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.

Monday, September 5, 2016

It's a Pear!

Warren Pear
The miniature espalier orchard was planted in the winter of 2008-2009 and has never produced any fruit.  Not even a blossom developed eight Spring seasons to follow.  The tree is the handsomest tree in the espalier line.  Beautiful bark, nice form, and dancing leaves have kept Warren for the ax all this time.  In this part of the garden, production is a must.  Warren must have read my mind as I considered removing the tree and replacing with something that isn't a moocher.

I spoke with a Dave Wilson Nursery representative that encouraged me to be patient.  The tree  can take as long as seven years to produce.  The calendar and my ultimatum must have been the right combination of stress for old Warren to get its act together.  The drought may also have played a role in generating blossoms this Spring resulting in one pear.  ONE PEAR!  This fruit has been watched almost daily.  Varmints were my biggest concern.  Harvesting the fruit at the right time was my other concern.

The pear was harvested on September 3, 2016.  I feel like a plaque should be erected to commemorate the long awaited success.  A post to Maybelline's Garden will have to do.  The fruit was flavorful with a nice texture.  I'm optimistic that future harvests should wait until after Labor Day.  Perhaps mid September.  The original tree tags from Dave Wilson Nursery did not list suggested harvest dates.  Here's what the original labels state:

WARREN PEAR   Excellent quality dessert pear - and highly resistant to fireblight.  Medium to large, long-necked fruit with pale green skin, sometimes blushed red.  Smooth flesh (no grit cells) is juicy and buttery with superb flavor. Good keeper.  Cold hardy to -20°F.  From Mississippi.  600 hours.  Self-fruitful.

OHXF 333 ROOTSTOCK  European and Asian pears on OHxF 333 are dwarfed to about 2/3 the size of standard, or about 12-18 ft. if not pruned.  Widely adapted, diseased-resistant.  Trees on OHxF 333 may be held to any desired height by summer pruning.

The last fruit tree awaiting harvest is the Granny Smith apple.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Oh Henry!

O'Henry peach performed exceptionally this year.  The freezer is well stocked with loads of peach slices to enjoy in pies and cobblers during cooler months to remind us of the hellish summer we endured ending with this reward.  Dave Wilson Nursery  provides this description:

A favorite fresh market yellow freestone - renowned for its firm texture, rich flavor and consistently high quality.  Large fruit ripen about two weeks after Elberta.  Skin mostly red, yellow flesh heavily streaked with red when fully ripe.  Strong, vigorous, heavy bearing tree.  Large, showy pink blossoms.  Highly recommended for home orchards. 

For easy care and harvest the tree may be kept under 10 feet high by summer pruning.

Winter chilling requirement:  Bout 700 hours below 45 degrees.  Self-fruitful.

Originated in Red Bluff, California.  Introduced in 1968.

Dates for harvest seasons vary with climate and year.  Dates are approximate for Modesto, CA. 
8-10 to 9-5. 

For my garden in Bakersfield, CA., the harvest dates are about the same.

Sadly, O'Henry looks to have borers.  Local nursery specialists advise that it is terminal; but there should be many years of peach production ahead.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bud Break - Santa Rosa Plum

The buds on the Santa Rosa plum are the first to break this spring (Feb 13, 2016). It is loaded with buds. All the other fruit trees are loaded too - peach, apple, nectarine, and apricot - but the pear tree looks to have another bloomless year.  Diva.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Come On Fall!

Today, the morning air was refreshingly cool.  Excellent. October is on the way.  The tomatoes have been removed along with the morning glories.  The raised beds have been tilled (with my new Earthwise electric tiller) and are being prepared to be planted with seeds for the winter garden.  Some of the seeds used are leftover from 2014.  So what.  If weed seeds have no expiration date, these seeds better perform too.

The beet bed is now ready for Farmer MacGregor to roll out the drip lines.  Here's what was planted today.

More beet seeds will be sown in the coming weeks to insure beet harvest throughout the winter.  Delicious.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Garden Progress During a Drought.

What the heck?!  Blogging sure has dwindled down to a small trickle just like the flow of the good ol' Kern River.  Even though the drought is taking its toll, production in the garden continues.  Here's what's going on:

Dwarf sunflowers track with the sun and are enjoyed by pollinators.  I doubt that I'll harvest and roast the seeds.  These flowers are used to attract pollinators, provide some short shade, and brighten the garden.  Only about half of the seeds planted germinated.  I'll blame it on the source.  Maybe I'll save a head of these seeds to plant later.

Santa Rosa plums were not abundant this summer; but there were more than last summer and so very delicious.  There weren't enough to meet the demands of munching in the garden and jelly.  Munching wins everytime.

Thornless boysenberries  were productive enough to freeze some to enjoy later and fulfill the garden munchies.  Ice cream?  Cobbler?  Delicious.

Blenheim apricots produced just like the berries.  Some in the freezer and some in my belly.  These are my favorite and are evidence that there is a God.  Dang it, they taste just like summer.

Here's a variety of cantaloupes I've never tried before.  The seed package describes the taste as similar to pineapple.  We'll see.  Moon and Stars watermelons are also planted in the garden.  They aren't expected to be harvested until late summer.

 String beans are vigorous where a failed thornless boysenberry once dwelled.  I'm not a fan of green beans; but Farmer MacGregor enjoys them.  Surplus beans will be housed in the freezer for MacGregor and a garden gnome to enjoy during the winter.

Lavender is drawing the the honey bees too.  I've never used it to cook (except for Herbs de Provance); so I might give it a try.  Ice cream?  Creme Brulee?

Granny Smith apples look to be having a banner year.  This little tree that I thought was going to die from scald has made a great comeback.  Since I eat an apple each night, I don't think these will be used for anything other than munching.

Red Flame grapes are coming along; but there are some problems with some bunches and leaves that the local farmers' cooperative extension need to be consulted about.  At least, it's providing great shade and shelter for the scrub jay family nesting on the arbor.

As for the drought, I have very strong opinions that I'll save for another time.


Afterthought:  I forgot to list the biggest resident in the garden this summer - tomatoes!  Here's the variety, the amount, and where they came from:

Better Boy (6 plants from Floyd's) -  These are planted in a bed that has been solarized to kill root knot nematodes.  4 out of 6 plants are thriving.  As the temperatures have increased, the plants are looking healthier.

Big Beef (1 plant from the Tomato Lady at the Haggin Oaks Farmers Market) - The Tomato Lady needed to reduce her inventory; so a dollar bill won a healthy plant to try out.

Champion (6 plants from Floyd's) - These are living up to their name.  All the plants are growing vigorously with many blossoms and tomatoes (non ripe yet).
Gold Currant (1 plant from a bird pooping at the front step) - Several years ago, a co-worker gave me an heirloom plant she started from seed.  The thing would never die; so Farmer MacGregor had to yank it out during the winter.  Each year, it sprouts somewhere in the garden.  The current Gold Currant sprouted last year at the front step and thrived through our mild winter.  It grows a top hedges (see header photo) for about 8 feet and has been producing grape tomatoes the entire time.  It's a keeper.

Super Sweet 100 (1plant from Walmart) - What the heck.  These were out on a rack at the entrance to the dreaded Walmart; so I made the trip a little bit more enjoyable by picking up a tomato plant.  We'll see.