Horridculture – Weed Whackers

P00708
This must be the better half.

This neatly sliced prickly pear is too silly to rant about. There is another just like it. Two others were not sliced, as if, after the first two, someone realized that there was more to the roadside meadow than combustible dry grass. The prickly pear were put out there just last winter. They each extended only a single pad half a foot or so above grade, so were obscured by the grass.

Realistically, the damage is minimal and tolerable here. The priority of the crew who performed the vegetation management was to cut down all the combustibles. They did an efficient job of it. They did not expect to encounter anything that had been intentionally installed out there, or even any desirable vegetation. Besides, this prickly pear will recover as if nothing happened.

Unfortunately, damage caused by weed whackers is rarely so innocuous. Weed whackers are one of the most commonly misused horticultural power tools, and are very often used by those who are not aware of how to use them properly. They are easy enough to operate that minimal consideration is given to the potential for damage that they can cause. It is a bad combination.

Because weed whackers are often and improperly used to cut tall grass that is too close to trees for lawn mowers to cut, they commonly strip off bark and cambium from young tree trunks. A tree can not survive without its cambium, and quickly dies if too much is stripped away from the base of its trunk. That is why it is very important to pull weeds from around trees instead.

For now, there is nothing to do for the two sliced prickly pear. The bud to the upper right corner of the pictured specimen is beginning to develop into a new pad.

Six on Saturday: Closeups

 

This is not how we normally look at these flowers, stems and vegetables (fruits). They might look strange out of context. That was sort of intended. ‘Six on Saturday’ allows more freedom of creativity than the simple illustrations that I use for the gardening column. The last two are closeups of the same two gladiolas that were featured last week. Perhaps they show color better.

I should try this again for next week.

1. Lily of the Nile is the ‘Fourth of July Flower’. It blooms for the Fourth of July, and the florets radiate from the center of their floral truss like fireworks. I will write more about this at noon.P00704-1

2. Epiphyllum stems, like the stems of other cacti, do all the work of foliage. Because they are flat, they actually look like big and weirdly arching leaves. New tip growth is still rather blushed.P00704-2

3. Zucchini is too productive. I neglected to go down to harvest it for two days or so, and then found that some fruits had gotten as big as bowling pins. They are fortunately not too tough yet.P00704-3

4. Red willow is a weedy tree that I should not be growing intentionally. This is special though. I brought its cuttings from Reno. It will be coppiced, and not allowed to grow as a real tree.P00704-4

5. Gladiola got enough attention last week that I got closer pictures of them this week. This one seemed to be more purple or less blue last week, with just a bit of white, like elderly Grimace.P00704-5

6. Gladiola are more fun when someone else selects bold colors that I would not consider. This flashy orange and yellow bloom is exquisite, and looks like Grimace’s friend, Ronald McDonald.P00704-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Horridculture – Vandalism

This would have been an ideal time for a seasonal update on the little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park. Until recently, it had been healthier and growing more vigorously than it had since it was installed a few years ago. It had survived major accidental damage, and was just beginning to thrive. Sadly […]

https://feltonleague.com/2020/06/28/vandalism/

via Vandalism — Felton League

Six on Saturday: Housebound

 

This is not a good week for my Six on Saturday. The first three are of pansies; and the last two are of gladiolus. That is not much variety. Posting six pictures of different cultivars of roses or rhododendrons is somehow different and more interesting.

I did not get out enough to get many good pictures this week. I work inside for part of the week, and needed to stay in for Thursday as well. I got outside only on Wednesday and Friday.

1. Pansies are slowly succumbing to the warmth of spring and early summer. They can continue to perform as long as they like, we will not be replacing them with any warm season annuals.00627-1

2. Pansies are even prettier up close. Foliage was unusually sparse among this group, even prior to spring. Pansies had never stayed so late before. I would not have guessed that they could.00627-2

3. Pansy is one of the favorite flowers of my colleague down south. Although he does not use many at work, or even in his home garden, he always grows one pot full of them through winter.00627-3

4. Alstroemeria, which are also known as Peruvian lilies, do very well here. I do not remember if this is pink or ‘peachy’. I believe it is ‘peachy’. There are also yellow alstroemeria here.00627-4

5. Gladiola is one of my favorite summer bulbs, but I have not planted any in many years. They are not reliably perennial here. However, this orange gladiola has bloomed for several years.00627-5

6. Gladiola, now that I think about it, is actually my favorite summer bulb, rather than just one of my favorites. This purple gladiola has bloomed as long as the other, only in a different area.00627-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Horridculture – eBay

P00624
I certainly got good deals on these recent acquisitions. However, I have no idea what I will do with them.

It is such a bad habit! Even if I spend no money, I spend too much time perusing what I could spend a little bit of spare cash on. On rare occasion, I actually do spend a little bit on something that I can get a good deal on, not because I actually have any use for it, but merely because I got a good deal on it, . . . or because I believe that I may not be able to find it for sale again later.

Now, I have more than two hundred seed for Pygmy date palm, Phoenix roebelenii. They certainly were inexpensive, costing less than a few dollars. Most of the expense was for postage. It really was a good deal. However, I have no plan for so many Pygmy date palms. I do not expect all to germinate; but I have no plan for just half of them. Actually, I have no plan for just one.

The other seed to the right in the picture are for muscadine and scuppernong, Vitis rotundifolia. Although I purchased them as a ‘mix’, the seller kindly separated the two varieties. They are easier to accommodate than two hundred palms, and I really do have plans for them. I know growing them from seed is riskier than growing known cultivars, but I wanted them to be ‘wild’.

Regardless, I really should not have purchased even muscadine and scuppernong seed while there is so much other seed here that can not be accommodated. I really must sow all of the old seed this autumn or winter, whether I have plans for it or not. I suspect that most will not germinate. Some of the most questionable seed can be sown out in the garden rather than in flats.

No more eBay!

Six on Saturday: Kitchen Scraps

 

The first of our compost piles will not die. Some of the scraps of vegetables from the kitchens grow to produce more of the same. As this first pile of pre-compost gets turned over to the next pile, we commonly find potatoes and onions. Tomatoes, squash and sometimes cucumbers grow around and on top of the pile. Without watering, their season is limited, but just long enough.

It is actually frustrating that some of the vegetables that are not so productive where tended in the vegetable garden perform better, although likely briefly, on the random compost pile.

1. Vegetable scraps and rotten vegetables are common in the compost pile, even while the kitchens here are not presently operating. These do not seem to have been rotten when discarded.P00620-1

2. Summer squash is common here, even though scrap from the kitchens should be from juvenile squash, which should contain no viable seed. This might produce yellow crookneck squash.P00620-2

3. Cucumber is not so common, and will not likely last as long as other vegetable plants. The area is warm and dry. Cucumber prefers sunny but not so warm exposure, and regular watering.P00620-3

4. Determinate tomato looks just like what grew here last year. If so, it makes small cherry tomatoes that are shaped like ‘Roma’ tomatoes; and all the fruit will ripen at about the same time.P00620-4

5. Pumpkin vine should be sprawling more than this. It could be just another type of squash. The round fruits with stout stems resemble baby pumpkins. However, the leaves are not right.P00620-5

6. Bearded iris is no vegetable, but naturalized similarly next to the compost piles. It is perennial rather than annual. Although shabby here, it can be recycled into landscapes. Bloom is gold.P00620-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Horridculture – Bucket of Bolts

P00425-6
They started out nicely.

Radishes seemed like a good idea back when I sowed the seed in the garden. I had not grown any in many years. I thought that the particular location would be cool enough to inhibit bolting, even though it was starting to get close to the end of their season here. They are definitely a cool season vegetable here, with brief seasons in spring and autumn. Some linger through winter.

The seed germinated efficiently. The seedlings started out well. Radishes are small roots that mature in only about three weeks. Technically, they were right on schedule. I happened to get a few tiny radishes from the batch. However, after the seed were sown, but before the radish roots developed, the formerly cool spring weather warmed suddenly enough to stimulate bolting.

The elongation of floral stalks was visible within the foliar rosettes of most of the individual radishes while they were still quite dinky. Initially, I thought it would be no problem. There were a few good radish roots, which was all I needed to brag to my colleague down South about. Those that bolted would sort of be palatable as radish greens. Bitterness does not bother me much.

Now, because so few of the radishes were pulled for their roots, too many are growing as greens, and they evolved from merely bolting to blooming. The flavor evolved from normal bitter to almost icky bitter. I will not be sharing these with anyone. I can not leave them in the garden to get shabby either. Besides, I want the space for something else. I suppose I will freeze some.

After all the effort, I got only a few small radishes, some decent greens, and mostly bitter greens. Perhaps I will try radishes again in autumn. This radish trial was a ‘FAIL’.

P00617
Yes, we have no radishes.

Six on Saturday: Bark

 

Rhody said, “Cornus florida bark is rough.” He likely intended to say, “Dog would bark, ‘ruff!’.”

This is not about Rhody though. It is about these six pictures of bark of some of the more significant trees that I work with. All are native here. Only the sycamore was installed intentionally into a landscape. All of the others grew wild. There are so many interesting trees here that it was not easy to limit these pictures to just six. I actually took more pictures that were omitted.

Furthermore, a picture of Rhody is not included.

1. Platanus racemosa – California sycamore is bigger and bolder than other American sycamore. Trunks of mature trees are massive and gnarled, with this distinctively blotchy gray bark.P00613-1

2. Pinus ponderosa – Ponderosa pine is the grandest of pines. The massive trunks seem to be comparable to those of Douglas fir. Bark often flakes in bits that resemble jigsaw puzzle pieces.P00613-2

3. Quercus agrifolia – Coast live oak is second only to valley oak in regard to grandeur. Unlike valley oak, it is evergreen. Smooth gray young bark eventually becomes darker and furrowed.P00613-3

4. Pseudotsuga menziesii – Douglas fir is the majestic State Tree of Oregon, and a main timber crop there. Locally, it mixes with various ecosystems. Corky bark is rather finely furrowed.P00613-4

5. Acer macrophyllum – Bigleaf maple is the most imposing maple of the West. As the name implies, the leaves are bigger than those of any other maple. Bark gets sort of checked with age.P00613-5

6. Sequoia sempervirens – Coastal redwood is the grandest of all, and it happens to be the tallest tree in the World. Also, it is the state tree of California. The ruddy bark is distinctly fibrous.P00613-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Post Script: For the first time, I am violating the recommended limit of six pictures to include this extra (but unnumbered) picture of Rhody for those who would be otherwise disappointed.P00613-7

Horridculture – Spruce Up

P00610
Even Charlie Brown would reject this little blue spruce.

No one wants to cut down this little blue spruce. What is worse is that no one wants anyone else to cut it down either. We all know it is ugly. We all know that it can not be salvaged. We all know that it really should relinquish its space to the healthy and well structured coast live oak next to it, in the lower left of the picture. Yet, it remains.

It was planted amongst a herd of gold junipers in about 1980 or 1981, shortly after the construction of the adjacent buildings. An abandoned irrigation system indicates that it was likely irrigated for some time afterward, although it is impossible to know for how long. Otherwise, it and the junipers were completely ignored for the last four decades.

When the vegetable garden was installed nearby, brambles, weeds and trash that had been accumulating for forty years was removed from the area. A few of the most decrepit junipers that were not worth salvaging were removed too. The young and feral coast live oak that grew next to the spruce should have been removed as well, but is actually in very good condition.

Furthermore, the coast live oak is a better tree for the particular application. It is native, so does not mind neglect. The spruce was never really happy there, which is why it is so puny and disfigured now, with the lower two thirds of the trunk bare of limbs and foliage. Obviously, the spruce should be removed so that the oak can continue to develop as it should.

We just like the spruce too much to remove it directly. Even though it would look silly if the bare trunk were exposed by the removal of the oak, the bit of foliage on top is so pretty and blue and familiar. I mean, it looks like we have a spruce in the yard; and everyone likes a spruce!

The plan is to subordinate it to the oak. As the oak grows upward and outward, the lower limbs of the spruce will be pruned away to maintain clearance. Eventually, the spruce will look so silly that the landscape would look better without it, and we will not mind cutting it down so much. It will be unpleasant, but it will be better than interfering with the development of the oak.

Six on Saturday: Leftovers

 

It is not easy to discard seedlings and cuttings that have potential. We are supposed to sow several seed for vegetable plants where we ultimately want only a few, which typically produces a few extra. Feral seedlings for other types of plants commonly appear in the garden. I happened to grow a few seed that were marginally old, but that I did not want to discard. Nor do I want to discard deteriorating but lingering cool season annuals from last winter.

1. Since no new warm season bedding plants are going into the landscapes, cool season bedding plants are lingering until they succumb to the warmth. This pansy is not ready to give up yet.P00606-1

2. ‘Roma’ tomato seedlings that got plucked to favor stronger seedlings got plugged in cells for later. They got sown very late, and plugged even later, but might become a nice second phase.P00606-2

3. Extra summer squash seedling were also too good to discard. The main plants are producing now. This one should find a home quick. Since it can produce all season, no phasing is needed.P00606-3

4. Ponderosa pines make extras too. This seedling got plucked along with other weeds, but was too exemplary to discard. (For the record, someone else salvaged it; so I can not be blamed.)P00606-4

5. This is too blurry and dinky to look like much, but is a seedling of California fan palm. The seed was so old that I doubted its viability. I am very pleased with it, even if is the only survivor.P00606-5

6. White California poppies are rare in nature. This one was left in the landscape while many of the orange poppies were removed along with weeds. There is another only a few yards away.P00606-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/