Sunday, March 27, 2011

Point & Shoot

I have concocted a screwy way to take pictures when my back won’t allow me to get down on the ground with my eye against the camera.  I simply set the camera to automatic, point, shoot, and hope for the best.  Here are some of the results from today’s garden tour without any editing:

DSC_2404Granny Smith Apple


DSC_2401Al Kuffa Tomato (harding off)




DSC_2412 Merlot Lettuce


DSC_2405 Golden Bantam Corn


DSC_2410 Strawberries


DSC_2413 O’Henry Peach


DSC_2415unknown variety Fig


DSC_2400 George L. Taber Azalea



Generally, the images turn out just fine.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Citrus Blossom Time

Longer days, warmer days, and good fertilization along with sweet rain on well drained soil all combined to help create a bounty of citrus blossoms.  The scent will fill the garden along with the wisteria in the coming days.  Most of the blossoms will drop from these dwarf varieties because they are so young; but I’ll enjoy the blossoms for now.

Locally, one of the last citrus tasting events will be held tomorrow at White Forest Nursery.  It’s pretty nice way to sample a variety of citrus to help determine what works best.  A representative from Four Winds Growers is there to provide samples to taste, growing advice, and stock to buy.  It’s a pretty great deal to help get started in growing citrus.

DSC_2636_6219 Variegated Pink Lemon


DSC_2637_6220 Satsuma Mandarin


DSC_2639_6222 Robertson Orange


DSC_2640_6223 Rio Red Grapefruit

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In The Leafy Treetops

  The skies parted for a time this afternoon for a little garden inspection.  After checking the progress in the vegetable beds (nothing to note), I checked  on  the trees to see how they came through the wind and rain storms we’ve had recently.

DSC_2611_6195Granny Smith Apple

Apple buds are plentiful on old Granny.  This year is the best ever; but she’s not out of the woods yet.  There’s more wind to come that will, more than likely, thin out the bounty.  Note the dark sky making a great backdrop for the sun beaming on the buds.


DSC_2610_6194O’Henry Peach

In various stages of blooming, the peach tree looks like it may produce fairly well this season.  I’ll be concentrating on creating a thicker canopy to protect the trunk and limbs from the scorching sun.


DSC_2613_6197Santa Rosa Plum

A canopy like the Santa Rosa Plum produced would certainly help prevent sun scald on some of the other trees.  The plum made it through the storms in good shape.  Sadly, there were no plums that survived.  Wait a minute.  What? 


DSC_2623_6206 Santa Rosa Plum

There’s a bajillion more clusterslike this under that canopy.  Many of the tiny plums are sure to drop.  I hope I can at least taste one this summer…at most, jar up some plum jelly.


DSC_2618_6201 Warren Pear

A small amount of damage caused by the wind was noted on the Warren Pear.  It didn’t bloom this spring so no blooms to worry about.  It’s getting a nice start on producing a thicker canopy.


DSC_2620_6203 Fantasia Nectarine

This tree is the #1 candidate for sun protection.  The nectarine really needs a canopy.  In the meantime, a temporary screen will be erected.  I sure hope more leaves will sprout.  The blooms are similar to the peach tree…if they would only produce a piece of fruit.


DSC_2621_6204 Blenheim Apricot

Baby apricots made it through the storms!  No fruit has made it to maturity on the apricot tree.  It looks promising for this summer though.  The plum tree bloomed before the apricot; but the apricots are much bigger than the plums.

All the fruit trees were fertilized on February 20.  They will be fed again during the 1st weekend of April.  A six week fertilizer plan should do for now with adjustments when the weather changes and the growth slows.  Just want to track this and see any progress.


By clicking on any image a new window should open with a much bigger version.  That is IF I remembered to make that feature available.

Monday, March 21, 2011

No Vine Before Its Time

After the wind whipped through here this weekend, I wasn’t sure much of the vines would remain.  They were really flouncing around for quite a while.  The grapevine  didn’t really budge.  The peas formed a moving green wall.  The birds couldn’t hang on up in the wisteria.  I was afraid the abundance of buds would be heading towards Madera.

DSC_2597_6181 It seems the wisteria is undamaged and about ready to pop.  Their perfume is just in time to replace the fading lilacs.


DSC_2599_6183The grapevine came through the storm without a scar.  But, I don’t know what a scar looks like on a grapevine. 

Better luck next time Madera.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Against the Wind

I do not like the wind.  It’s destructive, messy, annoying, and (around here) hazardous. 


In December 1977, a bunch of the San Joaquin Valley was blown up into the atmosphere by nasty winds and then scattered to parts as far away as the bay area.  Last night the breeze turned into a wind.  It went on for hours and continued until the rain finally arrived late this afternoon.  I woke up to part of my tender lemon tree broken and hurled around quite a few obstacles and heading out to the street.

DSC_2589_6173 The wind chimes were not gently chiming throughout the night.  They were madly clanging to wake even a very sound sleeper like me.  The clapper indicates the wind is coming from the south.

DSC_2592_6176 Confirmation from the weathervane indicates that part of the Valley is heading north again.  It seems to be a constant exchange we have.  Guck from the north floats south and fills our skies here until a wind comes through and lobs it back their way with a big “Thank you very much”.DSC_2594_6178 Shards from the broken terra cotta will be re-assigned and the bay tree is seeking a new home.

Perhaps if I owned a share of one of those wind mills up in Tehachapi I might like the wind a bunch more.  Until then, I do not like the wind.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pea Patch

Tall Telephone Peas were planted on September 18, 2010.  I’ve been harvesting them for sometime now; but only recently have any made it to the kitchen.  Peas make great lunchtime snacks!  The green pearls are sweet and grassy tasting – delicious.  Sadly, I do not track how much of each crop is harvested.  That’s simply too much record keeping for me.  I can’t even keep a garden journal.  There are notes in my Sunset gardening book though.  Blogging helps me organize things a bit better than trusting my memory.


This variety of peas must be the type that old Jack planted.  The package describes the vines as reaching up to 9’ tall.  I suspect that is fairly accurate since the supports are over 6’ and the vines started running horizontally rather than up into the clouds and goose with the golden eggs.  I know.  Jack grew beans.  Artistic license in play here.


The supports will stay in place to string up the tomatoes after they have hardened off.  The timing should work out pretty good.  I really thought the peas would have been finished by now.  They really had a very slow growing season and didn’t do much until the weather warmed up a bit.

DSC_2565_6149 The rest of my Tall Telephone seeds were traded with a gardening friend that is growing an abundance of sweet potatoes.  He will supply me with some of his bounty at harvest time.  That frees up a bit more garden space for something else this summer.  Perhaps I’ll plant some bell peppers.  I’ve traded seeds to distant gardeners and shared an over abundance with others, now the two types of trading have been combined.

Does anyone else make trades with fellow gardeners?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fig Tree


What do you know?!  The volunteer fig tree has figs!  I never expected a thing out of this tree that was, not doubt, transported to my garden from my neighbor’s by way of a bird.  It’s growing in a good sized terra cotta pot.  I had thought about pruning it to match the rest of espalier orchard; instead I think I’ll just try to keep the growth under control with pruning.  It’s still young enough for me to change my mind.

It seems the world’s supply of figs are grown in the Mediterranean.   If this tree grows as easily and carefree as it has so far, I may be able to place a dot on the map representing Bakersfield, California.




Courtesy  Wikipedia.

If fruit production doesn’t boom, perhaps Farmer MacGregor and I could go into the clothing trade if times get tougher.  Various sizes available.  Color choices are limited.

imageCourtesy  Musee de l'Arles Antique, Arles, France.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Apple Support

All the espalier fruit trees that are going to bloom this spring have bloomed.  The final tree, Granny Smith, opened up today.  Some of the petals have a little damage on them.  I suppose imperfections are to be expected whenever a gardener doesn’t use dangerous pesticides.  The dormant trees are only treated with a copper spray along with pyrethrum.  I’ll need to keep an eye on old Granny.  She also is a little sensitive to the sun


Most of the espalier line of fruit trees will be shaded from the intense summer sun to avoid any further sun scald.  It’s because the trees are opened up and have more exposure to the sun that scald damage occurs.  Two of the trees, apricot and plum, have no problem with the sun.  These two trees produce many more leaves to provide shade to the limbs than the other trees.  Peach, nectarine, pear, and apple produce leaves more at the end of their limbs; while the apricot and plum have leaves shooting out everywhere all summer long.

All the trees have been dormant sprayed, fertilized, mulched, and had fresh support ties to start them off the right way for the next growing season.


Other activity today:

Planted -

  • Lettuce – Planted in the salad bed where tomatoes will rule in a short time.
    • Tom Thumb – (50–70 days) Tennis ball sized butter head Limestone Bibb type lettuce.  Terrior Seeds / Underwood Gardens lists this as a variety from the 1830s and suggest that it would be a good choice to grow in pots, window boxes, and under trees.  I planted this in my salad bed to replace the spent lettuce that can’t take the warm spring weather.  No tree or shade in sight.
    • Saint Anne’s Slow-bolting - (58 days) A short romaine type that is a good candidate to be used as a cut and come again lettuce.  I have high hopes this variety will take me to the end of spring when there is no hope whatever of growing lettuce until fall.
  • Carrot – Also planted in the salad bed that will soon hold all the summer tomatoes.
    • Red-Cored Chantenay - (60-75 days) Large bodied, deep red-orange to center.  Refined shape with wide shoulders great for bunching.
  • Sunflower – Something is mowing down the seeds I planted a few weeks ago.  I’m planting around the salad bed to see if location matters.
    • Teddy Bear – Giant six inch puffballs of sunny golden-yellow flowers.  These dwarf plants should grow 2’ – 3’.  Perfect.

There was a very light rain this afternoon with clouds for most of the day.  The temperature probably didn’t even make it to 70°.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3 Sisters

This summer, corn is taking the spotlight in the garden .  Much study of a variety of resources led me to try the 3 Sisters method of growing corn.  Corn, beans, and squash grown together are supposed to compliment each other.  The corn should be planted in a block of 4 rows to help with pollination.  I’ve decided to stagger the planting with 2 rows planted today and 2 more planted in about 2 weeks.  I may plant more corn, 2 rows at a time.  The outside rows will be planted with Borlotto Solista Beans.  The beans will use the corn stalks as support.  These type of pole beans were grown last summer.  They are flashy and delicious.


On the north and south ends of the rows, Lemon Squash will be planted a little later.  However, good old Louise Riotte suggests in her book Carrots Love Tomatoes that planting squash early or late in the season helps to avoid insect damage.  She also suggests to plant nasturtiums in an effort to repel squash bugs.  I can do that.

Initially, Teddy Bear Sunflowers were planted surrounding the bed intended for corn.  Plans changed and that’s fine because it turns out that sunflowers don’t get along with beans.  Hope the tomatoes like Teddy Bears.  They’re going to be neighbors soon.

Here’s a seed catalog description of Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn: 

E.L. Coy sold two quarts of seeds to Mr. Burpee in 1900 amd stated. “You now own the very sweetest and richest corn ever known.”  Very sweet, juicy, corny tast from 6” ears bearing 10-14 rows of deep, buttery kernels.  Good yields.

I’m crossing my gloved fingers that corn will be a success in the garden during the summer of 2011.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lilac Perfume


Lilac is finally perfuming the garden.  The flowers have a more purple/lilac cast to them; but this is how the camera recorded things today.  Just wanted to record the lilac progress in my garden journal for future reference.  When a scent drive is invented, I’ll come back and apply the treatment to this post.  Wow.  It smells terrific.


Anyone remember Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Yard Work


Today a little garden housekeeping took place since the clocks have adjusted for longer daylight.

After a nice walk in the park, the relics of spring were gathered and put in the green waste – camellia petals, spent broccoli plants, and purple cabbages.  The cabbage, Purple of Sicily, was disappointing in flavor and texture but it grew really well.  The taste was bitter and the texture was less than tender.  The broccoli - Calabrese, Nutribud, & Waltham29 - produced well.  The taste was good and the texture was tender.  Aphids were never a problem.  The cabbage patch is being prepared for summer corn (Golden Bantam).

Since a truck load of Kellogg’s Harvest Supreme wasn’t delivered, I had to visit my local nursery and stock up again.  Before the seeds go in the soil needs to be amended.  I hope to have the 1st round of corn planted before March 17.  To round out the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans, squash), Boroltto Solista Beans and Lemon Squash will be planted with hopes of super production in this the year of Corn.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Espalier Progress

Most all the trees have buds breaking.  Today the Warren Pear finally joined the others.  Sadly, it seems that all the buds are leaves.  References state that fruit may not be produced up until the tree’s fifth year.  This pear tree was planted in January 2009 so there is still hope…just not this year.


Warren Pear

One of the trees grafted earlier this year was the Fantasia Nectarine.  It needs more lateral branches because of sun scald (I have determined without any formal training so…).  So far the grafted scions have not shown signs of life ; but the upper branches are bursting.  No fruit has been produced to date; but this may be the year.  This tree was also planted in January 2009.


Fantacia Nectarine

Not only are the fruit trees coming to life, the Red Flame Grape is stirring.  Farmer MacGregor is the master pruner of this vine as it matures over the arbor he built.


Red Flame Grape

All of the fruit trees and the grape vine have been fertilized but they really needed some mulch to set them up right for the hot summer ahead.  I went and got a few bags, came home and cleaned out the garden wagon, then got busy.


The trees are almost ready to face summer.  The only thing left is to rig up some kind of shade structure to protect this mini orchard from more sun damage.


Note:  If Kellogg would like to send me more Gardener & Bloome, I would shamelessly post the benefits of their product that is 15% chicken $h!t.  Even though it’s super stinky, it seems to help the garden grow.  Until then, I’ll continue to buy the stuff at my local nursery.DSC_2586_6129 For every gardener still living in winter, the reflection on the bag of Harvest Supreme is not a flash from the camera…it’s just that Lucky Old Sun.


Friday, March 11, 2011


The angle of the sun is moving from the south up to the north giving me more daylight in the garden.  Rather than hibernate after dinner, I can go out in the garden while dinner is cooking and get a bit more work done like a busy bee.


Raking the gravel out in the garden, pulling out the spent broccoli, or weeding the camellias are some exercises recently performed out in my garden gymnasium.  Farmer MacGregor joined in the calorie burning by mowing the lawn.  This weekend will be dedicated to more weeding and planting lettuce, carrots, and corn.  Heck, I might even consider a trip to the nursery to buy a flat or two of flowers for the front yard.






Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The vegetable garden consists of four raised beds.  Cinder blocks form the beds.  The holes in the blocks allow me room to plant things like herbs, strawberries, sweet peas, and sunflowers.  Last fall the freesia bulbs were lifted to be transplanted all over other parts of the garden and allowing room for the strawberries to spread.  A few freesia stubbornly remain.  These will find a new home in the fall.  Until then, I’ll enjoy the show.

DSC_2567_6111Opening as predicted, the butter yellow variety are soft and creamy.  They remind me of meringue.  Inspecting the garden before lunch may be the reason for all the food references.

DSC_2566_6110 The burnt orange variety opened too.  Just as I feared…It looks like it’s a man/bug eating variety just like the Little Shop of Horrors.

The lilac buds haven’t broken yet.  They continue to fatten up.  It should be any time now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Love Is In The Air

DSC_2559_6103Twitterpated.  The birds in the garden are completely twitterpated.  This afternoon at lunch, this fellow was letting the entire neighborhood hear his treetop opera.  He sat at the very top of the neighbor’s mulberry tree trying to impress all the ladies while I was out noting the progress of some buds.  These birds look like a sparrow dipped in that powder that my kindergarten teacher used to mix with water to make finger paints.  THAT came out of nowhere.  Back to the garden…

DSC_2548_6095 One of the lilacs has very plump buds ready to burst.  I suspect tomorrow at lunch I may be able to enjoy lilac perfume.  I have two different varieties of lilacs in containers.  Each one has a story to make them even more enjoyable.  This one was given to me as a gift.  It is from a cutting from a lilac that came to California from Mississippi.  Allen’s great-grandmother brought it with her.  Allen’s mother had a cutting in the yard of every place she lived.  This cutting was taken in the spring of 2004.  Looks like it’s going to do well.  If you have a lilac, make sure to prune it right after it blooms if you have to prune it at all.  The flowers form on the growth from the prior year.  If you prune too late or too much, it will take at least another season to enjoy the bouquets these shrubs provide.

DSC_2553_6097 This freesia reminds me of the crazy plant in the Little Shop of Horrors.  It should be blooming tomorrow.  I certainly hope it’s only a freesia.

DSC_2554_6098Buttery yellow petals will most likely enjoy the spring sun by the end of the week.  I thought I had transplanted all of these bulbs last fall to a better location allowing me to transplant more strawberries.  Seems I missed a few and they seem to multiply fairly easily.  The freesia bulbs were a gift to me as well.  These gifts keep on giving.

Lilacs and freesia grow vigorously in zone 8-9 in Bakersfield, California