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Again with the Corn

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted because it’s been a few years since I had time to spend on my garden.  When Spring 2016 rolled around, I found that I might actually be able to put some attention on growing things again.  When last I left my garden, there were carrots planted in the vegetable beds that had since gone rogue due to neglect.  The carrots had sprouted flowers several times over and managed to seed themselves in nooks and crannies all over the backyard.  No doubt they had help from my errant Yorkie!

One late winter’s day (in February maybe?), my husband and I spontaneously cut the wild carrot foliage up and began digging the carrots out of the ground.  They weren’t exactly pretty carrots, if you know what I mean.  I took no photos so you’ll just have to imagine the horror.

After a week of cleaning out the two existing vegetable beds and another week of constructing a third bed, we were ready to plant.  My daughter suggested corn, which is definitely fun to grow.  And I wanted tomatoes and eggplants.  My husband didn’t really care what we grew but firmly declared that he would not eat anything that had been buried underground.  I think digging up the carrots left an icky taste in his mind.


The great thing about this year’s crop of corn is that my husband installed a better irrigation system from our existing sprinklers.  Now the vegetable beds get much more water, and the corn stalks are producing more ears of corn!  One stalk even has two ears on it.  I know this may seem like small potatoes to some of you, but for us this is great news!  It’s so incredibly difficult to grow anything in our backyard due to the poor soil, hot summers, and dry weather almost all the time.  We’ve got drought conditions in our area, so watering every day with the sprinklers isn’t acceptable.

Anyhow, hopefully I can post a nice bunch of ripe corn photos after all’s said and done this growing season.



Well, long time no see.  I basically neglected my backyard plants from Summer 2013 through the start of Winter 2013.  Here are some photos of what can happen in that time.

April 2013 – aloes in pots…

kale aloe glads dahlia starflower 4-17-2013 (28)


kale aloe glads dahlia starflower 4-17-2013 (36)


Same aloes in January 2014…

garden update of neglect 1-18-2014 (22)


garden update of neglect 1-18-2014 (19)


However, the aloes planted in the ground are okay.

April 2013 in the ground.

kale aloe glads dahlia starflower 4-17-2013 (39)

Nine months later in January 2014.











I’m going to try and salvage the potted aloes by planting them in the ground in the next few weeks.  I know they will take a long while to recover, but succulents are so hardy that I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a turn around for the better.


deadheading roses

I haven’t posted much lately because I like to tell stories about my garden when I post–such as, I planted this sprout, it grew and bloomed, and now it’s dead, The End.  Well, I don’t really have a new story yet, although there are many new things happening in the backyard, and I’ve got works in progress.  Since I don’t want to leave the blog untouched for so long, I decided I need to post something about the garden.  So here goes.

Recently, I took some nice photos of the roses I was deadheading.  These were the first blooms of spring and there were A LOT of them.  These were cut from 15 rose bushes.


The thing is, you can’t tell from the photo, but these roses aren’t fit to go in a vase.  The edges are brown on many, and the petals will drop off like lead weights in a day or two.  I wouldn’t give them to anyone I liked.  However, in the picture, they look like a million bucks.


I know I’ve said that roses are pretty much weeds, but I must admit, they do have their moments.




Today I decided to rip the onions out of the vegetable bed–mainly because I needed the room for the corn!  These onions have been in the ground since last summer I think.  I hope they’re okay to eat.  One of them even put out a flower bud, which I’m sorry I won’t see bloom now.



After the roots have been cut off:



Kale Unfettered

I have ornamental kale and cabbage in my backyard.  They are prized mainly for their foliage.  Coleus is another plant that is collected for the colorful leaves, not the flowers, which are usually not spectacular.  So it’s advised that you cut any buds you see as soon as possible so that the plant doesn’t waste energy on the flowers.  If you let the flowers bloom, the plant starts to get stringy or even gets on the path to dying.  After all, it’s job is done once it gets the flowers out, which in turn produce seeds once pollinated.

Well, I never cut the buds off.  It just seems wrong somehow.  So this is what happens to kale when you let it do whatever it wants.




They make me think of funny aliens for some reason.  Here are the flowers on the purple kale.


The flowers haven’t opened yet on the white kale.  Here is one of the coleus plants (king’s torch) from September 2012.  It’s starting to put flower buds out at the top.


I didn’t cut the flowers off because I wanted to see what they looked like, so the plant got ‘leggy.’


Here are the coleus flowers, which I think are pretty too.


Hmm, suffice it to say, the coleus plants are all dead now heh.  Whatever.  I can buy more.  We’ll see what happens to the kale.


What is this plant?

Back in the fall, there was a plant sprouting up in my gladiolus pot.  I didn’t know what it was, but I figured it would be pretty so I let it grow.  I watered it whenever I watered my other plants.  This picture is from October 2012:


The plant has fans, so it probably is an iris or gladiolus of some sort?  Someone mentioned that it might be a daylily.  Then at the end of January 2013, this appeared:


The flower spike is reminiscent of a gladiolus.  In the following weeks more flower spikes appeared, but they began to take an interesting shape.  This is February 2013:


A few days ago, the buds looked like this:



The more I think about, the more it seems that they are indeed daylilies, as one of the other bloggers (patientgardener) posted when I initially asked about it a while back.  The branching aspect of the flower stem does remind me of my other daylilies.  The funny thing is that I did not place this plant in this pot, nor is this plant anywhere else in my garden.  How did it get here?  It doesn’t look like any of my other daylilies.  It’s a wonderful mystery.



How can I despise the daffodil?

Daffodils are curious little fellows.  The daffodil bulbs hide in your garden all summer and fall, then, when everything else is dying in the backyard, their leaves start poking out of the soil in winter.  However, what always irked me about daffodils was the hysterically short display of blooms in spring–at least, the ones in my yard always seemed to be short-lived.  Naturally, I’m never the one to have planted them originally.  It’s always the previous owner’s doing.  Not that it’s the daffodil’s fault, but the weather usually isn’t consistently nice enough to be outside all the time in spring, so it’s hard to appreciate a flower that you hardly ever see.

The thing about daffodils is that they’re persistent little buggers.  I attempted to dig them all out last spring because I despised how haphazardly they grew around my other well-placed plants.  The bulbs were just sitting in my garage all summer, and I didn’t care whether they rotted or not.  When it was evident that they had survived my apathy, I decided to plant them in shallow pots in the fall.


I sprinkled some water on them occasionally.  The dog dug some of them up from time to time.  This is December 2012…



The pots were placed in various spots around the garden–some received full sun, some were mostly shaded.  I think daffodils prefer shade.

February 2013 in the shade…


And in the sun…


And despite my best efforts to round up ALL of the daffodil bulbs last year, here the fugitives stand brazenly amongst the other citizens.



I think I will adopt them after all.  Any plant that can withstand this much neglect and still produce flowers like these deserves a second chance.


Some factoids:

– Narcissus is the scientific name for daffodil.

– Paper Whites are a kind of daffodil too.  If I’d studied more closely the photos of the Paper Whites I’d grown last fall, I would have noticed the cup part of the flower that all daffodils possess.  The Paper Whites just stink so bad I didn’t want to be anywhere in their vicinity while they were blooming.  They are pretty though…





Valentine Tulips

My husband knew not to buy me roses for Valentine’s Day, so he came home with these tulips instead.  I love ’em.



And then the flowers opened up two days later.



The description on the little plant tag says the tulips can’t be in direct sun and can’t stand cold temperatures (no frost), so I guess I’ll have to treat it like cyclamen and plant it in the shade.  Maybe it’ll be warm enough outside in March.

Evicting Canna Lilies

I finally had to admit to myself that perhaps I hadn’t picked the best spot in the garden for my canna lilies last summer.  All of them arrived in good health from the store, but, under the unforgiving glare of a California summer sun, they kind of burned up.




And now…


Granted, this is winter so they wouldn’t be all gorgeous and blooming, but the leaves were turning black and crunchy way back in summer.  Also, the canna lilies that are supposed to grow up to 4 feet tall never gained an inch in height.  They all seemed to be struggling with the spot they were in–which received sun for about 12 hours of the day.

Anyhoo, it’s getting warm again in the middle of the day now (high 60s F. — very mild winter here) so I figured I should move those canna lilies to a more shady spot while they’re dormant.  I wasn’t sure what kind of root system cannas have, but I guessed they were bulbs.  But what I found was a bit perplexing…


They looked like bulbs, but the ends turned upward like elves’ shoes.  And the next one didn’t look like a bulb at all.


It looks like a rhizome, which is a thick, underground stem with roots coming out of it.  Before writing this post, I decided to do research on the almighty internet to find the answer to the question: do canna lilies have bulbs or rhizomes?  The answer?  Cannas have rhizomes.  Apparently, plant retailers lump canna lilies into the “bulbs” section of their catalog along with tubers and real bulbs because they all grow from “little packages” and can be stored out of dirt in winter.  I got this information from here:

With that mystery solved, I can show you the rest of the eviction process.


evicting cannas 2-5-2013 (7)







They’re all packed up and ready to move.  I think they will be happier in their new spot, though I haven’t planted them yet.  I’ll show that to you soon!

Transplanting Aggies

It was fortunate for me that the previous owner of our house planted agapanthus (or African Lilies, or Lily of the Nile) in the backyard.  Unfortunately, one pair of plants was located under the fig tree and behind another tree, basically hiding them from view when the flowers were blooming.   Here’s the “aggie” hiding under the fig tree last June–its friend is off to the right.

6-27-2012 garden (21)








Here are a couple of blooming aggies that are in a more exposed part of the backyard.

6-27-2012 garden (16)








After studying the backyard for a bit, I decided to move the two ill-placed aggies next to some of their compatriots nearby.  It’s January so the fig tree has no leaves.  I planned to dig up the aggies in the background and move them to the foreground.

transplant aggies et al 1-19-2013 (11)










My soil is clay, so it’s always a daunting thought to dig out any entrenched plant, but the weather had turned mild of a sudden and I figured I should do it soon.

Agapanthus plants have rhizomes in the dirt, which is a stem underground that has roots coming off of it.  I didn’t think to take a picture of the plant while it was out of the ground, but I photographed the hole it left.  You can kind of see the thick stem cross-section to the upper left of the root mass.  The roots are pretty thick.

transplant aggies et al 1-19-2013 (1)










I hope I took enough root structure with the plant to support it, but the dirt is so hard and compacted that I really couldn’t dig more out without a backhoe trencher or something.  Here are the aggies in their new spot.

transplant aggies et al 1-19-2013 (2)










If all goes as planned, in the summer I’ll have a nice little cluster of beautiful bluish-purple flowers!

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