Saturday, April 5, 2014

Garden Update

Just a quick notation of Spring progress in the garden.
The Pink Lemonade blueberries are developing nicely.  These are in a pot so it's much easier to keep the soil acidic.  Netting to combat those thieving birds needs to be put in place this weekend.
Thornless boysenberries (6 plants) are producing well.  Once the petals have matured a bit more, bird netting will be installed here as well.  It's a lot more difficult than with the blueberries.
O'Henry blossoms have faded giving way to developing peaches.  This summer I will try to correct some pruning neglect from last year.  More on that in a later post.
Granny Smith apples are coming along beautifully.  I don't thin out the fruit.  Nature will drop the weak ones in most all cases.
Celebrity tomatoes (6) all have multiple blossoms and are thriving amongst the onions.  I suspect that when the heat turns up this week (95 by Wednesday), these plants will be going bonkers.  In the meantime, I'm loving this cool, overcast Saturday.
I picked up a little lavender plant that needs to be potted. It's already developed buds.  No doubt it will enjoy the heat next week and be in full bloom.

That's a quick peek at what's going on in the garden.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grrrrrreat Grapefruit!

Rain! We received heavenly rain.  It even looks like we may receive more. Keep it coming. The weather is beautiful and cool. Most all of the spring blossoms have faded giving way to infant fruit that will surely drop as they develop. 
The Rio Red grapefruit tree is loaded with babies thanks to lots of busy bees.  In the photo above, the current crop being harvested can be seen below the new flush of growth.  I've had one grapefruit almost every morning since January. Wish I would have kept count.  Needless to say, there is no chance of a scurvy outbreak in this garden with grapefruit, orange, manderin, and lemon producing beautifully. The only imperfections would be the cosmetic damage from miners.  The next citrus tree I will bring to the garden is a Bearrs lime.  One of my favorite drinks is chunks of a variety of citrus all squished in a glass with ice and club soda.  So good.
Ajax doesn't care for citrus, but he's enjoying the cool beautiful weather.  High 5 paws for this great weather.  We need to duck inside.  It looks like the skies are threatening to open.

Thanks for the rain and snow!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wisteria to Drool Over

The wisteria is loaded on the pergola.  Every afternoon, the bumble bees are bouncing around loaded with pollen.  The spent petals float to the ground littering the pavement with sweet smelling purple confetti.  Ajax, our English Mastiff, has many water bowls.  That's because they get very slobbery.  In an effort to conserve precious water, his bowls are dumped regularly onto his lawn or various flower beds and baskets.  The wisteria benefits from Ajax's drool (gross).  Nonetheless, his drool helps.  This year especially we all need to be very creative in conserving water.  Thanks Ajax.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Apricot Beats Plum

This year, the Blenheim apricot won the bloom off competition in the garden. The apricot buds broke on Valentine's Day.  Each year the Santa Rosa plum blooms 1st.  This year I was worried that the tree had died.  It's simply confused like the rest of us - mild winter, no rain, swamp pants season starting waaaaay too early.  The plum finally bloomed on February 23.  Strange.  I thought the date would have been one of the earliest because of such mild conditions.

There was a skiff of rain today.  Nothing really.  All the fruit trees in the garden have below surface irrigation.  I prefer to apply the water by hand to the surface allowing the water to seep in deeply to encourage the roots to push deep rather than pushing up to the surface for moisture.  I'll be switching to below surface irrigation soon to avoid evaporating precious resources.  Surface flooding will only occur when fertilizer is applied every 6 weeks or so.

I'm having problems posting using Googles device.  This post was finally created using the app which is very limiting. Anyone else having a similar problem?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

This Date in Garden History

Iceberg Rose Shrub
On January 25, 1999, it snowed in Bakersfield, California.  Today, it did not.  Not even close.  It was74° with not a cloud in the sky following a couple of days of blowing dust.  Yuck.  This looks like it will be the forecast for a long, long time.  No rain or snow in the forecast. Because of the very warm conditions, plants that are normally dormant now have buds bursting.  The roses never really went dormant.  In fact, when I pruned some today there were new leaves busting out along with plenty of flowers.

Ebb Tide Tree Rose
I went ahead and pruned as if today was a snow day.  However, tomorrow I will fertilize.  Some experts warn against fertilizing now because there may be some colder weather ahead.  Some experts say to go ahead.  I chose to fertilize with a systemic insecticide because I have a bad feeling that this year will be a big year for pests in the garden.  I've spotted grasshoppers all through this winter.  It simply hasn't been cold enough to kill those boogers.

This year will really be a bigger challenge with the disastrous drought here in California. We all need to do our part and conserve water more than usual. It will still be more economical to grow my own vegetables and fruit rather than buy expensive produce from the grocer.  However, I plan to solarize the raised beds to burn out nematodes this summer.  If the temperatures remain this warm, I may be able to start that project much, much sooner than the recommended schedule of May - August.  Tomatoes and peppers may be grown in bags of compost this summer to support my salsa habit.

I would like to know if anyone else is noticing the difference in their garden now and if mandatory rationing is expected where you live in California.  Herds are being sold off.  Acres will be fallowed.  This truly will be the year of dust.  Hopefully there will not be a spike in Valley Fever cases.

Good luck fellow Californians, I believe the rest of the world is about to feel just how important California's San Joaquin Valley is for their food supply.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You Little Pansy!

Viola - Jump Up Purple
Because 2013 kicked my butt, I'm determined to start 2014 off positively.  Today I planted pansies.  The sun was bright with no rain clouds for thousands of miles.  Three varieties were planted:  Dynamite Lavender, Jump Up (pictured), and Sorbet White. 

Because I'm still not cleared to bend, my gardening has been modified.  Using long handled tools I prepped the bed then augured the holes for the plants.  As I hovered over the hole, I plunked a plant right into place with the precision (sometimes) of a bombardier.  Loose soil was raked in around to tuck the plant into its new bed.  After a nice drenching of water, snail bait was dribbled out.  I used Deadline (Force II).  In the morning, I expect to still see my pansies with snail carcasses littering the flower bed.

The rain outlook for California in 2014 is tragic.  If you would like to follow the progress of our precipitation, try this website.  Mama mia!  Really tragic. 

Silver lining:  It looks like a perfect year to replace your lawn to conserve water.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Name That Plant

I usually put nursery tags in my Sunset Western Garden book (read: bible) to keep track of names, dates, and miscellaneous junk about plants in the garden.  I have failed. I don't even remember where I purchased the plants.  (I have a good guess though.) This plant was plugged into some hanging baskets this summer and they are still thriving. Nothing was singed by the recent freeze.

I snip off the spent buds occasionally, and feed them irregularly.  What are these flowers?  An easy care plant is something that needs to be trumpeted to all brown thumb gardeners all the way up to professors of horticulture. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sweet Peas 2014

Sweet Peas
The sweet peas were planted late this evening using seeds collected from past vines.  More like night since me and old Ajax were out in the dark making sure the seeds were planted on December 1. I'm never sure what the blooms will be like or if there will even be any blooms.  Those danged doves may eat all the seeds.  There may also be a sweet pea bonanza in the spring.  It's a crap shoot. 

Some think the seeds need to be planted in late summer or early fall.  I've been planting them in December for sometime now with fairly good results.   No matter if the seeds are purchased or collected, it's helpful to soak them before planting. Full sun and well drained soil helps.  The vines will need something for the tendrils to climb.  However, they would probably grow like weeds almost anywhere.

Continual harvesting of the blossoms will help develop more flowers.  Once the weather gets hot, sweet pea season is over.  Let the blossoms go to seed and collect them for the next year.

Who doesn't enjoy a nice bouquet of sweet peas?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

(Owari) Satsuma Mandarin
We've had rain!  Holy cow.  It finally happened.  Wonderfully cool, wet weather has arrived.  The garden has been washed with rain that ran from a soft misty drizzle to a downpour.  It has been great. With that cool weather comes a variety of citrus and I love them all. 

First up are the mandarins.  These have been successfully marketed recently by local Paramount Farms as Little Cuties. They sold the rights to that name to Sun World and now market the name Halos. Fine, I'll grow my own whenever I can. The seedless mandarin fruit is easy to peel and taste like winter time in Bakersfield.  I have always enjoyed citrus.  As a kid, my parents would take us to the citrus orchards for fruit tasting.  Delicious.

In the garden is just one potted mandarin tree that is about 3 years old.  There are over 4 dozen mandarins loaded on the skinny little branches. The fruit stays on the trees until it's needed which is a nice feature. The potted lemons are abundant too. Tomorrow night's dinner is fried Lemon Chicken! The oranges are about the size of grapefruit.  Grapefruit is my absolute favorite.  There are a load of grapefruits to enjoy for many breakfasts this winter.  Limes are next on my list to bring into the garden once the threat of frost and freeze has past.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Garden in the Kitchen

 The hope was to keep the soapstone natural or naked.  I like the cadet blue-grey.  However, a kitchen accident splashing chicken fat all over the stone was the straw that broke this camel's back.  The stone was cleaned, dried, then wax was applied.  The wax makes the surface a little more forgiving to everyday wear.  I like the way it turned out so giving up the naked stone wasn't so hard.  Now I need to  decorate the walls.

Soapstone - naked

Soapstone - waxed
A photograph applied to canvas is something that I'm considering.  An extra large canvas (48" x 36") should work great on one of the empty walls (not shown here).  So I'm thinking of bringing some of the garden into the kitchen and don't know which version of my tomato looks best.

Tomato - bright
Tomato - dark
But 1st I need to find a reliable source to print the photograph to canvas.  Any suggestions or opinions are welcome.