Sunday, April 29, 2012


Just returned from 5 days in Chicago. Happy to be home. On inspection, many of the fruit trees are showing baby fruits now. The Illinois Everbearing Mulberry has now begun to leaf out, and there are embryonic mulberries on the branches. Or, those might be male flowers. Im not sure. It's still small, so I don't expect a lot. Since there is not much to photograph here are some public domain botanical illustrations of mulberries.

According to wikipedia mulberries grow easily from large cuttings, so I stuck some prunings into the same large container that now has some tomato plants. That worked well last year for King figs. Since I'm growing this tree by the backyard orchard culture method, pruning to small size, open center, summer pruning, I'm in uncharted territory for this fruit. It will be nice to see how it does this year.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today, more Spring

Now where is that Cat?  Where is she?

The annual blooming of the pink cherry.

I've been nurturing this yellow violet for several years.  It grew wild.  I've never seen another yellow violet.

The annual dogs and pink cherry photo.

The ginkgo - quite impressive now!  I grew that from a seed?


Impulse purchase.  Not sure where to plant.

Apple Blossoms at Hood River Oregon

Today we took a drive to Hood River and viewed the apple orchards.  Miles and miles of apple trees in bloom.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sping is completely here now.

Pics from today.  I did manage to do a few things around the yard.  The Spring flowers are in the second wave - daffodils are done, and now tulips blooming.  Japanese plums and peaches are done and cherries are in full bloom, with early apples in bloom - North Pole and Liberty.  Euro plum (Stanley) is in bloom.  Grape hyacinths have started blooming, as are violets.  Fig embryos are swelling, but no leaves yet.  Mulberry buds are swelling.  The last tart cherry's buds are starting to swell.The garlic tub is flourishing.  So are the onion tubs.  These were planted last fall.

Grape hyacinths.  They come up all over like weeds.

Hollywood plum.  I don't know yet if it will bear fruit this year. Shiro seems to have some swelling embryonic fruit, but it's way too early to be confident about that.  

North Pole apple.  I did a good pruning job last year, I think.

Stella cherry (white flowers) is amazing this year. It's covered.  I did a good job pruning that one too.  Being self complimentary there.

Violets are spreading, bit by bit.  I need to help them along some more so they fill in and prevent weeds.

Organic weed killer.  Not perfect, but it's implossible to do it all by hand now, and this helps.  Plus, it doesn't disturb the mulch, so prevents more from sprouting.  Plus it smells really good.  It's made from citrus rinds.

Tanglefoot.  I pulled off the old "collars" and put on new ones, mostly made from polyethylene mailers off junk mail, and some zip-lock bags, cut into long strips.  Tie around the tree firmly.  It's stretchy so doesn't interfere with bark growth.  Then apply the tanglefoot.  It helps a lot to keep the ants and aphids off the cherries, and keep the ants out of the figs.  Ants in figs cause spoiling and loss of fruit, as well as giving them a nice crunchy texture.  Ants bring aphids onto cherries, and can damage the crop as well as cause a lot of leaf damage.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mid April Gardening

This is the result of one of the Onion planters that I started last fall.  This one is Egyptian Walking Onion.  They are growing vigorously.  Somehow there are a few garlic plants with the onions.  These will be my reserve for next year.  There are lots of others around the yard for fresh eating now, including one of the oak barrels.
 Me in front of the earliest sweet cherry to bloom.  All cherry blossoms are within reach.
 Two additional planters.  Again, not sold as planters.  I drilled many holes in the bottoms.  Today I planted bush beans, about 20 seeds per planter.  These are a yellow bean, "Pencil Pod Wax Bush".  Pod, not iPod. The envelope states 59 days to harvest.  I think this is very early to plant them, but the containers will have warmer soil than planting in the ground.  These should be good for several batches of beans, then the chickens can eat the leaves and I can plant a 2nd batch to harvest in the fall.  No weed issues in the containers, or the few weeds that do grow are easily removed.
Ning next to the Victoria rhubarb - it grows very large every year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April Ruminations

The workload from winter to now was too much for me to do much in the garden.  This week was better, and I have some hope for the weekend.


I'll buy a couple more containers for container gardening, and potting soil for that.  Containers make the most efficient, doable method for many plants.

Last weekend I cleared out an existing container, that last year was used for chilis, strawberries, and garlic.  I topped it off with additional potting soil, and planted seeds for mesclun, lettuce, radishes, and cilantro.  I also planted cilantro seeds around the potted peach trees.

There is not much pruning to do now.

Fruit trees are a perfect garden plant for the overworked but yearning home gardener.  Once planted, they don't need too much care.  Some time is needed for pruning, especially if doing Backyard Orchard Culture (BOC).  That is best in summer, and with long days in summer is doable.  Also enjoyable.  I used the trimmings for mulch last summer, which helps with weeds.

I will need to apply plastic bands around the trees and tanglefoot.  I saw ants on the cherries.  Ants bring aphids, and aphid cause a lot of damage and stunting, and damage fruit. Ditto for the figs, apples, pears.

There aren't a lot of bees this year.  I did see some bumble bees.  That's good.  I went around with a small paintbrush and cross pollinated cherries, ditto for pears.  May not be needed, but not difficult and gives me a chance to get close to my little orchard trees.  This is another advantage of BOC - easy to reach the branches to pollinate by hand.

If there is time this weekend, I will prepare a container for some means, and replant some strawberries that I pulled out for the container discussed above.

That's about all.  No use overwhelming myself.  Pacing is important.

More Fruit Trees. Backyard Orchard Culture.

Some additional
Indian Free Peach from Raintree. I was able to cut it off very short due to placement of buds, so it will make a nicely formed Backyard Orchard Culture peach tree. This variety is reported as blooming later than others, and reported to be resistant to Peach Leaf Curl. It is not a genetic dwarf. I am giving up on those. Amazing number of flowers, and it is several weeks later than the genetic dwarf varieties. So far so good.  The flowers are near the ground.  I expect that next year they will be higher.

This is Almaden Duke Cherry from Raintree. It is on Gisela 5 dwarfing rootstock. It was planted last Spring. I pruned it to 2 feet tall, per Backyard Orchard Culture guidelines. I would have shortened further but there were no lower branches. Amazing it is blooming already. I wanted a later-blooming cherry. It is blooming at the same time as the sweet cherries. Raintree states Almaden Duke is self-fruitful, and is thought to be a seedling of a Mazzard cherry, both sweet and tart.  There are so many flowers, it may have enough for a pie.  I will let it fruit at a small age, because that will stunt it a little.  Small size is what I want.

This is that Illinois Mulberry. I may need to shorten the branches. Mulberries leaf out later than many other fruit trees. The buds are swelling. Once I start to see mulberry flowers, I will see if I can cut it back a foot or 18 inches to force lower branching and open structure.

These are the new peaches, from One Green World, an Oregon nursery. One is Charlotte, the other is Oregon Curl Free. Both are on Lovell peach rootstock. Both are considered resistant to Peach Leaf Curl. I could not find info about whether there are late blooming, which would also be good. I planted them in containers due to being unsure if the existing peach trees would bear. If the existing peach trees do not have peaches, out with the old, in with the new. If the DO, I'm not sure where I'll plant these.  The tubs were $6.00 which is cheap for a large planter.  I drilled lots of holes in the bottom before planting.  The rope handles will be useful for moving the trees.  Possibly even move them out of the rain in the winter?  Most of the low branches were pruned off.  I'm not sure where I prune them - the lowest buds seem too low, and the next higher set seems too high.

This is the Stanley plum. I left higher branches in place than I wanted, because I was unsure if there were lower viable buds. This tree is branching at about 3 feet. It came from a local big box store last year. Stanley is a well known, old European plum variety, reported to be self-fruitful. This is currently my only Euro plum. The others are Asian plums.

It's interesting to me that I have a Stanley plum, a Stella cherry, and a Blanche fig.  Such a passionate and literate orchard.

Almost all of the fruit trees I planted last year have at least a few flowers. The one that does not is the Methley plum.  Generally we don't want them to fruit when too small, but it's OK to hope for a taste.  Since I am not going for big quantity or big size, it should be OK to leave a few fruits on each tree. The Almaden Duke Cherry is big enough, and vigorous enough, I can leave all of the cherries in place.

Orchid Blogging

This was albeled "Brown Oncidium". I had it in my window at work for the past 2 years. It was fed with "Shulz's Houseplant Food" weekly weekly. Strange how the color came out. It was originally a tiny plant from a big box store, and I kept it due to the unique color. Now it's quite lovely, but a completely different color.  Strange I can't get the yellow oncidium to bloom, but these bloom very nicely.

This is the Miltoniopsis that I rescued from myself last summer.  It's been getting a Miracle-Gro Tomato food at 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of rainwater.  Strange, even with the initial abuse, it's come back with beautiful flowers.

The orchids are given mineral foods due to being in entirely artifical environment, inside, getting rainwater.  It's not the same as plants in the soil outside.

Fruit trees in bloom.

Asian Pear in bloom. This is 3-in-one Asian pear. In keeping with Backyard Orchard Culture methods, I'm keeping it pruned short and summer pruning of new growth back to about 6 inches of new growth. All 3 varieties are blooming this spring, covered with flowers. I played honey bee with them and transferred pollen among the varieties to pollinate. Not many bees outside this spring.

Left to right, Illinois Mulberry, not yet leafed out. The buds are swelling. Then 5-in-one European pear, beautiful flowers. You can't see the little Morello tart cherry, it has a couple of flowers, is in its 2nd spring, so not expecting much. Then Lapin? Cherry, covered in flowers, and the 3-in-one sweet cherry. I played the honey bee among the cherry trees, too.

This is the front side yard orchard. Each summer as I prune back I think "I've done too much! It won't bloom". Not true - covered with flowers. Last summer mid summer I pruned 3 or 4 feet of new growth off, back to about 6 inches of new growth. The trees are covered with flower buds. One is in full bloom, the other are just starting.

Hollywood Plum. The petals have fallen off. In bloom it was very beautiful. Unsure if it will fruit - pollinator may be wrong type, and too far away. Supposed to be self fruitful. Last year had 2 plums. They were SO GOOD! IF THE late frost didn't kill the flowers, I hope there will be a bowl of fruit this year.

The genetic dwarf peaches are nearly done blooming. More to follow. Shiro plum is finished blooming.