My first 49er Hybrid tea rose of the 2008 Season
As part of my post stroke physical therapy, I try to stay busy and focused on or two activities. Absolutely nothing is more fulfilling for me than working in my various gardens. Although I've always grown things no matter where I've lived, my relocation to a mountaintop in Escondido after my stroke sent my gardening bug free.
I have three big gardens, two of which are more than 100 feet long. This year because of the remodel, I've only got two of the gardens going. Down in the vegetable plot I've already picked two big baskets of fresh grown broccoli and set six different type of tomatoes as well as three varieties of potatoes. The really nice thing about big gardens is being able to grow plants with plenty of room to spare and becoming willing to try and grow new things. My new candidates this year are celery and a strain of French heirloom beefsteak tomatoes that produce fruits averaging about 1.5 pounds. When I sent my celery rows a few weeks ago, I assumed it was a fast growing crop.
My mistake. Celery takes about 160 days to grown from seed and apparently likes soil that's somewhat sandy. I've seen celery growing in farm settings in San Mateo County. I guess I didn't really pay much attention to the fact that all the celery plots I'd noticed were within several miles of a beach. Thank goodness i had the sense to add several bags of sand to my lower garden before I planted the celery.
But anyway, gardening is something I've really come to enjoy in retirement. I like that it it keeps me outdoors using my stroke-afflicted left hand in the San Diego sun for at least two hour a day. But what I really enjoy is giving away baskets of home grown produce that has come from my soil. Every year I try something different and learn something new.
My battle against peach curl, for example. I have four nice peach trees that I planted four years ago that have turned into abundant producers. Last year I got hit with Peach curl, the bane of peach growers everywhere. It takes a lot of planning, vigilance and hand work to control and eradicate peach curl. And if you're trying to grow stuff organically, you have to do a lot of research to find a solution to stopping peach curl before it wipes out your crop. I thought I had found a non-petroleum-based cure for peach curl when a master gardener buddy of mine recommended a product called "Vegol ( more than 90 percent canola oil by weight). I applied it to my trees four times during the dormant season and as soon as my trees hit petal fall and began producing leaves I noticed that the foliar growth on the lower part of the trees were infected with Peach curl. So, I hit the trees twice more with Vegol but the peach curl was bot only still there, it was progressing up the trees. I take organic gardening seriously so I assumed the problem was mine.
Maybe it was because I painted my body the wrong shade of blue and howled the wrong notes when I was applying the Vegol on the last full moon of the dormant season. Or maybe it didn't work because I wasn't in tune with the Peach trees' inner karma. Hell. anything is possible!
So today, my task is to find an organic solution to my peach curl problems. but until I come back from a large organic nursery over on the Pacific Coast, I need to patiently pick as many effected leaves as possible and to make sure the damn leaves don't end up on the bare ground under the trees. Oh, I'm also supposed to avoid transmitting peach curl by touching healthy leaves with my hands after I've plucked off the infected green leaves. Aye Chihuahua!
All I wanted to do was grow a couple of branches of perfect free stone peaches, not become a high priest of sustainable, organic farming. The really good news is that as of late March, two of my peach trees are heavily laden with swelling fruit that should be ready in about 60 days. The even better news is that peach curl does not effect apricots and all my apricot trees blossomed and are also producing fruit.
Apricot cobbler and Dodger baseball in the San Diego sun.
I like my life now a lot, even if I can't control peach curl and until last week didn't know a mullet from a bone fish. More on bone fish in San Diego harbor later.--Jim Forbes 03/31/2008.