Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good Scout

DSC_2395_5806Farmer MacGregor’s an Eagle Scout and it shows.  My lame attempts at re-stringing the bean support clearly showed that I didn’t excel at Girl Scouting.  Today, he got everything nice and tight before the rains came again.  Before this support is used for summer beans, it will be used for sweet peas.

DSC_2396_5807A packet of Old Spice Sweet Peas was planted on December 12, 2010.  I forgot to note when the seeds sprouted.  Typically, sweet peas should be planted around here in the fall; but better late than never.  I hope.  These extra fragrant flowers are expected to be in full bloom sometime in the spring (February through April).

And if they don’t bloom, at least the strings will look smart.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grey Garden

 DSC_2373 Today was a cold, grey day where temperatures didn’t vary from dawn to dusk.  It was a good day to clean the hummingbird feeder…

DSC_2383…do some light pruning (Note the hummingbird enjoying the warm, sweet nectar?) …

DSC_2391 …be thankful we can take our naps inside where it’s warm…

DSC_2392 …and pose for another growth portrait.


It was a very grey day in the garden today.


DSC_2194_5410      9 weeks old – December 7, 2010DSC_2162about 12 weeks old - December 27, 2010    

DSC_2294     3 months old – January 8, 2011

DSC_2392almost 4 months old – January 29, 2011


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fruit Trees – Love in Bloom in the Garden

DSC_2353_5779Checking on the fruit trees on this sunny afternoon.  The espalier were pruned some time ago.  They had the 1st application of dormant spray on January 16th.  The next application is scheduled for Super Bowl Sunday, February 6th.  The buds are fattening up just a little bit.  Once the buds break, dormant spray can no longer be applied.

DSC_2352_5778My garden assistant for the afternoon was checking out the other end of the line where the plum, peach, and apple grow while I inspected the apricot, nectarine, and pear on my end.  Each tree will be getting fertilized and additional compost prior to Valentine’s Day.  We moved on to the only citrus tree currently producing.

The Rio Red Grapefruit tree.

DSC_2338_5764The dwarf tree, planted on Valentine’s Day 2009, has produced 7 fruits this season.  Farmer MacGregor and I enjoyed the 1st pick several weeks ago; but old MacGregor declared that the fruit was a wee bit too tart yet.  I thought it was just right.  That could be due to the fact that I’m so sweet and counteract any tartness. We’ll wait just a bit longer until more is harvested.  I prefer to eat grapefruit with a spoon and never like I would eat an orange.  It must be some kind of reaction with the metal of the spoon or something that makes the grapefruit more appealing to me to eat that way.

DSC_2354_5780The stakes surrounding the tree will remain in place until all danger of frost has passed.  Plastic sheeting is draped over the stakes to form a small greenhouse and help ward off any damage from cold weather.  Other than frost dangers, citrus are fairly maintenance free here in zone 8-9.

Perhaps the next time the farmer and I enjoy a grapefruit, we can use something like this to celebrate Valentine’s Day after the trees are fed and composted.  Ain’t it romantic?


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Iceberg Ahead!


What?!  Planted seeds on January 22.  Germinated on January 26…or at least that’s when I noticed the Iceberg Lettuce seedlings popping up through the coconut husk pods.  Kinda looks like a bran muffin with an alfalfa sprout in the middle.  Don’t you think? 

Even though I’m enjoying this cold, damp, foggy weather, I do hope the soil will be warm enough in a few weeks to set these out or I may need to consider growing my salad in my kitchen window.  I just need to find the proper planter.

imageEven though I have the old Crocs to make a hanging planter suggested by Real Simple magazine,  I just don’t think I could enjoy lettuce growing in a stinky, old shoe.  The hunt continues for a suitable planter; but I’ll probably be out there in a short sleeve t-shirt soon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunflower – Good Mornin’

DSC_1728_4639 Alright.  Sunflowers will be featured in the garden this summer.  I know they’re easy to grow and will attract pollinators.  If the birds get too pesky, out come the sunflowers.  The plan is to plant them along the borders of the beds planted with corn.  Having a dwarf variety would be best as I could keep things under control a bit better.  One year I grew a giant variety – Black Russian I think.  They grew so vigorously and so tall that when the time came to clear the patch, my farm hand (about 10 years old at the time) cried, “Foul!”

My knowledge of sunflowers is very, very limited.  So limited that I thought I had ordered a dwarf variety from Terrior Seeds but closer examination of my order revealed that I came up short. 

I like the look of Teddy Bear with its ruffled petals; but it’s too tall (6’).  Dwarf Sunspot is certainly short enough reaching only 2’; but it’s kinda plain looking.  But hold on.  Over at Baker Creek, the Teddy Bear variety only grows 18” – 24”.  That seems about right for my needs.  These will get ordered for the summer garden along with anything else that I thought I ordered.


To everyone in the San Joaquin Valley:  How ‘bout this fog?!  Dang, I love it.  There used to be much more of it when I was a kid delighting in school delays of 2 hours.  If it gets you down, try ordering some sunflower seeds for your summer garden.  Summer will be here faster than I like.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pioneer Woman Flowers


There’s a photo competition going on over at Pioneer Woman – like she needs any advertising.  Oh, I enter them every once in a while with no expectation of winning even a notice.  She seems to prefer photos with a bunch of processing via PhotoShop.

DSC_1928_4878 My photos have little to no processing.  That severely reduces my chances of winning a prize.  She awards some pretty sweet prizes for a gajillionaire.  She only hints that the prizes for this assignment will be “shiny and fun”. 

That can only mean diamonds to me.

DSC_1904_4842The subject matter for the newest photo assignment is:  Flowers.  Dig through all the images of flowers you have to try to come up with something to enter.  Who knows.  You may win something “shiny and fun”.  If you do, please let me know.  I would love to have come that much closer to winning even if it is just someone that scraped against this post in the outer blogosphere.

DSC_2288_5698 I wonder if she and her staff would consider my image of a cauliflower.

Good luck.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seeds 2011 – The Year of Corn (Korn)



Some of the seeds for spring/summer were started today while other seeds were ordered last night.


Lettuce:  A couple of varieties will be started indoors.  When they are transplanted, I’ll sow additional lettuce in place.  Those seeds have been ordered.

Brune d’Hiver, Baker Creek

Iceberg, Baker Creek   (I thought Iceberg might have a better chance if I start in indoors first.


Tomatoes:  Last year the tomatoes were started on March 1.  My planting of fall crops was delayed because the tomatoes were still producing.  My hope is that this early start will translate into a better start for fall crops.

Tomato Cour di Bue, Baker Creek

Beefsteak, Baker Creek


Carrots:  I have some carrots seeds left over from the last planting and wanting to add a different variety.

Red Cored Chatenay, Terrior Seeds

Corn:  2011 is the Year of Corn in Maybelline’s Garden.  2010 was the Year of the Tomato.  I hope to have a successful year and stock my freezers with sweet, yellow corn along with enjoying cobs during the summer.

Golden Bantam, Terrior Seeds

Lettuce:  A few varieties look like they may work in the salad bed until I plant squash and sweet potatoes (pondering this one).

Merlot, Terrior Seeds

St. Anne’s, Terrior Seeds

Tom Thumb, Terrior Seeds

Pumpkins:  I’ve grown Cinderella in the past and liked the shape and color; but I never ate any of them.  This year I’m trying a blue skinned pumkin.

Jarrahdale, Terrior Seeds

Since this is the Year of Corn here at Maybelline’s Garden in Bakersfield, California (Oildale specifically), I would like to offer a homegrown remedy to rid your garden of varmints.  Below I have embedded a little ditty from our hometown fellas, Korn.  Take a laptop out to wherever varmints are a nuisance and turn the volume up as loud as the law allows.  This should rid you of those pests.


See.  We have more than Buck and Merle.  I enjoy all of them.  You are welcome.


Special celebrity note:  Granny has helped Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of Korn, a few times with his purchases of strollers and other baby items.  Imagine,  Jonathan is a daddy (3 times!).  Granny can connect with Jonathan since he is a Highland High Scotsman and played the bagpipes.  Granny is very hip that way.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lettuce Get Busy

I’m studying the seed catalogs for ideas on what variety of lettuce to plant for the spring.  The lettuce planted in the fall is quickly losing its luster.  There’s a few things I would like to know.


  • What varieties of lettuce can be planted now – in place in the Central San Joaquin Valley (Bakersfield, California, zone 8-9)?
  • Is there enough growing time if I plant now but clear out in May?
    • I would like to plant squash and sweet potatoes in this bed for summer growing – if that makes sense.
    • If more time is needed, there is an alternate location.  In fact, the alternative is looking more and more attractive.

I prefer growing the darker color, loose leaf lettuces like Merlot (above).  Iceberg didn’t do so well in the garden this fall/winter season.  That was planted to add crunch to salads.  Sure.  I would like the organic, heirloom, GMO/GEO variety; but something that is vigorous, pest and disease resistant, and slow to bolt would be ideal.  All the organic criteria can follow once I have the varieties narrowed down.

Lettuce doesn’t take up much room and by harvesting the “cut and come again” way, the lettuce has paid off by continually producing beautiful, nutritious vegetation. It’s sad to see the salad bed start to dwindle.  The few dollars spent on packets of seed has been reaped a gajillion times in the amount of salads ingested.  I bet if you had a sunny patio and a decent (indecent may also work) sized pot with some good soil sprinkled with a variety of a lettuce seeds you could keep a healthy, cheap salad going for quite a while.  Imagine what you could do with that extra unspent grocery money!  You’ll really notice the difference in the quality of your salad if you grow your own.  Give it a shot*. 


*Note:  If any heinous crime is committed after reading or not reading this post, I do not claim any responsibility.  In fact,  I suggest that any destructive behavior be worked out doing manual labor in the garden. Grab a shovel and get busy.  Amen.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The garden needs a little sprucing up.  Down the lawn, through the gate, and out to the wall.


In October 2009, camellias and azaleas were planted in a bed where tomatoes and bougainvilleas once grew.  The only problem is the summertime heat.  The bed gets full sun in the summertime and no sun in the winter.  The azaleas were too delicate to take what our summers dish out.  They were transplanted to spots in the garden that get far less sun and they seem to be doing alright.  However this leaves a void that needs to be filled.

DSC_0741_2068 October 2009


Blueberries were considered but no variety was short enough for my liking.  I would like to form a very short hedge to divide the vegetable garden from the camellia bed.  The soil has been amended to increase the acidity.  Drainage is fine even though there is a thin blanket of moss.  No sun will do that.  It will burn off in a few months.  There is an irrigation system set up to keep the roots moist but the leaves and stems need to be able to take the heat.

DSC_2339_5751January 2011

Here’s what I’m considering.


A Moondance Rose. 

This double award winner is even more vigorously blooming and fragrant than its famous parent, Iceberg. More beautiful, too! Moondance illuminates the garden with larger clusters of bigger, more densely petaled blooms filled with a sweet raspberry essence. A remarkably trouble-free, mildew-resistant plant. Creamy white. Var: JACtanic (Patent 19126) – Jackson & Perkins

This may work if keeping the shrubs pruned down low won’t damage them.  I would like to keep the hedge down to around 3’.

If Moondance is a good choice then the bed needs to get raked and ready for some bare root stock.

What do you think?  Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Summer’s Coming

DSC_1363_2757Today Farmer MacGregor applied dormant spray to the deciduous fruit trees, grape vine, and roses along with some light pruning.  The spray schedule is a bit behind for 2011 due to the fabulous amount of rain we’ve received in the garden. The second spray will probably happen on Super Bowl weekend if the bud haven’t broken.  The goal is to get 3 applications during the winter.  Last winter only 2 applications could be made before the buds broke.  In 2010, the first bud to break was the Santa Rosa Plum on February 14.  Looks like only 2 applications will happen this year as well.  It’s a valiant effort to keep the trees, vines, and bushes as healthy.DSC_1345_2739 Everything sprayed gets a cooper lamé sheen.  If you’re going to be applying dormant oil with copper, make sure to cover anything that you don’t want sprayed.  Painted fences, lawn furniture, etc. will soon take on a copper patina if it gets hit.


Here’s something for those longing for summer time.  Just six months ago +100°F days were common place in the garden.  The days were much longer.  Any garden work started around 7pm for a short period of time.  This is what the garden looked like six months ago.DSC_1796_4706I’m not longing for summer time; but I’ve started planning the summer 2011 garden.  Less tomatoes and more beans.  Corn will be introduced for the 1st time with my fingers crossed.  Sweet potatoes too.  Like it or not, summer will be here soon.  Now’s the time to prepare by dormant spraying and seed planning.

Brassicaceae Economics



Plus this…DSC_2263_5673

Equals this…DSC_2335_5743 

How much does organically grown, fresh broccoli and cauliflower cost in the store?  I have no clue.  The broccoli seeds used this fall cost about $1.50.  A variety of Calabrese, Nutribud, and Waltham29 was planted.  I prefer the Waltham29 variety purchased at Floyd’s Hardware Store and planted in late September.  The buds are loose and plentiful.  They even seem a little darker and that translates to more nutritious to me.  I could be wrong.  It happens.  The Purple of Sicily Cauliflower cost about $2.50 for about 200 seeds.  I don’t even know if markets sell purple cauliflower. 

All seeds were sewn in place in September or October.  Most all the seeds sprouted with the exception of the Nutribud Broccoli seeds purchased from Baker Creek.  Pill bugs may have been responsible for fewer of those plants in the garden.



This is a pretty economical way to provide produce for your steam pot.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Color

Even though it’s January and even though it’s been unusually rainy, there are still flowers in the garden.  Winter here in Bakersfield, California is probably like spring in those areas where gardeners love the summer.  Those gardeners are now probably deep in snow and longing for summer.  Not me.  I’m lovin’ winter.  Let me enjoy it.  There’s not much left.

















Thursday, January 13, 2011

Grafting Espalier Fruit Trees

Okay.  I’m beginning my adventures in grafting.  Two of my espaliered (Am I even using that Frenchy word correctly?  I know what I mean.) fruit trees are a little sparse with their lateral branches.  My goal this year is to learn how to graft.  I’ve never done it before – ever; so I’m a bit apprehensive hoping that I don’t cause damage at worst or the grafts don’t take at least.  So here I go into my exploration.

DSC_2331_5737 My tool was a pair of sharp, disinfected pruning shears.  Making a clean, sterile cut helps the odds of this experiment working.

DSC_2300_5741The O’Henry Peach Tree is in need of two lateral branches.  When the tree was planted as a bare root there weren’t any lower branches and none have sprouted in the two years it has been in the garden.  Two sprouts with buds were clipped and placed in a labeled plastic bag and sealed.

DSC_2297_5740The Fantasia Nectarine is in need of three lateral branches.  One of the middle branches was removed because it died.  I think it may have suffered sunburn…not sure.  The same clean cuts were made on the nectarine just like the peach.


The cuttings are in the garage refrigerator.  I was instructed to let them rest there until the buds on the trees begin to swell sometime in February. 

image Courtesy Gardening Know How


At that point, I make a “T” cut on the tree where I would like to make the graft.  I’m getting several bits of advice for the next step.  Do I use wax, tar, or foil to seal the graft?  The image above suggests to simply bind the graft with some twine.  My research continues. 


Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Now I need to consider espaliering (How do you correctly use that Frenchy word?!) the camellias.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Look Up

DSC_1069_2938 Ever look up while you’re in the garden?  There really is a lot more out there to take in than the stuff growing down on the ground where your feet are stuck.


DSC_1071_2940 Sometimes the sky is really blue above the fog and haze.


DSC_2312_5243 Golden California foothills and blue sky.  That’s one of the views from my garden on a clear day looking up and to the east on an unusually clear day.  Those hills are a few miles away.


DSC_1093_2960 I’m not a fan of palm trees; but nothing says “California” like palm trees against a sunset.


DSC_1566_4225 Even junky power lines look pretty artistic in the right light.


DSC_2152_5377 The cloud formations can really be incredible.  Sitting back in a chair with my feet up, looking at the sky is a real time soaker.  It can take me away from some things that need to be done. 
So what.

DSC_2327_5733 The garden is under the flight pattern for planes heading out to Edwards Air Force Base or China Lake Naval Air Weapons  Station.  There’s also planes flying to and from LA and San Francisco.


DSC_1633_4541 Don’t miss the night sky either.

Take the time to look up from your garden.