Thursday, August 31, 2006

There is still a chance: Figs from Oct 2005

Days are becoming shorter, nights getting cooler. Will there be any crop figs this year? Photos offer hope. Taken 10/15/05.

This is Vancouver Brunswick.

This is Petite Negri.

One of each. So, there is still a chance.

I think that the Brown Turkey figs will start to ripen in a few weeks. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Waiting for Gentrification: Downtown Quincy, Illinois

Well preserved architecture. I remember when this theater was open (boy am I old). I didnt have to wait for the street to clear - it was this empty already. There are so few cars - it's like a scene in an old sci fi movie, after everyone dies of a mysterous disease and leaves the town vacant (like, say, the Andromeda Strain).

When I was a high school student, this was the Quincy Free Public Library. I was a page there. Boy am I old. By the way, the year that "The Andromeda Strain" came out was about the last year that this building housed the Library.

Diamonds in the rough. If these buildings could be moved, brick by brick, to, say, Astoria, they would be a great tourist attraction. I suspect that the main reason that they are still standing is that no-one cares enough about the neighborhood to either renovate them (in the wrong hands, disasterous) or demolish (which would be a big loss).

Washington Park. These trees are huge. Lindens, Elms, Maples, Sycamores, a Ginkgo, various evergreens. What a treasure. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Three Ginkgo Trees in Quincy, Illinois

This tree is female; she is the mother tree of the ginkgo in my yard in Vancouver WA. (This begs the question - many animals have different term for male and female - ewe and ram, cow and bull, doe and buck, woman and man. So, is it ginkga and ginkgo?). In about 1965, Herman Deege taught me about ginkgos (or ginkgas) via this tree, which when young had the shape of a pine. He was a WWI veteran who was a POW in the UK.

Impressive tree in Indian Mounds Park, south side of Quincy. I dont recall ever seeing a larger ginkgo in person. Probably male, given that there are no fruit on the branches (probably why it survived. Dinosaurs may not have been a problem, but chainsaws are)

Even a ginkgo in Washington Square. Also inpressive size. Do I recall this one from my adolescence? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Travel / off line for 4 days

Flying to Quincy Illinois for 4 days. Probably can't post (at least, not photos) until return.

Quincy is a historic town, by the Mississippi River. A few interesting things happened there.

It's hot and humid in the summer, cold in the winter. Great tomato growing weather. Rich black loamy soil. Good for apples and corn and soybeans.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ginkgo Seedling

Here is a ginkgo seedling that just popped up in the chives last week. The seeds were collected last fall, washed, refridgerated, then planted in various protected spots around the yard. Kind of the "squirrel nut" method. The picture is approximately life size.

This is the only one so far this year to sprout. It may have been the mold on the seed hulls (I had hoped that this would help soften the hull, but this was unplanned mold). Last year 7 sprouted, but something ate 4 of the seedling trees during the winter, leaving 3.

There is also a "right way", usually involving storing the seeds in the refridgerator after treating with brief immersion in diluted bleach solution (to kill mold), and nicking or scoring the seeds prior to planting in moist sand or moist paper towels.

Then again, there is the idea of eating, not planting the seeds, referred to as "ginkgo nuts'. I tried a few last fall. Maybe again this year, now that I know more about them. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The method for growing figs in Japan (with link to original site)

These photos of pruned, dormant figs are from a web site by Ken Love in 2004. It basically looks like a modified espalier style of pruning the fig trees. He describes the Japanese method as (paraphrased from the linked site):

Young trees are grown to about 2 meters tall. They are then gradually lowered to a horizontal position, over a period of about 10 days. These cordons are then tied to horizontal supports, about 40 cm above the ground.

A pair of verticals can be tied in opposite directions; or 4 in an X pattern. The lateral's tips are pruned at a length of 2.5 to 5 meters.

During the dormant season, the vertical branches are pruned to 2 to 3 nodes each. When shoots appear, only the outermost shoot is kept. During Spring, shoots for fig production sprout from the horizonal limbs. These are pruned such that new upright cordons are 30cm to 50 cm apart, with 50 being considered optimal for production. The vertical shoots are tied to supports. Each vertical produces 18 to 20 fruit per season.

There are many more photos on the site; I could not find clear photos of figs in production stage. This looks like a nice method for back-yard production of figs, since it could be applied to a limited space.

Posted by Picasa

Pole ("cordon") method for tomatoes. Works for me.

The first yellow Brandywine is starting to ripen. These tomatoes are so plentiful and heavy that they bent over the steel pole. Better Boys are starting to ripen too.

The cordon (pole) method works best for me here in this climate. I think it's because it allows for maximum sun exposure and keeps the leaves away from the ground and unshaded. I pinch the new branches ('suckers') at one leaf, which some call the Missouri Pruning method. Posted by Picasa

"Work / Life Balance" (not)


Yesterday I mistakenly thought I was offf work. Got a call, where are you? It was a hard week - physically, mentally, emotionally. Working an 8th consecutive day was too much. But I did it anyway. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tomatoes. Bike miles.

Today's tomato harvest. There are at least a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes daily. In bowl, Lemon Boy (big yellow), Better Boy (big red), Tomande (medium red) various varieties of Cherry.

Lemon Boy is 15 ounces, 2nd one that size.

Bike miles: Sun=20; Mon=20; Tues=20; Wed=10; Thurs=20, Fri=20 so 110 miles this week. My legs feel rubbery. Time for a little break. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A powerful weed: Tansy Ragwort moved me 2000 miles. Flat tire.


It now seems like a previous lifetime, but this is the plant that moved me from Indiana to Oregon in about 1990. Tansy ragwort is an herb that you do not want in your garden - eaten, the toxic alkaloids target the liver, causing fatal hepatic venoocclusive disease. This European weed grows throughout the region west of the Cascades, a nonnative plant that, as shown in this photo, grows even in the oceanside forest at Ecola.

It's a long story. At the time, it was thought that I could bring expertise, by way of my graduate work, that would help prevent toxic effects of these plants on cattle. Life ultimately took other (less carnivorian) turns, but without the presence of this weed and the havoc that it causes to the bovine liver, I might never have seen the Pacific Northwest, let alone moved here.

Flat tire today, at E 89th and Millplain - 8 miles from home. Walked bike to what turned out to be a closed bike shop 10 blocks from there. Took bus home. Interesting diversion. Learned how to attach the bike to the rack on the front of the bus (easy - I always wondered how they do that). One, not-quite-all-there woman on the bus kept staring at me and smiling. All-in-all, not a disaster; plus I'll take the spare (more rugged) bike to work tomorrow (I will not be stopped!). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Four Herbs: Rosemary, Chinese Chives, Thyme, Rose Geranium

Creeping Rosemary - strongly fragrant, pine - lavender scent. Good in marinade for vegetables.

Chinese Chives - garlic flavor, good in stir fry and Chinese dumplings

Thyme and Rose Geranium - I havent used in food. Bees like the thyme blossoms and it makes a good groundcover. The Rose Geranium has a great herbal scent.

Posted by Picasa

Too tired for any other comments. Bulb catalog came - but are any more needed?
Bike another 9 miles each way, 54 miles so far this week. It's not the bike that makes me tired, it's the stress of the workday. 208# BP 139/86 HR 65

Monday, August 14, 2006

Epiphyllum oxypetallum "night blooming cereus"

The blossoms opened completely at 11 pm. Fragrant, amazing to look at. By 5 am they were nearly closed, now fully closed.

I did try to pollinate 2 of the blossoms. Curious to see if they make fruit.

Bike to work. Today, 9 miles each way (same as yesterday).
Wt 209. BP 128/87. HR 76 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tan Hua Kai Lei: Night Blooming Cactus Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Looks like it will bloom tonight. Auspicious in Taiwan.

Grown from a cutting - a gift from a colleague. This cactus was more or less neglected last winter in a South window. It was moved to a sheltered north & eastern location outside this Summer. More expert instructions are available.

I'll need to get up at various times tonight to see what happens. Photos to be posted tomorrow if the flowers open. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hard work day. Bike tomorrow.

I cant say much about work in this blog, since this is public. So, I'll just say it was a long day with a lot of stress. Even though it's Saturday.

Tomorrow I'll bike to work. It's not the same location as my usual work. The setting is bike-friendly. This is the bike locker section of the parking deck - Out of the elements, and roomy locker for each bike, with overflow rack (I haven't seen the overflow rack used. There is a locker room with a shower. Traffic is OK - more than the back streets that I usually use, but there is a bike lane.

Off to bed early. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Grapes are starting to ripen. Brown Turkey fig shows promise.

Canadice Grape. Not quite ripe. These are beautiful when they develop the full red color. Grapes make excellent edible landscaping because:

1. They can be grown over a deck or sidewalk, so their 'yard footprint' is small. Grown on an arbor over a deck, they make cool shade and provide a mediterranian feel. Like a vacation in ancient rome.
2. They dont need any fertilizing (In fact, if they are fertilized, they grow too fast and dont have any grapes).
3. They grow very easily.
5. They are good for you, one of the top 10 antioxidant foods.
6. Home-grown grapes taste much better thean the grocery store grapes.

Price Grape. Nice "Grapey" flavor. The first ripe grapes in our yard.

Brown Turkey Fig. These will probably ripen in September. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tomatoes. Bike. Figs.

Tomatoes are bearing bowl-fulls daily. Lots of cherries, tart & sweet and juicy and tomatoey.

Gave some Cherokee Purple away. This tomato is amazingly good. People love it so much, it's better to share it & see the response, than to eat it. Almost. Well, not really. But it is very fun to see how people respond to these super delicious tomatoes. I love sharing them. LemonBoy, different flavor, more tropical fruit - but still very juicy and very good. Tomande - wow. But that Cherokee Purple is amazing.

Biked another 22 miles today. Constantly hungry. BP 139/84. On bike days (or rather, nights after bike days), I sleep like the dead. It's great. Very few bikes on the road, but last year it seemed like there would only be one or two per day, now maybe a half dozen.

I finished the breba figs. Vancouver Brunswick had only one breba; Ilet it ripen until there was clearly the beggars robe. This fig was sweet as candy; almost maple sugar. Petite negri had about a dozen brebas; also much better when fully ripe (although each looked like a bird had poked one poke in each fig). Main crop: I counted about 30 on Brown Turkey, about 30 on VB, and about 100 on PN. I'll try not to "count them before they hatch" - oops, already counted. Oh, and Marseilles - one fig. But all I want is to get a taste. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gratuitous Cat Photo. Bike Statistics. Vitals.

Her name is George W Bush. She kills mice. She tolerates poodles. She was homeless and starving. Now she's not.

Today's bike ride, another 22 miles today. I added a mile each way for safer route and more peaceful ride. That's 66 miles so far this week. Lask week was also 66 miles, also, so 132 since starting after the broken rib incident.

Weight this am 209. BP 129/89 HR 78. This compares to January, 239#, 163/105. No meds. Posted by Picasa