Tag Archives: plum tree

Where the Heck Did That Month Go?

Yes, it’s been a long time between posts!

We’ve been busy finishing up our first child’s school year, and The Wife has been dealing with some minor health issues. Meanwhile, the garden-with-delusions-of-grandeur has been going through some changes.

Compost is happening!

I am such a farm geek. I am just thrilled to pieces that the compost is developing! I’ve been faithfully piling in the soiled straw (soiled with chicken manure), cut grass, kitchen scraps — watering and turning until my back screams at me. But the results are divine. Wormy, earthy, black compost.

Chickens are transforming into hens! (And maybe some roosters?)

B, I, N, G, and O are now 3 1/2 months old, and getting huge. I give them lots of table scraps — grains, vegetable matter, fruit peelings, chewed up in the food processor — mixed with laying feed. They run at the gate when they see me coming, and love to forage in the backyard when let out of their run.

The chihuahua doesn’t go after them at all, and luckily for them, the rottweiler’s rather obsessive interest in them has died down.

Here’s the problem: I can’t tell if any of them are roosters are not. I’ll take pictures tomorrow and post them. First one to predict accurately means some kind of prize — jam? Eternal gratitude?

Tomato cuttings

In training my tomato vines to grow vertically, I have pinched off quite a few runners at the bottom of the plant. I put them in water and kept them in a sunny spot of my office. Through that process, I have been able to grow three more tomato plants, which I have put in big olive cans snatched from the Monday night garbage cans left out the Boot and Shoe Pizzeria on Lake Shore Ave.

Other Plant News . . .

The potatoes are growing beautifully in their washer-tub containers. My two little containers of beans are also starting to produce.

The arugula has come and gone — the heat wave last week was the last straw for my favorite salad green. The chard from last Fall also took its last gasp, and the tired stalks were thrown mercilessly to the chickens.

Beets and carrots are coming up like crazy. We just ate another round of Detroit Reds last night in our salad.

I realized that all the lettuce and basil seeds I have been planting since March must be too old, as none of them have germinated. So I gave up and got plants. Now I’ve got enough basil to make pesto for the winter as well as the summer. And I just put in an entire bed of different kinds of romaine lettuce seeds, as well as more carrots and beets.

I have seven tomato plants going at once — some vine, some bush. I don’t remember the varieties, to be honest. But since they’re from Kassenhoff growers, they are sure to be great.

The red peppers and ancho chilis are starting to flower. The heat wave that killed the arugula pushed them into a growth spurt.

The strawberries (in beds) are producing big beautiful berries and the raspberries (in a big container so as to contain the rampant growth) are starting to produce also.

The elderberry, which I had just about given up on, has grown about a foot and is now quite satisfactorily bushy. And the elecampagne came back out of nowhere.

The yarrow is threatening to take over under the big apple tree.

And last but not at all least, the fruit trees are full of fruit at various stages of growth. The peach tree seems to have fought off the peach leaf curl quite successfully. I am going to be chin-deep in plums in a few months. Both apple trees are producing and haven’t had their June drop yet. And the pineapple guava is flowering in preparation for the fall harvest.

That’s the update back there in wonderland. Next up, the new path in my farming adventures . . . stay tuned!

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I Have Questions

1. Organic ways to treat peach leaf curl?

Our poor little runty peach tree is already exhibiting leaves that look like this:

Peach leaf curl

Peach leaf curl

Daniel Cooley of UMass writes: “Probably the most irritating thing about seeing the characteristic warty red leaves of peach leaf curl is realizing that it’s already too late to do anything about the disease.”

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, this fruit-tree business is new to me. When we bought our house here in Oakland, it was winter. We saw the bare trees in the back and thought they were all dead. Imagine our surprise when March came and they all burst into bloom and then grew actual fruit! So I’m learning as I go.

Ok, so it’s too late to help the poor tree now that it’s making fruit. Any ideas about how to minimize the damage during the summer, and what to treat it with in the fall that isn’t entirely toxic?

A little research led me to the blog of Scott and Kendra’s A Sonoma Garden blog, in which they discussed the peach leaf curl menace. It’s a great site, so I’d recommend giving it a visit.

2. What is this bug and why is it fond of my plum tree?

Yesterday afternoon, we noticed a bunch of flying insects in our plum tree. They are thin, small, fly and look kind of wasp-y, with brown bodies and red heads. They look like these

Adult Western Flower Thrips

only as I said, with red heads.

There’s a flowering tree in the neighbor’s yard right behind our plum tree, that produces clusters of white flowers, and the insects seem to like those a lot. But still. Should I worry? What the heck are they? And what do I do if they’re harmful to the plums?

3. At what point do I stop hilling up the potato plants?

Every week or so I pile up dirt and/or straw around the growing potato plants. Do I do that until the plant dies, or do I stop at some point and assume the tubers have been produced?

Ugh. There’s so much I don’t know!

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