Thursday, September 23, 2010

Introducing my Guest Blogger!

I will be unable to tend garden for the next couple weeks due to foot surgery and consequently, it is time for me to hand over blog writing to my very worthy proxy. He has over 30 years of lawn and garden care experience and approximately half of that time has been spent growing and tending heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and other assorted vegetables. His other specialties include care of citrus and avocado trees and cymbidiums (orchids). He has successfully amended poor clay soil into fertile vegetable beds, keeps a seed library to continue the propagation of old heirloom lines, and cooks gourmet cuisine from home-grown fruits and vegetables.

Welcome, Papi Tomato! I look forward to your insightful contributions!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Flights of Fancy

My dear friend, Kelly, inspired me to start a butterfly garden. I already had the beginnings of one with butterfly friendly plants such as lantana and lavender, but I wanted to have more and better selections for monarchs during their annual migration. Selfishly, these beautiful and perennial monarch-friendly flowering plants continue to bloom through fall and live through the seasons, providing my garden with some much needed color and filler around my brick patio lounge/ entertaining area.

Hubby helped me clear out my overflow vegetable bed of long-in-the-tooth cherry tomatoes and dig holes for the incoming plants. We then placed our compost green machine in a corner of the bed so it will get full sun and will be closer to the kitchen for green waste dumping. This amended re-placement will help me start another goal for next season’s garden, composting kitchen and yard waste and using the compost to replenish nutrients to the soil in my main vegetable beds.

I placed the two Echinacea (orange and pink cone flower) nearer to the compost machine, the Purple Salvia, Dark Knight Bluebeard, and Starla Pink Pentas in the middle nearer the Anna Apple, and three Achillea (Yarrow) closer to the Mexican Sage. Interspersed between the plants are six deep pink alyssum for ground cover. Lastly, I placed a small, shallow dish of water on the ground as a butterfly bath. It looks a little thin right now, but it shouldn’t take long for the plants to fill in beautifully. The welcome mat is out! Hopefully the guests will show up soon!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Bloomday

As we head towards true fall, the garden continues to both burst with color and begins to fade into the obscurity of impending winter. My list of garden clean-up chores from last post is nearing completion. I am so excited to have a guest blogger recruited to carry the torch of garden writing while I recover from foot surgery. Look for his posts towards the end of September!

All my tomatoes are gone, except for the cherry and Sprite plants. I don't even like cherry tomatoes; I grow them to give away to Hubby's co-workers. They can't get enough of them; it is such a simple thing to garner such good will.

The lantanas are attracting the Monarch Butterflies, but I wish there were more of them stopping by. Time to plant a true butterfly garden?

The final surge of rose blooms

Coleus, cool season greens, and lemon verbena

More Plumeria - I know I always include the plumeria, but I am so proud of it. I have never seem such specimens in any other private garden. I know that the former home owner, Mildred, used to sell their cuttings to people as far away as Japan! 

I consider the plumeria good luck and their scent reminds me of a dear fried who has passed from this earth. I miss you, Jack: I know you are swimming to the quarter mile buoy in the next reality.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Putting the Garden to Sleep

A large part of late summer/ early fall vegetable garden care is preparing for winter dormancy. This year, I’m on an early time table due to earlier than normal spring planting and impending foot surgery. I must have everything completed by the third weekend in September so that I can convalesce with peace of mind.

1. Empty and cover main planting beds: As my tomatoes die off, I cut them down and clear the planting beds. Once cleared, I cover the bed with a semi-permeable plastic covering. It allows water in, but keeps weeds from sprouting.

2. Trim back my ‘Bee and Butterfly’ flower bed: Time to dead head and cut back the lavender (bye-bye bees) and allow the orange lantana to take center stage (beloved of butterflies).

3. Trim and fertilize roses as needed: This includes more dead heading of spent blooms and trimming any diseased leaves and stems. I still continue to battle orange rust and mildew, but I am winning the war.

4. Trim the culinary and tea herb garden beds: My herbs have gone crazy this season (as they normally do). It is time to trim them back to prepare them for their dormant season.

5. Dry the following herbs: Tarragon, catnip, oregano, and lemon balm. I don’t need to dry down everything this year (thank goodness!).

6. Remove dead palm fronds from the ancient Elephant Palm: This is a fun one – pulling the dead fronds off the palm tree while attempting to balance on an old ladder (with a bad foot), and dodging falling debris and scary spiders.

7. Weed and trim the front yard and set watering schedule for Santa Ana season: I have neglected the curb appeal, yet again. It is time to pay more time and attention as the seasons change.

Hubby will need to water, harvest cherry tomatoes, peppers, and mission figs, and take care of unanticipated emergencies.