From commentor Mary G:
Some of you all may be putting your gardens to bed, but according to my own personal gardening Bible, Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening: Month by Month, October is the year’s best month for planting. We have major projects underway. By this, I mean I think of things and then I watch Higgs Boson’s Mate work his ass off to make them happen.
Before I get to what’s going on now, probably in another post, some summer things are still going strong. This has been the best year EVER for tomatoes here. We are still picking them constantly and there are tons of green ones, new flowers still setting fruit, and new leaves. I believe this is only one or two plants, but it has taken over a huge chunk of the yard and disappears over the fence, where I think the neighbors are also being supplied. Here are three pictures of sections of the same plant taken on the same day:
My apple tree, which is not supposed to grow here in zone 10/11 or anywhere near it, continues to produce, even though the neighbor’s McMansion cut off all its afternoon sun seven or eight years ago. The leaf production is way down and every year I think it will never leaf out or flower again, but every fall there are still the same numbers of apples.
The hydrangeas have finished up after blooming all summer and the sanasqua camellias are getting ready to take over:
For immediate color, we got a few six-packs of rather tired impatiens on sale at Lowes and HBM potted them all up in late August or early September. They are thriving on a mix of potting soil, some vermiculite, a bit of sand and a handful of worm castings. The 99 cents store has really nice 6” clay pots right now and we are going to move some of them out into new pots because they are doing so well they are getting a bit crowded.
HBM has turned me onto using pea gravel for mulch; it works and looks great:
I have always wanted to grow sweet peas, but have never had any success in starting seeds, mostly because you are supposed to start them in September when it’s really hot and I have never been good enough at keeping them watered. We soaked them in water overnight then nicked the seed cover before planting them.
So far, only one has sprouted, but hope remains high. HBM has been watering them much more faithfully than I ever did. If anyone has any expertise in this area, please let me know. I love sweet peas. Dark purple ones have seeded themselves in empty lots around town for years, but we are running out of empty lots and concerns for brushfires has caused the few remaining ones to be cut back earlier and earlier.
My mom and I got our patio furniture on sale at Lowes in December 2001 when I moved back here. It cost $170, but it was sturdy and comfortable and attractive, something that is kind of hard to achieve in patio furniture. It stood up pretty well for a while, but twelve years of use, with the last five years or so in total neglect, turned it into this:
The table looked just as bad or worse, with slabs of paint hanging off it. I went on Amazon and bought a quart of this metal paint and HBM spent hours and hours with a wire brush prepping it and painting it and now it looks like the picture at the top of this post.
So for a grand investment of $37 on Amazon for the paint and two clearance beach towels to cover the cushions, and a hundred hours of elbow grease from a man whose Navy tenure made him an expert in painting stuff, I got a whole new set!
I used to have a hummingbird feeder, but it was the kind that you twist the bottom off of and my hands hate twisting things, and hanging it up was a problem. I got one on Amazon where the top just snaps off and on, and HBM rigged it up on a lanyard with the string run down to where I can reach it from a wheelchair or scooter, lower it, refill it, and hoist it back up where the neighbor’s cat can’t get at it.
I would love to try to post beautiful pictures of multiple birds like General Stuck used to, but here we have hummingbirds that are very aggressive indeed. They slug it out until the biggest one earns rights to the feeder. When it’s not eating it’s dive-bombing any other hummingbird that has the gall to try to eat there too. Sometimes pair of other birds will tag-team the bully, one eating while the other is being chased off, but it works only a little while. Anyone know how to get them to get along?
When we are through working, we go places like this to relax:
In other non-gardening news, I have gone back onto Weight Watchers and lost a couple of pounds. HBM has been walking the beach in the mornings before I even wake up, often five or more miles, and has lost about 15.
We have a second major garden project under way and a third one in the planning stages and I will try to write you again about those soon.
for your hummingbird issue, maybe multiple feeders on different edge of the porch, i.e. different locations so the opportunity to hoard the feeder isn’t available?
HBM did a marvelous job with the patio set! The garden looks great too.
Well done MaryG and HBM! Everything looks great!
Everything looks beautiful, including the neighborhood! The scenery and lovely flowers bring back great memories from the West Coast trip we took this summer. Thanks for sharing!
Also, I second piratedan’s suggestion for multiple feeders.
@piratedan: This. When I lived in town I had only 2 or 3 feeders up and they fought constantly. Now, way deep in the boonie woods, I put up 6 or 7 and they share quite well. Of course, with global warming maybe I just have Arkansas hummingbirds now and it is their southern manners that allow them to get along so well.
Beautiful Mary G! Looks like HGB rescued you a bit too, because I know how hard it is to do it all alone.
Great work, both of you! And how wonderful that you two seem to have rescued each other!
All is put to bed here. The only remnants left are the rosemary, thyme, chives and parsley that we’ve brought inside until they decide they’ve had enough and die off. Hopefully, they’ll hang on long enough that I’ll be able to use them for our Thanksgiving feast. Meanwhile, we’ve moved the feeding station for the two marmalade strays we’ve been feeding into the greenhouse. That way, we hope to keep them warm and sheltered from the cold if we can’t convince them to come and join us in the house.
It sounds like a rescue human is the way to go.
Keep up with the weight loss. I have dropped 25 pounds by walking 4 to 5 miles each morning. I can’t honestly claim to “feel” a whole lot better, but I certainly do look better to the point where others have noticed.
Funny, I read that and my first thought was, “Thank FSM I live in the Ozarks.” By the time first frost gets here, I’m ready for a break.
(but not yet… Got to dig up the sweet potatoes, harvest the Brussels Sprouts, plant the garlic, then I still have a lot of cleaning up to do in the garden. After that I have to get some composted organic manure and spread it, and then…. Jeebus, if I had to plant too?)
The pictures are beautiful. Maybe some of the grumpy folk down below will wake soon enough to take a glance of at your pictures. Life is not always about the President.
My garden has plenty of kale and arugula with sweet potatoes drying in the shed. The summer garden was a waste because of the squirrels and it’s nice to reap some nice greens. Most of the herbs will make it through the winter, or so I hope.
I recently dropped about 20 myself. I feel the same way you do. Not really feeling different but people have certainly noticed!
Don’t know if anyone here has posted the tale of Phineas the wonder dog:
The dog at the center of a protracted legal battle in the Missouri Ozarks was reunited with his owners on Saturday, two weeks after he was mysteriously stolen and one day after a judge spared his life.
Phineas disappeared Oct. 11 from a veterinary clinic in Salem, Mo., leaving police stumped as to how the break-in occurred or who did it. The dog had been held by authorities since June 22, 2012, when the animal was accused of biting a 7-year-old girl. The town’s mayor ordered the dog euthanized. The dog’s owners appealed. A legal battle ensued, culminating in a Dent County judge ruling Friday that he did not believe that Phineas had bitten the girl. The judge ordered the animal released to its owners.
Then, after another communication from this mysterious dog-napper, the family set out to reunite with Phineas. That was to take place at a neutral location at 10 a.m. Saturday, Simon said. He declined to detail the location. But, Simon said, the family was late and the person who took Phineas dropped off the animal and drove away. The Sanders family never met the person who held Phineas, Simon said.
Fantastic garden and area, Mary and HBM!
there’s so much to love about this post, thanks for sharing.
Interesting about your apple tree. I’d always been told that they need a season of hard frost to produce apples. But I think they’re very adaptable. I have a producing apple tree in my yard that I grew from a seed from a supermarket apple. And that’s not supposed to happen.
I’m freezing and watching the Zhivago remake. Why? I should be watching something tropical.
Higgs Bosun Mate is quite the keeper.
Although we knew that.
Love hearing of all your projects. Patio set (and patio) look great.
I want to see the cushions made of sale beach towels!
Out for a bike ride; check back in later. Ciao.
Yes, yes he is. And MaryG is a special person.
What lovely photos! Looks like a classic Indeterminate tomato plant. Those will grow and bloom and set fruit until they either get destroyed by disease or frost nips them. I had one go through until late January until I forgot to cover it when it got cold and that finally got it.
Love the patio furniture re-do. Amazing what some elbow grease will do. I can second the end-of-season patio furniture deals. Got a table with six chairs set on sale at Home Depot several years ago on clearance–I think it was $120 total. Really great deal. Clearance for patio furniture is in July, so there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy it, although where I live outdoor season is now.
Congratulations! Sounds like you and HBM are really good for each other.
Great garden report, Mary G!
Check on Pat Welsh’s gardening advice. She’s one of my mainstays. As a newcomer (2006 started doing some planting at my aunt’s old place, went full-time in 2008) to SoCal, I also rely on the Sunset Western Garden book, and California Native Plants for the Garden. Learning a whole new environment is quite a challenge.
Check on the tomatoes (the Stupice has been stupendous). It’s been quite the year for them, & that’s so satisfying, because we’ve worked harder for less in the past. Our eggplant is also still producing, & most of the pepper plants. And we’re getting nice cantaloupes from volunteers from our compost. The first few were tiny and more “interesting” than actually good eating melons, but the new ones are as good as you’ll generally find. Maybe not Poseyville level, but good.
I echo the advice about more hummingbird feeders. We do see some aggressive behavior from some of the birds, but the loser generally has another option nearby, so it’s not a big deal. Hanging a feeder from one of the planter boxes on the upstairs porch railing has been a big success, too. The vertical separation seems useful.
@SectionH: I think hummingbird aggressiveness varies by type. We’ve got ruby-throated and I’ve heard they’re much more aggressive about protecting their territory than others. I’ve got two feeders in one area, plus a wide variety of hummingbird-friendly plants and if a bird is on any of those and another hummingbird shows up, the defense begins immediately. There’s plenty to go around, but I don’t think they think that way.
Good to hear you are both doing so well. About seed starting: I had the best luck when I presoaked the seeds in water spiked with hydrogen peroxide, then used the wet-paper-towel-in-a-baggie method. It helped to make a very dilute solution of worm castings and spritz the paper towels periodically when they needed to be dampened. (Mix a small batch new every time-you don’t need much and it will spoil in a couple of days.) I was able to sprout things that are supposedly difficult to sprout (hot pepper seeds and eggplant seeds, 100 % germination) and it wasn’t hard at all.
You can easily grow a producing apple tree from seed.
What you generally can’t do is get the same variety of apples as the apple the seed came from. Pollination in apples is a sexual lottery, and usually you’ll get something small, greenish, asymmetric, hard, and sour — good for cider, and pretty good for pie, but not much good for eating out of hand unless you’re a child.
All the apples of a particular variety are clones — living branches propagated from the first (and only) tree to hit that genetic combination, by cutting scions and grafting them onto some sturdy-but-uninteresting rootstock.
I believe the same applies to avocados.
@Violet: We do see Ruby-throated ones here, but they’re not common, and I’m not sure if they’re actually Ruby-throats or Anna’s or ?. We do have at least 4 other kinds, with different markings and colors, etc. I am motivated to try harder to id them now after a cursory look at some online info. “Rufous” are also noted as very aggressive.
Heh, “bird-brained” got coined for a reason.
um – what’s with the paper-towel seed sprouting of sweet peas? One of the thing I loved the best about living in Ca – ok, northern CA, Santa Clara, but still – was that one could actually GROW all the great sweet peas –
Now I’m back in North Dakota, where we don’t really HAVE spring – frigid winter, then blazing hot summer – so its much harder.
Personally, I love all the Spencer varieties, for the incredible fragrance – Evening in Paris is a FANTASTIC smelling white. – and long cutting stem.
But I NEVER pre-sprouted mine – just threw them in the ground, or in large pots, in late December or January, kept them well-watered in the ground, and from late March to Mid-May – sweet peas!
Actually, I often didn’t replant them – if I was tardy enough in pulling the old vines off the fence, they would drop their seeds, and re-volunteer the next spring, like magic!
– oh, God, I miss CA!
my green tomatoes are ripening apace in the closet here, I threw out the last pots of pansies today – finally got too cold even for them – Gardening in NoDak is a race against time.
You are right! I´ve already put my garden in bed for winter. Reading your advices and ideas earlier I wouldn´t have. Pictures are nice and I can see your garden is blooming. Well done.