Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Climate Data December 2008

Click on graph for much easier reading.

This month had record cold and snow. My workplace was on 'inclement weather' mode for 3.5 days - the first time in decades. Snow here was about 18 inches deep, at its greatest. The coldest day was a record as well. Total precip (as rain, I gues, since snow would give a much higher #) was 3.4 inches.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Amazing Sex Life Of Figs

This is a link to the complex and confusing sex life of figs. It's an amazing story.

Sex determination and life cycle.

More About Fig Reproduction.

Who Reads Growing Greener?

Just for fun, here are the general locations of readers, from clustermaps. Current running total is 24,069 visits. Hello there! The map is clickable for more detail.

Click on the clustermap button for more detailed tally of which countries and how many per country.

More Snow! What is this - Buffalo? Snowing again today!

Worst blizzards that we have seen in this area, since 1960s. Well, I arrived here in the 80s so it's the worst that I have ever seen here. Workplace was in emergency mode last friday, and again mon through wed. I took the bus to work mon and tues, more hassle than I let people know, but I was not able to get the car out of the drive.

Front yard - The palm leaves are fully folded from snow. Which is better - leave it on (as insulation) or knock it off (to protect leaves from breakage). Nature decided for me - this happened while I was at work.

I've never seen it this deep in my yard before.

Ning is ambitious today, shoveliong the driveway.

It's snowing now as I type this! Back yard.

Better view of palm with snow covered leaves. We'll see how it looks this Spring!

Bamboo was flat to the ground, now springing back up again.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's snowing and snowing and snowing! Dark-eyed Junco

The city is near stand-still. Amazing, for this area. We found some bird seed to feed the hungry finches. Feeding the birds now helps the garden later.

I'm going out on a limb here, because they are not too clear. But I'll tentatively identify these as :Dark Eyed Junco". A photo can be found here. Dark-eyed juncos eat seeds in the winter, and insects in the summer, according to this site.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Climate Data Nov 2008

Recent weather left me wondering about weather the fruit trees, especially the figs, have survived the same extremes in the past. It's time to save climate data for future comparisons. Here are the #s for November 2008. Click on the graph for better detail.

Precipitation: 5.36 inches, rain, ranging from 0 inches to 0.84 inches per day.
High for the month: 64 degrees, Nov 7.
Low for the month: 32 degrees, Nov 24.

Winter. Schlumbergera. Homework.

The rest of today will be a homework day. This is made tolerable by the cold & snow outside, and my furry companion and some bright flowers inside.

Back yard. Later I'll publish a summary of the temperatures if I get a chance. Currently 27F on my thermometer in the grape arbor. The "zone denial' banana never made it into the house this year. Looks like it's a bit late, huh? Or was this "denial" of my frustration with the fact that it has never looked good, and since I DID manage to bring in the cannas, maybe I just didn't want to admit that leaving the banana outside was a passive-aggressive way to deal with it. Looks like a nice container for the cannas, or maybe potting up a fig next year?

Maybe the rhodie leaves should have been treated with antidessicant. We'll see this spring whether they perk up again.

Outside for a picture of the "big snow" December 19 2008

Possibly a bit obsessed with the Schlumbergera, but they allow the illusion of tropical lushness indoors. This pink one was added this year.

Also this mix. I'm not crazy about the two together, so used a sharpie to label the stems "W" and "R". The goal will be to pot up the white separately.

Strange, I've been thinking of starting a pot with all of the colors mixed together. Meanwhile not happy with the one combination that I do have.

Since they are no trouble to over-summer, a couple more should not be a burden.

Charlie is keeping me company while doing homework. He makes it all tolerable.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cold weather, indoor flowers, weatherizing, bulbs

Schlumbergera are blooming profusely. Most are from previous years, but the red/white mix and the pink are new this year. By growing several varieties (all store bought or cuttings, unnamed), bloom span has been almost 2 months (see Oct 25th photo). When they are at peak, I take them to work. Then they fall over in the car, which isn't good for the flower quality. I'll need to come up with a better way. They bring brightness indoors when outdoors is gloomy. Given my huge volume of homework this winter, this is one of the few bright spots.

Predicted temperatures have been is all over the place. This week may there may be a low down to 13 - each time that I looked it is different. Today is 32 and snowed, minimal. Due to concern about predicted lows, I sprayed the fig trees with "Wilt-Stop" which is derived from pine resin - probably the same as Wilt-Pruf. Not sure if it will help - but it helped me feel better. Since it was cloudy and there were occasional drizzles, I don't know if the process will work even if it would have during ideal spray conditions. This stuff is expensive. The concentrates give more for the buck, so it's what I bought. Made me think, maybe I should spray some in the summer too - this is supposed to reduce transpiration and reduce need for watering. May help with certain insects or black spot, not clear to me, and I understand that there are no cure-alls, just good gardening practices. The stuff has a nice 'piney' scent

While at the nursery getting wilt-stop, I saw some half-price narcissus, small varieties. Too late by most gardning standards, but I bought the 3 straggly packages and planted them in flower boxes. If they don't grow, it's OK. If they do, it will be nice to think that I 'saved' them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Peach Tree Winterizing

After this Spring's leaf curl disaster, I'm trying to be proactive.

I read that fall plus spring sprays with micronized copper will prevent the disease. Also that covering the trees to prevent leaf curl spores from washing into the buds. Both should be done after the leaves fall and before Winter rains start.

Unfortunately, It's already started raining, and the leaves had not yet fallen.

So, I started by pulling off the leaves. These are small trees (bush would be a better word) and it only took a few minutes to pull off the leaves. They went into the compost bin.

Defoliated Peach Tree

Micronized copper spray. I'm not excited about using sprays, although some growers consider copper a mineral so ok for organic methods. Depends on who you talk to. I followed the directions and sprayed all of the peach trees. It was not raining today.

Then I wrapped or covered with plastic. How I did it depended on the size and shape of the tree.

This is a 1-year old tree that is not genetic dwarf; peach/plum hybrid (Trilite). I tied the branches then covered in a plastic bag, and tied again.

This genetic miniature is about 4 feet tall. I don't think that the stems need to be covered, just the buds. Any that remain exposed can be pruned in the spring. I don't want it to bake either, so the under side is left open for ventillation.

The entire exercise took about one hour. We'll see if it works.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kitchen Garden Log

In addition to green tomatoes, there were 3 cucumbers.
The apples are all eaten now.
There are a few peppers.
4 figs from little Hardy Chicago.

Not much, but not bad for november.

Last weekend I cleaned up one raised bed and planted it with multiplier onions. This is about the 5th year for these. I covered with raked leaves, to keep the dogs from digging.

The cherries, most of the figs, the apples, and the ginkgos have lost most of their leaves.

I moved some oriental lilies to a bed east of the house.
Raked leaves. Used them for mulch around previously-moved magnolia and on the lilies, as well as the winter onion bed.
Chopped up a few tomato plants, and left them in the compost bin.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Not a lot of time to be in the garden. Today, I cleaned up one group of tomato plants. What to do with the green tomatoes?

Green tomatoes.

1. Slice.
2. Dip in egg.
3. Coat in flour with a little black pepper.

4. Fry in olive oil.

5. Salt and eat.

Frying tenderizes them. If you want to be yuppie about it, use tempura mix. They are a little tart, tender inside, and juicy. They don't taste like tomatoes - more similar to other coated/fried vegetables, but with some added juiciness and tartness.

I'm not much of a cook, but this was easy.

And that's what you can do with some green tomatoes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


The color is a little off - it's more of a salmon shade.

Given the date, this would be more like "Election Day Cactus" instead of the later holidays.
This year the figs are way behind last year. I'm just happy that there have been a few on Hardy Chicago. This little tree has given 3 last week and may give another 3 or 6 if the weather holds out.

Hardy Chicago

Hardy Chicago

Vancouver. Will the most mature fig ripen without leaves?"

Petite negri.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Begins

Ginkgo fall photo. Leaves remain green so far.

Front ginkgo. Now it's taller than I am. Leaves starting to change color now.

Lots of grapes now. It's dark when I go to work and come home, so I forget to pick them.

still getting a few tomatoes, beans, cucumbers.

I ate ONE fresh fig yesterday - a small one from Hardy Chicago.

I moved the Magnolia seiboldei to a more sheltered location, north of a fence and east of the house. There is will be less likely to develop sunburn, and need less water in the summer. It's bushy, about 6 feet tall. The roots were actually quite limited, about 2 foot diameter root ball, about 1 foot deep. I did remove one tall stem that leaned the wrong direction, but left the remainder unpruned.

I moved a mature oriental lily as well, near the magnolia. Also a few minor perennials.

Monday, October 13, 2008

epiphylum oxypetallum

It gave me a second chance...

brought inside 2 weeks ago.

5 pm

1230 am

515 am

6 am

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kitchen Garden Log

The workload continues unabated. I can't do much in the garden. In some ways it's on autopilot, except for watering.

Jonagold - this is the first year for some apples.

Mesclun, seeds planted late summer.

Scepter'ed Isle, 8 feet tall.

Hey, wait a minute! Another chance at the epiphyllum.

This cayenne pepper continues to produce. Nice and hot!

Beans, seeds planted late summer.

Canadace grape. The color doesn't come true wtih the flash, it's more red in natural light.

A throwaway chrysanthemum. I left it in the veggie bed for the summer.

Hibiscus. First flower.