Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lavender Life is Hope for Fall

Lavandula angustifolia "Hidcote Blue"
Lavender does fairly well here in the Central San Joaquin Valley of California.  However, like most of us, its production ceases when the weather gets mega hot. During production, stems can be cut for drying.  I use twine to tie a bouquet then wrap it in newspaper to protect it from dust and bugs.  Then, the package is hung up-side-down in a dry location like the shed until the bouquets are stiff and dry. The dried lavender can then be used in floral arrangements, potpourri for sachets, cooking (herbes de provence or alone) or flea repellent.

Once an arrangement has ended its usefulness as an arrangement, crush that dude to pieces and save in a paper bag.  Sprinkle some of that on carpets before vacuuming.  The carpet is freshened and so is the vacuum bag/canister.  Rub it on your pet before brushing.  The oils smell great to us while the fleas are disgusted.

Now that the heat is on it's way out (hopefully), it is a good time to give lavender a haircut.  Prune off all dead/spent twigs.  Check soil and irrigation.  Spray the plant with a blast from the hose to shake off the summer dust.  I only feed lavender infrequently and when I do it's minimal but organic.  Any lavender that didn't make it through the summer, pitch it in the compost heap and replace. 

I've tried propagating lavender by layering and with seeds.  Buying a new, healthy plant from the nursery is easier and gives instant gratification.  Plus, you're able to see the blossom and determine if it's the right fit for your needs.

Monday, September 5, 2016

It's a Pear!

Warren Pear
The miniature espalier orchard was planted in the winter of 2008-2009 and has never produced any fruit.  Not even a blossom developed eight Spring seasons to follow.  The tree is the handsomest tree in the espalier line.  Beautiful bark, nice form, and dancing leaves have kept Warren for the ax all this time.  In this part of the garden, production is a must.  Warren must have read my mind as I considered removing the tree and replacing with something that isn't a moocher.

I spoke with a Dave Wilson Nursery representative that encouraged me to be patient.  The tree  can take as long as seven years to produce.  The calendar and my ultimatum must have been the right combination of stress for old Warren to get its act together.  The drought may also have played a role in generating blossoms this Spring resulting in one pear.  ONE PEAR!  This fruit has been watched almost daily.  Varmints were my biggest concern.  Harvesting the fruit at the right time was my other concern.

The pear was harvested on September 3, 2016.  I feel like a plaque should be erected to commemorate the long awaited success.  A post to Maybelline's Garden will have to do.  The fruit was flavorful with a nice texture.  I'm optimistic that future harvests should wait until after Labor Day.  Perhaps mid September.  The original tree tags from Dave Wilson Nursery did not list suggested harvest dates.  Here's what the original labels state:

WARREN PEAR   Excellent quality dessert pear - and highly resistant to fireblight.  Medium to large, long-necked fruit with pale green skin, sometimes blushed red.  Smooth flesh (no grit cells) is juicy and buttery with superb flavor. Good keeper.  Cold hardy to -20°F.  From Mississippi.  600 hours.  Self-fruitful.

OHXF 333 ROOTSTOCK  European and Asian pears on OHxF 333 are dwarfed to about 2/3 the size of standard, or about 12-18 ft. if not pruned.  Widely adapted, diseased-resistant.  Trees on OHxF 333 may be held to any desired height by summer pruning.

The last fruit tree awaiting harvest is the Granny Smith apple.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Oh Henry!

O'Henry peach performed exceptionally this year.  The freezer is well stocked with loads of peach slices to enjoy in pies and cobblers during cooler months to remind us of the hellish summer we endured ending with this reward.  Dave Wilson Nursery  provides this description:

A favorite fresh market yellow freestone - renowned for its firm texture, rich flavor and consistently high quality.  Large fruit ripen about two weeks after Elberta.  Skin mostly red, yellow flesh heavily streaked with red when fully ripe.  Strong, vigorous, heavy bearing tree.  Large, showy pink blossoms.  Highly recommended for home orchards. 

For easy care and harvest the tree may be kept under 10 feet high by summer pruning.

Winter chilling requirement:  Bout 700 hours below 45 degrees.  Self-fruitful.

Originated in Red Bluff, California.  Introduced in 1968.

Dates for harvest seasons vary with climate and year.  Dates are approximate for Modesto, CA. 
8-10 to 9-5. 

For my garden in Bakersfield, CA., the harvest dates are about the same.

Sadly, O'Henry looks to have borers.  Local nursery specialists advise that it is terminal; but there should be many years of peach production ahead.