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!

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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?

Western Fence Lizard

Not exclusive to fences, I’ve noticed a pair of western fence lizards hanging out on the sunny wall around my thornless blackberry plants. They seem to be enjoying life quite a lot, making note of when I water my plants! It’s their mating season now, though I don’t know if they’re a mating pair. In their position, I couldn’t see if one is a male (per their blue bellies) – next time!

I love having lizards in my garden and hopefully they are helping themselves to a few pesky grasshoppers I’ve seen munching on some leaves. I think these beneficial creatures are rather beautiful!

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!

Crown Princess Margareta Rose Debut

About 3-1/2 years ago, I bought several English roses, in containers, to replace several that were planted in-ground but were decimated by gophers who devoured their roots. I’ve kept them in their original containers all this time because of this.  Having a “buy now, investigate later” mindset, I found that these plants were not suited to grow in my area, but were still selling here (a rather dodgy business practice).

Taking a chance, I’ve seen some meet an untimely end (e.g., Munstead wood), but I am so very pleased to report that this past week, the two climbing Crown Princess Margareta rose plants have flowered! Mind you, these were not extraordinary displays (1 flower for one plant, 3 for another), it was heartening that they fought on against all odds and provides a very positive message of hope and patience. I don’t mind that it flowers every few years, as long as it does, which is probably an unusual perspective, but I love these plants.

More information on this fragrant beauty can be found here: http://www.davidaustinroses.com/us/crown-princess-margareta-english-climbing-rose

Jerusalem Sage

Every few weeks, I go to my neighborhood home improvement store, mostly to look for the latest plants. Today was a lucky day for me: I found beautiful plants from the clearance rack, among them 2 Jerusalem sage plants. They are healthy and I already had a backyard vacancy in mind when I saw them. Earlier this year, my beloved white iceberg rose succumbed to one too many gophers who became quite fond of its roots.

These two natives of the Mediterranean and elsewhere will invigorate that corner of the garden and have already stirred up quite a bit of interest among butterflies shortly after I planted them. This is drought-resistant once established as well, practical and lovely! If they thrive in my garden, I will likely propagate them by taking some softwood cuttings in the summer. So very pleased that these fuzzy-leafed beauties are now part of my garden!

A Row of Curly Endive or Frisée

In a fairly straight raised garden row, as nature intended, right? Over several vigorous afternoons, I cleared away back yard weeds (nearly done) and was overjoyed to see that they were not able to overtake the redoubtable but delicious and elegant frisée. They’re almost too lovely to eat, but I do and I am tempted to leave a few to stay on simply because they class up the place. I’ve more frisée seeds to indulge this idea.

As in past seasons, I am keeping track of what will really grow well in my microclimate. It’s often quite frustrating to read the back of seed packets and seeing that “crop X” grows in my area, but then it doesn’t, or not very well, despite efforts. Other times, I take a chance and grow something I don’t guess would do well but it does.

In the meantime, I’ve got bottles of fancy Italian olive oil and balsamic vinegar ready for one these frilly beauties this evening!

Thornless Blackberry Propagation

An all-too-familiar experience, I stumbled upon a solution to problem I didn’t know I even had! Months ago, I purchased 5 Thornless Triple Crown Blackberry plants. In their first season at my home, they produced a few fruits, which I was quite grateful for, but wasn’t expecting anything more than their simply acclimating to their new home in large containers in my back yard.

We’d had an unusually wet winter in our area and gardening would have been a muddy affair, so I let nature and my plants alone for most of that time. The sunny days of spring here have revealed to me that some of these 5 plants decided to propagate themselves during that time. The canes of the plants grew quite long and the tips of some of the plants had reached and dipped into the soil of a few of the adjoining containers, while others dipped into the outside the containers directly into the surrounding raw soil of my garden. This propagation technique, whether done on purpose by the gardener or by nature is called tip layering (more information on several kinds of layering techniques: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/plant-propagation-by-layering-instructions-for-the-home-gardener).

Check out the roots forming at the tip of a cane that wandered into another container. I severed it from the parent plant so both can continue growing in their containers and will (hopefully) be thriving and fruitful. The second photo is the wandering canes that found their new homes in  the raw garden soil, which will also (hopefully) find great happiness in their new homes.

I am so grateful for these unexpected learning opportunities since now, it seems, I will likely have all of the blackberry plants and blackberries I can possibly handle in the near and distant future. It’s such an awesome and humbling thing when good fortune, such as this, just shows up. I’m exquisitely pleased!

 

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!

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