Saturday, July 31, 2010

In My Garden

These flowers are my Oriental Stargazer Lilies. They have just started blooming and smell sooooo good! I have had them several years, and they have made a large clump. In the spring I find that the snails are drawn to eat the leaves, so I use Sluggo to prevent problems. The lilies prefer afternoon shade, which they had when I first planted them, but they now are in direct sun. They get a little sunburned and don't look too happy, but they still bloom and grow well. They are an evergreen plant, meaning they don't die back to the ground each winter, but continue to have green leaves through the whole year.

I shelled my dried peas and ended up with 1 3/4 cups of seeds. I will pick out the best seeds to plant for fall. The fall pea planting date for our area is around September 1. The seeds are directly put into the soil, no need to start them indoors. I have found that sometimes it is just too hot in the fall for a good crop of peas, and will sometimes wait until early spring to plant them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Garden of the Sun Tour

I know there are many people that would like to visit our Garden of the Sun, the Fresno Master Gardener's Demonstration Garden, but aren't able to because of time or they live too far away. There is an on-line tour, so everyone that's interested can visit! There are many Master Gardeners that take care of this garden, so it will look it's best. Get ready for your tour, and go to The Garden of the Sun! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Idaho Gardens

I love seeing how other people create vegetable gardens. When I was in Idaho last May, this garden was nearly bare and without fencing. They had just planted a few seeds which had only seed leaves.

Even though they have a short season (90 days), the long days of sun make up for it. At the Summer Solstice the sun comes up at 3:30 am, and goes down at 10:30 pm! This is how the garden can grow so fast. As with any place else, the weeds can take over if not kept in check.

This garden is well-kept and there are no weeds. It is a very full garden and will produce abundantly, unless there is an early frost--a killing frost can happen any night of the summer. This year they had a long, cold, wet spring and people had to plant their seeds and transplants three times before anything grew.

This fence is beautiful and very artistic. Besides looking good, it is a trellis for climbers. In this last photo you can see something growing--it's actually the post! There were several sprouts along these two posts and nothing growing at the bottom. I don't know what kind of wood they used, but it is happily growing in the garden!

This morning I cut back my pear tree, and cut down all of the blue jay's pecan trees. It's tough to get out early enough in the morning before it gets too hot, but I am making progress a little at a time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Here's a great YouTube video that explains some of the problems you may be having with tomatoes, Special Tomato Problems. This video was created by the Nebraska Extension Office.

A Good Morning . . .

This morning I went out to pick tomatoes and found that there were a lot more than I saw yesterday--many were hidden under the leaves. I had about equal amounts of Roma (a paste tomato), Juane Flamme (a medium-small golden tomato that produces through the high heat), and cherry tomatoes. The Romas will go into the freezer until I have enough to make pizza sauce (I like to use it for spaghetti, too!). When I get a lot at once, I will can diced tomatoes. The other tomatoes I will eat today and tomorrow (yes, I love tomatoes!). I also picked (but forgot to photograph) 5 yellow beets. I will roast them for my dinner tonight.

I harvested my spring peas, so I can plant them next spring. As I was picking the peas I almost grabbed a wheat colored (my pea plants are dried and wheat colored) praying mantis that was about 5 inches long. After I was finished picking, I gathered up the pea straw and the mantis and placed them on an empty garden bed that is being used as a compost bed, and will be planted next spring. That way the mantis will have her habitat, and I will recycle the plant material. I will shell the peas and keep the largest ones to replant. I gathered some lettuce seeds, too, so I will have seeds to plant next summer.

I also harvested my garlic. Some of the bulbs are small and others are large. I suppose it depends on the size of clove I started out with. I used a bulb of garlic from the market last spring, and now I have my own garlic to cook with, and some to plant next spring. I will keep the largest cloves to replant, and eat the rest.

Lastly, I topped my apricot trees. Apricots need to be pruned about now, instead of winter. This will lessen the chance of the trees becoming diseased. Also, these trees are semi-dwarf and I want to keep them low enough so that I can pick the apricots without a ladder. Apricots can get out of hand in a year or two if not pruned back. I had a semi-dwarf apricot before that went 12 feet high and spread out all over the place! I learned that lesson well! According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, now through August 3rd is the time to prune trees and shrubs that you want to keep their shape. August 10-16 is the time to prune trees and shrubs that you want to encourage growth, such as for increased height or filling in thin spots. Yes, there are a lot of weeds in this bed, very happy weeds! You might be able to see one of my many pecan trees in the left bottom corner. I will be going after the pecans next. The blue jays plant them in my yard every year, so it's an ongoing battle. I have seen other yards in my area that have pecan trees, too, so I'm not the only one!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sandpoint, Idaho Beauty

Walking is something that my Dad likes to do, so we walked miles every day. Along the roads there are many beautiful things to see. These first two pictures show the wild sweet peas, called Australian Sweet Peas, that are blooming all over.

These sweet peas multiply every year, and the land looks like one huge bouquet! It's amazing what Mother Nature can do!

Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced ponder-ay) is close by and this picture shows a slough looking north from the road, very close to my Dad's house. The water really is flat, it's just an optical illusion that it is tilted (see, the trees are straight up!).

This picture shows another slough, across the street from the previous one, and not connected, looking south from the road. It's hard to see, but there are masses of sweet peas here, too. The weather was great (76' last Thursday), with one thunderstorm thrown in for good measure! I was able to get pictures of a few gardens and will be sharing them soon.

My Apologies to "The Fresno Bee"

I just returned from my trip to Idaho, and found a note indicating that I have been violating the copyright laws of The Fresno Bee--I apologize. I know that we can use 10% of books and not violate such laws, but I didn't realize that newspapers were different. I always gave credit to The Fresno Bee when I used their articles and never passed them off as my own. I will no longer be using articles from The Fresno Bee (Garden Checklist and Elinor Teague's column). I have other information to share as we go into late summer and fall gardening. We can still have gardening fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My July Garden

I haven't been blogging about my garden this year because there isn't much to it. Basically, I haven't been doing any of the things I normally love to do, and I have finally figured out why--ever sense my Mother died in January, I have been somewhat depressed, but didn't realize it. I had a good day last week and thought how wonderful I felt, something I haven't felt for so long. So, I guess I am coming out of it, I certainly hope so!

This is a picture of one of my wilt-y zucchini plant (plus a small lantana plant) in a newly cleared flower bed. It is almost 100' and I was kind of wilt-y myself by the time I got back in the house! I made three different plantings of squash this summer, but the first two didn't grow. Maybe the seeds were old, or the bugs got the new sprouts. Anyway, the third time's a charm, and I have two plants started. This is located on the west side of our house, by the fireplace, so it gets extra hot there.

These are three of my four tomato plants (behind them you can see my "dwarf" almond tree, center, and citrus trees). In front of and between the tomatoes are a couple of pepper plants, and one basil plant on the far right of the picture. Behind the tomatoes (on the right) you might be able to see my dried peas, which I never harvested, or removed, this spring. I think I will collect the seed for next winter's crop! I also have a lovely crop of weeds, nice and green. Much to my patient husband's dismay, I have let the weeds have their way, front yard and back. It will be good to get them removed, after July's heat subsides a little in August.

Here you can see my two semi-dwarf apricot trees. Apricot trees are very ambitious when it comes to growing, and can get out of hand very quickly. They need to be summer pruned instead of winter pruned, to prevent Eutypa fungus and dieback, and to control height. Another thought is summer "pinching" of fruit trees, as explained by Thomas Leo Ogren. I think I will try his method next year.

So, that's the extent of my garden at this time. I am going to Idaho for a week, but after I get back I will prune my apricot trees, and plant a mess of green and dry beans, cucumbers (table and pickling), dill, basil, and whatever else I can think of! I will attack those weeds, too! I'm feeling good and ready to get to work!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, July 8, 2010:

July's heat ripens fruit and vegetables rapidly. Harvest frequently.

Tasks--Control weeds before they flower and multiply.
Pruning--Pinch back new growth to improve plant shapes and encourage bloom.
Fertilizing--Select a lawn fertilizer that is rich in potassium for deep roots and water efficiency.
Planting--If your needs are such that you must plant now, remember to provide ample water and temporary shade. Plant: spider lily (Lyconis); from seeds: corn, parsnips.
Things to Ponder--Remain aware of climate changes and how they may be affecting plants and shrubs in your garden.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blazing Heat Calls For Careful Pruning

From The Fresno Bee, July 1, 2010, by Elinor Teague:

When daytime temperatures regularly exceed 95 degrees, most flowering plants stop producing new blossoms.

Hedge plants such as wax-flower privet, boxwood, xylosma and Carolina cherry are exceptions, though. These plants grow vigorously in summer and can become overgrown. Don't put off shearing back hedges until the weather cools, though. It's best to shear rapidly growing hedges lightly every few weeks in summer to maintain a good shape. When overgrown hedges are cut back heavily, the inner wood and branches can suffer sun burn damage and the tender new inner leaves that are exposed can burn.

There is an art to properly shaping hedges, and it takes practice--and sometimes the use of a string line--to get it right. Hedges should be a little wider at the bottom than at the top. A wider top will shade out the bottom branches causing them to die back. Using string lines as cutting guides will both maintain an even shape and keep the bottom branches as healthy and productive as the top ones.

It is a common practice for some gardeners to shear many ornamental landscape plants into topiary shapes or to try to control plant growth direction. Some plants such as shrub or columnar junipers, evergreen euonymous and rhaphiolepsis will look fine for years when sheared lightly every few months during the growing season.

But when gardeners attempt to change the natural shapes of azalea and camellia bushes or turn the arching branches of loropetalum into balls, it creates a mess that can take years to correct.

Azaleas and camellias produce next spring's buds on this summer's growth. Shearing or pruning them heavily during the growing season will eliminate next year's flowers. Shearing azaleas and camellias also forces a lot of new, congested branch growth in the interior of the plant as well as a lot of new leaves on the exterior.

Size and shape on such plants like azaleas, loropetalum can be easily controlled by clipping out wayward branches and cleaning out old wood. The shape may not be rigidly formal, but it will have a clean appearance.

Tip: If the hedge is a flowering variety, trim it within one month of when it finishes blooming. This allows time for the hedge to form new blossoms for the next flower show. [Picture and tip from]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Garden Checklist

From The Fresno Bee, July 1, 2010:

Remember friends, neighbors and shut-ins with extra produce and flowers from your garden.

Tasks--Use water wisely in all parts of the garden.
Pruning--Deadhead annuals and perennials.
Fertilizing--Give special attention to container plants.
Planting--Midsummer in the Valley is typically not the best planting time; cyclamen; from seed: cauliflower, celeriac, celery.
Things to Ponder--Do not spray herbicides when daily temperatures exceed 100 degrees to prevent the spray from vaporizing. Protect neighboring plants with a cardboard shield.