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My Garden Diary

May and June 2005

Copyright © 2005 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
August-October 2004
November-December 2004
January-February 2005
March-April 2005

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 June

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 60-86
Humidity: 41%
Wind: 0-11

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 52

The peaches are beginning to get color. I hung CDs from the tree. As they twirl in the breeze, the sun makes them flash to keep the birds away. I also sprayed with Sevin to control ants, wasps, and other bugs that might damage the ripening fruit.

A toxic day indeed! The artichoke is always bothered with spider mites as the weather warms. Newer leaves on the loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) were also showing the curl that sometimes indicates these pests. Last year, the navel orange was almost defoliated. And the amaryllis (Hippeastrum vittatum) was infested with mealybugs. Thus, I sprayed malathion.

23 June

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 58-86
Humidity: 33%
Wind: 4-9

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 45

While sitting at my computer with the window open the night before last, I heard an animal scream and then a loud snap. The following morning, both mouse traps (21 Jun) had been sprung. It was strange that I heard the animal before I heard a trap. I suspect a raccoon got caught (temporarily) by one mouse trap and, while getting loose, caused the other to snap. Maybe the problem with stolen bait is not mice.

Repaired the broken elbow in the camellia bed sprinkler (21 Jun). Digging was difficult because of a mass of roots from the nearby peach tree. I can't remount the sprinkler head until tomorrow, after the glue has dried.

Took cuttings of pink clover. When they are rooted, I will plant them in the front yard.

21 June

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 63-89
Humidity: 25%
Wind: 1-12

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 43

I had to wait until today to finish the sprinkler repair (20 June), to allow the glue to set between the pipe and the couplings to make a new tall riser. When it was all done, I set the sprinklers to run through a cycle. That's when I noticed water bubbling up next to a head in the camellia bed.

This time, an underground lateral pipe is broken next to the elbow that holds the riser. This is a head the painters tripped over and broke twice late last year (15 Dec 05). (I would have thought that, tripping on it once, they would have learned where it was. Nope!) While the break was not so bad to stop the sprinklers from operating, it did reduce the pressure and wasted water. Now, I'll have to dig around the elbow, cut it off, and glue a new elbow to the lateral. I can't do any of this until the soil dries.

Whatever stole the peanuts from the cage trap (20 Jun) also nibbled away the peanut butter. Today, I set two mouse traps similarly baited, one on top of the cage and one inside (to keep them away from our tortoise, which is too large to get into the cage).

20 June

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 59-87
Humidity: 29%
Wind: 1-12

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 42

Last week, I bought a cage trap for controlling the squirrels before they get my ripening peaches. As recommended, I baited the trap with cereal and peanuts. The peanuts were all taken, but the cereal was ignored. And the trap was not sprung! I suspect mice got the peanuts. Today, I baited the trap with peanut butter, liberally spread on the trigger.

Fed the dwarf citrus with commercial citrus food and some added zinc sulfate. While feeding the dwarf orange, I also pruned some of the surface roots that caused the soil to rise above the rim of the pot.

Fed the gardenia with the same mix as the citrus. Then, I fed the Aristea ecklonii, blue fescue (Festuca glauca), and daylilies with a generic lawn food.

While feeding the perennials, I noticed the north bed seemed dry. I went to check the sprinklers to see if any were clogged and discovered a shrub head in the north bed was missing. Geyser! I dug down and found a broken stub of a riser but could not find the head or the rest of the riser anywhere. I suspect the crew from the geotechnical firm that is doing the report for repairing My Hill broke the 20-inch riser and then removed it when they cleaned up. While I have a supply of pipe to make a new riser, I had to make a trip to the sprinkler supply store for a new head and two couplings.

13 June

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 55-88
Humidity: 45%
Wind: 1-11

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 35

Yesterday, repotted the new Phalaenopsis that's not blooming. The one that is in bloom, I'll leave alone until it is done. To make room in the greenhouse window, I also took a cutting of one of the Kalenchoes and potted it, discarding its parent. When it's established, I will discard the other one.

Today, finished trimming along the north walkway in back. I also trimmed around the teardrop bed. When I mention trimming the lawn along the walkways and away from the plants growing in the lawn — Artemisia, society garlic, heavenly bamboo, artichoke — this is not a simple "whack" with a power trimmer (which I don't even own). I use hand grass shears to sculpt the edges of the lawn into a bevel. This is a task on my hands and knees, also giving me an opportunity to remove weeds from the decomposed granite walkways.

The geotechnical firm I retained to study My Hill (the first step in repairing the slide) was here today, taking soil samples and trenching to examine the strata.

10 June

Clear with a few scattered clouds, sunny (sometimes hazy), and mild

Temp: 54-80
Humidity: 53%
Wind: 2-13

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 32

Fed the eugenia that I renovated earlier this year (20 Mar), using ammonium sulfate. I should have done this as soon as they started to resprout, but I forgot.

Also fed the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) in front, using generic lawn food.

Two of the Artemisia cuttings (25 Mar) are well rooted. I planted one in the garden, where one died earlier this year. I'll keep the other one as a backup in case the one I planted does not survive.

Divided one of the potted amaryllis bulbs (Hippeastrum vittatum?). I repotted the two offsets. The parent bulb I planted in the west bed in back, in the area that had been overgrown with star jasmine (8 Jun). There had been amaryllis bulbs growing there before, until snails and the relandscaping two years ago obliterated them.

Stirred and watered the compost pile. I might be able to sift completed compost by the end of summer, almost two years after I started this pile. Now that it is really working, it should take only a year to convert leaves to leafmold.

Sprayed malathion on the Artemisia, artichoke, herbs, and dwarf citrus. The first two were badly infested with black aphids, which were being protected from ladybugs by ants. The herbs showed some damage by a leaf-eater; even the basil (now protected from snails by copper wire (6 Jun)) showed new damage. The only preventative spraying was on the citrus, which was attacked last year by spider mites.

After showering, I went to an orchid show in nearby Newbury Park (part of Thousand Oaks). I came away with a lighter wallet and two Phalaenopsis for the greenhouse window in the breakfast room. One of them is in full bloom with miniature magenta flowers. The base of the other has the beginning of a bud for a flower stalk.

8 June

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 55-76
Humidity: 38%
Wind: 0-20

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 30

When I said All the azaleas have finished blooming for the year (6 Jun), I forgot the 'Pride of Dorking' next to the airconditioner. They will soon be done, after which I'll feed them too.

Yesterday, picked three small artichoke buds. They were too small to use as a vegetable. Instead, I simmered them in a court bouillon (which included some fresh herbs from my garden) along with some mushrooms. After the artichokes cooled, I trimmed them down to their hearts, which I diced with the mushrooms. Then, I reduced the court bouillon and added more lemon juice, some chopped capers, and vermouth to make a sauce. After reheating the artichokes and mushrooms in a frying pan with olive oil and then adding the sauce to further reduce it, I used the mixture to top sautéed turkey cutlets. Mmm! I don't expect more artichokes this year. I will continue to feed the clump (now about four plants) in hope of getting larger buds next year.

Finished feeding the roses in front.

Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia with ammonium sulfate and a pinch of zinc sulfate for each. I also tossed a small amount of ammonium sulfate around the tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) and put a pinch of it in the pots for the basil, dill (Anethum graveolens), and bay (Laurus nobilis).

Trimmed the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) away from the walkway that leads from the patio to the west sideyard. I also cut it back from the Eucalyptus ficifolia, on which it was starting to twine, and away from the society garlic where the west decomposed granite walkway meets the patio.

Wrapped copper wire around the tub of the dwarf kumquat and the pot of sage. I put the sage out with the rest of the herbs.

6 June

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 53-70
Humidity: 47%
Wind: 3-14

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 28

The geologist was on My Hill this morning, marking where his crew will be taking soil samples and probing for bedrock, the first step towards repairing the slide.

Fed two more rose bushes in front. The soil around the remaining bush is too wet from a recent watering to dig.

Last week, noticed what appears to be snail or slug damage to the potted basil. Since snails and slugs cannot stand copper, I stripped the insulation from a length of lamp cord and tied the bare, multi-strand copper wire around the pot. New growth (the most desired by snails) now seems undamaged. Today, I "roasted" more lamp cord in the gas barbecue to make it easier to strip the insulation. It worked! Last week, it took almost an hour to strip enough wire to wrap around a 10-inch pot. Today, I stripped almost three times as much wire in five minutes. Later this week, I plan to wrap some of the bare wire around the tub for the dwarf kumquat, which has signs of snail damage to its bark. I should have enough wire left over to wrap two more pots of herbs.

Started trimming the lawn and north bed along the northern walkway in back.

All the azaleas have finished blooming for the year. I fed the azaleas in the circular bed and the two pots of 'Inga' (one in back and one in front). I also used the azalea food to feed the thrift (sea pinks, Armeria meritima) in the circular bed.

2 June

Cloudy, gray, cold

Temp: 54-67
Humidity: 69%
Wind: 0-9

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 24

The new leader on the Podocarpus on the east side of our front porch (27 May) is still drooping in the manner of many side branches of the tree. I removed all growth from the old leader stump to direct the pattern of growth into the new leader. I also retied it more securely in an upright position.

Fed some of the roses in front, those where the soil was moist from watering. Also tied up some new canes of the climbing 'Fourth of July'.

Trimmed both sides of the western walkway in back, along both the lawn and the west bed.

The 'George Taber' azaleas in the camellia bed finally finished blooming, so I fed the bed using a commercial azalea and camellia food.

29 May

June gloom is upon us again: Mostly cloudy, some hazy sun, and cool to mild

Temp: 53-72
Humidity: 66%
Wind: 1-13

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 20

The bees are back! So many were buzzing around our front door that Evelyn was afraid to go outside. They disappeared after I put some moth balls on a ledge above the front porch. They seem to be making a hive in a gap between our chiminy and some flashing. I'll have to call the exerminator again on Tuesday (after the holiday).

Bought a replacement purple-leaf sage and potted it (17 May). This one I'll leave in the shade until I'm sure it's established.

Also bought six-pack of wax-leaf begonias, mixed red, white, and pink. Planted them in back in the west bed in front of the Eucalyptus ficifolia. I used to have white and pink begonias there, but they died out. The nursery claims these should be treated as annuals because they often fail to survive winter frosts. However, with a light mulch of leaves in the winter, they lived for many years.

27 May

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 53-83
Humidity: 62%
Wind: 0-16

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 18

Since my last entry, we had quite a heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 95°F. Nothing was damaged in the garden, but some plants stopped blooming. Of course, the heat also caused other plants to start blooming.

The intended new leader for the Podocarpus on the east side of the front entry (29 Apr) was growing flopped over. I secured a stake to the stump of the old leader and then tied the limber branch to it to make it grow upright. Also, did some more corrective pruning to the Podocarpus on the west side of the entry. This one grows quite fast and always seems to need some trimming.

Last Wednesday, I signed a contract with a firm of geologists and geotechnical engineers to perform the necessary study and write the report I need to have My Hill repaired. The president of the firm (an engineer) initially advised that I not replant English ivy (Hedera helix) because the roots form a dense, solid mass that is somewhat shallow. This can make a slide worse if the entire mass starts to move. However, when I explained that the ivy is intermixed with African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum), which becomes deep rooted, he indicated that ivy might be okay in that mix. I'll have to talk to the engineers in the Ventura County Public Works Agency (which administers the County's grading code) about this.

19 May

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 60-86
Humidity: 37%
Wind: 1-16

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 10

Had to adjust the sprinkler head in front, on the east side amidst the mock orange bushes (Pittosporum tobira). I also had to trim some lower branches from the middle bush, which was interfering with the spray from the sprinkler head.

Finished trimming the east end of the back lawn, this time around the daylilies.

The exterminator service should be here this evening to eliminate the bee hive that started in the ceiling of my living room. The bees are entering the space between the roof and the ceiling through an eave vent just above the mock orange bushes. The vents currently have screens to block birds and rodents. A finer screen will be added to each vent.

17 May

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 52-74
Humidity: 52%
Wind: 1-14

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 8

Hand trimmed the east end of the back lawn around the society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) and heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica). The grass has grown quite vigorously since I had it mowed. Maybe I shouldn't have fed it so well (27 Apr).

The purple-leaf sage (Salvia officinalis) planted earlier this year (6 Mar) died. It looks just like the first attempt at basil, which was killed (8 May) by a large slug chewing the roots.

The Artemisia cuttings (25 Mar) show signs of rooting. Five of the plants in the ground are doing well, but the sixth one died.

While trimming the ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') around the Liquidambar tree, I heard a constant buzzing of bees where there are no flowers. Looking up from the ivy, I noticed bees apparently entering my attic through eave vents. Our exterminator service should be here tomorrow around noon to deal with this. (We already had two bees in the house in the last two days.)

Weeded the parkway around the mailbox, and mowed the weeds in the parkway on the other side of the Zelkova tree. The cinquefoil (Potentilla neumanniana) near the mailbox is starting to flower, but it just doesn't seem to spread as vigorously as it does in back (where it is effective in crowding out most weeds).

16 May

Cloudy, some hazy sun, and cool

Temp: 55-67
Humidity: 84%
Wind: 0-13

Rain —
Season: 32.60
Days since last: 7

Last Thursday, picked and ate the first artichokes from the plant that was planted two years ago. They were quite small; after trimming, only the hearts remained. Evelyn dipped hers in caesar salad dressing; I sliced mine and added it to a cold roast beef sandwich. Today, I fed the artichoke. With a steel spike, I made three holes around the plant, which I filled with superphosphate to promote flowering (the edible part being a flower bud). Then, I scattered some ammonium sulfate around. Perhaps, next year we will get full sized buds like the ones we used to get when we had an artichoke where the circular patio is now.

Also fed the dwarf citrus. I used a commercial citrus food and added some zinc sulfate. Citrus needs extra zinc, which used to be included in the commercial fertilizer; but this is not in the current formulations. I fed the gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides 'Veitchii') with the same mixture since gardenias also like extra zinc.

8 May

Partially cloudy, mostly sunny (sometimes hazy), mild

Temp: 49-71
Humidity: 58%
Wind: 4-13

Rain —
Season: 32.52
Week: 0.11

The basil (Ocimum basilicum) that I potted (20 Mar) died. I bought a small plastic pot with three plants in it. When I went to repot them in the large clay pot where the old basil plant had been, I discovered a very large slug down in the potting mix. I hope there are no others. After potting the new basil, I placed the pot in a shady area on the patio for it to get established (as I did last year). When I see it growing well, then I'll move it next to the other herbs, where they get part sun.

Weather data are from the Cheesebro (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)

March-April 2005
January-February 2005
November-December 2004
August-October 2004
June-July 2004
April-May 2004

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