Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cherry Crisp

This is the recipe I used for Cherry Crisp using tart pie cherries from the North Star Cherry tree.

All along the plan was to make a cherry pie and be nostalgic about my late mom's cherry pie.  I'm too tired to make the pie.  Crisp is easier.  This was internet recipe.  I changed some ingredients.  Replaced shortening with butter.  Added vanilla.  I might have added almond flavoring but wanted to see how much the cherries tasted like cherries.

Cherry Filling
4 to 5 cups pitted sour cherries - I used 5 cups.  Cherry pitter worked great.
1 1/2 cups white sugar - seems like a lot, but that's what I did
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter

Preheat oven to 375F.

Sprinkle vanilla extract over cherries and stir to mix.  Combine cherries, 1 1/2 cups white sugar, and 4 tbsp flour. Pour fruit filling into 9x13 inch baking dish.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, oats, and brown sugar. Cut in butter and shortening until crumbly.  Except I softened the butter, and it was difficult to make it crumbly.  It was more on the chunky side.   Almost a cookie dough.

I did my best to crumble it with my fingers and distribute the crumbs uniformly over the cherries.

Bake in preheated oven for 45  minutes until topping is golden brown.

It's in the oven now.  I'll edit this post when it's out.  And say how it tastes.  I proud of this.  It's the first thing I've baked from this cherry tree, which I grew from a small sapling.  In terms of slow food, that's about as slow as it gets.

Kitchen Garden

 Today was too hot to do anything.  Plus I felt sick.  But I did plant the beans I started 2 weeks ago.  These are Ning's Chinese pole beans.   Other than that I don't know what kind.

Starting them in containers work'ed nicely.  There were 10 containers, each with 2 or 3 plants.  I planted them were I dug up the onions.  Watered well.  Kept the straw mulch in place.

I didn't have the energy to build a rabbit/deer cage so they have a temporary chicken wire cage.  Might work.  Might not.

Also planted seedlings of the "Minnesota Midget" Cantaloupe.
 Nice roots on these beans.  Not too rootbound.
 The White Potato multiplier onions are the biggest I've grown.  All were the same size, both the first bed planted in September and the second planted in November.  I think - need to check back in this blog.
 The onions and German Porcelain garlic are drying in single layers in cardboard boxes in garage.  I didn't want to cook them in the sun.
There were also a couple of nice looking turnips.  First time I grew these.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June, July, August - Pollen and Nectar Plants for Honeybees, Pacific Northwest and my Apiary garden.

Working on plants to encourage and feed honeybees for the apiary garden.  Some parts of year are covered - in Spring, Acer (maple)  flowers are plentiful, other spring-blooming trees, shrubs and flowers.

For early Spring, we've planted a hedge of pussy willow.  That may be too early to benefit honeybees, due to cold.  But it needed, it's there.

Following Acer, are fruit trees and Buckeye.  Then there is a dearth of pollen and nectar.

From list of "Main Honey Plants in Pacific Northwest" for June, July, August:


Thistle - Noxious weed.  There are some around, but I wouldn't plant more.

Cascara - had to look these up.  I think there is one large cascara shrub on the Battleground property, but only one.  There are semi-wild areas, may be some there.

White Clover. via

White Clover = pollen and nectar.  In bloom now.  I've planted quite a lot of white clover seeds.  It is in bloom now.

Snowberry = haven't seen much around the area.

Red Clover.  via

Red Clover - pollen and nectar.  There is some of this blooming.

Wildflowers - Ning's wildflower meadow is looking nice, in bloom.  Still a lot of grass.  No sure how to remove the grass.

Fireweed.  via

Fireweed - no pollen, variable nectar

White Clover - pollen and nectar

Blackberry flower.  via

Blackberry - Considered a noxious weed but so ubiquitous, might as well be native.  Plentiful on our property as well as in the area.  I might remove some this fall and winter, and replace with raspberries which are also good honeybee forage and not as invasive.  I have lots of raspberry plants, I can move here.

Red Clover- There are some blooming now.  Also crimson clover, I planted last winter and spring.  I don't see bees foraging on either, at this time.

Fireweed - no pollen, variable nectar - not sure why this is listed.  I've seem some blooming around the area.
Red Clover - pollen and nectar
Mint flower.  via
 Mint - pollen and nectar

Mint - pollen and nectar
Sage - pollen and nectar - we have some sage that just finished blooming.  Interesting.

Also from wikipedia., list of plants listed as bee friendly, I've added-
Clovers - last fall winter and spring, I sowed white clover, red clover, crimson clover, and blue clover seeds.  It looks like white clover took nicely, growing throughout the lawn, especially compacted and poorly fertile areas.  Some of the crimson clover is blooming now as well.  I also included clovers in Ning's wildflower meadow mix.
Ceanothus - these shrubs will require a few years, before they make significant bee forage.  They are quite beautiful, and contribute nicely to the landscape.
Buddleia - B. davidii is a noxious weed.  There are other, acceptable, cultivars which are see-sterile, so not invasive.  They are patented, so it takes some investment.  I added about a dozen plants.  They are growing rapidly.  Some varieties - "Miss Molly" and "Miss Ruby" are among the few plants blooming now.  .Most of the plants are small this year, but have put on about 18 in since planting in winter and spring.  I think next year they'll have enough flowers to add significantly to the bee forage.  I can't find info about whether Buddleia is, or can be, significant for bee forage.  Some gardeners who want to encourage butterflies, love these plants.  Others hate them because they are invasive and non-native.  I'm sticking with the noninvasive ones.  I haven't seen many bees on the flowers yet.  This is one of the few plants that is blooming significantly, now.
Thyme - Planted among irises.  not enough to be significant, but bees covered the flowers last month.
Lavender - This week I bought a blooming-sized 1/2-gallon "Goodwin Creek Gray"  As soon as I sat the plant down, bees were on the flowers.  Only a few are open.  I can see lavender being a significant forage plant, if I can add enough plants.
Caryopteris X clantondenis via

Bluebeard - Caryopteris "Blue Mist" - bought a 1/2-gallon in bud this  week.  It's hot and dry outside, but this is a dry-tolerant plant.  I think it will be OK.  I watered thoroughly and mulched with a deep layer of grass straw.
Pussy willow - Ning planted a hedge of truncheon cuttings in March, and all of them took.  Won't be much bee forage next spring, but there is potential for the following winter.
Garlic Chives, Chives - Not enough to contribute significantly, but the flowers are always covered with bees.
Rosemary - small amount.
Basswood - doubt there will be enough to contribute to bee forage, for several years.  Have to start somewhere.
Plum - as these trees mature, they will contribute.  Will take a while.
Sumac - just a seedling.
Apple - Pear - As for the other trees.
Mint - We have some areas where it's OK for mint and lemon balm to be invasive.
Lemon Balm - ditto.  I moved about a dozen plants from the Vancouver place.  I'm thinking the orchard will have mint and lemon balm tree surrounds.  And Oregano
Blueberry - There is one large shrub.  We added 5 new small ones.
Borage, via

Borage - started some seeds late this spring.  One packet.  Only a few seeds germinated, and rabbits or deer ate some of the leaves.  Still, looks like it's going to take.  This was an experiment.  These would be nice to include in a border or wildflower meadow.  It's hard to find borage plants at the nursery, or borage seeds, but apparently once they bloom, they scatter seeds and volunteers come up all around.

Others we have in multitude

Dandelion - a major bee forage plant.
Henbit - blooms early spring.
Cherries - big cherry trees, and new small ones.
Maple - Majestic trees in the area.
Wild Carrot - these should start blooming in August.
Buckeye - one mature tree.  It was covered with flowers - should make for a lot of forage in the space of one tree.
California Poppy - mostly from seeds I planted.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kaki Persimmons

Mu Qi "Six Persimmons" (via

Japanese Persimmon (
Some background on persimmons.

from wikipedia:
Persimmons are Diospyros, meaning  divine fruit or "wheat of Zeus".    American persimmons are Diospyros virginana, while Asian persimmons are Diospyros kaki.

There are other species, including Diospyros lotus which is the rootstock for my two young persimmon starts.

American persimmon fruits are small, and American persimmon trees grow large.  Most are either male or female.  The variety "Meader" is a self fertile female.  Most others require a male pollinator.   When it comes to ripening, American persimmons are astringent to the point of being completely inedible, until fully ripe.  Then they lose astringency and have a rich, unique, tropical sweet flavor.

Ripe Kaki Persimmon (

American Persimmon flower (
 Asian, or Kaki persimmons are more complicated.  Apparently they also started out as small fruits that occurred only on female trees, requiring pollination.  But with culturing over the centuries, mutants occurred and were developed into several classes of persimmons - some are different when pollinated, and for some pollination has no effect.  Some are edible when crisp and under ripe - "nonastringent".  Others are very astringent until fully ripe, then are very sweet and delicious.

When the calix can be easily pulled out, that's a sign the persimmon is fully ripened. 

Some interesting folklore from the wikipedia article:   "painting of persimmons by Mu Qi (13th Century) exemplifies the progression from youth to age as a symbol of the progression from bitterness to sweetness... when young is bitter and inedible, but as it ages it becomes sweet and beneficial to humankind. Thus, as we age, we overcome rigidity and prejudice and attain compassion and sweetness."
Kaki persimmon (

I planted 2 bare-root persimmon trees earlier this year.  One is "Seijo", which according to Raintree Nursery is one of the best flavored, and has the advantage of being the only Kaki to ripen at the Raintree nursery in Morton WA.  They may be a bit cooler than here, so maybe it will do well for me.

The second is hybrid between Diospyros virginana and Diospyros kaki, developed in Ukraine.  That "Nikita's gift", apparently, is 1/4 American persimmon and 3/4 Kaki.  I could not find ripening info.  In theory, the American genetics provides a richer flavor, more hardiness, and the Kaki genetics provides self-fertility, smaller size tree, and larger fruit.

Both are growing, slowly.  The first year the challenge is to get the roots established.  Toward that aim, they are mulched.  It's been rainy so I have not been watering them, but plan to if there is no rain for one week duration.  Both have a little growth.  The Seijo was larger at the start, and has more growth, compared to Nikita's Gift.  Neither tree looks very enthusiastic.  There is room for them so not uch lost if I never get to sample the fruit.  But I would like to get a taste, some day.

According to the Purdue horticulture site,  Persimmons were originally found in Manchuria, south to Kwangtung.  Marco Polo commented on Persimmons after visiting China in the 14th century.   In 1870, grafted Kaki persimmon trees were imported to the California and the US South, from China.   WA state is not listed on the Purdue site as a place where persimmons grow, but Oregon is.  Also some northern states, such as Michigan and New York.

Kaki persimmin (
The Purdue site gives range of 3 to 4 years for some varieties to start fruiting, and others 5-6 years.   So it may be a while.

According to, the original Seijo tree is more than 600 years old.  So it's a heritage variety.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fig Trees at Battleground

Sal's Fig
Truncheon Cutting.  Lattarula.
Petite negri
Vancouver Brunswick tree was already discussed this week. Sal's Fig is about waist high.  The newest leaves are full size and without distortion.  The older leaves were distorted.  Possibly a late frost effect.  There are fig buds so maybe this will produce some figs this fall.

Late winter I planted 4 truncheon cuttings from my Lattarula tree.  A truncheon cutting is a large stick cut from the tree, and stuck into the ground.  These were 2 feet long, 1/2 inch thick.  I stuck them into the wet ground about 1 foot deep. Did not expect growth.  Today I was mowing and saw these two growing.    It will be interesting to see if they establish, grow some more this summer, and survive next winter.  I'm not concerned about them.  I already have a nice Lattarula started from cutting, much bigger than these, in a container.  Lattarula is vigorous, so these cuttings could do well.

Petite negri.  As for the Sal's fig, the newestt leaves are not distorted.  This tree may get off to a slow start, same as its parent tree did, years ago.  This is a slow growing variety.

Apiary. Painted Top Bar Hive #2

Kenyan Top Bar Hive #2
Second top bar hive almost ready to set up.  This one had some QA issues - the hive body was slightly too large for the lid.  After putting it together, I had to take it back apart.  Cut the sides about 1/8 inch shorter, chisel the edges to fit, put back together.  Now it works.

Aspects of this design that I like:  The copper roof.  The cross bar legs, more stable appearing, compared to the legs on most top bar kits.  The window.  I look into the hive a lot.  

Tuesday painted a coat of primer. Today painted a coat of outdoor Latex.  When dry I'll un-tape the copper roof and window, install the window cover and roof.  And it will be ready to use.

Not the right time of year to get bees.  That's OK.  It will be fully dry, and then some, and ready for spring.  No rush.  No stress. 

The site needs to be set up.  That will take some more effort.

Cherries and Berries.

Surefire Cherry
Surefire tart cherries
This was a good day for fruit.  Sweet cherries, tart cherries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Sweet cherries tart cherries, strawberries, raspberries.

Brugmansia cutting

Brugmansia cutting

Brugmansia new roots
 Not sure when I started this Brugmansia cutting.  It was mailed by a fellow gardener.  Started in a glass of water - maybe 3 weeks.  Changed water daily.  When roots were about one mm long, transferred to juice can / potting soil.  That was about 2 weeks.  Now roots peeking through holes drilled in bottom of juice can, so potted up.  Growing fast.  I won't predict whether it will bloom this year.
Brugmansia potted up

Friday, June 21, 2013

When I am an old man...

When I am an old man...
I will be surprised I made it that far.  If I do.
It's not that far away.
There's a good chance, I won't.
I will consider it funny to have aches and pains.
I already do.
I will not whine about being old.
Or apologize for aging.
I will consider it honorable and amazing.
I will laugh at myself for being funny looking, and bald, and having ears that stick out.
I already do.
I will be proud of my past.
I did a lot, against great odds.
And against fierce opposition.
I will be skinny and awkward, like when I was a teenager.
Only with more wrinkles.
I will smile a lot.
Or not.
I won't say much.
When I do speak, I will say thoughtful words.
I will bake sourdough bread.
And home made pies.
And make cornbread, and tamales.

I will putter in the garden among the bees and hens.
I already do.
And grow pole beans and zucchinis.
And grapes, and figs, and peaches.
From my beehives, I will give packages of fresh honey, to nice people.

My curses will be colorful and complex.
And used sparingly.
And aimed at the self-righteous self-important, and smug.
And greedy.
I will learn Spanish.
I will not consider it an insult to say "old".
Don't whisper "old", or use euphemisms.
I will consider "old" an honorific, respectful, and esteemed.
I will stand proud and crooked.
Like a beautiful, ancient, wizened bristlecone pine.
I will growl like an old lion.
I will tell people what I think.
If I like them.
If I don't, they aren't worth my effort.
My favorite shirt will be an old flannel shirt, from Goodwill or a yard sale.
I will wear it everywhere.
My favorite hat will be a cap I already wear.
It will be frayed and stained.
I will wear it everywhere.
My favorite trousers will be an old pair of khakis with side pockets for pruning shears and a pocket knife.
I will wear them everywhere.
I will grow the best tomatoes in the neighborhood.
I will tell young people, stories they didn't know.
About wars they never heard of.
And great minds no one told them about.
I might make them up.
Or not.
No one could make up a past, as interesting, as the real past.
I will quote Robert Green Ingersoll.
And Samuel Clemens.
My loyal dog will always be by my side.
He will roll in the grass and be covered in dust.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nagami Kumquat

Kumquot Illustration 1906
 Kumquots are citrus-like small fruits.  They may be classified as citrus or as Fortunella margarita

Via Monrovia, Kumquots are native to China.  Small tree, fruit with thin sweet rind and sour juicy flesh. 

Kumquat flowers
Last year, I bought a 1 foot tall Nagami kumquot and kept it on the deck.  If I remember correctly it did have some fruit at the time.  I don't know why I didn't taste them.  It overwintered OK indoors.  Now it's on the deck at the Battleground place.  It did not look enthusiastic this Spring.  About 2 weeks ago I repotted it into a larger, wooden container, watered, and am feeding with a diluted acid-loving plant fertilizer.  1/4 teaspoon per gallon, same as for Meyer Lemon.

Via Wikipedia, Kumquats are Citrus japopica "margarita": or Fortunella japonica.  They are more cold tolerant than most citrus, survive down to 18F. 

The flowers are small and fragrant, similar to other citrus.  The trees bloom in late Spring and the fruit matures in early fall. 

Kumquat at Corfu
From the Purdue horticulture website, Kumquats were mentioned in Chinese literature in 1178 AD and in Western literature in 1646.  Nagami was introduced to London in 1846. 

For growth in containers, Kumquats need to be on dwarfing rootstock (trifoliate orange, Poncirus trifoliata, flying dragon), not rootbound, and have regular watering and feeding.  I did let mine dry out rather badly last winter, and it survived.

Via,  Kumquats are later blooming than other citrus.  The fruit is aromatic and spicy.  The fruit matures in November.

From, kumquats grow poorly on their own roots.  Kumquat dormancy is profound, and they break dormancy later than other citrus. 

All photos here are cropped from photos on

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Moving a Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' Smoke tree - 8 months later

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' Oct 2012
Last fall I moved this Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' Smoke tree from the place in Vancouver to the place in Battleground.  The tree/shrub was about 8 feet tall.  I pruned it to about 5 feet tall.  It was in a compost-rich bed immediately North of the house, so little sunlight.

In the new location, the tree is in much brighter, full sun for much of the day.  The soil is heavier, and has not been given as much compost.  I did give it a compost mulch.  New branches grew from the tips of the pruned branches, and the tree bloomed this spring.  Growth is less, internode space less, leaves smaller and darker burgundy, than before.  It looks settled in the new location.

It will need occasional water during the dry season this year.   I'm happy with this outcome.

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' June 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Citrus. Zone Inappropriate. Not letting that stop me.

Meyer Lemon

I rescued the Meyer Lemon from my own neglect last year.  I had let it frost the winter before, which killed most of it.  Then last winter I let it dryout, to the point of crispy leaves, a few times.  It's recovered nicely.  Blooming.  One lemon is set, maybe more to come.  I should take better care of it.  They are delicious.  The blossoms smell very sweet.  I can smell them 10 feet away.

There have not been fruit on this Kumquat. After repotting I found the label - Nagami Kumquot.   Repotted, giving some blueberry mineral based fertilizer, same as the other citrus.  Maybe this year it will put on some good growth for flowers and fruit next year.  I bought the kumquat last year at Home Depot.  If I remember correctly, it did have fruit at the time.

The remaining citrus bush came from seeds Ning planted 15 years ago in another plant, in Chicago.  We brought it with us to Vancouver.  I don't remember what it is.  Probably lemon or grapefruit.  It had the same neglect as the Meyer lemon, dropped leaves after they were crispified.  I repotted it, giving some TLC.  It is recovering nicely.  I don't expect it to bloom or bear fruit, but I keep thinking that would be interesting.

These trees get more sunlight at the Battleground place.  So maybe they will do better.  I think the wooden containers will do a better job of insulating the roots, compared to plastic containers.
Seedling Grown Citrus

Home Orchard

Vancouver Brunswick fig before moving 12/12
Vancouver Brunswick fig 6/13

Illinois Everbearing Mulberry
Update on this "Vancouver Brunswick" fig tree that I moved last December.  I thought I might have killed it with the pruning and digging and moving.  Then when it did start to grow, the new growth was killed by frost.

Now it's making a good comeback.  At the Battleground site, this tree has more coarse, darker green, stiffer leaves.  I take that as due to brighter sun and differences in climate.  Maybe the cooler nights, or a difference in fertility.

This tree may not have figs this year.  I don't mind, and prefer that it use it's photosynthetic energy to establish more extensive roots for next year.

From this and the other tree-moving results, I think I can say, now, I know how to transplant trees to a new location.

The Illinois Everbearing mulberry is almost ready for a first crop at Battleground.  Many of the mulberries are changing from green to greenish-red.  Again, as for the fig tree, the leaves are darker and more coarse.  I take that as a good sign. The loss of growth from late frost proved to be minimal.  The tree appears well adapted and established in the new site.  Compared to last year in the Vancouver back yard, there are many times more mulberries.   I forgot to bring bird netting this weekend.  Might regret that.  Would like a taste.

The NC-1 pawpaw is still at it's beginning.  I expect this year the pawpaws will be establishing their roots, more than growing tops.  The other pawpaws are even smaller.  Last year's concern was, did I  kill them by planting here in the Summer.  Pawpaws are reported as needing shade in their first year.  They survived, and are growing, so I'm happy with that.
NC-1 Pawpaw
Mystery Fruit Tree

Sal's Fig

Apple Golden Sentinel
The "mystery fruit tree" was here when we bought the Battleground place.  Initially, I thought apricot.  Then Asian plum.  Now I'm thinking apricot again.  Last year it was defoliated by deer.  I sprayed with repellent, mulched, provided compost.  This year it's almost doubled in size.  Maybe next year it will bloom, and maybe bear fruit, so I will know what it is.

Like the other fruits, the Sal's fig tree has recovered nicely from the last frost leaf-kill.  There are some incipient figs.  Maybe I'll get to eat some this fall.

The Golden Sentinel apple sports one apple.  The tree is only knee high.  I should remove the apple, but I want a taste this fall.  This tree may need to move this fall.  Or not.

Apiary Garden

honeybee on daisy

Buddleia Miss Ruby 1st flower
This weekend I planted two more Ceonathus thyrsiflorus "Victoria" starts.  No pic.  They were in 2-qt containers, in the picked-over and about-to-be-discarded section at Fred Meyer.  $7 each.  With pruning of dead branches, they look a little better.  Planted in the "nursery" bed near the beehive.  Expect they will need to be moved in a year or two when they are bigger.

Daisies and dandelions are blooming.   Blackberries look like they are about finished.  I don't know where the bees are foraging now.  Not a lot of bees on the Ceonathus or blackberries, this weekend.

This is the first flower on Buddleia X "Miss Ruby".  Missed photographing a hummingbird visiting this flower.  No bees on the Buddleia, either.

About one month ago I received the second beehive I bought via   Put it together, and the top didn't quite fit.  Today I took it apart, trimmed the endpieces, and put it back together.  The top fits now.  Next week, I might paint it.  No hurry.  I probably won't add the honeybees until next April.
Daisies and Dandelions


I take back what I said about honeybees not foraging the blackberries.  This afternoon I looked and there are many bees on the blackberry flowers.

The hive is less than 10 feet from the brambles.  Good location, I think.