Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hardwood Cuttings

No pics today - forgot camera.

This is an almost-all homework weekend.  However, I did a small amount of garden inspection.

Also applied rooting hormone to some hardwood cuttings.  I didn't expect them to root yet, at all.  And they have not.  I carefully removed the cuttings from the ground, and applied rooting hormone, then carefully placed them back into the ground.

File:14065.Leguminosae - Laburnum vulgare.jpgIllustration is Laburnum, from   The cuttings I'm experimenting with:  Linden "greenspire", Mulberry "Illinois Everbearing".  I also took 3 small hardwood cuttings from unnamed Laburnum, scratched the bark, and applied rooting hormone before placing them in the same raised bed.  Plus one cutting from Brunswick fig.  Because I can.  The fig cutting did not get rooting hormone.

None of these is "needed".  Just seeing what might happen.  I also collected some laburnum seeds.  Might plant those if I don't forget them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ukranian Beekeeping Stamps

From wikimedia commons. 2001  Ukranian stamps

Ukranian beekeeping stamp, 1994 and subsequent issues.
Also this one, 1999.

Honey Bees

"Alfred Dürer, 1514: Eros, Venus and the bees. "Eros stung by a bee, when he inhaled the pleasant fragrance of a rose, went crying to take refuge in the arms of Venus," Dear mother, I die, have mercy on me, a flying snake bit me painfully cheek " Anacreontic singing, 6th c. av. AD " from Launceston Beekeepers blog.

"Anacreontics are verses in a meter used by the Greek poet Anacreon in his poems dealing with love and wine" (wikipedia)

While on the topic of Greek mythology and bees, or honey, "MELISSEUS was the rustic Daimon (Spirit) of honey and the art of beekeeping... closely identified with the Euboian Aristaios, who was also the reputed discoverer of honey...Melisseus may also be related to the Titan-god Astraios (the starry one), for the amber-coloured (êlektron or soukinos) honey-sap (melissa) which bees were believed to collect from flowers and trees was often described as star-fallen (astron). from

The herb Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) has a lemon scent which is thought to attract bees. Lemongrass oil is used to attract swarming bees to new hives, and a bee phermone is reminiscent of lemon.  Lemon balm grows like a weed for me.  I've been trying to control it in my yard for a decade.  Now I'll replant some near the beehive, when I get that far. Pic from Wikipedia entry for lemon balm.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ning and his Chickens

The sex-linked pullets are growing fast. I'm convinced they'll be bigger than Turkeys. Maybe ostriches.

Kitchen Garden / Raised Beds

Today I built a raised bed for late winter seed planting.  Prep for Spring keeps me in a good mood.

It's easier to build the raised bed on a flat surface, in a sheltered location.  So I built it in a shed.  The wood is already cut, I planned ahead.  So it's like putting together a kit.  Except I made the kit.
This time I stapled chicken wire to the bottom to protect the bed from moles, but I did not apply cardboard to the bottom.  I've used cardboard ot prevent growth of perennial weeds up through the bed.  I don't think that's required with this depth.  The lining, to protect the wood a bit / slow degradation due to the enriched organic soil, is made from big woven-plastic dog food bags.  Rugged.  Free. Reused.
Filled a bit more than half way with soil I dug in Nov or Dec, and yard waste compost I bought then as well.  Not too muddy.  Next weekend I can mix a little better, and add soil/compost mix to the top.  Will use better quality leaf compost for the top portion.

I also added 5 pounds of coffee grounds.  Feed the soil.  The soil will feed the plants.

This will have a little time to settle, then  ready for radishes, brassicas, spinach, scallions.  Cold weather vegetables.
The garlic is frozen.  Taking a photo is good for reference for next year.  It always looks dead at this time, then revives in a month or two.
Hard to see here, but this is the Ixia experiment.  I noticed they grew a few inches. The question now:  Will they survive freezing.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Seed Testing. Progress Report.

Very happy with this project.  I'm learning which seeds to plant when Spring arrives.  Also learning refinements on how to test them.

Batch prepared Jan 8.  So 4 days from starting.  The tomatoes have not sprouted.  Neither has the cilantro.  All, or almost all, of the Butternut Squash, Champion Radish, and Tevera bean have sprouted.
More stated Jan 8.  Nearly all of the seeds have sprouted - Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, Basil, Hailstone radish, Okra North/South, and early Cucumber.  The mesclun is a mix, some have sprouted, some not.

I composted these, to start another batch.  Except I ate the radish sprouts.
I'm very pleased with this method.  It's easy to set up, easy to see what sprouted, and quick.  So I did it again with more seeds.  This is Signet Marigold, 2006; Cayenne Pepper 2008, Tyee Spinach 2009, a Red Chinese Radish from 2003, Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper 2006, and Red Icicle Radish, date not legible but starting 200 so probably 2009 or 2008.  That 2003 Radish is a long shot.
This is what I'm doing now.  Draw the lines and label the paper towel with ballppoint pen.  Lay on a piece of wax paper the same size.  Add some seeds of each variety.  Moisten the paper towel around the seeds, using a spoon to add water.  That holds the seeds in place.
Then fold over the paper towel, moisten so the entire towel is moist but not dripping wet.  Also fold over the wax paper.  The wax paper makes the paper towel easy to place into zip lock bag.  Place in zip lock bag.
Holding up to light, the seeds are easily viewed.  Sprouts show well, for seeds with vigorous or sturdy sprouts, like radishes, squash, beans, cucumbers.

Now they go onto the heating mat.  When I checked last year, it ran about 80 or 85 degrees F.

Varmint Continues to Chew Fig Trees.

Petite negri.  Chewed bark.  Branches snipped of completely.

The only new damage to any trees or shrubs, is the figs.  And that's every small fig plant.  None was totally spared.

So now I've placed chicken wire screening around each of them.  It won't stop the damage that's already happened, but maybe it'll make life more difficult for the guilty varmint.
Sal's Fig.  Some chewing damage to bark.  Buds chewed off.  I think it will come back OK with minimal damage.  Now covered with chicken wire.  Some side bark is chewed, but I think it will survive.
Petite negri with chicken wire.  Mice could get through it, but I don't think it's mice.  I don't think mice could carry away the twigs that are missing.
King fig.  It's really a clean snip.  No twig nearby.  It was only a foot tall anyway, but dammit.  Lower buds should give a comeback in Spring.

King and Petite negri are duplicates.  I can start more if needed.

I read that animals don't like fig plants due to the toxic latex sap.   So why are they going after the fig plants, and only the fig plants?

Earlier this fall, the flowers were eaten off a Red Twig Dogwood.  They were at about 3 foot height, clean cut as with these King fig plants.  That's why I think it's the damn deer.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Wild Cherry and Wild Plum seeds

I found these with the other seeds.  I collected them in July.  There are also some plum seedlings that germinated earlier.  Might as well see what happens.  First, crack the nuts open, remove the seed.  Then place seed in moist paper towel, in zip lock back, in refrigerator for a couple of months.

Wild Cherry seeds. I tried cracking them open with pliers. Smashed the seeds. This worked, sort of. Then sanded a few for scarification only.
The pliers worked for the plum seeds, if I placed the seed into the open part of the pliers, not the flat part. Vice Grips work better but I don't have them here at home now. I would like a wild cherry, which I would prune aggressively to keep it small. The ones that provided these seeds, have a great flavor. If all of the wild plums grow, I don't know what I'll do with the trees. Something will come up.

Seed Testing. Progress Report.

Most of the seeds from the first batch are done. It might be early to terminate the test. But I got what I wanted and for the most part don't need to incubate further. So will start another batch.

Percentages are not detailed.  They are my wild estimate.

Nings old bean seeds.  Not very promising. A few are swelling, none with root initials.  There is a little mold.  I will incubate another week.  These might be dead.
Della Fave bean 50% 2012=1 year old
French Breakfast Radish 90% 2010=3 year old
Scarlet Nantes Carrot 20% 2010=3 year old
Scallop Squash 50% unknown date, I'm guessing 2 or 3 years old
Taiwan Sugar Pea 75% 2012=1 year old
Roma II Bush Bean 50%  unknown date.  I'm guessing 2 years old.
Cherry Belle Radish 100% 2012=1 yaer old
Parisian Market Carrot 10% unknown date, I'm guessing 1 year old.

This might not have been enough time for the carrots.  I can plant thicker to use up the seeds, and thin out extra plants if needed.
New batch.

These seeds:
Lettuce Black Seeded Simpson 2012
Radish Hailstone 2010
Okra North and South Hybrid 2009
Basil Italian Large Leaf 2010
Mesclun Blend 2010
Early Pride Hybrid Cucumber 2010

Tomato Gold Nugget 2009
Radish Champion 2010
Squash Butterstick 2010
Cilantro 2012
Bush Bean Tavera 2011
Tomato Better Boy 2006

I changed a few things.
Getting the moist paper towel into the plastic bag was very awkward.  Even with a spatula.  So this time I folded a piece of wax paper over the paper towel.  That handled a lot easier.
I also marked with a ball point pen, on the paper towel instead of the bag.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Planting & Garden Calendar for my Maritime NW Kitchen Garden

Kitchen Garden Calendar for 2013. 
I feel more connected to nature this year.  I hope that continues.  It's a rewarding feeling.
This calendar may be changed as I add more info.  It gets me off to a start.

This info from the book "Seed to Seed" by Suzanne, Ashworth.  The focus of the book is growing for kitchen garden, with seed saving in mind.  The organization is by plant type.  I've taken the info on kitchen garden plants that interest me, stuck the the Maritime Pacific NW, and organized as a Calendar for planning.  Since the chart is based on planting for seed saving, I may vary widely from it to plant for kitchen use.  The book gives planting times for each region of the US.  There can be variability based on local micro climates.

I also added:
Info in Italics from Oregon State University Extension Service.
Info in blue is from Rodale "Gardener to Gardener:  Almanac and Pest Control Primer" for Zone 8.  I'm not sure I agree with the info, but these are just guides.  Also, Zone 8 in one place is not the same as Zone 8 in another place.
Some sources contradict with others.

Here are some frost dates from for Battleground WA:
First FrostLast Frost
SEP 27OCT 13OCT 29APR 07APR 24MAY 12

Also from
Average last frost date is May 2.  Safe date, when there is only 10% change for frost, is May 23
Battle Ground
May 2
May 23

Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs or trees for propagation.
(Also collect scion wood for grafting.)
Sow beets carrots radishes bok choy and garden peas directly in garden, cover with dark compost to keep them warmer.
Sow seeds of herbs such as dill or parsley.

Plant seeds of cole crops indoors.
Plant seeds of snow peas and garden peas outdoors.  Is this why they are snow peas?
3rd week of Feb, plant potatos 4" deep in dark soil.
Start sowing seeds for leaf lettuce and other greens every 2 weeks.
Plant alyssum seeds.
Mid Month.  Prune roses. 
Apply compost to trees and shrubs.

When soil is consistently above 40F, can plant onions, kale, lettuce, and spinach.
Divide hostas, daylilies, mums.
Graft fruit trees and ornamentals.
Plant carrots, beets, broccoli, leeks, parsley, chives, rhubarb, radish.
Mid to late March:  Plant seeds for corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers.  (This must be indoors.)
Plant marigolds, petunias, snapdragons.(unclear if this is plants or seeds)

March 20 to April 1.
Plant pepper seeds indoors.

March 20 to April 10: 
Plant chive seeds
Plant garlic chive seeds
Plant broccoli seeds.  Row cover needed for pest control.
Plant cauliflower seeds.  Row cover.
Plant Chinese cabbage.  Row cover.
Plant radish seeds.  Row cover.
Plant Lettuce seeds.
Plant pea seeds and snow pea seeds.
Plant potato eyes,.
Plant dill seeds.
Plant Jerusalem artichokes.  Book states, seeds at this time.  I will have roots to plant.

When soil temp is consistently above 60F, can plant beans and sweet corn.
(I don't think that's likely)
Plant okra, sweet potatoes, squash, melons, cucumbers, corn, basil, 

April 1:
Plant spinach seeds.

April 1-20:
Plant tomato seeds indoors.
Plant basil seeds indoors.

April 20:
Plant sunflower seeds.

May 5:  Average last frost date.

May:  (Unsure, but this may be when to take softwood cuttings for some shrubs or trees.  Some references state June or July)

Plant tomatos, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, squash, okra, beans, sweet potatoes, melons.
Plant daisies, coreopsis, marigolds, sunflowers.

May 10-20:
Plant corn seeds.

May 20:
Plant cucumber seeds,
Plant bean seeds.

May 15 to June 15:
Plant parsley seeds.

May 20 to June 1:
Plant tomato plants outside.
Plant Pepper plants outside.
Plant basil plants outside.

May 23:  Frost "safe date".

Plant geraniums, marigolds.
Plant iris, cannas, dahlias, daylilies.
Continue planting cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, okra, summer squash, sweet potatoes, bush beans.
Thin fruit on fruit trees
Mulch fruit trees with compost and organic mulch.

June 1-10:
Plant watermelon seeds.
Plant other melon seeds.

Continue planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants.
Don't overstimulate plants that need dormancy, with water or feeding.
Keep plantings mulched to retain water.

June 15-July 15:
Plant carrot seeds.

July 15:
Start Beet, Cabbage, Kale, Kohlrabi, or Collard seeds.
Plant Scorzonera

Sept 5:
Plant turnip seeds.

Sept 15 to Oct 1:
Plant spinach seeds to overwinter.

This covers the majority of our vegetables. 

According to the book, sweet potatoes and okra cannot be grown in maritime NW.  I will try short season varieties anyway.

Tree Protection. Chewed Bark. Hardwood Cuttings.

I don't know what chewed these fig branches. They have been on the ground for a couple of weeks. I read that figs are deer resistant. I've also read that mice or voles can chew fig bark.
I don't know if wrapping the trunk is needed or helpful. I do know that if I don't, and the bark is chewed off, I will be angry at myself for not doing it. So I did.  Brunswick fig.
I also wrapped this ginkgo, 2 lindens, the mulberry, and two tart cherries. And 2 plums. The basis for wrapping, was it a tree that I've gone to some trouble to grow, would it take a long time to replace, and did I think animals might find the trunk tasty.
The bag contains hardwood cuttings from the yard in Vancouver. There is Lattarula fig (big cuttings), and most of the grape varieties. Also scion wood for pear. I read they can be stored buried in damp sawdust, damp peat moss, damp sphagnum, or in refrigerator. I don't have a big pile of sawdust or peat moss or sphagnum, and there isn't room in the fridge. The leaf pile should keep them moist, safe during freezing, and sheltered from sun.   I buried them about a foot deep in the leaf pile.  If they don't survive, that's OK.

I also did some shaping of one linden, aiming toward a central leader. There were 2 main leaders, neither vertical. I removed one, and tied the other as close to vertical as I could. It's supported  by a bamboo post. The prunings went into a raised bed, as effortless hardwood cuttings. Maybe they'll strike, or not. Interesting if they do, no loss if they don't.

Unknown Shrub / Viburnum tinus

It's been blooming for a month. Maybe more. Freeze and snow didn't phase it. I don't know what it is.
This shrub came with the house. I haven't figured out what it is. Maybe an evergreen cultivar of viburnum. Or not.
Update: My friend Joan identified this shrub for me, almost immediately. It's a definite match: Viburnum tinus.
Must be rugged and vigorous, given these pics, and the neglect it's doubtless had. Blooms Oct to June. Evergreen.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Fig Pruning. Lattarula.

Lattarula before pruning.  This was a challenge.  Growth this year was rampant, making thick tall canes, as tall as the house.  Lattarula has a great breba crop, one of the best for me.  I love this fig.   I wanted to keep enough 2012 growth for a good 2013 breba crop.  But also, prune back so it doesn't become too big.  I don't want to climb a ladder to harvest figs.  This photo is after taking lots of cuttings, so the tree was even more congested a week ago.
After.  I pruned about half of the growth.  There are about 10 branches pruned to stubs, which I want to make new canes at lower level, for fall crop and brebas for 2014.  The rest are left for brebas, which I can prune away after they bear in mid Summer.  That will make for a more compact tree.  I also kept some prunings to start a tree at the Battleground place.

Grape pruning.

Each year at New Year's I prune the grapes.  It's early enough that the vines don't bleed, which they do if it's Spring.  This is the "before" for the arbor.
After.  I pruned most back to 3 or 4 nodes of new growth.  Removed some redundant vine.  Took more off Canadice, which I don't like as much flavor-wise.  Left more of Venus and Interlaken, which I like more.
Price grape, over gate.  Before.  Some vines grew more than 10 feet, into the lilac and beyond.
This is my favorite grape, a blue grapey flavored seeded grape.  It does not bear heavily.  I pruned back to 2 or 3 or 4 nodes.  I saved cuttings of this and Interlaken and Venus for the Battleground place.

Testing Seeds. Progress Report. Day 3.

Not sure about these Chinese beans.  But it's just 2 days.  Some are swelling.  Maybe a sign of life.
The squash are sprouting.  Ditto for the French Breakfast radishes,  The carrots are not sprouting yet.  The Della Fave pole beans are swelling a bit.
The Cherry Belle radishes, and Taiwan Sugar peas are sprouting.  Also a couple of the Roma II beans.  Not the carrots, yet,.