Sunday, August 31, 2014

Second Potato Harvest. 8.31.14

Potato Harvest, Wishing Well #1.  8.31.14

Potato Harvest.  Wishing Well #2.  8.31.14

Planting potatoes.  Wishing Well #1.  3.7.14
 Here is today's potato harvest, from wishing well #1 and #2.  I already harvested wishing well #3 maybe a month ago, and one more remains.

Pretty good yield.  I wondered if I could do better.  One is a mix of red and white, the other is all red.

I'm happy with the yield, and quality.  A few small ones might be good for next year's seed potatoes, or I could buy  new ones.

The wishing wells tended to dry out on hot days.  They might do better if I paint the outside white, or add reflective material, or have deeper soil.  I think the deeper soil will be a good start.
Potato Wishing Well #1.  4.27.14

Potato Wishing Well #1.  6.21.14
These are Pontiac Red and White Superior.

Toka Plum-Apricot Hybrid. 8.31.14

Toka Plum/Apricot.  8.31.14

Toka Plum/Apricot 8.31.14

Toka Plum/Apricot  8.31.14
This is the 3rd fruit from the Toka Plum/Apricot.  I planted this tree 2 years ago, a potted tree on close-out from Home Depot.  This is the 1st year it has borne any fruit - not bad, nice to have a taste - and there were 3 fruits.

It took some time to identify the origin of Toka.  It is listed most places as a plum, sometimes described as "bubblegum plum" due to the complex, very sweet flavor.  I wouldn't call it "bubblegum", but the flavor is delightful.

According to

Growing Fruit in the Upper Midwest (Google eBook)

Front Cover
by Don Gordon, copyright 1991, this plum was developed in 1911 at the University of South Dakota.   Toka is the Sioux Indian word for "Adversity".  I imagine that is because of the tree's hardiness.  Other plums with the same lineage are Kanga and Hanska.  The book describes this fruit as a cross of 'native plum' and 'Chinese apricot' - which makes it a distant relative of both European and Asian plums, in a category all its own.  Toka, on the other hand, was designed with more adverse climates in mind, has a much longer period of experience in the US, and is way beyond patent so can be used in grafting.
I happened on this fruit completely by accident.  I suppose I should refer to it as a plum, but based on the flavor and the lineage, American plum/Chinese apricot hybrid would be a better description.
Wow, it's good. 
Toka is considered an excellent pollenizer for Euro and Asian plums.  I wonder, then, if hybridization would result in other interesting, hardy fruit.

Fig tree Update. 8.31.14

South of house, fig tree row.  8.31.14

Plastic to eliminate sod and weeds.  8.31.14
I thought much of this row of fig trees was killed in the big frost winter 2013/14.  Sal's was intact, but all of the others were dead above the ground.  They all grew back from roots.  They all look pretty good.  Not as large as last year.  I hope that means, better lignification and better survival this upcoming winter.

Some of the fig tree / bushes have small figs.  I don't know if we'll get ripe ones this fall.

Earlier this month, I mowed down the weeds and weedy grass,  and used the cuttings for mulch around the trees.  I have been adding spiny juniper trimmings to reduce small herbivore browsing.  Sort of a wreath around the trees.  Not near the trees, but in a row on each side, I treated the lawn with nitrogen / pee-cycle.  I don't want to stimulate fig plant growth, but I do want sod that can be mowed and walked on for better access.

At the rear of the photo, not showing well and fore-shortened due to distance, is the first of the black plastic mulches to heat/exclude water/ exclude light.  That can be left until Spring.  Then, broadcast bee forage seeds - borage or others, and I have a nice bee-foraging area.  Plan to do the same between the fig trees, which will ease mowing and feed bees.

Better view of plastic weed eliminator.  9.1.14

Grafting follow up. Cleft, Whip and Tongue, Bud Grafting. 8.31.14

Sweet Cherry Bud Graft.  Grafted mid-July 2014.  9.1.14
Lilac Bud Grafts.  Grafted June 2014.  8.31.14

Hollywood Plum Bud Graft.  Grafted late May 2014.   8.31.14 

Cerasifolia Plum graft.  Grafted late May 2014.  8.31.14
 This is a follow up on a few of the grafts I've done.  The lilac bud grafts all appear to have taken.  The buds are plump and green and look similar to the "native" buds on the stock.  They have a good start for winter.

Most of the earlier bud grafts, from late May, healed and merged with the stock, and did not grow.  That is pretty much as I expected.  They look ready for winter.  For late winter pruning, the plan is to cut the stock above the buds, so that there is no auxin - inhibition and they take off and grow next Spring.

Two of the May plum bud grafts took off and grew like crazy.  The cerasifolia graft shows up nicely against the green foliage of the stock tree.  Hollywood would do the same.  i wonder if these rapidly grown grafts will bloom next year.  If they do, that will be awesome.
Cerasifolia Plum Bud Graft.  Grafted late May 2014.  8.31.14

Sour Cherry Bud Graft.  Grafted July 2014.  8.31.14

Sweet Cherry Bud Grafts.  Grafted July 2014.  8.31.14
 The sour cherry and sweet cherry bud grafts mostly appear to have taken.  Possibly, all of them.  Most look about the same as the native buds on the stock trees.  The sides of the T-slice tend to curl back as the bud and tree callous and merge.  The top of the T seems to callous and merge without peeling back.

Last year's cleft graft on the Asian Pears, have almost completely healed over.  I was interested to see if the expose wood, would be a problem.  It looks like there is not problem.  At this rate, next year they will be completely filled in, leaving a visible graft but no open wood.

This year's Whip/Tongue grafts on the Asian pears, both the Asian pears I grafted and the European pears, have all healed over completely.  Growth surprised me - most had 2 to 3 feet of growth.  That is faster than the cleft grafts, in general.  Not a good test, but with no exposed wood, and instant, full cambium connection, whip/tongue in theory could give a faster start.

This is only a few of the many grafts I did this year.  All plum grafts took, all pear and apple grafts took.  Only one of the whip/tongue grafts on lilacs took.  It looks like all of the bud grafts on lilac took, so maybe that's the best method for them.

Grafting is amazing.  I can't believe it works.  It should - it's been done for thousands of years.  But it's still amazing.

Asian Pear Cleft Graft. Grafted March 2013.  8.31.14

Pear Whip and Tongue Graft.  Grafted March 2014.  8.31.14

Another Lilac bud graft, about 3 weeks.  9.1.14

Four O'clocks, Morning Glories. 9.1.14

Four O'clock "Marvel of Peru" 8.31.14

Four O'Clock "Marvel of Peru".  8.31.14
The container Four O'Clocks have finished blooming.  They started early, and finished early.  The in-ground Four O'Clocks started later, and are continuing to bloom profusely.  They don't dry out as fast as the ones in containers.  I can see a role for both methods.

I transplanted some Four O'Clocks out of their deck box, into to soil in a secluded spot under the eves and now a bit cut-off by the sunroom.  They will be nice there.  The location is sheltered.  They should have a good chance to survive the winter.  I expect they will also drop seeds and may re-seed there too.

In the front bed, the 4 O'Clocks are among the brightest and most colorful plants in bloom now.  Daylilies are good, but need protection from deer.  Deer have not eaten any of the 4 O'Clocks.  Neither have rabbits.
Four O'clocks and other flowers.  8.31.14

It turned out that a June start for Morning Glories worked just fine.  I gave the plants to Ning and he planted them in his potager.  They are a nice mix of dark blue, light blue, pink and very light pink.

I was surprised that the foraging animals did not eat morning glories. 

This is a good learning for next year.  I like both of these plants.  I have not grown them before.  They are an excellent example of what can be grown from seeds, and much better than plants that are available in the nurseries and grocery stores.

Ning embraced pee-cycling with a vengeance.  His Four O'Clocks and Morning glories, and everything else, were fertilized with generous amounts.  They grew rapidly, to large size, and are blooming profusely.
Ning's Potager.  8.31.14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Apple Whip and Tongue Graft at 6 Months. 8.24.14

Almost 6 months.  I grafted these about March 1.  The graft is nearly invisible now.  Vigorous, 5 foot tall tree.  Another I did at the same time is about 2 feet tall.  I think the difference is, the taller one was grafted onto a more vigorous shoot.
Apple Whip and Tongue at 6 months

Apple Whip and Tongue Graft at 6 months.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Old Charlie. 8.23.14

Charlie.  8.13.14
He's 13 years old now.  The best friend I ever had.  His eyes are rheumy, and his joints are stiff in the am.  Once in a while he'll fall down for no apparent reason.  He can't handle the heat.  Neither can I.  He breathes heavily with minimal effort.  Even so, he runs up the stairs to greet me, barks at the cat, wags his tale all of the time, rests his chin on the computer keyboard, and stays not more than 5 feet away from me whenever I'm home.  He's comfortable and happy.  I wash his rheumy eyes every day.  His aging breaks my heart.

Garden Harvest. Bud Grafts. 8.23.14

Garden Harvest 8.23.14
Not much chance to garden this weekend.  All work via internet.

But here are the items Ning picked in the kitchen garden, raised beds.

Really nice.  We have a bunch of zucchini already.  I like the yellow supper squash better.

I did remove polyethylene tape from a few of the 3 weeks old bud grafts.  They look pretty good in general.  On some, the buds are hard to see, on others the buds are large and plump.  A couple might not have taken, but most are promising.  Also on the lilac that I budded.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hollyhocks, Carnations from seeds. Saving Four O'Clock seeds. 8.21.14

Four O'Clock Seeds.  8.21.14

Collecting 4:00 Seeds.  8.21.14
 I collected seeds from the Four O'Clock plants.  They might grow fine from the roots.  I collected seeds just because I can.

They are open pollinated.  There is a good chance they may not come true from seeds.  That's fine with me.

I just lean the seed-containing tips into a labeled envelope and shake.  The ripened seeds fall in with no effort at all.  In fact, moving the plants, lots of seeds fall off.

I labeled the envelopes with the color of the plant I collected from.  Even if they don't come true, If I start them next year that should give me a diversity of types.  I can grow separately from red, yellow, white, yellow marble, and orange marble.

This is about 6 weeks for the carnation seedlings.  I just sprinkled the seeds on top of the potting soil, scratched them in a little, and kept them watered.  I didn't know they would grow so easily.  Soon I need to divide them and pot them up either separately or in much smaller bunches.

The Hollyhocks are ficifolia  "Happy Lights".  I started them about 8 weeks ago.  I have other plants in containers, either Fordham Giant or Carnival Mix, that are almost ready to bloom, from seeds started mid June.  I mixed the varieties so I don't know which one.
Saving 4:00 Seeds for Next Year.  8.21.14

All of these are new to me.  It's great trying new plants.
Carnation Seedlings.  8.21.14

Hollyhock Seedlings.  8.21.14

Fresh Tomatoes. Okra. Pears. 8.21.14

Lemon Boy, Cherokee Purple, SuperSweet 1,000, Sungold, and one I forget.  8.18.14

Burgundy Okra.  Container Grown.  8.21.14
 Now I know you can grow okra in the Pacific NW.  It takes effort, but it can be done.  Like anything else home grown, fresh is best.  The varieties that are working best for me are Burgundy, Dwarf Long Green Pod, and Baby Bubba.  Contrary to a lot of gardening advice, they can be started inside, very early.  They don't mind transplanting at all.  For me, container growing is clearly the best way.  The deck is as good as anywhere.

Nice looking plant, too.

Tomatoes are the best ever for me.  The seeds were left over from previous years.  The Lemon Boy were many years old.  Pee-fertilizing gave me the biggest, lushest, more productive tomato plants I've had.  I did not spritz them - the shine is their own juice.
Pears.  8.21.14
I still lose a lot of pears to spoilage.  But the ones I get before spoiling, I love.  I don't know the variety here, it's a multi-graft I planted 14 years ago.  I think this one is Bartlett.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sweet Cherry Bud Grafts. Progress Report. 8.13.14

Sweet Cherry Bud Graft @ 17 days.  8.13.14

Sweet Cherry Bud Graft @ 17 days.  8.13.14 
The sweet cherry bud grafts have varying degrees of plumpness.  I think they took for the most part.  There were some hot days, which either stimulated callousing, or stressed them. 

Thinking about a few more lilacs to graft.  And a couple of ornamental flowering cherries.  And.....

Buddleia "Blue Chip" 8.13.14

Buddleia "Blue Chip"  8.13.14

Buddleia "Blue Chip"  8.13.14
Buddleia "Blue Chip" just started blooming.  It's much more compact than the other sterile buddleia.  It's the only one, so  far, that honeybees forage.  Nice shrub.
Buddleia "Blue Chip" 8.13.14

Rose of Sharon 8.13.14

Rose of Sharon Seedling 8.13.14
 This Rose of Sharon seedling continues to grow.  There was minimal deer foraging on this shrub, this year.  That resulted in more bloom.

I think it's a striking flower.  Much nicer than the parent shrub.
Rose of Sharon Seedling  8.13.14

Rose of Sharon seedling parent  8.13.14

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bearded Iris Bed Maintenance. 8.10.14

Bearded Iris Raised Beds.  8.10.14

Trying not to over-do TLC for the bearded irises.  It's hard for me to just leave them alone, even if I think they might be better off without me puttering around them.

We are at the hottest day of the year, so far.  Around 95 F

I crushed eggshells and scattered them one the soil surface.   The eggshells provide calcium, which is deficient in my soil.  I think they don't raise pH.  I am guessing, lower pH might slow some fungal growth, so no more lime.  Eggshells might provide a little slow-release nitrogen, and if so that's all they get this time.

Removed more weeds.  Removed the last of the multiplier onions, which were a disappointment due to attracting deer or rabbits to eat them.
Bearded Iris Raised Bed.  8.10.14
Filled in some soil low spots with dry mole hill soil.  They were bone dry to a foot deep, so I did water them.  The watering might not be needed, and could be harmful, but it's hard for me to not-water.

Last week I also sprayed them all with a generous spray of Neem oil, following the manufacturer's recommendations of 2-4 tbsp per gallon.  I used 4tbsp per gallon.  My hope is that will keep any fungal diseases in check.

Will try not to mess with them more, unless there is a long dry stretch.  The Neem can be applied every 2-3 weeks, and it might be helpful to do that.

No more plants between iris clumps, except a few Sempervivum, which tolerate dry, heat, neglect, and do not spread much at all.  There is a grape cutting and genetic dwarf peach seedling in one bed, those will come out this fall.

Bud Grafting Lilac for a Bouquet Lilac Bush. 8.10.14

Bud Grafted Lilac Bush.  7.25.14
This is a late entry.  About 2 weeks ago I went around the yard in Vancouver collecting Lilac budwood, then grafted 5 varieties onto this young lilac bush.  This is a single-trunk lilac, so far.  I don't know if it will produce suckers of the original variety.  If it does, so much the better.

This bush has stems about 1/2 inch diameter.  This is a young bush, that had its first 2 flowers this year.  They didn't amount to much, so the grafts could enhance it quite a bit.  The bark slipped nicely. 

I don't know the names of any of these lilacs.  They are white, blue, lilac-color, purple, single, double.  The stock is pink-ish.

Checking today, the buds remain plump and green.  Same method as everything else. 

If they grow, that's great.  If not, at least I tried.

I expect, if the grafts take, it will be new growth next year, and potential flowers in Spring 2016.  Long way away.  But why not try?

More from the Kitchen Garden. 8.10.14

Zucchini and Scallop Squash.  8.10.14

Tomatoes.  8.10.14
 In addition to the tree fruits, we have squashes of various types, tomatoes - mostly Sungold -, eggplants, and today had a taste of honey.  Oh wow that honey was good.
Honey.  8.10.14