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

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

Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomatoes

You’d think I’d never grown tomatoes before, but I’m so excited when a tomato plant is fruiting! I ran out of raised row and container space (first world problem) so I planted one Aunt Ruby’s German tomato seed in the ground. It must love this location because the plant has grown tall and wide and is covered in tomatoes. Wow! This makes me want to plant a third of these and other tomato seeds in raised rows, a third in containers, and a third in the ground next year. Best laid plants!

The tomatoes are in various stages of maturity, but the one pictured may be ready to pick in no more than two weeks. This beautiful heirloom tomato looks mighty fine and, I’m sure, will be very, very delicious!img_3374

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

Asiatic Jasmine Groundcover Cuttings

I stopped by a nearby garden center today and found in its clearance rack an entire flat of solid-colored Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) groundcover cuttings. Wow! I’ve been re-imagining my front and back yard garden spaces this year. The back yard will primarily be a food garden. The front yard has been more of a challenge. I have a few bushes, a shrub, and a tree, which are lovely, but I wanted to add an interesting element to freshen things up. The idea of having sometimg_3373hing fragrant felt right.

Having read elsewhere about the potential for this plant to become a weed, I decided a happy compromise would be to grow these cuttings in containers. I like the option to move this plant around as my garden design evolves. There is also topiary potential, which lights up my imagination! I am already envisioning a fragrant pathway to my front door. And why not?

I am very pleased that this garden center is so near, making budget-friendly gardens a reality!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The sap from this plant can irritate the skin. More information on the toxicity of this plant can be found here:

http://www.hortweek.com/trachelospermum/landscape/article/1078435

Tomato Hornworms

I was inspecting the last of my actively fruiting tomato plants when I noticed two tomato hornworms (Manduca quinquemaculata) eating away at one of my plants. This was absolutely appalling! And yes, these caterpillars will devour and kill your tomato plants if you don’t remove them right away. Their green color is a close match to the stalks and leaves of the plant so you do have to look carefully. They can be easily missed even if right in front of your eyes. If allowed to mature, these caterpillars will become five-spotted hawkmoths.

img_1604And then, there’s the indelicate matter of removing these things from the plant. They cling hard to the plant so you will either have to forcibly remove them by hand (I was too grossed out to do that) or by some other method. I opted to poke and smack them off with a small stick and then smacked them some more once they got to the ground so that they would not make a reappearance. A very hungry pile of ants quickly moved in for their unexpected feast. I found that yelling, “Get off my f***ing plant!” several times helped with the process immensely, to deal with the awfulness of the moment, kind of like that scene in the Harrison Ford film, Air Force One, when he, as the US president, is fighting off Gary Oldman and (spoiler alert), tells him, “Get off my plane!” and out the plane he went.

More information on tomato hornworms and their abatement can be found here: http://www.almanac.com/pest/tomato-hornworms

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

Succulent: Jade Plant, in Seven Years

Overnight? No! But in seven years, what started its humble life in a light gray stone container, living inside my home, exploded in growth when planted in the ground outdoors. It’s enjoying its home close to the wall and aspires to grow to at least that height, and probably even more so. But check it out in the stone container, in the middle foreground of the older photo. With a modest number of branches and lovely rounded leaves, I could not have predicted what a tremendously beautiful specimen that it would become. It won’t be contained! Time has flown by and I look forward to a lifetime of loveliness from this cherished succulent!img_1299IMG_3326

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Ingestion of the sap of the jade plant may cause illness and skin contact with the sap may also cause dermatitis. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

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

 

Apples Are a Favorite of House Sparrows

Keep your eye on the sparrow! My 3-in-1 apple tree has produced apples that are proven winners to the neighborhood house sparrows and at least one very bold northern mockingbird. Apparently they are quite delicious! They are tearing through the fruits, almost daily so I have to stay vigilant so that I can still pick edible fruits for my own enjoyment. The rust-color specks on the leaves in the background are oxidized apple bits after the birds fed off of this one apple just this afternoon. The pecking must have been wild and a bit cartoonish! The apple in this photo was intact just yesterday. I expect that the birds will finish it off tomorrow. And it wasn’t even fully ripe!IMG_3307

Long ago, I accepted that in terms of my fruit trees, most of the fruit would go to the house (me) and some to nature (birds and critters). I think that’s right to some extent, to be a good partner with nature. But as seasons like this prove, this seemingly rabid feeding frenzy by these energetic birds has to be managed so that the scales do not tip the other way. This hadn’t happened in previous seasons much because the tree had not produced so many fruits before, and all at one time, so, in a way, it’s a signal that this tree is successful. I am very glad. In the future, however, I will need to be vigilant and prepare to do some bird abatement around my apple trees. I’m envisioning the use of inexpensive nylon webbing to create a bit of a canopy to significantly reduce apple loss. I will thin some of the fruit and will leave some in an area away from the tree for the birds to enjoy.

A bit of good news to report: The two newer apple trees that I have shown signs of improved health, as both have produced new green leaves and very young future apples! It’s been so disheartening thinking that I may have to consider removing one or both of these trees because they have been stricken with cedar apple rust and fighting against it. I’ve not applied any further fungicide this year. I just removed rusted leaves as they appeared and watered the trees – just a generous dose of tender loving care and it seems, as of today at least, that they have responded in a positive way. I hope this is the start of a healthy trend.

As with my roses, I do not want to prematurely sign a “death certificate” to my plants. I want to give them a lot of time to improve and have their health restored. It’s such a big decision to remove/kill a plant, for me anyway, since each plant is a member of my beloved garden community and I am looking at my garden with a long-term perspective. Should these trees survive and thrive, I know that I will be rewarded with a garden overflowing with delicious apples for many years to come. That’s a warming thought!

 

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

The Sweet Perfume of Freshly Cut Homegrown Apples

A sensuous experience! Believe it, all of these petite, wonderful apples will be part of my dessert for lunch tomorrow. It’s an 8-ounce container! They are courtesy of my 3-in-1 apple tree. In previous years, the tree produced fewer, but larger apples. And I’ve still not gotten into the routine of thinning the fruit, either, ever since I planted the tree. This season, the fruits are smaller in size, even though they’re blanketing the few relatively modestly-sized branches – many steps above a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree!” Still, even in its relatively young age, this tree produces such flavorful apples. Moreover, and it’s not mentioned enough, when you cut into a homegrown apples, the perfume. I had to close my eyes for a few seconds and repeated. This further reflects well on my decision to plant apple trees. Growing up at my parents’ home, we had one apple tree that never got very big at all and not very productive. Not until I gIMG_3306ot a home of my own did I recognize that I had dearly yearned for an apple tree. This one tree has been a dream come true. This is the one fruit that I can eat every day and not get bored, especially if they taste this good!

The two newer trees have been struggling a bit, fighting off cedar apple rust, and one, I’m anxious to say, might not survive it. It has neither leaves nor fruit currently. Should it perish, I would most certainly consider adding another apple tree in its place. The second of the other struggling trees is in leaf and I’m hoping that it will produce healthy fruit. Mentally, I’m prepared to sacrifice both of these trees if it looks like they’re too ill to make it, and pragmatically, to ensure the health of my garden as a whole.

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

Succulents: Jade Plant Attracting Bees!

Bees and jade plant do not seem to be a natural pairing until you see the jade plant in flower. And my jade plant is in full flower. Wow! This plant has been flowering every winter for the past few years – prettier than snow, I’d say! When the flowers wither, they fall off by themselves.IMG_3291

This gorgeous succulent started off as a small indoor houseplant many years ago and has since developed its full potential once it was transplanted into the ground. It has grown tall and it spreads.

The bee is in the middle of the photo and it is one of many that were buzzing around today!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Ingestion of the sap of the jade plant may cause illness and skin contact with the sap may also cause dermatitis. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

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

Interesting Find for the Garden: Balloon Plant

I was away for the weekend with my best friend and found this lovely plant, and remarked on how it looked like green balloons. I was struck by how unusual this plant looked, amidst a garden of roses.IMG_1185 And it looked perfectly comfortable in that garden! Later that day, I just went on my smart phone and typed in green balloon plant. Lo and behold, I found out it was the aptly named “balloon plant,” native to southeast Africa (Gomphocarpus physocarpus).

More information on this plant can be found here:

http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantefg/gomphophysocarp.htm

http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-0605030c0f01/media/Html/Gomphocarpus_physocarpus.htm

This self-seeding plant can become a weed if not kept in check. I am always eager to “discover” new plant possibilities wherever I may be!

CONSUMER ALERT: This plant produces a highly toxic milky latex that is poisonous – do not ingest.

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