Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brief update

No pics today. Today we had 3 figs from the Sal's fig tree that I moved this summer to Battleground. The figs were slightly different from Hardy Chicago. A little "richer" however that is defined. More juicy. Skin was not as dark, but flesh had more red coloration. It's not a fair comparison - different location. I'm glad it survived the move even in the Summer and provided some figs. I planted some plum seeds, Hollywood plum, among the shallot rows. They are labeled. This way they can stratify over the winter. Just for fun. I planted some chinese chive seeds among the plants. That should help fill in the gaps, if they grow. Fall planting has the risk of not growing at all, or growing but the tiny plants not surviving the winter. If so, not much loss. I saved lots of seeds this year. I stuck daffodil bulbs in molehills. I read that moles don't like daffodils. I did that only where the mole(s) dug too close to my little fruit trees. Rain is postponed another week. Maybe it's going to become a desert here? Watered all of the new tree and shrub transplants, and the raised beds.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Now it's time for more Main Crop figs. Lots of variety now.
The biggest ones are the NoID Vancouver fig. Likely Brunswick. The brown figs are Hardy Chicago. The black figs are Petite negri. They are all wonderful.
The green ones are Lattarula.

Bulbs, Deer ResistantT

These were labeled as deer resistant. A wild tulip. I read that deer like tulips, but maybe not the wild one? More allium. Two varieties of grape hyacinth. If the deer don't get them, will the moles? I planted some around each of the new shade trees.

Transplanted Trees. One Week Later.

THey are not as droopy as I expected. In fact, they seem just fine.
The Stanley Plum. Not a single leaf has fallen. I watered this, and the other trees, today.
Indian Peach. I was sure I killed it. Not droopy, no wilting. So far, so good. I think once it's past the first week, it's less to worry about.
Not a home grown transplant, but it needed to go somewhere. Blake Kiwi. The start of a Kiwi vinyard. More, later.
The ginkgo. No more droopy than it was before. I think it will do OK.

Raised Bed #2. More fall planting

Finished the second raised bed. Similar to the first. Moving soil and mixing in compost, is hard work. Like the first raised bed, much of the topsoil is finely ground mole hills. There are a lot of them. They are easily dug, and need to be shaved off for mowing purposes.
Filled, mixed, smoothed over, ready to plant. Like the first raised bed, I added about 1/4 to 1/3 compost, made at a local recycling center from yard waste. It's black and crumbly. This is the "experimental garden". It contains: 3 rows of German Porcelain Garlic. This is a new variety to me. The sign stated, German Porcelain Garlic has fewer, larger cloves - good, I don't like peeling the tiny middle cloves, and this variety doesn't have them; strong punguent flavor - good. So it's worth a try. 1 row of Safeway Red Shallots. Because that's where I bought them. 2 rows of "rescue Garlic" - NoID from my back yard, small cloves, some are bulbs that did not clove. I want to see if they produce well, once in good soil and treated well. They could be almost any variety - over the years, I've grown grocery store garlic, Inchelium Red, German Red, and NoID garlics. 1 row of Holland Red Shallots. I found them at a local nursery. I read grocery shallots might be treated with a growth inhibitor and not grow. So I'm trying both. 2 rows of Yellow Potato Onions - mainly the small bulbs, a few larger ones. I found them while sorting through garden tools. 1 row of Inchelium Red garlic. Wanted to add a few more. My favorite. 1 row of Ixia for fun and as a test. They may not make it through the winter here. 1 row with one Allium gigantium bulb, multiple Egyptian Walking Onion bulbs - these will split into several scallions, faster than the small sets grow, and divisions from an old clump of garlic chives, to see if they are regenerated in the new setting.
Laid out in rows, ready to plant.
Planted, labeled, covered with a light layer of compost, watered, and ready for fall. Note: Egyptian Walking Onion starts in the first raised bed are about 1 inch tall now. Growing fast. The rescued garlic chives are also generating firm, green, new growth, about 1 inch long. Garlic and Yellow Potato Onions are not yet visible. It's very early. It's been in the 70s anbd 80s, without rain. So I watered them today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

More on the Raised Beds

Built second raised bed. Same size as first. Here is the bottom.
Chicken wire stapled to the box.
Flipped over, so the screen is at the soil level. This will frustrate moles, no end. I like that I'm filling the box largely with soil from mole-hill tops. But I don't want to make a new luxury condo for them. This box is now about half full. It takes a lot of soil to fill a 4 X 6 box, a foot deep.

Transplanting a Plum and a Peach tree

Two more small trees.  The Stanley Plum was about 6 feet tall.  The Peach is about 4 feet tall.
I've been growing this Stanley plum for about 3 years. I had cut the top at 3 feet, then the branches at another foot, for scaffold branches. It had one plum this year. So I got a taste. I used the same method as with the ginkgo. I sliced vertically, then cut under the tree. I lifted it out, not pried it out. Interesting. This had been a balled and burlapped tree, in its original hard soil. That ball of soil remains, but the roots have extended from the ball. After wrapping in a large plastic sheet, I transported the tree to Battleground.
Here is the hole. The spot must be "perfect" for a tree. In exactly the spot I dug, there was a stump. No way to tell what kind of tree, fruit or evergreen or...? I don't think there's harm in planting in the same spot. The stump was very well rotted, and easy to remove. Even if the original tree had an infestation or disease, it should be gone now. Forgot to photograph the planted tree. Next time.
I did not dig as carefully for this peach. Too bad. Cut roots way, way too close. So I pruned branches back, removing about 2/3 of the top. Maybe I've killed it. The morning after planting, the leaves on the remaining branches were not wilted. How tough are these trees?

Transplanting a Seed-Grown Ginkgo Tree

Now I'm moving some of the smaller trees from home to the place in Battleground. With fall approaching, I think they'll do OK. I would not move these trees in the heat of summer. I watered them the night before moving them. I wanted them well hydrated. These trees should be accustomed to "dry". They were given only minimal water throughout the summer.
First slices.  I made vertical slices in the soil, straight down.  I did not try to pry the tree loose at this point.
Then dig around the slices, outside of the first circle.  I removed soil from the section between the first and second dig.  Then, as deeply as possible, sliced under the tree.  Despite watering last night, it was fairly dry.
No prying or pulling.  I sliced "surgically" around, then under.  Despite that, I saw that I cut a deep root.  Not a tap root per se, but a longer root.  I pruned injured roots with pruning shears, for a more surgical treatment.  I  wrapped the tree with a large sheet of plastic, along with a plum tree and a little peach tree.  Then transported in the truck bed to Battleground.
Now at Battleground.  Dig a hole.  First I slice off the sod.  It's quite dry.  No rain all summer.  This top soil isn't bad.  I can dig, even with it bone dry.  At home, when planting 10 years ago, the unimproved soil could not be dug without first soaking.
Keep the roots shaded and protected while preparing the hole.  At that, the tree was in the shade until the last minute.
A good friend is needed to keep guard.  Charlie does a good job.  The hole is filled with water, and allowed to soak in.  The tree is then placed in the hole, adjusted, soil added back, firmed, watered, more soil etc until filled in.
Planted.  Circle of sod around the tree, for protection and to hold water in the hole.  It looks a bit droopy to me.  Did I kill it?  Hope not. I grew this tree from a seed.  I think it was a bit droopy before moving it.  I expect the leaves will yellow and fall quickly.  I will know if it's alive, next Spring.  Long wait.  I will water frequently until the rains begin.

This tree just over my height, which is just under 6 foot.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Tree Planting

I had some anxiety about transporting such tall trees. Bundled and tied. Cushioned over the tailgate with cardboard. No super fast highway speeds. They don't look like they've lost a leaf. The prior trees that I transported the same way, have settled in and none the worse. So I think these will too.
Aspen. I saw it at the nursery and that was that. Raymond will like that. Aspens have an amazing ability. Clones with tens of thousands of trees, all originate with one seedling. Some aspens in the US have not propagated from seed since the last ice age. They just continue sending up new shoots. The shoots remain connected together, resulting in what is considered the world's largest organism. I love the description, "the leaves dance in the slightest breeze". That was true even for this little specimen. It's a bit crooked, but perfection is not an option. Each crook, each bend, each asymmetry, makes beauty. None of these are lollypop trees. It will fill out and reach upward with time. Especially important, a stake made from aspen wood is one of the few weapons that can be used to kill vampires. With all of the garlic I grow, however, I shouldn't need an aspen stake. Aspens are also known to drive off evil spirits. There are some disease problems for aspens in the Pacific Northwest, but if it grows, awesome!
This maple was super cheap. Looking at the wounded trunk, I'm not surprised. The buyer is aware.
The trunk has a slash about 1/3 the circumference of the trunk, with some evidence of healing. The healing tells me it's not new, and the tree has survived so far. I did not trim the wound, or paint it. Painting is discouraged by tree experts. It did not appear to need trimming. We planted with the damaged side to the South, so it would dry faster after rain. At $18.00 this is a big tree, and it's not much of an investment, so if it doesn't survive, not a lot lost. I've seen worse damage that was overcome with minor care.
I kept thinking, can such a tall tree have such a small root ball and survive? It must have - this is the end of summer, and this tree was surely in the container all summer long. There were only a couple of potentially girdling roots. I pruned them.
Maple planted. This variety is called "Summer Red". With that wound, it might be "Summer Brown" but I enjoy a challenge and I have pretty good success with nurturing wounded and sick plant life.
Mountain ash. This was also a $18.00 tree, tall tree with small root mass. Again, not much by way of encircling roots. I thought that was odd. Pruned the ones that looked like potential problems. I tasted one of the berries. Bitter! Awful!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bowl of fruit. Hardy Chicago

Multiple stages of ripening. I didn't mind not getting breba figs from this tree, this summer, because I thought this would happen. It's the first ripening main crop (fall crop) for me. Different flavor, more like the dried figs.
Not as big as King or Lattarula but quite a different, very sweet, almost date-like flavor.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ginkgo pics

Some Ginkgo pics from wikimedia commons.  Anxious to move my 7 ft tall (maybe 8 foot tall) Ginkgo from the front yard to the place in Battleground.  That will leave 2 at home from the seeds my Dad collected 15 years ago.  The one that I plan to move was in a flower pot for several years, so is behind the others in growth and therefore should be movable.  I don't want to kill it.  Will await dormancy or rains or both.  Once it's here in Battleground, the place will feel a lot more like home to me.

According to, the species Ginkgo adiantoides, which is indistinguishable from the modern Ginkgo biloba, "flourished in the early Cretaceous epoch, 140 to 100 million years ago", the ginkgo's "heyday".  They state that the earliest fossils are from the Permian age, 280 million years ago.
Described as " Fossil of Ginkgo huttoni...   Naturalis museum, Leiden"
Described as "Ginkgo sp. from the Jurassic Cloughton Formation. Locality - Scarborough, Yorkshire, England"
Not much description.
Described as "Miocene ginkgo wood cross section, Ginkgo sp. from the Children's museum of Indianapolis."
Listed as "Ginkgo dissecta. A 5cm wide leaf with typical 4 lobed structuring. Illustrated in Mustoe 2002 as SR 96-09-01. Ypresian, 49 million years old, "Boot Hill", Klondike Mountain Formation, Republic, Washington, USA. Stonerose Interpretive Center Collection   "
Described as "Fossil of Gingko adiantoides, at Fossil Show, Munchen 2011; apparently from North Dakota, paleocene epoch.
Not much description for this one.
Described as "Ginkgo biloba.   Eocene fossil leaf from the Tranquille Shale of MacAbee, British Columbia, Canada"
Described as "A 70mm wide Ginkgo biloba leaf. Klondike Mountain Formation, Republic, Ferry County, Washington, USA, Eocene, Ypresian, 49 million years old. Stonerose "
According to wikipedia, Ginkgo biloba had a slow rate of evolution of the genus. The authors speculate that "Ginkgo represents a preangiosperm strategy for survival in disturbed streamside environments... evolved in an era before flowering plants, when ferns, cycads, and cycadeoids dominated disturbed streamside environments, forming a low, open, shrubby canopy. Ginkgo's large seeds and habit of "bolting" - growing to a height of 10 m before elongating its side branches - may be adaptions to such an environment."
Not a fossil, just a beautiful pic.  The local gingko "fruits" are still hard and green, and the leaves are still green - but getting closer.  A little more pale.  Also anxious to collect another batch from my source, a pair of female trees in an otherwise male row, in Vancouver WA.  Not sure if the one down the street from me is still there and dropping seeds - I should check.
It will be fun to start more, and share more.  Will send some to Raymond in Alabama.

Raised Bed. Fall planting onions, garlic, garlic chives

Half full. More trips around the area for mole hills. Several wheel barrows full. Piled in a layer of soil, then a layer of compost, then turned over, then watered, then repeated this routine for more layers until about 2 inches below the upper edge. Raked smooth.
The Starts I brought from home. It was a strange feeling - like getting starts from a friend or neighbor or relative, except they came from me.
Inchellium Red, from containers this year. I separated about 40 cloves, and wound up planting 35 of them. Should be enough, with a few heads to repeat next year if fate allows.
The separated cloves. These are very big.
Heads from Egyptian Walking Onions, sets ready to separate and plant. Most will be for scallions. I'll try to pull scallions to separate plants about 6 inches or a foot apart to repeat this cycle, too. Also for some fresh onions.
Garlic chives. I dug these from around the yard, where seedlings had taken root and grown. One batch is a rescue from my late parents' yard. I remember, I planted them as a boy, thinking they looked nice and not knowing they were edible. They persisted and reseeded, annoying my Dad but he was never able to get rid of them. I'm glad. Now I have this memory plant from my boyhood. It has smaller, more delicate leaves compared to the plants I've been growing. Those came from a seed packet from north China, most likely a commercial variety. They are about 4 generations of saved and replanted seeds, or self-sown. By mixing they 2 types together, maybe the next generation of seedlings will be in between. A little more hefty than my boyhood plants, a little more tender than the Chinese plants. I'm into genetic diversity, regardless.
All arranged. The garlic is about a foot apart, 7 X 5 = 35 cloves. The White Potato Onions are arranged similarly, except 7 X 6 = 42 plants. The Egyptian Walking Onions are in 3 narrowly spaced rows of about 15 per row, thinking most will be used for scallions. The garlic chives are in bunches, making a single wide row about 6 inches wide. They look kind of sad, but I think they will do OK, grow new roots, and generate nice plants for the Spring. I cut off the flower heads, but left the leaves, so they can photosynthesize during the fall and make roots and store energy for next Spring's crop.
All done. Doesn't look like much, but when the garlic and onions germinate, they'll make a nice neat garden bed. The blue tub was what I used last fall for the same purpose - multiple tubs. I planted it with more Egyptian Walking Onions, thinking they will grow faster in dark colored plastic container = warmer in the sun, and give scallions this fall. Experiment.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raised Beds.

Got up to 100 here today. I expect it Fall to arrive like gangbusters any day. Thought it was here last week. * No rain yet. One drizzle, doesn't count. That's not unusual in my area. Last rain was.... June? Will be glad when the rains start. Watered all of the newly planted trees, after applying a thick compost mulch. Labor of love, and maybe a new generation will benefit from the oxygen, shade, and beauty, some day, so a little water invested now is a good thing. *
(Pic from Today I built a raised bed. For engineering simplicity, I used 2X6s that were 8 feet long. Cut some in half, so the beds are 4ft by 8ft. Somewhat like these from Rodale Institute, with modification. They are 2 timbers high, which makes them a foot deep. On the bottom, I screwed on chicken wire. That's to keep moles from tunneling upward and disrupting the plants. Then bottom liner of cardboard and old cotton factory-made quilt that was about to disintegrate. That's to keep perennial weeds and thistle from growing up through the new soil. Eventually the bottom will degrade, so the beds will be connected to the underlying soil structure, which is good. I think. I filled it half full today. Then wore out. The filler is about 3/4 topsoil and 1/4 yard debris compost. Roughly. I get the compost at a composting center locally, $25 per cubic yard, which is what my truck holds. The dry soil is too hard to dig. I made use of mole hills, filling my wheelbarrow with the tops of mole hills. There are many, many, many, many of those. The moles make the topsoil nice and granular and loose in their hills. I figure they are bringing up minerals too, from the lower layer of soil. Thank you moles. We also had a fence put in, and the post holes were surrounded by the finely ground 'waste' soil, so I used that too. Watered it in, mixed together, watered in, mixed, and raked.
Plan on filling the rest of the bed on Sat or Sun. Then I can plant garlic and heritage onions - white multiplier onions, my favorite. I've been growing the multipliers from just a couple, to now a few dozen. Now there are enough that if next year's crop is generous, I will finally have a lot to eat. So far just eating a rare few, to save and expand the "seed" crop. Sticking mainly with Inchelium Red garlic, which grows so well here I find it hard to believe. Love that garlic. Last year I grew them in barrels which worked great, but the raised beds have more room, and with the larger amount of soil should need less watering. Plus, it's in the countryside and the sun is really brighter there - I hope that makes for bigger and tastier crop. Onions and garlic are considered deer resistant, so I'm not worried about the deer problem with this raised bed.
May put in a row of garlic chives too. Saving seeds from existing plants, and there are some I can move there. Plenty of room in the 4X8 bed, I think. The only fall-planted veg's this time, for me, are the onions and garlic. So that is the only bed that needed "urgent" preparation. The others can be built through the winter. Maybe set one or two up as cold frames? Depends on my energy level.
I'm exhausted and my back hurts. And my knees. All of which is good. There was much to get out of my system. * No pics today. Forgot camera. Except for the Rodale pic, which is attributed, all of these are from wikimedia commons.