Thursday, April 30, 2009

Preventive measure: Tanglefoot for ants and aphids

Every year, I discover ants in the figs. It's not too bad - slice open and wash them out. If you miss a few, the ants have a nice crunchy texture and nutty flavor. However, the ants carry fungal spores, and it seems that the ant-infested figs also spoil before they reach their ultimate sweetness. Every year, I tell myself that "next year" I'll prevent the ant infestation.

Same with the cherries. Every summer, the leaves develop massive black cherry aphid infestations. I suspect that the ants cultivate the aphids. AFTER I see them, I get out the tanglefoot, but by then a lot of damage is done.

So this year WILL BE DIFFERENT! I actually did remember. What's up with that! Tanglefoot is great at stopping the ants from climbing the trees, and no toxic chemicals.

The instructions state to wrap the tree tightly with plastic, before applying the tanglefoot. I cut wide strips from plastic grocery store bags. These have enough stretch to make snug, bark-tight bands. They also tear quite easily, so there is no risk of girdling the tree with them. They start to deteriorate in about a year, which is time for the new coating.

I use a disposable plastic knife to apply the Tanglefoot. It's very gooey. Next to impossible to wash out of clothing.

I applied the same treatment to the pears, apples, cherries, and figs. The reason for also applying to the apples and pears is to reduce spread of disease by aphids.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Visitor Update

From ClustrMaps, 31,121 visitors so far, to this little backyard garden. That's a lot of footsteps in the garden! Thanks for your interest, I hope that this is entertaining and useful for you.

Backyard Orchard

Despite the Orchard Mason Bees, I've been diligent about playing 'bumble bee' myself with a small paintbrush, transferring pollen among different varieties of cherry, or pear, or peach, or apple. The peach anbd cherry ova are starting to swell, giving me hope for plentiful fruit from each. The aprium had massive die-off (again) of branches after blooming. Unclear why. Blossoms are 'almost' open from the small graft I added to Liberty apple 2 years ago. Apricot did not set fruit - not too surprising, it's only 2 years old.

Embryonic sweet cherries. I'm starting to get excited!

Embryonic peaches. I'm starting to get very excited! Also a few on the Trilite "Peach-plum" hybrid - in it's 2nd year, so I'll cross my fingers. So far - virtually no peach leaf curl. Pray to the peach gods!

North pole apple in bloom. I over-pruned the stubby branches last winter, because they were too long. It still promises a big bowl of apples if the coddling moths dont get them. This is a different style of 'backyard orchard culture' tree. It occupies a very small garden footprint, growitn as a column rather than spreading out.

Liberty apple on M27. This root stock keeps the tree ultra-small. Very pretty, even if it didn't get apples, but it's quite fruitful. This is an example of a 'backyard orchard culture' tree that barely needs pruning - it just stays small.

This multigraft pear is being maintained at under 7 feet tall. This year there are also lots of blooms - quite pretty. It had a couple dozen pears last year. This year it is near it's maximum size for backyard orchard culture, so I'll be challenged to prune carefully this summer to maintain size and still keep it fruiting.

Kitchen Garden

Better late than never, I think. This year I'm about 2 weeks behind previous years. I think I may have been 1 or 2 weeks ahead before, though, so maybe it will be OK. It's still below 50 most nights, so too early to plant outside, anyway.

The State of the Figs

Every tree recovered from the coldest winter yet. A couple of Hardy Chicago twigs died, as did the tips of King. Most have quickly-growing embryonic brebas.

Vancouver (probable Brunswick).Lots of brebas. I hope that they develop!

Lattarula (A.K.A Lemon A.K.A. White Marseilles. This is the most brebas that it has had. So far I've never had one mature to ripeness, but it was in a container for the first 2 years, and last year had a late frost. I may have overpruned it last year as well. Esentially no pruning this year.

Hardy Chicago. Still too small to really call a 'tree'. Not many brebas. It's supposed to produce main crop quickly, so if it does that it will still be worth the garden space.

Petite negri. Lots of brebas. A few trials of grafts here and there, just to see if I can. They are not growing yet.

King. Only one breba, but this is only it's second season. This year if I get one, to taste, I'll be happy.

What's blooming

Lots of bushes, trees, bulbs and perrenials blooming now. Lush and almost Garden-of-eden.

Miniature yellow iris - by far the first iris to bloom in my yard.

This lilac was sold as 'double French white'. Not exactly... but fragrant none the less.

Branch of Lilac tree - more and more beautiful each year, but also more and more out of reach. Time for some pruning this year?

Annual Ning Charlie & Baigo under the cherry tree. Each year I think it might die. Each year it's magnificent.

Red dogwood. Candy tuft ground cover. Daffys almost done.

Fig Grafting Update

So far, so good. The little grafted fig tree has started to open its terminal bud. If it was DEAD that would not happen. Still not proof that the graft 'took', but also encouraging.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cherries are starting to bloom.

Hyacinths and daffodils are blooming. These hve been in place for 3 years. The hyacinths are multiplying, which I think is cool. In the past they just died out.

Forsythia. This is 4 years from the original, tiny 4inch cutting. The cutting had been salvaged from a piece that I found on the street while walking the dogs. It's on the north side of the house, so probably not as full as it could be.

First cherries to bloom. Pruned by the extreme "backyard orchard culture" method. If all of the flowers result in cherries, we'll have a lot.

Monday, April 06, 2009

More Spring Activity.

Will need to post pictures later this week - work beckons.

Today was a rare event, the 3rd day of a 3day weekend. Spent about 9 hours on homework, but was rested for a change. Mid 70s outside - very nice. Took the laptop outside and worked in the shade.

Took a couple of breaks. Planted some sugar snap peas. Left the tomato seed pots out in the warm weather through the day. Fed more weeds to the hens. They do like their greens. There are only 2 now. They lay 1 or 2 eggs daily, between the two. Watered the overwintered plants, took most outside over the past week. Set out a hummingbird feeder, hung from tree in front yard. Probably 30 minutes of effort in the yard, the rest was working the laptop. Still, not bad.

Orchard Mason Bees are active now, I thought that they might have frozen to death this winter. With cherries, apples, pears almost open, and peaches almost at the finishing part of their blooming, they are just in time. Saw a couple of bumblebees too. Beneficial insects are our organic gardening friends.

Strawberry rhubarb smoothie: 1/2 pkg soft tofu, about 1/2 cup frozen rhubarb, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup OJ, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and about 1 tsp salt. Blend to smooth. Yum. tart/sweet/rhubarbie.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spring Kitchen Garden Log: Starting a new season

Lots of activity this week and weekend. Yesterday temp in the 60s, today in the 70s. I spent most of the day cleaning up the main tomato patch, pulling weeds, turning soil, reining in renegade strawberries, replanted a few Chinese chives.

Rhubarb, ready for a pie if I get the ambition.

Here's the end result of the tomato patch work. Afterwards, I was too tired and sore to move. It felt very good. The best of puttering meditation.

Cherries almost ready to bloom

Very impressed this year, with this peach tree. I don't know if it will bear, but this is the most that it's bloomed. Covering with plastic for the winter, to prevent leaf curl, doesn't appear to have hurt anything. It will be a few weeks before we see if leaf curl sets in anyway.

Ready for the first batch of dumplings. Yum. This is backyard. The front yard, which is on the north side of the house, has a chive barrel that is barely getting started. Makes for a longer season. The in-ground chives are a mess - bermuda grass grew into the chives, and it's difficult to separate. I had to dig them up and pull out each grass section by hand. The barrels have a big advantage in keeping out most weeds, especially grasses.

Planted tomato seeds. This is about 2 weeks later than I planted in the past. I suspect that the ground temperature is more important than the 2 weeks wait to start seeds, so I don't anticipate any problem from the wait. I usually start too early. No time to buy new seeds, so most are from last year. Varieties: Old seeds, Supersweet100, Lemon Boy, Black from Tula, Better Boy. New seeds from the grocery store: Cherokee Purple, Gold Nugget. At least it's not like we came here in a covered wagon and if they don't grow, I don't get any. If they don't grow, I'll settle for buying some plants.

One of the apple grafts from my Dad's tree, probably red delicious. Too early to know if it 'took', but at least it hasn't dried out and turned black.

Some breba embryos on Lattarula. Keeping my fingers crossed that at last, this year, I'll get to taste some. last year I may have pruned too much, and only late crop developed; with the late Spring, I didn't get much of that. This year. I barely pruned, hoping for early (breba) crop.