How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants


baba raspberry buy find supplier bababerries

Bababerry plants along the driveway loaded with unripe raspberries. This photo is from a few summers ago, but I added it to show what the little raspberry patch looks like.

The past couple of years I have been received lots of questions via email regarding how to prune Bababerry plants, a variety of everbearing raspberry that grows well in Southern California and other low chill – warm climates.  Managing Baba raspberries is much the same as any other everbearing or fall bearing raspberry variety.  Most folks are able to pick fruit the first year they buy and plant an everbearing raspberry, including Baba. That is not the case on summer bearing raspberry varieties, which only produce on second year or two year old canes.  Since I am in the middle of my winter pruning chores, including pruning out the old wood on the berries, I figured it was a good time to take a short break and post something about it.

A new or first year cane on a raspberry plant is called a primocane.  A second year cane is referred to as a floricane or floracane.  Summer bearing raspberries only produce one harvest each summer and only on their floracanes.  Those two year old canes are then pruned out in late fall or winter, after bearing fruit. Everbearing varieties produce on the top half of primocanes the first fall, and then on the lower half the following Spring.

With all everbearing raspberries, the gardener can choose to have either one or two crops each year, depending on the pruning or management technique the gardener prefers to use.  Here at Hanbury House I often to prune to get two crops a year.  To do this, I prune out all the two year old canes to the ground each winter and just prune the top half of the primo canes from the previous season.  Although it is ideal to prune when they are dormant, if you are unsure what to prune at first, the chore can wait until the first new leaf buds begin break dormancy in early spring.

Usually I can tell which canes are two years old on my Babas just based on how the “skin” of the cane looks. The canes that are grey and/or really flaky looking are usually the old ones that need to be cut to the ground and completely removed. New canes usually emerge nearby. Any canes that are primocanes and produced fruit on the top 1/2 of the cane in the fall, usually look healthy and a medium shade of brown, with the top part being dried looking and sometimes has a few tiny barren side stems where the berries hung last fall.  They will also have new buds along the stem. I prune those canes down only about half way, to the point just below where the last berries grew or above where it looks like there is a live bud still.  Those pruned canes will bare fruit along the rest of the portion of the cane, usually in by mid to late Spring or early Summer.  Then, next winter, I prune the rest of that cane out as mentioned above.

Bababerry, Raspberry, buy bare root plant, baba berry

Bababerry Everbearing Raspberry Primocane needing to be pruned. I will prune right above the bud in the middle of the picture for fruit in the Spring or Summer.

The other method to manage everbearing raspberries is pruning all canes to the ground when the canes are pretty much dormant, typically sometime between the new year to early February, basically in the middle of winter. With this pruning method the gardener only gets one crop later in the summer or early fall, instead of two. This is the easiest method, and many folks prefer it, including my friend across the street that also grows lots of Baba berries. It is much less work, and a bit tidier looking. Either method, new canes usually emerge each spring around the base of the plant.

buy find bababerry baba red raspberry everbearing best favorite review

Floracane at the end of the growning season on Bababerry. Notice how the cane is greyish and a little flaky. Some canes get even flakier. This is about to be pruned to the ground to make room for new primocanes on the raspberry plant.

Once a raspberry patch has been established for many years, the canes will have spread out and multiplied a lot.  Any canes that are outside the designated garden bed can be dug up and and used to start a new raspberry patch or shared with friends. The best time to divide and dig out canes, if you want the canes to survive the transplant, is in the dormant season.  If you are just trying to tidy things up, dig out the stray canes at any time of year. If you are still wondering if your raspberry plants are summer bearing or everbearing, here is short list of commonly grown varieties of each. I put an * next to varieties I have grown or my close friend across the street has grown at some point over the last two decades.

Everbearing raspberry varieties:

  • Anne *
  • Amity
  • Autumn Bliss
  • Autumn Britten *
  • Bababerry *
  • Caroline *
  • Dunkum
  • Heritage
  • Fall Gold
  • Indian Summer *
  • Kiwi Gold *
  • Josephine *
  • Polana
  • Rosanna *
  • Summit

Summer Bearing

  • Boyne
  • Canby
  • Latham
  • Meeker
  • Willamette

Bababerries are my favorite, and in my opinion, the best raspberry, out of the all the red raspberries varieties I have grown in our low chill Mediterranean climate.  I hope this helps those of you searching for tips on how to prune your raspberry plants.   If you still have raspberry questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

© 2014, .


Red Reblooming Bearded Iris


Happy New Year!

Living in Southern California, we hardly get a break in the growing season, and Mid Winter often brings out some of first of the cool season blooms to my garden. One of my brand new, planted in September, reblooming irises sent up a spike just before Christmas and bloomed today.  I was so tickled and surprised to have it bloom already that I had to share my delight.  Irises are some of my favorite perennials. This red spotted iris is technically a NOID (no identity) bearded iris, but I am pretty sure it is Pepper Blend, by Moores, 1977. After seeing other similar irises, lots of research based on the history I know about it, and more importantly seeing a recent photo upload to the iris wiki of an iris exactly like mine, taken by iris hybridizer Richard Tasco. Other possibilities I considered were Etched Burgundy, a burgundy red plicata hybridized by Garrison in 1970 or Spiked Punch, hybridized by Moores in 1980, or Cayenne Capers Iris. The colors look different, at different times of the day and lighting. This second photo is more true to the bloom color.

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There is more info on Pepper Blend at reblooming iris at The American Iris Society’s online encyclopedia. And info on Spiked Punch, Etched Burgundy, and Cayenne Capers can be found there as well at this link. We are having a bit of a warm spell, and I plan to enjoy the lovely weather this New Years Day doing one of my favorite things, puttering in the garden.  I hope you also have a Happy New Year!


© 2013 – 2014, .

Wicked Flowers for Halloween



succulent carrion flower attract flies covered in flies

Star shaped flower bud of the Carrion Flower stapelia gigantea with flies buzzing around the newly opened flower.  They love the smell of the rotting meat that the flower emits.

Stapelia gigantea is a bizarre garden surprise every fall.  The succulent plant has balloon shaped flower buds that grow and spill all over the porch every year just as October begins.  Once the flowers begin to slowly unfurl, hairs appear on the star shaped flower’s petals.  The flowers are the size of plate, about 10 inches across and actually pretty cool looking. Right now the first ones are just beginning to open.  So what makes Stapelia gigantea so wicked?  Its common name is the Carrion flower.  As the name implies, it smells just like something dead and the flies love it!  The smell is very much like rotting meat.  It is only noticiable if I am within a foot or two of it.  But once it starts flowering, when my daughter, B, isn’t around, I usually try to scoot it as far from the front door as possible.

flower that attract flies

Hair petals of the Carrion Flower

Years ago B was given the first single branch succulent cutting from an elderly neighbor, to add to her ever growing potted succulent collection.  At the time, we didn’t know the plant’s name or that it would eventually attract flies.  Although the plant is pretty neglected except infrequent watering, the plant manages to thrive.  Stapelia gigantea is definitely one of the those “do nothing” kind of plants here in our zone 10 garden.  Generally, the Carrion Flower plant is ignored most of the time. It has managed to crawl over the edges of its pot and slowly sprawled all over the place.  Despite the awful smell, we have grown to like it.  B likes it so much she now has three of them in different pots.  Her plants get only about 3 hours of sun a day.  A branch broken off can easily root anywhere it is planted.   The Stapelia gigantea is so happy that it has bloomed every autumn since its third year and with perfect timing for Halloween.  The plants that get just a little more sun also get more flowers.

carrion flower sticks of rotting meat to attract flies for pollination

Star shaped petals starting to open. The carrion flower sticks of rotting meat to attract flies for pollination.

stinky succulent flower with flies attracted to it drought tollerant

A fly can be seen in the middle of this star shaped Carrion Flower

What I know about this succulent plant:

  • Botantical name: Stapelia gigantea
  • Common name: Carrion Flower
  • Easy to Grow
  • Drought tolerant
  • Grows about 9-12 inches tall and spreads a few feet at the most.
  • Looks like a cactus, but doesn’t have prickly spines
  • Perennial
  • Grows outdoors in USDA zones 9 -11.
  • Doesn’t mind partial shade
  • Flowers stink like rotting meat
  • Star shaped Flowers attract flies
  • Flies are its pollinator
  • Can be propagated by cuttings
  • Flowers only last a day or two once they are fully opened
Carrion Flower bud attracts flies

Another hairy flower petal


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© 2013 – 2014, .

I have caught the Iris Virus


reblooming irises yellow purple blue red best dependable favorite

‘Ruth’s Love’ historic Yellow Reblooming Iris in the mid ground area of the photo growing in my front yard. This photo was taken in early Spring. Ruth’s Love is a sporatic rebloomer.

* Iris Virus = A burning desire to learn everything there is about growing and caring for iris plants. A person with an iris virus reads tons of iris publications and surfs all of the known iris society web sites. The person with the virus may have just started growing irises, be an avid collector, or be an established grower/ hybridizer of irises.

For me, it all started back in 1995, when a next door neighbor gave me two rhizomes of an old fashion iris, named Alcazar, as a house warming gift. Alcazar is a pretty purple and lavender bearded iris with a distinctive frangrance, of all things, root beer!?  What a cool flower! When we moved from our little duplex to Hanbury House, out of the few plants I made sure bring with me were some rhizomes of Alcazar Iris, and I have since shared it with most of my gardening friends.

Alcazar rootbeer smelling irises old fashion antique historical favorite best

My purple Irises that started my iris obsession, almost two decades ago.

In 2002, while visiting family in the central valley, I attended a Fresno Master Gardeners fundraiser and bought a few different varieties of irises, mainly because that first variety, Alcazar, was so easy for me to grow and it smelled awesome. A red iris I bought, only sulked and didn’t survive the second year in the ground and never flowered for me, but the other iris, a pretty yellow and white one, ‘Ruth’s Love’, took off like crazy.  For the first few years, I thought there was something the matter with it or I was doing something wrong in the care because it bloomed at all sorts of weird times of year, even at Christmas! I was even a little worried it is was a sign of global warming.  I later found out it was doing exactly what it was bred to do because it was a special type of bearded iris called a rebloomer or remondant.

iris name purple pink lilac id

A Pretty lilac pink irises, one of the Spring only bloomers in my yard.

Since then, I have collected many other irises from Armstong Nursery, Long Beach City College, the Green Scene, and traded with other local gardeners.  I have about ten varieties of beautiful irises that bloom only in the spring, but due to ‘Ruth’s Love’ and its surprising bloom times, I prefer to look for varieties reported to be rebloomers in Southern California.  It is hard finding good reblooming varieties that grow well on the coast, especially since most bearded iris are listed as growing only to zone 8b or sometimes zone 9.  Reblooming isn’t as dependable in other parts of the country, even when an iris is bred to rebloom, so for many years, iris hybridizers didn’t usually breed for the remondant trait.

The Big Box Garden Centers don’t usually carry a lot of ideal bulbs for our mild climate, let alone reblooming bearded irises. Instead, each Spring, I check a local iris club’s booth, the O.C. Iris Society, for rhizomes they are selling at the Green Scene at the Fullerton Arboreteum. However, since my passion for edible gardening is far stronger than my interest in irises, I usually don’t make it to the O.C. Iris Society’s booth until after it is picked over.  After spending a half hour or more checking out what interesting new things the California Rare Fruit Growers Booth has, it is usually very crowded at the O.C. Iris booth.  But last year I did buy manage find a couple of the last tiny rebloomer rhizomes they had for sale.  I am almost embarrassed how small they were and that I actually paid $7 each for rhizomes less than two inches long.  One was Bernice’s Legacy, which has grown nicely and now has four fans, and other was Champagne Elegance.  Later in the morning, I lucked out when I stopped by Rio Hondo Horticulture Department’s booth and found a 5 gallon size nursery can of Victoria Falls reblooming Iris.  Even better, it was only $6.

blue iris purple buy favorite best loved recommendation

A bluish purple bearded iris from LBCC Horticulture Department Spring Sale

The reason I say I have the iris virus is because, after a disappointing spring search for rebloomers, this past September, I made sure to be in to the local nurseries as soon as the got their iris bulbs in.  On top of that, I went shopping with my wish list in hand, composed exclusively of rebloomers reported to grow in well in zone 9 and/or  zone 10.  I scored at two local nurseries, and Lowes, of all places.  Maybe retailers have realized their are gardeners interested in rebloomers.  Here are my latest acquisitions:

  • Pagan’s Dance (found H & H nursery,  grower is VanBloem )
  • Hemstiched (found H & H nursery,  grower is VanBloem )
  • Jurassic Park (found at Lowes!)
  • Ziggy (found at Armstrong Garden Center)
  • Immortality (found at Armstrong Garden Center)
  • Orange Harvest (found H & H nursery,  grower is VanBloem )
  • Buckwheat (found at Armstrong Garden Center)
  • Cloud Ballet (found at Armstrong Garden Center)
  • Best Bet (found H & H nursery, grower is VanBloem )
  • Rosalie Figge (found at Armstrong Garden Center)
  • My Friend Jonathan (from Gerie, a fellow iris collector and granddaughter of an iris hybridizer, Bernice Miller)
  • Bernice’s Legacy (2 different rhizomes/ one from Green Scene & one rhizome from Gerie)

And my No Id irises /or not 100% sure of Id, that I recently got

    • a Yellow No Identity that might be Deborah Dances

a No Id Red Speckled Plicata that looks like cayenne capers, Spiked Punch, pepper blend, or Etched Burgundy

rebloomer RE remondant buy ebay iris grower favorite best

A NOID red reblooming bearded iris that looks like My Friend Jonathan iris from

reblooming iris bulbs buy best favorite recommendation shop source ebay

The flowers on the NO ID yellow iris look just like Deborah Dances, another rebloomer that will hopefully do well in zone 10

burgundy red spotted rebloomer iris buy

Another No Id bearded reblooming iris that I recently acquired. It Looks like Cayenne Capers, pepper blend, Etched Burgundy or maybe Spiked Punch iris.

In the Spring I plan to visit a couple of the Southern California growers and see what they have available that I can’t live without. Despite that long list of bearded iris that I have already acquired, I still have more on my wish list, including:

  • Frequent Flyer (white)
  • Witch of Endor (red)
  • Feedback (violet blue)
  • Clarence (violet blue and white bi-color)
  • Blatant (yellow burgundy bi-color)
  • Earl of Essex (white and purple plicata)
  • Peggy Sue (shorter pink and fragrant)

If you are like me and love irises, here a few local sources worth checking out: Bonnies Irises, via Matilija Nursery in Moorpark, Iris Howse and Garden in Bonita, and Stanton Irises in Valley Center.  Sutton’s Irises used to be in Porterville, Ca, but they recently moved to Idaho.

For more information on Iris in general, visit the American Iris Society and for info specifically on reblooming iris, visit the Reblooming Iris Society


© 2013 – 2014, .

Start of the Gardening Season

Yes, you read that right:  October is the start of the gardening season for those of us gardeners that happen to live in Southern California’s year round growing climate.  For me personally, October is probably my busiest month for working in the garden.  The scorching heat of summer and lack of rainfall make August and September the end of our local gardening season, with very few garden chores, other than things like dividing bearded irises.  But by September, the last of the grapes have been harvested, the tomatoes are done, and the fall Baba raspberries have yet to start coming in.  That means it is time to prep for spring and cool season vegetables.

thornless blackberry feeding tortoises turtle desert reptile backyard pet fruit

Here is the one family member that is sad to see the hot days of August and September gone. Tiger Lily, our 9 year old California Desert Tortoise, emerges from the thornless Triple Crown Blackberry plant with blackberry juice covering her mouth. She enjoys much of the abundance of summer fruit in the yard.

I look forward every year to the cooler days of October and the garden chores related to cool season veggies and planning ahead for spring perennial bloom.  This past weekend, I worked on a bunch of long over due yard chores including deadheading the Asters and Gaillardias, pulling weeds, dividing some of the Alstromerias, and potting up some new bearded iris rhizomes I recently acquired.  This time of year is when I do the majority of bulb planting, front flower bed clean up, and dividing and transplanting the drought tolerant perennials around the yard.

I have one clump of pale yellow alstromerias, “Princess Daniela,” that has grown from one little one gallon size clump about 7 years ago to a patch at least 4′ x 4.’ I have moved little sections around the yard before, but it definitely needs a serious dividing this year.  It is one of my favorite Alstromerias because it flowers almost year round, stays under 12 to 14 inches tall, makes a good cut flower for arrangements, doesn’t mind our watering restrictions, and grows in full sun or partial shade. Even now, it still has some blooms, albeit it is not very pretty at the moment.  Unfortunately, it is patented, and I don’t get to share any of the divisions with fellow gardeners for another 6 years, when the patent finally expires.

short light yellow with pink inca peruvian lily alstromeria Princess patented variety favorite best Southern Califoria Orange county

One of the clumps of Princess Daniela Yellow Alstromeria I moved last year in front of the roses. It is sad looking this time of year, but it is still flowering, even after a hot summer with little to no water. I love this plant.

This week, I plan to get the veggie garden ready to make room for some of my favorite veggies: lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, snap peas, and snow peas.  The best time to start winter veggies from seed in SoCal is August up until early fall.  Unfortunately, I missed the window this year for the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  Had I been planning ahead, I could have had some interesting heirloom varieties and saved a little money.  Instead I will settle for common varieties in 6 packs from my favorite local nursery, H & H in Lakewood.  In past years, H & H has actually sold some interesting varieties like Romansco broccoli, Golden and Purple Cauliflower, and Purple Cabbage.  Fortunately, I just got one of my favorite birthday gifts…a gift card to H & H.  Thanks, Mom and Dad! 😉


Sharing this post with Motivation Monday at A Life in Balance.




© 2013, .

Preventing Dog Damage in the Garden


Golden Retriever with a chicken in the backyard chickens cochin hen buff bantam digging

George hanging out in the garden, next to one of the Cochin Bantam Chickens. He really doesn’t do much damage since the yard is dog and chicken friendly these days.

I had already planted the backyard gardens before we got our first dog back in 2000.  Shortly after getting her, she began to drive me nuts with her incessant digging, trampling of tender plants, laying on others, and eating whatever she could reach off the tomatoes, berry bushes, and fruit trees.  We loved that big sweet black Labrador, so of course she wasn’t going anywhere, but I also wanted my garden to thrive.  I was at my wits end.  Something had to change because she was too old to learn to leave the plants alone.  I had to figure out what changes I needed to make to reduce her impact on the yard.

I read everything I could about gardening back in those days, but few books and magazines (pre-internet days, of course,) addressed big dogs in small garden settings.  After a year of frustration with Camellias keeling over and multiple pits dig out of the lawn, the best advice I got was back in 2001, from a really old episode of Victory Garden on PBS.  After watching it, I realized, I had made some big mistakes in designing my ornamental beds.  The yard wasn’t dog friendly.  The expert on the show recommended leaving a path between the plants and fence, around the entire perimeter of the yard, for the dog to patrol, and the bigger the dog, the wider the path needed to be.  More than half of the damage was apparently the result of her just trying to “do her guard dog job.”  I fixed the design as much as could, except for a few of the larger shrubs that were well established.  I created a little more open space and paths so she could get back to the block wall.

What I learned about maintaining a garden with a dog(s):

  • Dogs like to patrol the property line.  Leave space between plants and fence.
  • Most dogs like to dig.  Gardeners shouldn’t hoard all the space for their plants.   It is important to leave open space for the dogs to enjoy being dogs.  (I have since applied this concept to my chickens, too.)  The places she liked to dig were usually soft and cool, especially after rain.  I ended up relinquishing a 8 x 10 area by the front gate that was in the shade in the afternoon.  George also likes the same area, but he only gets half as much since there is a berry patch in there right now, too.
  • Dogs like to see whats going on.  When we built the driveway gate, we made sure to leave gaps so the dog could see out.  Cut outs would have worked too.
  • Expect all dogs to forage on fruit.  Either plant extra to share or fence it off in a separate dog proof area, just like with chickens.
  • Dogs damage things when they are bored, frustrated, or lonely.  They are social and want to be with their pack, which in a pet’s case are their owners.  I only had myself to blame for this one with our lab. After realizing a lot of her digging damage in the yard was due to loneliness, we started trying to have her inside much more often.
  • Cover soil around plants with a plant tray or wire chicken until plants have a chance to grow in.

Eight years later, our current dog rarely is to blame for any garden damage.  He is my constant companion throughout the day.  While outside, he patrols throughout the yard, mainly trying to keep his nemesis, the squirrel from coming into his territory. The chickens seem to like the same open dirt patches that the dog does.  The fence that keeps the dog out of the veggie gardens also keeps the chickens out too, and they too like walking and scratching along the fence line to look for bugs to snack on.

© 2013, .

Adding More Plants To The Edible Landscape


I actually didn’t get as many new edible plants and trees this winter or spring as I have in past years, but I still probably got more than I really have room for.  Basically, my small urban backyard is getting too full and the family isn’t ready to give up the front yard lawn yet.  Since many of the neighbors on the block are changing over their lawns in the city’s Lawn to Garden program, our front yard has become one of the few left that are ideal spaces for kids to run and play on.  At any given time, there is six or seven kids out there running around in the shade, and sometimes none of them are even mine.  Therefore, for now, in order to put in new a edible landscape plant, I prefer to pull out something already growing, but I hate intentionally killing plants.  Never the less, I do have to do it sometimes.

This winter I did something drastic and ripped out my pretty Black Mission Fig tree.   I had good reason for doing it; it got really enormous, despite summer pruning.  It is a delicious variety, it just kept getting too big for my yard. I took the time to propagate the Black Mission Fig through cuttings first, and managed to clone about 8 baby figs, so technically I didn’t kill it.   The new little figs trees went off with other gardeners and I made sure to forewarn them “Black Mission Fig turns into a very big tree.”  I still have one left in a pot, but it won’t stay a good fig for a pot for much more than a year or two.  It was a poor choice for us from the beginning, espcially for the espaliering I was trying to do to it.  When I first planted the Black Mission years ago, I didn’t realize that figs have different growth potentials.  Without summer pruning, some figs get huge, like the Black Mission, some are standard sized like Brown Turkey or Strawberry Verte growing to about 25 ft tall, and some stay a little smaller in the 10 to 15 ft range, like Black Jack, Celestial, and my little Violette De Bordeaux.  My 3 year old Violette de Bordeaux Fig is much better behaved for the purpose of espaliering.  The VDB has grown really slow in comparison to the Black Mission which seemed to grow a foot every time I took a day or two off from gardening.

This winter I was generously given a Tena Fig and some cuttings of Mary Lane Fig by a fellow edible enthusiast, Kathy.  However, I don’t know a lot about either variety yet, like if they prefer inland heat more than my cool coastal conditions or how big they get without summer pruning.  I don’t mind doing some summer pruning on them, but I also don’t want to sacrifice production for size control.  For now, they are in pots in the driveway, getting watered regularly with my other plants from propagation projects.  Kathy said the Tena fig came from a cutting from the U.C. Davis germplasm and the Mary Lane Seedless fig originally came to her from her husband’s childhood home, having grown there from 1960 to 2006.  That tree was burned badly in the “Old” Fire in 2003, but they took cuttings prior to it finally dying in 2006.  I love that figs can be easily shared and passed on in families, carried from one home to the next.  I have yet to find room for the figs yet.  I doubt I can keep them happy in pots long enough for the kids to get all grown.

Mary Lane Fig Black Jack Violette De Bordeaux Mission Brown Turkey Tena

Tena Fig gift along side the last of Black Mission figs I grew from cuttings.

On a whim, I bought a Parfianka Pomegranate.  It was an impulse buy because I found it by accident for $6 at Sprouts natural foods grocery store of all places.  I had previously read (but not personally tasted) that it is one of the best flavored varieties and it is also supposed to be one of the smaller varieties of pomegranate trees.  So of course when I saw it so cheap, I just had to pick it up.  I am skeptical about the smaller size, but hopeful it is true.  For now, I planted the little 2 quart sized tree in a giant pot.  Yes, I did say 2 quart size; I am a patient gardener and don’t mind waiting a year or two to save a little money. I may end up planting in near the Sweet pomegranate and let the two grow together.   In the month I have had it is had doubled in size.  Anyone else grow Parfianka and knows if is a bit smaller than other pomegranates or has an opinion on taste?

best tasting low chill cool weather small

Young Parfianka Pomegranate in a pot

One fun new plant I got is a Kiwi Berry, or Hardy Kiwi.  I splurged on a Issai Hardy Female Kiwi in a one gallon pot.  It pained me to spend $17 on it, but it is reported to be self fruitful.  Even if it isn’t able to self pollinate, I figure since I already have a male Fuzzy Kiwi, which actually can pollinate Hardy Kiwi, I could give it a try.  My daughter loves Kiwis, and the one time we bought a box of hardy kiwis/ kiwi berries at Trader Joes, we liked them. However, we don’t know what variety they were so it is a gamble if we will like the taste of Issai Kiwi.  I was surprised when I noticed this morning that it actually is flowering already.  I have read this variety is precocious, but wow! It isn’t even here for a full season and it wants to get started making fruits. My Vincent took 6 years and my male Fuzzy Kiwi took 8 years to flower.  The Issai will get big, although not as big as my Vincent Fuzzy Kiwi, so I am going to have to build another trellis for it.

fuzzy kiwi matua yellow issai anna cordofolia  kens red

Flowers on my new Kiwiberry or hardy kiwi, Issai.

And last but not least, is my new Neptune Grape, a hybrid of Vitis labrusca.  It is part of the Celestial series of grapes released by Univ. of Arkansas Department of Agriculture.  My all time favorite seedless purple grape, Jupiter, is one of their varieties, so I am hopeful I will like the Neptune just as well, especially since it is a little later ripening.  I really would have preferred to get a different new variety of Hybrid grape called Gratitude, based on the University’s description,but it isn’t available from any retail growers that can ship to California yet.  I am hoping someone in California Rare Fruit Growers has connections and can get their hands on it to see how it is around here.  I plan to put in the Neptune grape where my Fantasy Grape was over on the side yard by the hopscotch path, which is also where the Interlaken and Concord grow in the long narrow strip of yard.

CRFG cool weather summer coastal grape Neptune Mars Jupiter Saturn Gratitude Hope Joy Faith

The new Neptune Grape I bought at the California Rare Fruit Growers booth at the Fullerton Arboretum Green Scene

My Fantasy grape was the last of the European grape varieties, I planted a decade ago, that was still left in my yard.  Over the last four or five years I have been removing all the vitis vinifera one by one.  Most of them were unpredictable in their productivity here.  In the years that we had plenty of early summer fog, they did poorly, suffering from mildew, were less productive in producing fruit, etc.  As I replace the European Grapes, I choose varieties that have been reported to do well around humid or cooler climates like Puget Sound Washington, Oregon, or New York.

The Perlette was the first to go. Although it produced huge crops, it rarely sweetened up enough before it would have a few grapes crack, and then it would quickly be plagued with green fruit beetles which further damaged the fruit.  I tried picking the grapes on the Perlette a little on the early side, but they were slightly sour.  The Flame grape was the next to get the axe.  It wanted to grow what seemed like a half a foot a day, eventhough it consistently suffered from powdery mildew by late summer.  Despite the mildew, it did produce a fair amount of grapes in some years.  The two year old Interlaken Seedless now occupies the spot where the Flame was originally.  The Fantasy and Black Monuka never set big enough crops to justify the amount of space they were taking up, and both were very vigorous.  Due to our lack of summer heat, neither was overly productive for us.  However, I did love the few grapes that they did produce and was sad to see them go.  When I wanted to plant my first Jupiter grape, I took out the Black Monnuka that occupied the same area.  The flavor and quality is just as good and it is doing so much better in that spot, so much so I probably will have to thin the crop this year.  To date, since choosing new hybrid grape varieties that were reported to do well in cool or coastal locations specifically, I have had much greater success with grapes.

Hanbury House Grapes ( all seem to be good choices for our cool coastal weather, especially our foggy summers:)

  • Interlaken Seedless (a very early season green hybrid grape in late June to early July)
  • Eastern Concord ( seeded purple grape that we usually pick in mid August)
  • Jupiter (seedless purple we usually pick from late July to Mid/late August.)
  • Canadice (seedless red, really sweet and early season, in early to mid July, but they continue to keep good quality of the vine for another month or so.)
  • Neptune (seedless green, supposed to be a mid season grape, ripening after Jupiter.)* Brand new/ No Report yet on how good it does in the local area.

* My neighbor, K, has good results with Glenora and Niabell

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© 2013 – 2014, .

Spring Update: Kiwis, Berries, Cherries, and More…



By Southern California gardening standards, we are already half way through Spring, and as usual, the Hanbury edible landscape and ornamental garden continues to evolve.  Every winter and Spring I change out things that under performed or plant new varieties of things I never tried before.  For last couple of months I have kept pretty busy with chores in the garden, the kid’s activities, local plant shopping, two landscape designs for others, and with home improvement projects around the house.  The chickens are laying like crazy now the days are long enough.  Three out of four of them have tried to go broody, but I keep having to tell them “No chicks until July!” Life is too busy for babies right now.  When the above photo was taken, Lacey, the Silver Laced Cochin, was camped out in the nest box trying.

In March, I attended the LBCC Horticulture Department sale with my good friend, K.  Although I didn’t come home with too much unusual stuff this year, K picked a rare fruit tree called a Capulin Cherry.  She has quite the collection of “Cherry” trees at her house across the street, including her eight year old Royal Lee and Minnie Royal cherry trees, Cherry of the Rio Grand, Surinam Cherry, and now the new Capulin Cherry.  Unfortunately, her low chill Minnie Royal and Royal Lee cherries don’t look like they had as good of year this year, in comparison to how they did last Spring.  By the looks of her trees, one is huge and is a standard size. The other, the Minnie Royal is much smaller and may be a dwarf, but I didn’t think they were available yet on semi dwarf or dwarf root stock when she bought these the first year they were introduced to the public. Their bloom period didn’t overlap this season to give them much pollination, even though the Royal Lee was really loaded with blossoms. K has only picked a few handfuls of cherries so far this year, and it looks like she will only pick another couple of dozen cherries in 2013.

southern california best cherry coastal choice variety

2013 flowers on K’s Low chill cherry, Royal Lee. It bloomed great this year, but not in sync with the Minnie Royal. The Minnie Royal started early this year and only had a few flowers by the time the Royal Lee really got full

low chill cherry tree full grown size long term

This is how K’s low chill Royal Lee cherry tree looked when it first started to bloom this year. My dog follows me everywhere and loves going to visit K so he happily agreed to hop in the picture for scale.


I purchased a few natives at LBCC including a pretty orange Mimulus, Sticky Monkey Flower, and a few more surprise colored Bearded Irises, one turned out to be a pretty violet blue. Plant purchases from other places included a Parfianka Pomegranate, Issai Hardy Kiwi, Neptune Hybrid Grape, Sun Sugar Tomato, Super Marzano Tomato, and an heirloom melon.  Most of the rest of the stuff for summer I just recently started from seed.

The yard has been full of color for the last month, and I would say it was probably at its peak blooming beauty last week, eventhough the plums, peaches, and nectarines bloomed more than a month ago, and the kiwis are just now starting to open their blooms.  Last week we started picking the first few Bababerries of the year, however, the bulk of the crop is a ways away, especially on the new primocanes.  The blackberries still have a few flowers, and they already have started to blush a bit of color a few berries.  Most years, we get to pick the first ones around Mother’s Day and they go up through 4th of July.  Rather than go into anymore of the boring details, I’ll post some of the photos from today instead.

raspberry homestead backyard berry bababerry

Some of the last of the blackberry flowers on the Thornless Triple Crown Blackberry

thornless black berry blackberry triple crown chester low chill

Here a few of the blackberries. There are a couple that are starting to color up.


Male Kiwi Flowers Tomuri Matua on an arbor

These are the only Male Flowers on the Kiwi Vine so far this year.  I think my male is a Tomuri that was sold with the Vincent Kiwi 10 years ago. It doesn’t flower heavily at all. However, this is the only male kiwi being sold by Monrovia Nursery with the Vincent female.  I think I need a Male Kiwi named Matua instead, but I haven’t found a reputable nursery with one in stock.

Kiwi male and female flowers with bees pollination

Female Kiwi flowers on the Vincent Kiwi. It is not self fruitful and needs a male near by for pollination. Unfortunately, my male kiwi is lazy and only makes a few flowers each year. I know the lack of flowers isn’t a pruning error on my part because the female had tons of spurs and flowers every year. I wish I could find a Matua Kiwi locally.  The black spots on the flowers are BEES.  It is covered in them right now.


blue purple bearded iris LBCC Horticulture Dept propagated

One of the mystery/ surprise colored Bearded Irises I bought at the LBCC Horticulture sale this year. I love bearded Irises, especially since they can tolerate our dry summers so well and come back beautifully year after year with little care. I have many other colors in the yard that have naturalized and I have shared with other gardeners.

bearded iris

This is a lilac pinkish purple colored bearded Iris I planted about five years ago. I have divided it twice so now I have it in a few other parts of the yard as well.


Hybrid American Grape Candice Canadice red small very early good for coastal cool weather

The Canadice grape is growing well. It still has tiny flowers on some of the clusters, but it has also already set some small berries. They should be ready to harvest at the beginning of July here in Coastal Southern California.  If I recall correctly, it is a 5 year old vine now. It doesn’t mind our June Gloom foggy June and July months

Cucumbers, pickling, marketmore, tendergreen,

Four kinds of cucumbers and some bright lights chard. We go through a lot of cucumbers around here. Tiger Lily, the desert tortoise, and chickens like to eat them as much as my daughter and I do.

Fairy gardening garden mushroom red

One of B’s fairies sits out on the front porch amidst the succulents on a new red mushroom she made out of modeling magic clay.

Jupiter grape garden southern california grape good from cool summer

One of the two Jupiter Grapes. This one doesn’t get as much sun, but it is loaded with tiny clusters of grapes and grape flowers.

climbing vine clematis

Clematis growing on one of the arbors in the front yard

artchokes and goji

Artchokes growing in the backyard that have been invaded by goji berries.



cool summer grape purple seedless coastal southern California

This the Jupiter grape vine out on the veggie garden arbor. This one gets full sun so it is always a little ahead of the other one. Its a good choice for a grape for cooler coastal areas. It is a purple seedless grape that we usually start harvesting in late July here in Southern California

Here is a video update on the Kiwi Vine, plus it shows the difference between the male fuzzy kiwi and female kiwi flowers.

© 2013, .

The High Cost of Sub-Urban Homesteading


Am I imagining it or are edible plants at the nurseries going way up in price due to the increased popularity of backyard food gardening, sustainability, and homesteading? I was running errands this morning, and one of them took me past a Garden Center; it’s a chain, but I won’t name names.  I love browsing at new plant selections and I am in process of helping a friend with a backyard garden design that includes some fruit trees, so I decided to stop inside for a few minutes to have a look around.  It was sticker shock as I cruised through the fruit tree and berry section.  Okay, so I am no longer a spring chicken, I have been doing this homestead/ edible landscaping thing for a decade and a half, and pretty frugal, but the prices for edible plants at that nursery seemed ridiculous for what they were selling.

The fruit trees, the kind with about a 1/2 inch caliper started at $34.99, some were more than that.  Uggh! The plants were obviously this winter’s bare root trees and berries that had just been dug out of the fields and popped into nursery cans in the last month or so.  The tiny one cane berry plants, with maybe a pint and a half of soil, practically bare root, were $12.99.  It seems like just two years ago, the same berry plant varieties were $6 to $7 in one gallon at this same nursery.  I could understand if these were new introductions with patents on them, but most weren’t.  The berries included Boysen, Triple Crown, Fall Gold, Williamette, and Canby, all varieties that have been around for ever and can found at a just about any nursery.  The high prices were on fruit trees that have been planted in SoCal backyards for decades like Anna and Dorset Golden apples, stone fruits like Santa Rosa and Babcock Peach, and grapes that don’t grow well around here, like Thompson Seedless.  A one gallon pomegranate was $44.  A one gallon goji was $35! Those things grow like weeds! I started with one small goji berry twig of a thing and it grew to one gallon size within a few months.  Why such a crazy high price for a goji?..maybe because a gardener must be crazy to plant such an invasive plant in the ground that spreads like mint?  I don’t know.  However, I sure got the impression they were trying to price gouge novice gardeners just starting a homestead.  Is it like this everywhere recently, and I am just stuck in the past remembering the “good ole days,” or are prices for edible landscaping plants suddenly skyrocketing?

Sorry for the rant.  I’ll go back to gardening now.

wolf berry, goji.

Goji Berry tucked away in the vegetable garden. I keep it in a pot because it is super invasive. I don’t recommend planting this anywhere that you don’t want to spread everywhere.  Apparently, according to one local nursery, this thing is worth it weight in gold.

© 2013 – 2015, .

An Uncoventional Organic Method for Killing Root Knot Nematodes

As you may have read in a previous post, root knot nematodes recently became public enemy number one in the Hanbury House vegetable garden.  I was kind of depressed about it for a few days, struggling to decide what the best coarse of treatment was, if any.  Being a home gardener, especially an organic one, there are few options for dealing with nematodes in the soil.  One of the most commonly recommended organic methods to kill them is solarizing the soil, covering the area with plastic for 6 weeks to allow the soil to reach 120 degrees for an extended period.  The area has to be in full sun for it to work.  My particular veggie bed is only in full sun a few months out of the year, in the height of summer.  I am patient and could wait until then, but according to what I have read in some master gardening publications, solarizing is less effective near the coast where summer temperatures don’t get sufficiently high.  Our summer time highs are rarely over 80 or 85 degrees.  Great.  In all likelihood, it will not get hot enough to kill the little buggers in my coastal Southern California backyard, even in the summer.

alternative to solarizing hot water to kill root knot nematoads

I spent the day boiling gallons of water to try to the kill the nematodes organically

I need an affective organic treatment for nematodes that works in the cooler seasons and in less than full sun situations.  After a bit of research and a suggestion from Patricia at the end of my other post, I decided I might as well give boiling water a try, especially since I will have to wait many months before trying solarizing.  In the past, I have managed to kill a few weeds with boiling water, and I am hoping it might also work against the root knot nematoads in the garden.  There are lots of dept. of agricultural resources that mention hot water above 120 degrees has been affective at eliminating nematodes on the root ends of bulbs, banana plant roots, hostas, and other green house plant’s roots.  Hot water seems worth a shot.  Depending on the crop, the plant is left submerged a different amount of time.  The publication about the banana plants said 30 seconds was sufficient to dip the ends of the plant and kill nematodes, but the one about bulbs said ten minutes.  I have no control over the time it takes to soak in, but if it starts out at boiling, by the time it cools down to 120, it should have had plenty of time to work and soak down in.  Boiling water is relatively cheap, non toxic, and easily available, so the worse case senario would be it doesn’t kill the nematodes.

I spent the better part of my day going back and forth between the back garden and the stove, dumping gallon after gallon of hot boiling water on the veggie bed.  At any given point, I had three different pots and kettles going.  Now the bed looks like warm steamy mud.  I sure hope it helps, and I will report back in a few months on whether or not boiling water was effective way to kill root knot nematodes in the garden.  Wish me luck!

I have a long wait until summer, and if you know of another organic solution to root knot nematodes, I would love to hear about it.  I’ll give anything a try.

* This post is linking to a Blog Hop over at Sunny Simple Life blog and The Self Sufficent Home Acre

© 2013, .