Thursday, April 28, 2016

Grafting Progress Report. Kiwi. 4.28.16

Never having grafted kiwi before, I wasn't sure how to proceed. I waited until the understock vines started growing. I used whip-and-tongue method. The scion is fragile, leaks a slimy sap, and splits while being worked, but it looks like they took.

Usually there is not enough reserve nutrition in a small scion to put out this much growth, unless they take.

Adding to uncertainty, I could not tell which end was up for the hardy kiwi scion. It's possible it will take, then abort, or grow poorly, if I grafted it upside down.

All things considered, the growth is promising. In both cases, the scions are male, grafting onto female vines so I don't need to buy additional plants for pollination.

Fuzzy kiwi vines are really beautiful by themselves. This one has a reddish coloration and fuzzy leaves and stems, very nice.
Hardy Kiwi Graft at 2 weeks.  4.28.16

Fuzzy Kiwi Graft at 3 Weeks.  4.28.16

Persimmon Progress Report. 4.28.16

Scion of Asian Persimmon "Chocolate" on "Saijo" branch.  Two Weeks.  4.28.16

Early Flower Bud of Persimmon "Saijo".  4.28.16
 At only 2 weeks, I don't expect much.  Temperatures have been lower - lows in high 30s, highs in 60s and 70s.   I uncovered the "Chocolate" Persimmon grafts so that if the buds do break, they won't be too pale and sun sensitive.  The buds look a little plump, and maybe larger than when I grafted.  That could be wishful thinking.

Meanwhile there are quite a few buds on Saijo, and lots and lots of buds on Nikita's gift.  Those are both in their 4th year, from bare root planting.  Both are considered parthenocarpic - bearing fruit without pollinization - so I may get something here.

The American persimmons, Yates (one year) and Prairie Star (two years) are growing nicely.  Yates had some deer munching, but it looks like it was not delicious.  Only one twig eaten, so far.
Early Flower Buds of Persimmon Variety "Nikita's Gift".  4.28.16
As with the pawpaws, if I actually get some fruit on these persimmons, that will be "the bomb".

Pawpaw Progress Report. 4.28.16

Pawpaw flower.  4.28.16
Maybe this will be the year of the pawpaw.  The oldest three trees were planted in summer 2012.   Of those, two - "Sunflower" and "NC-1" have / had lots of flowers this year.  A one year old -  tree about 18 inchest tall, "Mango" also had all of 2 flowers, tiny tree size.  even though "Sunflower" was definitely ahead of "NC-1", there has been overlap of both pollen shedding and stamen receptivity for both.  Some of the "Sunflower" flowers were the first, so there was no "NC-1" pollen to pollinate them.  Even so, it looks like those set.  "Sunflower" is considered unusual in that it may be self fertile.

I continue to collect pollen when the anthers are shedding, and transfer to what I perceive to be receptive stigmas on the other tree.  I also transferred some to "Mango" although that one is way to small to think it will bear.
Pawpaw flower.  4.28.16
It looks like some of thepollination took, especially on these first flowers on "Sunflower".

I need to keep my excitement in check.  There are lots of things that can happen between now and Sept or Oct, when I expect these to ripen.  Still, if all of the flowers set fruit, they will need some thinning and good watering for the summer.

I have never tasted my own pawpaw, and have only tasted tiny bites at the Home Orchard Society fruit fair - probably not optimal.  Looking forward to tasting my own pawpaw fruits.
Early fruit formation, Pawpaw "Sunflower".  4.26.16
Early fruit formation, Pawpaw "Sunflower".  4.28.16

Ning and the dogs. 4.28.16

I couldn't decide which photo to post so I posted all of them. Charlie (black) is 15, and Baigou (white) is 14. I won't say how old Ning is.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

IBC Tote rain water storage.  4.23.16
Rainwater diverter close-up.  4.23.16
Two weeks ago I finally completed installation of the second rain water tank.  This tank is 275 gallon, used, food grade plastic.  The section of roof is only about 1/4 of the house roof, so there is potential for more.  After seeing that 2 rainfalls only filled the tank about 2/5 full, Ning diverted  another section of the roof gutter towards this downspout for more roof area rain supply.  It's raining now, so we can check in the am to see if the tank is full.

This climate here is sort of Mediterranean, with most of the rain in the late Fall, Winter, and early Spring, with mostly dry during the rest of the year.  I need to water most of the garden for most of the summer.  The house is at the top of a hill, the home orchard and some of the vegetable garden are downhill from the house.   This, in addition to the 75 gallon tank I installed this spring, gives 350 gallons, minus some at the bottom of the 75 gallon drum that can't be accessed via the drain.

This tank system should supply most of the garden, south of the house, with much of this Summer's water needs.  I have not calculated how much I used before, so it's only a guess.  I can also run a hose from the tank down the hill

Roof water is not potable - who knows what lands on the roof via birds and wind? - but is usable for watering the garden.  

The diverter has a simple feedback system.  When the tank water level is the height of the diverter, any additional water goes down the downspout same as if the diverter wasn't there.  There is a debris screen, so that any debris goes into the drain same as it would without the diverter present.

What's Blooming? 4.23.16

Lilac "Bloomerang" 4.23.16

Iris "Florentina".  4.23.16

Iris, either Mme Chereau or Swertii.  Bought as Mme Chereau.  Amazing fragrance.

Mountain Ash.  4.23.16

Viburnum "sterile".  4.23.16

Fava Beans. Progress Report. 4.22.16

Fava Bean "Windsor" 4.22.16
Favas are blooming at about one foot tall.  I was concerned about the extra warm weather, into the 80s but now it's down into the 60s and tonight into the high 30s.  So the cool friendly favas should be OK.

The photo blurring is due to taking the photo through chicken-wire cage.  Necessary to keep herbivores at bay.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tomato Plant Grafting, Update. And Tomato Cuttings. 4.22.16

Better Boy Tomato Graft, on SuperNatural Root Stock.  4.22.16
Now the grafted tomatoes are out of the humidity chamber.  Only two of the six, survived.  The reason was not the technique, but my anxiety.  I took them out of the chamber too soon.  The leaves wilted, in some cases not recoverable.

The two that survived are Better Boy and SuperSweet 100.  The Better Boy looks especially good.

Meanwhile, I had kept a few of the tops of the rootstocks, by placing them in a cup of water, and kept on window sill.  Those cuttings grew nice roots in the water.  I also had a Better Boy that I accidentally decapitated, and am rooting that as well.

This can be a way to increase the number of tomato plants in a vegetable garden.  If there are lower branches, cut those off and root in water for planting back in the tomato patch.  Doing so means free plants.

I still have some plants for scion, mainly Roma.  Those will be next.  Romas are great cooking tomatoes, but in my garden the plants tend to be smaller compared to other types.  Maybe grafted plants will be more vigorous. 
First Attempt at Grafting Tomatoes.  One Week.  4.22.16
Tomato Cuttings in Water at One Week.  4.22.16

Tomato Cutting Rooted in Water.  4.22.16
I trimmed the wilting leaves from the grafted SuperSweet 100.  Maybe that will give it a better chance to take off and grow.

Actually I'm pretty happy that even one, and maybe two, took off and are growing.  Now they should grow quite fast.  Even ungrafted tomatoes grow fast at this stage.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Raised Beds, Peppers, Onions, and Tomatoes. 4.21.16

Maturing Egyptian Walking Onions.  4.21.16
Peppers in Protected Raised Bed.  4.21.16

First Tomato Plants Planted Out.  4.21.16
With early warming, I don't know what will happen with early planting, but am planting things out as soon as they seem ready.

The overwintered Eqyptian Walking Onions are producing topsets.  These are in a container / small bed constructed from tree edging rings.  So this is my onion ring planter.  I recovered these last year from a nearly-dead plot, weed competition and herbivores.  Now they are vigorous and excellent.

I used large-cell chicken wire fencing to protect the raised pepper beds.  This is my favorite type of raised bed now, easy to work accessible, and easy to keep clean.  It's early to have peppers outside.  I don't know if deer will reach over and much on the plants.  I hope not.  They should be secure from rabbits.

I planted out the first of the tomatoes.  These were non-grafted, own-root seedlings I started earlier.  Better Boy, Jersey Boy, Sunny Boy - I guess this is a "Boys Club", also Supersweet-100 and Sungold.

Pawpaw in bloom. 4.21.16

NC-1 Pawpaw in bloom.  4.21.16
I've been using an artist's paint brush to transfer pollen between flowers of pawpaw varieties "NC-1" and "Sunflower".  Supposedly, "Sunflower" may be self fertile.  This tree bloomed first, and maybe some flowers did take.  The stigmas are receptive before the flower produces pollen, and once the anthers ripen and release pollen, the stigmas are not receptive.  So the timing for both the donor and recipient flowers is important.

The tiny "Mango" pawpaw tree- about 18 inches tall - has 2 flowers.  I pollinated one today.  I doubt that will produce fruit, but you never know.