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My Garden Diary

August, September, and October 2004

Copyright © 2004 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. So here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?

April-May 2004

June-July 2004

Entries are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
30 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-73
Humidity: 35%
Wind: 4-18

Rain —
Season: 4.57
Week: 1.75

*** Begin Right Sidebar ***

While at Do-It center, I saw they have washed plaster sand in 1/2 cubic-foot bags for $1.50. I also use this in my potting mix. However, I buy it at Thousand Oaks Building Supply. There, I can scoop up a bucket (2/3 cubic-foot) for $1-$1.25.

The difference? Do-It: $3 per cubic-foot. T.O. Buildind Supply: under $1.90 per cubic-foot.

*** End Right Sidebar ***

Went shopping for gypsum and peat moss. I buy gypsum in a 50 pound sack, which usually lasts about a year. I spread it generously in my garden so that the rain or sprinklers don't turn my heavy clay into a soggy paste; it reacts with the clay to make it porous and granular. I buy peat moss in a compressed bale, which also usually lasts about a year. I use it when I make my potting mix and stir it into the soil when I plant in the ground. First, I went to a Do-It Center. I saw neither item; I also didn't see any sales people who might tell me it either was carried by that chain. Then, I went to Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH); they had the gypsum but only small bags of loose peat moss. I used to have this problem at K-Mart until the local store closed. Just because snow is falling in some parts of the country, they think gardening season is over in southern California; they simply stop carrying garden supplies.

Pruned the last of the Artemisia 'Powis Castle'.

Raked the walkways for the first time since before the lawn was mowed (22 October). It looks like I'll have to get some decomposed granite to fill in some low spots. While there was some erosion, it looks more like there has been some settling.

29 October

Clear, sunny, and cool

Temp: 48-71
Humidity: 52%
Wind: 3-14

Rain —
Season: 4.57
Week: 1.75

In neighboring Los Angeles, this has been the wettest October ever, breaking a 115-year record.

The 'George Taber' azalea that I have been nursing and nurturing since early last spring is dead. Rather than trying again, I will buy a nursery-grown plant.

A cane of my 'Fourth of July' climbing rose reached the overhead wire that stretches from my house to my neighbor's. I tied it to the wire itself.

Pruned two of the 'Powis Castle' Artemisia in the west bed. One more to go.

Trimmed the cinquefoil and red clover growing out of the rose bed and onto the walkway. Also trimmed around the teardrop bed.

23 October

Few clouds, mostly sunny, and cool

Temp: 52-72
Humidity: 43%
Wind: 0-11

Rain —
Season: 2.82

Finished pruning the Artemisia that is growing in the lawn.

Moved the concrete round on which the tub for my dwarf orange rested about 8 inches. I laid down some pea gravel to provide a level base. After I set the round on the gravel, I put one of my new flower pots on it with three 1-inch paver bricks under the pot to allow air to circulate there. Before I actually repot the orange, I have to get some more sand for the potting mix.

Used some of the leftover pea gravel to raise the stepping stones in front, which make a path from the driveway to the brick walkway. I poured the remaining gravel where I plan to build a new house for our tortoise. I will probably need four more bucketsful (almost three cubic foot total) for that project.

Checked the sprinklers in back to see what the lawn service did to them. Several heads needed adjusting. Unfortunately, it now looks like the sprinklers will still not water the dwarf orange even though I moved it; the sides of the pot get wet instead of the spray going into the top of the pot.

22 October

Broken clouds, partially sunny, cold

Temp: 49-71
Humidity: 42%
Wind: 0-16

Rain —
Season: 2.82

The lawn service was here and did a very good job. They also moved the dwarf 'Robertson' navel orange onto the adjacent walkway. Now I can replant it into one of the extra large flower pots I got for my birthday (5 & 28 August).

At my request, the lawn service put some of the grass clippings on my compost pile. After I stirred the pile, I sprinkled some nitrogen (50-0-0 urea) on top. The next time we have rain, the fertilizer will leach into the mix and speed the decomposing.

Removed the shade cloth from the greenhouse window. The seasonal shift of the sun means my house plants no longer get excessive sunlight in the morning.

20 October

Mostly cloudy, occasional sunshine, drizzles and showers, cold

Temp: 53-64
Humidity: 89%
Wind: 3-14

Rain —
Season: 2.81

Finished trimming the Artemisia. The last one, I did a complete pruning. The other two will have to be cut some more when the weather improves. They all are trimmed enough to allow the lawn to be mowed.
19 October

Cloudy, very little hazy sunshine, rain, cold

Temp: 53-59
Humidity: 96%
Wind: 2-23
(gusts to 41)

Rain —
Season: 1.04

After 229 consecutive days without any measurable rain, our "not so rainy" season has begun!

Finally reached the lawn service, which will be here Friday morning. I hope it's dry enough to mow; the rain might not stop until Thursday. I want the lawn mowed short enough that I can rake the leaves that will soon begin to fall. I normally let the red fescue grow to 12 inches or more. However, it was too tall last fall for me to rake leaves. In the spring, I then had dead patches where the fallen leaves choked the grass.

In anticipation of having the back lawn mowed, started trimming the Artemisia 'Powis Castle' growing within the west end of the lawn. I completed one of the three and completed about half of a second plant when another shower began. I need to finish all three plants before Friday morning. Otherwise, the lawn service will have trouble mowing the west end.

16 October

Cloudy, occasional sun, and cool

Temp: 52-64
Humidity: 72%
Wind: 2-9

Rain expected

Fall is upon us. I noticed that a number of trees in my neighborhood are starting to color. Yes, contrary to those deranged individuals who actually like snow, we do get seasons in southern California.

Cut the Sprenger asparagus (A. densiflorus 'Sprengeri') down to a few inches from the ground. I hadn't planned to do this, but our tortoise (Cleopatra, an ancient beauty) made it necessary. Cleo dug herself a burrow under this ornamental asparagus and started hibernating. With rain likely, her burrow could flood; and she would then drown. I had to cut the asparagus away to reach her. It filled a large trash bin.

13 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 55-90
Humidity: 31%
Wind: 1-11

Divided the clump of Sprekelia formosissima (Aztec or Jacobean lilies) in the back. I have not done this for many years (possibly 15 or more) because Sprekelia may refuse to bloom for several years if its roots are disturbed, very much like its relative Amaryllis belladonna. However, this clump was grossly overgrown. It was blocking the nearby sprinklers and growing out over the adjacent walkway. Although Sprekelia should be planted 3-4 inches deep, some of the bulbs were crowded onto the surface of the soil. After replanting three bulbs, I salvaged two large shopping bags full of bulbs for this weekend's "Pumpkin Patch" fund-raiser for the Oak Park Gardeners.

Raked the walkways in back. Not only does this remove leaves and other debris. It also smoothes out the footprints I leave when the walkways are wet and the holes I leave when I pull weeds.

11 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-82
Humidity: 39%
Wind: 5-23
(gusts to 38)

Fed the portions of the parkway that I weeded in recent days.

Finished trimming the ivy around the Liquidambar tree.

Stirred the compost pile.

Finished trimming the back lawn around the various plants at its eastern edge.

10 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-74
Humidity: 52%
Wind: 1-13

The parkway in front is so weedy that it looks worse than the front lawn, which is mostly bare dirt and dead leaves (the red clover not yet spread significantly). A few days ago, I weeded the parkway at the mailbox, from the driveway to the Zelkova serrata. Today, I did part of the longer section of parkway, adjacent to my neighbor to the east. I'm surprised at the amount of Dichondra micrantha still growing in the parkway; I thought it had all died out. The cinquefoil by the mailbox is thriving; eventually, it will crowd out the Dichondra. The cinquefoil at the east end of the parkway, however, seems to be struggling.

While working in front, I also trimmed the ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') around the Liquidambar tree.

Tied that vigorous cane on the climbing 'Fourth of July' rose again. Maybe I was wrong (30 September); the cane is almost to the wire already.

9 October

Clear, sunny, and mild to cool

Temp: 65-82
Humidity: 41%
Wind: 2-17

Divided the 'Wenatchie Skies' iris. Not only had the clump become so overgrown that flowering was impacted, but it was crowding the adjacent gardenia. After discarding rhizomes that were not fit to plant, I had over 50 left. I planted three. The rest will be sold at the "Pumpkin Patch" fund-raiser being conducted next weekend by the Oak Park Gardeners.

Fall is definitely here. After a mild morning when the temperature peaked at 82° around 11:00am, the weather cooled to 69° by 4:00pm.

4 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 61-81
Humidity: 28%
Wind: 0-13

Divided the 'Batik' iris. The excess rhizomes will be sent to the Oak Park Gardeners for their sale (18 September).
30 September

Cloudy, gray, and cool

Temp: 56-67
Humidity: 60%
Wind: 0-9

Tied the climbing 'Fourth of July' rose some more. I don't think it will reach the overhead wire this year (11 September), but it surely should reach it next spring.

Sent an E-mail to the lawn service that mows my red fescue (Festuca rubra) (about twice a year) to schedule mowing it this coming month. Last winter, it was too tall to rake the leaves from it, because the last mowing was in the late summer instead of mid-fall. As a result, when I had it mowed in the spring, there were dead patches from the accumulated leaves. This time, I hope it's short enough to rake.

In the meantime, I started trimming the grass away from the society garlic and heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) at the east end of the lawn. Not only had the fescue spread into the heart of one Nandina, but the latter had started spreading out into the lawn. Both were trimmed.

I only did the portion of the lawn facing the circular bed. One or two very annoying flies kept buzzing my face and ears. I finally surrendered and left the field of battle before reaching the portion of the lawn facing the teardrop bed.

27 September

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 65-90
Humidity: 21%
Wind: 8-11

A number of plants seem to be blooming out of season. In my own garden, at least two azaleas are in bloom as are some of the Rhaphiolepis. In a nearby shopping center, I saw flowers on a deciduous magnolia. All of these are spring bloomers.

Sprayed Roundup today, during a short period while the breezes stopped. The primary targets were the decomposed granite walkways in back, under the camellias, around the stepping stones the separate the camellia bed from the east bed in back, and on the front lawn where I have not yet planted red clover.

22 September

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 68-90
Humidity: 8%!!
Wind: 8-18
(gusts to 33)

Santa Ana weather is back, this time with wind.

Removed two clumps of bearded iris at the north end of the east bed. The whole area is overcrowded with penstemon, coreopsis, and Camellia sasanqua. Indeed, the crowding is so bad, I could not use a spading fork to dig up the iris; instead, I had to use a trowel. One clump was significantly damaged by rot and could not be salvaged. The other clump appears okay, and I will add selected rhizomes to those I'm giving to the Oak Park Gardeners for their sale (18 September). However, because it was growing quite close to the clump that was rotting, I thoroughly dusted all the salvaged rhizomes with sulfur.

Spread a generous amount of gypsum where I removed the iris to loosen the heavy clay. Despite the overgrowth of neighboring plants, there now seems to be a hole in the plants where the walkway between the east and circular beds meets the small brick patio. I might put a perennial pink there.

Fed the roses with ammonium sulfate. This will be their last feeding of the year. While Sunset says I could feed again in October, I want to minimize the amount of new growth present when I prune in early January.

The tea tree in the teardrop bed finally seems to have recovered from chlorosis. Today, I put even more acid around it — iron sulfate, zinc sulfate, Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), gypsum (calcium sulfate), and a very small amount of ammonium sulfate.

18 September

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 58-83
Humidity: 47%
Wind: 1-15

Actually, the day started cloudy, gray, and cool; but it improved before I went outside.

The seedling red clover that I potted (19 August) failed to survive. However, I noticed a red clover runner growing out of the teardrop bed onto the walkway with little roots coming out of its stem. I cut and potted it.

Tied up another cane of the 'Fourth of July' climbing rose.

Put the rooted 'George Taber' azalea cutting (2 July) outside, in a shady spot without its plastic dome. Now that the weather has cooled, this is a good time to acclimatize it for eventual planting in the camellia bed.

A few days ago, I went to my favorite nursery to see if they had iris for fall planting. No, I wasn't going to buy any. I just wanted to price them so that I could advise the Oak Park Gardeners on pricing the iris I will soon give them — when I divide two overgrown clumps — for them to sell as part of a fund-raiser. Oh! The nursery had a yellow bearded iris — 'Gold Galore' — that would go great with my existing blue 'Wenatchie Skies'. Today, I dug up an unnamed patch of blue iris just north of my peach tree and replaced them with 'Gold Galore'. The soil there is heavy, sticky clay; so I mixed in much gypsum and a little peat moss. I also mixed bone meal below the rhizomes, where the roots will eventually reach.

I salvaged the best of the iris that I removed. They, too, will go to the Oak Park Gardeners sale. Since they are of an unknown variety, however, they will be priced about a third of the named varieties that I plan to donate.

13 September

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 61-86
Humidity: 40%
Wind: 3-13

Raked the decomposed granite walkways in back. Not only does this remove debris — including weeds and grass clippings I failed to pick up while grooming and trimming — but it also smoothes out the holes and footprints I leave when I pull a weed or walk on it while it is wet.

Pinched the myrtle (Myrtus communis 'Compacta') to make them bushy instead of tall.

Some of the clumps of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) at the edge of the rose bed in back looked puny, almost as if it were dying out. After pulling away competing ground covers (red clover and cinquefoil), feeding, and adding gypsum to improve drainage and soil texture, all the clumps seem to be reviving. I would definitely replace any blue fescue clump that fails. The gray accent continues a theme that begins with society garlic on the east end of the lawn and ends with Artemisia 'Powis Castle' on both sides of the walkway at the west end of the lawn and in the west bed and more society garlic in the west bed.

12 September

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 61-95
Humidity: 17%
Wind: 1-12

Cut back the east end of the patch of lilies of the Nile (4 August), where they were crowding some daylilies.

Trimmed the west end of the lawn along the walkway.

11 September

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 72-99
Humidity: 27%
Wind: 4-13

The weather is finally cooling off. Now, it's "only" hot instead of very hot. In each of the six days since my previous diary entry, the temperature exceeded 95°. In three of those days, it reached or exceeded 100°. It's been too hot to do anything except let the hose run in the beds for more deep watering (4 September). Even today, I tried to stay in the shade while puttering and grooming.

Something has been chewing on the red clover in front and in the rose bed in back. The primroses (Primula polyantha) in the rose bed are also affected. It looks more like caterpillar or other insect damage than snail damage. Today, I scattered Diazinon in the affected areas. I've had this bag of Diazinon for a long time; I hope it's not stale.

The 'Fourth of July' rose in front is finally growing like the climber it's supposed to be. I tied up two canes today. It still has not reached even half-way to the horizontal wire that I strung between my house and my neighbor's house for it to grow along.

While I was puttering in back, some bird was in The Tree, eating figs. It kept dropping pieces of purple fig right near me.

5 September

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 69-98
Humidity: 9%
Wind: 5-16

Yesterday, when I deep watered part of the rose bed, I first checked the soil moisture by digging with my fingers. I noticed how hard the soil had become. Today, I scattered a generous amount of gypsum there and also in other areas where plants are especially sensitive to heavy, poorly drained soil (e.g., azalea, dianthus). The gypsum reacts chemically with the adobe to make the soil more porous. Not only will it improve the soil now, but it will also help the rain (in 2-3 months) penetrate rather than run off or form puddles.
4 September

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 57-95
Humidity: 10%
Wind: 1-17

We're having a Santa Ana weather condition with relative humidity dropping to single-digit percentages, high temperatures, and wind gusts of 33 mph.

Finished trimming around the teardrop bed. I also trimmed the walkway between the western end of the rose bed and the lawn.

Deep watered the west end of the rose bed by just letting the hose run.

3 September

Partially cloudy, clearing mid-afternoon; gray, followed by hazy sun, and then sunny; mild

Temp: 58-83
Humidity: 43%
Wind: 2-14

Used the output from my office shreder to mulch two azaleas in the circular bed.

Fed the dwarf citrus, using a commercial citrus food to which I added some zinc sulfate. Used the same mix to feed the Gardenia and tea tree.

31 August

Clear, sunny, and very hot

Temp: 70-103
Humidity: 16%
Wind: 0-12

Too hot to garden except in the shade!

Took new cuttings of red clover.

Trimmed the edges of the teardrop bed in back, along the surrounding walkways.

28 August

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 58-94
Humidity: 26%
Wind: 0-11

Yesterday, I picked up my three "birthday" flower pots at a local nursery. Picked up is not quite right. They are almost too heave to lift. The inside measurements are 20 inches across at the top, 16 inches across at the bottom, and 17 inches deep. When the weather cools — late October or early November — I'll repot the dwarf navel orange. I'll store the other two pots until the kumquat and lemon need to be repotted.

Planted the rooted cuttings of red clover in front. The seedlings that I just potted will have to wait, possibly until the next set of cuttings are ready to plant. I also fed the cuttings that I planted previously (3 July).

26 August

Morning: Cloudy, gray, and cool
Afternoon: Thin, high haze; hazy sun; and mild

Temp: 59-86
Humidity: 46%
Wind: 4-9

Two of my potted Hippeastrum are getting ready to bloom, one of them for the second time this year.

Stirred the compost pile. It's quite dry (19 August) even though I recently watered it. It now has that good smell of finished compost even though most of the matter is still intact. I won't be able to sift it soon, but it will be quite ready to receive more leaves this fall. I might be able to sift it late next spring.

Sprayed grass killer on My Hill and in the parkway in front, where grass is crowding the cinquefoil (Potentilla neumanniana) that I'm trying to grow instead of lawn. I had planned also to spray Roundup on the walkways in back and — very carefully — around some of the beds. However, I had enough grass killer left over to spray those areas, with far less risk than using Roundup.

Having sprayed along the route to the compost pile, I didn't want to use the hose to water the pile, which might rinse the grass killer away. So, when I rinsed out the sprayer, I emptied the rinse water into the pile.

23 August

Scattered high clouds, sunny (sometimes hazy), and mild

Temp: 56-77
Humidity: 51%
Wind: 3-13

Yesterday, my wife Evelyn and I drove to Santa Barbara (about 75 miles away). On Sundays, artists and crafters display their wares along Cabrillo Blvd, just off the beach. Evelyn bought me a set of wind chimes as a belated birthday present, something I told her I really wanted. On the way home, we stopped at a hardware store, where I bought a large bracket, two lag screws, and a clip hook. Today, I mounted the bracket about 10 feet up the side of The Tree and hung the chimes from it with the clip hook.

A light breeze blows as I write this, and the chimes softly ring. This is not a small, tinkling chime. It was labled "tenor", with tubes over 1" in diameter, from 20" to 28" long. This is indeed a serious set of chimes. I love them.

21 August

Morning: Cloudy, gray, and cool
Afternoon: Thin, high clouds; hazy sun; and mild

Temp: 56-82
Humidity: 57%
Wind: 1-12

Finished feeding the roses (17 August).

Noticed some of the azaleas were pale and yellowing. Fed all the azaleas, using a commercial azalea and camellia food. I then topped it up with a generous amount of gypsum (except for the potted azaleas and the 'Pride of Dorking' next to the air-conditioning unit) and with some iron sulfate.

I use a lot of gypsum in my garden. My soil is a heavy adobe clay, somewhat alkaline. The gypsum (calcium sulfate) reacts chemically with the clay, changing the structure of the latter from paste to granular clumps. This improves the drainage and allows nutrients that were broadcast on the soil surface to leach down to plant roots.

19 August

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 58-90
Humidity: 34%
Wind: 1-11

Talked to a master gardener (assigned by the Cooperative Extension operated jointly by Ventura County and the University of California Davis) about my missing grapes (4 and 15 August). He told me that the likely thieves were birds, despite the flashing CDs hanging from the vines. Next year, I might have to drape bird netting over the vines.

The master gardener also told me that the problem with my dwarf 'Robertson' navel orange might be too little water; the sprinklers might not be hitting the top of its tub. He had no opinion on why the Cuphea that I sheared died (9 July).

Fed more roses. Also fed the orange (very little), tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum, a bit more), and Gardenia (generously).

Watered the compost pile. It has settled significantly. I must stir it up again soon.

While weeding a walkway near the teardrop bed in back, I discovered red clover seedlings growing in the decomposed granite. I carefully removed two and put them in the pot where one of my current cuttings failed to survive (15 August).

17 August

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 70-94
Humidity: 33%
Wind: 0-13

Started feeding the roses in front. This feeding involves a fertilizer that includes a systemic insecticide, which must be dug into the soil (see 30 May). I should have done this early last week, but it was too hot for digging then.
15 August

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 62-91
Humidity: 38%
Wind: 4-13

Three of the red clover (Persicaria capitata) cuttings that I took last month (3 July) are doing very well; they even have roots growing through the bottoms of their little plastic pots. The fourth one died. Today, I placed a handful of gypsum in the front where I want to plant two of the rooted cuttings. The third one will go where a previously planted cutting failed to survive.

Whatever attacked my 'Perlette' grapes (4 August) also got the 'Black Monukka'. Nothing remains of the fruit except bare stems. I only got two or three bunches last week.

Tied down more new canes on the climbing 'Peace' rose.

Trimmed the walkway in back between the north edge of the lawn and the rose bed.

Also trimmed the lawn away from the tub where the 'Robertson' navel orange is growing. The pruning I did last week (10 August) — coupled with a very heavy watering to leach away excess salts and nutrients — seems to have corrected whatever was bothering the orange. It now has new shoots without further leaf-drop.

10 August

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 71-103
Humidity: 17%
Wind: 2-16

Typical of our climate, we still have had no measurable rain since 1 March and none is expected for another 2-3 months.

For several days, it's been just too hot to do any serious gardening.

My dwarf 'Robertson' navel orange is not doing well. It seems to drop its leaves almost as quickly as new leaves sprout, leaving some branches almost bare. I give it the same care as the other two dwarf citrus — 'Eureka' lemon and kumquat — including feeding and spraying, so I don't think I burned the roots with nutrients or let bugs get out of control. The lemon is in almost constant bloom and has many small and medium green lemons. The kumquat just finished its first cycle of bloom and is covered with tiny green fruits. The orange might be suffering from heat stress since it gets sun from sunrise to almost noon. The kumquat has shade most of the day, and the lemon gets only late afternoon sun. Today, I pruned the orange severely so that the foliage does not exceed the ability of the roots to supply moisture.

In the meantime, the 'George Tabor' azalea that looked like it was dying (7 and 18 July) has new, vigorous growth coming up from the base. I think it will do okay, especially if I keep hand watering it in this heat.

5 August

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 57-85
Humidity: 38%
Wind: 0-13

Happy Birthday to ME! As a present to myself, I went to one of my two favorite nurseries and ordered three large, terra cotta flower pots. These are really large: 22 inches across and almost as deep. My son Allen promised to pay half the cost as his present to me.

The redwood tub in which my dwarf 'Robertson' navel orange tree is planted has started to rot in several places. I'll wait until the end of this year, when the weather is cool, to actually replant the orange in one of the pots, which is wider and about as deep as the tub.

The dwarf kumquat was planted in its tub at about the same time as the orange, so I expect that tub too will soon have to be replaced. The third tub will be for the dwarf 'Eureka' lemon. Its tub won't need to be replaced for a few years, but then all three will match.

4 August

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 56-88
Humidity: 34%
Wind: 5-11

When I fed the dwarf citrus (2 August), I forgot the zinc. Today, I put two pinches of zinc sulfate and one pinch of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in each tub. The potting mix I use drains so well that these trace nutrients leach away rather quickly.

The lilies of the Nile (Agapanthus orientalis) finished blooming. This patch is quite overgrown. It hasn't been divided or cut back in many years. Leaves (mostly ash) and other debris accumulating around the edges have turned to compost, and new Agapanthus plants (offsets from older plants) have taken root in that compost — on top of the concrete patio slab. I started cutting back the patch, working today along the patio. The plants have thick, tough roots and are hard to break loose from their parents. I still have to do the east edge, where the Agapanthus is crowding some daylilies, and the west edge, where it is crowding the fortnight lilies (Dietes iridiodes).

Picked grapes again. Something has been eating my fruit! Where there were large bunches of 'Perlette' grapes, I now have bare stems stripped clean. I don't think it's insects, which generally leave damaged fruit behind. I thought the squirrels were under control because they left my peaches alone. The exterminator is coming tomorrow for his scheduled service; I'll ask him. In the meantime, I started picking the 'Black Monukka' grapes. These first bunches are not as sweet as the 'Perlette'. Whatever "varmint" attacked the latter must think so, too; the 'Black Monukka' have not yet been touched.

2 August

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 56-86
Humidity: 38%
Wind: 3-12

Fed the dwarf citrus with a little ammonium sulfate, also putting small pinches of that fertilizer in some of the potted plants. Then I sprayed the citrus and artichoke with malathion to control spider mites, which again seem to be present.

Continued yesterday's trimming of the Artemisia, this time from crowding adjacent dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis 'Compacta'). I really like the appearance of the large masses of light gray Artemisia, but I also like the plants growing near them. I also trimmed some Artemisia branches that were growing over the nearby walkway.

1 August

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 58-82
Humidity: 44%
Wind: 2-14

Right after breakfast, went in back, just to do a little looking around. I expected I would not be doing any gardening today. The next thing I knew, I was lugging around my bench, pail, and pruning shears in my pajamas, grooming the roses, daylilies, and other flowers. I trimmed back the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and removed a branch from the dwarf orange tree that was not thriving. I also cut back some of the Artemisia 'Powis Castle' that were crowding adjacent society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea).

The dill is done! I removed its flower pot from the walkway and rearranged the remaining pots. Then I trimmed the tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and peppermint (Mentha piperita). Runners from the peppermint were nearly touching the ground, where they would easily root and become an invasive pest.

Then, I went back into the house and got dressed.

Weather data are from the Cheseboro (CHE) weather station, a little less than 1.2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the night ending on that date.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before then end of the day).

Rain is in inches. Rain amounts are omitted after 60 consecutive days elapse without any measurable amount.
Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall since the start of the current rainy season, which began on 17 Oct 04 with the first measurable rain in 229 days, until noon on the indicated date.
Week is the cumulative amount of rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)

June-July 2004

April-May 2004

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