Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving a pair of HazelNut Trees

Squirrels were getting all of the nuts. I misjudged how much room these 2 hazelnut trees would need. They are too big for the space. They get lots of nuts at that size.  But without a raptor perched in the branches to feast on squirrels, there is no chance of me getting nuts. I wanted to cut them down. With more room, I moved them to the Battleground place. Even if the squirrels still get the nuts, the trees will give some privacy from the road. Plus, there actually is a raptor in the nearby trees.

I like hazelnuts.  It would be great if I get to eat some!  Come on squirrels, leave me just one!  According to wikipedia, "The Celts believed hazelnuts gave one wisdom and inspiration." also "The Hazel Branch, from Grimm's Fairy Tales, claims that hazel branches offer the greatest protection from snakes and other things that creep on the earth."  

It's hard to tell here.  There are 2 trees.  Each is about 8 or 9 feet tall.  The trunks are about 2 inches diameter.  These are 2 varieties of grafted hazelnut tree.  There are many sub-trunks sprouted from below the graft.
First, I removed all of the sub-trunks.  They did not have catkins.  I don't know if they would have produced nuts in a few years.  I wanted to stick with the named varieties.  This removes about 10 or 20% of the growth.  Which makes up for much of the root that will be lost in digging.
The branches are tied up to make it easier to dig and manipulate the trees.  I find that trees are quite fearful of being dug up, and tend to lash out at me with their branches.  Firm but gentle tying keeps them calm, and keeps my face free of lacerations.
The usual circular trench, with a twist because these trees are one foot apart.  That was a Backyard Orchard Culture technique.  I was stretching the technique by applying to hazelnut trees.  But for the squirrel issue, however, I think it worked.
This is a bit like separating conjoined tree twins.  Rather than causing more root trauma individually unraveling intertwined roots, I sliced between them with the shovel.  They didn't have as much root mass as I suspected.  As bare-root trees, I think the roots were compact at the beginning, and had not extended as far as a seed-grown tree might have extended.
I slid them up a board, covered with a well-tied tarp for protection.
My "thing" at the moment is mycorrhizal innoculant.  This is "Mykos".  Sprinkled on the roots for promotion of better root mass and drought resistance. I don't know if that really works.  I sprinkled about a quarter cup, guessing, throughout the root mass.  I pruned broken or torn roots to a clean cut.
Planted.  Charlie was such a help.  I left branches with catkins in place.  Since I removed a fair amount of below-the-graft growth, I think the roots can support making some nuts next year.  Minimal touch-up pruning was needed.  A few broken twigs, a couple of crossed branches.  I tipped the highest branches to outward facing buds, to encourage spread.
I also moved a Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' Smoke tree from the house in Vancouver. I really misjudged. I thought it would be a bush, at most 5 feet tall. It was 8 foot this year. So I pruned it back to help move it, and moved it to this location too. I don't know why I didn't look it up when I bought it - they can be 15 or 20 feet tall. This will be a better spot.  I'll keep it as multi-trunk.  It will be nice to look out the window at this tree.

The root mass was small.  It's about 3 years old.  It was very easy to dig up and move.  I read that deer don't like them.  The deer will let me know if that's true.
My other helper. He mostly helps by running off and barking at falling leaves. When siting here, he looks so noble.
This bush has maroon leaves through the summer and brilliant leaves in the fall. This photo was Oct 10.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Iris Raised Bed.

Here is the raised bed I prepared for irises. I scratched in Mycorhizal inoculant around the better looking iris plants, and left the sad looking ones alone. I also added some compost around the better looking ones, not enough to cover the rhizomes. In the spots reserved for next April or May shipment of heritage irises, I also pre-inoculated with Mycorhizal inoculant. I don't know if it does any good.
Toward the back are the better looking plants, including Helen Collingwood which is reputed to be very tough, and Sunny Disposition. Loreley is droopy. The newly purchased ones don't look like much at all. I wouldn't expect them to, this time of year. Front left is Diety, which I saved from bacterial rot. It actually looks perky. Interesting.

Raised beds. Progress Report.

These are the onion and garlic raised beds. They look vulnerable to freezing. I am reminding myself that I think that every year and they make it through the winter fine. That's true for both the garlic and the multiplier onions. I think the onions and German Porcelain garlic are way ahead of previous years. I hope that doesn't mean the freeze will kill them. Every year is a new lesson to learn.
The front is German Porcelain garlic. Germination was 100%. One had mottled leaves which had me concerned about viral infection so I pulled it out. Not sure that makes a difference. This bed also has rescue garlic, unnamed from the yard. And one row of Inchelium Red. The rescue garlic and Inchelium red were much slower. That may not matter next year. We'll see. Germination for those was 100%. The Holland shallots germinated 100%. Today I pulled the innumerable small weeds. Then I mulched with leaf compost. The chinese chives leaves are dead. The sprouted chinese chives seedlings look delicate, about 2 inches tall.
All but one of the Inchelium Red garlic germinated. So that's 34/35. Maybe the last is just pokey. I pulled out weeds and mulched with leaf compost. After that I remembered the mycorhizal inoculant, which I spread around the multiplier onions and chinese chives, which I also weeded. Weeds were about 2 inches tall. I used a kitchen fork. That sounds difficult but it was easy in the raised beds. The small tool gave me control around the delicate plants. Then I scratched in the inoculant and added compost.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A few garden chores / Progress report.

Planted the rest of the ginkgo seeds in the iris raised bed.  That's about 20 seedlings if they grow.  Lots to give away then.  By planting outside now, they get the winter cold for stratification.

Moved one grape vine from the house in Vancouver to the Battleground place.  I don't know the variety; green when ripe, with seeds.  I recall them as excellent flavor, but it was in a shady spot under an old cherry tree, next to a fence.  About 9 years old.  The vine would grow to the top of the tree, 25 feet in a year.  I pulled off lots of leaves for the chickens.  I cut it back to about 4 feet tall, with a couple of recent canes.  I shortened those canes to 3 or 4 nodes.  Digging it up, it wasn't possible to get a big root mass.  I think grape roots are long and rangy, like the vines.  Even so, since it's easy to grow grapes from cuttings, I think the severely pruned-back vine should grow.  It will be a head start over starting a new cutting.  In its new location, I can prune more formally as a 4-arm Kniffen, which is sort of like espalier for grapes.  Much easier to take care of that way.

The soil is moist down to at least 2 feet now.  That's how deep I dug for the grape vine.

35 of the 40 Inchelium Red garlic plantings have germinated.  So they were just a bit slower than the German Porcelain Garlic.

None of the Safeway shallots has germinated.  100% (only 10 plants) of the Holland Shallots have germinated.  So there must be germination inhibitor on the Safeway shallots.  I planted a row of ginkgo seeds in the safeway shallot row, so as not to waste the space.

Very few leaves remaining on the trees.  Buds look fat and happy.  No freeze yet.

To do list for moving trees and shrubs:

2 hazelnut trees.  These are about 2-inch diameter trunks, about 8 feet tall.  Squirrels have taken every nut - not leaving even one for me.  Damn squirrels.  The top and roots will need a lot of pruning - too much for me to dig fully intact.

Brunswick fig.  Similar size to the Hazel nut trees.  Not very productive.  It's time to either move it or cut it down.  Maybe it will produce better in a more open setting.  Sever top and root pruning will be needed to get it out of the current location.

A large camelia.  2 smalll trees, one a Japanese maple and one a weeping birch.

I planted a dozen lily bulbs in the location where I dug out one of the cherry trees last month.  Late, but they should do OK.

Various Gods of Beekeeping

I thought this was interesting.

Mayans have been beekeepers for centuries.  Their god of Beekeeping was Ah-Muzen-Cab or Ah-Mucen-Cab.  National Geographic.com  The Mayan bees were stingless, but they are being superceded by Africanized European honey bees.

Apparently this is the Mayan god of bees.  "The traditional way to gather bees, still favored amongst the locals, is find a wild hive; then the branch is cut around the hive to create a portable log, enclosing the colony. This log is then capped on both ends with another piece of wood or pottery and sealed with mud."

Also the Mayan god Mok Chi.

According to Austin Cline, "Honey was an important part of the diet in most Mesoamerican cultures... a vital trade product...Ah Mucen Cab was an important deity in the Mayan pantheon. The Mayan word for "honey" was also the same as the word for "world," so the honey god Ah Mucen Cab was also involved with the creation of the world".

Also " in Mayan Codices...ceremonies worshipping Ah Mucen Cab, the god of honey, where a honey wine called balchï was consumed in excess by men only, while women drank sac honey wine of a lower alcohol content. In addition, the byproducts, wax and vinegar, were among the most valued trading commodities throughout Mesoamerica. "  and  "“To the beautiful lady foreign divine queen lord, I wash her wings, I give strength to her wings’, while intermixing the chant with sounds of a bee humming.”

Bee worship was enshrined in ancient art (Image: Ckirie/Chris Irie/Flickr)
Image from NewScientist.com.

Bees have been worshiped in other cultures as well, Minoan, Egyptian, Greek, and others.  Also in he ancient Hebrew bible with many verses discussing honey and bees. "The Bible refers to Israel as "a land flowing with milk and honey".  also "The Christians ate honey before fast-days, especially on Holy Thursday. On the eve of the Jewish New Year an apple dipped in honey was eaten; fruit and honey symbolized prosperity and peace."  Then there is this, "To the ancient Germanic god, Neckar, there was yearly sacrificed a man, a sheep, a loaf of bread and a beehive."

Bhramari Devi Goddess of the Black Bees
from maavaishnavi.com  Bhramari Devi is the Hindu goddess of black bees.  She created innumerable bees, which stung and killed the demon Arunaasura, who ruled the world and could not be killed by any creature with 2 or 4 legs.  

Bee goddess of the Ephesians.
coin with bee and first letters of Ephesus

Interesting illustration:
Image from here.

Last night I went to a 3 hour beekeeping class.  I haven't made the "final commitment" yet and built or bought a hive, but I think I will.  It was very interesting.  I've been reading up on beekeeping, and it seems like a perfect fit to our kitchen garden and little orchard.  The Linden trees are reputed to make wonderful honey, which I mentioned before.  Also, Ning wants a wildflower meadow, which will also provide nectar and pollen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Gardening for the next era.

This is a concept, I am making up as I go along.  I expect it to evolve.
Each gardener has a local climate.  Also local soil, local minerals, local water, local plant diseases and insects.  By growing what grows best locally, the gardener pioneers for himself, and also for future gardeners.  Big companies can't/won't do that.  They grow what looks and does the best in big, regionally centralized commercial nurseries.  Plants that look best in the big box stores and garden centers.   Those may be shipped hundreds of miles.  For farmers, a genetic "bottleneck", is created, eliminating diversity by marketing genetically engineered crops that require commercial chemicals to grow.  
Generations of gardeners and farmers in the past saved their seeds.  They created countless varieties of plants and great genetic diversity, and local adaptation.  Genetic diversity created opportunity and flexibility for changed conditions.  Now, with a much smaller number of hybrids (which don't grow true from saved seeds), and genetically engineered plants, that are not legal for gardeners to reproduce, we are increasingly dependent on plants that are not designed for diversity, not locally adapted, not amenable for the individual gardener to develop, probably more susceptible to disease, insects, climate challenges.  The effect is complete dependency on the marketer and chemical company, and at the same time, more risky plants with less future potential, and more dependency on chemical products for the garden.
This is not to demonize hybrids.  Many of them are great.  But there is a lot to be said for saving seeds, starting your own plants from ones that do well for you, and sharing them with others.  It's usually easy.  It's very rewarding to see plants that I grew from seeds, that I collected from plants that I grew from seed, that I collected....
Then there's trees.  Most nursery-grown trees are grown as cloned grafts from a small number of varieties.  Even forest trees are made via clones of the fast producing varieties.  That makes them more susceptible to disease and climate challenges.  By growing trees from seeds, you provide future generations with more genetic diversity.   You create a buffer against clonal degradation, and propagate varieties that prosper locally.  You grow a tree that is most likely to thrive in your own community.  That tree may impart disease or insect resistance not present in a clone.  In addition, cloned plants, especially grafts, carry viral disease from one generation to the next, but seeds do not proliferate the viral infections.  Virally weakened plants are less vigorous and less productive.  
Figs and roses are good examples.  Grafted roses do not live as long, and virally infected roses are more susceptible to weather challenges.  Most figs carry fig mosaic virus, which is thought to make them less productive.  
Many trees are easy to grow from seeds.  A young person will live to see the tree mature.  An older person will know that they have given something valuable to future generations.  As a boy, I grew maples, ginkgos, honey locusts, maples, and oaks from seeds.  Even though I don't live in the region where these were started, the last time that I visited, some of those trees were amazing, huge trees.  Shows how old I am.  My grandfather grew peaches from seeds.  More recently, I've grown ginkgos, peaches, cherries, and plums from seeds. 
 The 15 year old ginkgo in my back yard is now about 20 feet tall.  That seed came from a tree, grown from seed from my elderly boyhood neighbor, Herman Deege.  He taught me about how gingkos were around in the time of dinosaurs.  Most commercially grown gingko trees are a handful of clones, all male to avoid growing female trees that make stinky, messy fruits.  However, ginkgos are also a food crop.  Americans have not caught onto that yet.  Similar thoughts apply to other tree species - ginkgos happen to be a favorite of mine.
I'm planning to use more open pollinated, locally adapted varieties as time passes.  If I see a seed from a tree that is prospering, I might grow it.  I'll continue saving seeds from garden vegetables, and some fruits, that do well for me here.  I don't think I have to spend decades developing varieties.  Much of that has been done.  I just have to be conscious about my choices, and conscious about saving seeds when the opportunity presents.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Garlic, Shallots, Potato Onions. Progress Report.

Potato onions are almost all up, and 6 to 8 inches tall. The earlier ones are ahead of the later ones, by a few inches. Only one of the earlier ones has not sprouted. Several of the later ones have not sprouted. Egyptian Walking Onions are a little smaller but virtually all of them have also sprouted and grown to about 4 to 6 inches tall. The bed is a little weedy. I've been pulling weed seedlings. More of that effort is needed.
Inchelium garlic. I think it's at about 50% sprouted now. Keeping track of the growth will help me plan timing for next year. About half of the later-planted Inchelium garlic has also sprouted. Not clear the earlier planting is advantageous.
The german porcelain garlic. Growth is excellent. Next question will be, is faster growth more, or less, susceptible to the freezes to come.
The Holland Shallots are about 50% sprouted. The Safeway shallots are 0% = none have sprouted yet. I guess that's an effect of germination inhibitor, used for produce.. I wonder what germination inhibitors might do to the people who eat treated produce.

Plum Seeds

These are the wild plum seeds I opened 2 months ago and placed into the fridge in a moist paper towel, sealed in a plastic ziplock sandwich bag. That was July 8th. So germination is about 3 1/2 months. One looks rotted. The other 2 are slightly moldy but growing. This was one week ago.
Here they are today. I planted them in seed starting soil. No problem from the mold. Seems like wrong time of year to be sprouting. Will grow in window.


The 3rd raised bed is completed. Soil is from a pile behind the house. Again, mixing with compost as I filled. Maybe about 20% compost by volume. This time it's for flowers. Saving space for the spring shipment of irises. Plus added a row of Anemone rhizomes at the front. No idea if they will grow. They were like little rocks. Dry and hard.  Could have soaked them first. In this climate, with rain expected for the next 4 months, that seems excessive.  So I did not soak them.  I"m growing the Irises in a grid.  I'm not interested here in them as landscaping.  I like the flowers for themselves. The bed is just under 4 X 8, and the irises are about 7 across and 3 deep.  So a little more than a square foot each.  The smaller growing ones are toward the front.
The three iris rhizomes here with, white leaves are from dried-out shipments / store bought.  No confidence they will grow planting so late.  The far right, back one is Red Zinger, a medium size iris I wanted to try.   The lower right one is a rescue, I saved from bacterial rot this summer.  Diety.  Between them, I planted 2 rows of iris seeds from this summer's hybridization effort.  By planting them in the beds, there is minimal maintenance.
I planted some of the containerized irises. I've been coddling them for months. Four have died from bacterial rot. None of the in-ground irises did. Maybe that means, container method is not so good? The potting soil is not so good?  Mostly I want this bed for heritage irises, but some are modern.  I did not water them in.  I planted a little shallower than they were in containers. They had excellent root growth.  I tried not to disturb the roots.  No use spreading the root out.  Iris roots are deciduous, die off and are replaced as new rhizomes grow.

Trees, leaves, planning for bees. Plant trees in fall. Ginkgo.

That back yard ginkgo. The leaves are yellow now. Beautiful! I say it over and over, but I'm proud I grew that from a seed!
The big maple at the battleground place. So beautiful. Dropping leaves. They will make lots of great compost.
Found this little leaf linden, "Greenspire' at HD. Marked down from sale price of $39.99 to $8.00. Can't beat that price. With plans to start beehives, linden trees are a great choice. I read that linden pollen makes the best honey. This tree had a great root mass. Not too root bound. I did have to prune a few. There is no central leader. It will need corrective pruning for 2 or 3 years. But at that price, who can complain? I cut off a couple of small rubbing branches, that's all. Wait for bloom, prune after that next Spring.
About 8 feet tall once planted. The ground was very easy to dig now. No more summer dry soil. Not too much work. It will be a great source of pollen for the honey bees.
What does it take to make me happy? Leaves for compost is a good start. It's like a christmas present. Leafmas.