First bloom today of our nectarine! 🌳 🌱

Got a warm spell in California so now I expect the nectarine to bloom any day now. The local almond trees already have.🌳🌱

The Fantasia nectarine (planted Jan 2020) is still in swollen bud stage. Has been for days. It’s sooo close to blooming. Here’s hoping it’ll produce fruit for the first time this year!

swollen lateral flower bud with a red tip

Someday we’ll figure out how to make rice noodles right. Did a bunch of experiments today and almost got there. We just want perfect Drunken Noodles and Pad See Ew.

Got to make the rock rings around the citrus trees larger so drip emitters can be moved back for better root growth. Also may help with frost as the ground can now radiate heat up into the trees rather than be insulated by wood chips. Here’s before and after.

before expanding the rock ring around the mandarin.after expanding the rock ring around the mandarin tree.

Close up of a Meyer Lemon still on the tree. 😋

Lemon grass is overwintering nicely. This time we dug up the plant to include roots. Last year we rooted a few stalks in water; here’s its progeny 👌 There’s another bunch of lemon grass outdoors. If it survives, that’ll be the second year overwintering outside in native soil. 🌱

lemon grass overwintering in a pot.

We have a lot of citrus in the backyard: mandarins, Meyer lemons, and Valencias. This means it is time for Alton Brown’s Acid Jellies! We don’t coat them with sugar at the end of the cook as we’ve found the sugar is too hydrophilic in humid winters & the jellies get… damp. 🌱

Dutch baby for breakfast. It is really great with Meyer lemons (from the backyard tree; which is great as we can’t get Meyers in town).

dutch baby in cast iron dutch baby served with meyer lemons and apples

Pruned the apricot today. I only kind of know what I’m doing. It looks about right to me. Every year I open it up a bit more and reduce its height. I let it get too big. Before and after.

House Sparrows frenetically bathing under the mandarin this morning.

three house sparrows in a shallow birdbath with one sparrow waiting its turn. all under a mandarin tree with ripening oranges.

Mandarins and Meyer Lemons are ripening nicely. Maybe one more month until the Mandarins are sweet enough.

mandarin treemeyer lemon tree

The Results of the 2020 Home Orchard Fixed Daily Watering Experiment

This last orchard growing season, I watered using daily fixed schedules that took into account average daily evapotranspiration and estimated daily plant water use. I set up schedules for each month in the summer, since evapotranspiration and water usage changes significantly month to month. Previous years I had used a dynamic schedule determined by Rachio’s Flex Daily algorithm and Advanced Zone settings. The Flex algorithm greatly favors deep waterings and the interval is guided by daily estimated evapotranspiration. The trees often suffered on extreme California summer days under the Flex Daily algorithm — it watered too deeply and too infrequently so trees couldn’t get daily access to water with very high summer evapotranspiration rates. Flex does not account for extremely hot days where available water depletes, leaving trees struggling without water until the next day or longer. Fortunately, the Rachio irrigation controller makes it dead easy to create any number of watering schedules. The results of using fixed schedules tuned for each summer month this last growing season were pretty good. While the mandarins are undersized after the previous year’s bumper crop of well sized fruit, our Valencias and Meyer Lemons did great. The pineapple guavas also responded very well to daily watering with a surprising amount of growth. The avocados, while very finicky, did fine too. But it turns out no matter how much water they get, when temperatures go over 100 F their leaves scorch (so we had to rig up shade cloth over the young trees using ladders). Besides the avocados, the trees didn’t suffer greatly from heat stress with daily watering. I do wonder if the fixed daily waterings didn’t penetrate the soil deep enough, resulting in undersized mandarins, so next year I will try watering every other day and doubling the watering times. This should encourage deeper root development and perhaps provide more water to trees from throughout the soil column.

Scorched young avocado leaves despite daily watering:

Scortched, dried out avocado leaves despite daily watering.

Planted a New Cherry Tree Today

I planted a replacement Lapins Cherry today. Bought it from Stark Bro’s and it has a great unblemished, no prune cut trunk. That is never the case if I buy locally, even from a family operated nursery. As planted, it’s a 42” tall stick. It’ll develop branches next spring. I finally got to use our homemade compost that’s been over a year in the making!

Planting the bare root tree.planted tree, in a slight mound.very dark homemade compost!

The rainy season in California is right around the corner, so I just cleaned the rain gage & other weather station components of summer’s dust and ash. Meanwhile, the mandarins are slowly ripening.

Tore out the bark beetle infested Lapins Cherry today. It was half dead by beetles girdling it. In November we’ll put in a new Lapins Cherry from Stark Bros.. The old tree was from a big box store and while it provided prodigious fruit it was oddly pruned and I couldn’t fix it.

Three year old beetle infested tree we tore outthe tree removal crater left. it is hard work.

Lemongrass came back this year after dying back over winter (we also took cuttings over winter and one managed to take). So here’s homemade lemongrass ice cream topped with praline. 😋

Been a few years since we first wanted to mulch the backyard. Weather got nice so here we go with 10 cu yd of chips!

Metallic ribbon and a fake bird of prey truly keeps the birds away from our figs.

This western milkweed bug stuffing itself into the eye of the Brown Turkey Fig is decidedly not cuddly and I do not like them ruining my figs! We actually cut into a fig the other day, decapitating a milkweed bug that got inside.

With the incoming heatwave in California, we will filter out direct sunlight to help keep these little avocado trees from scorching to death. Also: save the U.S. Postal Service. ✉️

Mantis on the cherry tree.

… and peppers! Though ants are trying to farm aphids on them.

Today’s harvest. Brown turkey figs and a small ripe jalapeño.

Orange Grove Update

This year, our Mandarin orange will provide plenty to eat in January. We’re lucky it’s not alternate bearing (this year, anyway).

Mandarin

Meanwhile, this is the first year our Meyer lemon has produced more than a couple fruit. Super exciting! It did lose a lot of leaves earlier this summer, though. I attribute that to overwatering. Oops.

IMG 3601

Finally, our Valencia is also producing more than a couple fruit:

Valencia

The lemon grass coming in strong. It came back from last year’s planting and a cutting we took.