Archive for the 'Dahlias' Category

Mid-summer post

Our multi-grafted Japanese plum tree is full of plums right now. It’s a very small tree, about 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. But it has over 100 plums on it. It has the most densely packed fruit of any fruit tree we have. It would benefit from thinning, because the branches can break under the weight of the fruit, but I didn’t bother to thin this year, because the fruit set was not as heavy as last year. The main grafts are the varieties Elephant heart and Laroda, which is the dark purple fruit in the picture below.

The tree also has a graft of Nubiana, which is very small and doesn’t grow much, and Beauty. Most of the Beauty graft broke off two years ago under the weight of a heavy load of fruit. I cut off the remaining branches of Beauty, because I didn’t care for its flavor. The Elephant Heart and Laroda grafts are not self-fruitful, but both have managed to set a lot of fruit two seasons in a row without pollen from Beauty. Pollen from our pluot tree and a neighbor’s plum have probably helped. The Beauty graft was huge and on the verge of taking over the tree. The Elephant Heart and Laroda grafts have grown a lot since Beauty has been gone.

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I really enjoy growing sugar pie pumpkins and butternut squash. I have found that they are both easy to grow from seed as long as they get regular water. I planted several groups of seeds last March. The vines are very long now and have set many fruits, even though I haven’t fertilized them. The vines can take up a lot of space, which is why I planted the seeds where the vines can grow in between our fruit trees. I planted them directly in the ground, not in our raised beds, because the vines would just grow out of the beds and across our paths between the beds. Some of the pumpkins have even grown roots directly from the vines into the ground.

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We are also growing Siam Queen (Thai) basil this year. I planted the seeds in pots in our mini-greenhouse in April and transplanted the seedlings into one of our raised beds in May. They only grow in warm weather, and it can get cold in April here. The plants grew slowly at first, but they are now starting to grow more rapidly. Their leaves have a strong scent that is similar to licorice, and their flowers are an attractive purple color. Also, they don’t seem to attract insects.

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Our purple Dahlias have been full of flowers for several weeks. We are also growing them in raised beds where they get plenty of water and rich composted soil. Unfortunately, they are already getting mildew on their leaves, which happens every year around this time.

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I planted corn seeds in mid-March this year, which is the earliest I have ever planted them. We almost never get frost here after March 1. I planted the peaches and cream variety, and ended up with about 18 plants. I always plant at least 15 corn seeds in a planting to ensure proper pollination. I started harvesting corn ears the first week of this month. They were very tasty.

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I harvested some of the last ears today. Several of the stalks had two ears, and a few stalks grew outshoots that themselves grew an additional ear of corn. I have more corn in another bed that I planted in June. They should be ready to harvest in October.

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I planted Albion strawberries in pots with potting soil in May. I had not grown this variety previously. I have been picking strawberries from the Albion plants for over a month now, and they have exceeded my expectations. They have been continuously producing very sweet and large berries. They are much sweeter than Chandler, which are on the tart side in our yard. I think I will be planting more Albion strawberries in the future. So far the Albion plants have not produced many runners, unlike our Sequoia strawberries, which are prolifically producing runners right now.

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July 26 2014 | Basil and Corn and Dahlias and Plums and Pumpkin and Squash and Strawberries | 4 Comments »

Summer Flowers

These are 3 pictures of flowers blooming in our yard this summer. The first picture shows an Amaryllis belladonna plant. These beautiful fragrant light pink flowers have appeared for the second year in a row from a bulb that I planted in the ground several years ago. The flower stems appear from the bare earth about a month after the leaves turn brown and die in June. Ours has about 10 flower stems this year, about twice as many as last year.

The second picture shows a cluster of purple dahlias that I planted in one of our raised bed gardens last year. These dahlias have grown vigorously and bloomed profusely in our raised beds, which get watered regularly and have some protection from snails and slugs. When I tried to grow dahlias in the ground a few years ago, snails devoured them.

The third pictures shows a group of hollyhocks growing in another one of our raised bed gardens. I planted the hollyhocks by seed last summer. They have grown very quickly over the past year with regular watering, but no fertilizer. Some of our hollyhocks are now over 8 feet tall. Our hollyhocks started blooming in early July, and they were full of dozens of flowers of various shades of pink and white for over a month. Now they are starting to fade. This picture was taken about a month ago.

August 20 2011 | Amaryllis and Dahlias and Hollyhock | No Comments »

July Flowers

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The top picture shows a really interesting purple and white dahlia I am growing this year. I have never had any luck growing dahlias in the ground. As soon as the dahlias sprouted in the spring time, the snails would devour them. They barely had enough time to grow one leaf before they were eaten. Putting snail poison around the dahlias bought some time, but as soon as it began to wash away, the dahlias would get eaten. I just couldn’t be bothered to reapply the snail poison every week or two. The full grown dahlias I planted in the ground didn’t fare much better.

This is the first time I have been successful growing a dahlia. It is growing in our raised bed vegetable garden, which has copper tape all around the wood borders to deter snails and slugs. The copper tape works most of the time, although occasionally one gets in.

The second picture shows our back magic tree rose, which has been in its second bloom of the season for weeks. This rose is one of my favorite roses, because it’s flowers are beautiful, and they last for so long. The third picture shows a white rose of sharon that is now in full bloom in our back yard. Our roses and rose of sharon are all growing in the ground (not in the raised beds). Our snails and slugs don’t seem to be interested in eating these plants.

July 18 2009 | Dahlias and Rose of Sharon and Roses | No Comments »