Monday, January 23, 2012

Good Bye Summer. FINALLY!

DSC_2204It finally happened.  Summer is done in the garden and it took until January for it to happen.  A couple of freezes last week singed all the tomato plants so badly that the plants had to go.  That included plants that produced all summer long and new volunteers.

The beds need to get ready for onions or maybe more broccoli and cauliflower.  All those veggies get used easily in the kitchen.DSC_2202Can you believe it?  It will be time to plant tomato seedlings in just 2 months!  Since these little tomatoes will get turned under, there will probably be little sprouts struggling shortly OR the earthworms can help break them down.

Sunday, January 22, 2012




Bugs bug me.  Must they come into MY garden?  Come on.  My neighbors (one in particular) don’t give a “hoot” about their yard.  I encourage all bugs to go there and enjoy whatever vegetation they want to munch on.  Shoot.  Termites even munch on the house to the east; but the residence don’t care.

It’s a constant battle that the bugs will eventually win.  I will continue to pick, squash, smash, spray, and snip bugs.  I suppose I should be encouraged to know that if the bugs can eat in my garden, the garden must be safe for me to eat too.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


DSC_2195A crime has been committed. 

The identity of the suspect has been hidden to protect any innocence (There is none!).  This afternoon, I discovered that damaged had occurred to the nectarine and apricot trees.  Some beast had chewed on the dormant branches.  In the case of the nectarine, a large chunk of a branch had been broken clean off!

EXHIBIT A:DSC_2197The Fantasia Nectarine has been struggling but was looking promising.  A lower limb had been snapped off and munched.  Note:  Damage does not appear to be from a beaver as there is no body of water near.

EXHIBIT B:DSC_2198The Blenheim Apricot is a much more vigorous specimen.  An apricot limb adjacent to the snapped nectarine limb sustained damage from some sharp toothed demon.

Evidence was collected from the surrounding area for analysis.  Witnesses were interviewed with statements recorded.  A round up of the “usual suspect(s)” was performed.DSC_2200Justice was swift.  The perpetrator felt great remorse and was released on his own recognizance.  He’s on probation and is on his best behavior.

Note:  The dormant trees were dormant sprayed for the 2nd time this season after the damaged trees were lightly pruned.

Monday, January 16, 2012


No.  I do not talk like that; but it’s supposed be getting cold at nights.  Finally.  The lettuce bed is tucked in under a canopy of plastic sheeting that is supported by a frame.  I take care not to let the plastic touch the leaves.  If it freezes, then that contact could damage any vegetation touching the freezing plastic sheeting.

The citrus trees need to be covered as well.  Some re-purposed sun umbrellas make this task easy.  The base of the two part umbrella stays in the pot during the season when freeze damage can occur (December – March).DSC_2189Once the plastic sheeting has been initially secured with small clamps (paper clips or clothes pins), it stays on whether the umbrella is open or closed for storage.DSC_2190The underside of these umbrellas has reflective material that I believe helps the temperature stay a bit above freezing.  I could be wrong.  It’s happened before.

The ferns hanging under the pergola get covered with old sheets.  Those are also secured with clothes pins.DSC_2192If anyone peeked over the garden wall they might think a Klan meeting was in progress.  They would be incorrect.

Here’s to hoping for loads of cold, cold weather to kill any bugs that think they can hang out over the winter.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let’s Go To Work

The line of boysenberries (6 plants total, 5 bare root, 1 from pot) has been planted.  They are located where azaleas failed.  The loose soil was amended with acidic compost just like the azaleas.  The six berries are along the curb.  Failed camellias are closest to the wall.  More on that later.

Note:  Farmer MacGregor has part of the fence dismantled for maintenance.  Of course, paint is involved.DSC_2174

DSC_0741_2068Don’t know what led to the demise of the camellias.  The planting location is in well drained soil that is in complete shade from the wall in the winter time and complete sun in the summer time.  There was shade cloth erected during the summer to protect the plants but I’m done with babysitting.  Now I’m trying to determine what will grow successfully there.

Something hardy that thrives with little attention is ideal.  Large white flowers would “pop” against the backdrop of the brick wall.  I thought a white hydrangea might be nice but the sun would be too brutal.  I skimmed through my Sunset and thought a Viburnum – Chinese Snowball would work.  When I went to the nursery today, they told me that shade was needed.  What gives?  Has anyone in the Central San Joaquin Valley had success with Hydrangea or Viburnum growing in full sun?

Instead, I purchased an Iceberg rose to try.  It’s not an investment if it fails but I do hope it’s successful.DSC_2172I have had a wisteria that my father gave me years ago.  When the yard was remodeled, it was transplanted.  I thought we had killed it but it kept on going.  Enter Ajax.  That pup loves to teethe on the old vine.  I’m not sure if it survived his last attack; so a bare root blue wisteria was planted along side just in case.DSC_2170Some shade cloth and metal posts are used to construct barriers around all of the wisterias.  Now there are 3 growing under the pergola.

The lavender and chrysanthemums were pruned and vegetable beds hoed. If it ever gets cold and rains, I will look forward to a day of indoor lounging.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dormant Spray

DSC_2168Steve asked what kind of dormant oil is sprayed on the fruit trees in the garden.  Farmer MacGregor uses a combination of Take Down and KOP-R.  He uses a hand sprayer making sure to completely saturate the tree from the bottom and top.DSC_2169Take down is used year round to control insects.  It’s primary ingredient is Pyrethrum.  He combines the two and applies to the dormant fruit trees about 3 times in the winter. Since there has been no rain (not even fog), the 3 applications have not run into any scheduling problems. It can be applied to most any plant that doesn’t have fuzzy leaves. Read the label to be certain.

You can see the price but it’s concentrated and lasts for some time.  Check with your local (not box store) nursery.  They may have a better recommendation for your area.

Warning:  The KOP-R will stain so make sure to cover any surrounding items you do not want to take on the patina of oxidized copper (blue-green).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Boysenberry Bare Roots & Support


This weekend, Farmer MacGregor has 3 days at his disposal.  It is my duty to help him be fulfilled; so the task of building support lines for boysenberries has been put before him.  The bare root stock will be planted where azaleas once died.  The spot is in complete shade in the winter and scorching sun in the summer.  The soil is loose, fertile, and still a bit acidic.  My gift certificate to a local nursery was put aside for bare root season with the intent of creating a garden fence of boysenberries.

I found some plans on line that mimic the espalier system we already have for the dwarf fruit trees.

A post and wire system is relatively easy to construct and is the best way to train blackberries or hybrid berries.

  1. Drive 2.5m (8ft) long and 75mm (3in) diameter posts into the ground to a depth of 75cm (30in) at 5m (15ft) intervals
  2. Stretch 12 gauge (3.5mm) galvanized wire between the posts at 30cm (1ft) vertical intervals
  3. Plant the blackberries or hybrid berries 2.5-3.5m (8-11ft) apart along the fence

Maybe I’ll simply get the stock planted and see how it grows before Farmer MacGregor invests time, effort, and materials toward this project.

Here’s to high hopes of a bounty of berries in the coming years.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!


Variegated Pink Lemon

Dang it.  2012 is here whether we like it or not.  Using the new year as a marker, the trees were sprayed with pyrethrum and copper sulfate.  This was the 1st of 3 sprays scheduled for the winter. In about 3 weeks, they will be hit a 2nd time.  The final application must be scheduled before any of the buds break.  This helps to control pests and fungus.  Good.  That was the final task of 2011.DSC_2202_7290

Blenheim Apricot

Sadly, there hasn’t been much cold weather to speak of.  That cold helps the dormant fruit – apricot, nectarine, pear, apple, peach, and plum.  AND it’s been mighty dry.DSC_2200_7288

Red Flame Grapes

Farmer MacGregor is in charge of the grapevine.  The 1st task of the new year was to prune the vine with the hopes of a superior crop in 2012.  The old dove nests and unwanted vines were removed.  The arbor is clean and ready for the summer shade.DSC_2203_7291

Volunteers from the summer continue to thrive.  Sunflowers and tomatoes are going strong.  In fact, fresh picked tomatoes were enjoyed on Christmas Day.  Sheesh!  At 9:30 this morning, it was already warm out in the garden.DSC_2206_7294

This weather will give me plenty of opportunity to do chores in the garden to prepare for the spring and summer crops.  I will be planting more beets, broccoli, and cauliflower with hopes they will do better than what is out there now.


Biggest Dud of 2011 in the GardenGrafting.  Not one success there.

Biggest Success of 2011 in the GardenGolden Current Tomato.  They’re still producing.

Recommendations for 2012Heinz Tomato.  Nice plant with beautiful fruit that is easy to harvest and preserve.  Good for fresh eating or canning.

Goal for 2012:  Incorporate more flowers into the garden.