Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Planting Third & Last Apple Tree Hybrid, Calypso™ x Golden Sentinel™ 11.30.2021

This was the last of the three seedlings from the Calypso™ x Golden Sentinel™ cross that I grew out this spring. It is the least promising of the three - leaves are green, although petioles are red. The tree had more vigor and more widely separated internodes, so I strongly suspect not columnar. The branchlets are long and spiky, not short and stubby, so I suspect they are branches, not spurs, so I suspect not columnar. There is also no red color to the roots, another indication that the appkes will either not have red flesh, or not much of that. Still, it's hard to throw away a tree I grew from seed, without giving it a chance to prove itself. So I planted it in a sheltered (fenced) although not ideal spot. Here it can grow and not be in the way or too much work, and maybe we'll see what it can do in a couple of years. This was the most vigorous of the three. It also had the heaviest root mass. Not root bound but headed there. I bare rooted it using the garden hose as usual.
Planted, watered in, and the start of vole collar added. I need to get out there with tin snips and wire or zip ties to do the rest.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Stratifying Apple Seeds, Cross of Redlove™ Era™ X Urban Apple™ Blushing Delight.™ 11.29.2021

This Spring, I protected some flowers of Redlove™ Era™ and Urban Apple™ Blushing Delight™. I pollinated the Era™ with pollen from the Blushing Delight™. Actually, the Urban Apple™ was mislabled, the one I bought was Tasty Red™ but the apple is clearly Blushing Delight™. One ripe apple resulted from that cross. I kept it in the garage for 2 months and just got around to cutting it today. The long keeping didn't hurt it a bit. I think the flavor is better. Still pretty tart, almost lemony with berry flavor.
To make typing easier, I'll call the first "RLE" and the second one "BD". I think it could be a good choice, because RLE has such deep red internal and external color, and BD is considered disease resistant, is columnar, and has nice large, sweet apples. I placed them in moist paper towel, then into a zipper plastic bag and into the fridge. A four month stratification would mean I can plant them about April 1. It's interesting, one apple had so many seeds. I expected five. The goal, as before, is a columnar tree with red flesh apples. I will use leaf color to help with selection - I think red leaves on an apple indicate red flesh although some red flesh apples do have green leaves.

Planting Young Apple Tree Hybrid, Calypso™ x Golden Sentinel. 11.29.21

I wanted to get the apple seedlings into the ground. These are the hybrids I made by crossing the red flesh, red leaf,pink flowered "RedLove™ Calypso™ with the columnar, yellow skin Golden Sentinel™. My hope is a red flesh, red leaf apple tree with columnar growth habit. Golden Sentinel™ has some great flavored, nice size sweet apples as ancestors. Of the three seedlings that resulted, two were red leaf, so probably red flesh if they make apples. Also, the internodes seem close together, which might suggest columnar form, I don't know but I think maybe. Also, there are tiny branches that look like fruiting spurs - a bit much to hope for the first year, but you never know. That also suggests to me possible columnar form. The third had red leaf petioles but green leaves, more vigor, and the little branches are longer, so it probably wont be as red flesh if at all, and probably not columnar. Anyway, I planted the other, shorter red leaf seedling in the garden a while ago, and today planted the shorter one.
I'm impressed by the nice root mass. Not root bound, not winding around, but a lot of stong thick roots. I hosed them off to bare root the tree as much as I could. I don't have a great spot for it in my garden, but as long as it's columnar, the spot where I planted it us OK. Plus it can be moved if needed.
Now it's in the ground, so any freezing shouldn't hurt. Plus, it has a chance to grow more roots with first Spring flush of growth, into the earth. Watering will be much easier, less frequent, than in containers. I may be able to extend irrigation to this one next, even better. One more apple seedling to go.

Fig Tree Starts. 11.29.2021

My Hardy Chicago fig tree here in Battle Ground was destroyed by voles. Voles are cute looking little mouse-like creatures with cute looking little perky ears, that are really Satanic demons They chew through tender trees at the base, killing them. They also sometimes gnaw at potatoes underground. Yes, voles are pure evil. In this case, the tree fell over. I thought if I propped it up, it might survive. But no, it's now a dead stick. The parent tree, source of the start for this one, is still thriving in Vancouver. It needs a major pruning. It also had three big, six foor tall shoots growing out of the base. Yesterday I tried to remove those shoots, thinking if I can get one with roots, that's a head start at replacing my dead Hardy Chicago fig tree. It's a good, solid, hardworking and hardy tree, and makes a good reliable fig crop every year. Reminds me of me. Back to the shoots, this was the best I could do. I could not get the others with roots. If I was smart, I would have air layered them, say, starting last March. Then I would already have nice size, well rooted Hardy Chicago fig trees. We wont go there. Anyway, it's not much root for such a long stick.
That's a lot of tree with just some puny little roots. I planted it anyway. I might cut it bit shorter, I don't know. It has a long Winter and Spring to grow new roots, and if fig trees are good at anything, it's growing roots. Well, and making figs, too, but that'll be a year two ahead. I once stuck a plum stick that big into the ground as a garden stake, and it grew very nicely. In case that start doesn't survive, I cut some nice sticks to root as hardwood cuttings. Some times, those will root if you just shove them into good soil and leave them pretty much alone. Just water if they need it. If they don't grow, at least they are there as row markers. So I did that.
With one exception, I grew all of my fig trees from cuttings, and more than that to give away. It's been a while since I did that. I usually started them midwinter, not this early. I could store the sticks in the fridge for the winter, but there's no room. So, I'll see if I can start them now. I cut the sticks short enough to fit into plastic bags. I washed them with soapy water. Then I scored each with a razor blade, making an incision through the cambium layer which is where cells are regenerated and serves as stem cells for making baby roots. Then I treated each one with Dip'n'Grow rooting hormone. Then wrapped in wet paper towel, placed into the zipper plastic bag, and put them on a seed starting warming mat. Possibly (probably?) the incision and rooting hormone are not necessary, and I have done it without a warming mat, but I have it so why not? Might help.
So that's my fig tree starting experiment for this year. We will see if any of these methods work, or all of them. If there are extra fig trees started, that's fine. I can always find them a new home.

Raised Bed #4 Is Put To Bed For the Winter. 11.29.2021

Raised Beds #1 and #2 are the two biggest and new ones, already all done for the winter. Raised Bed #3 was the onion bed in 2021, then cleaned up and planted with garlic back in Sept and Oct. This is Raised Bed #4. It was mostly peppers, but also lettuce, radishes and odds and ends that got messy. Today I cleaned it up, got rid of the weeds, loosened the soil a little. At one end, I replanted shallots and some potato onions that I had stuck into there among the other plants. The shallot was grown last winter from a grocery store shallot, and made four jumbo bulbs I separated and replanted them. The potato onions are much smaller and I'm growing them out of curiosity. The other end of the bed is two rows of garlic. Except for the garlic end, I added a layer of tree leaves, then seven big buckets of the new top soil, then a thicker layer of tree leaves on top. The additional top soil makes up for this year's settling.
So this bed is ready for the winter. So now there is just one bed to get ready. It needs some parts from the hardware store, so it will take a while. There is no rush, it won't be planted until May or June. However, I want to give ut a chance to settle and cure, so my self imposed deadline is mid Dec. Meanwhile, I have completel cleared the bed and contents to ground level. So that's a start.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Raised Bed #2 Is Completed. 11.24.2021

Well, this one is done. On top of the purchased top soil, I added a layer of leaves, then a layer of compost. Not a lot, but maybe enough to provide some humus and inoculum for the leaves. It will get more mixed up when it's time to plant. Then I finished emptying out the former garlic-then-bush beans raised bed that needs rehab, transferring that soil to the new bed. One nice thing, there were lots of earthworms in that soil. Of note - none of the green bean plants had rhizobium nodules. So, when I plant the late winter legume, they will need an inoculum. Anyway, then I added the soil from that former garlic / green bean bed, added a little horticultural lime, mixed it up, and smoothed it a bit. It was notable, how much easier it was to work a bed at this height. Very nice! I think the soil was not crumbly enough. It will get lots more leaf mulch and compost to help with that. It grew great crops thus year, however, so may be perfectly fine as is.
Then I gave it a blanket of Mapke leaves. They are already becoming moldy, so maybe most will break down by Spring.
The bed that will be taken apart, put back together but with a better mole barrier (I hope). There is no rest for the wicked.
I'll disassemble this the rest of the way, then probably add two layers of fencing, then reassemble the bed with wire stays for the rebars that hold the planks in place. It will take some effort, but not even 25% of the work I did on those cement block beds. After that, the final raised bed just needs cleanup, and the pathways need some thought and a bit of work. One bed already got cleaned up when I planted garlic in Sept or Oct. I have all winter long to do that. Just for my first thoughts, I like the size and height of these new beds very much. It's a good thing. I intend never again to do such a labor intensive project. Time to make the best of what I have already made.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Tree Leaves and More Tree Leaves.

This sounds like work but isn't bad. Plus it will save a lot of labor, plastic, and garden food. Here are where the second and third truckloads of leaves went - Half of the bed where I raised sweet corn this year, will be squash next year -
Most of the bed, where I raised squash this year, to be sweet corn next year and some former lawn to expand that bed a bit.
Here, the thick layer of leaves will kill all of the weeds and grass, and prevent them from growing next Spring until I work the soil to plant those crops. The lower layers of leaves will decompose and add humus, and make it easier to work, more fertile, and absorb / release water better. Any leaves that remain when I want the garden beds, will be mulch. I could hire someone to rototill instead, in the Spring, for weed management, but that doesn't improve tilth. I could buy compost, but the leaves are free. Also people need to get rid of their leaves, so it's win/win. I could lay down black plastic to kill weeds, and will in some areas. But the leaves work just as well and have those benefits. I do this every year. Collecting and using tree leaves have improved the soil so much - fertility, earthworm populations, moisture managenent, tilth.

Raised Bed Project, Continued. 11.22.21

Here is the second raised bed so far. I leveled the ground, placed wire fencing and plastic mesh on the ground to frustrate moles, built the sides, and filled most of the way, 2/3 full with the new top soil.
I waited to build the end wall, so that I could haul in most of the soil using a shefl barrow. Then I built the end and finished the first 2/3 layer of topsoil.
Then I added a few inches layer of leaves to build up organic matter a bit during the winter.
Next I'll add some compost, then top the bed with enriched soil from the bed where I raised garlic, then green beans, this year. Then top it off with leaves and add the occassional mushroom or earthworm as I find them. This is too much work. I'm glad the worst is over, although those last layers are still needed and then rehab / rebuild the bed that moles destroyed. That onechas plank sides, and isn't as tall, so maybe not as much hard labor.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Holiday Cactus (Schlumbergera) Blooming. 11.19.2021

Some of these started blooming a few weeks ago, others just started. I repotted these last winter. They are about three years old, maybe four.
This one is much older. Maybe ten or fifteen years.
These are cuttings Im took last winter from the older red one and a salmon colord one that is not blooming yet. They may need another year to start blooming.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Raised Bed Progress. 11.13.2021

Today I topped off the first raised bed with a layer of tree leaves. During the winter, earthworms should pull some of those underground and start their composting. I thought about buying a soil inoculum, since the topsoil was processed by the recycler and probably devoid of much life. Instead, I've added my own compost, and added a top layer of soil from my existing garden bed. That should give it life. Also, I collected mushrooms of various sorts and added those on top of the soil, prior to the leaf layer. To an organic gardener, soil is a living community of microorganisms. Whenever I happen to see an earthworm, usually a result of digging, I re-home them in the new raised bed. Earthworms are nature's tiny farmers. They tunnel through the soil, aerating it. Their mucous binds soil particles together. Their castings make minerals available to plant roots. They till organic matter from leaves and roots, into the soil. Meanwhile, the other raised bed is about 20% built now. Not bad. Rain is expected tomorrow.