Lavender: It's the Bees Knees!

Storm clouds are on the horizon for this Oscar's Sunday here in Southern California. While the rich and beautiful crowd undoubtedly have some poor production assistant to hold an umbrella over their freshly coiffed head, I have no such assistance so I'd better get what little gardening I have to do done.

I should also turn off the sprinkler timers until drier weather arrives to save on our precious water in this dry region.

I'm trying to fix my poor citrus production dilemma. My three-tree citrus grove just doesn't produce the way I want it to. I get hundreds, may thousands, of very fragrant blossoms each year but just a few fruit from each tree.

When I say few, I mean hardly any...two from the cara cara orange; three tangelos; and about ten Meyer lemons.

During the blooming period, I rarely see bees on the plants. You'd think such fragrant flowers would really attract the little honeymakers.

One place I do see them...tons of them, on the lavender plants.  Last summer, our backyard lavender  plant died so this year, I need to replace it.

I bought two small plants like this a Lowe's.

I dig an appropriately sized hole, knock the plastic pot off, and just stick it in the ground.  I planted a lavender between each citrus tree to attract the bees and, hopefully, they will notice the nice looking plants next door and go looking to do a little pollinating, if you know what I mean and I think you do. 

Dirt tamped down and plants watered in, we'll keep our fingers crossed for a better citrus crop this year.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Recipes for a Cheapskate: Chile Relleno Omelet

I'd given up on this plant months ago. Every time it'd grow a bit, the squirrels would come and eat it.  I hadn't even looked at it in months and, when I did, I saw these two little pasilla chiles on it.

Finally, I had a semblance of an edible crop.  Not a bunch, but just barely usable.

After harvest, I fry 'em up in a dry pan til the skin blisters.

Next, I need to scrape off as much of the outer membrane as I can.

I go out and pick a couple of serrano chiles off of our other plant.

Everything is diced up together and, with a little cheddar/jack shredded cheese mix, put into an omelet.

Here's the delicious result.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

A Mother's Job is never done.

This is our Christmas Cactus. We got it six years ago and it's been in a hanging basket next to the orchid bench ever since. I would imagine we should think about repotting it soon.

It's a gorgeous flowering plant, reliably blooming, as it's name suggest, every holiday season.

This post is not about that, however. It's about the alien that came along with it.

I'm talking about the volunteer, or weed if you will, Kalanchoe daigremontiana that grew out of the side of the basket.

It's almost taken over the basket but it still let's the Christmas cactus alone. It puts out thousands of pretty little lavender flowers. It also produces little leaflets that drop off to create new plant, giving is the common name of Mother of Thousands.

Funny, though. None of those little leaflets that have dropped off have created any new plants. It seems content to crowd in with the Christmas cactus.

Apropos of nothing, the camellia next to it is also blooming, giving us a very colorful corner of the garden in this California winter.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Cyms, Dends, and's Orchid Season Again

Not content to wait on my schedule, the orchids have gone ahead and started blooming. It's not a big deal but it pushes me to get cracking on giving them some care.

The problem with the cymbidiums is that their flower stocks are top heavy. This is also the time of the year that we get some big winds. If I don't do something, they'll snap off in a stiff breeze.

This guy is a good example.

I'll pull a bamboo stake out and put a twist-tie on it. I use the 'figure 8' method, where I cross the twist-tie across itself to put a cushion between the bamboo stake and the flower stock.

There, all done.

Other news on the orchid front...this little epidendrum will be pumping out dime-sized flowers throughout the season.

This dendrobioum...

...and this one also show buds and signs of a very spectacular bloom to come soon.

The last dendrobium, above, was a hanging basket but some rodent or bird dug a hole in the bottom so it's in the orchid infirmary to recover until we can repot it.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Surgery for a Rose

This years I've decided to push my garden chores back by a month. Last year, I pruned the roses over New Year's weekend. This year, I've waited until now. The Moonstone, pictured above, got tired of waiting and started the season without me.  He'll just have to start over.

The same with Angel Face, which already put out a bloom.

Time for me to fish out my loppers and finish off the job.

That's it. Job done.  All the roses front and back are now ready for another season. Hopefully the deer got their fill last year and they'll leave them alone for this season.


Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

This Vine Needs Our Support

It's time to start gardening again in our back patio. I let it go a bit fallow this fall, we had some home improvement projects we needed to get done, and now it's time to get back into the dirt.

While we were successful in keeping the birds away from a good portion of our grape crop this year, the trellis I built for it years ago is straining under the weight of this now mature vine.

It's listing a good 20 degrees and the crossbars have become detached.  The wood is still good thanks to the decision to use redwood when I originally constructed it. Redwood is pretty resistant to rot and I use it when I can, especially in a wet gardening environment.

Pretty simple in execution, I just pull the wood out of the ground, trim up the grape vine a bit, and use a mallet to hammer them back in as deep as I can get them. Then, just screw in the crossbars and I'm done.

The plumeria is a great grower but it goes in some directions I don't want it to go.  I've trimmed them up and tried to point out the way I do want them to go. We'll see what they look like this summer.

I've already pruned the front yard roses. Easy job as the deer have been keeping them in check for me. I've only got a little room left in the green waste bin so I can only prune one of the backyard roses this week. It'll be Mr. Lincoln.

That's it for this weekend, next week I'll see about tilling in some amendments for this year's vegetable garden.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Hit Hard by the Drought but Not Quite a Knockout

Driest year on record. That was 2014. Already in January and February, we've had just about as much rain as we had all last year. Still, we're under mandatory 20% reduction and orders not to water our lawns more than twice a week.

Luckily, there are some plants in the garden that thrived even without all that water. The plumeria, at the top, bloomed better than ever. We even had strangers sneak up and pick the flowers.

Cherry tomatoes came alive in their hanging basket.

The chiles produced way more than we could ever eat and are still going strong.

Put them together and I've got a great salsa to use as a base for making chilequiles and eggs.

Orchids are a lot tougher than people give them credit for...

...and, of course, you can't really kill bougainvillea.

Mr. Lincoln proves that roses are also a great drought-tolerant plant, although the deer coming down from the dry mountains found the blooms irresistible.

Copyright 2015 - All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...