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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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!

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.”

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

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!

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!

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!

 

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