Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Citrus Blight?

DSC_0392_456March 26, 2009

Okay.  What in the Wide World of Sports is going on with my Satsuma Mandarin Orange?  I believe it may be blight.  I’ve seen blight kill gardenias and the symptoms on my Satsuma are similar.  The tips on the new growth has curled up and turned black.  Leaf drop was out of control. 

Thinking it was potted too low, I pulled it up a bit hoping that would help drainage.  A moisture meter is used to try to keep the conditions right.  It was fed.  PVC pipe was driven deep down to help with aeration.  Nothing seemed to work.

An arborist visited the garden on another assignment  last weekend and thought the tree was still alive.  He recommended a fertilizer and blah, blah, blah.  I want to know what is happening to my tree.

A little research by me helped me to think the problem is blight.  I’ve pruned out the damaged bits with shears cleaned with rubbing alcohol after each cut and tossed the damaged parts away.

What has caused my potted dwarf Satsuma to go from this:

DSC_0988_2294November 1, 2009


To this:

DSC_1150_3543 March 23, 2010

If citrus is going to be so danged temperamental, I want nothing to do with it.  I want vegetation that thrives in the conditions I have in the garden without having to be nursed and pampered along the way.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

War Is Hell

On Saturday morning, I noticed that the apple (Granny Smith) had busted into blossoms.  Like all the other fruit trees in the garden, the blooms are one week ahead of the 2009 schedule.DSC_1128_3520 Wait.  The blossoms don’t look perfect.  Random holes in the leaves of the petals of the apple tree are getting me steamed.  There is a garden pest about.  I inspected the rest of the trees for damage.  DSC_1128_3520 WHAT?  There is a hole gnawed into one of the peaches?!  The nectarine has been hit as well.  This calls for war.  The offenders seem to be ants.DSC_1131_3523 Although the insects outnumber humans by a quadzillion or more, I would like to think that I have the upper hand in my garden.  It’s a delusion I’m comfortable with.DSC_1135_3527 Farmer MacGregor brought out his artillery and blasted the trees with pyrethrum.  He was in full G.I. Joe mode annihilating the enemy.  Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of chrysanthemum (C. cinerariifolium and C. coccineum). Pyrethrum was used for centuries as an insecticide.

I’m certain the army of ants will send in another wave to attack again (They are probably already out there as I’m typing this.).  We’ll continue the fight for the right to (garden) party.

Next:  I believe the citrus have blight.  This may be fatal.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Is it the 1st day of Spring?  I don’t really know since I’m barefoot and in shorts.  The warm weather is really plumping up the wisteria.  Here’s how it looked last week on March 13, 2010.DSC_1091_3488 Kind of looks like pale strawberries doesn’t it?  Today, March 20,2010, the buds have really come along.DSC_1139_3531 There are 2 vines planted with hopes they will spiral up the pergola and shade us with wonderfully perfumed petals.  So far, so good.  One vine was given to me by my dad years ago.  When the yard was reconfigured, it needed to be moved.  Its survival was questionable; but it pulled through and now blooms great.  The youngest vine was purchased as bare root in January 2009 and looks as though it will also thrive.DSC_1081_3383 The pergola is in the background beyond the sweet peas, nectarines, and one incredibly sweet, fluffy, darling kitty.  An old nurseryman here in Bakersfield recommends cutting the vine back several times during the growing season to encourage continuous blossoms.  His vines bloom as much as 5 times from spring to fall.DSC_0586_807 Bring on the shade.  Summer is on its way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scotland, Cabbage, & Protestants

Scotts1932I’m 1/2 Scottish.  My mother (infant pictured above with my Grandpa, Aunt Helen, and Granny) immigrated in 1956.  My Grandpa, let’s call him Jimmy because that was his name, grew up on a farm with 12 siblings and continued working in gardens and with livestock all of his life.  When he harvested a cabbage, he would mark a cross (+) on the remaining stump.  I didn’t really know why; but my mother encouraged me to continue this practice.  DSC_1060_3452Recently, I purchased an old knife at a local gun shop to use in the garden.  I used it to cross the remaining stumps.  I found out that spring and early summer varieties may be induced to produce secondary heads by cutting a cross in the top of the stem. It didn’t work in my garden.  Maybe next time.DSC_1120_3516To be clear.  St. Patrick’s Day is not celebrated in my home nor my mother’s home.  She insists on wearing orange on that day in Protestant fashion.  Her saint of choice is St. Andrew. MacDuh!imageLast weekend, I harvested the last of the cabbage to share with associates at work that do celebrate St. Patrick’s DayPlease click on the St. Patrick’s Day link with your speakers on.DSC_1243_3108




Note:  The soil looks completely spent.  The bed is due to be amended before summer plantings are established here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nasturtiums, Wisteria, Strawberries, Grapes

DSC_1107_3504 Nasturtiums continued to grow through the winter; but I need to plant some dwarf seeds beneath the fruit trees.  Nasturtiums are supposed to ward off borers.  I’m looking for Princess of India seeds.  No luck so far.

I’ll probably end up buying whatever the local hardware store has in their wire racks.  I’ve never eaten nasturtiums…at least not intentionally.DSC_1091_3488 The buds on the wisteria are beginning to swell.  There’s an old, transplanted vine along with a new vine that was planted as a bare root in 2009.  If the wisteria bloom in concert with the lilac, citrus, and sweet peas, the fragrance should be outstanding.  There is a dove nesting in the fern baskets hanging below the vines.DSC_1103_3500 The strawberries need to be thinned out and given new homes.  The plants are spilling out of the confines of the cinder blocks.  They have done tremendously and are starting to produce berries.  The Sweet Pinkie variety was planted in March of 2009 as bare root stock.

DSC_1114_3511 The Red Flame grapevine is showing signs of life at the very top of the arbor.  This cane (the longest) will remain while the other will be pruned to direct all the growth energy to just one cane.  Amazingly, there were grapes produced on this vine that was planted in 2009.  I look forward to enjoying more of the fruit than the birds this year.

There’s loads more poppin’ in the garden.  These were just some weekend observations.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Apricot Alert!

As a kid, I would sit in our apricot tree and eat apricots until I was sick.  Sick.  My favorite fruit trees include apricots – cobbler, leather, and dried apricots.  Not only do apricots taste delicious, they clean you out cleaner than clean.  Zowee!

My baby apricot has formed some fruit.

DSC_1108_3505 I’ll be pleased if the fruit can hang on and be harvested by me (not birds).  Last year, the 1st year, there were blooms but no fruit.  Baby steps.  Delicious baby steps.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mystery Plant

DSC_1046_3332These are starting to bud.  These are bulbs.  These are a mystery.  My brother gave me these bulbs a few years ago.  I smashed the entire lot of them in a shallow pot.  They sprouted lots of long, slender, green leaves; but they never bloomed.  The bulbs look as if they are covered with hair.  Kind of like cocoanuts.  (Sorry, I don’t have a photos of the bulbs.)DSC_1045_3331 I wanted to use the pot for something else so I pulled the bulbs out and tossed them in the holes of the cinder blocks that form the raised vegetable beds.  The familiar green leaves began to sprout reminding me that those forgotten bulbs needed to be dealt with.  I procrastinated and now the bulbs are starting to bloom.  What do you know?  These may be great flowers to attract hummingbirds and bees into the garden.DSC_1047_3333 Now, I’m searching to figure out what, exactly, these bulbs are.  I hope to post photos of the flowers when they open.

Note:  The brick wall in the background has a common bond pattern; but in the photos it takes on a vertical weave look.  Strange.

Answer:  Freesia. 

My brother confirmed the identification of the mystery plant.

Helen B. and Maureen,  thanks for helping with the identification.  Email me your contact information and I’ll send you a coveted packet of heirloom tomato seeds (Arkansas Traveler from Baker Creek).

DSC_1087_3484 Here’s what the corms look like.  Kind of like hairy cocoanuts.

DSC_1064_3467 The blooms began to open on March 10, 2010.  The colors seem to range from deep red to yellow.  Note how great the lobelia looks in the background.DSC_1065_3468  The growth habit of freesia remind me of pan flutes.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Garden Update

Here’s a few things that have been going on in the garden.

DSC_1026_3423 March 6, 2010 – The tomato seeds sprouted.  They were planted, along with pepper seeds, on March 1.

DSC_1029_3426 The lilac continues to perfume the garden air.

DSC_1036_3433 The broccoli has bolted.  The final harvest was made and the plants removed to make way for summer crops after the soil is amended.  Note:   the Lobelia in the background.  I have been unsuccessful in capturing how dark the purple is on this Crystal Palace variety.  Finally, the color shows when it’s not the focal point.

DSC_1037_3434 The beets are really starting to take off.  I usually thin out the smaller ones; but now they’re really starting to get big,

DSC_1046_3443 The Red Flame grape is starting to show signs of life.  The vine was fed today.

DSC_1053_3445 These little caterpillars along with their thug friends the pill bugs and earry wigs (earwigs) have been found guilty and executed for the damage they have done to the cabbage.

DSC_1054_3446 Most of the rest of the cabbage was salvaged.  The bed is now completely vacant awaiting amendments so the summer beans and savory can be planted.

DSC_1359_2753 Carrots continue to produce.  A bunch was recently harvested to add to a pot of mushroom/wine chicken.

DSC_1085_3387 Peas continue to go nuts.  Now that the heat is cranking up, the pods are filling out at an accelerated pace.  They joined the carrots in the pot with the chicken.

DSC_1020_3322 All the fruit trees have been fed:  plum, peach, apple, pear, nectarine, apricot, fig, grapefruit, orange, mandarin, lemon. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Darwin’s Diner

DSC_1049_3455Darwin’s Diner for 2010 is being built in some fern baskets hanging from the pergola.  You see, mourning doves start building their nests around here at this time of year and continue through summer.  They’ve started their families in a cubby above the garage in years past.  The eggs would roll out of the twigs and kersplat on the pavement below.  Dummies.  This year, they’ve found cushy digs nestled in already built nests.  These birds must think they’re genius.  They don’t have to build a nest and they are hanging high above the ground.

They didn’t take a couple of items into consideration…


DSC_0337_385These 2 links in the food chain look forward to helping balance out nature here at Darwin’s Diner.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ralph and the Giant Tomato

(Absolutely nothing like James and the Giant Peach.)

DSC_0993_3390Since I planted a butt load of tomatoes, I needed to visit the giant tomato for a photo outing.  Ralph has a giant tomato.  Really.  He does.  Ralph is Italian.  Really.  He’s from Italy and he has a giant tomato.  Ralph also has a restaurant in Bakersfield called Frugatti’s.   He and his wonderful family have a great restaurant and catering service.  The giant tomato is the centerpiece to the entrance of his Italian eatery.DSC_0994_3391We went to have a wonderful meal; but I wanted to take some pictures of Ralph’s giant tomato before the sun went down and some more photos after the lights came on.  DSC_1010_3407 We always have a wonderful meal whenever we go to Frugatti’s.  Always.  The food is great and the place always seems to be buzzing with happy customers.  I prefer to eat at a place that has the clatter of dishes and chatter of people enjoying themselves.  The music is always great too – Rat Pack, Clooney, Prima, Damone, etc.  Friday and Saturday nights are extra special though.  Bob Iorio is at Frugatti’s.  Bob plays the accordion and Bob rocks!  Thankfully, I paced myself on this night.  I had room for triple chocolate cheesecake.  Mama Mia!  They make a Reese’s peanut butter cup cheesecake too.  Dieters beware.DSC_1017_3414Take a look at the menu.  There are tomatoes everywhere.  Tomatoes mark menu items that are Frugatti’s favorites.  Tomatoes are on the logo.  And there are most definitely tomatoes in the dishes to choose from. 

Maybe you’ll be inspired to visit Bakersfield before the heat arrives.  Even if you wait until the summer, Ralph keeps it nice and cool at Frugatti’s.DSC_1025_3422Thanks for keeping it cool, Ralph.  (Grazie per tenerlo fresco, Raffaele.  Per inciso, hai qualche foto di Bob?).


Here’s a gardening challenge for those that follow Maybelline’s Garden:  Ralph is planning on building an arbor to follow the arch of Frugatti’s doorway.  He would like some kind of vine to grow on the ironwork.  The area is shaded for most of the day; but, POW!  It really gets hit at sundown.  If you have a suggestion for a durable vine that would thrive in zone 9, forward your suggestions to me.  Thanks.DSC_0994_3391

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lilac Time

DSC_1017_3319 The lilacs are in bloom.  I need to pack up the pots and take them to their source to determine what pot belongs to what source.  I have two different pots of lilacs I told about here.  The blossoms began to pop on March 2.  I predicted Saturday, February 27.  Close. 

As the lilac blooms, it’s a good time to prune by cutting the flowers for bouquets.  Any dead or screwy branches are best pruned out now.  Blossoms develop on year old growth; so the new growth this summer will set blossoms at this time in 2011.DSC_1071_3373 The lilacs are competing with the sweet peas for the best perfume award in the garden.DSC_1059_3345