Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Death of Dale and Recovering from the Snow

Dale ("It's a Braeburn") had to be cut down.  The flat-headed borers got the best of him.  Best to quit while they were ahead and contact the Master Gardeners to see what they suggest.

* Can I replant in the same raised bed?
* Can I prevent the same thing from happening (since it's hard to get rid of them once they dig in)?
* Are plum trees any healthier?

My neighbor has plums and she doesn't do anything to them, but gets piles of plums.  I get an apple tree, prune it, spray it, baby it, cover it's tiny apples in individual nylon socks, etc. and I get no apples (coddling moth larvae) and borers.

I sniffled a little.  Poor Dale.  He was my first fruit tree.

Dale in better days - spring 2013

His former bed - Boo and his ever loving tennis ball
 The stupid snow (I took to kicking it and calling it "stupid snow") is gone!  Oh, a teeny bit lingering here and there, but not enough to bother with!  Thanks to last night's rain!  After it melted I expected to find more dead plants than I did.   Most everything survived just fine.  The tender mints are coming back already.

lemon balm

The aster looked completely dead, but the cold seems to have triggered a growth spurt.

I am worried about the two azaleas against the house.  In hindsight (the kind of sight that is 20/20) I should have moved it under the carport or somewhere sheltered.  I don't care for the color of the leaves or their appearance.

I'll really miss them if they don't make it.  They were left here by the former owner of the house, and bloom so pretty in the spring. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013


We got snow yesterday!  Lots and lots of snow!  (Well, maybe not "lots" to you, but "lots" to Southern Oregon!)

Enough to make a real snowman... you can't tell by the photo, but he is about 4' tall.  He has the traditional carrot nose; the other embellishments are wood chips.  And my scarf.  And I think my Santa hat.

I didn't know enough about them to realize you really do roll the balls around the yard to make them bigger!  It really works that way!

the herb garden

raised bed

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Decor with Gourds and Squash

Just a little note about the pretty harvest display on my Thanksgiving table yesterday.  I totally forgot to take pictures (even of my family!) until after dinner. 

I didn't grow the decorative mini corn, but the rest were not only grown by me, but grown from saved seeds! I can't take all the credit, the mini pumpkins came up by themselves in the compost pile.  So, hoping to have the same results next year, I casually tossed them out in the garden today! 

Thanksgiving d├ęcor and Benny

turban gourds, "Baby Boo" pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and winged decorative gourds

Thursday, November 28, 2013


No vegetables from my own garden, I don't try to grow fall crops anymore.

We had a few nights in the 20s lately.  I am still amazed how tender lettuce survives the cold.  It will be literally frozen stiff, yet thaw without harm.

I finally got around to cutting the asparagus back nearly to the ground.  After the freezing temperatures the fronds were totally dead.  Then a layer of steer manure to fertilize, since you can't dig it in without damaging the plants.  I do wonder how old these plants are, and how many more years they will be productive.  The plants will produce for 20-30 years, but these may have been planted that long ago!   I think I will plant a new bed this coming spring.  It's never to early to think about spring!

asparagus bed prepared for winter
This is where I will be moving my blueberries later this winter.  They will be in the large containers they are sitting atop now.  I have four Bluecrop and one sickly looking Draper I will replace.  Then they can grow and grow and give a bit of a privacy hedge in case the condos are ever built in that lot behind us.  There is one there now, to the right of the photo, and plans were approved years ago for more, so eventually they'll be there. 

The berries were so pretty a few weeks ago.

Bluecrop blueberry

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More Free Iris!

I love iris!  I love getting my iris free even better!  I got free iris a few days ago off Craigslist. If you have a local CL, check out the "free" or "farm and garden" posts daily and find free things for your garden too!

This is the third time I have gotten free iris rhizomes. Iris needs to be divided every few years, so it's pretty common to find people giving the extra rhizomes away.

These new ones are solid deep purple.  Or, they will be, if not this spring, in 2015.  That sounds so far off, but the iris I got in 2011 bloomed this past spring, and the time flew by. 

First, I soaked the iris in a hydrogen peroxide solution for about 20 minutes. Then I lay them in the sun to dry.  You can use bleach too, but I didn't have any.  It's important to do this, especially with plants you are introducing into your own yard.   Rinse well!

soaking in hydrogen peroxide solution (the boney hand in the background is a Halloween decoration!)

drying in sun
Ideally you should have a bed ready to plant.  But, while I know where the iris will be planted, I am nowhere near ready to do so!  So, I temporarily put them in one of my raised garden beds.  In a few months I will transplant them.  This might put their possible spring blooms off until the next year, but it can't be helped.  

These will be planted under my front living room window.  Currently there are overgrown and nasty ol' juniper bushes growing there.  I am not a juniper fan.  Once my green waste trash can is empty, I will start tearing the junipers out.  There are already rocks (of course there are...) bordering the area, so I will just need to dig in some nice soil.  And remove the ever-present and unwanted black plastic sheeting the former owners were so fond of.

Let me share my other free iris photos. 

1) Free neglected iris, formerly planted in very small, shallow bulb planters.  Originally from a city park iris bed.  These did not bloom the first year transplanted. 

2) Free well-treated iris.  The woman had already disinfected them with a bleach solution.  I had to plant these in temporary containers.  Most will bloom next spring.

3) Free iris from last week, temporarily planted in a raised bed.

Craigslist is a wonderful resource for free plants! 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

AAA = Apologies All Around

I owe even myself an apology.  I love adding new posts to this blog. I love choosing photos for each post.  So, with no excuses, let me get back to it!

Everything has died back now.  I have a few lettuces growing, but nothing to "write home about," as they say.  Or at least as my mother used to say.

The blueberry bushes are turning pretty colors. Even though they don't need it, I am going to transplant them into larger containers (such as the one under the planted pot below) once they are dormant.  Then I am going to put the containers out near my back chain-link fence.  We need a bit of a screen there, and I think the berry bushes will get large enough to do.

Bluecrop Blueberry

The boysenberry brambles turned red, and are now shedding their leaves.  Just imagine all those primocanes bearing fruit next year! 

The raspberry is dropping its leaves too.  Until I got the boysenberries I planned to put in a bed of raspberries, but I don't need them now.  The canes grew so long, I knew I needed to move the plant somewhere more permanent.  I am not so sure how well it's going to work, but I moved the container over to the raised bed, and wound the primocanes onto three of the trellises I got last year.  It looks kind of (okay, very) lopsided because the canes were so long I couldn't put the plant in the middle and go both ways!  No wonder raspberry beds are complicated contraptions with wires.

Meeker Raspberry - November 2011
Meeker Raspberry on "new" trellis
I harvested a nice little crop of Cinderella pumpkins, as well as some other variety from the compost heap.

So, now it's just a matter of watering when it doesn't rain, and waiting for dormancy to prune and transplant. 

My son cut one of our overgrown shrubs down to size.  The herb garden gets a lot more light. 

We have also been putting the lawn (did I say lawn?  I mean mud and weed patch) border rocks in place with concrete. It's working out pretty well. 

We are also removing junipers from the front yard, which is a story for another day.  That and my new Craigslist bargain!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Late Summer Storm and Late Summer Sadness

The day before yesterday brought us a thunderstorm with hail!  Last year we had a heavy hail in June, so it's apparently going to be a regular summer thing.  It was a nice break in the heat, and my son and I ran out into the backyard to enjoy it!  Boo was in heaven!  Rain gushing down the downspouts, hail plummeting from the sky... he ran open mouthed to and fro, coughing and choking in glee.  He loves his water weather!

Boo's favorite "gutter game" location

A few of the tomatoes suffered some damage, each losing several branches with fruit.  It wasn't nearly as bad as last year, when the hail was larger, and punched holes in leaves, and tattered pepper plants. 

Sadness?  Well, nothing is sadder in the garden than late summer dying back.  I pulled the rest of my pole and bush beans.  There were quite a few pods on the pole beans, but they were empty.  They pods grew to a few inches long, with not a single bean inside! 

empty bean pods
The cucumbers are slowing down, and the bases of the plants are yellowing.  Medford and Oregon Spring tomatoes have a second growth with a few new flowers.  I discarded Super Sweet, which really wasn't (sweet or super), and Tumbler, which was just a very ugly plant!

On a positive note,  the registration information came for November's Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens symposium!  More about that later... so many session choices.  "Caneberries in the Backyard" or "Create a Rock Garden?"  Would I benefit more from "Tree Care: The Necessary Skills" or "Soil Identification: What Do I Do with It?" 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Harvest Time

There have been some nice harvests lately!  Besides the tomatoes I mean...

tomato harvest August 30
I have some of the compost heap volunteer acorn squash. I found a nice fat hidden one after this photo was taken.  They'll be turned into "pumpkin!"

acorn squash - August 30
Lots of green beans, pole and bush.

green beans - August 25
Lots of lemon cucumbers, three or four average a day.

lemon cucumbers - August 26
I've had quite a few nice green peppers, small but tasty.  The Fajita Bell was a bit too spicy (actually it burnt my son's throat for quite a long time), so I pulled it out.

There are a handful of adorable decorative gourds and mini pumpkins.  Where the Baby Boo's came from I don't know, they suddenly appeared in the compost heap!

Winged Decorative Gourd

                          Decorative Gourd

  Turban Gourd                Baby Boo

What have I been doing with it all?  Well, we eat the cucumbers and peppers right away.  I have yet to cook the squash into "pumpkin."  (I use winter squash in any recipe calling for pumpkin.  The taste is identical.)  I have canned more tomatoes.

I dehydrated another tomato batch too.  After running out of canning jars, with several pounds of tomatoes left, I offered them free on Craigslist.  The man who committed to taking them didn't show, and I ended up throwing them out.  What an unnecessary waste. 

Unfortunately, I discovered just in time that I can't safely water can green beans.  My grandmother always did, and no one got sick, but it is advised to only use a pressure canner for beans.  I had the jars all ready to go too.  So, I had to freeze them instead.

green beans I had to de-jar and freeze

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Herb Garden

The herb garden is doing nicely.  It makes me happy every time I see it off the deck!  The summer flowers are almost spent, and it nearly time to cut back the mint for winter.

The terra cotta pot holds orange mint.  In the tier below that are rosemary, sage and lemon thyme.

rosemary, lemon thyme and sage
 On the main level are chocolate mint, peppermint, wooly apple mint, two types of oregano, chives, creeping thyme, nutmeg thyme, and some baby cilantro seedlings.


chocolate mint, peppermint in upper left,  and on right wooly apple mint (2)

wooly apple mint and on right in rock circle pruned back oregano

creeping thyme
On the deck is a container of pineapple mint.

pineapple mint
I have yet to transplant the lemon balm (lemon mint).  This is the one I got (along with two oreganos) in trade for some mints a few weeks ago. It is getting a lot of new growth.  The leaves are so deliciously lemon scented!  I will probably just prune off all the taller stalks and leave the new growth at the bottom, then plant it in the herb garden, or a pretty container. 

lemon balm
I cut a branch off a large shrub that overhangs part of the herb garden, so the herbs will get more sunlight.  The shrub has been neglected for years and has been allowed to grow to tree-size.  I am cutting it down to size; it grows back from the base quite well.  I cut back the over-grown lilac bush the same.  There is a blue tree (blue spruce?) that has to go nearby too.  It leans way over, and at some point someone bolted a chain into the trunk (who thought that was a good idea?) in an attempt to keep it upright. I love the color of the tree, but most of it is dead underneath the outer branches, and in the neighbor's yard as well. 

tree-shrub pruning to allow more sun to the herb garden, pruned back lilac in corner of yard.
leaning tree with chain
chain and bolt system of some sort cutting into the tree trunk