Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roses in bloom

A random rose in the garden. This started out as a little grocery store potted rose. No name. It just quietly does its thing, not demanding much attention.

I think this is old garden rose, Damask-type, "Ville de Bruxelles". I've moved it a couple of times. Now it's about to be overtaken by a rhubarb plant, but I think the rhubarb will be the plant to move this time. I gave it a lot of fish emulsion this spring - probably why it's so lush now. Blooming like crazy.

Peach Progress

Peaches are swelling quickly. I feel more optimistic now. This tree is recovering from its peach leaf curl infestation nicely. The thinned peaches will be enough for a pie and some fresh peaches. Maybe.

"First Fruits" strawberries, cherries, and raspberries.

The cherries are ripening. I always wonder if we will get any. They are the first tree fruit of the year.

This is the multigraft cherry tree. Even though multigraft trees are often scorned, this tree always bears well.

Fallgold Raspberry. I usually don't get many to bring into the house. The reason is I stand at the canes eating them immediately on picking, they are so good. The one downside is the canes are invasive. However, it's easy pulling up spreading canes.

Strawberries, my favorite! This is the first bowl full. There are many, many berries on the plants.  These are june-bearing.  The ever-bearing are close behind, even though I pulled off the first flowers.  I think this will be a good strawberry year.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Roses are in full bloom

The David Austin roses are amazing now. These are Tamara (aprocot colored), Tranquility (not an Austin, this is from Heritage roses, white/pink), Sceptere'd Isle (peach) and Fair Bianca (white). All of the roses responded well to the severe pruning that I gave them earlier this year. That means the pruning was OK.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Repotting a Miltoniopsis hybrid

I bought this Miltoniopsis hybrid a couple of months ago, intending to throw it away when it finished blooming. I sat it on the deck when it was done. It sat there dry and exposed for more than a month.  Yesterday I noted that my only other Miltoniopsis is producing what looks like a flower shoot. That development inspired me to try to rescue this one.

It's not in too bad shape considering what I did to it.

I soaked the roots in rain water for 20 minutes.

The pot is too deep. The manufacture of shards to fill space in the bottom is a precision method. It takes years of experience, a graduate degree, and a hammer.

All done. Planted in orchid bark-based potting mix. It's a little close to the top, but might settle. Then again I might take it back out and remove some medium before it gets too settled.  I watered it in nicely, and now it's in a East facing window.

I'm an odd person.  I like leaving on the old stems.  If the dead flowers stay on, I like that too.  It gives the orchid a "natural" or "botanical" look, like it would be on the tree branch if no humans were around.  Plus, it reminds me that this plant once bloomed, so might again.  I do remove dead leaves.  They can be a source of infection, and generally fall off anyway.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Progress Report: Figs.

There remain a few breba on Vancouver (Probably Magnolia / Dalmation / Brunswick). Most of the fig branch tips are already cut back at 3 or 4 nodes. Today I trimmed back most of the rest. I did not do that treatment for King, which is a Breba-only variety, so I don't see benefit for stimulating new fig embryos. Still not sure about that. Chicago and Petite Negri have many new fig embryos for the fall crop. We'll see if the pinch at 3 leaves results in earlier figs than the pinch at 5 or 5 leaves. Pinching just involves bending the branch tip. They snap off. I also did that with the mulberry today, which is a fig cousin.

The King fig cuttings are growing at the tips. I don't know about roots yet. Last week I pulled one out and there were no signs of root growth yet. No problem, they are no effort and take no room, in the tomato and pepper half-barrels. If they grow, cool.

Petite Negri. Many brebas fell off, not unusual. A significant number remain. All of the new shoots have been snipped off at 3 or 4 leaves. Some are starting to grow embryonic figs, for the fall crop.

King (Desert King): I don't think any have fallen off. This is the best crop ever. Fingers are crossed. I have not been pinching branch tips back, but intend to.

Lemon (White Marseilles, Lattarula): I don't think any have fallen from this one either. I have pinched back branch tips. I missed some earlier, so they are up to 6 nodes, but that's OK.

Progress Report: Citrus

Today I repotted the Meyer Lemon. It was fairly neglected through the winter, then developed some sunburn when I sat it out on the deck. Two weeks ago I pruned it for shape and to remove some dead branches, and started feeding it with a rhododendron plant food for the acidity. Now it's growing and has produced several flower buds. I've repotted it in a somewhat larger container. I hope to have lemons this summer.

Generic citrus trees, grown from seed about 13 years ago. I don't remember what it is - lemon, maybe, but could be orange or grapefruit. It has never bloomed. Probably wont. It also suffered from neglect, but got the same treatment as the Meyer lemon, and is sending out new leaves.

Oncidium progress report.

This is an Oncidium "Gower Ramsey" that I started from a backbulb in 2009. Neither it nor its parent has bloomed since then. Bummer. Plus, I gave away one of the other starts, and the 3rd I accidentally left outside and it froze. The parent is in the sun and got some sunburn, but is growing new sections. I repotted this start yesterday into a larger squat clay pot. I have moved it now to a south window. I think I will just give it bloom food now, low nitrogen.

This is an oncidium-type that I bought as a throw-away last year. After it bloomed, I potted it into a small clay pot and took it to work, where it was in a bright window. I gave it house-plant food as a weak solution roughly weekly. Then I brought it home this Spring, and moved it into a south bathroom window. It bloomed. I was surprised. It's cool! Strange, I thought this was a brown flower... Still, it's cool! Now it's starting a new growth, which is a little wrinkled due to missing some watering, but I think it will be OK.

Oncidium "Twinkle". I didn't think I would buy one of these, but I did. It's been blooming for about 4 months. This flower spike started after the earlier one finished. I potted it into what's become my usual small squat clay pot. It's in a south bathroom window. It's growing a number of new growths so I'm giving it growth food.

I tentatively identified this one as "Stefan Isler". It's been blooming for months. The first 2 spikes are gone, and these are starting to drop flowers. This Oncidium hybrid has been amazing. Really a start performer.

Yamamoto Dendrobiums progress report

These are most of the Yamamoto dendrobiums, out for the summer. I've been gradually moving them from the shaded part of the grape arbor to the full sun area. No sun burn to speak of. I've been watering them every couple of days. The weather is mostly overcast and warm but not hot. I've been giving them high nitrogen growth-food in a weak 1/4 strength solution. We still have rain water so I am not worried yet about salts.

This is the one that I identified as "Love Memory Fizz". I was surprised that it provided a few flowers in early summer. As I was taking the photo, I noted the fragrance. I did not recall it being fragrant. It has 3 new canes. They started slightly above the bark level so I added some fresh bark to the top to give the roots a place to grow. With some TLC and sunshine it should make a nice show next winter.

I stuck this cane section from "Yellow Song Canary" in bark medium this winter, just to see if it would grow. At this stage, the answer is "maybe". It will be slow. I like these little experiments.

The other keiki starts, one from "Love Memory Fizz" from July 2010 and the other from "Yellow Song Canary" this spring. Yesterday I potted them up a little into small, squat, clay pots. The heavier pots are less likely to fall over.

Cymbidium progress report.

These are the cymbidiums, out for the summer. I moved them from the shaded grape arbor to the full sun on the front deck. Not much sunburn. They are getting water every couple of days, with weak concentration of orchid growth food. Orchid growth food is high nitrogen, to help with leaf production.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


This is the second season for this little "Illinois Everbearing" mulberry tree. I pruned it back this winter to develop low scaffold branches, then one branch developed rust so I removed that one too.

Despite that this is only the 2nd season for this tree, the new little branches have the beginnings of mulberries at each new leaf node. That's very cool. I think it will be easy to maintain this tree at a small "Backyard Orchard Culture" size with judicious pruning. It will be fun to eat some mulberries this year.

This tree has interesting leaves. I like that.

If they are good, mulberries will be a great backyard crop. Mulberries are too tender to transport to grocery stores, so the only way to get them is to grow your own. In that way, they are like figs, which can be transported only if picked so early they taste awful and turn people off from figs, or transported dried or newtonized.

Peaches and peach leaf curl.

Bummer. Leaf curl was a mess this year. As noted earlier, I didn't cover them for the winter. This is the result. Damn. I did try Copper dormant spray. I don't think it did any good at all.

I think the tree will survive. This one set a lot of fruit. Today I pruned to one fruit per little branch. New leaves should start filling in now that weather is warmer. If it kills the tree, I won't mind too much - dig it out and see if there is a more resistant variety.

During the 2 years when I stripped of leaves in November, bunbdled the branches, and covered with plastic bags, leaf curl was minimal, almost none. That is the lesson here.

No photo but the peach-plum hybrid, TriLite was no better. The plum genes did not make it resist leaf curl. It is also a mess.

Prevention of aphids and fig spoilage with Tanglefoot

Two major problems can be prevented if I am diligent now. When the figs start to ripen, ants enter the fruits. The originally sterile fig then develops infection with fungus and bacteria that the ant carries. This is the plant version of an STD. The figs spoil. If they don't spoil, the presence of the ants, inside the figs, adds an interesting sensation to the tongue when I bite into the fig. Crunchy, with a slight tang, not entirely bad. But odd.

Cherry trees develop debilitating cherry aphids in the summer, carried onto the leaves by ants. Without the ants, the aphids don't occur. I read that ants farm, using aphids as their "cows".

Both issues are prevented by a ring of Tanglefoot. Tanglefoot is a very very gooey sticky substance that, once applied, doesn't go away. Ants can't crawl across tanglefoot, and don't even try. It repels them. I place a collar of stretchy plastic on the bark first. I cut plastic baggies into strips, then tie around the tree. This makes a collar to appy tanglefoot. Without the collar, the tanglefoot would remain on the bark, and after a year is a sticky mess but has enough debris attached that ants can crawl over it. Each Spring I remove the old collars. Now is time to replace.

This is all that's needed. Strips of plastic, a disposable spoon, knife or fork, and the Tanglefoot. It's impossible to remove Tanglefoot from a nondisposable tool, so I use plastic.

Up close. This is a fig tree.

At a distance. The collar is not unsightly, it can barely be seen.

Aphids also infest apples, pears, and peaches via ant farming practices. They are next. When I do this ground level work then stand up, it makes me dizzy. I can do a half dozen at a time.

Any weeds or grass that can create "bridges" for the ants are pulled.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Fig progress report.

So far the fig trees are looking great this year. Several are loaded with brebas. I can't complain.

King fig. This variety is considered breba-only, so if no brebas, no figs. I've kept it pruned as a bush, branching from ground level. If all of these develop into figs, I'll be very blessed. This tree may be benefiting from the Southern exposure.

Lattarula, also considered breba-predominant. I think this is the most it's ever had at this point. Ditto on the southern exposure comment.

Petite negri, a handful of brebas. It's always produced a few. Not a lot. Can't complain.

This Sal's deserves a permanent spot. I grew it from a cutting. The first year it didn't sprout so I left it in the tomato patch as a stick. The second year it grew, then a rogue chicken at it off. The third year it grew, and I left it in place. The 4th year I moved it into a pot, then forgot it and it dried out. The 5th year I left it out in the hard freeze - it was outside all winter, even in the coldest freeze. Here it is, still alive. It really does deserve a trial of actual horticulture instead of neglect and punishment.

Sal's fig again. Having been so inspired, I gave it a new container, about twice the volume of the prior container. The white color will keep the soil cooler. I also provided a dose of fish emulsion to promote growth. This year it will get the good treatment that it deserves.

I was surprised to discover that this neglected Petite negri fig, which I started a few years ago, was still alive. I was certain that it died in the big freeze, and never bothered to look or water it. I picked up the container to clean it out, and lo and behold there were swelling buds and a couple of leaves. I pulled out the weeds (pansies) and gave it some water, then a little fish emulsion. If I can find some potting soil, I'll pot it up as well.

Some more space to stretch?

Looking at this little cottage for a weekend retreat. There is more room for a mini orchard. I've been daydreaming about which trees to move there, this fig, that cherry, some grapevines I started by accident, the smallest and still moveable ginkgo tree, last of it's breed (the parent tree in Illinois was gone, when I looked last month).... That's even though it might still fall through. I'll try to leave uncounted these unhatched chickens, until they start to hatch. Oh, there are some other mulberry varieties I want to try, and some gage plums....