Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Here's wishing that 2013 improves on 2012. From a disappointing election to back surgeries I say, "good riddance" to this stinking year.

Our neighborhood has been exploding with celebration hours/days before the new year arrived. M80s, shotguns, & firecrackers have been shooting off to celebrate the new year around the world. Ajax is not amused. He is sporting his Thunder Shirt in order to remain calm. So far, so good. He'll be happy when everyone runs out of moonshine & ammunition.

Using the Blogger app to send good wishes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tree Trimming

O'Henry Peach
Some of the fruit trees have finally lost their leaves. I understand that waiting to prune after all the leaves have dropped allows the leaves to provide nourishment to the tree.  Am I right?  Today, I wondered out to do a little clean up pruning on the peach tree. This tree did surprisingly well this year.  The trunk had suffered sun scald and I thought it might need to be replaced.  Wrapping the trunk this summer helped to protect the exposed trunk and some branches allowing more growth to flourish and help shade those wrapped parts.  I only removed branches/twigs that were crossing, dead wood, and branches that might cause a problem. 

Debris needs to be removed from around the trunk; but other than that, it's ready for an application of dormant oil.

Only one other tree has dropped its leaves.  The new, replacement Fantasia Nectarine.  It's still a squirt and needs no pruning.  Just a little rake around the base and this little lady is ready for a shower.
Fantasia Nectarine
Garden Update:
Farmer MacGregor tackled the removal of Gold Currant Tomatoes yesterday.  These volunteers grew in a bed dedicated to the eradication of  Root Knot Nematodes.  Earlier in the summer, French Marigolds were planted. I read that this variety of marigold repelled these pests.  JUNK!  The knots on the roots of the tomatoes were gross.  We have decided this summer will be the summer to cover all the vegetable beds with black plastic and bake those buggers.  I have one pot reserved for a tomato plant and that's it.

I had also read that nematodes don't like mustard; so I planted 4 varieties this fall.  The mustard bed is thriving.  Asparagus is growing in this bed as well.  Don't know what to do with the asparagus when the black plastic is draped over this bed.  Suggestions?

Southern Giant Curled Mustard

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Amaryllis Day 1

Yippee!  On Christmas day I received a garden related item.  My brother brought over a boxed Amaryllis bulb - Minerva from Israel. It's a beautiful variety.

When my youngest gnome was a small boy, he could count on his uncle bringing him one of these science/garden projects on his birthday just 8 days after Christmas.  Each year we would open the box, remove the contents, and follow the instructions. Every time there would be a giant flower or two to enjoy.  So, today I opened the box and carefully removed the contents to begin the potting/growing process.

Yikes!  This thing was more like Medusa trying to work its way out of the box.  My brother and I are well acquainted with scoliosis; so this specimen was meant to be.  At first, I thought I would let nature take its course; but I just couldn't.  Like a Milwaukee brace or hardware on Forrest Gump's legs, I had to provide some sort of help to right the abuse this bulb had endured.

A bent wire coat hanger graced with a hummingbird ornament will help to slowly straighten this gal right up.  In a few more days, her color and posture should improve.  I'll post progress here.  I bet I'm not the only one that has one of these.

Minerva Trivia:
Did you know that is Minerva on the State of California Seal?  Well now you do.

updated 1937

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas Catus

Years ago, my mother brought a Christmas cactus as a hostess gift. I placed it in my east facing kitchen window and that was it.  It's never been re-potted from its original little 4" pot.  It's never been fertilized.  Irrigation is occasional whenever I think of it.  It usually blooms after Christmas...probably in protest over poor conditions. 

A local radio gardening show suggested fertilizing these plants at Halloween to insure blooms at Christmas.  I think I may treat this poor thing to some new soil and better care in 2013.  If it does this well now, imagine how well it will do with just a new pot, fresh soil, and a little Trick or Treat fertilizer.

Here are some simple care instructions in case you have a Christmas cactus fill your stocking this year.

PS  it's finally raining today after morning fog.  Love it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

All About Asparagus

Winter begins.

Asparagus Aethiopicus - AKA Asparagus Fern
We have many asparagus ferns brought in from Farmer MacGregor's grandmother's garden years and years ago. They produce berries that turn red this time each year; but please don't eat the berries.  They are poisonous to dogs and cats and will make your stomach upset.  This plant isn't really a fern.  It's a member of the lily family and is regarded as a weed in many areas because of the ability of the tuberous roots to spread quickly.  It might be ideal if you have a spot in the garden where nothing will grow.  They also have spines; so it's best to use gloves when handling.

This year, asparagus was planted in the garden for Farmer MacGregor to enjoy in the years to come. I've never grown it before.  I understand that it takes two years of growth before you can harvest the spears.  One great side benefit of growing asparagus is that the plants help to repel Root Knot Nematodes.  Bonus.  Three plants are thriving in a bed of mustards, marigolds, and basil.  The basil was shocked with the recent freeze and will be returning to the earth soon.

If you grow asparagus, let me know any growing tips please.

Asparagus trivia:  Did you know that eating asparagus can make your pee stink?  You're welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Winterizing Fruit Trees

The seasons on the calendar are moving from autumn to winter but the garden hasn't gotten the message yet.  Leaves are hanging on the deciduous fruit trees hampering the application of dormant spraying.  There is a very slim window of time to apply the oil until the buds begin to break.  Hopefully, a freeze will be in the forecast soon.  These trees need hours of cold temperatures in order to produce fruit --- good fruit.  Those cold temperatures also help kill off nasty pests that are still hanging around.
Rio Red Grapefruit
All the fruit trees get three applications to keep them healthy and pest free.  Even the citrus gets the treatment.  I was advised that keeping the citrus fruit on the trees during applications is harmless.  Farmer MacGregor will not hear of it; so the fruit will have to be harvested prior to that.  That's the silver lining for the application delay.  The citrus will continue to sweeten on the trees until the deciduous trees get naked.
Gardening question:  What is the term for when a fruit tree blooms a second time in a season producing fruit?  The Granny Smith Apple tree did that this year and produced some ornamental apples.
Granny Smith Apple 2nd crop 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Citrus Christmas

Rio Red Grapefruit
Well, well, well.  Looks like all I had to do was to wait a bit and Blogger would sort out the mess that kept me from posting.  Unfortunately, I deleted a few images to try to add space.  If you notice any missing images, please let me know and I'll try to restore. 

This morning, I enjoyed the first of many grapefruits of the season. It was delicious and cold.  Boy did it smell good too.  No sugar required either.  All the fruit trees in the garden are dwarf to enable our aging bodies to easily maintain and harvest.  The orange and grapefruit are in the ground and the lemon (currently blooming - beautiful) and mandarin are potted.  All have fruit except the mandarin. 
Leaf miner damage (Wikipedia)
All of the citrus show cosmetic damage from leaf miners.  The skin of the fruit show some of those squiggle trails as well. I haven't heard reports of the Asian Citrus Psyllid in Kern County yet.  Hope that plight stays away even though it is in adjacent Los Angeles and Tulare counties.  Probably just a matter of time.

For now, we have grapefruit, oranges, and lemons to enjoy throughout the Christmas season.

It's also nice to be able to add to my garden journal.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Still trying to conquer the Blogger/Picasa SNAFU while recuperating.

Garden Update:
  • Grapefruit and oranges rapidly ripening.
  • Lemon is blooming with sweet fragrance.
  • Lettuces harvested regularly.
  • Golden Currant tomatoes are still in abundance.
  • Grapes left on the vine provide meals for migrating birds.
  • Boysenberries are developing buds.
  • Peach tree is the only deciduous tree to drop its leaves.  We need a blast of cold, cold wind to shake these leaves from the rest of the trees.  Dormant spraying is pending.
  • Mustard is thriving without any effort.  In fact everything is pretty much on its own since I still can't bend.