Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blum Ranch Lilacs

I'm trying to remember who told us about Blum Ranch originally. I am blanking out on it for some reason! Anyway, whoever it was, and I will remember eventually, brought me the best peaches I had ever tasted. I have never been a peach person, but after my first Blum Ranch peach I was hooked, but they're not just known for their peaches and pears, they're also known for their lilac. I think we missed the majority of the blooms, but we got our flyer about two weeks ago and the period of blooming began on March 27th, and is due to end next weekend.

Blum Ranch is located in Acton, California. I would LOVE to live here. One day I dream of having some acreage of my own. Anyway, I took some photos of the old 100+ year old farm house, orchards, lilacs, some family shots, etc., to share with you. I even found a couple of blooming cactus plants to thrown in too! I hope you enjoy them. Oh and don't forget you can click on the photos to get a bigger view!

Blum Ranch farmhouse in the distance. We will walk down that road to view the lilac fields.

But before we walk down the road, we've got to go inside and check out what they have for sale. We found peach jam, honey, and of course, lilac. Chloe runs to the barn store.

Inside we find lots of lilac in containers, in shades of lavender, white and deep purple.

Now we are ready to head down the long road to the lilac fields. (Did I mention how beautiful the weather was this day?).

The sign leading us on our way to the fields.

And what's this I see? In Southern California, you're pretty much guaranteed to see some sort of cactus at any place you visit.

And look: it's blooming! This cactus will probably be covered with yellow flowers in a week or two.
On the road to the lilac fields, we come up to the old farm house. Isn't is absolutely fantastic. I start dreaming of living here immediately. There's so much farmland not being used any more. Awww...what would I plant??? It's hard work though, but I'm so sick of the city...

Here's the front of the house. I love the steps and the style of the front door. It doesn't seem like they've changed it much, but who knows.

Here's your blog host, (in the very back) and her two daughters, Micaela and Chloe. (Chloe's being usual).

And here's my husband Bruce in front of an old barn. That's it for our little family!

Chloe loves horses and reads everything about them. We need to get her some lessons. Anyway, she spied these gals a mile away. They seemed a bit shabby when viewed closely. I hope they're just old. Of course, we had to get up closer to them.

The horses were a little bit timid. Maybe just shy because they don't know us. There was a really old white horse in the back. I don't know if I got a shot of the poor thing.

Chloe's pretty thrilled about this! Her and Micaela spent some time looking and petting the horses while Bruce and I went off to explore the lilac fields.

That's Bruce way, way out there in the lilac fields. I had to hurry to catch up with him.

But not before turning to snap this little shot of the girls hanging out with the horses.

A nice snapshot of some of the deep purple lilac. Notice the house in the background on the top of the hill? Must be nice!

The girls running through the lilac fields.

And some lovely white lilac.

The girls head back down the road towards the farmhouse and our car, while Bruce...

...stops yet again, to snap another shot with his beloved i-Phone.

Some pretty lavender lilac along the way.

I'm not sure what the story is here. Both Bruce and I had to take a picture of this pile of rusty cans and glass jars and bottles.

Finally, we all head back to the farmhouse and our car.

But along the way Bruce notices a blooming cactus! Isn't it beautiful?

And finally, we're back to the barn, but that's not our car. Would be nice though! I hope you enjoyed this walking field trip through Blum Ranch. When we go back for peaches in the summer, I'll be sure to take a bunch of pictures then too!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Indoor Plant and Seedling Systems

I really don't have to worry about this right now, as it has warmed up in Southern California, and it's really unlikely at this point that we'll have anymore frost. Today, for example, it's supposed to get up into the mid-90s. Yikes! I know Donna joins me in that sentiment. It's going to be HOT. Still, I so want to get an indoor plant system going. I really want an outdoor greenhouse, but that's not going to happen any time soon. So with apartment living, it's my balcony, with it's many challenges and indoors. Thankfully, I've got a ton of big windows to work with. Anyway, I thought I'd share some pictures and links with different seed starting, hothouse systems for you to look over with me. These products can be purchased at, who offers "Earth Friendly Products for Home, Lawn and Garden." I've never purchased anything from them before, so this isn't a plug, but if any of you out there have, please let us know how it went.

I love the marketing illustrations on the Heated Germination Station, and it's $33.50. They have heating mats at Orchard (Osh) for $23. I think this is a much better deal because you get the case too! But I like the next one a little bit more as it has a lot more room to grow things, at only about $6 more:
The Hot House by Hydrofarm runs for $39.95 at Planet Natural. Again, GREAT graphics and illustrations here. Makes me want to run, like the running tomatoe head, and get me one of these babies.

Then there is the Pot Maker for $16.95, which is what I was searching for in the first place, and what led me to Planet Natural. The name says it all. It's a perfect way to recycle by making handy little pots using newspaper. Of course, Mr. Brown Thumb has a great article on Homemade Seed Pots that you should check out. You wouldn't even need this handy little device, although I'd love to have one anyway! Here's a great picture of it that I found at the Burpee website.

Here's a seed starting kit for $49.95 that is carried at Planet Natural. It features "Cocoplugs" which apparently make it much easier to start your plants. I've never heard of them before, so I'll have to do some research. Here's a picture of it from Planet Natural:

Okay, so here's some info from Planet Natural that gives a little more information on what these Cocoplugs are:

"Organic Starter Plugs -100% organic. Coconut fiber starter plugs for seeds and cuttings. Ideal medium for certified organic growing applications. Lightweight and easy to handle. Expands instantly! OMRI Listed for use in organic production. Can be used with most seed flats.Unique features:• Netting-free - will not harm delicate roots• Nourishing - no added nutrients needed• Low in sodium for excellent drainage• Lightweight and easy to use• OMRI-listed."

The refills cost $4.50 for a 24 pack and you can get them here at Planet Natural.

Whoa! And check out the HydroHut below. I think it's a little to scientific for me at this point, but it's pretty cool:

I bought some strawberry plants and herbs to plant with my daughter Chloe, but I didn't go all organic, which annoys me, so I think I'm going to try to pick up some organic fertilizers and soil the next time around, along with purchasing organic plants. Okay, enough of this for now. I'm going to research a little more and see what else I can dig up. I'll share my findings afterwards on another blog.

Monday, April 7, 2008

R.I.P: My Sweet Split-Rock

Yes, it's true: My beloved Split-Rock is no longer with us. I had taken this favorite of mine to work a month ago. I was gone over the long Spring Break, plus two more days because I had the flu, and my other pot of succulents was suffering terribly; withering from a lack of water. I watered both that pot and this one on Wednesday. Everything seemed fine. Even my boss, the principle at the elementary school I work at in Burbank, commented on how well it looked last week. (She loves to come in and poke and touch my plants). Well, I came in today and it was oozing and mushy. I thought maybe letting it dry out would help, but by the end of the day, it was clear he wasn't getting any better. The oozing only got worse. I pulled him out of the dirt and examined the roots, which were perfectly dry and not rotting, but some how I think this poor guy received entirely too much water. (I'm sorry sweet little rock plant). I feel bad, but what could I do? It's part of the learning process and I'm telling you now, take it easy on the watering of these beauties, as the outcome from over watering isn't a pretty sight. (Rest in peace little rock plant. I'll miss you).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

FINGER ALOE: Cotyledon orbiculata var oblonga/flanaganii

I posted about this cool succulent plant earlier, thinking it was from the Senecio genus, but it's not. Usually, when the Cactus Collection mislabels their plants, the genus is correct, but the common name is wrong. I should have thought about this, well I guess I did, or I wouldn't have kept researching it. After researching for what seems like forever, I came across what I believe is the true name and classification for this plant: It is from the Crassulaceae (krass-yoo-LAY-see-ay) family, and is from the Cotyledon (kot-EE-lee-don) genus. It is a "orbiculata (or-bee-kul-AY-tuh) var oblonga," which I believe simply means that is is round and oblong. (Please correct me if I'm wrong). I found a fabulous website that has great articles regarding African plants including paintings and sometimes actual clippings of plants. You need to sign up to see the articles. The site is called "Aluka" and you can reach it at: I downloaded a PDF file that included the following image:

Aluka calls this plant a Cotyledon Flanaganii.

I found an article from San Marcos Growers that confirmed that this was from the Cotyledon genus. Here's a picture from their article of this plant, which looks just like both images above.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Frogs, Frogs and more FROGS!

My Mom LOVES frogs. And when I say she LOVES frogs, I'm not exaggerating one bit. My daughter Micaela took pictures of all her frogs, and boy were there a lot of pictures of frogs. She lost count when she tried counting them all, but we will make a valiant attempt to count them all the next time we visit during the summer. It all started over me buying her one little toad. I know, it's not a frog, but that's what kicked off her HUGE frog addiction. Anyway, I found some GREAT frogs at the 99 Cent store. I was sure to pick up a couple for my Mommy, and a couple for myself, of course. So here they are along with some of my plants I haven't blogged yet (Click on them to enlarge if you like!):

And here's a close-up:

And here's another little friend. Ain't he cute?

And we can't forget this little guy either:

Crassulaceae Echeveria "Blue Bird"

Gosh, I love this plant! It's so delicate and pretty. I picked it up yesterday. It's common name is "Blue Bird," which really fits it and it is from the Crassulaceae (krass-yoo-LAY-see-ay) family and the Echeveria (ech-eh-VER-ee-a) Genus. I found a super cool website that gives the entire taxonomy on this plant. It's a lot info, so look out! I found the pot at the 99 Cent store today. Whoopee! I drilled a hole in the bottom for drainage and it seems the plant is the perfect match for the pot!


Okay fellow succulent-cactus lovers: I need your help! As usual the tags are wrong in my planters, well at least I know one of them is wrong. The one above is supposed to be a Cotyledon Bell Tower, but I can't find a picture on the internet to tell me one way or the other if this is correct. Then there's this little plant that's truly outgrown his pot, so I had to rescue it:

And is this one a Sedum?