Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kitchen Garden. 3.30.14

Poly Tunnel Raised Bed.  3.30.14

Poly Tunnel Raised Bed.  3.30.14
 Early vegetables are growing nicely in the raised beds with poly tunnel covers.

We got some nice sized radishes today.

The pepper I planted in a poly tunnel still looks very good.

Temperature in the tunnels, 60s.
Ning with fresh radishes from raised bed.  3.30.14
Red Portugal Pepper in Poly Tunnel.  3.30.14

Fruit Tree Blossom Times. 3.30.14

Asian Plums 3.30.14

Apricot  Blossom 3.30.14
Log for plum blooming times.

Unknown plum, not quite full bloom.
Toka, full bloom.
Satsuma, just past full bloom.
Methley finished blooming.

Among others,
Greengage just beginning to bloom
Stanley, doesn't look like it will bloom.

I pollinated several times using paintbrush.  Today it did not rain.  There were many pollinating insects, especially on the unknown variety of plum.  I didn't see much traffic to Toka or Satsuma.

Among other stone fruits,
The apricot seedlings have just a few blossoms.  I have been trying to pollinate them.  Looking,on a few the base of the pistol has minimal swelling.  That is  also the case with Methley.

Among the cherries, the first flower opened today on Vandalay.  Sweetheart has not started to open.  Those are only one year old.  Almaden Duke is covered with buds, none open yet.  The tart cherries, not near opening yet.  Montmorency and Northstar.

Peaches are done blooming.  Except the one and only blossom on Indian Free.
Toka Plum Full Bloom.  3.30.14

Almaden Duke Cherry 3.30.14

Sweetheart Cherry 3.30.14

Vandalay Cherry 3.30.14

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Progress Report. Rain. No Puttering. Grafting Illustrations. 3.26.14

It's been very rainy.  Constant rain for a week.  I'm concerned the plums and peaches may not pollinate.

When I use a small paintbrush on anthers there is no visible pollen.  Washed off.  Just water.

Today about 50F.  Inside poly tunnel raised bed, 55F.  Not enough sun to warm it up.  Portugal Red Pepper I moved a week ago looks OK, maybe some new growth.  Chinese chives a foot tall.

At about 3 weeks, only one Four O'clock from the first, room temp non-soaked batch has germinated.  At about 1 week, one Four O'clock from the second, soaked, seed-warmer batch germinated.  So now, so far, I have 2 plants.  Better than none.  It looks like another is beginning to push up seed growing medium.   Will keep them on the seed warmer a few weeks.   No conclusions.  Not a randomized, controlled, statistically analyzed trial.  I think the soaking and warming is probably beneficial.

On Grafting, so far the grafts look OK.  Slowly swelling buds on all.  None have shriveled.  With the cool wet weather, they might look OK if they have not taken.  Found some illustrations from which are available to everyone to download.

Whip and Tongue Graft Illustration.  Dr. John A Warder.  1867.  American Pomology.  Apples. 

Side Graft Illustration.  Dr. John A Warder.  1867. American Pomology.  Apples. 

Whip and Tongue Graft Illustration.  H. Harold Hume.  1906.  The Pecan and Its Culture.  

Cleft Graft Illustration.  H. Harold Hume.  1906.  The Pecan and Its Culture. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Puttering. Progress Note. 3.25.14

Chinese Chives.  Compare established with 1 year old.

Planted dwarf gladiolus today
 Today "day off" from work.  Mostly homework and rest.  Lot of homework, and needed rest very much.

 I did make "rounds" in the yard and garden.  I planted one type of bulb - really corm.  The Nanus mix is a dwarf type, hardy species of gladiolus.  Some writers describe gladiolus as deer resistant.  Others state deer will eat the flowers.  I'll give them a try.

My success with "Joy of Gardening" brand bulbs from Fred Meyer is mixed.  Their mix of Anenome blanda was all blue, not blue + white + pink as pictured.  They did all grow and they look nice.   Their mix of Hyacinthoides hispanica is growing but not with enthusiasm.  The daffodil variety mix was almost entirely all yellow trumpet, not the various yellow / white / orange cup on the picture.  Still they are interesting to try and I bought on impulse.

The established Chinese chives are much more vigorous compared to the seedlings.  The seedlings are one year old.  The established ones were divisions I planted last year, from plants grown many years ago from seeds.  Division and planting in new soil invigorated them.

Last fall I planted daffodil and hyacinth bulbs in the bearded iris raised beds.  Both are considered deer resistant and toxic to other animals.  They make a cheerful display now, long before irises bloom.  They will be done with the irises bloom.
Iris Bed #1 bulbs blooming

Planting bulbs in Fall is an act of faith, that I'll be around in the Spring.  And I am here so that feels good.

Among the daffodils in my yard, Jetfire is the first to bloom, then Dutch Master, then various.  Minnow is almost blooming.  Triandrus is almost blooming

The raised bed garden is looking green.  The potato wells look like rustic monuments that could have been among the Easter Island figures, or some Mayan tomb.  No potato plants visible yet.
Iris Bed #2 bulbs blooming.

Raised Bed Garden

Iris Bacterial Rot
 A few irises have bacterial rot.  Disappointing.  I've had that happen with a few in the past.  The rhizomes survived but were set back.  This is variety Edith W.  The rain is hard on them.  If a variety dies out, I'll assume natural selection is doing its thing, and not replace that disease susceptible variety.

I have 2 rows of snow peas.  All I needed to do was protect them with chicken wire.

The Quince cuttings have leaves and flowers.  Hardwood cuttings can do that, then die without producing roots.  We'll see.

The quince cuttings border a shallot bed.  There are also plum hardwood cuttings, Hollywood and Shiro.  They are blooming too.  We'll see about them too.

I was about to give up on Four O'clock seedlings.  I see one has germinated.  I brought it home for better light in the CFL light unit.

It feels good to have things growing.

Snow Peas Growing

Quince Cuttings and Shallots.

Four O'clock Germinating Seedling.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Puttering. Pollenizing. Phenology. 3.23.14

Didn't do much.  Mostly did homework.

Noted one of the bearded irises has a rot disease.  Didn't want to look too close at the others.  Pacific NW rainy chilly weather.

Planted a 2nd batch of Four O'clocks seeds.  The first batch has not germinated yet. I don't know how fast they are.  First batch is at the battleground house.  Coming home tonight, I forgot and left them outside.  I don't know what the chilly nights will do.  The first batch was from a Baker Creek packet.  The batch I planted today was from a Burpee packet.  Soaked for several hours, with a few changes of water.  Soaking softens hard seed coat and for some plants removes natural germination inhibitors from the seed.  Placed the containers on a seed starting heating mat.

Pollinated using paintbrush, plums, peaches, apricots.

Bloom order so far.

1.  Prunus cerasifera "Crimson spire".  About 2 weeks, now dropping petals.
2.  Hybrid plum "Methley".  About 2 weeks, now dropping petals.
3.  Peach "Oregon Curl-Free".  About one week.
4.  Peach "Charlotte".  About one week.
3.  Hybrid plum "Satsuma".  A few days.
4.  Unknown Asian plum variety.  Started yesterday.
5.  Apricot trees, grown from seeds.  Started yesterday.

At the Vancouver place, Shiro and Hollywood plums, genetic dwarf peaches, and peach-plum hybrid Trilite are in full bloom.  Vancouver is a little warmer, maybe a week ahead of Battleground.

Toka plum is on the verge of blooming.  The new peach tree, Q-1-8, is yet to show signs of life.  The peach, Indian Free, may have one or two flowers.  I think the others must have been freeze killed.  There are leaves sprouting so I know it's alive.

The sweet cherry and Duke cherry buds are much bigger, compared to the tart cherry buds.
The gage plum buds are rounding up.  The Stanley plum buds don't look like flower buds, but neither did those of the unknown Asian plum.

These bloom times correspond to what is blooming now:  Jetfire daffodil, Dutch Master daffodil, dandelions' first flowers, Anemone blanda, some unknown narcissus varieties.

Other phenology, the lilac buds are size of mouse paws, like tiny clusters of grapes.  The earliest of the pear flower bud clusters are apparent, but probably a few weeks from opening.  Sourwood buds are barely visible.  Linden buds are swelling.

from this, I'm thinking Crimson spire and Methley can pollinate each other and maybe Satsuma.  The unknown plum and Toka can likely pollinate each other.  There is some overlap between those and Satsuma.  I don't know if plums, peaches, apricots can help one another when it comes to pollenizing - there are some artificial hybrids, but that may be very rare.  Maybe.

Raintree gives Shiro blooming before Hollywood, but in my yard Hollywood was a few days ahead of Shiro.  It does give Methley as the first, also my experience.  They don't mention prunus cerasifera, which is sold as an ornamental.  It's not just the climate.  Rootstock may also be a factor.  They also list Hollywood as self fertile, and Shiro as partially self fertile.

In one old research paper, mixed pollen from diverse prunus species was more effective at producing pollination than that from a pure pollenizer, even if the chromosome number was different.  Here is the table from their paper:
Pollen mixtureNumber of hybrids of type:Total
Sand cherry
x myr. plum
Sand cherry
x blackthorn
Sand cherry
x dom. plum
Myrobalan plum + blackthorn71 8-79
Myrobalan plum + dom. plum37-138
Blackthorn + dom. plum-202
Myrobalan plum + blackthorn + dom. plum263166

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Low Tunnel, Raised Bed. Kitchen Garden Progress Report. 3.22.14

Chinese Chives in low tunnel raised bed.  3.22.14
 The low tunnel raised beds have a soil temp today of 60F, while the outside temp was down to 30.  When I open the tunnels, warm moist air exits.

The Chinese chives were renovated by digging them out of a half barrel this winter.  These are quite a bit ahead of the ones without low tunnel.

The turnips were planted mid winter.  These greens are fresh and tender.  The flavor is similar to spinach, but with a mild peppery taste.   I thinned turnips so there would be more room for the remainder.
Turnip Greens 3.22.14

Garlic and Red Portugal Pepper in low tunnel raised  bed.  3.22.14
I ran out of room for all of the indoor peppers.  Even with the new CFL light, which will be needed for tomato seedlings.  Given the warm soil temp in the raised bed, I planted a Red Portugal pepper into the bed.  If it looks OK in a week I can add more  I have extras of Red Portugal so if it doesn't make it, that's OK.

The garlic in this low tunnel is behind the rest of the garlic.  These were dug late from missed harvest that resprouted.  They were not big sturdy garlic cloves.  I thought the tunnel would give them a head start.  Looks like that did not pan out.  They are still OK.

Home Made CFL Plant Light Fixture. 3.22.14

Parts for Home Made Plant Light Fixture
These are the parts for the home made plant light fixture.  There are videos on youtube by several authors.  I don't know which one originated it.  The video I watched was praxxus55712, very well explained.
6X24 round pipe3.98
1/4 inch diameter, 12 inch long threaded bar price for 22.02
23 watt CFL price for 28.28
wing nut 1/4" price for 41.21
hex nut 1/4" price for 50.97
bedroom light fixture7.98
extension cord 8'6.97


I forgot washers.  I bought those and 2 eye bolts for hanging the fixture.  That's about $2 more.  I could have used a cord I had lying around.  That would reduce the cost by $7.  If I shopped around I might have found a cheaper light fixture too.

Holes drilled in pipe, inside nuts and washers screwed onto threaded rods

So far very easy.  Looking at the original, maybe I should have found longer rods.  These should be OK.

Drilling the holes for the threaded rods and assembling them took about 10 minutes.

The I pondered for a week how to assemble the unit with the bedroom light kit.  The reflector is curved.  The light kit rests on a flat surface.  I finally decided to assemble it as-is.  The center of the reflector flattened to accommodate  the bedroom light kit, which is fine.

I added eye hooks at the end to hang the unit from my plant stand.

THe CFL lights are100-watt equivalent, 23-watt CFL bulbs.  Estimated energy cost per year is $2.77.   Lumens 1,600 per bulb.  These are bright-white.  I don't know if it matters, bright-white vs. daylight.  Anything I use seems to work OK.

One issue I got wrong.  I've been trying to figure out what type of bulb, daylight, bright white, soft white.  I bought bright white.  Searching around artificial light growing sites, I should have bought daylight.  2700k - bright white - is good for flowering - probably why my peppers are flowering.  6,500k - daylight - are better for growing.  From the linked site " for example with tomatoes you would want to use a 6500k bulb until your ready to start the flowering stage of your tomato plants".

I may add aluminum foil to the ends to reflect light back into the unit.

Assembled CFL Grow Light

Assembled CFL Grow Light

CFL Grow Light

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Planting a Jonared dwarf apple from Starks. 3.19.14

Starks Packaging

The tree arrived with no damage at all
 This is the last anticipated addition to the little orchard.  I may add scion for variety. This is enough trees to keep me busy for a long time.

The rationale for buying a Jonared was mainly nostalgia.   Jonanared is a sport of Jonathan, so considered genetically almost identical, except for the redder coloration of Jonared apples.  From the website, Jonared originated in Peshastin, WA in 1934.  From the same website, Jonathan is a seedling of Esopus Spitzenberg, introduced 1864.  It is diploid, and partially self fertile.

My parents grew a Jonathan or derivative in their yard.  They planted it the year I was born.  The apples are smaller than most grocery apples, crisp, with a fresh sweet tart flavor.  I remember they were considered pie apples, but now I would consider them fresh eating apples.

Flowering is mid season, harvest is late season.  Jonared does not have enhanced disease resistance properties.
The central trunk and roots appear healthy.  Nice root mass.

Planted, watered in, staked, mulched.
The Starks packaging was very good.  The tree did not have any damage in shipment.  It was a nice size tree, with an excellent root mass.  Better than many bare root trees I have planted.

The pruning was different from my others.  Each of the branches was shortened to 4 to 8 inches long.   The pruning cuts were angles such that when planted, they were horizontal.  I cut just slightly shorter, so rain will not stay in the pruning cuts.

This tree went into the same row as the multigrafts and the Karmijn Sonnevelt minidwarf.  The rootstock was not described.  The tree is described as dwarf.

I added a small amount of lime to the soil and mixed it in beforfe planting.  I added a small amount of epson salts - magnesium sulfate - to the water when I watered it in.  I mulched with leaf compost, staked, and caged against deer.

It is raining.  The tree will settle in quickly.  No apples this year.  It looks robust and healthy, so many next year or the year after.

It would be interesting to cross Jonathan with one of the columnar MacIntosh descendents, select columnar seedlings, and see what happens.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bearded Iris Beds. Progress Report. 3/16/14

Iris bed #1.  

Iris bed #2
Now the irises are growing fast.  Each day they are larger and more sturdy.  I wonder which ones will bloom, and how much.

It might have been a mistake to soak them with neem oil.  The leaves, that were present at the time, look scorched.   On the other hand, there have been frosts since then too.

Otherwise growth is fast.  All survived the winter.  None rotted out.

The additional flowers make the beds more cheerful, before the irises are anywhere near blooming.  The daffodils are Jetfire.  Other varieties lag behind some more.  The first hyacinths, pink ones, are also starting to bloom.

Kitchen Garden. Raised beds, low tunnel. 3.16.14

Low Tunnel Raised Bed Kitchen Garden.  3.16.14

2nd batch of pepper seedlings.  3.16.14
 The seedlings are growing nicely in the low tunnel raised bed.  I think I  know how to work it now.

The outside temp was mid 50s.  The soil temp was 76.  Big difference.

I hoed weeds but otherwise did not manipulate the plants.  Soon will need to thin.  Planted another row of radishes and another row of spinach.

Meanwhile inside under lights the 2nd batch of peppers is growing nicely.  I separated some seedlings into individual pots.  Not enough room to do that will all.

Some of the first batch of peppers are in bud.  I read it's best not to let them bloom until planted outside.  If the soil temp is really that warm, maybe I can transplant a couple soon.

Okra is growing nicely.  Baby Bubba seems to be the most suited to indoor conditions, so far.

Rhubarb is ready to eat.
Portugal Red hot pepper plant.  3.16.14

Victoria Rhubarb.  3.16.14

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Flowers. Blue season. 3.15.14

Chionodoxa self seeded colony
Anemone blanda

Chionodoxa  3.15.14
Volunteer violets.  3.15.14
Early spring also has blue flowers.

I'm  happy with the Anemone blanda.  Even though the package illustration was of multiple colors, and mine are all  blue.  They are tiny.  So far rabbits and deer have not eaten them, unlike Anemone de Coen.   They survived the hard freeze.   This experiment turned out nice so far.

I don't know the blue bulb with tiny plant and tiny flowers, spreading at the Vancouver place.  It stared as just a few.  I wouldn't call them invasive, just exuberant.  Addendum:  These are Chionodoxa.  from google search, I think Chionodoxa luciliae.

Some people think violets are invasive but here, these wild violets are well behaved.  They spread slowly.  Once in a while one pops up in a new place, or in the lawn.  When I see them, I move them into a flower bed or around trees.  They spread slowly.  Their mat of roots or rhizomes is tight enough that not much grows among them.

Spring Flowers. Yellow Season. 3.15.14

Jetfire Daffodil.  3.15.14

Forsythia.  3.15.14
 This is the season of yellow flowers.  Especially, daffodils and forsythia.

The Jetfire  clump started as, I think, 3 bulbs about 12 years ago.  This year they are asking to be divided and replanted.  Always one of the first to bloom.

The forsythia is settled in now.  It is about 16 months ? from moving the large bush to the Battleground place.  Variety unknown.  I grew from cutting.  Might fill in and give more color as it establishes.  I happy with this result.

Front beds at the Battleground place.  Almost done cleaning them up.  A few square feet at a time.  Happy with how it's turning out.   Shows that bulbs can be moved in late winter and give flowers that Spring, if careful to move them as a generous clump with as much undisturbed soil as possible.
Front beds.  Almost cleaned up.  3.15.14

Scallion harvest. 3.15.14

Egyptian Walking Onions 3.15.14
We had a few, earlier this week.  The first of the Egyptian Walking Onion scallions are ready to eat.

I say this repeatedly.  I enjoy getting food from the garden before a regular garden is plantable.  Raised bed + fall planting + winter onions / Egyptian Walking Onions means something to eat today.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Front Flower Beds. Cleanup. 3.9.14

Front Border 1

Front Border 2
I've made incremental progress cleaning up the front border.  This is a couple square feet at a time.

About 1/2 of the bulbs are moved from the Vancouver place, mostly in the past couple of weeks.

As I go along, I add compost mulch to prevent weed seed germination.

There are some large patches of weeds but it's getting there.  Should be nice when the flowers open.

I moved violets here from home, for ground cover.  Some people consider violets invasive.  Here, they occasionally self-sow new plants but have been in the Vancouver yard for 15 years and have barely increased their area.   Dividing them and replanting, they might fill in somewhat and reduce weed growth.

Sedum sarmentosum might be good here, if underlying weeds don't take over again.

I have left patches for summer flowers.  This is where I want to plant the Mirabilis jalapa.

Most of the plants here are deer and rabbit resistant.  I also want to add some herbs for color and for kitchen use.  There is lavender, rosemary, and garlic chive now for color and bee forage.

There is more to do.  I'm not / can't be in a hurry.