be a bounty of plums.  So, all is well with the plum world.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What's in a Name?

Thornless Boysenberry - Berry White
This year looks to be an excellent year for most everything in the garden.  Thornless Boysenberries are no exception.  There are six plants that thrive in the garden to the point of being invasive.  Sprouts need to be plucked as soon as possible throughout the growing season to avoid a bramble jungle.  That ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

Enameled Metal Name Plate (Pinterest)
I've postponed for years the idea of attaching name plates to each of the berry supports giving names to my Boysenbabies.  A Frenchy looking metal name plate with enamel coating is what I'm looking for.  White with black pin-striping and black script lettering is my goal.  A local sign shop just up the road from Floyd's Hardware (one of my favorite stores) might be able to set me up with what I need or point me in the right direction.  I'll task Farmer MacGregor with installing them on the support structures.  He's a picky guy.

Boysenberry Support Structures - 2015
Above is an image from 2015 to show the structures better.  Currently, the berries fill the trellis portion.  The name plates will be on the top rail.  Here are some of the names I'm considering:

  • Berry White - That's my biggest berry baby.
  • Berry Manilow - He's off to the side pretending he's a tomato and will try to surprise us all that he's actually a boysenberry.  (Berry, we know & it's no big deal.  No surprise here.)
  • Frankenberry - This guy has run away volunteers.  They're just monstrous.
  • Chuck Berry - He's located on the east end where I set up my music when I'm working in the garden.  Chuck rocks!
  • Chuck Berris - Right next to Chuck Berry is Chuck Berris.  Whenever a dud piece of music plays, it will get the gong.  (Note:  I need to install a gong next to Chuck Berris.)
  • Berry Williams - Since there are six plants, I thought Berry Williams would fit right in.
Some of these names may be obscure to some; but they make sense to me.  And it's my garden.  However, nothing is set in stone yet.  Other names I'm considering:
  • Berry Gibb
  • Berry Bonds
  • Berry Obama (Doubt it.  Making my garden great again!)
  • Madame du Berry
  • Marion Berry
  • Maryanne Trump Berry
  • Berry Fitzgerald
  • Berry Goldwater
  • Berry Williams
If you have a name to be considered, kindly leave your suggestion in the comment section.  Gracias.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Pincushion Flower

Scabiosa Columbaria (Pincushion Flower) - Butterfly Blue
A flowerbed in the front yard needs some umph.  It's adjacent to a hot sidewalk; so the plant material has to be tough.  Blue or purple is preferable and it can't get too large.  With those parameters, I grabbed my gardening hat and headed for the nursery.  I don't like shopping; but I like to browse and buy at a local nursery.  It seems most of Bakersfield had the same idea today.  Never before did I have to wait for a parking space.  Today I had to wait.  Perfectly cool, clear weather must have inspired gardeners of all types.

The pincushion flower was the winner after looking at the selections of pincushion flowers, reading the tag information, walking around a bit, and then returning to these plants. Here's the tag info:

Best Features:  Provides large, pincushion shaped flower heads all summer long.  Ideal choice for beds, borders, and cutting gardens.

Average Size:  Height:  12-18"  Space:  15"

Exposure:  Full Sun

Watering:  Allow soil to dry between thorough watering.

Feeding:  Not necessary.

Bloom Time:  Summer to autumn

Hardiness:  USDA Zones 3 - 8

Sweet Alyssum (white) planted right against the sidewalk will take the brunt of the heat.  A small boxwood hedge is being created between the Sweet Alyssum and Pincushions.  This should create a few layers of height and give some umph to the flowerbed.  Hope so.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

EVERYBODY is Busy in the Garden

Spanish Lavender

Spring has arrived along with garden tasks to get ready for summer.  Winter crops like broccoli have been cleared to make way for summer favorites like tomatoes and peppers.  The last of the beets and carrots are hanging in there; but Hades heat will force them to fade to make way for more tomatoes.
Weeds have been cleaned away to at least start summer without weeds.  When July gets here, I really don't give a flying floo hoo if there are weeds.  It will be too danged hot.   For now digging, raking, hoeing, planting, pruning, composting, repairing, fertilizing, irrigating, and tidying are generally pretty enjoyable.


My current quest is to find some durable purple blooming plants to accent the garden.  Lavender is always a strong choice.  Purple Prince Zinnias have been proven winners.  Monrovia has a compact salvia called Marcus Meadow Sage that I'm thinking of ordering through a local nursery.  Calibrachoa has worked great in the past and is now hanging in several baskets in the garden to entice pollinators throughout the summer.

Hope you're enjoying all of your garden chores.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Wet California Winter

Santa Rosa Plum Bud Break - February 12, 2017
It's been a beautifully wet winter in California.  Some moan and whine.  I delight in the rare, rich rain.  Dormant spraying failed this winter as opportunities conflicted with rain events.  Today, fruit buds are swelling with the leader of the pack, Santa Rosa, breaking today.  The buds are plentiful; so when the winds come - and they will come- there should still be enough strong fruit to develop and enjoy in June.

Cherry tomato from the 2016 season.
Cherry tomatoes from the 2016 season continue to produce.  Even though the quality isn't premium like in mid summer; there are still cherry tomatoes on the sheltered side of a plant.  They can be smashed up with some peppers that are still hanging on for some fresh salsa.  It's time to pull the thing out and make way for a bed of beets.

Waltham 29 Broccoli
Broccoli was planted in late summer from seed.  I simply threw the seeds out and walked away.  Remarkably, every single seed germinated providing an abundance of produce.  It's already starting to bolt.  The cauliflower started with such promise; but the rain spoiled it.  Only enjoyed one head of cauliflower.  Sad!

Iceberg Rose
Little to no maintenance has been preformed on the roses yet this year.  They should have been pruned and sprayed by now; but, again, weather has re-directed garden efforts to thumbing through seed catalogs indoors.  When the sun does shine, weeds grow to Jack and the Beanstalk size.  No lie.  This afternoon, Ajax and I tackled weeds.  Tomorrow morning may erase all our efforts.

Regardless of this wonderful bounty of winter rain, I must ask Californians to continue to conserve water.  Get used to it.  It's a way of life.  This bounty is going towards replacing the debt from the drought years.  Thanks for doing your part.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lavender Life is Hope for Fall

Lavandula angustifolia "Hidcote Blue"
Lavender does fairly well here in the Central San Joaquin Valley of California.  However, like most of us, its production ceases when the weather gets mega hot. During production, stems can be cut for drying.  I use twine to tie a bouquet then wrap it in newspaper to protect it from dust and bugs.  Then, the package is hung up-side-down in a dry location like the shed until the bouquets are stiff and dry. The dried lavender can then be used in floral arrangements, potpourri for sachets, cooking (herbes de provence or alone) or flea repellent.

Once an arrangement has ended its usefulness as an arrangement, crush that dude to pieces and save in a paper bag.  Sprinkle some of that on carpets before vacuuming.  The carpet is freshened and so is the vacuum bag/canister.  Rub it on your pet before brushing.  The oils smell great to us while the fleas are disgusted.

Now that the heat is on it's way out (hopefully), it is a good time to give lavender a haircut.  Prune off all dead/spent twigs.  Check soil and irrigation.  Spray the plant with a blast from the hose to shake off the summer dust.  I only feed lavender infrequently and when I do it's minimal but organic.  Any lavender that didn't make it through the summer, pitch it in the compost heap and replace. 

I've tried propagating lavender by layering and with seeds.  Buying a new, healthy plant from the nursery is easier and gives instant gratification.  Plus, you're able to see the blossom and determine if it's the right fit for your needs.