Monday, May 04, 2015

Pollinating Pawpaw flowers. 5.4.15

3-year-old NC-1 Pawpaw.  5.4.15

3-year-old Sunflower Pawpaw.  5.4.15

NC-1 Pawpaw flower shedding pollen.  5.4.15

Collecting pawpaw pollen.  5.4.15
 Today I pollenated pawpaw flowers.  I've been watching closely for flowers at the pollen shedding stage. 

The NC-1 is the largest of the 3 pawpaw plants that I planted summer 2012.  My goal has been to transfer pollen from Sunflower, which is smaller, to NC-1 stigmas.  However, each has only a few flowers, and what I do depends on the stage of each flower.

As it happened, 2, of the NC-1 pawpaw flowers were shedding pollen today.  When the entire flower is a dark burgundy, that's when it starts to shed pollen.  When the flower is almost all dark burgundy, it is not shedding pollen yet.  That is when I'm hoping the stigmas are receptive

The pawpaw flower makes a lot of pollen.  Much more than most of my other fruits

I pollinated 2 flowers of Sunflower with pollen from NC-1.  I also pollinated a flower of NC-1 with pollen from a different NC-1 flower.   That is not considered an option, but maybe this tree has not read that book.  If the flowers on Sunflower start producing pollen when flowers on NC-1 appear receptive, I will transfer pollen in that direction. 
Pawpaw flower prior to shedding pollen.  5.4.15

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Plum Grafting. Progress Report. 5.3.15

Ember Plum.  Whip Tongue Graft at 43 days.  5.3.15
Ember grafted onto Hollywood at 41 days.   Growing rapidly.  The rootstock was bent, so this tree will need staking to grow more vertically.  Not a problem.

I have not removed the wrapping yet.  Probably could.  I the growth is this advanced, I'm convinced the graft has fully merged and healed.  Leaving the wrapping in place for strength.   Remove at about 6 inches of growth.  We are close to that.

All I read about the need to bud graft plums was wrong.   I did 6 whip / tongue, using 3 varieties, and all took.  This is good.  Many of the bud grafts need more than 1/2 year to start growing.  The whip / tongue grafts are growing fast, a few weeks after grafting.

Apple Grafting Progress Report. 5.3.15

Whip / Tongue with Parafilm.  Columnar Apple.   Two months after grafting.   5.3.15

Whip / Tongue Graft on Columnar Apple.  Two months after grafting.   4.3.15
I grafted a 2nd columnar apple onto 1-year-old growth of another variety of columnar apple, at end of February. 

Not being familiar with Parafilm, I have tried a couple of methods.  For this graft, I used Parafilm and no other material, to wrap the graft.  It was a good fit, and I did not need a tighter material.

Now, 2 months later, the graft has taken, and the join has expanded to the point where the Parafilm wrapping is torn wide open.

At the lower end, a stock bud grew through the parafilm.  That also happened at the terminal aspect of the wrapping.

Since the graft has taken, is strong, and the wrap is no longer holding anything together, I removed the rest of the Parafilm.  That is probably not necessary, since it looks like the tree can stretch it to breakage, by itself.

This graft took very well.  The scion is growing nicely.  There is no open wound.

Apply Tanglefoot to Fruit Tree Trunks for Ant and Crawling Insect Control. 5.3.15

Tanglefoot and polyethylene strips.  5.3.15
 This is a good time of year to apply Tanglefoot to fruit tree trunks.  It's  well in advance of fruit ripening, but after most of the Spring rains.

For figs, the Tanglefoot prevents ants from climbing the trunk and entering ripe figs.  Without the Tanglefoot, my figs invariably have some added crunch, that seems to move around on the tongue.  In addition to being odd, infection by ants also seems to cause mold spoilage of the figs before they fully ripen.  I suspect the ants carry mold spores.

For cherries, Tanglefoot prevents black aphids.  My theory there is ants farm the aphids.  Either that or, the black aphids climb the trunk themselves.  Whatever the case, the Tanglefoot prevents them.

I also apply to apples, pears, and peaches.  The treatment does not stop problems caused by flying insects, but does stop problems caused by tree-climbing insects.

I don't know that tanglefoot applied directly to the trunk is harmful.  It is messy, sticky, and next to impossible to remove.  I wrap tightly with 6-inch-wide strips of light-weight polyethylene.  The strips are cut from disposable grocery store bags.  They are too flimsy to girdle the trunk.  I wrap twice, then tie with a square knot.  Then apply Tanglefoot, squeezing a strip from the tube like toothpaste, and spread on the plastic wrapping using a disposable plastic spoon. 

Being very cheap, I save the plastic spoons from my work place lunch.  I usually take my own flatware, but sometimes forget.
Wrapping fig tree trunk.  5.3.15

During the winter, I remove the Tanglefoot.   By then, it is covered with dust, dirt, plant material, and ineffective at stopping insects.   The polyethylene bags are flimsy enough, to simply pull off the tree trunks.

Alternatively, one could apply sticky plastic tape, sticky-side out.  I would not use duct-tape, which is too tough and might girdle the tree.

Tree protected with Tanglefoot.  5.3.15

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Colors today. 4.26.15

Meadowfoam.  Limnanthes douglasii  4.26.15

Mountain Ash.  Sorbus aucuparia.  4.26.15

Ning's flowers.   4.26.15

Shan Xha.  Crataegus pinnatifida.  4.27.15

Ning's Tree Peony.  4.27.15

Crimson Maple.  4.27.15

Viburnum opulus "Sterile".  4.27.15

Lilac "Bloomerang"

Meadowfoam.  Limnanthes douglasii

Mulberry "Illinois Everbearing"

Persimmon "Saijo"

Annual flowers. 4.26.15

Image source:

I planted seedlings outside, from the starts I began a few weeks ago.  Nasturtiums and French Marigolds.

Looked for some public domain photos to use, but they seem to be more scarce.  Will need to photograph when they are blooming.

It might still be too cool for these.  The only way to know is to try.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Honeybee swarm. 4.25.15

Honeybee swarm.  4.25.15
 Ning got excited when the honeybees were swarming.  Neither of us had ever seen that phenomenon before.

The swarm settled in a horsechestnut tree.  I don't know how to entice them into hives.  I sat a Warre hive and a top bar hive near the tree to see if they would be interested.  I added some crushed lemon balm leaves.  I read they are attracted to lemon grass, but I don't have any around.  A also sat a small dish of sugar water in the hive and another one near the hive.

As of this post, a few have buzzed around the hive entrance, but none have ventured inside.

Thinning and Zipper Bagging Fruits. 4.25.15

Aubique Petite fig with zipper bags.  4.25.15

Apple cluster before thinning / bagging.  4.25.15
 Today I started bagging fruits, apples and some pears and figs.  The apples are the most important. In my yard, I lose most apples to coddling moth.  Bagging early should prevent that.  Some pears are lost, but not as bad.  Figs do well.  With figs, this is an experiment to see if the bags will deter birds or hasten ripening.  Protecting them in fall would be more important than now, due to shorter rainy fall days that slow ripening, reduce flavor, and encourage mold.

Prior posts about bagging fruits.  Summary -  Easy.  Greatly reduces disease and insect damage.  May be beneficial for some bird damage.  May hasten ripening.  Very few negatives, some report mold on peaches but not so much for other fruits.

I thinned apple clusters to one fruit per cluster, and removed all flowers within 6 inches.  That is pretty severe, but most years my apples are smaller than I would like.  Thinning can help them ripen faster, grow larger, and maybe more flavor. 

This was not much trouble at all.  Puttering meditation.  Puttering medication.  Kind of disappointed when ran out of bags.

Most articles recommend bagging when fruit is dime size.  These are smaller.  I don't think that's a negative.  If they all rot and fall off, I'll know what I did wrong.
Apple singlet after bagging.  4.25.15

Zipper bagged apple bush.  4.25.15

Grafting Progress Report. 4.25.15

Ember whip/tongue @ 6 weeks.   4.25.15

Columnar apple multigraft.  8 weeks.  4.25.15

Sketch for columnar apple multigraft.
Redfield apple whip/tongue.  6 weeks.  4.25.15
 This is my little tree nursery as of today.  It's been chilly and raining, so growth is slower.  I expect it to take of with warmer sunny days next week.

Ember on Hollywood - nice growth.

2nd multigraft on columnar apple - nice growth.  The sketch shows the general idea.  These are columnar, so I am grafting one on top of the other.  Reason is for novelty and pollination.  In-ground is on old rootstock sucker that persisted from a Yellow Delicious semidwarf that I cut down 2 years ago for never bearing.  In-container is from the same, moved into container last winter, very few roots.  Doing OK and I assume rooting well, in container.

Redfield from Fedco at 6 weeks.  The rootstock seemed to be doing poorly, with result that the graft was doing poorly, but now looking better.

Deck wall tree nursery.  Some are cuttings or seedlings in 3rd or 4th year, I forget.  I moved them back into containers for TLC.  I get better young tree growth in containers with extra warmth, nutrients, and attention on the deck.
Deck Tree nursery.  4.25.15

Columnar apple multigraft, container.  4.25.15

This is a terminal whip/tongue yellow columnar apple graft,  onto potted columnar red apple graft.  The bare-rooted specimen is how it looked Nov 2014 when I removed it from the tree roots that had produced the sucker that I grafted it on to.  Apples can regenerate roots from minimal source, quite well.  I hoped that as long as there were root primordia, this would grow.  I don't think the top would be doing so well if it has not generated adequate roots by now, much more than it had in November.  This one is also meant to be like the sketch. 
Bare rooted columnar apple graft Nov 2014

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Starting Seeds. 4.22.15

 I've been starting seeds for s few weeks.  Currently using 6-packs in a plastic tray with clear cover.  For germination, they are on a seed starting warming mat.  Once they germinate, I move them under the CFL grow-light system that I made in March 2014.  I have the seedlings as close to the lights as I can place them.  The two boxes of larger seedlings were just under the lights, the others are next to get the CFL light spa treatment.  The larger seedlings will go into the sunroom to grow them a bit larger before placing outside.  The sunroom is acting now as a greenhouse.

Seedlings already in the sunroom:  tomatoes, morning glories, nasturtiums, marigolds.

Seedlings heading to the sun room:  Four o'clocks, nasturtiums, many varieties of peppers.

Seedlings under the CFL system:  milkweed, joe pye weed, morning glories, French marigolds, swiss chard.  The swiss chard germinated in 2 days.

On the heating mat:  more of the flowers.

Too early for beans, zucchinis, and squashes.

I didn't have it in me to start early vegetables outside this year.  Other than snowpeas, which are germinating.

I had stratified the Joe Pye Weed and Milkweed seeds in zipper plastic bags, on moist paper towels, for 6 weeks.  Then placed on warming mat.  As the seeds germinated, I moved them into 6-packs with seed starting medium.  The milkweeds did very well with this method.  The Joe Pye weed seems too delicate.  However, there are 2 plants.  Considering this is an experiment and they grow very large, 2 plants is enough. 

The milkweed is Asclepias syriaca,  which I started for bee forage and nostalgia and novelty.  Does not grow here like it did in the midwest.  The balls of flowers are unusual. 

"Asclepiascommon" by Original uploader was Hardyplants at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -