Misguided Peach Bloom for Halloween

I’ve never had a fruit tree bloom quite like this before!  Doesn’t it know that apples and pumpkins get to be the star now?  It has just really started to cool down here in southern California.  I can almost guarantee that this bloom will fizzle before it bears fruit, but it’s an interesting site in the garden.

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The potted pink mandevilla next to the outdoor fireplace it definitely more sure of itself and I’m happy to report that it’s creeping along the mantel quite nicely, situating itself in the cracks of the stones.

DSCN2572I decided that with my lackluster fruit tree growth this year, I would adopt a technique that I used for the Spice Zee Nectaplum when I planted it this spring and it did fab.  When I planted it, I also planted a two foot long plastic pipe found in the hardware center plumbing section.  I use it to give water directly to the roots deep in this hard, dry soil.  So, I picked up 6 more and carefully dug holes around my already planted fruit trees and positioned them down in the ground.  I also drilled about 4-5 holes in the lower half of the pipe to give water all around.

DSCN2576Here’s to a fruitful 2015.

 

 

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January in Bloom

Sequoia Strawberry flower.

Sequoia Strawberry flower.

I planted a dozen Sequoia strawberry plants about a week ago.  It’s a June bearing variety that does well in California and is one of the earliest Spring crops where safe from frost.  June bearers generally produce a single large crop in spring to early summer and are prolific producers for 3 to 4 weeks.  Plus, they are root knot nematode resistant, which works well with my RKN soil.

Eva's Pride peach is already about to bloom!

Eva’s Pride peach is already about to bloom!

We’ve had little rain this winter and unseasonably warm weather during the day, which has encouraged this already early bloomer to be on the verge of something that I’ve never had before in the garden.  A blooming fruit tree is January.  That feels like a garden miracle!

Another view of Eva's Pride.  I've never tasted this peach as this is my first Spring with her after rescuing her from a small pot from a previous place of employment, but I've read that it has a "zing."

Another view of Eva’s Pride. I’ve never tasted this peach, as this is my first Spring with her after rescuing her from a small pot from a previous place of employment, but I’ve read that it has a “zing.”  Can’t wait!

Even my grapevine seems to be early this year.

Even my grapevine seems to be early this year.  But I’m not complaining!

Royal Lee Cherry budding in groups.  My two cherries seem to be the only ones to bud in groups, which makes sense since cherries form in clusters!

Royal Lee Cherry budding in groups. My two cherries seem to be the only fruit trees in my backyard orchard to bud in groups, which makes sense since cherries form in clusters!

Even though cherries aren’t supposed to fruit until at least year three, and I’m just my second Spring, I’m still crossing my fingers for maybe just a few cherries, or even one lone straggler.  Yes, that would be just fine with me!

More Fruit, Please

I’ve been making daily phone calls to my favorite local nursery in anticipation of the arrival of their annual amazing, prolific and Southern California chosen bare root fruit trees. I had to pull out a meek palm in the backyard that always had bug problems, which happened to be behind a picturesque bench, screaming for a fruit tree to grace it’s sweet shadows over it from the summer sun.

I went yesterday with the purpose to buy a Double Delight Nectarine. This will be my second Double Delight since unfortunately the first was planted in what I now know to be one of the barren wastelands in the front yard.  When it did practically nothing for almost two years, I attempted to transplant it, which didn’t turn out so well. When I arrived at Green Thumb Nursery yesterday they were still setting up all of the trees in temporary soil, which was probably a good thing for my wallet and my husband because I only got to see the apple, cherry, almond and nectarine trees. Had all the varieties been poised for sale, who knows what damage I could have done. I do have a Snow Queen nectarine planted January 2013, but she has white flesh, so I had to get a yellow flesh nectarine. I mean come on, it’s obvious, right? When digging the hole we punctured a sprinkler line, but I now have my Double Delight in the ground. I like having a second chance, which the garden allows so many of. And boy is she pretty.

(Photos to come in Spring when it’s not just a stick in the ground.)

Budding up for Spring

Fruit trees are fantastic planners.  Just as we humans start hunkering down in our winter-y way of life (turning on the heater, spending more time indoors, eating a little more), my fruit trees are also losing their leaves and looking their most bleak.  But under that stripped-down exterior something fascinating is already taking place.  The promise of spring, even when winter has just started, in the form of swelling buds.

Minnie Royal Cherry

Royal Lee Cherry

This being only my second soon-to-be spring with my 2 cherry trees, I’m realizing that their buds may have a head start on my other fruit trees, probably because they are the first to blossom and fruit.

Peach

Eva’s Pride Peach

And of course I have some other winter veggies here and there, such as carrots, lettuce and sugar snap peas.

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These two seem to be relying on each other for mutual support.

These two seem to be relying on each other for mutual support.

One of my flower pots with some extra room is now more beautiful for winter thanks to these beautiful lettuce.

One of my flower pots with some extra room is now more beautiful for winter thanks to these lettuce.

Here is a tally of my mini orchard to date:

  • Red Baron Peach-the matriarch of the backyard having been planted about 6 years ago
  • Minnie Royal Cherry
  • Royal Lee Cherry-these two require each other for pollination
  • Snow Queen White Nectarine
  • Gold Kist Apricot
  • Burgundy Plum
  • Thompson Red Flame Grape
  • Eva’s Pride Peach

This coming spring is one of my most anticipated yet because I think that maybe, just maybe some of my two year old trees (Eva’s Pride Peach, Thompson Red Flame Grape, Burgundy Plum, Snow Queen White Nectarine) will fruit for the first time.  And that would be the most bountiful with fruit my backyard will have ever been.

PS: My sweet Silkies started laying again after a two month hiatus about a week ago on my birthday.  Thankful!

Second-Chance Plum

A year and half ago I planted two bare-root fruit trees in my front yard.  The area where they were planted I now understand to be the barest of baren wastelands on my whole property.  Over the past year I’ve realized that NOTHING survives there…not even California natives or succulents.  So, determined to save the Burgundy Plum, I carefully dug it up, trying to avoid root damage.  What I saw when it came out of the ground was very telling…hardly any root growth and what had grown were tiny, string-like roots.  I gave it a new home in my backyard in a veggie bed next to the new pergola, where the soil is naturally richer and has had the advantage of amendment over the past 3 years.

Well Plum lost all her leaves almost immediately.  The only way that I could tell it was still alive was a slight scrape of my fingernail on a branch, which revealed bright green.  After a few weeks I could see new leaves start to bud out.  I was seeing a second spring.

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She’s still a meek thing, having been starved of nutrients, but I’m hoping that this is a second chance to thrive.  With patience I think that this plum will be a shade-providing, eye-pleasing tree for next to the seating area in the years to come.

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Is It Spring Yet?

I’m so excited for Spring, I’m posting a day early because I just couldn’t wait.  Who’s to say that it doesn’t already feel like Spring, what with the warmer weather and blooming trees and flowers around Southern CA.  My garden is ready, too!

IMG_9469What better first photo than a Rattlesnake Pole Bean seedling?  Due to my root-knot nematode situation, I’ve decided to stop fighting (it’s been almost a year) and go with the flow.  Many, many tomatoes have been developed to be root knot nematode resistant (the ‘N’ in VFN on seed packets and seedling tags), but not so many of the other veggies.  Almost none, in fact.  I found one pole bean from Hawaii, but of course it’s scarce and can’t be shipped to the mainland.  Thus, I decided to go with the advice of seasoned edible gardeners.  Within gardening discussions, I found talk of some pole beans that are not resistant varieties, but more so varieties that TOLERATE the nematodes and can still thrive.  Rattlesnake, Alabama #1 and Blue Marbut are all such pole beans.  Rattlesnake is fairly common and I was able to find the other two both through Sand Hill Preservation.

Diana Fig is coming to life.

Diana Fig is coming to life.

The Red Baron peach is nearly at full bloom.

The Red Baron peach is nearly at full bloom.

The Snow Queen white Nectarine is leafing out and has decided that she likes where she is.

The Snow Queen white Nectarine is leafing out and has decided that she likes where she is. (The netting in back is ready for pole beans!)

Welcome, Spring!  You are my favorite season…

Hello, Red Baron!

My “no-name” peach no longer has to deal with a self-identity crisis.  Last night I realized that I could figure out what my mysterious peach was with a little search engine insight and know-how.  Channeling Sherlock, I have unlocked the mystery, hinging on none other than it’s show-stopping blooms.  Thinking about it’s freestone pit, yellow flesh, low chilling hour requirement and July ripening, I was almost certain that I’d had a Mid Pride peach all these years (well, since 2007).  Then I googled Mid Pride’s spring flowers and I heard a big “uuhhh-mmmmmm” like a losing contestant on the Price is Right.  It’s flowers are pale pink and single layer.  The only other peach meeting all the other above requirements with a double red flower was Red Baron.

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IMG_6279Hello, Red Baron.  Nice to meet ya.