Monday, November 30, 2015

Pink Banana Squash. 11.30.15

Ning, Pink Banana Squash, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.
  Earlier this fall.

Now cooking up Pink Banana Squash. If I remember correctly, this was 16 pounds. The Long Island Cheese pumpkin was a little less. We cooked one of the pumpkins already. The first step is cut it open. A cleaver and rubber mallet seemed like the safest approach. Lots of flesh. Lots of seeds to roast. 2nd step, scoop out seeds, place on baking pan, add a cup of water, cover the end with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour, until a fork easily pierces the skin.

Out of the oven, one hour  at 350F.

After cooling  to almost room temp.  Soft, tender flesh scoops out easily with a large spoon. 

Scoop into food processer and briefly puree. I'm not certain this is needed, the flesh is very tender.

After this, I set aside 2 cups for a pumpkin pie. The rest is frozen in 2 cup portions for future baking. I either place them in glass containers with tightly sealed top, or heat-sealed freezer sealer bags that vacuum out all of the air.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Orchard changes and plans. 11.29.15

During the cold winter season, there is more time to ponder what I will do next year.  I gave up on 2 peaches - Indian Free - no peach in about 8 years of growing it, and Oregon Curl Free - probably 75% killed by canker.  I don't want it to be a reservoir of disease for others.  If it's only going to bear one year then succumb to disease, why bother?  It could be the rootstock.  Citation seems to be canker-prone.  Peaches are hard to graft, or I might have tried to salvage some scion.  Removing them now will give me a change to clean up the locations.

Current thoughts, subject to change.  Photos are just old illustrations, not meant to depict these varieties.

Image via
Apples.    Links are to descriptions, I haven't decided on sources yet.
Add one tree, Winecrisp.  Starks states, "Disease-resistant to scab, fire blight, and powdery mildew. Stores up to nine months."  A PRI co-op disease resistant variety.  Orange Pippin states very good flavor.  Science Daily fluff article in 2009 states "More than 20 years in the making".
Add some grafts.  None of these are patented.  "I've given priority for disease resistance and complex flavors, but also some historic types.  Growing them might be the only way I ever taste them.
Sweet-16.  From University of Minnesota, a source of many good varieties including Honeycrisp, SweeTango®, and Zestar®.  "Crisp and juicy with an exotic yellow flesh and a very sweet, unusual sugar cane or spicy cherry candy flavor. The fruit stores for 5 to 8 weeks. Tree is very vigorous and fruit may be subject to premature drops. Introduced in 1977."  Various websites state Sweet-16 has spicy flavor notes and is vigorous and disease resistant.
Image via
GoldRush.   Another PRI co-op apple.  Disease resistant, vigorous, long keeper.   GoldRush was designated by the State of Illinois as the state apple - good marketing my University of Illinois.  A low-ethylene producer, which helps in longer storage.
Baldwin - a very, very old heritage variety, not much grown now.  Triploid, like Jonagold, so needs a pollinizer but can't serve as one.  Not a problem on multigraft.  Origin in the late 1700s - Wikipedia states around 1740, no special disease resistance, I just want a taste of the past.  Spur bearing.  Exceptionally good pie apple.
Newtown Pippin.   Another very, very old variety.  Grown by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin.  Origin in late 1700s.   Spur bearing.  Most of the NY harvest goes to Martinelli's sparkling cider.   I tasted some locally grown Newtown Pippins, made a pie, it was very good.  Mostly it's the idea of a more-than-200-year-old variety.    Nothing notable as far as disease resistance.
Milo Gibson - a hobbyist apple  Reported as "licorice flavored with hints of banana" .  Not much info on this one but the flavor sounds interesting.

Image via
Euro Plums.   I will use scion for grafting, not adding new trees.
Mt. Royal.  Self pollinating, heavy producer.  Developed in Quebec prior to 1903, so a heritage variety.  I want to replace most of my unidentified plum with something that produces and tastes better.  I can overgraft it with these.
Seneca.   Large Red Plums, from NY Exp station 1972.  Reportedly good for Pacific NW. 

Hybrid, Asian/American Plums.  These are some notes I had written down, but some info summarize here.  Primarily for multigrafts.  A couple of new trees, on Hollywood / cerasifera / myrobalan root stock I have already grown.
Pembina.  Hansen, 1923.  Dark red plum, yellow flesh, juicy sweet heavy yield. 
Superior - large golden plum that blushes pink.
Waneta - Yellow blushed, red fruit.  Hansen, 1913.
Pipestone.  Prunus salicina X Prunus americana "Wolf".  U. Minn 1942.  Needs pollinator. 

 I need something else to obsess over.  I've driven these plans into the ground.

Cleaning up brambles and Hawthorn Thicket. 11.29.15

Himalayan blackberries taking over natural scrub.  11.29.15
 We have 2 acres, separated by a narrow access road.  They are separate parcels that were bundled by the bank when we bought this property on short sale.  The first acre is the house, a slope, much of the orchard, and some shade trees.  The second acre is more flat, with more fruit trees, vegetable garden, wildflower meadows, and about 1/4 acre of a thicket.  Behind the thicket is a small ravine, separating us from other properties.

Much of the thicket is Douglas Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) and Himalayan blackberries.  I have also seen the name "Black Hawthorn".  Douglas Hawthorn is native, and the USDA considers it useful to stabilize slopes and prevent erosion.  According to the US Forest service, "Douglas hawthorn is an excellent soil and streambank stabilizer."  I want to keep the hawthorn healthy.

The problem here is the Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) which has taken over the area.   Himalayan blackberry is the Pacific Northwest's answer to kudzu, but with a worse attitude.  The blackberry is considered a noxious and invasive weed.  Control is not required, because they are already so widespread.  However, for restoration, removal is sometimes recommended.  According to the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board, "This species spreads aggressively and has severe negative impacts to native plants, wildlife and livestock.".  My livestock consist of a herd of deer, but I get the point.

Apparently goats eat them, but deer, in their life mission to be eternally obnoxious, do not.

I can't spray with herbicides.  First, I prefer organic, and second, I don't want to damage the Hawthorns.  So it means manual removal

Himalayan blackberries are notorious for fighting back.  For an old guy with limited energy, I need to use less force and more thinking.  The brambles are difficult to remove, due to long, strong vines that interweave and have nasty thorns.  If I use pruners to remove a foot at a time, chopping them up as I go, they don't take a lot o physical strength or stamina, just persistence  and occasional cursing.  OK,  frequent cursing.

I am also taking out fallen trees, but leaving the rest.  The brambles will need continued maintenance,  to remove crowns that will represent a reservoir of renewed growth next year, until removed.  Flatter areas can be mowed with lawn mower.
Douglas Hawthorn thicket exposed and beautiful.  11.29.15
In the second photo, an uncleared bramble area is seen on the right.  The piles are chopped brambles, which will be composted.  While living, young brambles are tough, they soften to a paper-like consistency when dead, and should compost reasonably quickly.

Once exposed, these trees have a birch-like bark appearance, and the twigs are decorated with lichens.  Very nice.  It's nice spending the afternoon outside during the brisk fall and early winter weather.  I could not do this in the summer.

The blackberries are delicious, but it's hard to get to them due to the brambles.  A domesticated, thornless, tamed type would be better.

The second acre from across the access road.   The cleared hawthorn is on the left.   11.29.15

Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Frost. 11.22.15

First Frost.  11.22.15
Today was the first killing frost at Battleground.  I'm kind of glad.  Now I can clean up the flower borders and the remainder of the vegetable beds. Yesterday this nasturtium was vigorous and full of life.  Not much there for frost to kill - nasturtiums, four o'clocks, marigolds.

I'm trying to keep the sunroom from frosting.  I have a heater on a timer.  Last night it got into the low 50s which is OK.  In the sunroom, I  have fruit seedlings and daylily seedlings, as well as orchids and cactuses.

I have a long list of changes for the home orchard when late winter rolls around.  I keep changing it based on internet research.  Mostly new grafts, and a few new trees.  Main criteria are disease resistance, non-mainstream varieties, heritage varieties, and potential for better performance in this climate.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fungus on Cherry Bark. 11.15.15

Fungus on Cherry Tree.  11.15.15
I don't know what this is.  It's on the North side of an approx 6 year old Almaden Duke cherry tree.

The tree has never amounted to much.  If it dies, it's not that much of a loss.  There are 2 suckers from the rootstock.  They could be grafted to start a new tree on the same roots.  Assuming the fungus is localized.

These mushrooms are on the North side of the trunk.  There are none on the South side.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Walking Around. More Fall Color. 11.8.15

Volunteer Seedling Japanese Maple, and Seedling Ginkgo.  Ginkgo seeds from Vancouver WA, about 6 years.   11.8.15

NoID Japanese Maple.  11.8.15

Leaf Color, Nikita's Gift Persimmon.  11.8.15
Illinois Ginkgo from seed my Dad collected in mid 1990s.   11.8.15
Leaf Colors on Saijo Persimmon.  11.8.15

Ning's seedling Ginkgos.  He wants to prune these to a big bonsai-like ornamental.  Seeds collected Vancouvern WA as above.  11.8.15

Orchard at 3 years. 11.8.15

Home Orchard.  11.8.15

Home Orchard.  11.8.15
This is the main orchard at 3 years.  There are also fig trees by the house and in the 2nd yard, apples and pears in the second yard, and columnar applesn by the house.

More should be producing next year.  Some of the plums have triple buds at the nodes for the first time.  Triple buds should indicate flower buds.  Those are:  Methley, some multigrafts, grafted Hollywood and Shiro, and some on the 1st year Ember grafted onto Hollywood rootstock that I planted here a couple of weeks ago.  Sweet Treat Plurerry has triple buds.  All of this is something to look forward to.

Others that look promising are Pawpaws NC-1 and Sunflower.   Rebecca's gold does not look like it, and Mango is just at first year.

The Asian Persimmons bloomed last year, so I am hopeful for next year.

The cherries should all produce next year.  They have lots of flower buds. Except Almaden Duke, which has tiny fungus mushroom-looking things growing out of the trunk.  Bad sign.  And some of  the apples should produce, they did this year and have active spurs.  Ditto for Asian pears and Euro pears.

Q18 peach and Charlotte peach have triple buds with fuzz - also look like potential flowers

Losses:  Indian Blood, I'm giving up.  No fruit and poor growth, it's been at least 5 years.  Minidwarfs on M27, I'm giving up.  Not worth the hassle and wait for minimal and bad yield.  Oregon Curl Free looks like it will die.

Anticipated additions or replacements:   Nadia Cherry Plum, Surefire Cherry.  Looking at web info, Rebecca's Gold Pawpaw may be late bearing.  I might buy an Allegeny Pawpaw which should be earlier and is a new-generation Peterson variety, probably the best of the best.  An apple and an Asian Pear.  That fills all of the empty, emptying, and potential new spots.

Just daydreaming.   I really don't need more fruit trees.  Pawpaws take 3 or 4 years, at least to bear.  That's a long way out, to start one at this point in my life.

There is a Korean Bush Cherry in the driveway that needs to be planted.  Possibly bloom size.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Persimmon, Pawpaw, and Peach Trees Fall Color. 11.3.15

Nikita's Gift Hybrid Persimmon.  11.3.15
Today I stopped by the One Green World nursery outlet in Portland.  Fall is a good time to plant many types of trees.  I found two fruit varieties to try:

American persimmon "Prairie Star" (Diospyros virginiana) and  Korean bush cherry (Prunus japonica).   More on the bush cherry later.

Back at Battleground, the persimmons have nice fall color.  The best is Nikita's Gift - a hybrid between Diospyros virginiana and Asian persimmon,  Diosyyros kaki.  The little Prairie Star also has nice color.

Asian Persimmon "Saijo" had a tough summer, too much heat.  The leaves curled, but did not fall off.  They have nice color now, but it's hard to see due to the curled leaves.  Maybe next year it will do better.

The other American persimmon, Yates, doesn't look like much this year as far as leaf color goes.

Prairie Star American Persimmon.  11.3.15

Saijo Asian Persimmon.  11.3.15
Other fruit trees / plants with nice fall color were the NC1 Pawpaw and the genetic dwarf peach seedling.  The peach seeedling has fuzzy buds.  Those might indicate flower buds for next Spring.  It is about 3 years post germination.

It was interesting looking at the persimmons at One Green World.  They had several Nikita's Gift persimmons with big fruits on the 1 foot tall plants.  I asked the clerk how they accomplish that.  He didn't know.  They also had a kaki persimmon from Xian, which had little green fruits.   That did not seem promising to me, November and no where near ripe.

Mine may have received too much nitrogen this year.  It is a gamble.  Too little nitrogen, growth is puny.  Too much, and fruits don't set or fall off.   I will probably fertilize the two little American persimmons prior to Spring, but not the Asian and hybrid, which are both over 6 foot tall, so I don't need growth on those so much as wanting to taste the fruits.
NC1 Pawpaw.  11.3.15

Nikita's Gift Persimmons at One Green World Nursery.  11.3.15
American Persimmons are not yet developed as commercial fruits.  The challenges are, they tend to be small, too soft to ship, and have a bad reputation because anyone who has tried an unripe one never wants to try again.  When ripe, they are very soft, and lose their astringency.  They also have the challenge that, in their wild state, male and female trees are separate, and the females require pollination to form fruits.  Many varieties of Asian persimmons lost the need for a male to pollinate them (parthenocarpic), and those fruits are seedless.  Saijo does not need a pollinator, and apparently neither does Nikita's Gift.  Yates / Juhl is parthenocarpic.

James Claypool was an amateur who attempted to breed persimmons as an ideal fruit for home gardener or orchard.  He trialed thousands of hybrids, starting with varieties from earlier, mainly amateur, developments and improvements over wild persimmons.  When Claypool developed an illness and could no longer work on his persimmons, the Indiana Nut Growers Association took over.

Seedling Genetic Dwarf Peach.  11.3.15

Yates (Juhl) American Persimmon.  11.3.15

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Plum Pollination. 10.27.15

Among the more challenging aspects of growing Asian and Hybrid plums is pollination.  Some varieties self pollinate, many require a different plum variety.    Different websites have different information.  In different areas, rules that apply in one area might also not apply in another, due to differences in temperature or bloom time.  Sometimes, you just plant a tree or trees and hope for the best.

The nursery sites are not always accurate, or don't necessarily give the wanted information.  The source of the information is not usually given. - my source for Shiro and Hollywood.  These 2 seem to pollinate each other.  Shiro is described as partially self pollinating, and Hollywood is described as self pollinating.  They bear well in my Vancouver yard, without other visible plum trees in the neighborhood.

Hybrids can indicate any species with another species, but usually refers to Asian species hybridized with native American species.  Asian species give larger size and more meaty flesh, American species add to the flavors and give much better cold compatibility.  Many of the hybrids are about 100 years old, so are nonpantented, and do not have industry or university sponsors or advocates.

University of Minnesota Ag Experiment Station workers did a detailed project regarding hybrid plum pollination  in 1950.   Among their tables, abstracted below.  I summarized only the varieties that I have seen for sale as trees or scion, various sources.

Prunus simonii

From Table 3.   Hybrid and native plums rated as good pollinizers.
Kaga.  P. americana.  12 recipient varieties tested.  Early bloom.
Toka.  P. american X P. simonii.  22 recipients tested.  Early bloom.
South Dakota.  P. americana or P. americana hybrid.  27 recipients tested.  Medium late bloom

From Table 4.  Hybrid and native plums rated as fair pollinizers.
Ember.   P. salicina hybrid X P. americana.  24 recipient varieties tested.  Bloom season, mid.
Hanska.    P. americana X P. simonii.  17 recipients tested.  Early.
Superior.  P. salicina X (P. americana X P. simonii). 18 recipients tested.  Early / mid.
Shiro.  P. salicina hybrid.  1 recipient tested.

From Table 5.  Pollinizers tested and rated as poor.
Prunus salicina "Shiro"
La Crescent.

Other comments from the  1950 U Minn paper -

The study began in 1932, and extended for a number of years.

It was noted that native plums had good pollen viability, while hybrids had generally poor pollen viability.   Some had 50% with aborted pollen grains.  Many of the hybrids produced pollen with empty or aborted pollen grains.  Toka was shown to have good viability but a poor pollinizer.  However, in the tables Toka is listed as a fair pollinizer.

Lack of fruit production may be defective pollen, low viability of pollen, or pollen incompatibility.

Among hybrids, more of those with female American plum parent, were good pollinizers. P. simonii may also contribute something to hybrids, in terms of being good pollinizers.

The authors also note that many of the hybrids resemble mainly their female parent.  They go on to say that  this may be due to apomixis, reproduction without sexual fertilization.

So you might think you have a hybrid, based on pollination, when reality the variety is selfed.

Rutland Plumcot.
From Table 8.  Compatibility. Recipient named first, pollen sources follow.  P=poor, F=fair, G=good.

Ember.  Hanska (G), Kaga (F), Superior (G), Toka (G), S. Dakota (G), not self.
Hanska.  Ember (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), not self
La Crescent.  Ember (P), Hanska (P), S. Dakota (G), Toka (G), self not mentioned
S. Dakota.  Ember (F), Hanska (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), not self
Superior.  Ember (P), Hanska (G), Kaga (G), Superior (G), Toka (G), does pollinize self.
Toka.  Kaga (G), Superior (G), not self.
Underwood.  Ember (P), Hanska (F), Kaga (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), self not mentioned.
Waneta.  Ember (G), Hanska (G), Kaga (G), Superior (F), Toka (G), self not mentioned.

This seems to disagree with other reports of Toka pollinizing self.

Finally, there is also an issue of bloom season.
Prunus cerasifera

From Table 8.  Varieties of plums suggested...

Early bloom season - Superior, Toka.
Mid bloom season - Ember, Underwood.
Mid to late - South Dakota.


Info from website:
"P. salicina hybrids were developed by crossing native wild plums with plum varieties from California that were not hardy, producing hardy trees with good quality fruit. These include 'Pembina' (sometimes called 'Prairie', 'Acme' or 'Elite'), 'Patterson Pride', 'Brookred', 'Geddes' and 'Perfection' (sometimes known as 'Superb'). These hybrids will only produce fruit if they are pollinated by a wild plum, and they do not provide pollination for any type of plum, including each other. This may explain why some growers have poor fruit production with these trees."

Another lesson - plums of the same variety can have different names.

From "Plums on the Prairies" - by Rick Sawatzky, University of Saskatchewan
On terminology - " Pollinators , usually insects, are vectors of pollen movement. Pollinizers are plants which provide the appropriate pollen for other plants"

On Pollinizing - " George F. Chipman who edited the Prairie Gardener for many years and who wrote about plum pollination in 1934. He summarized a study done by Prof. W. H. Alderman at the University of Minnesota by saying, “...very few hybrid plums would accept pollen freely from other hybrids, but they would all accept pollen from native plums”. 

A precaution comes to mind -  not from a specific source, but from my observation - most of these studies and comments regard plums grown in the Midwest, and usually the North Midwest at that.  There, the climate is not friendly to most Asian plums, which is why they are interbred with American species.  Therefore, the pollen from Asian plum varieties might not be tested on the hybrids.  Both Toka and La Crescent have Shiro as a parent, so Shiro might pollinize those varieties.

From LMtreefarm -
Brookgold - Asian plum
Brookred- Asian plum
Greenville  - Asian (Burbank) by P. nigra
Patterson's Pride - P. nigra X Asian plum, 1960
La Crescent - Howard Yellow apricot X Shiro Asian plum 1923
Pembina - Native Canadian plum X Asian plum "Red June"
South Dakota - pollinator for hybrid plums, a selection of Prunus americana.  1949
Tecumseh - Shiro X "Surprise" -
Toka - Native plum X Chinese plumcot P. simonii.  1911.

Toka plum

HardyFruitTrees states La Crescent is "Also known as 'Crescent', 'Golden La Crescent' and 'Golden Minnesota'. La Crescent is a cross between the 'Shiro' plum (Prunus simonii x Prunus salicina x Prunus cerasifera x Prunus munsoniana) and 'Howard Yellow' plum ( Prunus americana). It was introduced in 1923 by the University of Minnesota Fruit Breeding Farm"

The source has some nice things to say about La Crescent - "sweet and juicy...golden-orange color...flesh is yellow like an apricot... melting and not fibrous... freestone... taste has an hint of apricot. and they note that it is a poor bearer and must be pollinized by and American or Canadian plum.

Of Pemina, they state - "hybrid between a Japanese plum (Prunus salicina) and a Canadian plum (Prunus nigra)... self-sterile... must be pollinated by a wild plum tree, or a pure American plum tree (Prunus americana), or a pure Canadian plum (Prunus nigra)....introduced in 1923 by Niels Ebbesen Hansen from the South Dakota Experimental Station in Brookings"


Based on all of this information -

-Of readily available varieties to pollinize Hybrid plums, Toka seems to be the best candidate.
-South Dakota seems equally good as a pollinizer, but is harder to find.
-It's not clear to me that Asian plums have been tested as pollinizers for hybrid plums.  It's worth adding them into the mix in this area.
-If a pure American or Canadian plum can be found, those are considered among the best pollinizers for hybrid plums.
-Probably, the more types in the mix, the better the chances for a good crop.  If there is not room for multiple plum trees, or ability to are for multiple plum trees, multigraft is an option.


Images are public domain via U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.  " The majority of the paintings were created between 1894 and 1916."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Puttering in Orchard. 10.28.15

Hollywood Plum Development, 2 years from cutting.  10.27.15

Ember Plum, Hollywood Rootstock.  10.27.15

Vandalay Cherry Flower Buds.  10.27.15
 I traded Ember Plum for Hollywood.  Ember is now in ground, Hollywood in container.  The TLC treated Ember is much larger and more sturdy.  Nice look at the roots for both. 

I still intend to grow a Hollywood Plum tree but can use this one for rootstock, and a larger one in-ground.

Three-year-old sweet cherry trees have promising flower buds.  Next Spring we should get a taste.  They got very little water this year and grew much larger anyway.  Sweet cherries are well adapted to this climate.
Vandalay Cherry Flower Buds.  10.27.15