White Pear Blossoms

We had quite a bit of rain in March and everything is coming up green in our area.  Spring is possibly the most cheery time of the year as little blossoms start showing their colors.

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Here are some white Asian pear blossoms from our multi-grafted pear tree.  Last spring there was only a handful of flowers.  So I think this year we could have a good crop of pears – compare to last year’s total of 3 fruits 🙂  That is if the bee population is healthy and strong and ready to do their their busy bee thing soon.

pear_blossom2

This will be year #3 for my little backyard orchard.  The nice thing about growing trees or annuals is that once it’s in the ground, there isn’t much else to do except to watch it grow.  Well except for the usual care such as pruning, mulching, fertilizers, keeping the bugs off and of course water!  And despite all the rain we’ve had this winter, Governor Brown had to remind us know that we are not in the black yet, so we must all conserve and limit our water usage.  Wonder if it’s not too late to start collecting some of that rain water.

Photos taken with Samsung Galaxy S3

10 Stitch Knitting

I haven’t had the time to knit much these days. But when I do find the time, I go right to my 10 stitch knitting.  Frankie Brown, the pattern designer described it as “An Elizabeth Zimmermann inspired blanket worked in any yarn using only 10 stitches. You start in the centre and work in a sort of square spiral, joining as you go. No sewing up needed!”

The pattern itself started off very confusing to me.  And I had to unravel many times to get it right.  But once you get the hang of this pattern, it will go very smoothly.
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1st Start with casting on 10 sts.  Slipping all first sts, knit 9 ridges (18 rows).  Mark the right side.

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Now get ready for the corners which Frankie calls “open double corners”.  To me they are more like knitting 2 triangles to form a square corner.  Use the following pattern to form the 1st triangle or corner.  There will be lots of wrap and turn knitting here.

*Sl 1, K8, yfwd, sl 1 pwise, yb, turn.
Sl 1 pwise, yb, K9.
Sl 1, K7, yfwd, sl 1 pwise, yb, turn.

Sl 1 pwise, yb, K8.

Sl 1, K6, yfwd, sl 1 pwise, yb, turn.

Sl 1 pwise, yb, K7.

Continue along until you are down to the last row.   When you only have 1 st to work, knit it rather than slipping it.
Now reverse the process, working back up to 9 sts, still wrapping the st at each turn.**Work one ridge with all 10 sts then turn another corner from * to ** (When working the 10 st ridge you
might like to work sl 1, pick up and knit 1 st, psso at the end of the first row to neaten the join.) This will  form the 2nd triangle in order to form a square corner.  At this point it would just look like a long rectangle.

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In this photo above, I’ve already finished the corners.  And already starting the next triangle.

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Looks like I’ve already finished knitting the corners and it will form a square soon.

Now work back along the side of the original 9 ridges, attaching
your strip as you go by following this two row pattern:
Row 1: Sl 1, K8, sl 1, pick up and K 1 st from the side of the
knitting (there should be a ‘bump’ there ready), psso.
Row 2: K 10.  When you reach the next corner work a single corner (from * to
**) and carry on along the next side.

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This is the center where the corners have joined and we continue knitting outward from here.   The neat thing about this pattern is that it can get as big as you like while still knitting with just 10 stitches.

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I just used this leftover colorful yarn to see how it would turn out.  It’s OK, but I think next time I’ll use more muted colors.  I like using size 7 circular bamboo needles.  When I have free time, I will do a video tutorial.  In the meantime I hope these instructions are helpful.

I’d also love to try the Ten Stitch ZigZag and the Spiral.  Thanks for sharing Frankie!

 

 

 

Hello Rainy January

It’s almost the end of January and we’ve had many rainy days out here in Northern California.  No complaints so far, except for maybe when the grounds are too soggy and the dogs don’t get as much walking.  Cabin fever anyone?  Luckily we’ve had a few breaks in the weather and got to see some sunshine this weekend.

winter_succulents2

Here is some of my succulents that have survived the winter freeze back in December.  These little green guys are really hardy since they can take low water and very cold temperatures.  They were turning red on the edges, but after the rain they have flourished and started to turn green.  Reminds me of a place leprechauns would like to hide in.

etsy_fairy_garden

Photo via etsy made by: Fairyscape.  “Succulent Enchanted Fairy Garden in terra cotta pot”

In the springtime I am thinking of making a few succulent fairy gardens.  I love how lush and colorful this one above looks.  Maybe one of my elderly neighbor would love to have a little fairy garden in a pot sitting on her porch too.

 

 

Good Bye 2015

2015 was a year full of good-byes.  Some had to go sooner than others, but they will always leave an imprint in our heart.  I hope the holidays have been relaxing and fun for everyone.  May the new year bring you much peace, love and good cheer.

rosemary_blooms_december

I barely had time to garden, but I do make an effort.  Back in November I made 10 cuttings from my Rosemary bush.  I’ve kept the cuttings in a small greenhouse.  Hopefully it will survive the winter and get planted in spring.

rosemary_cuttings_december

We have some new additions to our already growing family of four leg furries.  Introducing Hilda, the German Schnauzer.  She came to us very shy and skittish.  Now she is just full of life and love.  Hilda loves long walks and will greet you with a big smile.

And that is our Red Panda cat.  It’s not that we go looking for new pets, but somehow they end up finding us!

 

Year 2: Clumping Bamboo

bamboo_year2

I planted this clumping bamboo last October.  It will now be on it’s 2nd year and there is little to no growth.  Maybe I should be happy that it’s not spreading too fast.  I am hoping it will just fill out this corner of the yard and not more.  But if any new growths does show up near the fence, it will have to be taken out asap.  Well at this rate, that might not be for a few more years.

clumping_bamboo_year2

To encourage it to grow and add more nutrients to the soil, I’ve decided to turn this area into my personal compost bin.  I’ve been tossing all the coffee grounds, banana peels, eggshells, etc, around the plant and covering it with grass clippings and dead leaves.  So maybe by spring it will start to give out some new growth.

Algerian Clemetine

Last spring we added this Algerian Clemetine tree to our mini orchard. We had the tree for a year sitting in it’s little pot before finally planting it due to a lack of space.  The tree did not look well and was really about to drop dead.  The leaves started to curl and looked dry despite having sufficient water.

algerian_clementine_buds

But after a few weeks of being in the ground, the leaves started to open up.  And just recently it grew new shoots and buds.  I didn’t really think the tree was even going to make it in this location.  Since every tree we ever planted at this spot would die within a year.  I somehow suspect it was gopher eating the roots.  Maybe the gophers have left town.     algerian_clementine_buds2

This weekend I added some citrus fertilizer and mulched around the trunk.  Hopefully we will have some tasty fruits by next spring.

A little bit about the Alegerian Clemetine:

The original clementine, discovered by Father Clement Rodier in the garden of an Algerian orphanage in the late 1890s, was relatively small but high-flavored. It tended to be seedy, especially when grown near other citrus with viable pollen.  Algerian became increasingly popular, however, in home gardens and small farms in Southern California, where it was ideally adapted to the Mediterranean-type climate.  Its seed content varies considerably, from none to a dozen or more, with larger specimens generally having more seeds.” – David Karp for LA Times.

Note:  My new citrus leaves are being attacked by leaf miners!  I don’t plan to use pesticides to kill them, so therefore it’s just wait and see for now.

Mexicola Avocado in October

It has been a never ending summer for us here in Northern California…with today’s temperature being at 96 degrees!  And it won’t be cooling down anytime soon.  Well I guess the plants are enjoying the warm weather.  And the fruit off my Mexicola avocado is starting to change color.  From green to purplish black.

mexicola_avocado_october

The thing with avocado is that they don’t ripen on the tree, so it is still very firm.  But it will ripen once it’s picked and left on it’s own.  Hopefully this fruit will be nice and creamy once it’s ready to eat.  Then again it is only the 1st fruit of this tree, so can’t really expect too much out of it.

mexicola_avocado_tree_october

Compare to our other avocado tree, the Jim Bacon variety, this tree is doing much better.  It has branched out more with dense leaves and many new growth.  The trunk is also getting bigger each year.  I am starting to wonder if the Jim Bacon variety was just planted in the wrong part of the yard?  At this point I can’t really move it anywhere as I don’t have much space left in our little yard to plant any more trees.  So I guess it will have to just stay where it is for now.

Also note we have let our lawn go brown to conserve water.  And our gardening didn’t pan out as we decided to use the water for the mini backyard orchard instead.  I think it would be great if they make houses that can use gray water (water from kitchen and laundry) to water lawns and shrubs.  That somehow requires a permit to do… so that is another story!

Update: 11/2015 I ate the ripe avocado and it was so good!  The skin was very thin and easy to peel.  The inside was very creamy and nutty.  It was perfect drizzled with honey.  Yum!