- Author: Betty Victor
While walking through a local box store, I passed the rack where they had a few flower bulbs still left. So I rummaged through to see what they might have. That's when I found a bag of Peruvian Daffodils; the picture was interesting and since I did not know a thing about this bulb, I had to buy it and take it home.
Once I had it home I opened the bag and found 3 medium-size bulbs in it and very little information about them on the package. So to the Internet I went. What I found is that Peruvian Daffodil, Hymenocallis is not a true daffodil, but it does belong to the daffodil and amaryllis family.
When it did bloom it had a slight fragrance with white blossoms that looked like a large spider, in fact, its common name is “Spider Lily”.
They are a spring blooming plant, the soil should be kept moist not wet, so in the spring watering one a week should work. Fertilizer will encourage them to spread. If you are lucky enough to have several come up in the spring, after blooming and the leaves die back, they should be separated so they don't get overcrowded, otherwise, they will not bloom. They grow about 24 inches tall and can spread 6-12 inches wide. If you decided to dig them up in the fall, be sure to keep the bulbs where children and pets can't get to them as the bulbs are poisonous.
If they do propagate, next spring I hope to have more than the 3.
- Author: Lowell Cooper
I had heard from many sources over the years that ladybugs can solve an aphid infestation. I have always had seasonal attacks but with a little water spraying, they were discouraged so it never seemed necessary to call in the big guns. In retrospect, I realize how modest my aphid numbers have been in the past. For some reason, this year was different. It was like a plague of biblical proportions. It must have had something to do with the jerky springtime and the microenvironment of my garden because my house blocks big wind coming from the front but not from the back. And it is the backyard that is under siege, especially the roses. Aphids don't seem to like many of the other flowering annuals I have in my garden.
My first thought, as usual, was to try a stiff shot of water. But I think the aphids took it as food. They were incredibly thick to the point that it was like a coating; as if I had painted the buds with these insects. Trying to stick to good IPM principles, I tried insecticidal soap. To no avail. I thought of getting more serious medicine after the little devils, but I was reluctant to use big guns, like insecticide. I dragged whatever I could get with my fingers, but as you can imagine that was of no long-term help. I was also beginning to worry about using too much water spraying since it looks like a dry summer may be our fate this year and I didn't want to contribute to water wastage for the vanity of having beautiful roses. I began to cut off the infested buds and stems, feeling like I was heading for a dismal summer.
As my despair turned to futility, I noticed a ladybug on one of the plants. Just how much could one bug consume, I thought. Within a couple of days, however, the ladybug visitation had grown considerably. At the height of the night-march of the ladybug cavalry, the plant had almost as may good bugs as bad. The bushes were literally weighed down with them – ceaselessly feasting on the aphids. I also bought a container of ladybugs packaged for this purpose. They joined in right away. It took barely a day of their voracious eating for me to be able to see the actual buds and stems again. After a couple of days, the major numbers of the good guys had moved off to another location but they did leave behind a small number of clean–up scouts to clear up the remaining bad bugs. But now the numbers were reduced enough that I could get them off with a good water spray. And I had renewed hope that the buds would open up.
The thing I learned the most from this whole encounter is the value of patience. I wasn't convinced that the good guys (or ladies, in this case) would win since they were so outnumbered. And also, once they started coming, the ladybugs swarmed in large numbers and stayed until their job was done. Nature is humbling.
Being relatively new to gardening, I had never witnessed nature taking care of itself so dramatically in my behalf. I was automatically reaching for a chemical solution and was really impressed by how the roses-aphids-ladybugs worked together at their own pace to fix the problem. I think that black spot will prove a tougher battle, but since there is really so little that I can do about it, I am trying patience to see how nature solves this one. My job seems to be to throw out the hopelessly damaged leaves and keep my fingers crossed.
- Author: Tina Saravia
I learned recently that my house is in the currently quarantined section of Solano County because medflies had been found in the area. What that means is that I'm not supposed to move fruit and vegetables out of my property unless I process them first. Likewise, I should not be accepting fruits and vegetables from friends in the quarantine area, unless they've been processed. It will be hard because in my social circle, that's what we do, we share our produce.
But I have no problem following rules, especially when I understand what they mean.
Kathy Low blogged about this back in November:
So I was shocked when I found a bag of grapefruit in the house one day. A friend, who also lives in the quarantine area, gave them to my husband, who didn't have the heart to say no to a gift - never mind that he can't eat grapefruit and I don't like grapefruit.
What to do? I couldn't give them back; that would mean the fruit would travel out of my property. I couldn't eat them, well, I could but... too bitter for my taste. (Although if they were bitter melon, I'd welcome them with open arms and an empty pan ready for cooking.)
I had two choices: I could double bag them and dump them in the trash or close my eyes and eat them. Seriously, trashing was not an option - too wasteful. So I cooked them and ate them; and the experience wasn't too bad.
Lesson learned: Noli equi dentes inspicere donati. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, or in this case you should.
- Author: Erin Mahaney
Two years ago, when life and work were particularly tumultuous, I turned to my husband and said, “Life is already chaotic; let's get a puppy!” Really. I actually said that. And we ended up with a digging dog in our newly redone backyard.
Roxy is a Bernese Mountain dog whose enormous paws are perfect for scooping and moving massive amounts of dirt. She expresses such delight as she excavates a hole and dirt goes flying! At one point, she was even scooping plants out of my larger pots. It's especially exciting when she hits a whistling drip line, which creates a fountain, which then creates a mud puddle, which apparently is the most fun of all to dig in. She is not trying to hide or escape. Rather, her digging is a picture of pure joyfulness.
While we've had several dogs, I've never had a digging dog before and so it wasn't really on my radar. At first, I chalked it up to puppy behavior and tried to redirect Roxy when we caught her digging. When it became apparent that the behavior was going to continue for a while, I researched the following reasons why dogs dig and tips for preventing digging. I'll share them in the hopes that they may help someone else with a digging dog (I'm sure I'm not the only one) preserve at least a portion of their backyard garden. Ideally, you will be able to identify the reason for your dog's digging and address the underlying cause, such as boredom, separation anxiety, looking for a cool place, hunting for prey, or other reasons. But digging is an innate canine behavior, so sometimes a digging dog just has to dig!
- Exercise. To address inactivity and excess energy that can lead to digging, a leading suggestion is to provide the dog with more exercise. This didn't really work for us, although perhaps it prevented worse behavior. Roxy already gets two walks a day of at least two to three miles each. As my husband ruefully said, “exercise only makes her stronger.” In fact, she is more prone to dig after a long, vigorous walk. She is especially energized then!
- Activities. Some dogs dig because they are bored. Provide them with toys and chews that distract them or give them a chance to work for a reward. We had limited success with this approach, which gave us up to approximately 1.5 hours of non-digging time. For us, a long morning walk followed by some treat-dispensing toys was optimal.
- A cool place. Some dogs dig to create a cool space to rest so providing a cool area might help.
- A place to dig. If you are able to supervise and redirect your dog, consider creating an acceptable place to dig. We sunk a big rubber container into the ground and created a “treasure chest” which we filled with buried toys. Needless to say, Roxy loved it! Because however, we could not supervise her every minute, we were not consistent in catching her digging elsewhere and redirecting her to the treasure chest. Otherwise, I actually think we may have had more success with this approach Some people wondered if creating a “dig zone” might create an incentive for Roxy to dig elsewhere, but since she was already digging everywhere else, we decided it was worth a try.
- Deterrents. If the dog tends to dig in certain areas, try making those areas inaccessible by covering them plastic mesh, rocks, or other material. Some people recommend citrus peels, but Roxy finds them to be delicious. We were somewhat successful in using short border fencing (the wire type that is about 12-16” tall) around plants and our vegetable garden. For some reason, this provided a sufficient deterrent even though Roxy could easily step over it. It also made our yard look like a plant zoo with many plants in “cages” until they grew over them. Not the look I was hoping for. Also, in our case, deterrents in one area only led to a game of “whack-a-mole” around the yard where Roxy simply moved onto a new location once we closed off a previous digging location. At one point, I even had to “fence off” my pots.
- Gophers and moles. We are fortunate that we don't have burrowing animals in our backyard, but Roxy loves to dig in gopher holes in my parents' yard. Controlling such animals may help minimize digging.
Two years later, the digging has slowed, but not stopped. Our backyard renovation isn't the oasis of peacefulness I once envisioned; instead, we have a yard full of caged plants, half-hidden, mulch-covered mesh, numerous dog toys, and a few holes. I can't pull weeds without a smelly, dirty plush toy being shoved in my face in an effort by Roxy to get me to play. But she makes me laugh and remember how fun it is to be invited to play. I wouldn't trade a pristine garden for all the joy that my digging dog brings.
- Author: Jenni Dodini
Those of you who have ever worked with me, or have ever heard me speak, know that my favorite advice is, "Do your research." Well......I had the opportunity to do just that recently.
I have been doing a garden make-over lately, and it rather got out of hand. It started as an addition off to the side, and then it got legs and ended up being the whole area!!! Some plastic pots had decided to show their age and break, so that they required new pots, and moving plants from one place to another, etc. You know how it goes. Well, I looked into one such pot and noticed the Clivia plant that has a NEVER gotten more than 6 inches tall with maybe 4 leaves in the numerous years that it has lived in that pot. Granted, when I got the plant I hadn't fully developed my "Do your research" mantra to incorporate gardening. I generally saved it for nurses to whom I was trying to teach something. Needless to say, it got placed into a pot with another plant, a big pot at that. So, I decided that if it was not ever going to bloom, I ought to pull it out of the place it had been living and put it in another pot and place.
I got out my little hand trowel and dug it out of the pot. Well, to my Surprise!, it had been working right along to try to get itself root bound in that big pot. In the process of digging out the "rootball" I found no actual ball. I know that I broke a LOT of roots but still came away with a good clump of roots. I was getting ready to put this plant into a pot with regular potting soil, and my grandmother's voice said to me, "Jennifer, DO YOUR RESEARCH!" When Grandma talks to me about gardening, I know better than to ignore her.
I pulled out my phone (I actually remembered to take it outside with me for a change) and typed in "Clivia". I, of course, got the cursory sales sites first, but I scrolled down to the GardeningKnowHow site (because I like that site the best) and started reading. I found that the plant was named after Lady Florentina Clive and that it is native to South Africa. I also found that it is generally grown as a houseplant, but can be grown outdoors in a completely shady area, and in a pot so that one can bring it indoors during the winter, usually around October. (I'm now thinking to myself, "Well no wonder you have never bloomed. I've been treating you like a regular old plant all these years. At least you didn't just up and die!") This poor plant has been living outside for at least 5 years and has never been given a "dry period" of 12 to 14 weeks during which time it gets minimal watering, with a period of 25 to 30 days without any water and a temperature range of 35 to 60 degrees. (I got that part right.). During the winters, it got the same water that all the rest of Fairfield got or didn't get. Lastly, I watched the 2 really good videos on how to repot said plant and then how to care for it. The one thing that I got correct without doing any research at all was the temperature during the winter, except for the freezes that we had. Anyway, once the "dry period" has happened, one should resume watering gradually, and give a 1-time application of higher potassium fertilizer to force it to start blooming, usually around February, and take it back outside if there is no chance of frost. Once it starts blooming, it likes 20-20-20 fertilizer monthly. (Like I said, I got 1 thing right.). The videos both said that they prefer a loose soil - namely orchid mix- that is rich and fast draining and they like to dry out between waterings. Once divided, the young plants may take 2 - 5 years to bloom. (Oh well, it has never bloomed yet, so I'll just hope that I haven't killed it by treating it right for a change.)
The picture below is 1 that I took at the Botanic Garden in San Diego when we were there in March. As you can see, they are growing in the shade of a massive tree and are planted into the ground. I saw Clivia growing all over San Diego in shady garden spaces, even the grocery store parking lot! I. Was very jealous, but I realize that San Diego and Fairfield are very different climates. I'll just wait and see what happens with mine for now.