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!

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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

Brussels Sprouts Stalk, Close Up

This Brussels sprouts stalk was ready for its close-up! I planted seeds in my raised row bed garden last year and months later, am seeing healthy results. I’ll soon remove the tops of the more mature stalks so that my currently small sprouts will become much bigger. Frankly, I’m just happy seeing that the seeds I planted successfully germinated! I’m amused with how excited I still get with any kind of gardening success. I’ll be planting more Brussels sprouts seeds in another part of the garden in September. It’s a good thing I love to eat Brussels sprouts! Even so, this sturdy, vigorous vegetable is aesthetically pleasing as well.

Informative video on this topic, by Gary Pilarchik (2014) is posted here:

 

Caged: Thornless Blackberry Plants

I was fortunate to have a few hours tonight after work to tidy up my large containers of thornless blackberry plants. Using some of the remaining chicken wire (stucco netting), I caged them up. No fancy stuff here, just cut the chicken wire to fit around the inside of each container and securing them by bending the cut ends into makeshift hooks. I then carefully lowered them into the containers.

The task was challenging because 4 out of the 5 containers were root bound so I could not move those containers. So, it was a matter of detangling the multiple canes to know which canes belonged to which container. Aside from the weeds, surrounding the containers are a few canes that came through the containers’ drainage holes, enjoying the uncaged life – freedom! Several blackberry flowers have emerged so I’m likely to enjoy these fruits this season. The next challenge, of course, will be the trick of removing cages as needed come harvest time – steady hands!

 

Black Krim Tomato Plant, from Broken Vine is Fruiting

Last season, my one Black Krim tomato plant grew vigorously in the ground, where it has remained to this day. But during last season, part of the vine broke off. This broken part did not have any tomatoes yet, but I decided to plant it as a stand alone in a 5-gallon container with potting soil.

Happily, this plant is now fruiting. This is an easy way to propagate tomato plants. Simply plant them into potting soil and water enough to keep moist a couple of times per week.

I’ve already eaten several pounds of Black Krim tomatoes from the parent plant and it’s only early June, so I imagine that between the parent plant, this one,  and separate Black Krim plant taken from another piece of broken vine and in its own container, I will be quite awash with just these tomatoes. I’m waiting to see if other varieties will take in my raised row bed garden.

I’ve not decided if I will eventually transplant them into the ground since they seem happy in their containers. Certainly, this season, they will remain in their containers, now that they’re fruiting. This is shaping up to be a bountiful season.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The non-fruit parts of tomato plants are poisonous 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

Partly Red Lettuce, Unknown But Cherished

It’s bound to happen (and probably not the last). Around 2 weeks after I plant seeds in my raised row bed gardens, I see if they have germinated. If they have not, I make a decision on planting more of those seeds or perhaps plant seeds from an entirely different vegetable or fruit. Well, I no longer have the empty seed packet (likely from seed I’d kept from previous years), but I now have a few of these rather strikingly lovely partly red lettuces. A variety of butterhead perhaps?

This year, I’ve had to replant several seeds (birds regularly feed in my garden), so my raised rows may end up with a rather fun and eclectic mix of “Hey, you made it!” and “I was expecting you!” Sounds like a rather interesting party!

Thornless Blackberry Plants, Thriving

They were small, neat, and tidy when I bought them, honest! But these thornless blackberry plants are enjoying their sunny location a lot. I’ll have to figure out how to get them a bit more tidy-ish. No use to move the containers as they’ve firmly rooted through the containers’ drain holes and have sprouted new shoots  inches and feet away directly into the surrounding soil. This gives me hope that I may get some blackberries this year. I’d shared some cuttings with a friend, but looks like I’ll have to share with even more friends before I’m through – not a bad problem to have!

Brussels Sprouts, Season 1

I’m pleased to see that the seeds took to my raised row bed garden! It’s my first attempt at growing Brussels sprouts, and assuming that they like where they are, these lovely plants will eventually produce the sprouts that I dearly love to eat. I am tempted to harvest a few of the leaves, though. They look so enticing in the sunlight, don’t they?

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