I’ve got apples – Dorsett Golden

This is pretty exciting. I’m feeling confident that we might actually get some apples this year from the Dorsett Golden. It’s the oldest apple tree in my “orchard”, kind of by default because none of the others survived. Checked my notes and I’ve lost at least 4 or 5 other trees over the course of the last two years.

Anyway, it’s just a healthy vigorous tree with lots of new growth and fuit (hopefully the squirrels won’t notice). You can see the shape of the tiny apples in the second picture. The Dorsett will fruit without a pollinator, but it does better with one. Unfortunately, none of my other trees are flowering at this time. The result is usually a lower yield and the fruit will kind of be an oblong shape, but that won’t affect the flavor. I’ll probably wind up thinning these out to just a couple per cluster so the fruit will get larger, but I’m still deciding. Will post up more pictures as the fruit continues to grow..

Happy gardening!

 

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Spring is here and so are the bees

Time for an update..I’ve been away for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy around the yard. Since spring is here and stuff is busting out all over, I’ll be posting up pictures of some of the changes I’ve made to the home orchard..Had a few failures, added some new trees and even tried my hand again at grafting.

Got a new phone that takes much better pictures was able to get some nice close ups of the bees at work. I’ve noticed a lot more bee activity than in previous years, so I’m taking that as a good sign.

Anyway, for the two or three of you who follow this blog hopefully you’ll enjoy the return of my gardening adventures. Thanks for reading!

 

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Bee on Meyer lemon blossom

It’s summer and I’m taking a break

I’ve been on a pretty long hiatus. Between a cruise to Alaska and very shortly another trip to Colorado, there hasn’t been a lot of time to do much gardening. Which leads me to the main topic of this post. Travelling and gardening don’t go well together, especially in the summer. Even with irrigation being away for anything more than a couple of days can lead to trouble. Say there’s a problem with your irrigation system, or you have an issue with pests that unexpectedly pops up. There’s no virtual gardener, at least not that I’m aware that will step in to help. Hmm, maybe I just hit on a new business idea.

Anyway, I’m leaving the garden “fallow”  for the time being and will look to replant closer to fall when the weather cools off a bit, focusing my efforts on plants that I’ve previously had luck with.

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On another note, I’m happy to report that most of the fruit trees are doing well. Will put some pictures up in another post. Didn’t get any apples this year and something happened with the pears only one blossomed, but overall they look good. One lesson I’ve learned is that over-watering can be worse than not getting enough water. Can’t remember the last time I watered the trees, probably a couple of weeks. Now we have had rain but not that much, but I’m going to continue to hold off on the supplemental irrigation unless they completely dry out. My theory is the roots will have to work harder to look for water and that will make them more drought tolerant. I have no scientific evidence to back it up, only my observations.

That’s all for now.

Stay cool and happy gardening.

The amazing ladybug

I’ve always liked ladybugs, with their shiny red shells and the way they’ll land on your hand and crawl around. Also seem to remember something about them being good luck (I’m pretty superstitious) and when it comes to gardening I’ll take all the luck I can get.

Their scientific name is Coccinellidae, based on the Latin word for scarlet, makes sense since they red. Originally known in Britain the lady bird, or lady beetle they held some sort of religious symbology related to the Virgin Mary. In very early paintings she’s pictured wearing a red cloak.

Around the world, ladybugs are very much a useful insect. If you notice them in your garden or in any of your trees its a safe bet they have a food source, and more than likely its an agricultural pest such as aphids. In the wild they can live up to 2 to 3 years and will lay their eggs in the colonies of aphids and when they hatch they immediately begin to feed. It’s a good thing too because aphids can quickly cover a tree.

The ladybugs below were spotted in one of my Anna apple trees shortly after I noticed the aphid infestation. First there were two, then I noticed a total of 4, feasting away on the aphids and laying more eggs. Within a span of about 2 weeks they had nearly cleaned out all of the aphids. They’re a pretty voracious critter.

 

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Moral of the story, not all insects are harmful to your plants and nature has a way of taking care of itself. Even if I used some type of insecticide which I like to avoid, these little guys did all the work without the chemicals and they work for free. Can’t beat that.

Happy gardening.

Fruit on the pear tree

These fruit buds popped out a couple of weeks ago on one of my pear trees. Honestly, I’m not sure which tree it is. Could be the Kieffer, but who knows. The pear trees have been in the ground for almost two years and this is first time I’ve seen fruit even though this one had blossomed last year. Haven’t done anything special, other than a little fertilizer and no supplemental watering unless they get really dry.

There are about 1/2 dozen of these tiny pears. Will be curious to see if they make it.

Happy gardening.

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All the fruit trees are growing

Got a little ahead of myself in that last post. While spring had sprung, it was still only in the very early stages. That all changed in the last week or two and now everything is coming to life.

As a result, I’m happy to report that all of the fruit trees (knock wood) are alive and well.

If you haven’t had the joy of smelling a citrus tree in full bloom, you don’t know what you’re missing. Here is the Meyer lemon, with tons of blossoms. Should get a decent crop this year.

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Next is the Valencia orange, no blossoms yet, but lots of new growth.

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Apple blossoms on the Dorsett Golden

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Buds breaking through on one of the pear trees. It’s really cool checking the buds every day and watching them push out little by little.

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Last, here is one of the potted peach/nectarine seedlings from last year. The ones in the ground haven’t sprouted yet, but this guy has some new growth on him..

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Every year mother nature throws us curve balls with the weather, so you never know what’s going to bloom or when, and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to follow the calendar. In the immortal words of Axl Rose, “all we need is just a little patience…” That’s all for now. Happy gardening.

Spring has Sprung

Yes, I’ve been a terrible blogger, and while I haven’t posted in a while (ok, 4 months), that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. The winter pretty much put a damper on things. Tried to do a few things with the garden, and only had luck with lettuce. How boring.

I’m going to redouble my efforts this year and try to do a bit more by focusing on some crops that will grow well in this climate. Thinking more along the lines of sweet potatoes,  and maybe one or two other things. There is a really good book out called Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, written by a gentleman by the name of David the Good who happens to be an expert on the topic, and he’s not just one of those armchair authors. Everything he writes about has been put into practice at his own home.

Now that I have fruit trees, spring has become one of my favorite times of the year. In Florida that transition between winter and summer is brief, we really don’t get a proper spring, but there are at least a couple of months where you can go out and look at the same shrub or tree every day and watch it change, almost in front of your eyes. Right now everything is coming out of hibernation. Some of the blueberry bushes already have blossoms on them and the fruit trees are beginning to push new growth.

Here are a couple of pictures of the bud swell on a pear and an apple tree.

 

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Apple bud
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All of the trees seemed to winter over without any trouble. We had some cold night and a few freezes, but I’m happy to report they all look good. As mild as the winter was, I’m not sure whether the fruit tree met the chill requirements, so it will be interesting to watch what happens over the next several weeks. Hopefully they’ll put on a lot of growth this summer and maybe we’ll see some fruit.

Happy gardening.

 

No small potatoes..

 

Back from a long hiatus with a brief update..A couple weeks ago I decided it was time to dig up the sweet potatoes. The plants had been growing for a while and I wasn’t sure how much longer to let them go. Anyway here is the result…Needless to say, I won’t be making any sweet potato pie out of these, heck there is barely enough for a jar of baby food.

These little guys are about a couple inches long each. Essentially they look like mini sweet potatoes. Maybe it was the fact that I tried to grow from a store bought potato, or they didn’t have enough nutrients or light. Either way, I plan to give them a try again next year.

With Thanksgiving coming up, maybe I could use them to make a really small sweet potato casserole. Now there’s an idea.

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy gardening and Happy Thanksgiving.

Orchid Revival

A co-worker had a pitiful looking orchid in her office. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been responsible for my share of orchid deaths in the past, so I was hesitant to take this one, but I figured it was free and what’s the worst that could happen? If my mom can grow them indoors in Colorado, surely I can make a go of it in Florida.

 

The orchid in question is a Phalaenopsis ,and is one of the easier orchids to care for (allegedly). I’ll summarize what you need know about this variety.

  • They like it warm and humid, so they’re well suited to Florida.
  • Don’t require much light. East exposure is best, no direct sun.
  • Water in the morning, about every 4 to 7 days. They shouldn’t sit in standing water.
  • Feed with a good orchid plant food every other watering.
  • When planting a combination of sphagnum moss and orchid bark is best.

This is what it looked like when I got it. The roots were in terrible shape and the leaves were limp.

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Once the dead roots were trimmed away, I re-potted using the same container and then placed it outside on my porch where it spent the entire summer.

The roots perked up and a new leaf started to push out.

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Here it is 5 months after I took it home. You can see the spike starting to shoot up. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will flower. I should be able to keep it outdoors for at least another several weeks.

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Moral of the story..Don’t be afraid to try your hand at orchids. Even if they appear to be a basket case.

Happy gardening.