Tag, You’re Fruit

One of my favorite edible garden blogs, My Tiny Plot, did a post a few months back about a plant tag making system that utilizes aluminum tags, metal punches, and a very heavy jig to make custom, professional-looking tags. They last a lifetime and never rust or fade with time.  I’d love to have one of these sets in the future, but seen as though they are in the UK through Alitags and have their own hefty price tag (no pun intended), I decided on the stay-at-home/mom-on-a-budget version.  I came across a pack of 50 aluminum tags at a local nursery today for the friendly price of $7.99.  Using either a ball point pen or pencil, press firmly as you write the name/date/etc of your prized trees.  For me, I wanted them for my fruit trees, but they are perfect for just about anything that you don’t want to forget in the garden.

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I am now the proud owner of 8 fruit trees, up from just 2 less than a year ago.  I finally found a place for the new bare-root Gold Kist apricot (I sacrificed a lack-luster rose near my kitchen window).

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So I mentioned that I was at the nursery today…and I got one more bare-root.  I swear.  Last one.  Snow Queen white flesh nectarine.  I do already have the Double Delight Nectarine with yellow flesh planted January 2012, but I didn’t have a white flesh.  So there’s my reason.  HA!  It’s perfect for low chill areas, less than 300 hours and it has amazing reviews on taste.  I even had a spot picked out before I went to buy it.

You know those root-knot nematodes that got me all down and out last summer?  And I solarized one bed for three months?  Well I pulled some beets from that bed and, you guess it, root-knot nematodes still.  So, I decided to plant the Snow Queen in that bed.  It’s grown on citation rootstock, which is nematode resistant and does well in wet soils.  So there, you little buggers!

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The Resurrected Garden

I’ve been away from the garden both mentally and physically.  We all need a break sometimes.  The root-knot nematodes forced a self-imposed retreat from all things edible in half of my plot space.  The soil had to be covered with plastic sheeting for 6 weeks (solarization).  It was good timing, to be honest, because I never plan on not being an edible gardener.  And truly absence has made my heart grow fonder.

I’d waited a tad too long to harvest this broccoli from the raised bed. I decided to let it flower with all it’s might and instead enjoyed it each day from my kitchen window.

The other functioning half of my edible space has been growing a bountiful crop of arugula, among other cool season things. I am absolutely in love! It germinates at near 100% and grows with such ease. Plus the rabbits, rats and mice don’t care for it. It continues to produce new leaves when only the outer ones are harvested. A perfect addition to any salad with it’s peppery flavor.

Arugula in the sun.

Various varieties of beets, lettuce and broccoli have now been sowed in the unveiled root-knot nematode plot. Only time will tell if this problem has been put to bed.  Fingers crossed!

And the bananas are still green. We are experiencing a bit of a heat wave in Southern CA and I’m waiting until the temps cool to harvest them and see if they will ripen indoors.

A second trunk has produced as well!

Our flock of hens changed this fall.  Having 5 Silkies and 1 new Americauna, it wasn’t the number that forced my hand, is was the noise.  I’d known for some time that two of the Silkies in particular were, ahem, more vocal than the rest.  Out of consideration for our suburban neighbors (who never to this day complained), we re-homed the out-spoken duo.  Honestly it was mostly for my sanity as well, because over the summer I felt myself going outside to calm them, give them treats as a means of distraction, etc. quite often while I was home.  And I don’t like thinking about what was transpiring while I was away.  Of course they still free ranged daily, but when I had them restricted in the area surrounding their coop for safety when I can’t keep watch, they’d let me know they weren’t happy.  And, well, even chickens know that the grass is greener.

Alas, our two girls went to a fantastic home in a rural community only 20 minutes from here where they have 4 acres of green grass to roam ALL DAY….along with 45 other chickens.  I found this chicken lover through the friend who has given me our hens.  I would only let them go if I was confident that they would be treated well and have a happy, free range life.  And they do.

August Harvest

I’m getting over my nematode crisis and I have to say that not everything in the garden is going poorly.  I had myself quite the harvest a few days ago, mainly thanks to my primary edible bed, which is separate from the root knot nematode quarantine.  In this case, two separate beds really pays off.  Plus, one receives more shade in the cooler months than the other, which makes it ideal for lettuces, beets etc., while the other receives full sun veggies year-round.

Brandywine and Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes, summer squash and various beans. We also enjoyed 6 soft figs, but of course those didn’t make it into the basket.

Summer scallop squash in my Lifetime raised bed from Costco.

I started off the spring with tomatoes in this raised bed, but realized when they began to struggle that it wasn’t quite deep enough for them.  So, I cut my losses and re-seeded it with summer scallop squash, basil, lettuce, golden beets and broccoli.

Another view with basil peeking out.

Purple pole bean flowers.

So there you have it.  These photos capture the reason why I will continue to fight the good fight against garden foes in the name of beautiful summer harvests, simple bean flowers, and the promise of fresh, homegrown food.  Not all is lost in my little edible back yard.  🙂