Meyer Lemon Tree and Blood Oranges Brightening the Autumn and Winter

In my rather less lush (vs. warm months) food garden, it is a joy to see that my Meyer lemon and blood orange trees are fruitful! Taken minutes ago, this photo of my lemon tree has already gotten me to thinking about lemon curd, lemon bars, and more. The orange trees have me thinking about the wonderfully vibrant juice I enjoyed from them earlier this year. I have three of these orange trees and one lemon tree, both still young. I’ve not ruled out putting in one more Meyer lemon tree but, as always, the dilemma is, Where will I find the space in the garden?

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Great Blue Lobelia, Unexpected Garden Visitor

To my delight, as I was watering one of my container raspberry plants today, I discovered that a great blue lobelia plant (Lobelia siphilitica) has taken up residence in this same container. I’ve not grown this in my garden before, so I’m assuming that the fates saw to it that at least one seed from another garden has found its way here, and for that I’m grateful. How beautiful is this lovely flower? Most times, when an errant plant takes hold in my garden, it’s a common weed, but not today! If these are the types of  “accidentals” that land in my garden, I welcome them heartedly with open arms. I will do all I can to take care of it and will carefully transplant it into its own container after it has finished flowering. There are many books and writings about gardens that are well planned and firmly controlled. In keeping with my temperament and interests, I like a bit of the unexpected and adapting and learning to new challenges as I go along, one of the many great joys I derive from tending my humble garden!

Honeydew Melon for Halloween!

An unexpectedly long and wet winter and now unexpected warm days has made 2017 an exciting year for my garden. As my cantaloupe vines withered away weeks ago, I now find that at least one honeydew melon seed that I long ago planted in my raised row bed garden has shown signs of life. I’d been diligently watering what looked to be a barren row when a vine started taking root. Now it seems that one large, but still immature honeydew melon is forming, and much smaller one has made an appearance. Sitting atop a brick, I hope that this promising fruit will survive the various challenges of insects, birds, and weather, and into maturity. What a truly lovely treat to cherish and welcome into my garden this Halloween, a rather unusual alternative to the traditional pumpkin!

New Lawn Mower

“Is there anything more thrilling than a new frock?” Yes, Lady Sybil, there is! For me, it’s a new lawn mower, which I bought this afternoon. The one I had been using for many years was simply not functioning well any more, making it a safety issue also. It was a bit of a struggle loading it into the car (4-door sedan) even with the much appreciated help from three store workers and after removing it from its cardboard box. Once I got it back home, it was just me having to unload it from said car. The song lyrics, “I’m as good once as I ever was,” (thank you, Toby Keith) describes the situation. Thankfully my car and my physical self were intact by the end of it. I assembled it and will test it out this coming Saturday when the grass will have grown out sufficiently to test it out. I have the fuel and engine oil ready to go. Looking at the manual, though, and the schedule of maintenance chores, like changing out the oil, well, I’ll have to refer to the schedule often in the early months to make sure I get it right. I’m looking forward to many happy and productive years with this lawn mower!

Apple Tree with Unknown Variety of Fruit

Not exactly a scene from The Birds, but 2017 has shaped up to be an ongoing project of fending off birds and insects that made it well-known that they enjoy what I grow! An exception to this is one of my apple trees, which grows one variety of apple. On the label, at the time of purchase, it said, “Golden Delicious.” Surveying my garden, this was one of the trees that birds did not touch, despite a few rather good-sized fruits. This was the first year that this tree, which I’ve had for a few years, was able to successfully fruit. Sampling one of them, they’re tart, definitely not Golden Delicious, which makes them the perfect candidates for pies and sauce. What a nice bright spot of news!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

Destructive Gophers in the Garden

They’re single-minded, for sure. Gophers are a problem in my city, not just my garden, which makes gardening a significant challenge. In parkways and elsewhere, soil mounds and holes dot our city’s landscape. In recent years, they’ve started tunneling into my front yard as well. Their behavior greatly influence my decisions about how and where to garden. They made a recent attempt to expand their tunnels where one of my purple aeonium plants grows. The plant survived, thankfully, but I’ve lost dozens of rose plants because gophers enjoy eating those particular roots very much. They’ve also made two attempts into my raised row bed gardens but apparently didn’t find anything of sufficient interest to make further tunneling attempts, for now.

Another survivor is my Meyer lemon tree, where a few gopher holes appeared. I kept praying for its survival after it had been attacked and left the tree small and looking rather unwell. I dutifully watered and fed this tree and this year has a few fruits, albeit immature, appeared. That alone felt like a victory because I thought that this plant was near its end. Apparently citrus tree roots are not delicious enough for them as they’ve also ignored my kumquat and blood orange trees. In my garden, at least, gophers have ignored my apple trees, olive trees, dragon trees, tomato plants, lettuces, my other succulents, and pink breath of heaven.

As time goes on, it is clear that my strategy for gopher abatement will continually evolve and require multiple methods at once. It can be several weeks of inactivity, followed by a fresh round of tunneling. Especially in my food garden, a lush lawn is a pipe dream. Many of my plants are above ground in containers (although years ago, they climbed into containers and devoured quite a bit of the cabbage I grew) but the tunneling continues. It can be challenging to have to fend off garden-unfriendly creatures from underground and overhead, eyeing my crops as an endless buffet. The good news in all of this is that there are many crops that I enjoy that these creatures clearly do not. Chicken wire has been helpful for many years, but is also vulnerable. I’m likely to build some type of movable contraption that has parts that are impervious to strikes from its large, powerful claws. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Praying Mantis!

I’ve been waiting all my life for a visit from a praying mantis, very truly, and it appeared magically minutes ago in one of my olive trees! Sigh. To be specific, this is a California mantis (Stagmomantis californica) and it was moving quite slowly, deliberately, with contemplation. I first became interested in the insect after watching an old school television show, Kung Fu, years ago, where the praying mantis form of martial arts was featured (and was so cool). This looks to be a female. I didn’t see any other mantises around. Having seen this gorgeous specimen, I will, henceforth, be more watchful of the praying mantis in my garden. I see it as a symbol of good luck and quiet strength. Wow!

Cantaloupe Vine

Hit the bricks! I am relieved and pleased that the cantaloupe seeds that I planted this year are now showing some success. I have several vines and, if they all fruit, well, cantaloupe will be my new food garden best friend! I place the fruit on bricks to keep them away from potential problems from sitting in excess moisture. The vines are taking over this particular raised row bed garden (I have 4 separate raised row bed gardens) and I will keep repositioning the vines to make sure there aren’t “traffic jams” among the competing and ever-lengthening vines. As more fruits develop, I will dutifully find more bricks. My busy workweek has me watering my food garden nearly each day, but I’m not inspecting each plant for every change they may be undergoing. When I eyed these beauties, I said out loud, “Melons!” I’m really excited for how this section of my garden shapes up!

 

Thornless Blackberry Plants, Fruiting

A few of my thornless blackberry plants have some immature fruits, with some just starting to show some color. I started out with 5 of these plants in containers, but a few canes sprang up in the surrounding soil (at least 4 as of today), so I’m guessing I’ll  have at least some blackberry bragging rights before the season is through!  Between that and my raspberry plants, my berry needs have been more than met!

Apple Tree Branch Cutting Is Alive!

Several weeks ago, I was trimming apple tree branches that crisscrossed other branches and branches that seemed not in keeping with the tree’s overall form set forth by the larger, older branches. I saved 2 of these cuttings with the thought that they were long and sturdy enough to serve as stakes for a surrounding tomato plant whose vines needed some support. I simply placed these 2 apple tree cuttings into the nearby large soil-filled container and watered that container (which is already occupied by a raspberry plant – many players here!) as usual each week. As it turns out, one of these branches has now sprouted new green leaves – it’s alive! I hadn’t planned on the cuttings serving as anything else but a support for a tomato plant – and a good way to repurpose a tree cutting. Without any extraordinary effort at all (just soil and water), I may have (we’ll see how it goes in the future) inadvertently propagated at least 1-2 apple tree saplings that may one day fruit. Wow! It’s from my 3-in-1 apple tree, so I am not sure which apple(s) might come from these 2 cuttings, but I’d simply be happy if they fruited at all. But now I’ve got to think about how and where to accommodate this and possibly the other branch should both successfully develop into apple tree saplings in their own right. I have a bit of time to come up with a plan. A lot of exciting activity is going on in my food garden right now!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

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