Sunday, December 30, 2012

Transplant the Blueberries Day

The sun was out today!  That meant it was Transplant the Blueberry Day.  I bought four new 12" pots at the Grange for $2.99 each.   They're just the black plastic nursery pots, but eventually the plants will need large ones, so it makes sense to go cheap until then.  They were in 8" pots, so now I have four "new" 8' pots for other use!

Many professionals recommend not only acid-lovers potting soil, but peat, pine shavings (or bark,  needles, etc.), and a handful of soil sulfur per pot.  I sure hope that isn't over acidifying the soil!  The instructions I read were for planter grown berries, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.  I just bought the pine shavings from the pet department! 

I mixed up the soil, shavings, handful of soil sulfur and a bit of peat, then transplanted the berries.

New transplants in the rare, rare sun!  December 30, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

...come again some other day.  Little Lisa wants to garden.  Or at least be able to mow and weed. 

The rain is still coming down. The ground is fully saturated so the water just sits there, getting deeper.  In a strange way I am grateful for clay soil. If I had planted directly into the ground, rather than used raised beds, all my vegetables, berries, etc. would be waterlogged. 

The lettuce has been doing well though.  It's pretty! 

I like the pretty spotted lettuce!

I don't know what sort of lettuces these are.  They were in a "garden mix" that I am not impressed with.  My best lettuce has grown from seeds from Walgreen's, when they put seeds on sale for 10 cents or so!

What is a bit ragged for us to eat doesn't go to waste.  We have a Guinea pig and three rats who enjoy fresh produce!

Remy (left) and Dash (right) enjoying lettuce - December 22

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Funny Weather We're Having...

Remember the rain?  The rain that is setting new records?  It stopped long enough to drain the sitting water, but everything was still soggy.  Then, what do I wake to yesterday, with no warning from the weathermen and weatherwomen?  This...

Yes, that's snow on the blueberry plants! 
 That's right, SNOW!  We may get a dusting a few mornings a year, maybe four or five. And maybe a bit more once or twice that soon melts.  Last February we had some like this, but that's February!  I know much of the Northern Hemisphere has had snow for months, but this is a big deal for us!  That's because it is still new to us.  While my daughter refused to budge from her warm bed, my son was up and tossing snowballs.  The dogs loved it.

Some plants are so resilient.   They look so fragile, yet can withstand the snow.

Rose bud in the snow - 12-15-12
Snow is so pretty, photos just can't do it justice.  I love to just stand at the front door (yes, it has a window!) and watch it fall.  So long as I have nowhere to go, it's all good!   Unfortunately, the rains returned in the night, and the puddles are back. 



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bok Choy and Broccoli

Bok Choy.  Pak Choi.  Boc Choi.  Pac Choy.
However you spell it (it means "white vegetable" in Cantonese), I harvested, cooked, and ate it for dinner!  Sauteed in a little olive oil, a bit of garlic and ginger (I cheated and used powdered), it was tasty.  I prefer it in won ton soup, where you get just bit of it.  The stems didn't get a bulbous as the kind in the groceries, or else that is a different variety from mine. 

Bok Choy - something small nibbled a bit on the leaves.
 Oh, boy, the excitement of harvesting my own broccoli!  (Insert sarcasm here.)  Yeah, this was as big as my heads of broccoli got!  I read that this can be caused by the plant being in a small container too long, but I don't think that is the problem here.  Nor is it due to cold temperatures as seedling, unless the nursery didn't care for them properly.  I think it is just me.  Fall and winter vegetables are just not for me.  Maybe lettuce is fine, but not the others. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Berries: Boysen', Blue, and Rasp'!

I am now the proud owner of nine berry starts!  Either Boysenberry or Tayberry, the kind woman who gave them to me didn't remember what was planted where these came up.  But, I got them free!  Yes...they were on Craigslist!  I called her first thing this morning and rushed right over to get them.

They don't look like much right now, but just you wait...

Boysenberries and Tayberries are both hybrids.  Tayberries are a blackberry and raspberry cross, while Boysenberries are said to have Loganberry added into the blackberry and raspberry background.  Tayberries originated in Scotland, in 1979, while Boysenberries date back to 1920s California.  In fact, Boysenberries (named for their developer Rudolph Boysen) are what made Knott's Berry Farm famous!  Long before it was an "amusement park," as my daughter called it when hearing the story, Knott's Berry Farm was just that, a berry farm!  Of course, you can still buy their fruit preserves and jams.  My grandmother would send us a box of Knott's Berry Farm jams each Christmas.

New little buds that may produce berries this next year!

I temporarily planted them in a large planter, since I wanted to get them into soil as soon as possible, and I was definitely not prepared for them!  They can be planted in large planters, which is what I will do.  A large planter on the deck against the house, with my unused trellis (that was a kitchen project that flopped) will look nice this summer!  A quick pruning, and there they are.  Boo couldn't wait to toss his tennis ball into the mix!  He is so frustrated by the weather; he isn't allowed to play fetch in the mud. 

Newly planted "starts" with Boo's ball.
I still want a raspberry bed, but between these and the blueberries, I think I have my hands full for the time being.

Speaking of blueberries...mine are looking good!  Many of the leaves have fallen, and the plants are looking pretty healthy.  I am unsure how to properly prune them, so more research is in order.  They do look much better than when I bought them. 

Let's not ignore the one raspberry I do have, the Meeker in the pot.  It has grown considerably since planting.

Meeker Raspberry - October 8...
...and December 11

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Raised Beds are THE Way to Go!

In case you missed my post from last March, I will yet again extoll the virtues of raised beds.

1) they warm sooner in the spring, allowing for earlier plantings
2) they hold warmth longer in the season, your plants will produce longer
3) not as much bending (none if you build them tall enough!) to plant and harvest
4) not as much weeding
5) the soil doesn't compact since you are not walking on it (raised beds are usually no more than 4 feet wide, just right for reaching the middle from either side)
6) you are in control of the soil in the beds
7) pets are less likely to bother stepping up to trample your plants (a problem I have)
8) depending on the design, you can sit on the sides of them while planting, harvesting, or just to enjoy the garden
9) you can plant in the holes if you use cinder blocks
10) they drain better

#10 is what I am happy for this time of year.  We just had a week of very heavy, record setting rains.  My far back, where the beds are, is under water. More so than last year.  Imagine trying to grow anything not planted in raised beds!  My current clay soil is so different from the adobe clay soil in CA.  My father planted directly into that soil, long before the days of bagged compost and potting soil. Oh, he did make his own "leaf mold," so he did have compost.  He built a topless wooden box, with a hinged flap at the bottom.  Leaves were just piled on the top, and as they rotted he opened the flap and scooped out the rich composted "leaf mold."  But, my clay isn't like that. 

Cookie likes the green, green grass!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spring Day-Dreaming

It isn't even winter, and my thoughts are in spring!  Seed catalogs are arriving, and I am perusing them for hours on end.

Seed Catalogs (Territorial's is last spring's issue, but I can base my "wish list" on it!

I already bought seeds for three tomato varieties.  They were 50% off, packed for 2012. But, the seed life is usually 3 years, even according to the seed companies.  Since Territorial Seeds are in Oregon (like me!), I figure I will get what seeds I can from them. 
1) Sungold (the cherry I grew this year, and was going to plant again)
2) Mortgage Lifter (I was going to get this one too!) Named for the story that the man who developed it made enough money to pay off his $6,000 mortgage selling the plants for $1.00 a piece.  I guess that sounds possible. 
3) Yellow Pear (another yellow cherry, like Sungold, but a cute pear shape)

Tomato Seed Packets

It isn't actually all that early to be planning since I went back on my promise to myself never to start from seed again!  That was just last winter, and here I am planning to do just that!  This time though I am going to make plant growing shelves.  More of that to come when I get the supplies!  I keep reading lists of how much money home-grown veggies have saved people, but I can't see it.  I do it because I like it.  If it is something you enjoy, a hobby say, or something that keeps you sane, you don't worry about the cost, right?

I am saving containers to start the seeds in.  Empty orange juice boxes, cut off bottoms of milk cartons, yogurt containers...things like that.

On another note, my Christmas cactus is forming blossoms!  My neighbor, Melanie, gave this plant to me last Christmas.  In California I would have had to put it in a closet for a month to force the blooms, but here it gets enough dark to do it on its own.  I love Christmas cactus!  My grandmother (of the "If I could get up..." fame) had a huge one on her enclosed back porch.  My mother always thought it needed water, but they are called "cactus!"  Although, reading about them shows they originally come from shady, high humidity areas of Brazil.  So much for "cactus." 

Christmas Cactus Buds