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My Garden Diary

September and October 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
May-June 2005
July-August 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.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year (but perhaps a different page) as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
31 October

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 65-84
Humidity: 24%
Wind: 2-13

Rain —
Season: 1.36
Week: 0.01

Rake, rake, rake those leaves — and then do it again in two or three days. I put the leaves from the driveway around the oak (Quercus lobata), for which a leaf mulch is mandatory if it is to thrive. The leaves from the sidewalk, brick walkway, and the brick panel where the lavender (L. dentata) is planted all went onto the front lawn.

Trimmed away some vertical branches from the fern pines (Podocarpus). I dropped the branches on top of the leaf mulch around the oak to hold it in place.

Trimmed the dwarf English ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') on the mailbox and around the Liquidambar tree.

25 October

Partially cloudy, hazy sun, and cool

Temp: 52-64
Humidity: 84%
Wind: 1-15

Rain —
Season: 1.36
Week: 0.01

Had the back lawn mowed today, the semi-annual trimming of the red fescue (Festuca rubra). This ornamental grass really only needed cutting so that I can rake the leaves that are starting to fall. I don't envy the lawn service, which had to clean up the mess caused by the raccoon who thinks my lawn is a toilet.

Before cutting the lawn, I had the service move the tub with the dwarf lemon onto the adjacent walkway. Soon, I will replant the lemon into a large flower pot where the tub used to be.

23 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-69
Humidity: 91%
Wind: 3-10

Rain —
Season: 1.35
Week: 1.33

The miniature Phalaenopsis (10 Jun) in the greenhouse window finally finished blooming. I repotted it, moving it from a plastic flower pot into a squat fern pot. Instead of the shredded moss in which it had been potted, I used bark chips, which drain better.
12 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 56-83
Humidity: 31%
Wind: 6-13

Rain —
Season: 0.02
Days since last: 16

I frequently pass an orchid nursery. Today, I stopped and went inside. Spectacular!

Besides orchids, they also have many house plants. I saw several all-green (not variegated) pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum). Variegated pothos is very common, but not the all-green variety. I had an all-green pothos in my breakfast room greenhouse window for many years, but it died earlier this year. All of the plants at the orchid nursery were far too large. The manager (owner?) simply cut a long branch from one and gave it to me!! When I got home, I potted three cuttings from that branch.

Since the oranges will soon be ripening, I baited the cage trap to control squirrels. I have to get a larger trap to control the raccoons.

Put the potted sage (4 Sep) with the other herbs on the walkway intersection between the circular and teardrop beds.

10 October

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 56-84
Humidity: 14%
Wind: 2-25 (gusts to 45)

Rain —
Season: 0.02
Days since last: 14

Fed the roses in front with ammonium sulfate. Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia in back with commercial citrus food and a little zinc sulfate. This will be the last feeding of the year for these. I want the roses to slow down by January, when I prune them. After this month, new growth on the citrus is too sensitive to the overnight frosts we get in winter.

Something has been digging in the flower pot for the palm in front and in the tub for the dwarf kumquat in back. I suspect a raccoon, for which I will have to get a larger trap. In the meantime, I put moth balls in the larger pots and containers.

One of the potted amaryllis is badly infested with mealy bugs. I also found mealy bugs in one of the orchids in the greenhouse window in my breakfast room. The dwarf lemon and miniature roses look stressed. Outside, (during a lull in the wind) I sprayed malathion on all the dwarf citrus, the miniature roses, and all the other potted plants; I also sprayed the artichoke since it always attracts spider mites. I didn't want to haul the house plants outside for spraying, so I fed them with a commercial fertilizer that contains a systemic insecticide — except for the orchids, which can neither be sprayed nor fed with a dry fertilizer. For the orchids, I soaked two cotton balls with the malathion mix and then squeezed them so they were only moist. I placed a cotton ball in the center of each orchid.

3 October

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 55-74
Humidity: 32%
Wind: 2-15

Rain —
Season: 0.02
Week: 0.01

To rejuvenate the miniature roses on the patio (27 Sep), I trimmed away dead and dying canes (the largest of which was as thick as a pencil). Then, I gave them a small dose of metal sulfates: iron, zinc, calcium (gypsum), and magnesium (Epsom salts).

Raked the walkways in back and swept the patio, filling my 5 gallon pail several times over with debris. Most of the debris was seeds from The Tree along with many of the little stems from which the seeds hung until they were ripe.

The trees in front are beginning to drop leaves, so I had to rake the driveway, sidewalk, and brick walkway. I dumped the leaves on portions of the front lawn where the leaf mulch was sparse. Then, I swept the pavements for a final cleanup. The sweepings were full of seeds from The Tree, so I dumped them in the green trash bin (green for the Ventura County composting project) rather than put them on the lawn where they would sprout.

Each time I dumped the pail, a small cloud of ashes erupted, fall-out from last week's Topanga brush fire. Although we had to evacuate our home very early last Thursday morning because of the fire, this fire did not get as close as either of the other two fires that threatened Oak Park in the 32 years we have lived here.

27 September

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 61-87
Humidity: 16%
Wind: 0-15

Rain —
Season: 0.02
Week: 0.01

As often happens, rain (another 0.1 inches) is followed by the Santa Ana winds. Although not blowing strong, they are blowing warm and very dry, enough to remove all the moisture that fell as rain and then some more.

One of the sea pinks (thrift, Armeria meritima) in the circular bed in back died. Today, I removed it and planted a new one that I bought yesterday. The other five sea pinks are doing quite well.

The miniature roses in a large pot on the patio — 'Shy Girl' and 'Red Minimo' — seem a bit yellow. Because the potting mix drains so well, it's possible that nutrients have leached away. I fed them with a small handful of ammonium sulfate. Later in the week, I'll add a tiny amount of iron, zinc, and magnesium sulfate. I won't add phosphorus because that does not leach away.

25 September

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 52-83
Humidity: 26%
Wind: 1-10

Rain —
Season: 0.01
Week: 0.01

Have not done anything really noteworthy in my garden. I just wanted to report that we had rain this past week! 0.01 inch is not much, but it's the first measurable rain since the beginning of May, more than four months ago. Last year, the rainy season did not start until mid-October.

Some critter tried to dig up the pink clover that I planted in front earlier this month (16 Sep). I suspect a raccoon. However, I saw a rabbit in front this morning. When I discovered the damage, I immediately reset the plants into the soil. Then, I placed moth balls in the soil to discourage any animals from digging.

I still have not been able to interest a civil engineer or grading contractor in repairing My Hill (11 Jan). While I have a geotechnical engineer and a geologist, the County now wants plans drawn by a civil engineer before issuing a grading permit. It's not just the County; grading contractors tell me to call back after I have a civil engineer. It now looks like there will be another rainy season before this is fixed.

16 September

Thin, high fog (almost clear), hazy sun, and cool

Temp: 53-74
Humidity: 61%
Wind: 2-14

Planted four rooted cuttings of pink clover in the front lawn. I already have seven established clumps of this ground cover, most of which are spreading nicely. I don't think I'll take any more cuttings (unless necessary to replace failed clumps). I fed the established plants before watering the newly planted ones. Then, I watered them all.
10 September

Coudy, only occasional hazy sun, and cool

Temp: 54-68
Humidity: 71%
Wind: 1-10

Finished feeding the roses in front.

Flushed the underground drains that go from the back yard to empty into the street gutter in front. These drain both the yard and the rain gutters on the roof. With the rainy season perhaps less than two months away, it's important that the drains are not clogged with silt or leaves. (Last year, the rain started in mid-October.)

Sifted compost. The pile has been "working" for almost two years now. From a huge pile of leaves, there is almost nothing left.

4 September

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 61-93
Humidity: 14%
Wind: 1-11

Went out and bought another sage (Salvia officinalis). This will be my third attempt this year to get sage to grow (14 Aug). The nursery said the problem is that neither the roots nor water want to cross the interface between my own potting mix and the mix from the nursery container. With my fingers, I loosened the root ball of this new plant, freeing some of the roots. Then, I watered the pot thoroughly. I'll keep it in the shade on the patio for a few weeks before putting the pot with the other herbs on the walkway at the south end of the circular bed.
2 September

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 61-91
Humidity: 22%
Wind: 0-8

Fed four of the roses in front with a commercial food that contains a systemic insecticide. The other three will have to wait until the watering cycle (soaking one bush a day with a trickling hose) allows the soil to dry a little.

Must talk to the neighbors to the west, whose front yard is adjacent to my roses. Their lawn sprinklers keep hitting the roses. Not only does this promote mildew and rust; but it also encourages surface rooting, which makes digging around the roses difficult. It also encourages weeds.

Trimmed the ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') on the mailbox. It has almost completely recovered from the renovation I did earlier this year (8 Mar).

Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii') with a handful of ammonium sulfate and a large pinch of zinc sulfate for each. Also fed the miniature roses a small handful of ammonium sulfate.

Sprayed Roundup on the decomposed granite walkways in back and along the stepping stones that separate the camellia and east beds. I had some left over, so I sprayed the seedling ash and liquidambar trees that are sprouting in the lawn, keeping away from the spreading clumps of pink clover (Persicaria capitata).

While cleaning the sprayer, dumped the rinse water on the compost pile, which was quite dry. But first, I checked the consistency of the compost. I think I might be able to sift it now.

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 20 Sep 2005 with the first measurable rain, 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)

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

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