Archive for January, 2012


February 2012 Events in Sunny California

January 30, 2012

As of Wednesday, the month of January will be history! There’s no looking back, just forward  . . . to grand days and wonderful opportunities. You’ll find a few of the latter under “Events” on the sidebar.

Now, go out and have some fun in and around your garden and community.


Garden Tips Hints and Cool Things

January 27, 2012

A Cool Thing:

Celebrated people often have the honor of being named after a street, park, building, rose, and even an insect—that’s right an insect. Who had this honor? Pop singer Beyoncé.

The horse fly, Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae, was part of a collection of unnamed flies captured in 1981, Beyoncé’s birth year. However, the main reason for naming the horse fly after Beyoncé was for its desirable golden lower abdomen.

Whom can Beyoncé thank for this honor?  Twenty-four-year-old researcher Bryan Lessard at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Perhaps, in this case, the fly received the honor. Either way, horse flies are pollinators of native plants in Australia and all over the world. So, don’t swat horse flies! You might kill one of our most valuable and desirable creatures, Beyoncé.


It was a Good Day

January 26, 2012

Born in America

on January 24, 2012,

at the close of a beautiful sunset.

Note:  It took all day to get into my blog to post this. My poor old computer is tired again, so if there’s no post on Friday that’s why.


What Happened to the Rake?

January 24, 2012 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

Last week, when my newspaper landed on the roof, I searched the tool shed for a rake. I rummaged through shovels, hoes and push brooms, but nary a rake was to be found. In desperation, I grabbed a power washer wand to retrieve my Sunday paper.

I need a rake, I thought. But rather than making a trip to the garden center, I decided to look online.

Googling ‘rake’, I found: (noun) rake – a pronged instrument used to gather material such as leaves or (verb) loosening and smoothing ground surfaces.

Scrolling down, I was amazed at dozens of listings for rakes. I clicked on some hits and quickly realized that rakes had become specialized, designed for a specific task, and it seemed one rake did not infringe on another rake’s territory. I checked more rake options.

• Hand Rake – a small version of a rake used to work the soil or clear areas of debris

• Thatch Rake – lawn grooming tool to remove thatch or moss

• Lake Rake – used to skim the surface of a small body of water, i.e. lake, pool or pond of algae or vegetation

• Landscape Rake – effective in spreading and smoothing mulch, dirt, sand, gravel or small pebbles

• Standard Leaf Rake – for pulling leaves toward the user or lifting garden debris into trash container

• Garden Rake – to break up and pulverize dirt clods, featuring sharp curved teeth and straight-backed tines

• Clog-Free Leaf Rake – comprised of special tines on a uniquely designed head that prevents leaf clog

• Adjustable Leaf Rake – telescopes down to minimal size for easy storage

• Rock Rake – extracts rocks from soil

• Pet Poop Rake – a combination rake and scooper for pet waste

Overwhelmed in my search for a simple old-fashioned rake, I perked up when my cursor stopped on The Amazing Rake described as ergonomically designed to avoid the user’s need to bend or stoop. I was delighted.

But before I clicked the Add to Cart button, I hesitated. If I continued searching, I might find the Perfect Rake – a rake that rakes independently while you sit in a chair drinking a cup of coffee.

Copyright 2012  Bernadine Chapman-Cruz   


Tips Hints and Cool Things

January 20, 2012


Water Temperature:  Houseplants prefer water that isn’t too hot or cold and de-chlorinated. De-chlorinate water by filling a watering vessel the night before. The chlorine will evaporate overnight.

Bamboo splitters:  A medical professional should always remove bamboo splitters as bamboo has barbs that break off under the skin.

Cool Thing: 

Researchers found that the speed at which protein renewal in plants takes place dictates how quickly plants can adapt to environmental changes, such as a sudden frost or drought. Therefore, scientists could develop crops that can handle sudden weather changes. Journal of Proteome Research.

A personal note:  Finally, it’s raining in my neck of the woods! I removed the frost cloths, turned off the timers to the drip lines and lawn, covered the firewood, and put out the drain gutters. I hope you remembered to do the same. Have a wonderful weekend.

P.S.:  I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. — Steven Wright


Lemon Tree Facts and Growing Tips

January 18, 2012

Scientific Name:  Citrus limon

Description:  A sour fruited citrus used in fish, salad, cooking, juices, baking, desserts, drinks, and as a cleaning agent.

History:  The origin of the lemon tree is unknown but many believe it came from northwestern India and was introduced in southern Italy in 200 A.D. then in California around 1751. Heavy cultivation did not begin in the U.S. until 1870. Lemon trees are widely grown all over the world and grow in abundance in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mexico, and West Indies.

Nutritional Value:

Serving Size: 1 cup raw lemon sections, without peel (212g):

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories 61
  • Calories from Fat 0
  • Total Fat 0
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 4mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 20g
  • Dietary Fiber 6g
  • Sugars 5g
  • Protein 2g
  • Vitamin A 1%
  • Vitamin C 187%
  • Calcium 6%
  • Iron 7%

Planting Tips:  Lemon trees can usually be planted any time of the year. However, it is best to plant according to your zone’s best timetable. Generally, early spring is best, as it will allow the root system to get established and acclimated before frost danger.

Harvest Tips: Available year-round (lemon is widely grown all over the world), with supplies peaking from April to July. In California’s Central Valley, where I live, harvest time is February to July. Unripe lemons are green. When matured, the color changes to yellow.

Recommended Varieties:

Eureka:  True North American-grown lemon trees. Medium size (10-20 feet), few thorns, everbearing but short-lived.

Lisbon:  True lemon tree grown in North America. Tall (30 feet), most productive, thorny.

Dorshapo:   True lemon tree that grows in Brazil and other Latin American countries. It produces a sweet, low-acid lemon, and it’s growing habit resembles the Eureka’s with a large open canopy.

Improved Meyer:  Not a true lemon tree. This hybrid is rounder and orange-colored. Small, ideal for containers, makes an excellent hedge, few thorns, no pruning needed.

Variegated Pink:  Eight feet, good container plant.

Check with your local nursery professional for the best varieties (these and others) for your zone, landscape, and care needs.


Seed Jargon

January 16, 2012

New to growing seeds? Here are definitions for words you may read on seed packets or in catalogs:

  • Sow:  To scatter or to place seeds in a systematic matter in the soil or in seed starting cells for germination.
  • Seed starting cell, 6-pack, or plug tray:  Reusable plastic tray containing individual cells for starting seeds. Tray can contain a pack of six to 200 cells.
  • Fiber Pots, peat pots:  Starter pots made of biodegradable matter. Both pot and seedling are transplanted directly into the soil without disturbing the root system. Eliminates plant shock.
  • Soilless Mix or Seed Starter: A soilless blend, with fewer disease-free problems, that provides aeration, drainage, water retention, and holds nutrients. Often contains perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss. Soilless mix does not contain natural soil.
  • Seed master, seed sower, mini seeder, or dial seed sower:  A small hand tool used to control the flow and number of seeds sown at whatever spacing is required. Saves seeds and thinning time.
  • Germinate:  When a seed starts to sprout above the soil.
  • Seedling:  A young developing plant grown from a seed.
  • Thin or Thinning:  The removal of crowded seedlings in cells or ground for proper air circulation, light, and growing space for full development of the remaining seedlings.
  • Hardening-off:  To gradually toughen plants for new environment prior to transplanting into the garden. This is done over several days, increasing the time outside each day. Usually done when taking seedlings or transplants home from the nursery, out of the greenhouse, or moving them outside to a cold frame or protected area.
  • Transplant:  To plant a seedling (or mature plant) from one place to another, i.e., from cell to pot or soil, or from soil to pot.
  • Zone:  Regions in which particular plants grow well according to climatic and growing seasons.

Note: For help with catalog seed ordering read, Shopping for Seeds via Catalogs: Part I.

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