Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bee Forage. 6.29.14

Honeybee on Chinese Chives.  6.29.14

Honeybee on onion flower.  6.29.14
 Honeybees are foraging the yard actively.

They especially like Chinese chives, onion flowers, and Phacelia.   This is my first try at phacelia.  Very pretty and easy.

The bees are actively foraging Ning's wildflowers as well.
Honeybee on Phacela.  6.29.14

Wildflowers.  6.29.14
Ning's wildflower meadow.  6.29.14
Honeybees on Chinese Chives.   6.29.14

Phacela.  6.29.14

Buddleia Progress Report. 6.29.14

Buddleia "Blueberry Cobbler".  6.29.14

Buddleia "Miss Molly".  6.29.14

Buddleia "Miss Ruby".  6.29.14
The sterile buddleias are starting to bloom.

As described in earlier posts, sterile buddleias are complex  hybrids between Buddleia davidii and other species.  They have the advantage of being sterle, so do not produce seeds.  For that reason, the sterile hybrids are legal in  this SPring Oregon and Washington.  I did see some Buddleia davidii at Lowes, and walked past it a few times, beautiful dark purple.  But as an environmentally oriented gardener, I couldn't bring myself to buy it.  The B. davidii are highly invasive.  The sterile hybrids do not set seed, so are not invasive.  Despite being sterile, some varieties are highly vigorous, while others are much more restrained.

In their 2nd year, the varieties "Peach Cobbler" and "Blueberry Cobbler" are 7 feet tall, and equally wide.  Also in their 2nd year, "Miss Ruby" is about 4 feet tall, and "Miss Molly" is about 3 feet tall.  The most compact is "Blue Chip", which is about 18 inches tall.

Bloom order:  "Miss Molly" was first, mid June.  "Miss Ruby" was 2nd, late June.  "Blueberry Cobbler" followed close behind, late June.  "Peach Cobbler" is about to bloom, probably 1st week of July.  "Blue Chip" does not have buds yet.  Not a fair comparison, because I let that bed go wild while I was recuperating from surgery, and only this spring pulled out the competing weeds.  It has made a resurgence of growth, but had a late start.

These buddleias are the fastest of all my shrubs to grow and establish.  They are one of the few that deer and rabbits don't touch.  They don't seem to be affected by any insects.  Bumblebees forage the flowers.  I'm not sure about honeybees - so far, there is minimal if any honeybee activity.   The more compact varieties look ideal for smaller gardens, and the more vigorous varieties look ideal for privacy hedge.

Bud Grafting / Budding. Progress Report. 6.29.14

Shiro bud graft on Satsuma @ 2 weeks.   6.29.14

If anything indicates that a bud took, it's new growth.
The 2 week old grafts all look good.  In another week I'll consider removing the polyethylene wrapping.  It does not look like removal of wrapping on the first set of buds caused harm, and some are growing.

Shiro on the big unknown Asian plum, bud now growing a new shoot.

Prunus cerasifolia / burgundy plum on the same unknown Asian plum, also growing a new shoot.

This tree was too tall for me to safely bud higher branches, and this was just an experiment.  The plan at this point will be let these grow and remove the nearest larger branches, to part of the top growth is replaced by the grafted varieties.  That will give plums sooner than starting new trees, and equally important provide pollinating varieties within the same tree for better production in both the original branches and the grafts.

I love the Shiro plums, and the cerasifolia plums are exotic and flavorful, not available in any store.  So this is a great development.
Burgundy cerasifolia plum on Asian plum @ 4 weeks.  6.29.14

The branches may or may not bloom next Spring.  There is still most of the summer this year to grow.  But the following Spring they should be large enough and mature enough for bearing flowers and fruit.

I thought budding would be difficult.  These were my first attempts, and all of them took.  It was very easy.

Shiro bud grafted onto unknown Asian Plum @ 4 weeks.  6.29.14

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Four O'Clocks. 6.26.14

4 O'Clocks "Marbles" 6.26.14

Four O'Clocks "Marbles"  6.26.14
 The first of the 4 O'Clocks have started blooming.  This is the 4th day of flowers.  The flowers last one day, then are shed.  Each flower has unique variagation, no two the same.  This is the variety "Marbles"   at 7:45pm

The first day there was only 1 flower.  The second day, 2 flowers.  Now there are dozens of buds in various stages of formation.

There are other colors.  One other plant is yellow on white, but no flowers today.

I have one of the variety "Marvel of Peru" that had one flower on the deck yesterday, yellow with bright red stamens.  No flowers today.

I think when they take off they have dozens of flowers.  Making a nice start now.

These are container grown, on the deck.  They have sunshine for most of the day.
Four O'Clocks "Marbles".  6.26.14
Four O'Clock "Marvel of Peru" Yellow.  6.27.14

Four O'Clock "Marbles" Yellow/White 4.27.14

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fig Tree Progress Report. 6.22.14

Fig Embryos on Brunswick Fig.  6.22.14

Fig Embryos on Sal's Fig.  6.22.14
A few weeks back, I snapped off the growth tips of the "Vancouver Brunswisk" fig tree, that I moved to Battleground in Dec 2012.  Last year it barely grew - expected after the loss of roots and branches necessary for transplanting.  I did the same with the Sal's a couple of weeks ago.  The Sal's is much taller than when planted, but still a bit puny. 

With the loss of apical dominance - suppressive hormones that are produced by the growth tip, and lost when the tip is snapped, off - growth of figs is stimulated. 
If the current growth is any indication, there could be lots of Brunswick figs this year, and more Sal's than I expected.

The next challenge is mold and spoiling due to late fall rains.  I've learned my lesson.  I will cover the figs, maybe with zip lock bags, this fall.  Or a plastic cover, held on by clothes pins.

I'm optimistic.  It would be great to get a nice fig crop in Battleground.

Phaselia. 6.22.14

Phaselia.  6.22.14

Phaselia.  6.22.14
I planted Phaselia ("Bee Friend") for bee forage.  I didn't know what to expect.

They are blooming now.  About 2 feet tall.  Beautiful, fern-like leaves.  A bit floppy, they fall over.

So far I've seen bumblebees on them, but no honeybees.

Borage is blooming now too.  Bees usually go crazy for borage, but not yet.  So maybe there's just too much other bee forage around.  They love Ning's meadow.

First Buddleia to Bloom. Miss Molly. 6.21.14

Buddleia "Miss Molly".  6.21.14
The first of the buddleias to bloom this year.  Miss Molly is much more compact, compared to the "Cobbler" series.  Nice fragrant flower.

Bud grafting. Progress Report. 6.21.14

Shiro Plum Bud Graft at 3 weeks.  6.21.14

Shiro Plum Bud Graft on Older Wood, at 3 weeks.  6.21.14

Hollywood Plum Bud Graft at 3 weeks.  6.21.14
These are some of the plum bud T-grafts at 3 weeks.  I read they should be unwrapped at 2 to 3 weeks, so I did.

The Shiro graft on new wood looks very good.  Still green, plump.  So I'm confident it took.  The bud portion also looks viable.  I pruned the branch back some more, about 6 inches above the bud graft.

The Shiro graft on older wig - many 3 years old - is less  green looking, but maybe OK.  I think the younger wood is much better, when there is a choice.

The Hollywood graft is burgundy, so harder to see if it is alive or not.  I think is it alive.

The second batch of bud T-grafts look OK.

I think I'll wait for July or August before grafting more.

Grass Clipping Mulch. 6.21.14

Creative Grass Mowing.  6.21.14
 Yesterday I mowed around the raised beds, and other areas of the second acre.  Most people in this area have tightly trimmed, golf course - like yards.  Some are more like pastures.  This area is on a 30 foot wide  easement that we anticipate will be paved soon, by a neighbor with attitude.  We don't know how much of the 30 feet will be paved, or when.  Meanwhile it's grass, organic, no chemicals added.  As a result, used for mulch, the clippings are coarse and dry to a nice straw-like consistency. dont mat down too much or turn sour.  The golf course-like lawns in the neighborhood get fertilizer, water, chemicals, the grass is green and lush, then they collect clippings and burn them.  The smoke is nasty.  Seems insane.

I cut "crop circles" in an attempt to be whimsical.  There is a lot of clover in the grass, now, for nitrogen and bees.

Peppers in raised bed with grass clipping mulch.  6.21.14
I had newspaper and food package cardboard mulch for the squashes, just compost for the peppers.  Now that is covered with an approx 4 inch thick layer of grass clipping mulch.  Will keep them weed free and not as dry for summer.  Like any organic mulch, they will break down to add orgsnic content and life to the soil.

Potato "well" with grass clipping mulch.  6.21.14

The potato planters also got a thick layer of grass clipping.  About 6 inckes thick.  That is on top of a few inches of aged maple leaf mulch.

Mulch also went into some flower borders and around shrubs.  I view cutting the grass more as a harvest of quality organic mulch, than as grooming.

Sunchokes.  6.21.14
 The sunchokes already had a generous mulch of weeds, pulled from raised beds.  I topped that with grass clipping for a cleaner appearance and better weed control.

We recovered these sunchokes from Ning's meadow.  He planted them there last year when I was in surgery.  They didn't do so well there.  I found 3 of the plants.  We ate chokes from one, and I moved the others to this location.  With some added organic nitrogen, and lots of mulch, they are flourishing.  The shorter plant is shorter due to local herbivores.  The taller had a screen.  The herbivores seem to ignore them now.  Although they like to surprise me.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cherry Pruning & Harvest. Backyard Orchard Culture. 6.20.14

Today I pruned the cherry trees in the Vancouver yard.  I cut back all new growth to about 5 buds, trimmed back a few older branches.  Cut off dead twigs.

These are in backyard orchard culture style.  Trim in summer to maximize the dwarfing effect.  That removes most of the photosynthetic biomass.  They are still quite vigorous.  Much of the new growth was 3 feet long and very leafy.  I dont fertilize them at all.  Not even compost.  

All if those leafy stems were laid on the ground around the trees, to make a nice thick mulch.  They will quickly become brown and crinkly.  From a distance it looks like bark mulch.  I have read not to do that because of potential disease, but Ive been doing so for 10 years without problems.

A backyard cherry did not getruned last year or two.  Must have removed 15 feet of growth this time.  Now back to workable size.  i also trim the center so the branches are like an empty bowl.  That allows good light penetration for buds cherries and health.

The bowls are the last of the sweet cherries.  The blue bowl is Surefure pie cherry.   Nice and tart.  Also some strawberries

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Starting Morning Glory and Hollyhock Seeds. Also some deck Plants. 6.19.14

Morning Glory Seeds at 2 days.  6.19.14

Hollyhock Seeds Sprouting at 2 days..  6.19.14
 The seeds toweesprouted quickly on the heating mat.  I read it can require weeks.  These were soaked in water for about 12 hours, then placed on moist paper towel in ziplock bags.  The bags are sealed and set on the heating mat.  This morning I saw they were sprouted, so added a little more water.

Now I filled plastic flowerpots most of the way with potting soil.  Watered the soil.  Placed the sprouts on the soil.  If the root was long, I gently made a hole for the root with my finger.  Then barely covered them and gently watered.

The temp outside is 60s night, about 80 day.  They are on the north side of the house so they don't overheat.

I think the black ribbed Japanese eggplant makes a nice decorative plant.

The black calla lily is about 3 years old.  I overwintered it by letting the container dry out, then placed in garage in October before first frost.  Super easy.
Japanese Eggplant.  6.19.14

Black Calla Lily.  6.19.14
The four O'clocks are almost blooming.  They have little hint of color in the flower buds.  Might need another week of warm temps.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Greenspire Linden progress report. Two years old. 6.17.14

Tilia cordata "Greenspire" 2 years after planting.
Here is the Greenspire linden I planted in Sept 2012.  I'll also add a photo from the day it was planted, for comparison.

Flower Seeds in June. 6.17.14

 I started some flower seeds today.  I read hollyhocks should be started in summer to fall, for next year's blooms.  I saw these by accident at Lowes.  They are Alcea rosea varieties, which may mean they get a lot of rust here.  I have room for several varieties.

These are Carnival mix.  I also started a packet of Fordham Giant. 

I soaked them about 12 hours, then placed them on moist paper towel, then into zip lock bags.  That method worked nicely for 4 O'clocks and okra.

Doing the same for morning glories.  This is Zeeland Hybrid mix.  Might be too late to start them.  If I don't try, I won't know.

They are on a seed starting heating mat.  Same as I did for seeds this winter.

Sunroom. Budding. 6.17.14

Homework day.

Not bad.  The sunroom makes for a more tolerable time.  The tile floor warms up nicely, even on cloudy day.  Under the floor, is 6 inches of insulation, so it should be warm in winter, too.

I did take an hour break for garden project.  I grafted new buds from Shiro and Hollywood plums, onto the existing plum trees.  I imagine if they take, it will be 2016 when they first bloom and bear.  That will help with pollination, so I don't have to run form tree to tree with a little paintbrush.

I used Hollywood and Shiro because those are what I have.  I think they are good choices - easy to see the burgundy leaves of Hollywoodo, so I easily know those are grafted, and easy to identify which plums are the small bright yellow plums of Shiro, and burgundy of Hollywood, for harvesting.

It rained Sunday and Monday.  Today drizzled.  So the tree tissues were moist, the bark slipped easily, and the grafts were not too difficult for a novice.  I don't know if they will take and grow.  If not, there is July and August budding as well, and now I have more practice.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ning's Meadow. 6.15.14

Sterile Buddleia. Progress Report. 6.15.14

Sterile buddleia "Peach Cobbler".  6.15.14
Sterile buddleias at 17 months after planting.  They grow rapidly.  Nice fat flower buds forming now.  Probably open in about 2 weeks.  These were about 1 foot tall, if that, when I planted them.  I can see why nonsterile buddleias are considered invasive.

There were some dark blue - nonsterile -  varieties at Lowes.  Unfortunately, I don't think those are legal to plant here.  I want to be a responsible  gardener.  So I will stay with the sterile ones.

This is a bit of a windbreak  The photo faces west.  There is a near-constant wind from the west.  This buddleia hedge should give the little orchard a break from some of the wind.


Bud Grafting. Progress Report. 6.15.14

Shiro plum, bud grafted onto unknown plum variety.  2 weeks after budding.  6.15.14tao
 I think several, if not all, of the bud grafts have taken.  From what I read, if the entire graft turns brown, that's a sign it did not take  It is normal for a petiole (leaf stem) to turn yellow and fall off, when a leaf is cut.  So if the graft takes, that happens with the bud graft too.  Some have fallen off.  This one shows the abscission layer nicely, with hyellow petiole and proximal to the graft, nice green bud wood and bark.  This one is in the shade, so less likely to dry out.  As I recall, I can wait a week or two before removing tape.

I may do some more bud grafting.  Some of the new wood still looks pretty green, might be better to wait for it to mature a bit more.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Kitchen Garden. 6.8.14

Add caption
In the kitchen garden.

A basket of ripe strawberries.  Photo not very good.  via ipad.

A Portugal Red chili pepper.  This is from the battleground raised bed.  Some of the other varieties have fruits beginning to form.

Zucchinis and other squashes have a growth spurt.  They got a dose of organic nitrogen boost today.

Potatoes are nice and green.  Ditto on the nitrogen, last time and not much.  They also got some slug pellets, organic type. 

Yesterday I cleared out the herbs and weeds around 2 caged fruit trees, both plums.  Then a layer of waste paper - food packaging and newspaper.  On top of that, grass clippings, to hold down the paper and hide it.  That will last until fall, I think.

Tomatoes are blooming.

Lots of snowpeas.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Urine Fertilizer. Eco San. Progress Report. 6.7.14

Urine for Fertilizer.  6.7.14

Ginkgo biloba with rapid growth.  6.7.14
 Last winter I ran across several web reports and research studies involving use of urine as fertilizer. I summarized the information here.  I could find, concentrating mainly on research reports and objective information, and background.  This is the report of my experience so far.

First, there is nothing scientific about my observations.  I did not do any comparative experiments.  Therefore, observations are just that - my experiences.

1.  Collection process.  No brainer.  Once you get used to peeing into a bottle, urinating toilet feels abnormal, wasteful, and strange.  It's easy  to pee into the bottles.  I discovered I've been watching my urine, and when it looks darker, I make sure to drink more fluids.  I rinse the bottles with each use, so they are clean.

2.  Storage.  I don't store the urine.  Usually, only 1 or 2 or 3 bottles collect in a couple of days.  As soon as possible, it goes into the garden.  That way, odor doesn't develop and ammonia is not lost to the atmosphere.

3.  Dilution.  These are 2 quart bottles.  There are 4 quarts in a gallon.  Watering can for garden is 2 gallons.  I usually use 1/2 bottle, so 1 quart.  Pour half bottle into watering can.   Fill with water.  So the dilution is roughly  1:8.   Different authors give different dilutions.  This seems good enough and is fairly cautious.

4.  Esthetics.  I don't see any issues.  Maybe it's because I'm male, but I don't smell anything in the garden.  I think it's more, with the dilution and most goes into the garden  immediately, the solution soaks into the soil and doesn't leave anything to evaporate.

5.  Application.  During late winter, I applied around trees and shrubs that I thought could use an early boost.  I did not use winter application around trees I thought were risk for too early growth and risk for frost.  Trees that got urine solution - Ginkgo biloba, lindens, maples, young apples, Laburnum, young cherries, young paw paws, young persimmons, mulberry.  Shrubs that got urine solution - Viburnum, Lilac, hydrangea, buddleia, forsythia, rose of Sharon, weigela.

Plants that did not get urine solution during the winter:  plums, pears, figs.

For annuals and vegetables, in late winter and spring, I used small amounts, dilute, for Four O'clocks, peppers, garlic, onions, tomatoes, potatoes.

4.  Benefits.  The benefit varied by plant.  Again, I can't claim this is a research project.  Comparing this year with last year -

Last year the lindens, both American and European, had pale appearing growth, and not much of it.  The American linden had about 3 inches of growth.  This year, it's not done yet, but so far looks like 18 inches.  The leaves are larger and dark green.  I'm not sure if the European lindens have more stem extension, compared to last year.  I think so.  The European lindens have stopped making new growth.  The American linden continues to make new growth.

Last year, the Gingko biloba, I moved here from Vancouver, grown from seed 1 years ago, didn't make significant growth.  It leafed out, but stem extension was under an inch.  The leaves were yellowish pale green.  I think the soil here is low nitrogen.  This year the growth is vigorous.  The top has grown about 18 inches, and show no sign of stopping.   There is slight distortion of some of the leaves - splits and a little bit of curl.  I may have used too much urine solution.  I will not add more.  I want the growth to mature and harden before fall.

The Laburnum is a mixed bag.  The growth is more vigorous, compared to last year.  Some of the new growth has curly leaves.  I also noted that for a couple of other plants, so i think I used too much.  However, the Laburnum in general has much more vigorous growth, compared to last year.  It is more bushy and stout.

The persimmons and pawpaws grew much faster this year, and bigger leaves.  The bigger more tender leaves may have attracted deer, who liked eating those young leaves.  They decimated the cherries, which they didn't touch last year.  I'm in the process of making more tree cages.

Other plants that appear to have benefited, with very vigorous, strong looking growth - Viburnum, Buddleia, Rugosa rose

I used a small amount on bearded irises.  I wonder if that contributed to the epidemic of bacterial rot, by causing soft too-vigorous, too-early growth   I won't do that again.

So far, the tomatoes look amazing.  Last year they were slow growing, and several were pale to yellow.  This year, they are growing fast, with stout stems, dark green leaves.  Some are blooming and others look close.  I think they are earlier and show a lot of promise.

I'm not sure about the peppers.  They don't look vigorous, but are starting to produce.  I don't think they like the cool nights.

I did not use it for root crops like radishes and turnips.  I would expect the extra nitrogen to stimulate leaves but not good root crop.

The 4 O'clocks didn't all get urine solution.  Of those that did, some had curly leaves like the Laburnum.  I stopped, and used water without urine, then very dilute balanced Miracle Grow for tomatoes, and now the leaves are growing out normally.
Gingko biloba top growth.  6.7.14
Redmond Linden.  Second Season.  6.7.14

Redmond Linden Top Growth.  6.7.14

Laburnum with Curly Leaf Growth.  6.7.14
Interim Conclusions.

I don't see much negative from this method.  Almost none.  I need to avoid over doing it.  Some plants may be too sensitive to the high nitrogen, the salts, or some other aspect.  I won't use it again on irises, and will be cautious with Laburnum.

Odor - wise, it does not linger like fish emulsion.

I think it's best to use within a few days of collecting.  During the winter, I may store in a cold shed.

There is the 

 Some trees make a burst of growth in Spring, then spend the summer maturing and photosynthesizing to make next Spring's burst of growth.  Giving more nitrogen now seems counter productive, so I won't.  I'm a little concerned that some plants grew too vigorously and have 't stopped, so could be soft going into winter.  But we still have a long season ahead.  So I am hopeful.  The Buddleia grew so fast and vigorous, I wondered if it would bloom.  They are now producing many flower heads, so I think that's not a problem.

I gave the figs a one-time boost, but that's all.  I don't want them going into next Winter too soft and weak to survive.

I don't want to over-do it.  I think the tomatoes got all they are going to get.  The garlic is going into ripening time, so no more nitrogen.  This year the garlic is the biggest they have ever been.  It will be interesting to see if they went all to leave and stem, or have nice big bulbs.  The potatoes got a boost today, but that's all.  Again, too much nitrogen isn't good.  Other big-nitrogen users, from what I read - squash and zucchini.  So they got some today.

Laburnum with Vigorous, Healthy Appearing Growth.  6.7.14
It's interesting how much urine we make in a day.  I probably won't want to use any for trees, shrubs, vegetables in late summer and fall.  That would risk burst of growth that doesn't get to harden off for winter.  Then, rather than wasting it, I might sprinkle the grass.  The grass will take up the nitrogen.  When I cut the grass, the clippings are used for mulch, which benefits the plants many ways and gives a slow release of nutrients.

This is a concept that provokes some negative reactions.  A lot of people are misinformed, or uninformed, regarding almost every aspect.  Health, environment, resource wastage, sanitation, toxins, esthetics.  I hope as more information collects, gardeners can learn how to use this fully renewable, non wasting, beneficial method to benefit their gardens in a safe and effective manner.