Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kitchen Garden. Potato and strawberry progress report.

Now we are in the season of rapid growth. Today I noticed the potatoes had grown more than a foot, so I covered the lower parts of the stems with about 6 to 9 inches of growth medium, to the upper edges of the barrels.

Potato barrel, they are growing fast. I may add some edging to raise the soil level a few more inches.

These are the older June bearing strawberries. They are blooming like crazy. That promises lots of good strawberries in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I removed the first sets of flowers from the ever bearing strawberry plants that I started in barrels this winter. Flower removal gives them a chance to produce a few more leaves before making strawberries, which should result in more and bigger strawberries later on.

Chickens, rhodendrons, cat.

We cut down about half of the timber bamboo today.  More sunlight for the chickens, and it was entirely too congested.  From that came about 20 really big bamboo poles.  Some are 12 feet long and 3 or 4 inches diameter.  They give nice shade to the hens, and the hens fertilize the bamboo.  We trimmed the leaves from the poles, they make great chicken straw.  Plus, unlike real straw, it's free.  The mud around the bamboo is now covered with about  inches of bamboo leaves too.  That will make for cleaner eggs.  The poles will go into the garage to cure for a year then who knows what use?

Two new residents in the Chicken bamboo plaza.  One of the older hens might retire soon.  No real plans, as long as they all get along.

Ning at the rhododendron garden in Portland.

Some of the bunches of rhodies are as big as my head.
At the Portland rhododendron garden today. Lovely place.

There are lots of ducks there too.

Back home again. Kitty Cat being a cat.

Friday, May 20, 2011

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”  Jack London.  at the Woodland Cemetery Necropolis, Quincy Illinois.  This stone was one of my favorites, not only a "here I was" statement by the departed, but a message and an invitation to the visitor to rest his feet and enjoy the moment.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Backyard Orchard Progress Report

Here is a bit of a backyard orchard progress report. Backyard orchard also includes front yard. It also includes strawberries, grapes, and raspberries. They are all sweet fruits, so why not. Not sure about tomatoes, which are annual, but they make fruit and some are sweet. Peppers, too. Separate issue I think.

Desert King = King Fig. This vigorous, fast growing tree benefited from the pruning I did last year, to keep it compact. It is on the south side of the house. The # of brebas is amazing. King is reputed to be great in the northwest and to keep its brebas. I will hold it to its reputation. I have about a dozen cuttings in the wine barrel container beds among the peppers and tomatoes. If they grow that will be fun. Lattarula = White Marseilles = Lemon Fig. Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. Also good Northwest reputation. Seems to have more brebas against the house, than a couple of feet further away. Interesting.
Not so many on Hardy Chicago Fig. Chicago is the first to make main crop for me. So I'm not too worried about it. Not pictured, Petite Negri Fig and Vancouver = Brunswick? Fig. Both of those have a few brebas as well, larger but fewer in number, compared to the other fig trees.
Grapes are almost to the blooming stage. I was worried that they froze. Also that I over-pruned them in Jan. Now they are looking good. So I think they will do well.
Flower clusters starting to show on grape vines.

Strawberries are blooming. These are the June bearing plants that have been there for several years, and I got behind on weeding last year. They are looking pretty good despite that. Lots of flowers. I've been snipping off the flowers from the ever bearing plants, as per the instructions, to give them a chance to establish. I will let them bloom in June or July.
Illinois Everbearing Mulberry. The top branch had some orange fungus so I cut it off last month. That left 2 branches for my backyard-orchard-culture low-pruned tree, which I think is less stable than 3 branches. Still that is perfectionism. Mulberries are reputed to be late to leaf out. Looks like one little spur or early branch has potential mulberries. I would like that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Daniel's Ginkgo Trees

Here are the 3 seedling ginkgo trees. They are all about 13 years from seed. The tallest, generously fertilized by 13 years of doggie contributions, looks like it's about 25 feet tall. The other 2 are about 7 and 9 feet tall. They were also planted from containers one or 2 years later, and have not been watered as much.

Ning's Lilacs

These are not Hulda's lilacs, they are a selection of Ning's lilacs. Most have been establishing for about 4 or 5 years. Some older ones in Ning's yard are much larger, but folwered earlier and are not as photogenic now. The variety names fell off, and I was not diligent about recording which one was where. The goal was a lilac privacy hedge. This is a slow process, but now is beginning to develop into an informal hedge.

Hulda Klager's Lilac Garden

Yesterday Ning and I went to Hulda Klager's Lilac garden in Woodland Washington. Nice historical mini-botanical garden featuring Lilacs and the lady who was fascinated by them. Her house is a museum of the time as well.

Some of the Lilacs are massive. This one is 3 times as tall as Ning.
Some are covered with flowers. That seems to be variety-specific. They vary in the number of flowers and how early they bloom, as well as the colors.
A nice lilac-colored lilac. There are also magenta, pink, and white varieties.
Of course, I'm especially interested in the huge gingko tree. This one is further ahead in leafing out, compared to mine. It's at the stage of leaves the size of a squirrel's ear.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maxine passed away thurs night.

It's hard to say when Maxine really left us. Alzheimer's doesn't give an exact day and time for when you lose your loved one. It makes for an agonizing fading away, until they speak no words, remember no one, cant walk, feed, or clean themselves. For the past 6 months, she swallowed when they put food into her mouth. I last visited a few weeks ago, and as in all visits for the past year, there was no hint of recognition, and it was unclear whether she was awake or asleep or something in between. I'm glad I found these photos, it reminds me of who she really was.

Maxine in the later 40s, I think. No date on the photo.

Another photo with no date. She liked smiling like that in photos.

Not so happy looking here. Nice angel food cake.

Later in life she didn't like having pictures taken. She said she looked like an old lady, and quit smiling for photos, but she did smile a lot in person. This was with me in 1989 in Indiana. Maxine liked prairie and pioneer themes.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Lilac is blooming

This weekend was literally a sit-on-my-butt weekend doing homework. Now at 7pm sunday night I'm done-enough although "done" is never an option. Stargate in the background.

So... looking around the yard. Lilac is blooming. Nice a fragrant "lilacy" fragrance. Cherry is almost done. Tulips are near done.

I did take some time to plant peppers in the 1/2 barrels. Various varieties from Fred Meyer and Shorty's nursery.

Each year the lilacs look better and bloom more.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tomato covers

I ran out of covers so tried these. THe plants look healthy inside, after one week so far.

There are the usual "wall-o-water" units. They are about 10 degrees warmer than ambient temperature now.

Burrageara Stefan Isler

At least I think that's the variety.
I'm very pleased. I wondered if I could get it to bloom.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Iwanagaara Appleblossom "fantasy"

I'm a bit pleased with myself for blooming this again.