Monday, January 14, 2019

Starting Seeds with LED Plant Lights. 1.14.18

Here is the LED light set-up that i bought through Amazon. I bought the 30 Watt unit, which I am guessing has more lumens compared to the 3 12-Watt fluorescent lights that I was using previously. LED has more light in the best wavelengths and wastes less of the Wattage on heat, so should be OK or better. The onion seeds have germinated so they will be an early test of the lights. The instructions state the lights should be 18 to 24 inches above seedlings or 12 to 18 inches above vegetables. This is between those heights. For onion seedlings I will time for 10 hours of light.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Planting a New Red Flesh Apple Tree, Redlove® Era®. 1.12.19

 Today I planted a new bare root apple tree.  This variety is Redlove® Era®, a red-flesh apple developed in Europe by crossbreeding conventional apples with red-flesh crab apples.  The result is reported to be a disease-resistant apple with reddish leaves, pink flowers, and the apples have red flesh to the core.  The flesh does have white patterns mixed with the red.  The apples are described as having a berry-like flavor mixed with apple flavor.

This is a nice experiment.  We'll see how it does.  This tree came from One Green World, which has a selection of red flesh apples. 
In my orchard, I already have Airlie Red Flesh, which has a pink flesh color with green skin when ripe, a very tasty apple.  I tried growing a graft of Redfield, which is described as a very tart red-flesh apple, but the graft lacked vigor and I cut it off.

I was impressed with the large, healthy root mass on this small tree.  I was able to spread the roots out with no losses or pruning.   Based on past experiences, I immediately protected the new tree with a vole / rodent hardware cloth sleeve.  The tree is also in a protected, fenced in area to inhibit deer browsing.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Starting The First Seeds. 1.10.18

 Today is officially the first day of this year's garden season.  The reason - I began the first seed starting.

Onion seeds can be started very early.  I want them to be at least  inches tall before setting out, and I have set out onion plants in March or April.

Peppers grow slowly for me.  I wanted to start the most tropical, slowest growers, now.  So that's the Thai and Tabasco.  I'm curious to see whether those "Low Germ" Thai peppers will germinate.  If not, the backup plab is to buy a packet or plants, if too late for seeds.

This year, I used the little six-packs, and commercial peat and perlite based seed starting medium.

These 6-packs are in plastic bags to retain moisture and warmth.  They are on a seed starting mat with pre-set temperature I think in the low 80s.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Pruning Sarracenias in Petaluma. 1.5.18

Among unpruned Sarracenia.  1.5.18

Midway Through Pruning.  1.5.18

Last weekend I accompanied my friend Jacob, of Sarracenia Northwest, to the nursery of one of his suppliers, Lois Van Ochs in Petaluma, California, to help with cleanup of her nursery stock.  The Sarracenia plants needed to have the pitchers from last year's growth pruned off, and general tidying. 

It was a lot of fun, and the plants are now ready for good growth in 2019.

After returning, I gave my own Sarracenia plants a nice haircut too.  I think this year, I'll come up with a better display for them on the front deck.

Visiting the Baker Creek Petaluma Seed Bank. 1.5.18

Petaluma Seed Bank, Baker Creek Seeds.  1.6.18
 Last weekend I was in Petaluma, CA, and remembered the Baker Creek Seed Bank store is there.  So we visited.  What a cool place!  It's like the catalog, but in person.  Very helpful staff.  I left with another dozen packets of seeds for this year's kitchen garden.
Petaluma Seed Bank, Baker Creek Seeds.  1.6.18

Petaluma Seed Bank, Baker Creek Seeds.  1.6.18

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Using Bone Ashes in the Garden. 12.9.18

I was thinking about what to do with the beef bones after Rufus is done with them. Most people would throw them into the trash or bury them, but I like to see if things are useful. Since I do much of the heating with a wood stove, I wondered if I could mineralize the bones and spread that in the garden along with the wood ashes. It appears the answer is yes.

First, bone ash is considered an organic fertilizer and is mostly calcium and phosphorous. In my soil tests, calcium was very low, and phosphorus was somewhat low. So at least in the small amounts that I use, these are needed mineral nutrients. The wood ashes are also mostly calcium, so it's kind of more of the same thing, similar to adding lime. Except wood ashes are also high in potassium and there are some other nutrients.

Here is a link to someone who wanted to use human ashes in their garden. I imagine those are mostly from bone, with the other parts going up in smoke. The problem with using some human ashes in gardening, is they might contain lead or mercury.  I'm not interested in getting any of those.

I added a couple of Rufus's beef leg bone chunks to the wood stove, as I fed more logs, and just let them burn along with the wood.  It turns out, the very small chunks that survived the fire were much more brittle and flaky, than the original bone.  Most of the bone had disintegrated. So I just put the intact pieces back into the woodstove for the next go-round.  As for the rest, it will just be part of the mineral supplement that I add to the gardens during this winter, to replenish what is removed in the process of growing plants and removing their products.

At an atomic level, next year when I admire the bearded irises, or eat some figs, I'll ponder these cycles of life, and imagine that some of the atoms in those flowers and fruits, last resided in some Bessie the cow, or were trees on the back woodlot, collecting sunshine for 45 years (I counted the rings), before warming my sore joints in the woodstove.  This gives me a nice feeling, about the continuous process of renewal.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Collecting scion. And a Graft failure. 12.4.18

 Today I collected some scion for late winter grafting.  In this case, it was Pristine apple.  Pristine is an excellent PRI (Purdue Rutgers Illinois) disease-resistant apple, early season, really delicious with a delightful flavor. 

Unfortunately, this branch basically fell off the tree this summer.  It managed to hang on by a small amount of bark on one side, apparently living bark.

Today I removed some scion to try
 grafting late winter, onto another tree.  It appears viable.   I wrap in foil, then place into zip-lock bag and refrigerate until some time in March.

 I will remove this branch some time this winter.  There isn't much holding it onto the tree.

From the wound, it's obvious that there was never much connection.

There will be some more scion to collect.  I also want to collect some from North Pole apple.
A graft failure.  "Pristine" apple.  Unknown Semidwarfing Rootstock.  12.4.18

More Visitors. 12.4.18

Today a family of deer - three - was hanging out in the kitchen garden / orchard area.  They are skittish, and too far away for a decent I-phone photo. So I only caught this one "on film".

I think I have most of the browsing under control and can enjoy them better as a result. 

This was the first time that i really got a good look at their tails.  They are definitely  black tailed deer.

So far, only slight buck damage to one cypress tree.  I'm watching regularly.  Any further damage, and I'll want to do some protective fencing trees on some of the trunks.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Garden Visitors. 12.2.18

 These two rascals were watching me yesterday.  They were cautious.  I don't know if they are feral or domestic.  They look so clean and healthy, I suspect they are someone's cats.

We have moles, voles, mice, rats, and rabbits, in high numbers.  I won't argue about wild cats' role in bird population declines.  Other things that affect bird populations are urbanization / suburbinization, habitat loss, and maybe climate change.   Some of the lost species are raptors and other predators, too.  So maybe cats fill in a space where other predators have been lost, and some day there will be a new ecological balance.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping these two will concentrate on rodents.  There is a neighbor who traps cats and takes them to the humane society, to protect birds.  Another neighbor feeds the cats.  Apparently, the local raccoons kill and eat the cat litters, as well.  I will stay out of that battle.
I'm not crazy about these cats leaving spoor on the top of the ground in the garden beds.   Some cats carry parasites.  I bury that when I see it.

I wonder if they visit because of the catnip I plant around the yard?  There are several bunches.  In past years, some of the catnip was destroyed, I assume by loose cats.

But I will also thank them if there is no vole damage this year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

More Mushrooms. This Time, Amanitas. 11.28.18

Mushrooms Under Fir Tree.  11.28.18
 These mushrooms come up every year, under an old fir tree.  The surface of the caps is ofter a darker red.  I don't know if that means it's not the same type of mushroom, or if the cap color changes with season or temperature.  The shape and size, and markings, are just the same as the red cap mushrooms.

I won't eat them.  I do appreciate their presence, and look every day for what other types of mushrooms are growing there.

The chart is from Vintage Printable, which publishes public domain images from very old sources, past their copyrights.
Vintage Chart of Amanitas. 11.28.18