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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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

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!

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

Southern Belle Dwarf Nectarine Tree

After contemplating my backyard garden space, I came to the decision to welcome a new fruit tree, the Southern Belle dwarf nectarine tree. This genetic dwarf fruit tree, according to its label, is to grow no larger than 5 feet tall and produces very large, juicy and delicious (!) nectarines. I was so excited going to my neighborhood nursery this early morning and found my tree. It already has one very young fruit on it. I am hoping that it will enjoy its new home and stays healthy and will be productive.

I’m still thinking about how best to use my backyard garden space. I will have think about my future nectarine needs (!) and am actually looking for a space where a second of these nectarine trees might be realistically planted within the current backyard scheme. As you can tell, I’m very excited about this latest member of my backyard food garden!

Hope of Spring: Bare Root Peach Trees

The sadness of the loss of one of my apple trees has been soothed a bit by the addition of 2 bare root semi-dwarf, self-fertile peach trees: Desert Gold and July (Kim) Elberta. I planted these earlier this afternoon. About 4 years ago, I removed 2 quince trees (which began life as pear trees) since the fruit was attacked by plum curculio beetles (https://janedata.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/quince-fruit-culprit-drilling-tiny-holes-identified/), rendering the fruit inedible and increasing the risk for brown rot. This same beetle has been known to attack peach trees also, but enough time has passed and I’d like to give these trees a chance and see if peaches might survive and thrive in my food garden.

In the end, it’s always a bit of a gamble to see which plants survive in a garden. The premise of “grow what you actually enjoy eating” still rings true for me and I see no point in growing thriving fruits and vegetables in my private food garden that I don’t actually enjoy eating. Among other reasons, I like knowing that I grow the food that eat. The distance from “farm to fork” is shorter!

Saying Goodbye to a Tree

Nearly 4 years ago, I planted two bare root apple trees, Beverly Hills and golden delicious, with great hope that they would thrive in my backyard (https://janedata.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/apple-trees-golden-delicious-and-beverly-hills/), as has my 3-in-1 apple tree. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Both fell victim to cedar apple rust and despite years of treatment, the Beverly Hills tree has continued a downward trend, with a weak root system and producing fruit that would not survive to maturity.  The golden delicious has also been struggling, but has been able to produce delicious fruit to that survive to maturity. Although I’ll be keeping my eye on the golden delicious, today was the day I decided to say goodbye to the Beverly Hills apple tree and dug it out.

While it’s a sad event, it’s the nature of gardening – not every plant survives, despite efforts to keep it healthy. I’d probably kept it too long, but really wanted to give it a chance to turn things around, which didn’t happen. Investing in the care of a declining plant may be helpful in the short run if improvement in health is evident shortly after restorative efforts; otherwise, it’s better to put place efforts into the healthy, stronger plants. My 3-in-1 apple tree was also hit by cedar apple rust but has been able to fight back and produce quite a lot of apples. Loving trees as I do, especially fruit trees, I know the decision was right for the health of my entire backyard food garden. Goodbye, Beverly Hills apple tree.

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

Chinese Flame Trees Stricken with Bacterial Infection

My area has been in drought conditions for a few years. The mandatory water restrictions that followed have stressed out the Chinese flame trees growing along my parkway, so much so that they started oozing sap. It didn’t help that some of the pruning that my city did this year were very close to the trees’ roots. I noticed honey-like sap coming from my trees a few weeks ago. I suspected some type of infection and today, the city’s tree expert called me and said that the trees are not in anyimg_1540 danger of dying (thankfully), but they do have a bacterial infection. He said I am to water the trees every other day for a week and to use a balanced fertilizer along with it. I will also be allowed to water more frequently henceforth. I asked him about the drought playing a role in my trees’ plight, and he said it was likely a factor. I suspect that the trees are infected with something called bacterial wetwood disease (https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/SP631.pdf).

I am grateful to have caught this infection early and will treat it as recommended, particularly to help heal the vulnerable wounds that may become targeted by insects and/or birds that may worsen the problem, and in fact, these wounds are likely vulnerable to even worse tree infections. I hope that watering and fertilizing the tree will, indeed, be the right medicine for these fine trees.

Dragon Tree, “Blood” Resin

One year ago, I removed a few branches from my large dragon tree. One of the cut areas is now showing a small amount of the very dark “dragon tree blood” resin. It is so very striking, a very deep red. The tree is very healthy and robust. This is the first time I’ve seen evidence of the famed “dragon’s blood.” One of my beloved tree’s mysteries has been revealed. Stunning.IMG_3367

Apple Tree, Caged!

Nearly a year ago, I noted how the sparrows in my area had descended upon my helpless (but prolific) 3-in-1 apple tree. I recall losing up to 50% of this tree’s fruit to them, which is quite an astounding feat (well played, birds). The tree is still relatively young, so the loss was significant. Following through on my thoughts from last year, I decided that today was the day to cage the tree, using stucco netting (also known as chicken wire), wire cutters, and a few pieces of twine. One apple was already knocked down (but not victim to the birds, happily – it was sweet and delicious). Several apples are nearing ripeness and I didn’t want to lose the chance and then more fruit this time around.IMG_1480

The handiwork is a bit basic, but I wanted it to be a simple project, which it was. I wrapped the tree with netting with a circumference just out of the reach of bird beaks – I know how funny that sounds! I wrapped another round atop the first one since the tree is taller than the height of the netting. I also put a layer of netting on the top. I secured the layers in a few places with twine, with a few tied in “bows” or “rabbit ears” so that I can open up the cage in strategic places to get to the fruit. The design is easy to remove and expand as the tree gets bigger, and I could do it myself, in about an hour. I’m already so happy looking outside and thinking about all of the fruits that I will get to enjoy this year!

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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