Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Sweet Pea Mix
 Right on cue, the sweet peas are in bloom for Easter.  The seeds can be planted between October and December here in zone 8-9 in the south central San Joaquin Valley of California. Yesterday, reminded us all that summer is on the way with temperatures knocking on the 90s.  Today's cooler breezes are welcomed before we enter into the dreaded swam pants season.
 
Ladybud on the Warren Pear
Ladybugs are showing up in bigger numbers now.  They didn't really seem to hibernate this winter.  Unusual.  Glad they are showing up because the aphids are showing up as well.  Nature is kinda balanced in the garden for now.
 
If I only had a predator for all the mourning doves.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Berry Update

Everbearing Strawberries
The strawberries are the 1st to have bird netting draped over them.  I don't know the variety of these everbearing berries.  I didn't pick up bear root and the 6-pack didn't have a detailed label.  Nonetheless, berries in hanging baskets enable me to get my hands in the dirt until I'm able to bend down.

Pink Lemonade Blueberries
I've never grown blueberries before. These are in a pot so they can be moved about the garden if we need to find a perfect location.  So far, so good.  The pink blossoms fade to white then the bulging berries shed the petals as they change from grey-green to blue.

Thornless Boysenberries
The six thornless boysenberry plants are bursting with blossoms that began to break on March 26.  I'm hopeful that I will run out of freezer space and will need to jar up some berry perserves soon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

And Now There Are None


Maybelline's Garden doesn't have a garden kitty.  Pumpkin passed from this garden to the next on Sunday, March 10, 2013. She was estimated to be 20 years old.  She was found yowling one afternoon up in a neighbor's cypress tree by my oldest garden gnome. She was a tiny handful of orange fluff that rode with me in a work truck until she was big enough and strong enough to live in the garden with Licorice.

Pumpkin was a huntress.  Gophers, rats, hummingbirds, and most especially mourning doves were her speciality. Like most cats, she would leave what remained of her kill at the patio door - narrowly missed early in the morning as I stepped out to fill the breakfast bowls.  As she aged and suburbanization encroached on our garden, hunting was only a sport.  A form of entertainment.

I'll miss Pumpkin.  She liked me and every dog that she trained.  As a kitten she would nap on the woolly back of one of our Great Pyrenees.  Another Pyrenees was her best butt sniffer.  She even charmed a couple of English Mastiffs.  She would prefer to avoid a fight; but when backed into a corner by a stray she could hold her own.

The garden gnomes referred to Pumpkin as "the Devil Cat"; but I called her "Doo Doos".  She was sweet and as soft as dandelion down.  She was a good cat.  I will miss her.  I already do.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Orchard Update


 The garden orchard isn't big at all.  All the deciduous trees are espalier pruned to shadow the garden fence line.  (The citrus grow on the opposite side of that fence line with the raised beds on the same side as the espalier trees.  All these trees were planted in January 2009 as bare root babies.
Warren Pear
The Warren pear has refused to bloom. This is the 4th year in the garden without so much of a hint of a bud.  The leaves are beautiful, glossy, and green.  In fact, the pear tree is known as the diva of the garden.  It really is a great tree to form an espalier.

Granny Smith Apple
Old Granny Smith was thought to be a gonner due to sun scald.  Using tree wrap saved it and now the tree is producing nice fruit.  This spring, there is an abundance of blossoms - the most in it's short life.  This is the last tree to bloom in spring and the last fruit to ripen at the end of summer.

O'Henry Peach
 
O'Henry had a bad case of sun scald like the apple tree.  The tree wrap did a great job.  Last summer I concentrated on developing a nice canopy to naturally shade the limbs.  This year, wrap will be applied to any tree that needs it.  And, this peach tree is blooming like made so there is hope for a good crop of fruit.

Fantasia Nectarine
Last year, the nectarine had to be replaced.  Same variety - better production.  The previous tree had rare blooms and when it was removed there were no roots.  None.  This fantasia has about 15 blooms this spring; but something is nibbling on them.  Ants?

Santa Rosa Plum
Fruit is already forming on the plum tree.  There are an estimated 5 billion blossoms on the tree this spring.  That's a very rough estimate.  I'm hopeful to be able to make plum jelly this summer.  Santa Rosa was the 1st to bloom; but it's not the mightiest producer.  No sir.

Blenheim Apricot
Even though the apricot had to undergo some major surgery recently, that did not stop the fruit production.  This tree is the 2nd to bloom but is surging ahead as far as production is concerned. Dried apricots are my favorites.  I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Big Dummy

Ever have a "brilliant" idea only to show just how human (read: dumb) you really are? It's humbling. I post this not to further degrade myself but to warn myself next time I get a brilliant idea to think it through rather than act during mid-thought.

This morning I thought I would take several packets of Sweet Alyssum seeds and make my own mix. Brilliant. I dumped the contents of the Royal Carpet packet into a Ziplock bag only to be reintroduced to static. EVERY seed was clinging to the side of a bag like a room full of kids with balloons practicing the fascinating wonders of static. What a mess.

Note: in the future, simply mix seeds in a seed packet.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Scratch & Sniff with a Latin Flare

I would like to be more proficient with the Latin names of plants.  Right now there is only room for improvement.  There are plenty of scents in the spring garden.  The temperature is predicted to be 83° today; so there are many buds breaking and many bees buzzing.  I tried to associate Latin handles with some pungent scents in the garden today.  No way.  I had to cheat and look in my Sunset Bible for help.  See what you know.  I'll list the Latin name in the caption using the scientific name (genus/species) along with the plant family if I know it.  See if you know the common name.  Easy.  Cheesy.  Light & breezy.

Ready?  Answers below.

1.  Syringa Oleaceae
2.  Rosmarinus officinalis Labiatae
3.  Rutaceae
4.  Cruciferae mustard (or cress)
5.  Aloysia triphylla Verbenaceae
6.  Cruciferae mustard (or cress)
1.  Lilac.  This is one of my spring favorites.
2.  Rosemary.  Use the woody sprigs for kabob skewers by removing the leaves and soaking in water before threading you favorite BBQ stuff.
3.  Lemon.  Always a favorite and most always in bloom.
4.  Cabbage.  Ready for March 17th?
5.  Lemon Verbena.  I like rubbing my hand along the leaves to pick up the scent.  Adding some dried leaves in a card before mailing makes getting that piece of mail so much better.
6.  Broccoli.  It's bolting like mad and attracting so may bees and bumble bees too.

Garden Update:
All of the trees and berries (including blueberries) have received their 1st dose of fertilizer for 2013 followed by a long soaking.