Friday, December 30, 2011


DSC_2189_7277If you’re in California, have you noticed that the leaves in the trees are sticking around longer than usual?  Several people have observed this to me. 

DSC_2185_7273Sure.  They’re coming down; but leaves are still up in the trees mocking Winter.  Maybe that’s the problem.  It hasn’t been cold enough.  There hasn’t been any rain.  How about a little wind?  I can’t stand the wind – freezing rain will do nicely.

DSC_2191_7279Meanwhile, we’ll just have to be patient and wait OR know that on Monday when the tree trimmer comes, our wait will be over.

Below are some images taken earlier this year of Ajax to use as a scale of growth.DSC_2352_5778


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas



Seems like the geranium has a peppermint flare to it.  Just in time for Christmas - which looks to be sunny, clear skies.  Dang. 

Hope everyone has a great Christmas.  Enjoy relaxing and looking through all the seed catalogs.

Here’s mine:

Favorite Christmas movie:  Christmas in Connecticut – It’s so hunky dunky!

Favorite Christmas song:  Marshmallow World – Johnny Mathis  (I still know where the skip was in my father’s LP.)

Favorite Christmas hymn:  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

You can understand my choice by dedicating only 8:36 minutes. Worth it.


It’s difficult to pick.  If you can, let me know your choices.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Frosted Scotch


Frost formed on the Scotch Moss this morning.  Thank goodness.  More freezing weather is good for the fruit trees.  Well, not so good for the citrus trees.  Citrus is covered on super cold nights (in the 20s) using a beach umbrella draped in plastic.  It’s easy up and easy down.

Now that the freezer door is open, California needs some moisture in the form of snow up in the high Sierras.  Many are getting nervous that the hopes of another bountiful water year will be dashed.  I’m hopeful but practical.  The garden is equipped with water saving irrigation.  Nothing radical – just practical.  I’m ready either way. 

You know I’m just happy to not be wearing swamp pants.  And that’s the truth.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is Citrus


Rio Red Grapefruit

At Christmas, all kinds of citrus is ripe around here.  I remember as a kid going out to the shed at the citrus orchards and sampling all kinds of citrus that could be purchased and shipped as gifts.  All the fruit was naturally cold, sweet, and juicy.  This Christmas I only have 2 varieties ready (or real close) – grapefruit and lemons.


Variegated Pink Lemon

It’s a brain scratcher seeing the price of citrus in the grocery store then seeing loads of wasted fruit in yards with citrus trees.  Fruit is left to rot on the ground until the gardener comes along and carts it off to the dump.  What a lame waste.


Even though I’ve never experienced a White Christmas or anything that resembles a scene on a box of Rite Aid Russel Stover’s candy, I have enjoyed Christmases with fresh citrus fruit and blossoms.  If I can’t have the snow, this is a fine trade.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trimming Trees


It’s pruning time in the garden.  The shears are sharp and washed with hydrogen peroxide.  The green waste can is read to receive the nubs of pruning waste.  The worn out garden gloves are ready to be worn further and the good ol’ pruning guide book is there as a reference.

The Blenheim apricot tree is 1st in line for a good grooming.  Once I’ve worked my way through all of the fruit trees, Farmer MacGregor will follow with dormant spray – more on that later.


The apricot was probably the heartiest of the fruit trees in 2011.  Fruit production is progressing nicely with this 3 year old espalier.  I pruned at the end of summer to allow for a little bit more growth since fruit production is supposed to develop on year old growth.  This winter pruning will be to thin out branches, remove any dead growth (none here), and shape.  I remove branches that grow downward from the laterals.  It’s too hard for me to get down under there for constant pruning and harvesting.  All the laterals have growth on the top only.  This practice also helps shade the lateral branches from the harsh summer sun.

I’ll post images of the tree after it’s grooming after all the trees are finished.  I hope to be able to finish everything tomorrow morning so Farmer MacGregor can work his magic.  We don’t have a Christmas tree to trim; but we have 6 espalier fruit trees to trim.  And not one partridge in sight.  Good enough.


All the fruit trees were groomed by the end of December 18.  All were clipped, raked, and soaked.  It was a very warm day.  Hope they aren’t tricked into an early bloom.  Farmer MacGregor will dormant spray whenever he’s ready.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Red in the Garden

Red in the garden this time of year seems to be just as abundant now as in the summertime.  Is the garden forecasting the results in November 2012?  Don’t know.


Pansy – Crown Scarlet


Snapdragon – Chimes Red


Skeletons of summertime scaretape decorating the grape arbor.


Lettuce Parris Island Romaine (green) & Marvielle of Four Seasons (red)


Geranium – No stinkin’ idea what variety.  The nursery didn’t have an identifying tag.  Thanks Bolles Nursery!


Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)


Some sad bell peppers from hotter days.


Lemon - Variegated Pink blossoms show a blush of red on the buds.


Beans - Borlotto Solista


Ajax’s well worn Kong toy with a nod to Santa to please bring a couple of new ones to enjoy.  He’s been pretty good if you don’t count terrorizing the wisteria and lilacs, destroying the Texas Ranger, and severely “pruning” the Bay Laurel.

Any suggestions for good “red” candidates for the garden? 

Poinsettias need not apply.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ajax the Garden Gnome

DSC_2171_53892 months old – December 6, 2010

It’s been a year since we picked up our latest garden gnome.  He was cold and wet and pooped in the car* 3 times on the way home.  Yes, I could have barfed up my In & Out dinner; but prevailed by not adding to the aroma.  This fella has grown into his paws but still acts like a puppy.  His favorite gardening chore is attacking and subduing any dangerous garden tools such as rakes, brooms, or hoes.  I feel safe.  He also has a knack for pruning.  Currently, he’s working on a lilac and a bay laurel tree.  He has completely pruned (killed) a Texas Ranger.  There is also a wisteria that I hope comes back in the spring.DSC_2196_54122 months old – December 7, 2010

DSC_2237_7058One year old – November 4, 2011

Probably the most favorite thing that Ajax does in the garden is race around the Chinese Elm tree as if he was a race horse.  He also likes to jump – jump high!  Fortunately, his weight (185+ pounds) keeps him grounded most of the time.  Digging hasn’t been much of a problem.  The best thing to do is wear him out/down by playing Kong ball on the grass.

Right now, Ajax is sleeping at my feet after enjoying a neighborhood walk and his dinner.  Life is good.


*  A puppy litter box with cedar chips was made available to the pup to keep him comfortable and the Element clean.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Three Quarters White Trash & Wild Turkey

DSC_2241_7178I have a road trip buddy that is Louise to my Thelma.  Louise - because I believe she is capable of shooting and killing a predator ala Susan Sarandon in Thelma and Louise.  She would also be smashing in a chiffon scarf driving an old T Bird.  Does that mean that I get Brad Pitt?  Louise is always very proud of her California Indian heritage.  It turns out that she is 1/4 Wukchumni Injun.  Doing the math associated with her genealogy, I concluded that she was therefore three quarters white trash.  I blessed her with this Indian name during our most incredibly unforgettable trip from Bakersfield, California to Custer’s Last Stand in Montana. Sure, they won the battle; but we won the war.  (Note:  Currently, casinos seem to be winning the war so it seems I was wrong.  They are now winning again.)  Today, we took off on a short road trip up to Glennville.  What a nice drive.  We ended up at the rodeo grounds at a craft faire.  No good.  We cruised on down the road visiting and laughing without any musical soundtrack.

A couple of years ago I went down Blue Mountain Road but didn’t go far enough.  Today, we headed down the road to find where it led.  The quail were thick, the cattle thicker.  We went all the way down to the end of the pavement – probably a dozen cattle crossings.  Just as I turned the car around and crossed the 1st cattle crossing going back toward the main road, there were a couple of wild turkeys perched up on the fence.  Tremendous.  Wild turkeys on Thanksgiving weekend.

I can’t tell if the turkeys are toms or hens.  If they’re hens, I wonder which one is Thelma and which one is Louise.DSC_2243_7173After that excitement, we headed back up to the Saddle Sore CafĂ©/Saloon for lunch.  Delicious.  It was a nice day to get out and enjoy a road trip.

When I returned, I transplanted more lettuce with plans to erect the make shift hot house tomorrow.

Hope everyone is enjoying these days of Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanks in the Garden


Moon Flower seed pod.

Thanksgiving is about the best time of the year.  There’s so much to be thankful for and I have a list.


Boysenberry vines.

  • The sun is at a great angle where nothing is really burning up like it is in the summer – it only looks that way.  Thanks.
  • I’m grateful to be able to grow, harvest, prepare, and preserve my own food.  There are so many needy souls that have no clue how simple it is to live simply AND healthfully for so much less than it takes to live the processed food lifestyle.


I have no clue what this plant is calledHarmony Heavenly Bamboo?  If you know please let me knowThanks to Dorothy for providing the answer.

  • Some plants thrive in this garden.  Some plants don’t.  I curse those that give up and grateful that those are few in number.  Thanks for the hardy plants.
  • Plans are made but seldom do growing seasons go according to plan.  I am grateful that I can be flexible.


Fantasia Nectarine.

  • The smell and feel of healthy soil is still one of the best smells I know.  I’m grateful to have enough self discipline to not eat the stuff like I did as a kid. 
  • Thank goodness I can still bend down and work in the garden even though some days it’s very, very questionable.


Red Flame Grapevine.

  • There are many that make fun of where I live – Bakersfield (Oildale to be precise.), California.  I’m glad I live where I do and thankful that I can appreciate so many things about my home.
  • I’m real glad that I’m fortunate enough to have a super, duper camera and am able to capture images of the garden as it progresses.  It’s a nice reference tool for me.


Jarrahdale Pumpkins waiting their Thanksgiving Day fate.

  • You know what?  I’m really glad that I don’t have to post to this blog each and every day.  This is a nice thing to have and I’m glad that it’s mostly on my terms.  Thanks.
  • I’m thankful to the bloggers that are able to maintain a daily post.  Those are truly inspired people.


Home grown, fresh picked, newly pickled beets.

  • The endurance to survive “swamp pants” season is something to truly be grateful for.
  • I am so very grateful that the despicable season known as “swamp pants” is over.  I will enjoy this brief respite from perspiration.
  • RAIN!  Don’t forget to be thankful for the sweet, sweet rain.

Hope everyone will enjoy a great Thanksgiving.

PS – I still haven’t bought a new salad spinner.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hop Along


DSC_2219_7149The Butter Bush Squash is coming along nicely since those pesky squash bugs left the garden.  The recent rain helps to keep the beds nice and moist.  But that danged moisture is very attractive to earwigs (aka earrywigs).DSC_2220_7150See the little darling cradled in the munched on squash blossom?  Jerk.  There’s precisely one gagillion just like this pestoid trying to take over the garden.  But…DSC_2217_7147

…there seems to be a large crew of mourning doves hanging out on the ground of the garden.  Most particularly, they enjoy the bed where the squash is growing.  This morning there were about a dozen birds picking at the ground out in the garden.  One particular dove has a bit of a handicap.  It walks like it’s trying to start a motorcycle with its right foot.  Regardless,  these birds are helping to balance out the good guys vs the bad guys.

Take a look at the video of Hop Along if you have absolutely nothing better to do.

Hop Along helps to keep the garden bug free.

imageHoppy says, “Eat your bugs to grow up big and strong.”  That’s swell.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Salad Spinner Advice


My current salad spinner is plastic.  The lid broke some time ago so all that’s left is the colander bowl within the plastic bowl.  Not much a spinner.  Not much of a colander.  I need to retire the beat up old system to the garden shed and purchase something new.  There’s a bunch to choose from but there are a few characteristics I would like to have:

  • Dishwasher safe.  Sure.  I wash pots and pans by hand but I really would like to have the option to pop a spinner in the dishwasher.
    • The last spinner I had had the disgusting feature of holding moisture in the lid and forming spooge.  Gross. 
  • Easy to store.
    • I’ve seen collapsible types which would store fine but do those types have flaws?
  • Lid seals to bowl.
    • Being able to keep a salad fresh as long as possible will help me get the most bang for my buck for the $3.35 spent on seeds.

I’ve looked online but might want to throw some cash to a local retailer.  Any suggestions are welcome.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lettuce Give Thanks

I am thankful for the lovely rain and cooler temperatures.DSC_2208_7138

The recent sweet rain allowed me one morning without having to irrigate.  Imagine.  Having enough time in the morning to enjoy some buttermilk pancakes and sausages. 

All the lettuce is coming in nice and thick and ready for thinning.  Parris Island Romaine is sharing a row with Marville of Four Seasons.    The Romaine is solid green with long, crisp leaves.DSC_2210_7140The Marville is very similar in shape but it has a bronze tint at the tip of the leaves that aren’t quite as crisp as the Romaine.  It’s a nice combination.  Since it appears that most every seed has sprouted, I would like to try to transplant as well as thin the seedlings so that we can enjoy fresh lettuce all winter long.

If you’re looking to try to grow vegetables this winter (zone 8-9), lettuce might be an easy choice.  There still might be a few warm days left to help germinate the seeds.  Just keep the seeds moist in a sunny bed/location.  If a frost/freeze is predicted, the tender plants will need protection.  The Tule fog in the San Joaquin Valley will help to keep established lettuce moist from November – February.  Sandwiches, salads, and wraps taste better with just picked lettuce. 

Tip:  Drown just picked leaves to reveal any hiding pests like earwigs.  I’ll be shopping for a new salad spinner to help provide fresh salads.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Citrus Cafeteria


The trees in the garden are fertilized about every 6 – 8 weeks from the time they start blooming until the end of October.  However, the citrus continue to be fed (on a less regular basis) through the winter months.  Over at Chiot’s Run, Suzy in Ohio only feeds her Meyer Lemon 3 times a year - Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.  I was told that citrus trees were heavy feeders; so I looked up the recommendation at UC Davis.  Sure enough, 3 – 4 times each year is a good fertilizing schedule.  I must have been told by a fertilizer salesmen that a more rigorous schedule was needed. 

All the trees were fertilized on October 29.  2012 will be the year that I save money on fertilizer. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Come On, Summer. Let Go.

DSC_2221_7090Summertime is hanging on by some very thin roots.  Kind of like a guest that simply can’t take the hint to leave even when you turn out the lights.
The weather here has been like summer in most of the country…highs in the 70s with sunny skies.  Volunteer tomatoes and watermelons are trying to make a go of it.DSC_2222_7091The tomatoes are trying to reclaim the pea patch and the watermelon is trying to survive in the garlic bed.  I suspect they would grow even with shorter supplies of sunlight.DSC_2238_7108Even the remaining Gold Currant Tomatoes may find it harder to survive later this week.  By Friday, those warm temperatures in the 70s will give way to a rainy day in the 50s.  You can imagine my delight.  I’m hoping for loads of frosty, freezing weather to help kill any bugs on/in the deciduous fruit trees.  Farmer Fred has posted a nice checklist of things to do to get ready for winter. 
The winter garden is beginning to mature.  Radishes and beets have been harvested along with some stray green onions.  This might be a good weekend to pick the last of the tiny tomatoes and peppers and make way for more onions.
Summertime will be showing up way before I’m ready for it – just like that guest that can’t take a hint.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What the Heck?!

Our mailbox is the old fashioned kind.  No community locked boxes.  It’s out at the end of the driveway under a telephone/electric pole.  Up at the top of that pole many different birds perch, eat, nest, and do their business.  As a result, many different varieties of plants sprout as volunteers.  Palm trees are the number one offender that get yanked out whenever I see them.  Mulberry and pecan trees have also taken root only to be removed.  Even peppers have been brought to this spot by my avian friends.DSC_2247_7135A bushy type plant sprouted this summer and I’ve been letting it develop because I really don’t know it’s identification.  Anyone have an idea?  Here’s some clues:DSC_2246_7134The berries form in clusters.  They start out green on pink stems.  As they develop they turn dark purple.  A smashed berry stains the concrete below.DSC_2244_7132Almond shaped leaves are abundant on this shrub.DSC_2249_7137What the heck do I have here?  Blueberries?  And what should I do with whatever it is?

This just in:  The mystery plant has been identified as Pokeweed.  It turns out that Pokeweed is extremely dangerous/poisonous.  I went out and yanked it from this good Earth and tossed it in the green waste to be picked up tomorrow.

And now I can’t get the song Poke Salad Annie out of my head.  Thanks for the ID everyone.

Enjoy Tony Joe White AKA the Swamp Fox.



Who knew this mystery plant/weed could lead to so much entertainment.