Monday, January 23, 2017

January 2017 in the Vegetable Garden

Sweat Pea Vines, flowers and pods (one of my very favorites):

I currently have 5 volunteer tomato plants and because the weather has been so mild, they are flowering and a few fruit have set. I'll try to keep them going through the next season.

Plenty of carrots harvested over the past months as well as additional seeds planted, colorful varieties too. My kids love eating carrots they pull out themselves.

Celery plants growing beautifully, I make sure to give them organic fertilizer about every 2-3 weeks.

Marigolds, garlic, cilantro, lettuce varieties

Winter Blooms

I am grateful for splashes of beauty in my slowly-transforming backyard. It is easier to be patient with the growth of my plants when I have flowers around to please the eyes. Here are some beautiful flowers I have been enjoying around my yard this month.

white alyssum and pink petunia

Our tortoises' edible garden (ruellia, dandelion greens, lettuce, arugula, petunias, alyssum, nasturtium, grasses, weeds, etc.

nasturtium (my 3 year-old and 5 year-old surprisingly enjoy nibbling the leaves).

Beautiful Eggplant Plant

I have enjoyed growing eggplant, mostly because the plant itself is beautiful; large soft leaves, tall and self-supported shape, purple flowers and the glossy fruits.
Because our winter has been so mild, I have lucked out with an extended season for my two eggplant bushes. We have eaten many of the fruits and while they are not anyone's favorite, I have made some dinners that were enjoyed (by my husband and I, not our young children).
Here are some detailed photos of the plants taken January 2017.

A Harvest, the one on the left was past the best time to pick, it was no longer glossy & purple.

A harvest in December 2016

Our young Tarocco Blood Orange Tree

We purchased our Tarocco Blood Orange Tree at a 16" size (about 5 year-old) almost a year ago, February 15th 2016. Over that years time, we have been very cautious to follow all the instructions of planting, watering, fertilizing (only once in fall) that we received from Greenfield Citrus Nursery. We planted it directly into the native soil without any amendments. This was before we had clues that our soil had been treated with chemical herbicides that has been evident in stunted and deformed growth all over the yard. 
Although our citrus tree has grown new leaves over the past year, the overall size (height, width and trunk diameter) has not changed much and I am seeing mostly deformed or damaged foliage on the tree which has me concerned. I am hopeful that springtime will bring some healthy new growth for our tree and this upcoming year will be productive. I also hope to seek guidance from an expert and show them the images below.
Here are some detailed photos of how the tree looks currently.

UPDATED 2/9/2017
I called and emailed Greenfield Citrus Nursery about my concerns and here are the ideas I was given:

"The tree looks like it needs some fertilizer. Since you purchased the tree last year, you could add some fertilizer to the tree now. About 3 tablespoons should be sufficient for the amount. Apply the fertilizer at the edge of the drip line. Water the tree on its normal cycle, let the water soak in, then apply the fertilizer. Where is this tree planted? Is it near grass? Do you have a well for the tree about 3 feet wide? You need to have the well clear of rocks, weeds, and other plants. Do you still have the trunk covered with the cardboard to keep the tree from sunburning?

How do you water the tree? . The tree needs deep watered about once a week in the summer, and only about every 2-3 weeks in the winter. With a automatic system, how often does it get watered? This tree needs about 10-12 gallons a week in the summer, and about 6 gallons in the winter, every 2 weeks, altering for the weather, depending on rain or the warming trends we’re having. If the tree gets west and/or south sun during the majority of daylight, it would be good to make a shade screen to the west or south of the tree to help shade it during the summer. The small black spots on the leaves are mineral deposits from the water. Nothing to worry about. You have some curled leaves from “thrip”, which is a tiny insect that gets on the newer leaves of citrus and you “see” the cosmetic damage about 9 months later. You can spray the foliage in the spring and fall to lessen these bugs. Every citrus tree has some thrip leave change, but sometimes the cosmetic effect shows more. Triple Action Plus works well on killing the thrip insects.

Let us know if you have questions.
Thank you for sending the pictures.

Debbie @ Greenfield Citrus.

Greenfield Citrus Nursery
2558 E. Lehi Rd
Mesa, AZ 85213

HI Chelsea, next time you water the tree, check the soil moisture before you water again. I’m wondering if the soil is draining fast or slow. If the water is setting in the soil longer, then the roots aren’t drying out enough between watering. If the soil is dry between watering, then you may need to increase the watering frequency. Probe the soil with a long screwdriver out from the trunk about 8”, and then probe into the soil about 8” deep at that same point. If the soil is damp enough to hold itself into a ball in your fist, then wait longer until you water the next time. If the soil is dry and flaky when you probe, then the tree may need MORE water. Each area can have a different absorption rate, so it can be difficult to ascertain the tree’s needs. Hope this makes sense. "