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Archive for July, 2011

Our Anna apple gives us a smaller crop of apples in the fall. Because of our mild climate, the tree has two distinct harvests. With a mild winter, the tree does not even want to give up it’s leaves. Click on image for greater detail. Click twice on this image. The flower detail is incredible.

These July blooms will give us some fall apples.

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I managed to get three 7 foot steel stakes in my decomposed granite and clay soil to stretch some wire supports for my blackberries. I know it is not technically correct to get the highest yield amounts, but it works for my yard, and it fits in a corner which is a compromise with my wife. I know her concerns….blackberry bushes can turn into huge monsters if left unchecked. Since we compromised; I have them in a corner of the yard. I know this seems overkill for these little plants, but this trellis will be a little stressed in two or three years if all goes as planned. The “Triple Crown”can have 4-8 canes that run 15 feet in each direction What is presented here works for me and should NOT be considered an appropriate model for maximizing the harvest. “It is what it is……”

This is the first wing of the trellis shared by two "Triple Crown" blackbery plants.

This is the second wing of the blackberry trellis that has the "Black Satin" blackberry in the foreground and the ailing "Natchez" in the background.

Triple Crown's can be vigorous growing plants. This new plant has a cane over 6 feet and it was transplanted in the heat of summer. There should be 4-8 canes next year that will be twice as long.

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The Triple Crown is a fast growing berry. I have found several sources for growing these plants in containers with excellent results. I decided to share a couple of links with you and also show the progress of one of my potted plants. I will transplant in the fall when the berry won’t be stressed by the heat of summer.

Here is a triple Crown Blackberry being grown in an 18 inch container.

18 Inch Container

Here is a Triple Crown Blackberry being grown in an 24 inch container.

24 Inch Container

If you click on the photos you can get better detail. Check out this little guy:

Triple Crown blackberry one week after purchase.

This growth occured in just three weeks!

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I mentioned in other posts that I had planted a Boysenberry plant outside the fence line. I had good intentions until the ground squirrels kept chewing through my drip irrigation lines. After many repairs, I simply gave up on the little guy. With my renewed interest in berries, I have been feeling a little more guilt each day about neglecting my forgotten child. It has not been watered in three years but it manages to survive 100+ temps during the summer. Yesterday, I filled up a water can and filled the trench with water and the ground took it up very quickly. I will continue to hand water this plant until the fall. I will dig him up and find a more suitable place in the yard. The only real issue, is that this berry has thorns and “he” bites. With regular watering and access to fertilizer, this berry will be a monster in a few years. Boysenberries originated in Northern California and most San Diego growers will tell you that this plant is almost fool proof.

For those of you that do not know, the Boysenberry almost suffered the same fate as the plant that I own now.  A Mr. George Darrow from the USDA investigated reports of a red/purple berry growing on the farm of Rudolph Boysen. I guess Rudolph experimented with different varieties and he crossed a European Raspberry with a Loganberry and a common blackberry. (I have no clue how he did this.) Any way, Mr Darrow contacted A Walter Knott, (Yep, the same Knott of “Knott’s Berry Farm”), who was considered a local berry expert at the time. Together they paid a visit and asked about the berry. To their disappointment, Mr. Boysen explained that he gave up on berries a while back and the old farm was in a terrible state of disrepair. When Darrow and Knott went to the old farm, they found just a few very frail vines in a field of weeds. Knot transported some the plants back to Buena Park and the rest is history. The Boysenberry made Knott very wealthy and we now have the entertainment park today. I think it is cool that he at least named the berry after the originator. With recent advances in horticulure, there is a thornless variety now. It is a solid performer, but it is not as productive as the thorny variety. I guess their is a trade off.

Here are some pictures of the neglected child. These were taken with my Sony Bloggie, so they are not as detailed as some of my other photos. Click on the picture for more detail.

Boysenberry

My neglected Boysenberry is not getting some attention.

Boysenberry - thorned

These new suckers or shoots will start my new plants in the fall. As of now, I have two of them that are coming up healthy and dark green.

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I could live with my apple crop being taken down, after all I do not mind sharing a few apples with my squirrel breatheren. I even overlooked my drip lines that have been munched on. I have water squirting everywhere because my drip lines now resemble Swiss cheese. When I found a massive burrow under my prized White Alder, something snapped. It is one of my majestic trees and I love the shade it provides. It is even pushing up my stone wall, but I ignore this encroachment because I like that tree.  I much as I hated to declare war, I had no choice. Since I have a Chocolate Flab…..I mean a Chocolate Lab that seems to eat everything, poison is not an option. After flooding the burrow with water for 10 minutes with no success, I decided to use one of those gas bombs that sort of resemble a stick of dynamite. I shoved one in the hole and quickly threw some shovels of dirt to stop the smoke from escaping. After a few minutes, I carefully dug out the gas bomb to make sure it discharged. I guess Karma can come back to bite you because I managed to pick up a burning ember left over from the gassing of my little fuzzy friends. I have 3 more of those gas bombs left, and I will use all three of them next time, if these little buggers come back for more.

Sorry for the fuzzy photo, I was using my Sony Bloggie which does not like low light situations.

I flooded this hole for 10 minutes and never saw the hole fill up.

Squirrel nest is under the tree on the left. Do you see the hump in my rock wall? It is a fault that I overlook. I will keep the tree and repair the wall later.

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I wanted one more blackberry plant to extend my berry season over a two month period of time. I found another thornless variety called the “Black Satin”. It is a semi-erect variety which means it need little to no trellis support. The plant is supposed to be a prolific producer, but the fruit maybe a little on the tart side. Most reviewers give it excellent flavor and state that is is sweet enough. The key word is “prolific” producer. With the five berry plants that I have, I could get 150 pounds of berries in optimal conditions. I would happy with half of that number at 75 pounds. Since I have mostly “Triple Crown” planted, I should be living in a jungle within the next 3 years. Here is the newest berry member with some new growth emerging under a hot summer sun.

Just a baby "Black Satin Blackberry".

Black Satin Blackberry new growth.

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In my search to find low chill variety fruiting plants, I came across a Raspberry that is well suited and in some cases regarded as one of the better raspberry varieties available  not only in southern California but other ares of the country too. It has the unique name of “Bababerry” or “Baba Raspberry”. There seems to be a distribution issue now as this variety has not been widely available at the big box stores. There are a few online retailers that have them available in limited quantities during the fall. In my internet quests for knowledge, I found out some original patent information about this berry. Read below:

Baba Berry Patent Information

It turns out this Raspberry was discovered in Idyllwild, CA and patented in 1979.  The plant is well adapted to warm weather climates and has been a very successful berry in many San Diego gardens.

I found another garden blog that details a “Bababerry” success.

Hanbury House – “Bababerries”

I manged to secure two plants from a Solana Beach Nursery on Cedros Avenue. They have a really nice nursery with many specialty plants. I was really happy to purchase them locally in July and not wait until fall to order them online. If you are in the area, I would suggest a visit.

Cedros Gardens

Since purchasing these little guys, I have an invisible “no-see-um” that is killing my new leaves and shoots before the leave opens up fully. I just tried some Sevin dust on one of the plants to see if that might help. I have been told that these plants are tough, so I hope I can get these plants through the tender stage. See pictures below.

Here is the first Bababerry plant with major damage from the "no-see-ums".

Here is a picture of the other plant that seems to be safe for now.

A much healthier looking berry plant. Let's hope that the bugs stay away from this one.

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