Monday, January 30, 2006

Weekend Progress

I've got to figure out how this "help" thing works. I was very excited to be getting help in the garden from my husband this weekend. Turns out I was to help him on his project of clearing a space for a new gas tank so he can sack the current gas company. At least more of the branches were cleared away, and perhaps the chipper is soon to be running again. One of my challenges in the garden is having 13 California Coastal Oak (Quercus agrifolia - I think) trees on the property. They are nice trees, about 30 years old, but that means I have lots of "dry shade" in the garden, and lots of tree pruning and maintenance, of which the previous owners completely neglected. Every rain storm we are "showered" with small branches that the trees shed. We've been thinning them with the pole pruner, and especially have been removing large dead branches, but it is a very big and constant chore.

Weather held for us on Saturday, although I was told it was raining in Aptos and Santa Cruz. The last of the nectarine tree was removed. I hate tearing out trees but this job was overdue. The previous owners were "proud" of the fruit trees on the property. There was a dying peach, 2 mangled citrus trees, a pear (variety unknown), the unknown apricot (which has never produced), and the nectarine. The trees were "mangled" by the inept pruning job of the previous owners. I can't figure how he thought pruning is to be done with a chain saw. The citrus trees were in terrible shape, pruned with a chain saw, mis-shapen, cut below the graft, diseased, etc. It wasn't a hard choice to remove those when we moved in, nor was the removal of the dying peach, but it took me a year to decide it had to go. The nectarine was producing fruit, but off the root stock. It had been pruned to the ground and the branches had sprung up from root suckers. And I couldn't say much for the fruit as it was bitter (caused by the skin, the flesh was okay and it made an okay pie). The flowers in the spring were pretty and I had some success with getting it to produce larger and better fruit. It was basically my laboratory tree. But I'm ready for the real thing now and it was time for it to go.
I actually suspect the pear is also producing from the rootstock as I haven't been able to identify the variety. But my husband likes the fruit, so I have been looking after it's upkeep. I was able to complete its winter pruning last weekend. The unknown apricot was also pruned, but I'd like to make a few more thinning cuts at the top.

Precipitation was 1/2-inch on Saturday night. I slept well as I didn't even hear it rain.

Sunday we went out for breakfast, and I went right back out to the yard when we returned. I was determined to plant the Golden Dorsett (done) and get some other odd jobs done. I added some Heuchera roots to the "stone bathtub" and a Dicentra root, made some rosemary cuttings for a friend, and potted up lots of other plants. I need to find a plant for some ranuculas that I put into a couple of 6 packs and the Hollyhock sprouts are coming along fine. It looks like they will have their first true leaves this week and I will pot them up next weekend. I also ran some string and stakes planning for a new set of garden beds off the back of the house.

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