Friday, December 23, 2016
These are the seed order from Baker Creek heirloom and open pollinated seeds. Rareseeds.com
There are a couple of bonus packets.
I'm not planning to be as experimental this year but there will be a few new varieties. I'm also adding some annual flowers to the vegetable beds. In some cases that might translate to "deer food" but it's all a gamble.
Baker Creek is my first-line go-to source of seeds these days. After the seed box.
The onions will be first, to start in Jan or Feb. I wil also have some better storage onions seeds to start then as well, those from Territorial Seeds. Both companies are family owned.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
|Sourdough transferred to bread pan and canning jars.|
After a few hours, I transfer to glass bread pan. These old vintage pans are often found for sale at Goodwill, as well as yard sales, for $2 or $3. I read that the older ones are less likely to break, compared to new ones made from a cheaper formulation. I tried a new "vintage look" Pyrex bread pan but it did not transfer heat as well and I didn't like the result.
|I let this one rise about 5 hours.|
These loaves rose 5 hours. I don't time carefully. I worked on the kitchen remodel and did some shopping. The loaves rose a little more than I usually allow, here about 1 inch above the rim. You can see bubbles through the glass.
I dust with flour. I don't know what that does, but the finished loaf looks nice.
Then bake in preheated oven, 425F for 15 min, then reduce heat to 375 for another 15 min.
|After baking. The old Pyrex bread pans show the bottom has browned nicely.|
|One beautiful sandwich loaf and 2 mini-loaves cooling on the rack.|
When fully cooled, I transfer into a plastic bread bag. They can sit overnight without becoming too dry.
This loaf came out awesome. Crusty crust, chewy texture, sourdough flavor. I love this bread for toast and for (vege)burgers. Often I just toast and butter it. So much better than store bought, that stuff should be called something other than "bread".
I wanted to try making my own starter again before posting this, to make sure it worked. It did, as described here, and was actually better than the original starter.
|Slices of home made sourdough bread|
|Sourdough starter after overnight pre-ferment|
|Sourdough dough after mixing in flour. Sticky but not liquid.|
I start my dough as a pre-fermented starter, the evening before making a loaf. The timing is not precise. I usually start the pre-ferment in early evening, when I make supper, but have waited until bedtime without it causing any problems. It is a very low-input thing to do.
I mix together 1½ cup water and 1½ cup organic, unbleached bread flour. I use an old Pyrex 4-cup measuring cup as a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Nothing else. I think the organic unbleached bread flour makes a better loaf than the alternative. Then let it sit overnight. In the morning, the starter is foamy and bubbly. There is some separation of water which is normal. There is some variation from time to time, probably due to kitchen temperature, but that does not matter. It smells sour, which is good.
The final loaf volume depends on the amount of water in the starter. I make a standard 8½ inch or 9 inch Pyrex bread pan loaf. The 1½ cup water translates into a loaf with a little extra that I make as a mini-loaf in a wide mouth glass canning jar. To leave out that mini-loaf, I would use 1¼ cup water and 1¼ cup flour for the original starter preferment.
In the morning, I use an old mixing bowl. I add 1½ cup flour and 1½ teaspoon salt. A lot of recipes call for more salt but that is too much for a healthy amount of dietary sodium. This amount rises well and also tastes very good.
It takes some muscle to mix in the flour. I gradually mix in enough so that the spatula will stand upright without falling over, but it is still very sticky. I don't turn it out onto a board and knead. This method results in a fully hydrated dough. Then I let it sit roughly an hour, and use the spatula to fold it several times, turning the bowl by hand and folding from every side. The consistency by that point is no longer sticky.
Later I'll post as the loaf develops. Sourdough is the ultimate "slow food". I think my loaves are delicious, filling, and make bread something to be excited about instead of that mushy cake-like stuff from the store. Plus, there is no added sugar, so they are healthier.
I often use whole wheat flour for the actual loaf, or add other additives to be described later. This description is for the basic white sourdough sandwich loaf.
Sourdoughs are made around the world, from many types of milled wheat and rye flour, and using many methods. There are diverse types of bacteria and yeast that work together in sourdoughs. The bacteria and yeasts seem to come from the grain mill, where suitable organisms from the air survive and inoculate the grain and flour, but may also be in the kitchen and the baker's hands. Once established, a sourdough culture becomes resilient to introduction by other organisms, but may adapt to new regions and circumstances if the starter is taken to a new place. Discover Magazine The Biology of Sourdough. and The Sourdough Microflora. Biodiversity and Metabolic Interactions.
Probably most important, Josey Baker's website and book. Baker is the source for enthusiasm, accessible artisanship, and the concept of a fully hydrated dough, which is different and better than what I did in the past. Even though I make sandwich loaf, and his are hearth style artisan loaf, my bread is better for reading his book and watching his videos.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
|Sourdough Starter after 2 weeks.|
|Sourdough Starter after 2 weeeks|
This is a variation on the countless sourdough starter instructions. The small jar and small volume makes for less waste.
I use organic, unbleached flour and unchlorinated water. I don't know if either is required. I suspect bleaching kills natural bacteria in the flour, and being organic is something I prefer. Chlorine is in water to kill bacteria, too. I don't know if sourdough bacteria can overcome that, or if you can just use normal tap water.
It's very easy and works nicely, but takes a long time to do it's own thing.
Use a clean small jar. This is a 1 pint canning jar. A small jelly jar would be fine. You want a small head space so the oxygen will be depleted by the bacteria.
Day 1. Combine 1 tablespoon of flour and one tablespoon of water. Mix and screw on the lid. Let it sit.
|Sourdough Starter after 2 weeks.|
Day 3. Remove about one tablespoon of mixture, then add 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix and screw on lid. Let it sit.
Day 4-14. Repeat Day 3.
During the first few days, not much happens. The flour tends to break down a little and settle with fluid on top. Then, gradually, bubbles start to form. Most recipes don't go the full 14 days, but I wanted to be sure. I did this before at 7 days and the bread did not rise. This time, at 14 days, the gas production - what makes the bread rise - is robust. The lid actually bent outward from the gas pressure. I can apply a new lid. You can hear a pffft when the lid is unscrewed. During the first week the aroma was more like spoiled milk - butyric acid. Now, it's more like yogurt - lactic acid. I think it's ready to try making a loaf. I will start the pre-ferment tonight.
You can always buy an established starter. King Alfred Flour has a good recipe for sourdough starter. King Alfred also sells a sourdough starter so that this process can be avoided. Their starter has been maintained for more than 100 years.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
|Porter Apple. Source: USDA pomological. 1905.|
At this point, I have about all of the apple cultivars that I can keep track of. Most of my apple trees are now multigrafts with at least 5 varieties per tree, although a few are individual dwarf trees and a few are just beginning to experience my grafting obsession. I've learned a lot along the way. The apple growing goals are:
*Mostly disease resistant varieties.
*Mostly varieties that I can't buy at the grocery store.
*Ripening season from July until late October, with storage apples through most of the winter.
*Many varieties for cross pollination, usually within each multigraft tree.
*A chance to taste the same apple varieties that inspired people and gave pleasure for, sometimes, hundreds of years, at times when there were no grocery chains, import fruits, and minimal food additives. To savor living history. To connect my senses with those of actual and historic ancestors, by experiencing the rare pleasure of what they enjoyed.
*A chance to taste some unique flavors and varieties that are not available otherwise.
*To compare experiences with other gardeners and hobbyists.
*To experience tastes from my own garden and orchard, free from corporate homogenization and factory processing.
Some of the descriptions are really colorful. I doubt that my own taste buds are that sophisticated. But maybe - this year's apples gave unexpected and delightful surprises.
King David Apple - Fedco description, Orange-Pippin description. A cross between Jonathan and either Winesap or Arkansas Black. Intro 1893. Diploid, precicious, large apples, some disease resistance. From Fedco on flavors: "Pineapple, tangerine, lemon, sweet, sour, tart, sharp, aromatic and spicy all rush around simultaneously." From Apples of North America, King David is described as vigorous, and is a diploid, and disease resistant, so might be a good addition to the new Gravenstein tree. Gravenstein needs a pollinator because it is triploid, and needs a vigorous variety because it is also vigorous.
Sweet-16 Apple - Fedco description, Orange-Pippin description. Descended from Northern Spy crossed with Malinda, developed at University of Minnesota. 1979. Diploid. Per Fedco: " Fine-textured crisp flesh contains an astounding unusually complex combination of sweet, nutty and spicy flavors with slight anise essence, sometimes described as cherry, vanilla or even bourbon." From Apples of North America, Sweet-16 is resistant to apple scab, fireblight, and moderately resistant to other major apple diseases. Vigorous growing and late blooming. From Apples of Uncommon Character, "a misty explosion of melon and bubble gum, satisfyingly sweet, passingly tart" also described as flavors like bourbon or cherry life savers. Apples for the 21st Century, "flavor is very unique and sweet-tart cocktail of flavors."
Opalescent Apple. Fedco description, Orange-Pippin descriptipon. Per Fedco: 1899. " Crisp, sweet, tart, juicy—but most of all it’s supremely flavorful." From Apples of North America, Opalescent has a creamy yellow flesh, crisp, sweet flavor, vigorous, but does have susceptibility to fireblight. Good storage apple.
Apples of North America - by Tom Burford - describes 192 varieties, in addition to additional information about growing apples. Excellent reading about many apple varieties, especially historic apples.
Apples of Uncommon Character - by Rowan Jacobsen - describes 123 varieties, and recipes. Also excellent and sometimes poetic reading.
Apples for the 21st Century -by Warren Manhart - Reflects the author's 30 years of experience testing over 140 varieties, with 50 cultivars described in the book.
Saturday, December 03, 2016
|12.3.16 Liberty Apple Tree on M27 Rootstock.|
Despite the small size, we get a nice crop of a few dozen apples from this tree every year. If I don't thin them, they are small. Liberty is very disease resistant, and the apples are absolutely delicious.
I have grafted scion from Liberty onto a less limiting understock, but still wanted to keep this tree for more immediate reward.
I dug it, shook off as much old soil and old potting medium that remained after so many years, and re-planted in what was a squash vegetable bed this year. The new spot does not have competition from a gigantic Kwanza cherry and lawn, that were issues in the old location. This time I knew the roots should be in the best contact possible with the native soil. There was virtually no root damage. I did remove small branches that were touching the ground.
|12.3.16 Liberty Apple Tree on M27 Rootstock|
I don't think it will miss a beat. I'm hoping for a nice crop of Liberty apples, in 2017.
Thursday, December 01, 2016
In 2012 I moved a similar sized Brunswick fig tree, which did just fine.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
|Dawn Redwood with ball/burlap/clay removed. 11.17.16|
|Close up of Root Ball. My finger touches a girdling root that will be removed.|
I wanted to plant a tree for a memorial for my aging dogs. Planting a tree gives me peace of mind and a focus for my thoughts.
To the best of my ability, I followed the bare-rooting method described by Linda Chalker-Scott of WSU. I had done that before with a Gravenstein apple tree in full leaf, so far so good. It looks radical, but the logic is sound. This tree was in last week's shipment at Portland Nursery, balled and burlaped and placed in container with compost yesterday. Because it was so recently dug, there has been no chance for roots to fill throughout the container. It looks scary, seeing so few roots, but this feels like a good chance to catch it before roots grow in bad directions, setting the tree up for future girdling and early failure to thrive, or death.
As Chalker-Scott notes, fall planting is an excellent time to plant trees. They have the remainder of the fall rainy season, plus late winter and early spring, to add feeder roots, before starting to produce leaves next year.
When I removed the ropes and burlap, most of the clay just fell off. I hosed off the rest. This is the tree inside that pot, that you can't see unless you remove the burlap and wash of the roots. It looks so drastic. I've planted lots of fruit trees that were as drastic looking, and they did great. So I think this is OK.
|The girdling root is removed.|
|Holding another deformed root that crosses through others. I removed that one too.|
In the end, my root removal was very minimal.
I also followed other recommendations by Chalker-Scott. Her two books, "The Informed Gardner" series, are the best that I have read. In this case, I planted the tree much more shallowly than the burlap would have indicated. It was too deep. All of the roots are fully buried, but the root flare is still at the soil level.
Second, I did not amend the soil with anything extraneous. The tree has nothing between it and the native soil. The roots are in full contact with the soil that will nourish and support the tree. As I discussed with the Gravenstein tree, I also did not want to attract moles and voles to this tree, which I suspect to be an issue if I include compost additives in the soil.
This is the area that I cleared of blackberry brambles and some fallen Douglas Hawthorn trees, over the past couple of weeks. The soil has been nourished by fallen blackberry leaves, rotting brambles, and tree leaves, for unknown number of years. But even if that was not the case, I would not be adding compost or other amendments to the soil.
I did tie support to the tree, very loosely. The intent is not to prevent swaying, but to keep it from falling over if there is excessive weather. The main thing holding the tree in place, is the soil and root interaction.
|The tree is planted about 6" shallower than the burlap was.|
There were daffodils on sale at Home Depot. I planted a wide circle outside of the planting hole area. Those are for my benefit, but I like to think the bulbs deter underground rodents. There is no proof, that I know of, that daffodils do that.
|Ning with the tree. He's about 5'10". Temporary deer fencing.|
This week I will also add some wood chip mulch, and check the support. The rope is very loose, by intent. This makes me a bit nervous, with such a tall tree - about 8 foot. However, the trunk is thin and the top is not very heavy. I've had posts that were heavier and not any deeper, and they stayed in place just fine.
As an after thought, I looked at those pruned roots and wondered if Metasequoia can produce shoots from roots. I can't find any such info on the internet, but there are trees that grow from root cuttings. So I planted those in my ginkgo seed raised bed. If they grow, fine. If they don't, nothing lost.
I think this will be a beautiful and healthy tree.
|Prunings saved for root cuttings experiment.|
Monday, November 14, 2016
|Planting ginkgo seeds. 11.14.16|
These are from 2 female trees about 3 miles apart from my part of Vancouver WA. They are different source from the ones that I obtained 3 years ago. The aim is for genetic diversity.
Most references state the seeds need to be cleaned before planting. I don't know why. Maybe they will grow, maybe not.
I am planting directly in the kitchen garden, no refridgeration or scarification.
Ideal Purple Top Milan" from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I also grew the more standard Purple Top turnips, which are not as big but very good.
Turnips, Chinese Radish, Sunchokes, are all good for roasting, stir fry, and slicing thin for snacking.
Turnips, Chinese Radish, Sunchokes, are all good for roasting, stir fry, and slicing thin for snacking.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
|Green Luobo Chinese Radish. 11.11.17|
Thursday, November 10, 2016
|Saijo Persimmons, with Nikita's Gift for Comparison. 11.9.16|
|Saijo Persimmon. 11.9.16|
Only 8 persimmons on the Saijo tree, but that's OK. This is my first taste of this variety and this is the first year of any persimmons in my orchard. Very nice.
Friday, November 04, 2016
|Nikita's Gift Persimmons. 11.4.16|
I sliced in half and scooped out the jelly-like contents with a spoon, eating like a small cup of pudding. Excellent sweet flavor, with a spicy element similar to clove or cinnamon.
So now I know, at least these persimmons can be grown and ripen in my cool summer, short season Southwest Washington State climate. So good.
There are some Saijo to follow. A little behind Nikita's Gift, but not by much.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
|Vegetable bed covered with leaves. 10.29.16|
|The Last Zucchini. 10.29.16|
|Nikita's Gift (Plate) and Saijo (Countertop) Persimmons. 10.29.16|
|Baja (Roja?) Garlic. 10.29.16|
|More Garlic Starts. 10.26.16|
Picked about 1/4 of the Nikita's Gift Persimmons. They are hard, so will need to ripen. I placed them into a bag of apples to assist that process.
Apples produce ethylene gas, as part of their ripening process. The ethylene gas will help the persimmons to ripen, too.
Not sure about that Saijo, there is still some green. The rest, only about 6 fruits, are still on the tree.
The garlic starts from local nursery, they labeled "Baja" but I wonder if they are Spanish Roja, are all growing nicely. When I get a chance and it's not raining, they need hoeing for the weeds. I checked other local nurseries, no garlic starts. Finally, I checked Portland Nursery, they had multiple types. I bought 2 heads of "Duganski", just for variety. Ordered from a catalog, I would have to order more than I need, for an even higher price plus shipping. Territorial sells Duganski. "beautiful, purple stripe garlic with large bulbs and an amazing flavor that matches its looks and size. Purple outer wrappers protect the violet-tinged cloves that burst with a fiery flavor and mellow out with a pleasant aftertaste." This is just for novelty, see if they are different from the Inchelium Red that I grow each year.
Speaking of Inchelium Red, it's far behind the Baja/Roja this year. A few have germinated, maybe 10 of the 40 or so that I planted.
Edit 10.30.16 It turns our there actually is a Baja Garlic, called "Baja Morado". From the link - "Baja Morado... was at first thought to be a long storing Creole but upon detailed examination turned out to be an even longer storing Silverskin that has a nice pleasant garlickiness with some pungency... similar to Mexican Red Silver but with much white in the clove covers rather than solid deep red." As with anything from nurseries, local and mail order, it's best to take things with a grain of salt. But who know" Maybe this IS Baja, and Baja Morado at that.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Different websites give different advice about fall-fertilizing of trees. For the most part, these sites refer to deciduous shade trees. Much of the research that has been done, relates to conifer forestry.
Growingagreenworld.com: "many experts now consider late fall, or about a month after the first killing frost, to be the ideal time for applying fertilizers. We now know plants utilize nutrients throughout the year in different ways." The site further states, that when trees are dormant, their roots absorb nutrients and apply them to root growth, disease resistance, and storage of nutrients for Spring. I don't know if those claims are supported by science, but they make sense.
According to the University of Minnesota extension, early Spring is the best time.
Gregory Forrest Lester (Ohio) states that Fall fertilization is essential. Again, the rationale is to prepare for Spring. There aren't a lot of sources regarding fall fertilization of trees. Via google scholar, there has been some specific research, that may or may not apply to yard shade trees.
Annals of Forest Science. Related to seedlings of red pine, "Results suggest that fall fertilization of red pine seedlings can help render desired target height in the nursery, while maintaining or increasing cold hardiness levels." Benefits were seen for number of needles. concentration of nitrogen in shoots and roots, and cold hardiness parameters.
Western Journal of Applied Forestry. Related to Douglas fir seedlings, fall fertilization increased nitrogen concentrations in the seedlings. There was no difference in root growth or cold hardiness. It did not appear in this project that fall fertilization had much effect.
Annals of Forest Science. Regarding a species of oak, "early fall fertilization promotes nutrient loading of P(hosphate) in Holm oak, with significant effects on root growth potential and field growth by means of a phenologically earlier development and a higher aboveground biomass." and in the discussion it was noted that "six months after planting, fall fertilized plants showed higher shoot biomass, higher proportion of new leaves, and faster development, producing leaves earlier compared with unfertilized plants."
Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. Regarding fall fertilization of one year old longleaf pine, there was "substantial overwinter dry weight gains and increases in nutrient content and concentrations" especially for nitrogen. Based on their research, they conclude that fall fertilization "offers a means of increasing seedling size and nutrient reserves prior to out-planting on the relatively infertile sites where seedlings are normally established."
Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science. Regarding field-grown peach trees, there was not a benefit for fall fertilization vs. spring fertilization, for peach production or tree growth.
Journal of Agriculture. Regarding shade tree fertilization researchm up to 2002. The authors state that nitrogen usually appears to be the most important nutrient, and note that "studies conducted with (labeled) nitrogen
Canadian Journal of Forest Research. Regarding more Douglas fir seedling research, one month after fall fertilization, "Total nitrogen concentrations increased 1 month after fertilization, remained stable throughout winter, and tended to decrease or remain stable just before budbreak."
My conclusions: A lot more work is needed to determine whether fall feeding benefits, doesn't benefit, or harms trees, and in what situations. There does appear be benefit in some situations. Nitrogen sources are more likely to be beneficial, and unless a deficiency is seen, fertilizers that contain signicant amounts of other major nutrients are usually probably not useful. If one is interested in pee-cycling, that seems like a reasonable approach as long as it is not overdone. A liter of "liquid gold", diluted to 4 liters, could be applied over an area of about 10 feet by 10 feet, to a tree with a drip line about 8 feet in diameter. It's not rocket science, and I would not do so if the soil salts are high.
(All images are public domain, via vintageprintable.com)
|Ginkgo Tree Planted Summer, 2012. Now 10.18.16|
|Above Ginkgo Tree after planting in 2012.|
This was the smallest of the trees that I grew from seeds that my late father collected qround 1995 in Illinois. I kept it in a flower pot, then planted in poor soil at the place in Vancouver, then when we bought the Battleground place, moved the tree there. That was 2012. It's done nicely, and was given minimal water this summer. It's turning into a handsome tree that my Dad would have been proud of. I miss him.
The parent tree was grown by a neighbor in that small Illinois town. That neighbor was a WWI veteran, a German man who was in a British POW camp for part of the war. He later emigrated to Illinois. I remember his telling me that Gingko biloba trees had a shape like pine trees, and were around in the time of dinosaurs. He grew his tree from a seed as well. That tree was the source of the seeds that my dad collected. It has since been cut down.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
|Transplanted Gingko Tree, 9 months later. 10.18.16|
Each bud grew a tuft of leaves. Only a few stems elongated, and that only 6 inches at most.
Now that it's more established, I think it's ready for a boost for next year, so I gave it a moderate fall dose of nitrogen. I also took off the support ropes, which are not considered beneficial after the first season of growth. The trunk has a mild bend, which I will just have to accept.
|Ginkgo tree being dug in January 2016, for transplanting.|
|Root Crops. Chinese Radishes, Daikon, Turnips. 10.18.16|
The July-planted turnips are great, as is the Daikon and a few of the Chinese radishes. Many of the radishes have exploded, I imagine from the rains. Still, this is a lesson that there are some that can be planted successfully from seeds, in July. The broccoli and kohlrabi don't look like much, so I'm leaving those in place. Ditto for carrots, more an issue of deer eating the tops, than because they didn't grow.
The red-centered Chinese radishes have a mild crispy flavor, nice raw. Daikon is similar, a bit more peppery, and very good shredded and eaten raw as a slaw, or as a dumpling filling.
Lettuce did very well. I don't know why deer and rabbits didn't eat it.
The scallions that I rescued mid summer, staged a come back and we have been eating them.
|Red-centered Chinese Radish. 10.18.16|
Now we are getting a lot more peppers than we can eat. I planted them too early. The raised beds with low fencing was perfect, no herbivore predation and yield is amazing.
Still harvesting corn from seeds that were planted in June. This variety is "Bodaceous". The ear is more full than it looks, I didn't pull the husk back far enough. Bodaceous is a high-yielding, really good "corn-tasting" sweet corn, unlike Mirai which was watery and sugary and no much corn flavor.
|Leaf Lettuce Mix. 10.18.16|
|"Bodaceous" Sweet Corn. 10.18.16|