- Author: Betty Victor
While trying to decide what to write this blog on, I glanced out my family room window and saw some of my violets still blooming, not as many as during December through January. The leaves that were few and far between in late October are growing as most of the violets die back.
Some of you might know these plants by its many common names, the botanical name is Viola odorata, Some of its common names are, garden, sweet, wood violet and of course common.
Several years ago, I brought home a very small container of violets from my parents home to remember their Vacaville garden. It was the “plants to grow" back then. Almost every garden had them. So this small container came with me to Fairfield. I didn't know much about gardening then, ( I am still learning, new things every day )but I soon learned it didn't take them long to move from the small container to a small patch of soil. Now they are all over, growing in cracks in the cement and clear across the yard from where they started from. YES, they are invasive, once they move in, they do not leave no matter how you try. You think you have removed all of them, then turn around guess what, they are back.
But there is a good side to them. In the winter, most of the leaves die back and the purple violets bloom. So they do add some color on a cold winter day. In the summer, they might have a few stray violets but not many, they mostly leaves then.
Oh yes, I took some back to the garden they came from, so now my granddaughter and her husband can enjoy plants from her great-grandparents yard.
- Author: Kathy Low
If you like growing unusual fruit trees, you may want to consider growing a Japanese Raisin (Hovenia dulcis) tree. The actual fruit produced by the tree is small (only about a ½ inch), hard, dry, brown and inedible. But the tree produces a multitude of edible fruit peduncles that swell up and turn reddish brown when “ripe.” Only measuring about a ¼ of an inch, their taste is often compared to a crunch raisin or a crunchy raisin with a pear like taste. The “raisin” can be snacked on fresh off the tree or dried for later consumption. The trees produce a copious amount of “raisins.”
In South Korea, Japanese raisins are often incorporated into beverages and sold as a hangover cure. The Japanese raisins contain dihydromyricetin, a compound that helps breakdown alcohol in the liver. Although a few studies have been conducted on rats, the use of Japanese raisins as a hangover cure currently lacks sufficient human scientific studies regarding its effectiveness for this purpose.
Hardy down to USDA zone 6, the Japanese raisin tree is a self-fertile deciduous tree. It grows from thirty to eighty feet tall. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. And although it grows in a wide variety of well-draining soils, it grows best in sandy loam. It prefers a soil pH of 6.0 – 7.8.
Trees begin to blossom after three to four years, but it can take up to ten years for the tree to begin producing ripe peduncles, or “raisins.”
- Author: Karen Metz
I took advantage of a sunny afternoon to get out in the backyard. Everything was still quite soggy from the recent rains. There were several chores to accomplish. The grapevine needed pruning. I wanted to gather flowers to make some arrangements for the house. There was also a call for frost that evening so I thought I'd better harvest the remaining tangerines off my small potted tree. The last chore for late afternoon/ early evening would be to spread my assortment of old sheets over my succulents and citrus to protect them.
While I was puttering around it struck me just how wonderful it was to be able to garden, outside, in February. The television reports of the last few weeks of the Midwest and East Coast suffering from horrendously cold storms that brought temperatures plunging far below zero had been mesmerizing. It almost seemed surreal to be outdoors surrounded by greenery.
I also realized that 2019 would mark thirty years of living in this house. I have enjoyed watching the landscape grow and evolve over the years, changing from a barren lot to a lush (okay, some would say, overgrown) environment. As a child, I was a military brat, moving every three years or so. Being in one spot has allowed me the experience of watching a tree grow from a skinny sapling to a mature shade-giving beauty. Our yard now welcomes birds, squirrels, amphibians and insects. A morning frequently starts with a squirrel floor show. An afternoon may include aerial demonstrations by dragonflies or hummingbirds. The garden and its inhabitants have brought so much pleasure into our lives.
Another joy of being out in the garden has been capturing that beauty with photography. The advent of smartphones with their built-in, simple to use, but powerful cameras have allowed even novices like me to take a decent picture. I thought I would share some of my favorites from the yard and garden this last year.
Stapelia is a striking plant, but other-worldly in appearance. This variety of eggplant demonstrates how the plant got its name. Orchid Cactus is always stunning in bloom. The brilliant color of iris makes up for their short bloom time.
- Author: Launa Herrmann
“Snails and Slugs,” Pest Notes, Publication 7427, at http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PDF/PESTNOTES/pnsnailsslugs.pdf
- Author: Trisha E Rose