Sunday, December 18, 2011

Plans for 2012

Reflecting on this 2011, I realized that what I enjoy the most, my garden, is almost always on the back burner now. Gardening gives me peace, and I feel one with the world. I love the smell of the soil, I love looking at buds opening, I love growing from seed and watching a plant sprout, grow the first true leaves, transition from sprout to seedling to plant, to whatever it's going to become, a vegetable, a shrub, a tree, or whatever. I love puttering and trimming and planting and transplanting. I love making compost, mulching, preparing garden beds and containers.

And yet, I barely get into the yard now. Homework usually extends through the day off or weekend, or I'm not up to it.

Will 2012 be different? I hope so. Life isn't really worthwhile, going day to day to day without a break. There will be more time off - this time around I really will take the vacation time I've earned. I will remove some of the non-performers. There I'm thinking of one fig tree in particular, and a hazel nut tree. If the peaches don't perform next year, they are going as well. That will take away some maintenance time.

The raspberries will go, too. They spread too much, are too vigorous, and I don't have the room. Despite producing a lot of raspberries last year, we didn't eat many.

I'm not sure what else will be different. I keep moving into containers - much lower maintenance, and very productive. This winter will be a turning point.

No pics today. Jan 1st will be the start of renewal.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Schlumbergera season

They are way to easy to grow and bloom. Downside: as they grow larger, the flowers face downwards. If hanging, that's fine. On a table, up-facing flowers are easier to view. Summer outside in the shade. Try to remember to water them at least weekly. Bring inside when it's cooling down. Avoid keeping them in lit rooms at night - not difficult. When they start to bud, I provide some orchid bloom food in weak solution.

A pink Sclumbergera. Probably about 3 or 4 years old.

I think I was going to throw away this red one. But this year the color is very good. So I will keep it.

I grew this salmon Sclhumbergera from gift cuttings about 6 years ago. I think this year I will start from cuttings again, for more compact size.


Can I get up there?  Huh?  Can I?
Please?  I Promise I won't mess with the little animal there.
Don't even think about letting that creature up there.  Don't even think about it.
You let it on the bed.  Damn you!
That spot looks very comfortable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cymbidium spikes

This NOID cymbidium is the only one producing spikes now. I'll hold on to some hope for the others. One that bloomed last year is not making spikes yet. If they don't bloom, I will have an excuse to buy a new one.


THe peppers did quite nicely this year. I've concluded that, in this area, the container method is the best way to grow them


I took the best looking Schlumbergera to work, so no pics of those! This one was left to dry out too much this summer, but is making a nice display of salmon colored flowers now. I think I will start some cuttings after it blooms, to have a smaller plant that is easier to care for.

This Sclumbergera was pure white last year. This year it is a very pale pink & white mixture. Really quite striking. It was in a mix, half red, and half white, and I separated them to have each color individual. This is an ideal size. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Some of my Ginkgos in the fall

These are 3 Ginkgo biloba trees that I started from seeds about 5 years ago. They are in potting soil in a half barrel. They got a big dose of compose this year and grew like crazy. The seeds were obtained locally from ginkgo trees here in Vancouver.
This is one of my front yard Ginkgo biloba trees. It is planted in the front yard in a hard clay soil. I water it once in a while in the summer. This tree is too tall for me to reach the top now. Growth is slower than the backyard tree, which is about 3 times as big, tall and with heavier trunk. The leaves on the backyard tree are still green, probably due to enrichment of the soil by the doggies - it's in the center of their "rest-room". This tree is about 13 years from seeds obtained by my dad from a local tree in Quincy Illinois, which itself had been grown by an old German gentleman, Herman Dege, who taught me about ginkgo trees, their ancient provenance, that they were conifers, and the dinosaurs grazed among them.
The 3rd Ginkgo, from my dad's seeds. This is the smallest, only about 6 ft tall now, in a drier spot with even worse clay soil. Still, it grows little by little.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday homework

Just homework today.
Goals tomorrow:
Get through homework backlog (yeah, right)
Inflate bike tires. Leave them for a few days to see if they deflate.
Bake pie.
Make lunches for Monday

I'm keeping the birds well fed. There were very few insects around this summer. Maybe the birds helped.

It's hard to get a good pic of the birds. I don't want to sit waiting for them. There are birds at the feeder almost constantly.

My buddy Charlie.

He stays by my side while I'm doing homework.  I couldn't survive without him.
My home office window.  The orchids are in an in-between stage.  Not growing much, not blooming.  The holiday cacti are blooming like crazy.  One cymbidium has started sending out spikes.  I haven't decided if I should leave the others outside.  It's starting to become chilly.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Apricot Pie

These were apricots that I processed and froze this summer. I baked the pie using instructions for peach pie but cut back the sugar by about a third. This is my usual olive oil crust, but I used vinegar instead of lemon juice. The taste of vinegar cooks out, but it makes the crust very flaky. Yummy pie!

Rainy and Chilly

Turns out yesterday was the perfect day for a little planting - today is chilly and rainy. The rain will settle the bulbs and onion/garlic sets in nicely.

I read about planting garlic.  Some gardeners plant on the shortest day of the year (Winter Solstice) - we are WAY ahead of that.  Some plant in early October.  So I'm in good company.  The various ones that I'm sure I have missed in the ground have not sprouted above the ground, so I'm not much behind mother nature on that either.

I planted the following. They were from The photos are from that site as well. I ordered them this summer, this time a small number due to I know I would not have a lot of planting time.

"Blushing Lady" Narcissus. Six bulbs. Something to add variety to the many others already planted over the years.

Narcussus "Dinner Plate". There were two very large bulbs - the size of Amaryllis bulbs.

Hemerocallis "Sixth Sense" listed as "6" flowers with ruffled petals in cream and gold tones with a red eye and wired edge. Mid-season, rebloomer, tetraploid, semi-evergreen." Being semi-evergreen it may not be as hardy as a dormant variety, more hardy than an evergreen.

Hemerocallis "Startle". This is a dormant variety, so considered more hardy.

Lilium citronella, an old variety. I like these. They are also labeled as "Yellow Turk's cap lilies".

Saturday, October 29, 2011

After some time off from gardening

During the past couple of days, I've started again.  In an era when many are jobless, it's important to have perspective.  Still, it is nice to do what I enjoy,

This week I bought 2 large plastic bins for container planters.  I planted garlic and multiplier onions.  One variety of garlic has been growing in my yard for 6 or 7 years, Incehlium red.  The plants that I had in containers did very well.  The plants in the garden were inhibited by weeds.  I also bought via mail order, from Southern Exposure, a couple of German Garlic heads.  These had huge cloves, but were a bit soft.  Both are planted.  If they grow, I'll have above 50 heads this fall.

I planted white potato onions this week, also in container.  This year the patch was overtaken by weeds, and I'm more and more sold on containers.  This is a bit late.  I've planted them as late as January, and I think they did OK, so late Oct planting should work too.

There are still some peppers and tomatoes and figs. Not bad considering I let them all go to weeds this summer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Orchid Report

During all of the destruction, construction, work and chaos, I've tried to keep the orchids properly placed, watered and fed. There may be a few casualties, but I think most have come through it. One concern was the fumes from floor finishing - it may be a while before the effects show up, but there does not appear to be any immediate death due to that exposure.

A new addition, Brassada Orange Delight "Hilo Sunrise". It was in spike and is now blooming. Bright and cheerful, compact size. If it stays small, and grows new, blooming pseudobulbs next year, that will be great.

Yamamoto Dendrobium Spring Dream "Apollon". These are the first blossoms on growth in my hands. It's interesting that so many of the Yamamoto Dendrobiums bloom in summer and again in winter.

Another view of Spring Dream "Apollon". The central eye is greener than shows up on the digital photo.  It has a single keiki, which is cool. If there were a lot of keikis, it would be a sign over too much nitrogen, but this one is on old non-blooming growth, and is a single keiki.  I will let it grow in place for a while.  There is also a new growth from the base.  Once the plant is done blooming, I will change back to a higher nitrogen orchid food to encourage the new growth to develop.

Yamamoto Dendrobium Yellow Song "Canary".

Friday, September 09, 2011

Kitchen 99% done.

There are still some odds and ends. I always withhold judgement, or try to, until the lady with the cow-horn helmet sings. But I gotta say, this is a big change for the better. Doesn't quite feel like home, but I'm told that will pass.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Another small step in the kitchen

So close. Maybe another week. The first thing I'll make is a vegetable pie, with tomatoes and peppers from the garden. And a stir fry with beans that are wanting to be cooked now. It's hard to do that with no stove.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kitchen. Another step closer.

Now with some cabinets.

The required doggie pic.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fresh Fruit

Shiro plums. Only a handfull of others on the tree. That's really all I need right now.  They are only in their 3rd year.  This was the branch most in the sun. It was rainy during pollination time. That might have been an issue. I tried hand pollinating, don't know if that helped. My idea is next spring if it is raining during blossom time, cover with plastic.

These plums are amazingly good.  I never thought I liked plums.  Then someone brought in a bag of Shiro plums to work, a few years ago.  They were very good.  So I bought this tree.  It's worth it.  Eating them is almost like drinking a very sweet wine, with no astringency, like a muscat.

Fresh figs and plums, seconds after picking them. There are only a few. That's all I need at a time. This makes ripe fig breba this year as #1 Latturula (this week) #2 King (this week) #3 & #4 Vancouver (probably Brunswick) and Petite negri. The bigger brown one is Vancouver, the black one is Petite negri.  The plums are small.  Probably because I didn't water the tree during the heat.  That may be why they are so sweet as well.

Taste test for these varieties. I thought I would like the Brunswick (the light brown interior) better, based on memory from previous years. I like the Petite negri better. The Brunswick is sweet as honey, amazingly sweet. But I think the Petite negri is more "figgy" and still very sweet, with a better texture. Given a choice, I would take the Petite negri. They are all good.

Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is another step closer. It now has a floor, the ceiling is painted, and the walls are painted. Next week, cabinets.

More from the raised beds.

The strawberries are doing great! I thought everbearing types might give one or two strawberries a month, but these are really productive, sweet, great flavor, red all of the way through. The deeper half/barrel has bigger and more berries compared to the shallower containers. That may be due to not drying out as fast.

The container grown beans are also more productive compared to the ones in the ground.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another Miltoniopsis

This is Miltoniopsis Breathless "From Love". I can't take credit for blooming it. It was in spike already. That's what happens - I discover that I can grow something, so I think "let's try more". This one has awesome markings. No scent that I can tell.

The flowers are much smaller than the "NOID" that I bloomed and is still blooming - but I like them.

Kitchen. Another step closer.

Now I'm feeling like we might be getting there soon. Charlie is cautiously optimistic.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The new kitchen now has a subfloor and insulation. Even though there have been many things completed since demolition, this is the first time when I start to feel like there is a kitchen here somewhere. Charlie agrees but wonders where his cookies have gone.

Baigou just doesn't care. He has the tail faster than light.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Miltoniopsis hybrid blooms

Miltoniopsis hybrid. It's always nice when an orchid blooms on growth that occured entirely in my care. Makes me think I can grow orchids. This one was easy, because I didn't expect it to bloom so I kept in out of the way. Mostly it was in either a shaded west window, or an east window. Now that it's in bloom, I like it.

Now in full bloom. I didn't remember the flowers being so big. Very colorful and lush. Now I know I can rebloom Miltoniopsis!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Strawberries and Zucchinis

Today after stopping homework I watered the containers and the newer fruit trees, and picked strawberries and zucchinis. The biggest of these are "Seascape" Strawberry.  These were planted in containers this February. They are bearing nicely and still blooming well.

I also pruned back the Stanley plum to get it into a low branched bowl shape. The lead had reached about 7 feet. I pruned it back to the lowest point that had good branches in each direction, about 3 and a half feet tall.