Grow grow grow
Monday April 05th 2021, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Garden

The apricots in pots, the short, five-branched one and the tall–which, although the leaves kept growing bigger, had stopped producing new ones until its roots could likewise grow more to support them. So, you know, you’re planted now, hurry up!

I’ll move them into bigger pots next winter. Gotta start somewhere.

And then there’s the one from last year. I overwatered it one particular week last summer and it suffered and stopped growing. Totally my fault; I kept giving it as much when the weather turned cool as I’d been doing in the high 90s. Apricots do not like soaking their feet.

During the winter the top and a side branch appeared to have died off so I pruned it, little though it was, and hoped it might survive.

Note the pretty, glossy Costco pot I bought for it turned out to have had a red coat of paint slapped on top of plain plastic but which shredded off almost from the first time water touched it. Not cool. But so 2020.

Anyway, that Anya is only just now waking up for the season: those leaves at the top started to appear yesterday. But it was very much to my relief that it did wake up. I didn’t kill it after all!

Not to mention, I really want to be that extra year ahead. I want to begin to find out what we’ll get with these.

It always amazes me when a plant manages to recover from its deathplantbed and just keep right on going after all.

Black rabbit
Saturday April 03rd 2021, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

The first apple blossoms of the year.

And, on the right, the apricot that was just the tiniest beginnings of two leaves tucked way down in there a week ago.

One of the real estate sites somehow thought I wanted a cabin in Carmel. It’s absolutely adorable and comes with its own Rapunzel tower and I’d love to camp out in it even if my hair hasn’t gotten quite *that* long in the pandemic, but man, that is the most flammable house I think I have ever seen.

And on a different note, I did a fair bit of knitting today: it’s the weekend of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Gerrit Gong was one of today’s speakers, and he was reminiscing about his late father.

Whom we knew and adored. When his dad was blind from diabetes in his old age, his mother asked if I might knit her a scarf in angora: because her husband couldn’t see anymore, but he could still feel, and she thought it would be a blessing to him.

You bet I did.


Pot humus
Friday April 02nd 2021, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Woke up with a smile on my face. We have a date, at long last: seven weeks till we get to see who we want to see and go where we want to go.

It felt celebratory to pick up the topsoil I’d ordered from the local nursery; I wasn’t going to risk my back lifting them before that drive to Antioch. Even if I’d ordered the half-size bags for caution’s sake.

And now there are two apricot seedlings in good-sized but not huge pots for them to get a good start on life in and they look glorious.

One bag done. A second is in the back yard.

There are eight (!) more of them because, uh, I think I overdid it. Like, a lot. The guy just barely managed to fit them into my Prius and I should have paid the $55 delivery fee for their strong young men to come bring them and stack them up wherever I might ask because some things you just can’t weigh in terms of the equivalent number of bags that that would work out to and hey lady did you realize you’re starting to get on the old side, but, oh well. Too late now. They are totally smelling up the inside of the car because I forgot to get the dolly and found my limit for one day and had the good sense to stop.

But those two trees are finally where they should be for the next year while they grow their roots a bit. They’d so needed it. They’d stopped producing new leaves until their roots had somewhere to reach to, too, and now they look so good. And it makes me so happy.

Guess who forgot to take their picture as I was taking them in.

Wednesday March 31st 2021, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Garden

From the peach that bloomed first: I even made myself thin them like I’m supposed to. They say six inches apart but the tree didn’t cooperate, so I figure, Eh. Five. Call it a size 6 Petite.

It was in the low 80s today and the previously dormant-looking sour cherry went, Hey! My kind of weather! Alright!


Wednesday March 31st 2021, 10:24 am
Filed under: Garden

A few flowers for your day. The other peaches have enough left hopefully to pollinate this Indian Free.

Anya check-in
Sunday March 28th 2021, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Garden

Saturday’s picture. Middle pot on the right, we’ve got a root but no stem yet. The green in the lower left has doubled today.

Apricots don’t like their roots sitting around soaked, and they’re starting to show out the bottom, so I need to figure out the best medium for the next stage of planting. Do I put them in something they’d have to be moved out of later in the growing season, something small enough that I could deal with when my back is being antsy, or do I protect the roots by putting them in something larger that they’ll stay in for a good year or two at least?

The fabric pots are great for getting a plant to create a strong root system because they’re constantly being air-tipped when they reach the edges and creating new side roots in response.

But the roots do grow through the bottom, which would be hard to extract them from, so you’d want to go bigger rather than smaller. Or use something more solid. Even if that makes it harder to chase the moving sunlight or to move them away from the wild rabbit’s reach at night.

Or I could just stop overthinking it, plunk them in whatever and tell’em good luck. Don’t forget the eggshell pieces around the stems to thwart the snails.

Alliums among us
Saturday March 27th 2021, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life

I have this plant that grows next to the house. I didn’t put it there; it was a surprise. It simply showed up one spring and every one thereafter, leafing out of the ground and then sending up a purple flower stalk next to the walkway. I had no idea what it was. It never spread–it was just the one plant. For easily twenty years now.

Last year there wasn’t much of a flower to it at all, which made me realize how much I’d been looking forward to it. Oh, well.

This year, the rainy season is nearly over and we’ve gotten about a third of normal. Dry dry dry. My allium did come up under the sidewalk light as always but it’s tiny, with no sign of any flower to come, but at least it’s still alive.

I ordered some cream with my groceries. I had a craving for making chocolate tortes. I wanted to run the beaters, melt the chocolate into the cream, mix the one spoonful I like to make of leftover ganache into my hot cocoa the next morning, all of it.

The new next door neighbors, as it turned out, do indeed like chocolate and are not allergic to dairy.

She opened that door in excitement before I could even knock.

She’d had to work today and it had been a long hard day and then she’d just gotten home to my message. Not five minutes later I would get a text saying how good that torte was.

And as I kind of floated down the sidewalk, there it suddenly was.

Wait. Where did you come from? What…?

It was a new allium. With the tips of its unusually short leaves just brushing the sidewalk. There had been so little water there was almost no stalk, either, but there it was, radiant in the late sunlight.

And it wanted me to notice.

The frosting on the cake
Saturday March 20th 2021, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

(With the weekly apricot progress picture.)

Some had flowers in their gardens too good to only keep to themselves.

Some offered to bake. And it’s always more fun, not to mention safer calorie-wise, to bake for others.

And so we had a drive-through Relief Society party (ie for the women’s organization) at the church parking lot. You stop your car–sometimes it was a line–you say from a safe distance your preference of type of cupcake, everybody with masks on, or whether you’d prefer flowers to calories; one person brings your choice to you (if a cupcake) in a little box with a heart at the top so it won’t smush all over the inside of your car or make you have to hold it while you’re trying to drive, several people at social distances away from each other are bringing more to other cars and nobody breathes on anybody.

So-and-so pulled in to park and could you move just a bit so they can get out. Sure.

We could actually some of see each other’s faces for real for the first time in over a year and we did chat a bit from there; not too long, more are coming, we let them have their turns.

Man, did that feel good.

The response to the original query was such that not only did I get a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache and cream cheese layered in the filling, I was offered to take a random one home to Richard along with a blue hydrangea stem.

His turned out to be vanilla. With sprinkles. Which made me laugh. Our kids memorably swooned over sprinkles on a cake someone brought us when they were, well, kids.

All the leftover cupcakes were going to end up on the one family’s doorstep if we didn’t rescue them.  No! It’s okay! Him, too! Take one!

After tasting mine, I understood the danger. Man, that was good.

Thursday March 18th 2021, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Garden

I gave it six years. Even though an earlier volunteer had produced a single fig seven feet off the ground the same season it had sprouted out of the ground: whoosh! But it was clearly going to be big and was already pushing the fence down. Out.

But this one, not a sign of fruit ever. It was a nice enough looking plant so I kept hoping, but the Black Jack I bought on pie day that year was the one has given me several hundred figs while all this one could do was sit around and look pretty.

Turns out fig trees sometimes come as male specimens.

What we got was a lesson in root swirling in pots. (It was growing in a narrower one than what I set it down in a moment to snap its photo.) Kind of a potholder weave look to them, isn’t it. (Or Marilyn Monroe trying to hold her skirts down over the grate while her hair goes flying.)

My Black Jack is starting to leaf out for the new season and over here, there’s a newly freed-up pot waiting for an apricot seedling to spend a year or two in. Max.


Learning by doing
Tuesday March 16th 2021, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Garden

And now there are six. The two new apricots, including the one that was just a little curl coming out of the ground last night, already have their second leaves.

But there was a squash sprouting whose root was growing down the side of the plug against the plastic tray and never got the memo to get inside and it tried for a few days to be rooty enough–and then the whole thing died.

So tonight when I found an Anya was starting off its root at the edge like that I took another plug, put it up against it there, and wedged them together outside of the tray. Not too hard. We’ll see how it goes.

Note to self and to anyone who hasn’t planted theirs yet: point the pointy part of the kernel towards the center of the plug. I didn’t on all of them.

Meantime, courtesy of Anne, a physicist vs a squirrel. Whee!

The sequence
Monday March 15th 2021, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Garden

Sunday I checked a set of apricot kernels that didn’t seem to be doing too much yet and, actually, one of them had a thick taproot coming out the bottom that hadn’t been visible the day before–not only that, the tip was starting to look darker–it needed a place to grow to, fast, so the plug went into a larger jiffy pot as a bit of a stalling tactic: I’ll go to Yamagami’s for bags of soil after we get our covid shots.

Twenty four hours later I had a new sprout.

Twenty hours after that, it is on its way.

Okay, I wrote that, and then I stumbled across a conversation with a guy who’d not only saved but had grown about 40 Anya kernels and at their fifth year wrote up the characteristics of what he had. Every one of them was really good, some closer to the original Anya than others but every one at least double the brix of your average grocery store apricots. (Explanation of brix here.)

It’s not just the sweetness, though: it’s the depth and nuances of flavor.

It made me feel really good about all those kernels I sent out. Nobody’s going to get a clunker, they’re all going to be great.

A bit much for me
Saturday March 13th 2021, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Garden

Our house had a yellow front door when our kids were little. It was not a color either of us would ever have picked.

When the invasive white flies were taking over and killing our ash trees, we had no idea that yellow meant food to them. We found ourselves with a blanket of small white gnats plastered against that door constantly, a whoosh of them inside every time we opened it, and at last we gave up and repainted the darn thing and they went away.

That and the scientists released a tiny non-stinging wasp from where they’d come from that ate them.

Since then I’ve found the idea of painting your whole house that color unfathomable. Pavlov would say I have issues.

And yet there’s this house. Actually, I know someone with a house like that: he’s a CEO and has to be able to entertain big, and does, and that’s fine. So:

One stovetop, two trash compactors (but one might be for recyclables?), five? no three ovens plus (checks description) one convection oven and a microwave. Don’t miss the faux columns being held up by the granite countertop on so wide an island that us mere 5’5″ types would have to leap halfway across the top of it to pass the dish to an outstretched hand on the other side.

And yet for all that, the kitchen cabinets alternate wood stains like a self-striping yarn knit sideways.

Gotta say, the library with the sliding ladders is a nice touch in that certain Disneyed Beauty and the Beast way.

But a pool in all that perfectly good fruit tree growing area. Nope. Deal’s off.

A bucket of Kernel Standards
Monday March 08th 2021, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Ellen was wondering how best to plant her newly-arrived Anya apricot kernels at the very moment I was scrolling through my phone, got distracted, and butt-dialed her. She FaceTimed right back and we both had a good laugh. The answer is, I don’t know what the precise depth one should plant those is but I do know I had to tear the top of the Root Riot to get a kernel in–they’re latex and peat moss if I remember right, kind of an odd combination–so I didn’t put mine in very deep, afraid they would have a hard time fighting their way out.

As they swelled to sprout the kernels kind of worked their way upwards slightly and the seedlings have the split-open sides angling upwards from the surface like flower petals.

And it worked just fine.

Plant and root both will be growing from the pointy end of the seed.

‘Cot in the act
Saturday March 06th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Garden

Stretches and back exercises and ice packs and we’re both doing better today than either of us expected to, which is a relief.

Meantime, I took a closer look at this one apricot at front left of the Jiffy pots; it hasn’t been shooting up like the other two planted at the same time. Turns out it has three side branches, each with its own tiny cluster of new leaves, and the stem is thicker than on the biggest plant. If I wanted a more dwarf tree, this looks like a good bet so far. Here, let me get you a closeup.

And new growth at the top of the stem isn’t red, either. It’s definitely different.

All three in such varying sizes had their roots make it through the bottoms of the Jiffy pots for the first time today, the smallest, branching one the most so. Curious.

I’ve mailed out eight packages of three kernels and rooting plugs each at this point and I thought I’d mention to those trying this at home: most apricots don’t need a pollinator, but since there’s no way to be absolutely sure, and if you want to keep yours small, one thing mentioned by one wholesale grower is to plant two fruit trees of the same rootstock type in one hole, side by side, maybe a foot apart. They’ll pollinate each other and by competing for root space they’ll keep each other small.

And, in this case, for if you want to hedge your bets on how their eventual fruit tastes. You could always try your hand at grafting branches from a great one onto the less great should one fall short.

Mine are going to stay in large pots for at least this first year to try to keep them up and out of reach of wild rabbits and snails while they’re at their most vulnerable. My hope is to keep them happy in them for long enough to be able to choose the best.

There is an onramp to an overpass nearby that certainly has room and sun for an extra tree to be snuck in among the others there (given how many more of these I’ve now planted) –the only thing that stops the thought is, how would I get away with watering my guerrilla gardening? And you have to in our rainless summers. But there are so many people who need that fruit.

I have four kernels left in the fridge, the smallest and most shriveled ones. Which doesn’t mean a thing as to their character as far as I know. In case there’s anyone else out there who’d like to give a seed from an Anya a try. Last call.

Saturday February 27th 2021, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Garden

One to five and a half inches. Three were started at the same time, the littlest later and popped up last week.

So I celebrated by planting some of my sister’s Lebanon White squash seeds she sent me, a variety I know absolutely nothing about other than that she likes them, and some zucchini, along with a pepper that one of my friends reacted to the idea last year with, Oh, that’s cool!

And another with, Then what’s the point?

Heatless Habaneros: all of the flavor, none of the pain. Last time I tried they were plantless seeds and a moot point. This time I have those rooting-hormone plugs on my side. The seeds are a year older, but so were the butternut squash and four out of six of those came up.

I still have another two dozen kernels from the exquisite Anya apricots, if anyone else would like to try growing a few; my plan is to go to the post office Monday and after that wait to go out again till after the vaccines we’ll be eligible for in two weeks. Plunk’em in a plug. Get your head start now.