Archive for June, 2009

Zucchinis Taking Over



One of the things that I enjoy most about gardening is watching plants grow and produce. Fruits and vegetables that are annuals grows especially fast. For example, the green zucchini I planted back in mid-March as a 3 inch tall transplant has now grown so large, it is taking over one of the raised beds in our vegetable garden (see middle of top picture). It is crowding the onions and cantaloupe I planted nearby. I have trimmed off some of its leaves to stop it from shading nearby plants.

Apparently, I put too many plants in this 6′ x 7′ raised bed. But with only two small raised beds for growing vegetables, it’s hard to sacrifice some of the plants that I want to grow. A single cluster of only two green zucchini plants needs a lot of space. They are producing so many zucchinis I am giving some away.

The yellow zucchini that I planted in mid-April is a much more manageable size so far (see bottom picture and far left of top picture). It is producing less than half as many zucchinis as the green one. I have decided that two clusters of zucchini plants produces too many zucchinis for two people to eat, unless you want to have zucchini for dinner nearly everyday. I am more inclined to make a vegetable stir fry with zucchini once or twice a week. Next year, I am going to plant only one cluster of yellow zucchini because of its more compact size, and I will not plant any green zucchini.

June 14 2009 | Zucchini | Comments Off on Zucchinis Taking Over

New Jacaranda in Bloom


Last year, I planted a jacaranda tree in our backyard. Although jacaranda is sensitive to freezing weather, it survived our winter without any damage and is now blooming already. Last January, the temperature dropped to about 28 degrees F one night. It dropped all of its leaves after that freeze, but it did not lose any of its branches. Right now, it’s just a stick with a few small branches at the top.

Jacaranda trees will eventually grow to an enormous size, 30-40 feet tall and as wide. My plan is to keep our jacaranda tree to under 12 feet tall through regular pruning. I do not want a large tree shading our relatively small yard. But I couldn’t resist planting one because they are so beautiful when they are in bloom. My hope is that it won’t grow too fast, so that maintaining it at a reasonable size will be possible.

June 13 2009 | Jacaranda | Comments Off on New Jacaranda in Bloom

June Flowers



I took these pictures in our yard yesterday. In the first picture, our orange tropicanas are just starting to bloom, and a red gladiola is blooming behind them. The second picture shows one of our hydrangeas just beginning to open.

June 08 2009 | Cannas and Gladiolas and Hydrangeas | Comments Off on June Flowers

Blueberry Season


Blueberry season is here in Northern California. I have been growing southern highbush blueberries in the ground in our backyard for about three years now. I am growing the varieties Misty, O’Neal, Southmoon, Jubilee, and Sunshine. The above picture is our O’Neal bush.

Our blueberries have produced berries every year and have grown relatively well. They haven’t grown very fast or very large. They are only about two feet tall and about as wide. That puzzles me, because I have read that these varieties are supposed to reach 6 feet tall, except Sunshine which is a compact variety. I am not sure how long it would take to reach their full height or even if they are capable of doing so in our climate.

I don’t seem to be having a problem with soil pH, even though our soil tested at a pH of about 6.5. Blueberries are supposed to prefer a soil pH of about 5.5. The leaves of all 6 of our bushes look green and healthy, and the blueberries are very tasty. Each bush usually gets 50-100 berries. I have given them a sulfur additive once or twice a year and an occasional treatment of acidic water soluble fertilizer.

The main problem I have had with blueberries is birds eating the berries. The birds have eaten our berries as soon as they begin to turn blue. I have seen birds eating or attempting to eat the berries several times a day.

I have covered each of our bushes with bird netting to try to stop them. At first, the netting didn’t work very well. The birds just crawled under the netting or picked the berries right through the netting. They ate a significant percentage of the berries even with the bird netting covering the bushes. About a week ago, I added extra netting, tucked the netting tightly under each bush, and held the netting to the ground with large rocks. This configuration seems to be working well at keeping them from eating the berries.

The problem is that the berries are hard to pick now. Each time I want to pick the berries I have to go through the trouble of removing the netting from each bush and then recovering each bush well enough so that the birds can’t get in after I am finished.

I am already thinking about devising a better system that perhaps I could implement by next year. It would be much easier to have a wooden frame covered with chicken wire around each bush that could be easily removed and replaced to facilitate harvesting. Maybe I will have them built by next summer.

June 07 2009 | Blueberries | Comments Off on Blueberry Season

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