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!

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

Armenian Cucumbers, Garden Debut

This is my first attempt growing Armenian cucumbers. Some I’ve grown in containers (as shown here), with tomato cages, and others I’m attempting to grow in raised row gardens. I only planted the seeds in the raised row gardens over the weekend. I started all of these plants from seed … which I’ve kept in an unopened packet for over a year! Be sure to keep those older unopened (and even opened) packets of seeds, because they may still be good. A type of muskmelon (as are cantaloupes, which I’m also growing in a raised row bed garden, from seed), I am very eager to make some wonderful salads where these cucumbers will be the star attraction!IMG_1536IMG_1537

Rescued: Angel Face Roses and Thornless Raspberry Bushes

My local home improvement store has a gardening center with an outstanding clearance section, with plants of all sorts at amazing discounted prices. Their inventory of clearance plants has recently increased so, in the foreseeable future, I will be visiting at least once a week. Yesterday, I was very fortunate to have made my weekly visit and came away with 4 Angel Face rose plants, a floribunda that I’ve wanted for my home for the past several years, but finally got around to doing something about.IMG_3354IMG_3355
I also am the caregiver of 3 thornless raspberry bushes. I love to make homemade raspberry jam and now I have a wonderful resource to do it! The plants were all in reasonably good condition, although I will have to do some light pruning of a small bit of dead vegetation. Easy. One of the raspberry bushes has some young fruits on it – very encouraging!

I replanted them in larger containers (saved from years of gardening projects) and will be looking forward to many happy years with these wonderful new plants. What is seen as refuse by the store (and most people) represents a great opportunity to bring new (sometimes unexpected) plants into the garden, for a modest price. These plants have already uplifted the energy of my entire garden!

More information on Angel Face roses: http://www.helpmefind.com/rose/l.php?l=2.238

More information on thornless raspberry bushes: http://www.monrovia.com/plant-catalog/plants/3466/brazelberries-raspberry-shortcake-dwarf-thornless-raspberry/

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

Is Your Fruit Bland or Flavorless Because It’s in Storage for Nearly a Year?

I’ve posted about the frustrations of buying fruit at the market only to find that it’s bland or flavorless. One of my speculations for the blandness or flavorlessness of seemingly healthy fruit was because the soil in which the fruit grew was overused and lacked the correct balance of minerals. Now there is another possible culprit: Old fruit. In the case of apples (http://www.today.com/food/apple-you-just-bought-might-be-year-old-does-it-2D80207170), the fruit can sometimes be treated with a gaseous compound to slow the  deterioration for several months. The claim is that the fruit is safe to eat and while the fruit may look typical, it’s when the fruit meets the palate when it’s clear that the flavor and nutritional value of the fruit have been adversely impacted. I grow my own apples so have a very good “flavor memory” of what a good, fresh-picked apple tastes like. It’s when my trees are not fruiting that I am dependent on markets to supply me with apples. That’s when it’s a gamble on whether your money was well-spent or a loss. While the life extension of fruit and vegetables is justified on economic grounds, I walk away from the experience thinking, “Don’t they eat this stuff before selling it? I think this market has failed to do quality control of the products they sell.” I then move my dollars to markets that carry the quality produce that I expect because I felt cheated by the other markets that carried the bland stuff. It really is cheating. There’s a common complaint that children and adults don’t eat enough servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Maybe this has something to do with it! We eat what we like and if it doesn’t taste good, why eat it? This has long-range health implications that ultimately hit all of our pocketbooks.

Harvesting Beefsteak Tomatoes

This is my first successful attempt at growing these lovely indeterminate tomatoes and I am beyond words with excitement to report that I have enjoyed several of these very juicy, quite delicious tomatoes already. The four pictured were picked within the hour and I’m enjoying the largest of them right now, still a little warm from the sunlight, shortly after coming home from work. That’s over 1 pound of sweet tomato goodness. Now that is a welcome home!IMG_3266IMG_3267

In the past, I’d grown different, smaller varieties of tomatoes in 5-gallon containers with good success. But I’d not thought to grow this large variety until this year. The birds were too quick to eat nearly all planted seeds – so next year, I will start these tomatoes indoors to give them a good fighting chance. The very happy news is that the lone surviving plant turned out to be a monster in size, but very productive. Turns out, that works for me, but knowing how delicious they are, I’ll make a concerted effort to have perhaps at least 4 of these plants next time. This one plant has taken over a part of one of my raised row gardens, but no worries. I’m happy with what I have – giant tomatoes!

I am pleased to see and taste such good results having them grow and produce in a raised row bed garden. What a wonderful way to conclude a summer day!

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

Planting the Last Seeds for the Summer Season

I still have some purple bush bean seeds remaining, but I planted the last seeds for the summer season: purple bush beans, summer baby round zucchini, and cantaloupe. The vast majority of these seeds were planted in the chicken-wire protected raised row bed gardens. When there were no more vacancies, I took the chance and dug up any loose soil in my back yard, essentially taking advantage of the tunneling handiwork of gophers of seasons past. If these future seedling are dug up, no problem since I have more than enough crops that will be emerging from my protected garden areas.

It’s good to have things grow in nice, neat rows but it’s kind of great to have plants fight the odds of birds, gophers, and others and still grow their destined crops. So while I’ll have some crop plants “follow the rules” and grow in garden soil from bags purchased at the garden center, I’ll hopefully also have some brave crop plants springing up against my roses and olive, apple, and citrus trees growing in the “native” garden soil – not the usual plant pairings and certainly not following the aesthetic touted by many garden designers but who cares if all plants remain healthy and productive? It will be a great victory.IMG_3256

As shown in the photo, some of the bean plants are in the very back, close to the wall. In front of them, in the same bed garden – just left of center of the photo – is the very tall tomato plant. The moist soil in between my blood orange and 3-in-1 apple trees – that is where I planted some of my cantaloupe seeds. I planted additional bean seeds in the two orange-colored containers behind the blood orange tree. Some of the very small green leaves in the front bed garden are bibb buttercrunch lettuces in development. It’s going to be a food garden bonanza!

I’ve planted many seeds this season and had some seeds that have germinated very easily (e.g, Royal Burgundy bush beans), others have struggled (e.g., cantaloupe). Right now, I have one monster-sized tomato plant – likely beefsteak tomato (“likely” because multiple seed attempts with various tomato varieties in this same space, but just this one very plant took), and it’s fruiting, thankfully. If successful, I’m very likely to be eating and freezing beans for many months. I’m ready and so are my refrigerator and freezer!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be headed back to my local garden center and buying seeds in preparation for the cold months and growing season-appropriate crops. I love the energy of having my various food plants in various stages of maturity.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The non-fruit parts of tomato plants are poisonous if ingested. Also, 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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