Monday, April 23, 2018

Planting Annual Flowers, Brussels Sprouts, Collards, Tomatoes. 4.23.18

 Today the soil temperature was 65F.  It might be too early for zinnia and marigold seeds, but I planted some anyway.  Also some nasturtium seeds.

Brassicas, on the other hand, are cold tolerant.  I planted the collard green and Brussels sprouts seedlings into the vegetable garden bed.  I think they will thrive now.  If not, it's easy to grow more from seeds.

Yesterday I planted some of the tomato plants into their outside garden bed.  Again, it might be too
early, but these are extras and they are large enough that I'm finding it a challenge to take care of all of them.

I'm not sure if nasturtiums count as kitchen garden or flower garden.  The greens are peppery delicious in salads or mixed greens.  The flowers are also good.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Growing Oriental Poppies from Bare Root Starts. 4.21.18

These are poppy plants, from bare root starts that I bought at a big box store in January.  Two of the three plants survived an grew.  They are not as big and lush as the older oriental poppies in the yard, but I think they will bloom in a year or two.

Let's See if Deer eat Petunias. 4.21.18

I planted a "tree ring barrel" with petunias.  Deer are the main gardening challenge in my area.  I'm trying to find plants that they wont eat.  This year the deer pressure is higher than ever, with 2 families regularly crossing my yard. 

The "barrel" is a stack of concrete or cinder block type crescents that connect together into a ring, used to protect trees.  They stack nicely, and in that way make a barrel-type planter.  I like them because they last far longer than oak barrels, and can be disassembled easily and relocated in pieces, much easier than moving a big barrel.

We'll see what happens.  This may just be another deer salad bar.

Carnivorous Plant Progress Report. 4.21.18

Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia) Starting to Grow.  4.21.18

Various Carnivorous Plants Starting to Grow.  4.21.18
Here's a progress report on the carnivorous plants that I bought in February.  Even though they require a different mindset, compared to most other plants, they seem to be taking off.  Each plant is growing at its own rate.

The main points that I have learned so far, are that these carnivorous plants want wet feet at all times.  So I'm keeping them in trays of about one inch of water.  The water can't be high mineral, so I'm using rainwater.  The need to be outdoors if possible, so they are.  They do not like being fertilized, so I'm not.  My source, and much more complete instructions for the beginner, are found here.  The author is my friend Jacob Farin.

An aside, I wrote a blog post on my learning-about-carnivorous-plants blog, regarding the neurotoxins that some American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia) produce in tiny amounts.  The toxin is coniine, which is also found in poison hemlock
and which was what Socrates famously drank when sentenced to death in ancient Greece.  It's thought that Saracenia produce the substance to either attract or stun insects in its pitchers, so they die and decompose to provide the plant's nutrition.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Repotting and New Yamamoto Dendrobiums. 4.13.18

Repotting #1.  New Growth.
 I had lost enthusiasm for the Dendrobium hybrids, in 2016, and left a few in the compost pile.  Then I saw they survived the summer, and my enthusiasm renewed.  So I put them back into containers.  This one, in particular, was eaten by slugs that year, and in 2017.  This winter, I placed the bare-cane plant in the sunroom, put some organic slug pellets on the bark chips, and mostly left it alone.  It regrew, mainly keikei (new, removable branches with their own aerial roots), so I decided to pot it into a more appropriate (smaller) size container, with new orchid bark medium.  The roots looked healthy, but didn't fill the pot, so I chose a smaller size container.  A keiki fell off, so I potted that as well.  I don'tt have the label, but by the process of elimination, I think it might be the variety Love Memory "Fizz". I've had it at least 8 years.

As part of this new enthusiasm, I also ordered 4 new Yamamoto dendrobiums, direct from the hybridizer / creater, Yamamoto Dendrobiums in Hawaii.  I chose that route, despite shipping expense, because I thought the plants would be better than from a secondary supplier.  I think I was right.
Repotting #2.  Out of Container.
 I ordered the following varieties:

Mellow Heart "Yellow Mind"

Fancy Lady "Royal Princess"

 Red Emperor "Prince"

Oriental Smile "Fantasy"

The nursery also sent a start of a bonus plant, "
Wave King "Akebono"

Repotting #3.  In New Container, and Potted Keikei.
 I also repotted all of these new plants into slightly larger containers, in the same new bark medium.

Of my older Dendribiums, I don't know the name of the one that was left to founder until I rescued it from myself.  I'm pretty sure the flourishing white one is called Spring Dream "Apollon" and the pale pink one is called "Fancy Angel "Lycee".  
Dendrobiums and Tomato Seedlings.  4.13.18

These do so well with the care that I can give in my climate.  During the spring, summer, and fall, they will be outside in full sun.  I intend to do better this year, and water more frequently, but they survived previous years with rare watering in the summer.  I also intend to give some plant food this year.  It's not organic, but my choice this time is the diluted "Schultz" houseplant food, for convenience and the ability to give with each watering in dilute form.   When it appears that frost will come soon, I move them to the sunroom, give occasional water, and they bloom like crazy.

Sometimes they will also bloom at odd times, which is all the more welcome.

On the Yamamoto site, these orchids are pictured ready for commercial sale.  They are greenhouse grown in Hawaii, and bunched together for dramatic presentation.  In my SW Washington setting, they are not so lush, nor so prolific, and that's fine.  I can't believe how prolific they are, and how beautifully they bloom for me, with such minimal effort.

This being April, the rack also has tomato seedlings.  They are a little bigger than I want this time of year, but will be fine.
Sunroom, South & Southwest Views.  4.13.18

Sunroom, West View.  4.13.18

Friday, April 06, 2018

Tomato Plants. 4.6.18

The tomato plants are growing quickly under lights.  They are a little spindly.  I'm potting them up into larger containers, with potting soil instead of seed starting medium, and moving them into the sunroom, where they get real sunlight.  There is still about a month to go before I plant them in the garden.

Planting Some Columbine Starts. 4.6.18

I saw these columbine starts at the store, so thought I would try them.  I have not tried to grow them from bare root plants before.

The bare root plants looked fairly sturdy.  I planted them per the package directions, in the woodland border.   Deer sometimes eat plants there, and I have had columbines partly eaten by deer, so we'll see what happens.  They were not too expensive, so no loss if they don't work out.

Planting More Potatoes. 4.6.18

 This year I'm staggering the potato planting over about 6 or 8 weeks.  They are not all the same varieties, so it's not a real test of when is best to plant them.  I just don't want to overdo the garden work by planting them all at one time.

This week I bought another package of Yukon Gold potato sets.  They were already quite sprouted.  I planted all of them today, and didn't bother to cut the sets into pieces.
This year they are all going into trenches.  Last year, I  planted more shallow, and hilled up soil around them.  I think that makes for drier soil in summer, hence need for more water.  In addition, voles got into several of them.  This time, we'll see if planting deeper means less watering and less loss to voles.

I'm digging a trench about 1 foot deep, placing the sets into the trench, then covering with a few inches of soil. As they grow, I'll continue to fill in with soil.

I didn't bother to stand the sprouts upright.  I doubt that it matters.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Grafting Apple Scion. 4.1.18

 It was a somewhat chilly and drizzly day.  I had a packet of scion from Fedco.  Earlier this Spring, I didn't have much chance to collect my own scion, due to events beyond my control, but I still like doing some grafting each Spring.

I've been wanting to add some Honeycrisp to the young Winecrisp (plus Milo Gibson plus Sweet-16) tree, so here it is.  I also haven't liked the Rubinette branch on another multigraft (originally Rubinette + Queen Cox + Pristine, but now with a deer-damaged King David + Dolgo + Goldrush + a puny Hawkeye branch).  Rubinette is reputed to be among the best tasting of all apples, but in my hands the apples are misshapen and disease magnets, while other varieties on the same tree are fine.  So I did some pruning and added Prima, another King David to replace the deer damaged branch, and  Fameuse.  I also had a rootstock taken from an underground sucker off an old semidwarf tree, and grafted Fameuse scion onto that as well.
 Over the years, I've dispensed with using wax or Tree-Kote on apple grafts.  I've seen some videos shoing grafters using ribbons cut from plastic bags, which worked well for me last year.  It takes some practice to stretch them tightly around the graft union without displacing the graft, but once in place the plastic ribbons make a tight bandage for the union to heal nicely.  I also wrap the entire scion, but not as tightly.  I do have to watch for growth, so the plastic does not restrict new growth and expansion.
 For the cut, I use a Felco grafting knife.  A lot of modern grafters like using box-cutter utility knife, which can result in a clean sharp blade each time.  I see the attraction but stick to my old Felco.

I cut tags from roadside beer can discards.  I rinse them with lysol in case the people who generously provide the cans (by throwing them out of their cars) have some sort of communicable disease, then cut with kitchen shears and use a paper punch to cut a hole.  I fassten them to the branch, using a loose zip tie.  I watch the tree so growth is not girdled later when the branch expands.  That's not a problem.  I putter around these trees all of the time.

These labels work as well as any mail order label.  I use a ball point pen to emboss the name of the cultivar and date of the graft.

Prima is a Purdue-Rutgers-Illinois hyrid, originally bred to be scab resistant although scab has evolved past that property; best eaten fresh.  Per Fedco, resistant to Fireblight, cedar apple rust, and mildew.

King David is an older variety, info here is from Fedco:  "thought to be to Jonathan x Arkansas Black... 1893. Intensely flavored... Pineapple, tangerine, lemon, sweet, sour, tart, sharp, aromatic and spicy all rush around simultaneously. The medium-sized roundish fruit is very dark solid maroon—nearly black. The fine juicy flesh is firm yet tender and distinctly yellow."

I already had Honeycrisp on M27 rootstock, which restricts growth so much it's never been more than  2 feet tall and has had, maybe, one apple in 5 years.  So I'm trying it on a larger growing multigraft semi-dwaf size tree.

Fameuse is also known as Snow.   I already have a graft of Fameuse on another tree, but it doesn't amount much yet and I want to give it a good chance.  Fedco describes Fameuse as originating in Quebec before 1700. "The 1865 Department of Agriculture yearbook sums it up: “Flesh remarkably white, tender, juicy"…deliciously pleasant, with a slight perfume… Medium-small roundish ruby-red thin-skinned fruit." and possibly a parent of McIntosh.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Seedlings - tomatoes, peppers, some brassicas, and onions. 3.31.18.

 The tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas germinated nicely.  They are under lights in a West window.

I always plant several seeds per cell.  I thinned to 1 or 2 plants per cell.  When they are a little larger, I may separate some into 2 plants for further growing.

The Brassicas (collard greens and brussels sprouts) are a little leggy.
 I may try again outside.

The onions seedlings that I started 2 months ago didn't do as well.  I was not able to give them the attention that I wanted to then.  Still, they look OK, so I planted them in the garden bed.