Saturday, July 26, 2014

Buddleia, Butterflies, and Bees. 7.27.14

Honeybee on Buddleia "Honeycomb"  7.27.14

Honeybee on Buddleia "Honeycomb".  7.27.14

Butterfly on Buddleia "Blueberry Cobbler".  7.27.14
One of the main reasons I planted buddleias was for bee forage.  It turned out, honeybees don't care for Blueberry Cobbler and Peach Cobbler varieties, and not too crazy about the red "Miss Molly" and "Miss Ruby" varieties. 

This year I added the variety "Honeycomb".  They do like this one.

All of these are responsible, sterile, noninvasive, legal varieties in the Pacific NW.

Butterflies and Bumblebees like all of the varieties.

Summer Bud Grafting Cherries, Plums, Peaches. 7.27.14

Cherry Budwood.  7.27.14

Cherry Budwood, trimmed.  7.27.14
Today I am lazy.  I did re-work 2 cherry trees, added new varieties to the established Asian plum, and added a pollinating peach variety to Indian Free Peach.

Why.

I have 2 cherries, in Battleground, that did not produce this year.  The first is North Star, a tart cherry, which is in its 2nd year, about 5 feet tall.  The branches tend to grow horizontally, which results in deer eating them.  Some branches finally took off and grew, but it doesn't look like much and I don't expect much next year.

So for that one, I chose bud-wood from a Sure-Fire I have been growing in Vancouver for 10 years or more.  Sure-Fire has an upright shape, so once the branches get past deer-height, should be relatively free of deer foraging.  There are 3 main branches, with some bifurcations, on the North Start tree.  One looks unhealthy, so I used the other two.  I grafted the Sure-Fire buds onto each ramification of the branches, about 10 grafts.

The Cherry bud-wood is pictured.  I cut it this morning, kept in water, and trimmed off the leaves before using.

The next photo shows the method I have been using.  I slice into the bud-wood making a vertical cut on each side of the bud, a horizontal cut above the bud , and 2 angled cuts below the bud.  I then peel the bud from the bud-wood.  This is not the method most authors describe.  I think it's an easier method for a novice like me, and it gave 100% success on the plums in June.

The 2nd cherry was Almaden Duke.  I bought that variety thinking it might bloom later than sweet cherries, thereby giving a 2nd chance for cherries in late frost years.  As it turned out, it bloomed at the same time as the sweet cherries.  I moved it from Vancouver to Battleground in 2012.  It was looking  very nice, but this year the deer developed a taste for cherry branches.  Again, this variety has a horizontal form, giving the deer fresh salad each time the branches started to grow.  The branches that did survive being browsed, did not produce many cherries.  It's time to rework it.  Ning especially likes Ranier, so I removed budwood from the Ranier Cherry in Vancouver.  Some Lapin as well, to keep it varied.  I bud grafted using mostly Ranier, and a couple of Lapin buds, making use of all of the branches as close to the trunk as I could.  I can let some Almaden Duke branches remain, to pollinate.  They may produce better with the other in-tree pollinators, too. 
Peeling Cherry Bud Shield from Budwood.  727.14


T-Bud Cherry.  7.27.14

T-Bud Cherry.  7.27.14


Reworked North Star -> Sure-Fire Cherry.  Deer Net Added.  7.27.14
I wrap each bud as I go along, for minimal exposure to the elements.

The budwood now has a thin papery cuticle layer.  I do not know if that layer should be removed.  For maximum cambium contact it seems that layer should be peeled off.  It seems to be non-living, peels like paper.  For maximum protection of bud, it seems the cuticle layer should remain in place.  So some buds, I left it on, and other buds, I peeled it off.  It peels very easily, is not strongly adherent to the underlying epidermis.

I replaced the deer net for the re-worked tart cherry.  I have not done that yet for the Duke / Sweet cherry but should.

I also added  some buds to branches of established Asian Plum.  I added Toka and additional Prunus cerasifolia.  I think it would be useful to have In-tree pollenizers because it's so windy when they are in bloom, maybe all pollen from other trees, which are all downwind, blows away.

Finally, I added 2 buds to the little Indian Free Peach.  This is one of the few peaches that is listed as needing a pollinator.  In addition, that little tree is upwind from the potential pollinating varieties. I chose Oregon Curl Free because it was less bothered by leaf curl, compared to Charlotte.

This is my first attempt at grafting cherries and peaches.  I'm curious to see if they take.

Bud grafting is an act of optimism.  Growth is not likely until next year, and bloom or fruit, in 2017.  A lot can happen before
Shiro Asian Plum, Bud Grafted onto unknown variety, at 2 months.  7.27.14
then.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Figs, Okra, Home Office. 7.22.14

Figs.  7.22.14
 When figs start to ripen, first it's one, then another one, then a couple.  Sometimes then, they start to ripen like crazy.  Right now it's a couple at a time.  I like that.  I don't feel like I have to eat more than I want.

The okra is growing like crazy in the new sunroom.  Today I saw the back-sides of the leaves were covered with aphids.  Washed a lot of them off.  Applied neem oil.  That didn't seem to much, at least not immediately.  Tomorrow, insecticidal soap.

For former dining room will by my home office / family room.  The former family room will become the dining room.  It makes more sense, due to the flow from the kitchen.  Also with the entrance to the sunroom.  Forgot  a before photo.  I only have energy for about 30 min at a time.  So after 2 months, ugly carpeting is gone, chandelier gone, walls repaired, sealed, and painted.  Next is bamboo flooring and re-install, seal, paint the trim, and install ceiling fan/light.  Then it's done.  There will be room for a seed starting stand in addition to a place to work on computer.
Figs.  7.22.14

Okra.  7.22.14

Home Office.  7.22.14
The new room feels like a big project, but as long as I don't mind an unfinished room, it's just baby steps.

The room is not about gardening, but it is where I'll write about gardening when not in the sunroom.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bearded Iris Progress Report. 7.19.14

Historic Bearded Iris Raised Bed #2

Historic Bearded Iris Raised Bed #1
I really messed up the historic iris beds last year.  I gave them lots of TLC, compost, lime, coffee grounds, eggshells, and a small nitrogen boost.  Growth was lush and thick.  They looked great going into winter.

Then this Spring, they grew lush again, then were hit with multiple waves of bacterial rot.  Clump after clump was affected, with some losing almost all of the leaf fans, some losing a few.  A few were lost entirely.  Some have one tiny shoot remaining.

Meanwhile, the irises I planted in the fence-row, and in borders by the house, were entirely neglected and had no bacterial rot.  They bloomed reasonably well.

Realizing the TLC was the problem, but not knowing what aspect of TLC, I left the historic iris raised beds alone for the rest of Spring and early summer.

Meanwhile, this Spring I received an order of several varieties from Old House Gardens, and this week a partial order from Schreiner's.  I would not have ordered them, had I known the bacterial rot would be so challenging, but those orders were from some time back.

Today I weeded and culled Historic Bearded Iris Bed #2.  Culls:  All but one cluster of Cherry Garden.  That variety did survive the epidemic, but blooms too early, in the rain, which destroys many of the flowers.  The bloom time is short.  I still like it, very pretty, so kept one cluster.   I culled Romeo, which may be mislabeled, was ugly, bloomed only in Fall for 2 years, when the flowers are made even uglier by the rains.  Some varieties came through the epidemic like champions - Loreley, Sunny Disposition, and some fans of Los Coyotes.  The new rhizomes of Owyhee Desert and Gay Geisha barely survived, but have some small baby shoots.  The rest were in between.  From the areas where I removed rhizomes, or where there was no longer a cluster, I dug out the soil, replacing with powderized mole hill soil, without supplement or compost.  I planted the replacement Gingersnap  from Schreiners, where the prior one died.  I planted Mrs. George Darwin, Dauntless, and Crimson King where others were removed, in the replacement soil.  Dauntless has a suspicious area, may have bacterial rot.  Will try anyway.  I removed the weeds and all of the sedum, so there would not be plants shading the rhizomes.    I watered them in.  Debated doing that.  The summer days are hot, sunny, and dry.  I hope that means no further epidemic, and the watering helps them establish.  But no other TLC.

I pulled just enough weeds from bed #3 to plant the new variety "June Krauss".  That is also in un-enriched replacement soil.

I pulled some weeds and removed clusters of Chinese Chives from Historic Iris Bed #1. I liked the Chinese Chives there but they take too much room.  I dug out the first row, including the tiny remaining sprout of Shannopin and small sprouts of Flavescens and Alcazar.  I replaced the soil with unimproved soil, and replanted those 3 plants.  They may not have enough growth to bloom next year.  If they produce enough for growth the following year, that will make me happy.  I removed a few more weeds, watered the rest lightly because the soil is too hard to get the weeds out, and watered in the replanted irises.

I don't want to lose the Alcazar.  I hope it survives.

The Chinese chives are sitting in the shade.  They need a new location.  They are seedlings from my parents' yard, so I don't want to lose them.





Fig Progress Report. Battleground Figs. 7.19.14

Vancouver Brunswick in Battleground.  7.19.14
 Here is the progress report for the Battleground fig trees.

The Vancouver Brunswick, I moved here December 2012, now 13 years old, has a generous main crop forming.  There is one breba.  Today I covered the tree with a net, and placed a plastic sleeve around the trunk.  The sleeve will get a coating of Tanglefoot.  It will be interesting to see if we get to taste the main crop this year.  This is a very sweet fig, but hard to get it to produce much here because they ripen in rainy season.    Maybe in the higher elevation and hotter days at Battleground they will ripen sooner.

The containerized Carini will soon produce some figs to taste.  The in-ground was a victim of the big freeze.

Smith, LSU Tiger, Atreano, Petite Aubique all have new trees growing from the roots.  I am holding extra nutrients and watering only when they look like they are about to wilt.  I hope that makes them tougher for next winter.

Sal's fig is awkward looking because I converted it from a bushy shape to a single trunk.  It looks like there will be enough figs for a taste.

The rest of the containerized collection is looking good.  Champagne and Tiger may give some figs in containers.  The first year trees, I plan to keep in a shed for the winter, and plant some in the ground next Spring, so they don't get a big freeze in their first season of tender growth.
                        
Containerized Carini Fig.  Battleground.  7.19.14

I have more containerized fig trees than I know what to do with.  I plan to plant a Hardy Chicago, King, and Lattarula in the ground next Spring.


Smith in Recovery from Big Freeze.  7.19.14

Sal's Fig.  7.19.14

Containerized Fig Collection.  7.19.14



First figs of the season. Fig Progress Report. 7.19.14

Lattarula First Figs.  7.19.14

Lattarula.  7.19.14

Petite Aubique.  7.19.14
 These are some of the figs in the Vancouver yard.  The first of the season is Lattarula.   I might have left them one more day, but still very sweet.

Petite Aubique / Petite negri is close behind.  Lots of main crop forming too.

Hardy Chicago, not pictured.  No brebas but main crop growing fast.

Growing on the deck, the Smith in its second year, as well as starts of Dominick and Carini, each 2 feet tall, with start of baby figs.  On deck Lattarula cutting now grown to 2.5 feet tall.

Battleground figs to follow.  They show some promise too.
Smith.  First fig.  7.19.14

Dominick. First Figs.  7.19.14

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Squash. 7.9.14

Yellow Summer Squash.  7.9.14
Belated posting.  These were the first of the summer squash.  Like zucchinis, the squashes form very quickly.  Zucchinis are equally productive as of today.  These yellow summer squash are so delicious.

July Bud Grafting. 7.15.14

All that's needed for bud grafting.  Scion, knife, sharpener, pruning shears, tape.  7.15.14

Plum scion trimmed and ready.  7.14.15.
 Yesterday I did some more bud grafting.  This time I expect they will stay dormant until Spring.  Given the heat, I don't know if they will survive.

I took scion wood from Shiro Asian plum.  I grafted onto some small Hollywood Asian plum stock, grown from cuttings started last winter.  They have put out about 1 foot of growth.  I grafted onto the original, now 1-year-old, main stems.  It was awkward working in that location, and difficult in the heat, so after the second one, I gave up.  Now that I have done a number of bud grafts, they seem quite versatile and even those attempts might take.  They are very shaded in a tomato raised bed.

I also bud grafted a couple of Shiro onto other plum trees.

Elsewhere I've shown photos of the completed bud graft.  Here are the steps leading up to it.

My method is a little different from the books, because I am clumsy.  I make an incision to the wood, actually 5 incisions.  One on each side of the  bud, one across the top, and 2 at the bottom to make a point.  Then I peel the bud from the underlying wood.  With these plums, it works every time, and leaves a nice large patch of cambium for maximum cambial contact with the stock.


Bud "shield" ready for use.  7.15.14

Bud "shield" ready for use.  7.15.14

Shiro bud grafted onto Hollywood Plum Stock.  7.15.14

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Plum bud grafts. Progress Report. 7.13.14

Prunus cerasifolia bud graft on unknown Asian plum.  6 weeks.  7.12.14
 I didn't expect the bud grafts to take off and grow this year.  At best, I hoped they would take, meld with the understock tree, and grow next year.

The Prunus cerasifolia bud graft, grafted as an afterthought and onto a less promising looking small branch, had grown the fastest.  At this point, one can only conclude it is fully melded with the tissues of the understock tree and is a solid graft.  I don't know how much growth to expect.  It would be nice to have bloom next year.  If not, it will be well on its way for the following season.

The Shiro bud grafts did not take off as fast, but two of the 3 have broken dormancy and are growing now.  Again, the most I hope for is to become established and grow next year, for bloom the following year.  I don't mind playing the bee and pollinating next Spring but at some point I want the trees to be self-sufficient in their pollination.

The 3-week buds are varied.  Some look like they have taken, and some I am not so sure of.  The photo is Hollywood plum at 3 weeks.  Again, the bud has broken dormancy and is growing nicely.

I expect that grafts in August will be less likely to break dormancy.  I might graft peaches and graft a plum or two onto some of the plum cuttings from last winter.



Asian Plum "Shiro" bud grafts on unknown Asian plum.  6 weeks.

Hollywood Asian plum on unknown Asian plum.  Bud graft at 3 weeks.  7.12.14
 I really didn't know this would be so easy.  I can't believe I can do this.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Starts. Fig trees. Carnations. Roses. 7.12.14

Today I planted some carnation seeds for next year.  We will see if they grow.  It's interesting starting seeds in July, but that seems right for perennial flowers that bloom the second year.  Starting plants for next year is either a suspension of uncertainty, or an expression of a type of hope - that next year will come and I will be here to enjoy.��

I had 3 fig cuttings in the fridge.  It was either start them, throw away, or leave them there untill the apocalypse.  So I rinsed them and placed  in moist paper towels in plastic bags.  They look reasonably green and viable.  These cuttings were wrapped in moist paper towels and plastic wrap, still moist and not rotten or moldy.  Probably there since April.  This is the last of staring new fig varieties.  These were Ventura and O'Rourke.

All of the freeze-killed fig trees are back from the dead.  The last was Atreano. Now about 2 foot tall from the roots.  No fertilizer.  See if they do better next winter.  Very lush growth on most.  

I gave away a Hardy Chicago start.  Very happy to find it a home.  ��  Its mid July now.  No more fertilizer for any of the fig tree new starts.

 
Pencil-size pruning from healthy, vigorous rose bush.


Most of the leaflets are pruned off.
 This is my experiment to start some new roses.  It arose not out of wanting more rose bushes, but because I had left over Dip-And-Grow and didn't want to waste it.  And I am in the mood to try cuttings.

Roses can be easy to grow from cuttings.  I usually start them in winter from vigorous appearing dormant growth.  I have also grown roses from a bouquet, that someone brought into work, mid summer, and from a roadside bush about to meet the bulldozer.

These are mostly from unnamed varieties that I grew from cuttings a decade ago.
Incision to expose cambium.

5 seconds in Dip-And-Grow

Wrap lower part in wet paper towel.


 It's an attempt to use the fig method, which works very well for me.  The main difference is, this is Summer wood, while the fig cuttings are from dormant wood.

1.  I pruned sections about pencil-thick and pencil-long, or a little smaller, from this year's growth.

2.   I removed all leaflets, except the first couple in each leaf.  The reason is, I wanted to leave a little for photosynthesis, but not enough to draw more water than the rootless cutting can absorb.

3.  I made an incision in the lower section, where I want roots to grow.   The incision is made with a sharp knife, through the cambium layer.  Rose wood has a waxy layer, that may inhibit absorption of hormone.   Making the incision also exposes the cambium, which may respond by making callous.  Callous is basically a stem - cell type that can produce roots or vascular tissue, but not usually buds or leaves.  

4.  Dip in rooting hormone, 5 seconds.

5.  Wrap in moist to wet paper towel.  The paper towel is sterile, so will not contribute to rotting of the cutting.  Moisture content is easy to manage.  The white paper is easily inspected for mold and mildew, and easily replaced if those grow.  When roots form, the paper towel is easy to removed, almost falls apart on its own, but wont cause damage if left in the growing medium to compost itself when the roots are growing.

6.  The cutting is placed in a plastic bag.  I blow up the plastic bag, so there is only minimal contact with the leaves, to reduce infection of the leaf with rot causing organisms.  This makes a nice humidity chamber for the cutting, which should not require any watering until it starts growing and is removed.

7.  I placed the plastic bags in a warm room.  Easy to find in July, my house is not air conditioned.  The shade is closed so there is not direct sunlight.

8.  Now wait and see.  If the paper towel becomes moldy, I remove it, rinse the stem, and replace with fresh wet paper towel.  This is mostly the same as I do for figs.  I have never done this for roses, so they might grow and might not.

My grandfather's sisters grew hybrid tea roses by starting cuttings directly in their rose bed.  They cut sections, and stuck them into the soil.  They covered the cuttings using a mason jar, to create a miniature green-house for each cutting.  That was in the 1950s and 1960s, but I imagine they learned that from previous generations much earlier. ��

Place into plastic bag, blow up, crimp top.

Incubate in warm location out of direct sun.