Homegrown Pineapple

A little over two years ago, my daughter, B, started an after dinner gardening project. She plopped a discarded cut off pineapple crown of leaves into a pot. She treated it like many of her succulent plants: no prep, no … Continue reading

Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

Most of my flowers and perennials these days are generally low water users, at least once they became established, however the same is not true of all my edible plants. When the state officials announced the need for even deeper … Continue reading

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Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

fairy garden fullerton arboretum

A fairy garden for sale at one the many plant sales I went to last Spring. My daughter loves fairy gardens and I take pictures of them when she isn’t with me to appreciate them herself. I especially liked the tree in this pot.  I think this was a booth that specialized in fairy gardens at the Fullerton arboretum Green Scene.

I look forward to this time of year all winter long, the Spring Garden Tour season and annual plant sales sponsored by some of the local non profit horticulture groups.

For many years now, my favorite plant sale has been the Long Beach City College Horticulture Department’s annual spring plant sale and fundraiser.  This is their 42nd year and the sale falls on April 16th -18th, 2014, the week before LBCC has their Spring Break.   If you are a local gardener and plan to attend, come early and don’t forget to bring a wagon.  Its open from 9 to 6.  I always manage to buy more than I planned on at this one sale.  In past years, I have bought some great plants here I might not have tried or found otherwise like a dwarf variety of ‘lion’s tail’ Leonotis menthifolia, Psidium cattleianum ‘strawberry guava,’ Lobelia laxiflora ‘mexican bush lobelia’, ‘garden mister’ fuchsia, correa ‘dusky bells’ australian fuchsia, and gallaridia. Here is another post I did about it last year that describes what to expect.  1779787_591651014236315_237226202_n

horticulture department LBCC long beach city college plant sale 2014

miniature egg terrariums for sale last year in the green house at LBCC plant sale

long beach horticulture department spring plant sale fundraiser 2014

the tables in the succulent area at LBCC horticulture dept plant sale last year

2014 plant sale long beach city college LBCC california native plant succulents fruit trees vegetables tomatoes peppers.

The shade house at LBCC plant sale

 

There are many other sales and tours I don’t want to miss out on including the following:

  • The Fullerton City College Horticulture Department is holding their annual spring plant fundraiser on Sat. May 4, Sunday May 5, and Sat. May 11. When I was at their tomato sale I noticed they already had a nice selection of perennials in the growing areas.  I was delighted to find my favorite red cherry tomato for sale at the tomato sale.  It is called Sugar Snack.  It used to be availble from Burbee, but in recent years I have not been able to find the seed from any reputable garden retailers.
sugar snack tomato big zac zach super marzano best cherry red yellow

Tomato Sale at the Fullerton City College Horticulture Department

  • Fullerton Arboretum Green Scene is a regional garden fair with hundreds of small local nurseries and garden vendors setting up booths for the weekend of April 12th and 13th, 2014. Before going to the LBCC plant sale, this was always my favorite garden event. I marked it on my calendar almost a year in advance to not have any conflicts. If you go, don’t forget to bring your wagon to this one! In my opinion, the best booth is always the California Rare Fruit Growers fundraising booth. They always have it well staffed with volunteers and members to help with questions. Some of my most loved rare fruiting plants have been propagated by their members, including Bababerry, Strawberry Verte Fig, Big Jim Loquat, Triple Crown Blackberry, Jupiter Grape, Neptune Grape, and Niabell grape. I also bought other berries ( Josphine, Caroline, Rosanna, Anne, and Kiwi Gold raspberries) from the CRFG booth, but none of them thrived more than a few years in my Southern California garden, unlike the Baba raspberries and the Triple Crown blackberry.  My neighbor across the street bought most of her exotic tropical cherries from them as well, including Cherry of the Rio Grande, Red Surinam Cherry, Black Surinam Cherry, and Capulin Cherry.  Every year the CRFG booth has a few new and different plants, depending on what the members donate.  This year I am hoping to find a new grafted loquat.  I am specifically looking for Vista White or Strawberry, but they haven’t had either one the last few years when I looked. There is a arboretum members only pre-sale the hour before it opens, and some of the best stuff gets sold during that time. I also used to always attend the Fullerton Arboretum’s Monster Tomato sale, but after last year’s disappointing, not so great looking, but pretty expensive tiny tomato plants, I am no longer acquiring my tomatoes from their sale. Plus the crowds just got worse every year. Hmmm. Instead this year, my mom and I grow some of the hard to find tomatoes, like Super Marzano, First Prize, Sun Sugar, and Big Zac, and we bought the rest, including sugar snack and Matt’s Wild Cherry from the Fullerton City College Horticulture department’s tomato sale this past weekend.
  • Theodore Payne Foundation Native Plant Garden Tour is April 5th and 6th.  It is a big tour of drought tolerant gardens throughout Southern California.  The Westside and Southbay gardens are on Saturday and the inland gardens are open on Sunday.
  • Fullerton Beautiful Tour is an excellent tour of 10 different private gardens each year, but I am bummed because once again I have a conflict and can’t attend.  It is on April 27th, 2014.
  • Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour was not held in Spring 2013, but this year it is scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th from 10 am to 5 pm. It is a diverse tour of private gardens opened for the public to tour with the proceeds going to local charities. This one features urban homesteads, fancy formal gardens, Japanese inspired gardens, formal gardens, cottage gardens, and more.  It has something for everyone’s taste.  Some years I only visit one or two gardens, but in other years I stop in at all the gardens within my local area. The gardens go as far South as the Southern end of coastal Orange County and as far North as Long Beach.  Most of the independent Southern California coastal nurseries will be getting a tour newsletter with times and addresses sometime in April.
  • Long Beach 3rd Annual Lawn to Garden Tour is also on May 3rd, 2014 from 10-2:PM so I will hopefully be stopping in at some of these gardens on the same day as the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Tour.  This is a tour that highlights local front yards that have recently transitioned over to more waterwise and drought tolerant designs and that have eliminated or greatly reduced their lawns. 

    I have been wanting to take out our front lawn for more than a decade, but between my kids, the dog, and the other neighborhood kids, my lawn is still actively used and does serve its purpose. However, it is not a beautiful show piece. It only gets enough water to not die and often has brown patches and bare spots. Other houses on my block have participated in the lawn to garden program, and now their kids play on my lawn instead.  Have I ever mentioned, on this little culdusac of 19 houses, there are 26 kids!?  That is one reason we stay here on our little postage stamp sized urban lot. Once most of these kids have outgrown the need for a big lawn with a shady play area my maple creates, that lawn will be history.  I have dreams of expanding my iris, alstromeria, and salvia collections and putting in either pomegranates, loquats, persimmons, figs, and/ or pineapple guavas out there, all of of which are drought tolerant fruit choices.

  • I also like to stop by the Cal Poly Pomona University Farm Store and Nursery in the springtime. They always have interesting varieties of tomato plants in the Spring and fruit trees and vines year round. That is where I got my Super Marzano last year and Sun Sugar tomatoes, as well as some pretty No Id bearded irises for $1 each. Their tomatoes go on sale on March 15th.
  • The Farm Store at Cal Poly Pomona. They sell lots of specialty items and locally grown produce. They also have a nursery attached to the store

    fruits vegetables cal poly pomona rare fruits flowers

    The plant nursery section at the Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store

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    Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

     

    When the weather is too cold to do much work outside, I get a little over zealous and try propagating all sorts of plants, just to see if I can. Since I got a couple of new heat mats for Christmas, I am in the process of propagating a variety of plants including ‘Parfianka’ Pomegranate, ‘Sweet’ Pomegranate, ‘Strawberry Verte’ Fig, ‘Bababerry’ plants, Thornless Raspberry plants, and tomato seeds.  Because I spend so much time doting on the cuttings, my hubby says I am going to turn into Jordy Verrill from Creepshow who ends up covered in Alien Weeds if I am not careful. I hope not. Well, if I find a mysterious meteorite in the backyard, I promise I won’t put water on it!

    best tasting dwarf pomegranate pomegarnate pomegrante rating buy

    The pomegranate cuttings are in the peat pellets on the heat mat. These are a semi dwarf variety good for cooler coastal areas named “Sweet.” I originally bought my tree from Armstrong Garden center in Long Beach in January 2010 as a little one gallon tree.

    Although I don’t have room for anymore Pomegranate trees, I had read they are one of the easiest fruits to propagate, so I just had to try.  And it’s true! I took a half dozen of cuttings from each of my two trees on January 14th, and I already had to transplant some of the little trees yesterday into 4 inch pots because the roots were growing out of the peat pellets and out onto the heat mat.  If I had know it would be this easy and quick to start pomegranates, I would have taken more cuttings. With the continuing drought in California, pomegranates are a good choice for a drought tolerant backyard fruit tree so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding new homes for the little pomegranate trees, once they are bigger and acclimated to the outdoors, especially since they are less common varieties.

    grow pomegrantate best tasting semi dwarf smaller cutting dormant buy

    A new little pomegranate tree ready to be transplanted to a 4 inch pot. This one is Parfianka, rated by many folks as one of the best tasting pomegranates. My tree was originally grown by Duarte Nursery.

    Propagating Pomegranates:

    1. Prep rooting medium like perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss.  I used Peat Moss pellets this time and soaked them ahead of time.  I have them on a tray over a heat mat.
    2. Take cuttings about the width of pencil and about 3 to 6 inches in length with sterile clippers.
    3. Score or injure the cuttings near the bottom end.
    4. Dip in rooting hormone (optional.) I like Dip and Grow liquid hormone for this, but be careful and follow the directions carefully.
    5. Place cutting in rooting medium.
    6. Mist a few times a day and water as needed.
    7. Watch for leaf growth.
    8. Transplant when they have sufficient leaf growth or like in my case, the roots outgrow the peat pellets.
    9. Slowly acclimate them to the outdoors.
    10. Over the first season of growth, pinch to make them bushy.
    Parifianka dwarf pomegranante best tasting buy southern california cold drought tolerant fruit tree

    Little new roots poking out of peat pellet on Pomegranate cutting

     

     

    © 2014, .

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    Going Back to Greywatering

     

    My citrus trees are a little stressed and need more water. This leave curling or rolling is sometimes referred to as “Cigar Leaf Curling” on citrus.

    Normally in the winter months, the rainy season in SoCal, I have the gray water diverer on the washer machine in the off position so it will empty to the sewer, not the garden.  Southern California usually gets plenty of rain to take care of the landscape until late March or April.  This year is the earliest we have had to switch back to using grey water, since first using it back in 2007.

    We have had next to nothing in the way of winter rainfall this year, and the citrus trees are starting to show signs of needing additional water.  The leaves have rolled up a little, like taco shells because they are water stressed. The Improved Meyer lemon and Bearss lime look fine, but the Cara Cara and Mandarin both have some curled up leaves on the sunny side.  I have read sweet oranges are less drought tolerant.  Odds are, it will reduce the flowering and fruit crop on both this year.  If the citrus trees look thirsty, that means the apples and stone fruits are probably needing water too, eventhough they don’t have much in the way of leaves yet to show it.  Therefore, it is time to start moving my greywatering hose around from one mulch basin to another.  I also put in a request to the city today for a mulch delivery so I can top off with a thicker layer.  The chickens will have a field day with it!

    I normally try to be conscientious about not wasting too much fresh water on the landscape, but this year the governor has announced that Californians need to use at least 20% less water.  That means we will have to use even less than we normally do.  I will probably let both the front and back lawns die.  Sorry about that chickens; they love the grass! Maybe the fluffier mulched ground will make up for it?  Sadly, I also plan to remove some of my less waterwise edibles, like my low chill Sunshine Blue Blueberries. I can always easily replant those if water is plentiful again in the future.  I am worried about my raspberries.  I have yet to try grey water on them; this year will be first.  If they can’t take it, they will also have to go temporarily.  I am glad we have our grey water divertor valve for the washer machine so at least my mature fruit trees won’t die.

    grey water system regulations detergent divertor

    My post it note warning on the washer machine to make sure no other family members accidentally hurt the fruit trees by adding something toxic to the grey water going out to the yard.

     

    I have tried a lot of different brands of  biodegradable laundry detergent to use with the grey water system, and I am certainly not loyal to just one. This week, I bought one I haven’t tried before from Trader Joes that my hubby suggested we try.  Trader Joes used to sell one called Ecos, but I don’t know if this is the same one just with a TJs label.  Have any of you used this detergent?  And does it clean well? Or do you have a favorite Biodegradable or Bio-compatible detergent?

    detegent buy brand best biodegradable biocompible grey water gray garden

    Biodegradable laundry detergent is necessary when watering with grey water. Biocompatible detergent is even better, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on shipping laundry detergent. So far, we have had no adverse effects on the landscape using just biodegradable detergents, but some don’t clean as well as others.

    © 2014, .

    Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    Okay, maybe not tons, but at least 50 or 60 lbs. of Kiwis, is my guess at this point. Although in past years, I have grumbled and griped a lot about the lack of pollination on my Kiwi vines, this … Continue reading

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    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, .

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    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

        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, … Continue reading

    I have caught the Iris Virus

      * 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 … Continue reading