Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Neck Pain / Daydreaming about garden chores

Last week I developed a neck pain, typical for disk protrusion. This is like a sensation of toothache, extending down to the right hand, and numbness in 2 fingers. It should gradually improve, I know that. Meanwhile, it is severe enough to occupy my thoughts at all moments.

Trying to daydream a bit to get my mind off from this development. Jan 1st is usually pruning day for grapes. I hope it's better by then.

Also still need to to some yard cleanup, neglected like a lot of things this year.

Basically, 2009 was not so great. The backyard orchard did fairly well, but many other aspects of the yard were neglected, and other parts of life left to languish. I hope that 2010 will be better. We can always hope. I can resolve not to keep putting off the good things in life, to take care of today's "crises" and demands, but I already know how that will go.

I got the winter onions planted 3 weeks ago. Garlic still not planted. Last week temp dropped to 12 F in the backyard - I think that's the coldest day in my yard in 10 years.

Typing is painful too, so will stop now. Need to keep thinking about new projects - ordered trees, Illinois Mulberry, Karmijn de Sonnaville apple (highly flavored Dutch variety), Belmac apple (disease resistant Mac-type apple) and maybe, if lucky, a taste of fruit from the 1-year old trees that I planted last winter.

Karmijn de Sonnaville Apple(from Raintree): This intensely flavored red russetted apple from Holland measures the highest in both sugars and acids. A triploid cross of Cox's Orange Pippin and Jonathan, it is the favorite of many, however, it is so highly flavored and aromatic that it overwhelms some tastes when just off the tree. Put this excellent winter keeper in a box when it ripens in mid October and wait about a month for the complex mellow flavors to start shining through. A vigorous grower and somewhat scab resistant...

Belmac Apple(from Raintree): This wonderful new productive all purpose Canadian cultivar combines flavor and keeping ability with cold and disease resistance. The sweet, medium to large deep red apples ripen in late September/early October and keep three months or more. Like its parent Spartan, it has a delicious sweet/tart McIntosh flavor. It resists scab, mildew, and cedar apple rust. It thrives in eastern Canada and has also proven a winner in Western Washington.. Bred by Dr. Shahrokh Khanizadeh in Quebec and introduced in 1996.

Illinois Everbearing Mulberry (from Raintree): (Morus alba x rubra) This grafted tree is hardy to -30 deg.F. It sometimes starts producing the first year after planting and bears an abundance of sweet, highly flavored fruit, 1-1/2 inches long x 1/2 inch wide that look like elongated blackberries. The fruit has a delicious distinctive flavor. The berries ripen continuously throughout July, August, and September, hence its name. The fruit is red and turns black when ripe. Illinois Everbearing will grow to 35 feet tall but it is easily pruned and kept much smaller. Each is self-fertile.

As with the rest of the yard, These will be trained and pruned according to the "Backyard Orchard Culture" method. The apples are on super-dwarfing M27 rootstock. I haven't seen the "Backyard Orchard Culture" method applied to mulberries - in fact, I've so rarely seen mulberries, I don't quite know what to expect. But so far, the method is working out well for the other trees, so I think it should work for these as well. Plus, keeping the mulberry pruned to small size should allow for netting to prevent excessive bird-thievery.


  1. Have you ever grown lil big apple tree's in your garden? I'm thinking about buying a couple lil big tree's(pixie crunch var.)and i didn't know if you had any experience with this variety of apple tree. I have three semi-dwarf ranier cherry tree's and they are full of flavor. Now I want to add apples to my garden!

  2. Thanks for the comment!
    Haven't tried the pixie crunch var. For apples, I've been sticking with the highly dwarfing rootstock, M27 rootstock, that Raintree Nursery uses for their smallest trees. I have Jonagold and Liberty on that rootstock, and the 2 new varieties will be as well. These trees stay 4-6 feet tall. If I had to do it again, I would buy about 6 and make a hedge. Pixies sound good as well, depending on the application.

    Semidwarf is too big for me, so I summer prune my cherries to keep them under 6 ft. I'm a big proponent of the Backyard Orchard Culture method of Dave Wilson nurseries, although it may need modification in my NW garden or in Eastern or Midwestern gardens due to freezing and less sun.

    Keep in touch!