Monday, July 24, 2017

Fruit Salad. Plums and mulberries. Yum. 7.24.17


Raised bed changes. Planting Summer Seeds for Fall Crops. 7.24.17

 I decided to make some changes in the raised bed kitchen garden, for easier gardening.    I added another level of 2 X 6, so the bed is 6 inches higher, then added a 2 X 6 edge to each side to support me.  I can lean or sit on that edge.  This bed contained bearded irises that never did well.  I moved them to a sink-or-swim out of the way border, where they will either grow, or not.  That gave me a new bed to plant seeds that grow for fall kitchen crops.

I used old seeds, turnips, Chinese radish, Chinese cabbage, Daikon.

That was last week.  They do need daily watering, but otherwise no special care.  Some rows have germinated nicely.  It's possible that some seeds were too old, and I intend to replant today.

I didn't label the rows.  I think some of the Chinese cabbage did not germinate, and one of the two rows of turnips.  Those seeds were 5 years old.

The current raised bed arrangement is 12 4 X 8 foot raised beds, 1 foot high, separated by mowed grass paths about 3 feet wide.  Those paths are too narrow for a riding mower.  The plan, which will develop as crops mature and are gone in the fall, is to replace the 2 middle rows with 1 middle row.  That will make paths wide enough for riding mower, which really reduces maintenance.  The sides will be higher, with edge as described for this bed.  Most of the wood will be reused from either the old beds, or from a deck that I tore apart this Spring. 

KItchen Garden and Home Orchard. 7.24.17

Red Norland and Yukon Gold Potatoes.  7.24.17
 Lots of productivity in the Kitchen garden, and starting to get fruit from the home orchard.

I had not watered the Methley plum tree, so the plums are smaller, sweeter, and more flavorful.  Almost like moist candy.  This tree is about 6 years old.  When we bought the Battleground place, I moved it from the old yard, at about 1 year old at the time.  This is the first year with more than a couple of fruits.
Methley Plums.  7.24.17
Illinois Everbearing Mulberry.  7.24.17

Illinois Everbearing Mulberries.  7.24.17

Red German Garlic.  7.24.17
The potato crop is about half dug now.  The Yukon Gold is great for hash browns, every day for breakfast.  The Red Norland makes the best potato salad.  The Russets are not at harvesting stage yet, which is good.  Too many to dig all at once.

I thought birds would get all of the mulberries this year, but yesterday the tree was loaded.  We picked a big bowl of them.

I did not nurture the garlic as well this year.  Less water and less fertilizer.  The bulbs of most of the plants are smaller, but the Red German turned out nice.

Summer squashes coming on line now.   Some great fritters!

Zucchinis and Summer Squashes.  7.24.17

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Kitchen Garden. Summer Harvest Begins. 7.13.17

 I've been harvesting collar greens for a couple of weeks.  Nicest plants that I have grown. 

Started digging potatoes last week.  Had some hash browns and likely potato salad tomorrow.  Red Norland and Yukon Gold plants are turning brown, and getting some nice potatoes.

Some of the slicer onions are bending over.  I've dug some of those for use fairly quickly.  Tasty in all colors, red, white, yellow.

The absolute largest of the onions are the Ailsa Craig, that I started from seeds.  Those are huge, but not falling over yet.

 Based on my results this year, planting as early as possible is giving the largest onions, but even the later ones are sizing up.  Just not as huge.  Seedlings started indoors are as big or bigger than those started from sets or plants bought at the nursery.

Nice time of year in the kitchen garden.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Persimmon Progress. 7.10.17

Developing Yates American Persimmon.  7.10.17

Developing Nikita's Gift Hybrid Asian:American Persimmon.  7.10.17
 Persimmons are developing nicely.  If the Yates continue to grow and produce fruit, they will be my first for this tree and for any American Persimmon.  Yates apparently does not need a male pollenizer, and will therefore be seedless.  This is a 4 year old tree.

Nikita's Gift and Saijo have a couple of dozen fruits each, fine for 5 year old trees.
Developing Saijo Persimmons.  7.10 17

I'm excited to see persimmons forming.   I'm trying to decide if some need thinning, due to several fruits on the same twigs.  They might do better if they are further apart.

I've tried tying some persimmon branches to guide them, but they are so brittle they break off.  One of the Chocolate Persimmon grafts also did that.  I had tied the little branch to another one to guide it, and the wind broke it.  Fortunately, there is a second Chocolate persimmon graft that is OK.

Prairie Star Persimmon Sapling.  7.10.17
Prairie Star American Persimmon has had a series of unfortunate events over it's young life, now in its 3rd leaf.  It was eaten off by rabbits, twice.  It was bombarded with hail, killing most of the branches.  Now it looks OK, with a good leader and a secondary in case something happens to the main one.  Based on Yates, and assuming no more unfortunate events, it could bear in 3 more years.

Kitchen Garden. 7.10.17

Georgia Collard Greens and  Squashes.  7.10.17

Chili Peppers and Scallions.  7.10.17
 The kitchen garden is doing pretty well.  Collard greens got  mixes with squashes, when I had extra starts and didn't know where to put them.  They seem to be getting along together just fine.  Others are among blackberry plants and volunteer potatoes.  Big, beautiful leaves.

Chili pepper plants are small, but starting to take off.  Some are blooming. 
Vates Collard Greens.  7.10.17

Squashes.  7.10.17

Ripening Onions.  7.10.17
 Zucchini and summer squashes are looking good.  They are starting to bloom.

Sweet corn seems further behind this year.  The first two batches had poor germination, and I transplanted seedlings together in groups.  The later ones did better, even with rabbits eating off many of the plants.  There is still a good chance for some nice sweet corn later this year.

Both potatoes and onions are almost ready for harvest.  I dug some potatoes yesterday, and there are some nice ones.  I have also been using some of the onions, on an as-needed basis.

Tomatoes and beans are making good progress.  There are small tomatoes on some of the plants.  The pole beans are starting to climb.  I gave them some bamboo poles to climb on.
Sweet Corn, Various Start Times and Sizes.  7.10.17

Overwintered Geraniums. 7.10.17

 I don't buy geranium starts any more.  I grow them in containers.  In the fall, I move the containers to dry locations where they won't get rain. and let them dry out.  Them I move them to the garage for the winter.   No water, no added light, just dry and frost-free.  These are 3 or 4 years old.  They get better each year.

The one disadvantage is the plants don't get growing as fast as new starts.  But when they do, they are much bigger and more floriferous.

When there is one with nice form and color, it is worth keeping it going.

I have a couple that don't look as good, and will not keep them this winter. 

Container Lilies. 7.10.17

Late this Spring, I dug up these lilies from the old place, but didn't have a spot for them in the new place.  So I put them in a big plant container, gave some attention, and they bloomed the best they've ever done.

I don't know what I will do with them during the winter.  Maybe put the container in a shed.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Blackberry Update. 6.29.17

Fenced Apples and Blackberries.  6.29.17

Ebony King Blackberries.  Year 2.  6.29.17
 I think I have enough blackberry cultivars for trial.  It will take 2 or 3 years to see how they really produce, and that will also give me a chance to see how they survive the weather.  Three of the cultivars were planted last year in the winter and spring, and two are planted this year in spring and early summer.  Triple Crown was a container plant from a nursery, that was planted within the past month.  Despite hot weather, it's growing nicely.
Blackberry Columbia Star.  One year.  6.29.17


The varieties are:
Ebony King - old variety, probably diploid, some thorns.
Prime Ark Freedom - new variety, tetraploid, thornless.
Columbia Star - trailing, thornless.  I'm guessing this is tetraploid but I don't know yet.
Arapaho - tetraploid, thornless.
Triple Crown - I think tetraploid, thornless.


Blackberry Prime Ark Freedom.  6.29.17
So far the biggest challenge is deer and rabbit browsing.  Deer browse the tops, eating a significant part of the new growth.  That was a major set back last year, resulting in some complete loss of Prime Ark Freedom - half of the plants that I bought - plus they pulled Columbia Star out of the ground and destroyed most of the top, and ate half of the growth of the Ebony King.    Deer even ate the somewhat thorny Ebony King.  I notice they eat the tops of the brutally thorny local invasive Himalayan blackberries, but only the succulent tops with soft thorns.  All are in enclosures or cages now.  Rabbits ate off the emerging canes, up to one foot - thornless Prime Ark Freedom and somewhat thorny Ebony King.   That means, enclosures must also protect to the ground, Chicken Wire works for that.

I expect to taste some Ebony King in a few weeks, from the one plant, of three, that is producing this year.  All of the Ebony King are producing primocanes now, more vigorous than last year, and I hope my enclosure prevent loss of growth this time.  There may be a taste of a couple of Columbia Star blackberries, although only a couple from canes that survived the trauma and winter.  Prime Ark Freedom is primocane bearing, so there is a chance to sample those in a few months.


Blackberry "Arapaho" .  Two Months.  6.29.17

Blackberry Triple Crown.  One Month.   6.29.17
Only two of the Prime Ark Freedom survived the winter with strong growth emerging this spring, one stronger than the other - very vigorous.  However, I see tiny plants emerging from the roots of what I think are the plants that appeared to die off completely.

Of the new plants that I started this spring, Arapaho is getting off to a good start, and both plants have nice primocanes emerging.  They are in protected cages.  I may rearrange the beds this summer or fall, for better access and neatness.  The Triple Crown was blooming in the nursery pot, at only a foot tall.  There is a nice primocane emerging from that one as well.   I will leave the berries on the plant, to get a taste, if they develop.

If all goes well, there should be a taste of 4 varieties this year, maybe a few bowls of berries in 2018, and a good sized crop in 2019.  That is a big "if", but life makes no promises.  Gardening is always a bit of a guess, a bit of a gamble, some promises, some science and information, some work and some luck.


Hot weather. Ginkgo. Persimmons. Watering with bucket / hole method. 6.30.17

Ginkgo Tree, 19 years from seed.  6.29.17

Persimmon "Nikita's Gift".   Planted 2013.  6.29.17
 I just learned about the "hole in the bucket" watering method last year.  It's probably been around for a while.  Drill one or two quarter-inch holes in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket.  Sit the bucket by a tree, fill with water, let it drain, move the bucket to the other side, do it again.  This method ensures about 10 gallons with each watering, avoids overwatering or underwatering.  Smaller trees, I fill once and water every few days.  Medium size trees, I fill twice and water once weekly, while somewhat larger trees I fill twice and water once weekly.  If it isn't hot, I space it out further. 

I found that with my water pressure, two quarter-inch holes work OK.

Top photo is a ginkgo tree that I moved here in 2012 from the seedlings that I started in 1998.  It had a slow start due to initial bad location but has taken off and is becoming handsome.

The rest are persimmons.  Saijo is done blooming.  I can see the start of fruits forming in the flowers.  Nikita's gift is just a little behind Saijo.  With a few 100 degree, dry, days, the flowers are brown.  I don't know if that matters for parthenocarpic (bear fruit without pollination) persimmons.   Yates is the third to bloom, and is an American Persimmon.  Yates was smaller and I planted a year or two later compared to the others, but has caught up in size.  There are a few flowers, just blooming, also petals looking singed from the heat.  Yates is sold as parthenocarpic as well.  

At this time of year, new persimmon branches are very droopy.  That puts them in range of deer browsing.  I widened the deer cages.  The ultimate goal is, trees tall enough that I can eliminate the cages for easier care and mowing.  Picking might need a ladder and good health insurance,  or a fruit picking device on a pole, but maintenance will be easier.
Persimmon "Saijo".   Planted 2013.  6.29.17

Deer browsing has been significant this year, but so far these persimmon cages are helping.  I expect to see a little damage at some point, but hoping it's minimal.
Yates Persimmon Flower.  6.29.17

Yates American Persimmon.  Planted 2014?   6.29.17

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Transplanting Update. 6.28.17

Last fall, in September, I transplanted two milkweed plants to the front border.  At the time, these had just finished their second summer, and had bloomed for the first time, after I started them from seeds.  I had read that Asclepius syriaca cannot be transplanted, but I had also read that they are hard to kill.  These had nice rhizomes and roots, and soil fell readily from them, without much apparent damage.  I transplanted, watered them in, and tiied to a stake to prevent wind from uprooting them.

This milkweed species is very slow to emerge from dormancy in the Spring.  I tried not to disturb them, and weeds more or less took over that spot.  I gave up on them, thinking they died.  This week I cleaned up the area, and noted new growth for both plants.  That's nice, since I did want them to grow there.  They are behind the others in size, and a bit scrawny due to weed competition, but now I think they will establish and mature nicely in their new home.
Regenerating Milkweed Plants.  6.28.17
This is the root mass for the transplanted milkweed, Sept, 2016.

Daylily Update. 6.28.17

Daylily "Carefree Peach"  6.28.17

Home made Daylily Hybrid, 1st Blossom.  6.28.17
 Dayliliies have started blooming.  The first in my yard is "Luxury Lace", an old variety developed by an amateur in her back yard.  The seccond is "Carefree Peach", which hasn't bloomed much for me before.  I don't recall this varety having green striped tepals (outer petals), but the effect is nice.

Another hybrid daylily, that I made by transferring pollen from one variety, to a flower of a different variety, has bloomed for the first time.  This one is a nice apricot color.  Small plant, somewhat ruffled petals.  Since the labels got messed up last year, I don't know the parents.  Guessing, one mislabeled but floriforous yellow with similar size and shape, crossed with pink Luxury Lace.  Then again, it could be any of them.

The first of my hybrids to bloom, was a very pale pink.  Almost white.  This one is quite different.

I may move this new one into the flower border.  Nice flower, and I'm not as  likely to miss watering them in the border.
Daylily "Luxury Lace".  6.28.17

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Apple Grafting Update. 6.17.17

Jonathan on Jonared.  6.17.17
 Here is a grafting update.  Most of the grafts are doing well.  I accidentally broke off the Honeycrisp graft that I added to Winecrisp.  Firecracker red flesh crab did not take, but Grenadine red flesh apple did.  Apple grafts doing well:  Opalescent, Jonathan, Airlie Red Flesh, Fameuse, Dolgo Crab, King David, Sweet 16, Grenadine.  Last year's Airlie Red Flesh has 5 apples, Newtown Pippin has one, and Baldwin about 6. Milo Gibson and Sweet 16 that were very slow, have taken off and growing like gangbusters.  
Dolgo Crab on Jonared.  6.17.17

Grafts on Winecrisp.  6.17.17

Grenadine on multigraft.  6.17.17

Persimmons are Blooming. 6.19.17

Saijo Flowers.  6.19.17

Saijo Flowers.  6.19.17
Saijo persimmon flowers have opened.  So have the grafts of Chocolate persimmon.

The leaves on Saijo are much greener this year.  I'm attributing that to correcting a soil, magnesium deficiency, via dose of Epsom salts.  That was 1/4 cup in 2-gallon watering can, late winter.  I did add 1/8 cup Epsom salts in 2 gallon water, last weekend as well.

 Nikita's Gift Persimmon flowers are swelling but not open yet.  Yates American Persimmon flowers are even smaller, possibly because they are smaller anyway, as an American persimmon.  Speculation on my part.  I am watching them with interest.  Since American Persimmons are smaller, compared to Asian Persimmons, maybe they don't need as long to develop in the warm summer weather.

The last one is Prairie Star (Or Prairie Sun?) American Persimmon, which I planted 3 years ago.  First year, it was eaten off by rabbits.  This year, most of the leaves were destroyed by hail.   It has a little regrowth now.   It's only about 18 inches tall.  Maybe growth on the remaining stems will be good this year and give it a better boost for the future.  Of course, no flower buds at this small size.

Edit:  Earlier version of this post stated "coffee cake persimmon".  I should have stated "chocolate".   

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Snake. 6.17.17


I'm guessing this is a garter snake, and feeds off moles and voles, bugs, slugs, and snails.   We saw 4 snakes today while planting beans.  They are not particularly afraid of us. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Indian Runner Ducks. 6.13.17They

Indian Runner Ducks.  Now they have their full adult plumage.  Shy, but healthy looking.  6.13.17

Grafted Ginkgo Tree. 6.13.17

Here is the growth of my dad's ginkgo tree, grafted onto a rootstock from locally obtained ginkgo seeds.  I grafted last year.  Then, the scion grew only a small tuft of leaves.  This year, it is growing by leaps and bounds.

I think ginkgo is more difficult to graft compared to apples and plums.  Of the three that I grafted, one did not take at all, and one fell off this spring, after one year.  But this one is clearly thriving.  This was a whip-and-tongue graft.