Saturday, January 25, 2014

This Date in Garden History

Iceberg Rose Shrub
On January 25, 1999, it snowed in Bakersfield, California.  Today, it did not.  Not even close.  It was74° with not a cloud in the sky following a couple of days of blowing dust.  Yuck.  This looks like it will be the forecast for a long, long time.  No rain or snow in the forecast. Because of the very warm conditions, plants that are normally dormant now have buds bursting.  The roses never really went dormant.  In fact, when I pruned some today there were new leaves busting out along with plenty of flowers.

Ebb Tide Tree Rose
I went ahead and pruned as if today was a snow day.  However, tomorrow I will fertilize.  Some experts warn against fertilizing now because there may be some colder weather ahead.  Some experts say to go ahead.  I chose to fertilize with a systemic insecticide because I have a bad feeling that this year will be a big year for pests in the garden.  I've spotted grasshoppers all through this winter.  It simply hasn't been cold enough to kill those boogers.

This year will really be a bigger challenge with the disastrous drought here in California. We all need to do our part and conserve water more than usual. It will still be more economical to grow my own vegetables and fruit rather than buy expensive produce from the grocer.  However, I plan to solarize the raised beds to burn out nematodes this summer.  If the temperatures remain this warm, I may be able to start that project much, much sooner than the recommended schedule of May - August.  Tomatoes and peppers may be grown in bags of compost this summer to support my salsa habit.

I would like to know if anyone else is noticing the difference in their garden now and if mandatory rationing is expected where you live in California.  Herds are being sold off.  Acres will be fallowed.  This truly will be the year of dust.  Hopefully there will not be a spike in Valley Fever cases.

Good luck fellow Californians, I believe the rest of the world is about to feel just how important California's San Joaquin Valley is for their food supply.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

You Little Pansy!

Viola - Jump Up Purple
Because 2013 kicked my butt, I'm determined to start 2014 off positively.  Today I planted pansies.  The sun was bright with no rain clouds for thousands of miles.  Three varieties were planted:  Dynamite Lavender, Jump Up (pictured), and Sorbet White. 

Because I'm still not cleared to bend, my gardening has been modified.  Using long handled tools I prepped the bed then augured the holes for the plants.  As I hovered over the hole, I plunked a plant right into place with the precision (sometimes) of a bombardier.  Loose soil was raked in around to tuck the plant into its new bed.  After a nice drenching of water, snail bait was dribbled out.  I used Deadline (Force II).  In the morning, I expect to still see my pansies with snail carcasses littering the flower bed.

The rain outlook for California in 2014 is tragic.  If you would like to follow the progress of our precipitation, try this website.  Mama mia!  Really tragic. 

Silver lining:  It looks like a perfect year to replace your lawn to conserve water.