Saturday, June 28, 2014

Nothin' But Trash

Wisteria drapes over the pergola providing shade during the summer.  The blooms start in the spring prior to the leaves and continue throughout the summer months.  Perfect.  Some folks do not like the "mess" blossoms from blooming trees and vines make.  I'm not one of them.  Purple confetti piles up each day as the petals fall.  The original tag used as a bookmark for "wisteria" in my Western Garden Book reads:  Blue Wisteria.  Wow.  That's basic information.

Both vines receive very light pruning as the growth pours over the edges of the pergola.  That pruning is supposed to be responsible for the continuous blossoms according to an old, local nurseryman.  I don't feed it intentionally. However, its roots may have spread enough that it may feast on the fertilizer I provide to the neighboring roses.

Its fuzzy seed pods resemble a green version of something hanging from a Brahma bull.  Well, not really.  Perhaps the Grinch.  The seeds in the pod look like squished Milk Duds.  Those pods and seeds can be discarded or used for decoration when they dry.  The seeds would make dandy BINGO markers.  I do not encourage the seeds to germinate though.  Control of these vines is essential to prevent an invasion.

Honey bees and bumble bees love this stuff.  While taking this bee's portrait, I could hear bumble bees buzzing overhead.  No sweat.  Bees don't bother me cuz I don't bother them.  Until today.

My freshly shampooed hair (I used WEN Winter Cranberry Mint today.) must have attracted a big, fat bumble bee because it latched on to my hair and wouldn't let go.  Rather than risk a sting to the scalp, I leaned to keep the bee suspended away from my scalp until I could reach something to shoo it away.  I reached for Ajax's slobber cloth hanging on the patio.  Shoo.  Shoo.  Dang. Is that thing STILL hanging on?  I looked at my reflection in the glass to discover it was not a bumble bee.

It was a Japanese beetle the size of Godzilla.  These crazy things can't fly well at all; but their grip is strong.  I began hitting myself over the head with the slobber cloth.  Shoo.  Shoo.  Imagine what the neighbors must have thought.  Finally, the beast let go and fell to the patio floor only to fly at me again and again.  I wasn't having any of it.  I used that slobber cloth as if it was a Louisville Slugger.  Pop.  Pop.  Pop.  Slapping that towel as if I was in the basement of the Bakersfield High School gym.  Soon, I wore the creep down with an exceptional snap to send it on its way.  As it flew away I could feel every inch of me turn into one Godzilla sized goose pimple.

Dang those things are creepy.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Like Paint Drying

 Farmer MacGregor is a paint master.  No painted surface on our house or garden can be called "shabby chic". All - and I mean ALL - painted surfaces are well maintained to keep that Disneyland-like look.  Farmer MacGregor works hard to keep things just so.  His idea of a great summer outing with the garden gnomes was to take a ride down to the local paint and wallpaper store.  He was the only one convinced that was a great idea.  As summer began (Forget the calendar.  Summer started a long time ago here in Bakersfield.), the windows were washed then the trim was painted.  Next was painting the doors and shutters.  His day starts very early so that the bulk of work is finished before the heat hits.  He's allowed to go outside several times and admire his handiwork.  "Just look at that shine!"  Yup. 

The paint is not the only thing that thrives in this dry heat.  Some of the plants actually like it too.  Oh, they'll wither and poop out by summer's end; but for now summer is a good thing.  I only say that because the air conditioners are working beautifully.

Bougainvillea - Barbara Karst

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Solar Power

Nematodes have plagued the raised beds in the garden for some time now. So, two beds remain fallow this summer.  I'm following the directions from UC Davis for solarization one bed at a time. The soil must be turned, smoothed, and irrigated deeply.  An application of chicken manure is suggested to be successful.  While the bed is still moist, clear plastic is applied on top of the soil.  Thinner is better; but very thin may tear.  4 ml is being used. The plastic sheeting needs to be anchored down then left for 4 - 8 weeks.  The plastic builds up the soil temperature to kill pests and seeds.  

On about August 13 (8 weeks), the plastic can be removed from this bed and discarded.  It will be ready for planting a fall salad garden.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Boysenberries 2015

Thornless Boysenberry
Harvest of the Thornless boysenberries is complete.  Now it's time to get ready for the 2015 season.  Berries develop on the growth from this summer; so the canes that bore fruit in 2014 need to be removed.  I removed the bird netting then Farmer MacGregor got into the overgrown thicket and cut those canes to the ground.  He also removed any canes with thorns. So much for "thornless". Discarded canes should be burned; but the San Joaquin Valley has very limited times when you can burn.  So into the green waste can they go. That leaves canes that started sprouting this year.  From those, we select 5 canes on each of the 6 plants to be tied to the supports.  Think of fingers on your hand fanning out.

2015 Producing Canes
It's not a perfect science, but it helps to keep this part of the garden tidy.  Berries can really get away from you. If you're not careful, your berry patch will look more like a brier patch from Song of the South.  Any other canes that sprout are removed.  This is something that should be done at least once a week here.  We have found something that thrives in this spot of the garden.

2015 Thornless Boysenberry Patch
As these canes grow, they will be tied to the supports until they reach the top.  At that point, they will be pruned to keep at a manageable height.  Laterals will form and those will get tied up too.  Everything should stay within the support frame.  At least, that's the goal.  The berries will continue to be fertilized and irrigated throughout the summer.  Soil amendment is next on the "to do" list.

Now it's time to enjoy the harvest.