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. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ah Sugar!

The garden and the season have been memorialized in sugar.DSC_2232_7120This evening Farmer MacGregor and I enjoyed some Mexican flavors down in the heart of Oildale.  When we returned with the mail and some liver for Ajax, this cake was on the dining room table.DSC_2235_7122Garden scarecrows, pumpkins, and apples decorated the two story cake.  Rice Krispie treat straw bales were a cute touch as well.  But who brought this sweet treat?  I have my suspicions.DSC_2230_7118

Now where will I put the beast?

Monday, October 24, 2011

May I See Your ID?

Quite a few blossoms are thriving in the back garden now. 
Are you feeling smart?  I have photos of a dozen different blooms for you to identify.  Today, I’m offering 6 for your identification.  I’ll post the answers with as much name information that I know at the end of this post for you to grade your knowledge.  No prizes---just the crown that you’re a garden smarty.
Ready?  Set?  Go!
Here come the answers…

  1. Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
  2. Lantana (Verbenaceae)
  3. Hawaiian Blue Eyes (Evolvulus glomeratas)
  4. Bacopa (Jamesbrittenia Party Orange)
  5. Chrysanthemum
  6. Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)
How many did you get right?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Preparing for Spring


Just a little preparation now should bring sweet peas in early spring.  The seeds from the previous crop were saved for this purpose.  The seeds, pods and all, were kept on a shelf in the shed all summer.

DSC_2218_7087Typically, the seeds would soak overnight before planting to soften them up and insure germination.  Since volunteer sweet peas have sprouted in the old sweet pea bed, I’m skipping that step.  Seems like the seeds will sprout easily.  It will be enough work to separate the seeds from the pods.  Next, into the ground followed by a nice soak.DSC_2219_7088Farmer MacGregor was showing off his Eagle Scout knot tying skills this morning by re-stringing the support.  The sweet peas will be growing at the head of the western bed where peas and carrots are growing.  These plants usually don’t require much attention but they will provide loads of fragrant bouquets.  It’s not too late to plant.  Last year, I planted in December and enjoyed flowers in the spring. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Buttercup Squash

Buttercup squash was planted on August 13, 2011 with the expectation that it would be ready mid to late November.  So far, so good.

DSC_2215_7084The squash bugs have been reduced to a manageable population (zero) and the only noticeable pests are earwigs.  Everything looks to be on track to enjoy some warm recipes for the cooler weather. 

In about a month the squash should be mature enough to resemble this… imageNow if I can only find my packet of seeds I bought at Floyd’s.  I need to do some serious seed organizing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rye Grass


A very few months of the year I can pretend that I have a lush, green lawn.  The rest of the year, the cursed sod is more weeds than lawn and much more effort than it is worth.  In October in the Central San Joaquin Valley, lawns are seeded with winter rye.  When I was a kid the event meant the stench of steer manure; but that stench signaled that Trick or Treating was on its way.  Now, most lawns are simply sown with some sort of rye and kept moist without the addition of steer manure by irrigating 3 times each day.  The salts from the manure has made it less attractive – as if it could be any less attractive.

Once the seed is up and established, the weather cools and the fog rolls in.  Nature takes care of the irrigation.  Hip Hip!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lettuce is Up!


A couple of varieties of lettuce seeds were sown on October 8.  Less than a week later the seeds had sprouted.  Keeping the bed moist along with the very warm mid October weather has helped push almost every single seed up.  I did not sow the seeds in a row.  Rather, I sprinkled them “higglety pigglety”*.  Now I need to watch for the freeloading bugs that want to munch on the tender Marvielle of Four Seasons & Parris Island Romaine. 

I think all my winter seeds were purchased at Floyd’s.  Maybe some were picked up at White Forrest.  Nevertheless, I didn’t send away for anything this season.  Here’s what the Lake Valley Seed packets say about each variety:

Marvielle of Four Seasons – Reliable butter head variety.  This delightful butterhead-type lettuce is famous for its reliable production all season long.  Ruby-tipped leaves with an icy-green heart make Marvel an exciting and flavorful addition to any salad.

Parris Island Romaine – Thick, crispy leaves.  Fantastic flavor!  Broad upright leaves with a  crispy mid-rib.  If you like Caesar salads, this is the lettuce to grow.


*  Higglety pigglety:  This way and that way without any order.  A danged disarray. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Winter White

DSC_2198_7067I’ve been searching for a dainty white flower to help “pop” some light under the dark crimson mums and a deep burgundy Loropetalum Rubrum.  VoilĂ !  Violas at the local nursery would do the trick.  A couple of flats of Penny White violas help to catch sun rays where before was deep darkness.DSC_2199_7068These petite flowers are pretty tough though.  They are heat and cold tolerant.  They are also delicious to slugs and snails; so a good sprinkling of Sluggo was provided to all 72 transplants.DSC_2201_7070I’m looking forward to enjoying these very low maintenance plants until “swamp pants” weather rolls around again. Until then, we’ll both be thriving in the garden.

Thursday, October 13, 2011



I can’t stand these wee beasties.  They creep me out.  Are they swarming currently?  The past few evenings out in the garden, I’ve been getting bombarded by them.  They seem to be attracted to my hair, neck, and t-shirt.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!  They fly and latch on or drop down onto me from a tree, arbor, or ledge.  Gross!  Last night, one was clinging to the outside passenger window on the car as we cruised the streets of Oildale.

I believe the danged things are twitterpated.  That’s right.  Did you know that they start mating in the autumn, and can be found together in the autumn and winter?  A lot of bug love going on in the garden.

“Management of earwigs requires an integrated program that takes advantage of their habitat preferences. As moisture-loving insects, earwigs would not normally thrive in California’s arid climate without the moisture and shade provided by the irrigated garden. Where earwigs are a problem, consider reducing hiding places and surface moisture levels. Initiate a regular trapping program. If these measures are followed, insecticide treatments should not be necessary,” recommends UC Davis.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to do my best to disrupt their “make out” spots.  It’ll be like going on a date with your Granny tagging along in the backseat.

Anybody else notice the increased activity?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Winter Garden Planting

Planting is in full swing in the fall garden. 

DSC_2126_5349Winter garden fall 2010

Already planted in August are:

  • Beets – Early Wonder
  • Broccoli – Waltham 29
  • Cabbage – Copenhagen Market
  • Cauliflower – Early Snowball
  • Radishes – Sparkler

Planted the 1st weekend of October:

  • Carrots – Scarlet Nantes
  • Carrots – Tendersweet
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Peas – Wando
  • Sage – Broad Leaf
  • Thyme – Common

To be planted 2nd weekend of October:

  • Beets – Early Wonder
  • Carrots – Royal Chantenay
  • Lettuce – Marvielle of Four Seasons
  • Lettuce – Parris Island Romaine
  • Onion – White Lisbon

The summer sweet peppers and Golden Currant tomatoes are still producing.  Once those have given up, more onions will be planted.

That should be pretty good to live on through the winter.  Soups – Basque, minestrone, broccoli cheese, cauliflower, garlic , squash – are all within reach of the garden.  Salads should be plentiful too.  Of course, peas and carrots go great with all that winter comfort food.

I just hope that I can beat down the bad bugs and get some great production.  The squash bugs that were disturbed when the pumpkins came out tried to lock onto the Butter Bush squash vines.  I’m picking them off as I see them plus the cooler weather might discourage them from doing much damage.  Along with the cool weather came rain.  It was great!  It was fantastic!  The garden is happy and so am I.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bad Boy. Bad Boy.

From this in December 2010…2010-1207To this in October 2011…2011-1004This big baby was a real terrorist on his 1st birthday.  Somehow he got into the fenced garden and placed two of his very best “greeting cards” on the gravel path.  Thank you.  That wasn’t enough for him though.  No.  Somehow he busted one of the lateral branches on the nectarine tree.DSC_2230_7059This was not good.  This was bad.DSC_2231_7060

Bad boy.  Bad Birthday boy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spinosad2…Good or Bad?


My local nursery GAVE me a bottle of Lawn & Garden Spray with Spinosad2 to try out on my squash bug infestation.  I can’t determine if this is a safe/good thing to use in my vegetable garden.  Just because something is marketed as “organic” doesn’t mean that I would like to use it on my food source. 

I haven’t used it yet.  The pumpkin vines were ripped out and bagged up to be hauled away.  I’ve stomped on, hand picked/squashed, and smashed any squash bug I find.  The survivors seem to migrate to the existing Butter Bush Squash. I’ve been checking morning, noon, and evening to remove any I find from the 4 vines.  So far so good.

But I would like to know if anyone has ever used this product and can recommend its use.  Until I learn more, I’ll just continue with my Squash Bug Stomp to control the wee beasties.