A view of Raspberries,Blackberries,and Strawberries

A view of Raspberries,Blackberries,and Strawberries

All berries enjoy a sandy loam soil.  Their root base is generally shallow ( 8 inches).   The soil must be porous so that no puddling occurs at the root base. The exception to root depth are the blackberries which have a deeper base and can actually travel under ground and pop up 6 feet away like they do in my strawberry patch. To the left border lie the royal purple raspberries; to the left side, behind the royal purples, are my ollala berries(blackberries) that proceed to the back left.  The royal purples continue to the right of the olalla berries. The strawberries are protected by the netting shown.

DSC_5468My Sequoia strawberries are sweet with a rich strawberry taste.  The drawback is their short shelf life. This is a “pick and eat the same day” type of berry.  The birds love them which explains the need for the netting. I replant with starters every 2 years and sometimes I mix the species. Before growers began using plastic cover underneath the plant to protect the berries from becoming moist, straw was used.

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On the left of the above photo are  my royal purple raspberries.  Once a stalk has produced fruit, it must be eventually removed to allow new “wood” to produce berries for the next season.  The bush is low maintenance but needs consistent moisture which will maximize its productivity.  My experience has been that raspberries do not produce as much fruit as blackberries.  I am still experimenting with various raspberry species.  On the right side of the above photo are my 0llala berries(blackberries) that have been pruned back for next season.  The berries are vacuum frozen for the winter months.

DSC_5459There are four different species of blueberry bushes shown.  They have a very shallow root base and therefore the importance of good top soil with drainage is highlighted.  Certain species perform better and I believe it is locality, weather, and sunlight that matter.  It’s a good idea to vary your selection unless you have seen the plant grown in your neighborhood. Netting is a must due to birds.

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Posted by: bobhernandez | August 20, 2009

Verdolagas (Purslane)

DSC_5429Verdolagas shown in the middle of this raised bed

Verdolagas is the seventh most prolific weed in the world.  Yet it is used in the cuisines of Greek, Mexican, Chinese, and Russian cultures, and maybe more.  It’s nutritional value is remarkable inasmuch as it has one of the highest content of omega-3’s and is high in vitamin A and C.  Once grown in a garden, it will stay and grow in any inconspicuous location.  I generally transplant it to a specific location so that it can be groomed and harvested in large quantities.   It was introduced to me when we hired a mexican cook to prepare traditional mexican foods for my son’s high school graduation party. One of the dishes was verdolagas con puerco (pork) in red chile sauce.  I have since made it and I am still experimenting on the recipe.  I have included my current recipe below.  Verdolagas can also be used fresh in a salad.  I have included such a recipe.

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To make a fresh salad,(shown above), take a cucumber and split it up lengthwise by quarters. De-vein the center part by scrapping off the seeds and chop the lengths into one inch pieces. Take a small tomato and chop it into similar small pieces as shown.  Take fresh verdolagas leaves and sprinkle them over the combonation. Take some cilantro leaves and sprinkle them into the salad.  Now take a meyer lemon and sprinkle the juice over the salad.  Add salt as an option.  I gave no measurements because the ingredients are strictly  to your preference and availability. The above ingredients were all from my garden.

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My dish 0f Verdolagas con Puerco

2 Pork Chops (roughly 1 and 1/2 pounds)          1 pound of Verdolagas without stems

1 cup of apple cider vinegar                     15  oz can of Las Palmas enchilada sauce

15  oz can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes                  6  cloves of garlic

1  large onion                                                                        4  cups of water

3/4 cup of loose cilantro                                                     2  bay  leafs

De-bone the pork chops and cut the chops to 1 and 1/2 inch pieces.  Put the bone and meat in a container with 2 cups of water and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.  Let stand for 15 minutes. Take out the bones and rinse with water.  Then put 2 and 1/2 cups of water in a large pan with a cover.  Include the bones, 3 garlic cloves, a  quarter of the large onion sliced up, and the bay leafs into the pan to a boil and then a simmer for  15 minutes.  Then include the chopped up meat (after rinsing) into the large pan and cover for another 15 minutes.  Then add the enchalada sauce, verdolagas, 3 cloves of garlic chopped up, the remaining onion sliced up, and the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then simmer approximately  15 minutes.  Add salt to taste if necessary.

Posted by: bobhernandez | August 15, 2009

Los Aguacates (the avocados)

I have three avocado trees.  The youngest one is a Hass avocado tree positioned on the left border of this photo.   This avocado tree is in front of  a 2 in 1 species cherry tree.   The second oldest one is the Bacon avocado tree located against the back fence to the right corner of the yard.  The oldest one is my Mexicola Grande avocado tree seen at the top right corner closest to the viewer on the right border.

This is my Mexicola Grande avocado tree, approximately 20 years of age.  It has been prunned back extensively or else it would have been 35 feet tall by now. Its fruit is a glossy black skinned oval shape with a nutty taste. It is the hardiest of the group able to withstand the Salinas winter frost cycle.  This tree is about my son’s age and when Sam was three or four years of age, he took a small ax from the garage and began to chop the tree down.  The scars remain to this day.


My bacon avocado tree (shown above) is about 10 years of age and produces a creamy , juicy meat which is not as flavorful in my opinion. It was positioned there to block off the music that was played by my neighbors in the back who loved outdoor parties.  They have since moved. Sometimes one’s artistry in designing a garden has less than intrinsic rationale.

This is my third Hass avocado tree (shown below) because the previous two could not withstand the short Salinas winter frost cycle.   I have constructed a plywood canopy over the tree during the frost cycle to protect the tree from the frost which travels vertically downwards (notice the three 2×4’s which hold up the canopy) . Whatever not covered by the plywood gets frost bittened.  This tree was 10 feet tall when the frost hit it without the canopy.  It was reduced to 2 feet (by the frostbite) before I devised the canopy concept and what is seen is a second growing season. This is the prima dona of the three trees.  I expect two fruits this season.  I have been pruning back the fruit to allow the tree to become stronger.

Posted by: bobhernandez | July 26, 2009

MY Meyer Lemon Tree

My lemon tree, my pride and joy.

lemon tree

Which keeps me supplied with Meyer lemons throughout the year, started shedding yellow leaves, a sure sign that it is anemic and lacking essential minerals. I therefor had to add the fertilizer shown and frequent watering to help the chlorophyll (green) to come back.   HINT     The burnt ash from a fireplace can serve as an excellent additive for the growth of your trees.

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