Garden & Quilt: Tomatoes & Sunflower

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It’s been a while since I made a quilt using a template. Initially I was a little lost. The basis of my thoughts was Sunflowers.

Then I realized that it is the same color as my Heirloom Beefsteak Tomatogarden tomatoes 001.

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Garden: Figs & Japanese Beetles

The Japanese Beetles are back. They disappeared for a couple of years. There was no noticeable destruction to my figs. This year late July and I saw them again. I don’t hate bugs. I say live and let live. For me the J. Beetles are more of a nuisance. I don’t like reaching over to get a ripe fig only to have a bug startle me. I don’t like them flying at me either.

They seem to cluster on one fig at a time. Unlike the Mocking Birds which will try one fig and if it isn’t ripe jump to another branch and try another leaving holes in the fruit. The birds will also leave fruit half eaten — not these Japanese Beetles.

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The bugs are about 1″ x 1 1/4″  and are shiny and iridescent blue-green. Sweet, strong smelling fragrances attract them. They like sunshine, but I find them on the shadow side of the fruit.

They arrived in this country in 1912 in a load of Bananas on the east coast. They have been prolific and produced to spread across the United States. They will die off in winter. They will lay enough eggs in the soil to come back in full force the following year. 

You can handpick them off your plants and drop them into soapy water. I’ve hit them with a strong spray of water and they take off. Which leads me to think if I put a bucket of water under them and shoot them with water they would fall into the bucket and no hand-picking of bugs.  You could use chemicals but I prefer the birds come pick them off for me — which means I need more birds.

Japanese Beetles with also attack other plants in your yard as well, roses, other fruit trees. Japanese Beetles are also attracted by the pheromones of other existing, pillaging beetles. If you are lucky enough to have wasps, the wasps will attack the beetles. It is a circle of life.

You could avoid the beetles if you avoid planting the fruits and flowers that they are attracted to, I like most other gardeners still have faith and plant what we love and put up with the bugs. 

If you choose a chemical route for the bugs you may also be killing birds as well who will feed off the beetles. I did this long ago with snails. Snail bait and cats, dogs and birds is not a good mix. Get a duck or two they love snails and do a great job on slugs too, they might even give you an occasional duck egg..

Happy gardening!  

Garden: Stephanotis floribunda

This is a stephanotis Floribunda. It is an evergreen vine originally from Madagascar. It’s vines will twine 15 – 30 feet with good support. Right now it has the support of a naked, dead tree that didn’t survive our last drought and water rationing.  It blooms from Spring until late summer in Southern California. It thrives in a relatively rich soil, that is well-drained. This one grows in a five gallon pot and occasionally I will flood the pot with water. A large round container with an obelisk and a stand on wheels would work best and in the near future that might happen.  It also likes to be misted regularly.

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This is an open bud. This is a stephanotis cluster not yet open. The flowers are used in bridal bouquets and in flower leis in Hawaii.

The fragrance is strong and intoxicating. Plants can also be grown indoors with the proper lighting. Southern California provides a good growing environment with ample sunshine and warmth.

stephanotis seed pod 002stephanotis seed pod - covered 004This is a Stephanotis seed pod. When I first saw it, over a year ago, I thought it might be a fruit. So I looked it up. I discovered it was a seed, a very large seed. The size of a kiwi. If your plant is agreeable enough to give you a seed pod be for-warned a seed pod takes a full year or more to develop and ripen. First it is a nice fresh green and it does look like a fruit. Toward the beginning of this summer it started turning yellow. Since I knew nothing about this and there didn’t seem to be any information I only hoped it was part of the process.

I’ve kept an eye on this one. I noticed recently it was cracking, but I left it alone hoping nothing was wrong. Then today I saw that it was brown and about 1/3 open.  Look closely. Notice what look like feathers. When it bursts open which it looks like it is ready to do — it will send these soft feather-like seeds to the four winds and there will be thousands of them. The brown bag will insulate it and contain the seeds. Only question I have is what will I do with a thousand stephanotis plants?

Garden: Summer Tomatoes

garden tomatoes 001In spite of the devastation caused by these guysgarden catapiller 002I managed to have some ripe tomatoes they didn’t get to.  I learned a lot about horned worms. One book said you have them pick them off and smush them.  Not smash, but smush.  So the red-orange tomato is a Beefsteak Heritage Tomato. I also found from talking to my green grocery that volunteer tomatoes are healthier and tend over-all not to have insects. Last year most of my tomatoes were volunteers and I don’t remember even one worm.

Horned worms are the result of a white moth that comes at night. I am not out at night but there is a small white moth flitting through my vegetables during the day.  I was told that if you plant collard greens the worms will go for the collard greens and leave your tomatoes alone.