Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fruit Tree Grafting. 2.25.14

I've been watching the Calendar for grafting time.  I think this is grafting season now for apples and pears.  About the same time as I did last year, which was successful.

Today I added a pollinator variety to the little Honeycrisp, another to the one year old Sutton's Beauty, and one to the one year old Esopus Spitzenberg.  The pollinator varieties are old varieties.

I also added 3 varieties of Asian pear to the 2 year old Hosui, and 2 unknown varieties of European pear to the unknown variety of Asian pear.  This is for pollination.  Also I want to keep those varieties, if we move to the Battleground place.  I prefer more varieties, on the trees already there, than adding more trees.  We don't need a tree-full of each cultivar.  Just a branch for a couple bowls of fruit when each ripens.

Graafting Supplies and Scion Wood

Last year I did cleft grafting on existing trees.  I thought I was too uncoordinated to safely do whip & tongue grafting.  This time I did do whip & tongue grafting.  The saddle grafts all took, and some grew surprisingly fast.  But a cleft graft exposes open wound on each side, which dies and needs to be overgrown by new wood.   The whip & tongue graft does not leave exposed edges, so is potentially healthier.  In theory, all exposed scion cambium is matched with rootstock or branchstock cambium.  That's if the cuts are skillfully done.

I found that sharpening the knife between each graft, the wood cut very steadily.  I steadied my hand against my chest and mad the cuts very slowly, slicing along the blade. The biggest  concern with this method is it is hazardous to the fingers of the grafter.  I did get a small thumb laceration.  It only needed a bandaid.

Whip and Tongue Graft on Asian Pear

I used polyethylene wrap and treekote.  Looks nice and they seem like strongly splinted grafts.

Photo is blurred but still better than my sketch.  I found I had overlap of cut edge over bark.  So I carefully exposed cambium by shaving that section of bark.  Then it matched.

They are a little bent.  They came together with the wrapping.  I dipped in water so cut surfaces would not be dry.

Labels state variety name, expected ripening time, and on the back, graft date.

Wrapped snugly with polyethylene, and labeled.
Some references state polyethlene wrapping does not need external sealer.  Other references state sealer is needed.  A key to success is prevention of dessication, so I sealed.  Treekote is easy to apply.  Messy and not easy to get off the fingers.

Altogether today I did 3 grafts on Hosui pear, 3 grafts on unknown Asian pear, and one each on 3 small apple trees.  Then I wanted to do more but I had homework and a doctor's appointment so I quit.

Lessons learned today.
1.  Grafting is not as hard as I thought.  It takes practice.
Sealed with Treekote
2.  A very sharp knife is essential.  I used a grafting knife, and a hunting knife sharpener from Fred Meyer.
3.  Apply bandaid to thumb before starting.
4.  Work slowly, carefully.  Don't try to slice quickly.
5.  The whip and tongue stays together nicely and does not leave exposed surfaces.
6. Prepare labels ahead of time, with variety name, date of graft, and expected ripening time.  Label each graft as it is completed.
7.  Polyethylene tape is easier than wide rubber bands.  It can be cut from freezer bags, although I got mine via Amazon.
8.  The Treekote is easy to apply too.  That was also via Amazon.

Maybe this weekend I'll graft some plums and cherries.  They are considered more difficult.  The grafting season is short, so I might as well do it now instead of waiting to see how the others do.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kitchen Garden / Winter Gardening / Raised Beds. Progress Report. 2.23.14

Today in the raised beds I planted:

Parisian Market Carrot seeds.  These are in raised bed which I will use for peppers in May or June.  If not ready by then, any in the way will go to the chickens.  These are a short round carrot, sort of like an orange radish.

Moss Curled Parsley seeds.  Same raised bed.  Ditto for the peppers will take priority.

Snow Peas "Norli".  This bed will go for Tomatoes later.  The peas should be fully done by then.  If not, the tomatoes take priority.  Chickens will like pea shoots.

For vermin control, the first two have a dusting blood / hot pepper.  Same for the Snow Peas, which are also covered by chicken wire, and are in a bed that already has a chicken wire fence.  Last year most of the pea seeds just vanished - I don't know what ate them.  So more attention this year.

 This took all of about 30 minutes.  Most of the day goes for homework.

According to the Park's website, Norli... "French mangetout...Won England's...Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticulture Society...ultra-sweet and unbelievably tender...Harvest these peas @ 2 inches long...Entirely stringless...arise very, very heavily on vigorous plants 20 inches high... semi-bush habit...resistance to fusarium wilt"

Apparently "mangetout"is French for edible pod pea.  Park's is always super effusive about everything they sell.   I don't know if I've had fusarium wilt.  I don't think so.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kitchen Garden / Winter Gardening / Raised Bed. Progress Report. 2.22.14

Covered Tunnel Version 3.  Step 1.

Covered Tunnel Version 3.  Step 2.
Topset Onions Germinated
Radishes and Turnips Germinated
I removed the row cover from the winter vegetable bed.  This bed was planted 1.28.14 so is just under one month after planting.

I originally used polyethylene cover.  That collected rain and collapsed.  I replaced that with permeable row cover.  That collected snow and collapsed.

Meanwhile, there were freezes into the 20s, and a blizzard.

When I removed the row cover, I saw the radish seeds and turnip seeds had germinated.  A few spinach seeds germinated.  Chinese mesclun germinated nicely.  I did not see any cabbage plants.  The topsets from Egyptian Walking Onions were about an inch tall.  Those were unusually small sets I had in the garage.

I didn't weed this time although it could use weeding.  One of the main challenges is vermin, including slugs, voles, rabbits, mice, and others.  So far these seedlings were not eaten.  Although maybe the cabbage seeds germinated and were eaten.

I watered with diluted fish emulsion as a vermin repellent.  Then I applied a dusting of hot pepper / dried blood for the same reason.  Then I added organic slug bait.

The mouse traps were not set off, but mouse traps in the garage had 3 of 4 traps with mice.  So I moved those to the garage.

I went back to a polyethylene row cover.  This time I used wire fencing as a support.  That will prevent pooling of water / collapse.  I should get a larger sheet so I can weigh down the sides with bricks.  Wind might otherwise catch it.  I changed to the polyethylene again because I think it will hold in more heat, and maybe it is more light permeable as well.  It will stay more dry, which is probably good although it might wind up needing some watering.

Bearded Irises. Progress Report. 2.22.14

Selected Irises 2.22.14

Selected Irises 2.22.14
There is a clear difference in the bearded irises.  They have progressed from winter decline into sturdy early growth.  All have made progress.  Some have growth from underground, unexpected.  I thought Flavescens was nearly died out, but there are some new leaves. 

Daffodils are also growing with flower buds showing.  They are there partly as an animal deterrent, and also as the earliest of spring flowers.

I wondered of the Los Angeles rhizome would survive.  It appears to be making more growth now  The Pallida Dalmatica has more growth than I expected.

So far, so good.

I gave them all some organic slug bait.  Slugs start to make damage, this time of year.

Orchid Progress Report. Yamamoto Dendrobium. 2.22.14

Yamamoto-type Dendrobium nobile
This Yamamoto Dendrobium was in the kitchen East window sill at the Battleground place, for the summer.  I brought it to Vancouver when flower buds started.

Based on comparison to web photos on the Yamamoto Dendrobium site, I think this is Fancy Angel "Lycee".  The plant for is quite different, due to my growth conditions.  I leave old canes in place, too, for nutrient storage by the plant and because it makes me think of how the plant might look growing in the wild.  Although these are such refined hybrids, nothing like them would be in the wild.  This was originally a Trader Joe orchid, probably 5 or more years ago.

Dendrobium nobile Spring Dream "Apollon"
 Added this Dendrobium nobile from Trader Joes.  I looks like Spring Dream "Apollon".  Since I am not producing or selling them, I will label it as such.   Taller and robust.

Here is an unlabeled Miltoniopsis hybrid bought a few weeks ago.  Continues to bloom.  The entire bathroom is fragrant from this flower.  Also Trader Joe.  Possibly "Maui Sunset".

Dendrobium nobile and Miltoniopsis hybrid

Fig Cutting. Progress Report. 2.22.14

Lattarula Fig Cutting
The last of the Lattarula.  Impressive bunch of roots.  I did not remove more paper towel.  It will dissolve in the growth medium.  Planted and left in window sill.

Some of the cuttings that I planted then kept on the heating mat dried  out and died.  If I kept them in plastic bags they did OK.  I'm not in a hurry for them to grow.  Placing them in the window sill might mean a bit longer stems, but otherwise should be OK.

Late Winter Gardening. Start seeds for onions, peppers, oregano. 2.22.14.

"Flagpole Giant Green Onion" seeds

Greek Oregano Seeds

Peppers are germinating
My garden calendar for this week said to plant onions.  These were from Fred Meyer, "New Dimension Seed" "Flagpole Giant Green Onion".  They do not make bulbs, so are used as scallions year-round.  Something else to try in my raised beds.  Planting a used 6-pack.  I may be able to cut like a cake, when grown, for 4 sections per cell, 24 total.

The Greek Oregano seeds were as fine as sand.  Maybe finer.  Last year I grew catnip and lemon balm from similar size seeds.  Might grow.  Barely pressed them into the surface of seed starting medium.  Did not cover them.

The peppers are germinating.  I continue to keep them on seed starting warming mat.  So far the following have germinated:  Tabasco, Long Red Cayenne, Fish Pepper, Sweet Banana Pepper. Not all of the seeds of each.  Only one or two of each.

Flush with that success, I added another pot of seeds to start.  This time, "Hot Lemon".   There are others in my collection, but I think I will just start some more "Fish" because the variegation is nice and they would make a nice gift.  Later for those.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ginger. More Pepper Seeds. 2.18.14


Santa Fe Peppers
Today I transferred the ginger rhizomes to containers.  Regular organic potting soil.  Barely covered the rhizomes.

There is only room for one on the heating mat, so the other is in a south window.

I also started a container of seeds from Santa Fe peppers.  These seeds are left over from last year.

Late Winter Gardening. Potatoes and Onion Sets. 2.18.14

Today I looked at Fred Meyer for seed potatoes.  They had 2 types.

Seed Potatoes.  Pontiac and White Superior

Onion Sets Red Baron

I think these are standard varieties.  Nothing exotic.  They will make good new potatoes and potato salad.  I will keep them in a cool room for a couple of weeks.  That will move us closer to a good planting time. They will go into raised bed/containers.
Onion Raised Bed

These are Pontiac - red skin, and White Superior - white skin.

From the "Vegetables of Interest" website"  "Pontiac potato was developed in the late 1930s as a cross between an old English potato named “Triumph” and a Maine potato called  “Katahdin.” .... The “Red Pontiac” selection with its bright red skin came out as a mutation found in Southern field tests in the early 1940s.
...In particular, I like its imperfections.  If grown to maturity the tubers vary in size and shape.  They are mostly round but oblong ones show up too.  The surface of the spud is dotted with shallow eyes and subtle nobs that don’t quite become noses.  In short, these potatoes look like they have character in comparison to the perfectly shaped, winkle-free Burbank bakers.

From tuckertaters.com, White Superior:After wide commercial production for more than 50 years, Superior is still a highly regarded variety with well-known performance. It is sometimes used as the standard for early-season white potatoes  "Culinary Characteristics
  • Taste/flavor: Good.
  • Texture after cooking: Fairly firm, dry. Moist when baked and french fried.
  • Uses: Superior mashed. Excellent for potato salads. Good for chipping.

They had some onion sets so I bought a bag  I don't know how the winter onions will do.  We buy a lot of onions.  I think we will eat all that we grow.  A lot will go for scallions.  It was a bit of a waste.  A lot of the sets were moldy or dried out.  These are "Red Baron".

These went into the same bed as I had onions and garlic, then melons, last year.  Better to rotate for nutrition and disease reduction.  With the intervening melon crop I think it's OK.  Plus last fall, I topped the bed with a big dose of soil/compost mix.  I will also give them nitrogen boost when growing.  At the moment it's raining and raining and raining, so any nitrogen boost today would be wasted via washing away.

Red Baron sounds like a good variety.  Long day onion, so good for NW setting.  From organic seeds website:  Dual purpose onion for medium sized bulb onions or purple skinned bunching onions. Deep red outer skin and beautiful inner rings of royal purple with good color throughout. For bunching, harvest at 12-15” tall just before the bulb begins to swell, or harvest for fresh eating bulbs. Long day onion.

The ground is very wet and soft.  If not for the raised beds I could not have planted these onion sets.  The photo shows them before I covered them with soil.

So I got some gardening done today.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Buddleia. Progress Report. Freeze damage. Buddleia. 2.16.14

Buddleia globosa.  Freeze Killed Growth.

Buddleia Blueberry Cobbler.  Winter Appearance.
This is the first winter here for Buddleias.  They are between evergreen and deciduous.  I can't decide if the near-dead appearance is better or worse than bare twigs of deciduous shrubs.

The Buddleia globosa may well be fully dead.  I think it's the only Buddleia that looks truly dead.  I'll leave it in place until there is a chance for some regeneration.  I have a back-up  plant if it is dead.

The leaves of Blueberry Cobbler have a silvery appearance.  Depending on the sun, they look nice.  Other times they look sad.  I think it was like this last year, as were the other Buddleias.  When Spring came, they grew quickly.

Late Winter / Signs of Spring / Chinese Chives. 2.16.14

Chinese Chives starting to grow - Illinois strain

Chinese Chives 1 year seedlings.  Illinois Strain
 Chinese chives are growing.  These, along with daffodils, some alliums, and onion chives, are among the first early signs of Spring.

The Illinois strain originates from a small cluster of plants I dug from my parents yard about 10 years ago.  I originally planted those when I was a boy, probably more than 45 years ago.  Here they have multiplied vegetatively.  The cluster is several times larger than originally.  I also planted seeds last Spring from flowers late 2012.  Those are finer, but growing nicely now too.

The commercial strain of Chinese chive, grown for a vegetable, is more robust.  This is all seed grown, through several generations of seeds / plants / seeds / plants.  They start growth later than the Illinois strain, but when growing are larger and faster growing.  The Illinois strain is more delicate.  I've been holding off as many harvests of those, wanting to build up a supply.
Chinese Chives.  Commercial strain.

Home Orchard. Progress Report. 2.16.14

Newly moved Karmijn de Sonneville Apple
 As far as I know, this is the last of the movable trees from the Vancouver yard  This is Karmijn de Sonneville apple on M27 rootstock.  From the top, it looks like there might be a large root mass.  Digging it, the rootstock is small, one shovel deep if that.  M27 keeps the tree very small, 5 or 6 foot, and is easy to topple over.  So it always needs a stake for support.   I planted close to the Honeycrisp, also on M27.

I doubt this tree will miss a beat.  Digging, it seemed to have no root damage at all.  I lost one or two buds at most.

It needs a fence.  I can make one in 20 minutes and install today.

Peaches and plums have swelling buds.  It's too early but nothing I can do about it.
First pink, buds of Oregon Curl Free PEach

First Pink.  Buds of Toka Plum
 Charlotte peach.  The same for Q18 and Indian Free.  The fuzzy buds have been visible, with a touch of pink, for a month.  The weather is unpredictable.  If I had more energy and time, I might construct covers for the trees to reduce freeze risk.  But I don't.  So time will tell.

Same for the plums. Toka and Methley are showing a lot of pink.  Less for Satsuma.  None for the European plums.
First Pink. Buds of Methley Plum

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Orchids. Progress Report. 2.12.14

Green Cymbidium

Dendrobium nobile
Some nice orchid flowers now.  This is the first rebloom for this green flowered Cymbidium.  Pale green with white center.

The Yamamoto Dendrobium nobile is equally nice.

These make February more tolerable.

These had little pampering this year.  I had them outside, east side of the house in Battleground, for the summer and early fall.  I brought them inside as it started to cool off.

I rarely watered them.  When buds started to form, I watered using dilute general purpose plant food.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Grow Your Own Ginger. 2.11.14

I've been reading on growing culinary ginger.  Like other zone-inappropriate plants, growing ginger will require at least part of the project indoors, in containers.
File:Ginger farm.jpg
Ginger Farm.  Image source:  Commons.wikimedia.org
Botanical Drawing of Ginger.  Zingiber officinale

Based on info from various websites, it's a doable project. Use grocery store ginger root.

Buy a fresh looking root with multiple growth points. 
Cut so that each section contains several growth points.

If cutting the ginger root, allow it to dry so that the cut end does not rot when planted.

Some websites recommend soaking the ginger root overnight, in water.  Some sites recommend keeping the ginger root in a damp paper bag until it sprouts.  Some web sites recommend planting without pretreatment.   Hortmag.com has a good discussion.

As for planting, some sites recommend planting on the soil surface, while others recommend barely burying the rhizome, or burying it about an inch deep.

The ginger rhizome is planted in well drained potting medium.  Container size, looks like 6 inch to 1 foot diameter plastic pot will work, with 1 foot depth.  Keep lightly moist until the growth commences, then water regularly.

I've read that ginger requires much warmer conditions than we have in Pacific NW.  I'll keep that in mind.  Other tropicals can grow if I keep them in a warm place, especially in containers.  This is a good candidate for the sunroom.  Which is not built yet.  I will keep it in container, as I do with the citrus trees.  Ginger requires 230 to 300 days to mature.  Young ginger roots are juicier, compared to old roots.  Older roots have more concentrated flavor.

Ginger rhizome cluster

There was no fresh ginger root at Fred Meyer yesterday.   I found this rhizome at the Battleground roadside store.  Fat firm rhizome with multiple buds.

I cut it into 2 growth pieces and one to eat.  I will let it dry a few days before planting.

 I use a lot of ginger, to settle my stomach.  It does not have the somnolence and dry mouth side effects that often occur with nausea medications.

Dominick, Carini, Lattarula Fig Cuttings. Progress Report. 2.11.14

Dominick Fig Cutting.  About 6 weeks.
I moved the 2nd Dominick Fig cutting from juice can to slightly larger container.  Nice roots.  The first continues to grow nicely.

I took one cutting to work.  It did well there.  When I took respite vacation 2 weeks ago, I brought it home.  Somehow,that damaged the plant.  The leaves wilted and fell off.  They were the size of a cat's ears.   I am continuing to nurture it.  Doesn't look promising.  This is why I start multiple cuttings.

Dominick Fig Cuttings
 I had additional Dominick fig cuttings in the refrigerator.  These are stored in sealed plastic bag, so they don't dehydrate.  I trimmed them and placed in moist paper towel, plastic bag, to root.  This time no incision or rooting hormone.  It's OK if they take a while.

I did the same with 2 remaining Carini fig cuttings.
Lattarula fig cutting.

I planted this Lattarula cutting in the usual juice can / seed starting medium setup.  It's in a plastic bag for a week to get it settled.  I removed the tiny figs.  Others are almost ready.

Peppers. Progress Report and Planting Seeds. 2.11.14

Peppers planted 2/11/14

Pepper Seeds Planted 2/11/14  Fish Pepper

Peppers Planted 2/11/14 on seed heating mat
 Today I planted more chili and sweet pepper seeds.  These were from orders from early winter.  Varieties as shown and in labels.

These are re-used labels.  The sharpie mark is not permanent.  It washes off with a little scouring, easy.  The scouring also makes the plastic less slippery.  Maybe that will make the sharpie label last longer.  I cut 2 inches from the lower end.  These were too tall.

These are in a packaged peat-based seed medium.  I didn't want peat but that was all I could find this time of year.

Fish Pepper is a traditional variety from African American roots.  Passed from one generation to the next.  Thought to originate from Africa although ultimately all peppers originate from South America.  The plant, and the peppers, are variegated.  Very pretty.  From Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Now they are all planted and on the seed warming mat.

Meanwhile last week I replanted the 3 Portugal Red hot peppers, each to its own container.  I didn't plan on 3 but was reluctant to discard any.  All 3 look great.

The fluorescent lights are doing a good job.  These are standard light fixtures.  Not special plant fixtures.  The pepper and figs are not leggy.  The okra isn't so good but maybe it doesn't do well by this method.
Plant Starts from 12/24/13

I checked at Fred Meyer for a replacement light sustem.  A small, special plant growing light system was more than $100 and the larger one was more than $150.  I bought 2 under cabinet lights for $12 each, and used flat bungi cords to install them for tghe top shelf.  These are 17 watt.    Some gardeners use CFLs which might be an option for supplemental light.

I soaked and planted Burgundy Okra seeds 2 days ago.  I don't know if the red leaves will do better or worse in this system.

This setup is in an East window.  Currently  I think there is more light from the artificial lights than from the sun.
Fluorescent Light Garden

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Tail end of blizzard. 2.09.14

Raised Bed Garden in Snow

Row Cover did not hold up in snow.
 We were able to get to Battleground today.  Some road challenges but overall OK.

Raised bed garden is blanked in snow.

The repaired low tunnel collapsed again.  I used row cover, thinking that would allow drainage.  I did not account for snow.  So I will need a different plan.

The red twig dogwoods are bright against the snow.

The plum buds look OK.  It's not the snow that concerns me with those, but the harder freeze last week.
Osier Dogwood

Plum buds

Saturday, February 08, 2014

More snow! Blizzard Saturday. 2.08.14

Ning walking dogs

Front view

He doesn't like snow on his paws.