Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Gardening. Fig Replacements. 1.23.15

Fig Row with replacement trees planted.  1.23.15

King Fig about to be planted.  1.23.15
This is from yesterday.   My approach, to trying to grow figs in Battleground, is evolving.

The challenges:

Climate.  Freeze damage is more of an issue than in Vancouver.  Almost a non-issue in Vancouver.  I lost top growth of several at the Battleground place, last year.  The unprotected ones of experimental varieties sustained significant freeze damage - an unknown, and exposed growth on LSU Tiger.  Haven't checked Champagne yet.

One problem with the freezing, is that it may limit fertilizing.  If growth is rapid, it may be more susceptible to freezing.  So it may take longer to bear fruit.

Herbivores.  Despite covering and hardware cloth, Smith was destroyed to ground level and into the roots, by voles.  Unknown was also destroyed to below ground level.  I had left one exposed this winter.

As a result, I decided to give up some experimental varieties, and go back to standards that have known hardiness, from my Vancouver yard.  Last year I grew cuttings from Hardy Chicago and Lattarula, and I continued a cutting from 2 years ago from King.  Those have all done well without any protection at all, from local freezes.

I dug out the remains of Smith and the unknown.  I planted King in a section where I had laid down black plastic to kill grass over the winter.  There is evidence of fireplace disposal or old fire there, with ashes and char.  Those have been leaching for at least the past 4 years, and possibly much longer.  I replaced soil in the top 18 inches, 18 inches around, although it may still be affected.  King is usually very vigorous, and this is a good spot for a larger tree.  I planted Lattarula where Smith was, and Hardy Chicago were the unknown was.  Sal's had no freeze protection and looks fine.   Sal's seems to me the most hardy, and tolerant to neglect, but growth is slower.  Maybe the slow growth is why it is more durable.  Aubique petite has had no freeze protection in prior years, and only winter 2013-14 was it freeze killed, so starting over.  So I did protect that one, and Carini.  Carini should be OK once it is established.

Across the road, I need to check on Brunswick, Champagne, and Atreano.  Brunswick was OK a few weeks ago.

So now, all of the varieties that I grew successfully at the Vancouver place are in-ground at the Battleground place.

The plastic/mess is intended to kill grass.  I just want to mow up one side and down the other.  In those spaces, I want to plant vegetables and/or bee forage, with straw mulch.

This time I applied hardware cloth surrounds and deer fencing cylinders at the outset.  They do need some mulch.

Addendum:  I checked the figs on the acre across the street.  Brunswick looks great.   Minimal freez damage, maybe 5 twigs.  Most of the rest have viable-looking brebas.  Growth last year was only about 6 inches.  Might need some nitrogen.  Then again maybe that's why it did so well.   Champagne hard to say.  Maybe one sprout survived from last year.  Atreano, hard to say.  There was only one sprout from last year.  It looks like it might be alive.  If so, it's one of the larger sprouts from the 2013 freeze damaged fig trees.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

American Persimmon. Diospyros virginiana. 1.21.15

Image source:  Plant 
Diospyros virginiana L.
Catesby, M., The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, vol. 2: t. 76 (1754)
From "Today in History" via the Library of Congress,

On the afternoon of December 16, 1864, Union troops led by General George H. Thomas devastated Confederate forces at Nashville, Tennessee. The battle had begun the day before when Thomas initiated an attack after waiting some two weeks for troop reinforcements and favorable weather.

In November, in an effort to cut off General William T. Sherman's supply line, Confederate General John B. Hood, led the Army of Tennessee out of Alabama and toward Nashville. One of Hood's men remembered the grueling march from Atlanta to Nashville. "After the fall of Atlanta," Confederate veteran Milton Cox told his son John:

we marched northward into Tennessee over frozen ground and how cold it was! Our shoes were worn out and our feet were torn and bleeding…the snow was on the ground and there was no food. Our rations were a few grains of parched corn. When we reached the vicinity of Nashville we were very hungry and we began to search for food. Over in a valley stood a tree which seemed to be loaded with fruit. It was a frost bitten persimmon tree, but as I look back over my whole life, never have I tasted any food which would compare with these persimmons.

19th Century Persimmon tree, Lima Lake, Illinois   Source Univ Chicago.

 Credit line for image:  American Environmental Photographs Collection, [AEP Image Number, e.g., AEP-MIN73], Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library.

The image is not dated.  Either late 19th century or eary 20th century.  

American Persimmon is a native American tree, range extending through the old South, northeast to Connecticut, northwest to southern parts if Illinois, and northern Missouri, southwest into NW Texas.

The photo at left is at Lima Lake, Illinois.  I recall my Dad talking about Lima Lake, which was then considered a "swamp", and now would be called a wetland.  The wetland covered an expanse of 10,000 to 12,000 acres near Quincy, IL, the town where my dad spent his life, and where I was born and grew up.   I remember being told that persimmons were bitter, astringent fruits, not suitable for eating.  So never tried one.  I missed out.  A truly ripe persimmon is almost like juicy candy.

Best growth of persimmon was known in the Mississippi river valley, which explains why my Dad was aware of them.

I am interested in some of the native American plants and trees, especially those that might have grown where I grew up.  That is even though I don't live there, and haven't for many years.

Those plants and trees seem somewhat taken for granted.  There are few native American fruit trees - pawpaw, some plums,  and a few others.  Persimmon is also one, known to native Americans, eaten by them, and described in early European colonial works.
Natural range of American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana.  Source:

Source for map image:  JSTOR

Other names for persimmon included  "simmon, possumwood, and Florida persimmon,".  I only knew them as persimmons.

As for growth of American persimmon, they are difficult to transplant at a large size, due to taproot.  Because of that difficulty, some nurseries offer trees at small size, and grow them in specialized tall, narrow, open bottom tree containers.  That is how the persimmon tree came to me from Burnt Ridge Nursery.

From US Silvaculture manual, "Approximately 50 percent of the total radial growth is complete in 70 to 90 days, and 90 percent complete in 100 to 109 days after growth starts in the spring (6). Persimmon responds well to fertilizer."  Based on that info, it seems to me that small persimmon trees should be given nitrogen fertilizer early in Spring or late Winter.  In my yard, that means pee-cycling then.  My tree is just a small sapling.  Other references state not to fertilize, but I think that fertilizing sapling trees might give them a boost, then stop when they are bigger.  The issue with excess nitrogen is it can cause fruit drop.  Fruit drop is not a concern until the trees reach bearing size.

 Also according to the silvaculture manual, trees take a long time to bear, may start in 10 years.  However, seedling trees of most tree species need to go through a maturation process, that is already accomplished in the scion of grafted cultivars.  Because of grafting, the maturation process is skipped, so they may bear - guessing - in 3 to 5 years.  I think the main challenge is getting them large enough, fairly quickly.  The manual also states, "Common persimmon grows in a tremendous range of conditions from very dry, sterile, sandy woodlands to river bottoms to rocky hillsides and moist or very dry locations. It thrives on almost any type of soil but is most frequently found growing on soils of the orders Alfisols, Ultisols, Entisols, and Inceptisols".  I don't know what those soil types mean, but have copied them for future reference.
Image source

Maritime Pacific NW climate is quite different from the provenance of American persimmons.  I think there are still a lot of unknowns.  However, others have grown them here, and they are available at local mail order nurseries such as Burnt Ridge, Raintree, and One Green World.  The difference in climate is not more than, say, the difference for kaki persimmons, or figs, or peaches, apples, pears, from their origins.

Also from the manual, best growth  "is in areas that receive an average of 1220 mm (48 in) of precipitation annually, about 460 mm (18 in) of which normally occurs during the growing season. Over the range of persimmon, the average maximum temperatures are 35° C (95° F) in the summer and -12° C (10° F) in the winter."    The climate here has a dry summer, most rain being in fall / winter / spring.  Both summer and winter are milder than midwest.   The climate here could be more suitable, or less, or no significant difference, compared to native provenance.

My goal is get the tree off to a good start.  Provide mulch, water well the first couple of summers, provide adequate nitrogen the first couple of years at the right time, and see if we can get a good burst of growth so I have a taste in my lifetime.

The variety that I purchased is reported as not requiring a male pollinator.  If, some time, I find some scion for male persimmon, I may graft them onto either this tree or Saijo, or Nikita's Gift, to produce viable seeds.  That is not a priority for me.

According to One Green World Nursery, "American Persimmon can be grown in all but the coldest regions of the U.S. American Persimmon fruit is ready to eat when it is soft like a tomato... American Persimmon trees are easy to keep at 10-12 ft. in height with pruning."

 The variety I planted is Yates, which is apparently also  called Juhl.  As I recall, this variety originates in Indiana, is larger than most others, and has a darker orange color. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Digging an Oriental Poppy to Re-Plant. 1.19.15

Oriental Poppy before digging.  1.19.15

Oriental Poppy.  Large hole.  1.19.15
 I dug this oriental poppy to move to the Battleground place.  It's about 13 years old, from seed.  It has been moved once before.

I dug around it like I would a tree, slice vertically into the ground.  Then dig around those slices, in a circle, removing the soil.  Then slice under it, and lift the clump out of the soil.

All came up as one piece.  I think I got the vast majority of roots.  It should survive, and possibly bloom, this year.

I placed the clump into a very large flowerpot.  I am without car today and tomorrow, then can take it to Battleground.

My grandfather liked growing Oriental Poppies.  So I have them partly to remember him.

I also dug up a large clump of daffodils.  Same method.  If careful, they move without a problem, and there is nice bloom the first Spring, as if they were in the new location for years.  More of those to follow.   Transferring as much as I can, little bit by little bit, to the Battleground place.
I think I got almost all of the roots.  1.19.15

Pruning Fig Trees. 1.19.15

Fig "Aubique Petite" before pruning.  1.19.15

Fig "Aubique Petite" after pruning.  1.19.15
 Today I pruned my two front yard fig trees in Vancouver.  These are among my oldest trees, about 13 to 14 years old.  They have spread too wide.  It is difficult getting bird netting over the trees.

Both bear mainly on new growth in fall - "Main Crop" but get a few summer figs on the previous year's growth - "breba figs".   If these were mainly breba varieties, pruning much of the growth now could mean loss of much of next summer's crop.  Since they are mostly main crop, production will not be so affected.

The goal was to make them a bit more compact while still having an open center, with the branches like the sides of a bowl.

I started by standing back and selecting which branches to remove close to the main trunk and scaffold branches.  With each cut, I backed up again to see if I really wanted to remove the next branch.

Once I removed the larger branches, I used the pruning shears to remove smaller ones, aiming always for a bowl shape with open center, and branches not spreading as far and wide.  Finally, I trimmed off some that looked frost damaged, and cut the tips from some to encourage close-in branching.

I'm happy with the results.  The trees are likely to respond with a burst of growth, but also have lots of figs that ripen nicely due to more sun exposure in the trees.  If I want to net the trees, it will be easier.

The last photo shows the cut end of a branch.  These fig trees seem to make multiple rings per year.  The branch can't be more than 14 years old, and probably more like 12.  I planted the tree 14 years ago.

Fig "Hardy Chicago" before pruning.  1.19.15

Fig "Hardy Chicago" after pruning.  1.19.15
Tree rings on 13-year old fig branch.  Ficus carica "Petite Aubique".  1.19.15

Winter Pruning Columnar Apple. 1.19.15

The same tree in 2009

North Pole Apple after pruning.  1.19.15

North Pole Apple after pruning.  1.19.15
Today I am on vacation.  Did a little pruning.  I am not up to a lot, but I can do a little.

I pruned North Pole apple tree, about 14 years old.  The goal is shorten the spurs enough to maintain columnar shape, exposing all apples to sunlight.  Shorten the top so all are within my reach.  I am 5'10 so that means, about 8  ft tall.

Next to clean up the mess under the tree.  Important for disease and insect prevention.  I didn't have the energy, but this week would be a good time.  Last year's apples were all wormy - I refuse to spray poison - and in my frustration, I didn't clean them up

Columnar apples are descended from a sport growing in a Canadian orchard on a McIntosh apple tree.   That was in 1961.  The original, named for the the farmer, is McIntosh "Wijcik".   Most if not all columnar apple trees are descended from the Wijcik mutation.   Hundreds of crosses have been made, resulting in many novel columnar apple trees.   I don't know how the apples, from those trees, taste, or how productive they are.  This North Pole is a good apple.  I am not a connoisseur, so not the best judge.  The main issue is wormy apples, which is culture method, not the tree's fault.  Cleaning up under the tree is important, and I plan to bag them next year. 

The gene leading to columnar growth has been mapped on apple chromosome #10, known as the "co" gene.   This gene is present in all columnar apple cultivars.   The mutation is entirely natural - Anthony Wijcik was looking at his McIntosh trees and happened to observe the unusual branch.  He cut it, using it as scion, propagated it, and ultimately sold it for propagation and development.  That tree was patented by Stark's Nurserys, but the patent has since run out.

Columnar apple trees are known in the UK as "Ballerina" trees.

 In wikipedia, Fisher is given credit for discovering the Wijcik McIntosh, but in Fisher's own writing, "At a Research Station Field Day in 1963, a grower approached me and said he had a peculiar stunted shoot of 'Mclntosh' originating adjacent to a cut at the top of a 50-year-old 'Mclntosh' tree. He had discovered this in 1961. I picked up an empty cigarette package and hastily wrote down his name and address, intending to visit him. Unfortunately I lost the package. Fortunately, two years later (1965) at a similar Field Day I recognized the same man, Mr. Tony Wijcik. Prior to harvest I visited his orchard in East Kelowna and inspected his sport. Although located in an advantageous position at the top of the tree in regard to light exposure, fruit from this sported shoot matured somewhat later than apples on the rest of the tree and had only fair color. The fruit was tightly packed on the very compact single shoot measuring about four feet in length. Mr. Wijcik had, by this time, taken buds and propagated a row of about 20 trees on M.26 rootstock."

I have tried to locate a patent on North Pole apple.  I don't think there is one.  It may have a trademark, which would mean progeny could not be identified by that name, but would be legal.

Back to  this particular tree, I have not found photos of old columnar apple trees.  Most catalog photos show very young specimens, often in containers.  They look like sticks with apples glued to the sides.  The mature tree is more sturdy, and the spurs tend to grow longer with time.

I have found that pruning the spurs back keeps the shape nicely.  I stubbed the top many years ago, and annually remove most of the growth above that point.  The bearing is prolific.  I just need a way to prevent insect damage to the fruit, which is true for all of my apples.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fig Trees. Progress Report. 1.18.15

Carini 3-stem.  1.18.15

Aubique Petite.  1.18.15
 Interesting results for me, with my row of figs south of the Battleground house.  Most were protected against voles, with hardware cloth, and against cold, inside inverted garbage cans.

With warm weather, I'm concerned they will break dormancy as the sun warms the cans, so removed them

Carnini looks good.  The can was not quite tall enough, so the top buds were smashed and bent over.  Otherwise, no obvious freeze or herbivore damage.

Aubique Petite, also good.  This has one good stem.  I hope it takes off and grows this year.  It's a very slow growing variety, but quite freeze tolerant and productive.   I never protect its parent in the Vancouver yard, and that tree has done well for 14 years.

The Unknown was a test.  I did not cover it with a garbage can.  I did enclose one stem in hardware cloth.  Animals shredded the stems.  The only viable looking part is what was in the hardware cloth.  That looks freeze damaged.  I don't care - I have plans to replace this one anyway.

Smith was covered with inverted garbage can, and each stem surrounded with hardware cloth.  That tree had the worst damage - most stems are vole-chewed beyond recovery.  I have a containerized Smith.  After more thatn 2 years of this one in ground, it's time to plant something else in that location.

Sal's took the freeze without damage, and without freeze protection.  I do have hardware cloth around the base.

Not pictured, LSU Tiger looks OK.  It was also a bit too tall for the garbage can and the tips were bent.  I pruned off the damaged tips.  Unless there is a really bad freeze, I think it will come through the winter OK.


If the voles want it, they will get it. Smith must have really tasty bark and stems.

Protection does help somewhat.

Unknown, without protection in can.  1.18.15

Smith.  Protected in can and by hardware cloth.  1.18.15

Sal's.  Not protected in can.  1.18.15

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Planting a lily. Early signs of spring. 1.17.15

Tiger lily bulbs  1.17.15

Germinating Daffodils  1.17.15
The "Joy of Gardening" bulbs at Fred Meyer are kind of a mixed bag.  Some are mislabeled, and some don't grow.  But most are OK.  I buy them on impulse, anyway.

So bought these lily bulbs, and planted today.

The daffodils start coming up now.  They don't mind frosts or hard freezes or ice or snow.  Still a long way to bloom.  Nice to see something already growing.   These are replants from a big clump of Jetfire I divided last summer.  Then left them sitting out and some were moldy.  Seem to be growing fine anyway.

Planting Yates American Persimmon. 1.17.15

Yates Persimmon from Burnt Ridge Nursery.  1.17.15

Persimmon Roots in Tree Pot.  1.17.15

Yates Persimmon.  1.17.15
 Yesterday there was a box by the garage door.  This"Yates" persimmon sapling was in the box.

Things like this keep me going through the winter.  I've been looking forward to planting this tree.

It's a nice size, about 2 foot tall.  When I emailed Burnt Ridge Nursery to ask about them, they said their few remaining specimens were 1 to 2 foot.  Nice it's at the high end of that range.

In the bottomless, side-ridged narrow tree pot, the roots grew straight downward.  None were winding around.  I read that persimmons are difficult to transplant due to lack of a lot of fibrous roots.  This method of growing saplings is said to result in a much more transplantable specimen.  Even so, small specimens are more likely to result in success, so it's hard to find very big persimmon trees to plant.

Persimmons have black roots.  This was no exception.

Planted, and in wire cage.  More protection will be needed - I should prune some of the lower branches and fit a hardware cloth sleeve over the tree.  But it's raining and raining and raining, so I went inside.

Not good to plant trees in the rain.  I wanted to get it into the ground as quickly as possible, so compromised.  The fill soil was not too clumpy, and I think it is OK.

Yates is also call Juhl.  This variety is reported as, no male needed to produce fruit (parthenocarpic), much as many of the Asian persimmons are.  Also fairly large, and early. 

I think I'm nostalgic for some of the natural aspects of my growing up in Southern Illinois.  Pawpaws, American Linden, and now American Persimmon. 

One more photo added 1.18.15.  I pruned the side branches to a single whip.  Minimal loss of stored carbohydrates by doing that now, before sap flows up from roots.  The lower branches would need pruning to make a single leader.  I tied it upright.  I surrounded with hardware cloth for vole protection.  I surrounded with a larger cage for deer protection.  I think persimmons need neither, but prefer not to take a chance on an anomalous or taste-testing herbivore.  The newspaper mulch is crumpled so it won't lie flat and form a barrier.  It looks bad but there is no one but me to see it.  In Spring, it will be covered with a  nicer looking grass clipping mulch.  

Yates Persimmon, pruned, protected  1.18.15

Image from

Fig Cuttings. 1.17.15

Celeste Fig Cuttings.  1.11.15

Celeste Fig Cutting.  1.11.15

Celeste Fig Cutting.  1.11.15
 This is a progress note on fig cuttings.

I started the Celeste and LSU Gold, about the first of Jan.  The photos for those were taken on about 1.11.15.

The Lattarula I started a few days later.

This is how I like to start fig trees.  It is more involved than necessary.  This approach appeals to me, because I like to observe every little growth along the way.  I think they grow faster this way.  I think I get a head start of a year in growth, overall, by starting them now.  Some fig hobbyists complain about gnats and mold.  I have never had those problems with this method.  On the other hand, I have also stuck many fig sticks into the garden soil, and had them take and grow, with no effort or coddling at all. 

1.  I like to start with fig sticks a little thicker than a pencil, and about that long.  Smaller or thicker will work, but this size seems to have the most vigor.  Thicker cuttings may not have buds for top growth.  Thinner cuttings may not have the stored carbohydrates to nourish root growth prior to leaf growth.

2.  I cut off the top.  They can grow with the apical bud, but my observations lead me to think, the apical bud is a little inhibitory on root initiation.  So I cut the top.  It's my habit to cut the top at an angle, and the bottom flat across.  Most hobbyists do that, so it's easy to tell the top from the bottom.

3.  I like to clean the cuttings  by scrubbing lightly, with a plastic vegetable brush, with some dish detergent, in running water.  That removes most of the likely mold and mildew spores.

4.  I use a sharp knife to make a vertical incision through the bark, into the wood, on the lower end of the cutting.  The incision exposes the cambium layer, which is sort of stem cell tissue for root formation.  I've grown many cuttings without incising them, but I find the roots often form from that tissue, faster than from the sides of the stem.  They also sometimes form from the cambium at the cut base, and lenticels along the sides of the cutting..

5.  I use dip-and-grow rooting hormone, at a 5:1 dilution, for a few seconds.  Again, this is not necessary.  I did not use rooting hormone for my first few years of starting figs.  Many writers state it is not necessary.  But, the cuttings I dip, root faster than the ones I don't dip.

6.  I wrap the cutting in wet paper towel.  The paper towels are almost-dripping wet or barely dripping wet.

7.  Then into plastic bags.  I blow in a little air, and close with a zip tie.

8.  I use a seed starting mat.  Other options for warming are top of refridgerator, or other warm place.  On the other hand, I've left cuttings on a bookshelf and they grew.  Just takes a bit longer.

8.  Every couple of days, I open the bag, inspect the cuttings, rinse under running water.  If any mildew is forming on the paper towel, I discard it and replace with new, wet paper towel. 
LSU Gold Fig Cutting.  1.11.15

9.  When roots begin to grow, about 1/4 inch to 1 inch long, I carefully plant them in a flower pot or plastic container, in wettened seed starting medium.  I put them into plastic bag again, and back onto the seed starting mat.

10.  Once the leaves are bigger than a quarter, I usually take them out of the bags.  By that point, they can usually get by without the humid bag.

For cuttings in the garden, I just stick the fig sticks into the ground, preferably in a somewhat sheltered spot.  I had some that i thought were dead, and used them as row markers for vegetable seeds, and they grew.   The first year plants were very small, but in the second year they took off and grew nicely.

This year, I'm not starting many.  They are mainly for gifts.  I forgot to incise and dip the Lattarula cuttings, so they are growing without that boost.  Lattarula is usually so vigorous, it should do fine with no special effort.

Lattarula Fig Cutting.  1.17.15
Wrapped Fig Cutting.  1.17.15

Fig Cuttings in Bags.  1.17.15

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Yamamoto Dendrobium Hybrid. 1.8.15

Yamamoto Dendrobium nobile hybrid.  1.8.15
This was unlabeled when I bought it, years ago.  Probably more than 5 years.  I think the variety is "Fancy Angel, Lycee".  Blooms intermittently, reliably, very nice.  I usually just water, sometimes some MG - Tomato at 1/4 tsp per gallon.

Monday, January 05, 2015

New Vision. 1.6.14

The big pupil should get back to normal in a vew days.  Behind it, not visible, is a new lens.   Now I can see to read, look at photos, graft, pollinate, type, write,look at bees and bugs,  and do a lot of other things that work better with 2 working eyes.  The right one was like looking through wax paper. 

Science and technology can be wonderful, sometimes.

Que in Pharrell Williams, "Happy".

Thursday, January 01, 2015

More on Bagging Fruits for Protection. 1.1.15

This is my momentary obsession for gardening.  It will pass.  Something to read and learn during winter.  Meanwhile, some references. describes how to make fruit bags from newspapers.  I can see that working in dry climates, or summer fruit in dry summer areas, such as here.  "works well with melon, bitter gourd, mango, guava, star fruit, and banana" "...prevents insect pests, especially fruit flies, from finding and damaging the fruits. The bag provides physical protection from mechanical injuries (scars and scratches) and prevents female flies' laying activities, latex burns, and fungal spots on the fruits. Although laborious, it is cheaper, safer, easier to do, and gives you a more reliable estimate of your projected harvest."  They use  double layers of the newspapers and sew or stable them to make the bag.

Detailed discussion for various fruits, on    They used manufactured bags of various types from Japan.   It's interesting, they note " For hundreds of years throughout most of Asia, farmers have been covering fruit with paper either to protect their appearance or to increase the time the fruit would be on the tree thus making it sweeter." and "This practice first came to Hawaii with the early Japanese immigrants and in the 1920’s Ohau farmers employed school children to wrap figs."  They describe their experiment showing of the first 100 bagged figs, 94 were harvested undamaged.  Six were damaged, thought due to rats.  Of 100 unbagged fruits, 86 were damaged beyond recognition by birds.  Because of the bird damage, insect damage was not possible to assess.  

The Hawaii article discussed multiple varieties of fruit.  The only ones I can grow from their list, are figs.

From, "In Japan where the average orchard is only two to three acres, bagging is an important cultural operation for fruits such as loquat, persimmon and nashi fruit (Asian pear). ...  bagging is undertaken to reduce the number of pesticide applications and to improve fruit appearance.. provides a major defence against fruit piercing moths ...makes po ssible the production of fruit of a very attractive blemish-free fruit with considerable eye appeal."  Some of the bags in Japan are impregnate with pesticide, something I won't do.  The article goes on to state bag are used for mangos in the Philippines.  Among the types of bags, newsprint was one type that worked well to dramatically reduce insect damage.  Plastic bags did not work well in their work with mangos.  On the same website, one writer used nylon bags made from old curtains, with successful protection of the fruit (1983).   

This article on pears, did not describe insect damage, but rather lack of negative changes in pears due to bagging.  "
Preharvest bagging of pear fruit (Pyrus communis L. ‘Doyenne du Comice') with micro‐perforated polyethylene bags c. 30 days after full bloom did not affect fruit size and weight, density, maturity, and flesh content of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg. Bagged fruit had a greener and lighter skin colour than non‐bagged fruit, whereas the development of blush on the sunny side was not different between treatments"

Apparently, bagging can also be beneficial for persimmons.  

What interests me here is that, in so many years of gardening, I haven't read about bagging fruits.  I'm sure the method will not benefit all fruits, in all climates, but it looks like it's worth testing for apples and a number of other fruits.  It's surprising the method has been around so long, and so widespread, and yet is not part of the general gardening knowledge here.

Edit:  Adding more articles.  In Sicily, in the province of Enna, peaches are bagged in parchment paper bags.    The resultant peaches are called "Pesca Settembrina".   A farmer came up with the bagging method in the 1960s to save peaches from the Mediterranian Fruit Fly.    Also "The pulp firmer and more acidic, due to the slow maturation, make it particularly suitable for the preparation of jams; are excellent in combination with the white meat which give it a special taste."... " The remedy comes a few years later: the parchment paper bag in which the fruits are wrapped 120-150 days before fully ripe peaches protects from pests, from the weather and avoid the excessive use of fertilizers from industrial sources."

Learnings. What went well, what didn't. What I obsessed over. 2014. 12.30.14

Transplant Methley Plum.  Jan 2014
 This is Jan to June.  It turned out to be too much to review the whole year.

Transplanted Methley plum tree in January.  It did fine, but no plums this year.  January is a good time to transplant around here, if the roots are good and the weather is mild.

Lilacs are really easy to propagate by digging up suckers, pruning them off, and replanting.  All survived.  Again, dug them in January.  All of the starts grew moderately and developed good root systems.

Covering the raised beds with plastic increased the temp, allowing for cold season vegetables to grow in February.

Embossable labels work better than any other type of label.

Pepper plants started about Jan were the first to bear.  They do not have to be started that early, but it was nice to get early peppers.

Whip and tongue grafting is easy and awesome.  That was the end of Feb.  All of the pears, and all of the apples, took.  Few or none of the lilacs took.  Lilacs are more challenging to graft.  I still don't have a foolproof method for them.

It was easy to dig up and transplant daffodils and Hyacinthoides right after they  started to grow in March.  All survived and bloomed.  It was a great way to have some instant spring blooming bulbs, not planted the fall before.  Not really instant but seemed that way.  Waiting until the foliage dies is probably better, but there is so much going on then, I forget.

The indoor plant growing light was easy, cheap, and worked very well.  I have it set up again for this winter's seedlings. 

Learnings for the little orchardDeer were the most destructive and frustrating challenge.  They ate cherry trees, to the point of almost killing the trees.  I already had the plum trees fenced, so they were OK.  They ate a few peach branches, not a lot.  Similar for persimmons. Something - maybe a rabbit - ate off one pawpaw sapling, so all got caged.  As of now, all cherries are caged, all pears, apples, plums, pawpaws, persimmons.  Two trees died - Satsuma plum and Korean Dogwood.  I think that's because I did not get the roots unwound from the containers.  Another thought, is voles, but on the tree autopsy I did not see eaten roots.  Lesson learned - get those root systems spread out.  I already knew that but did not practice it in those cases.  Hollywood plum was very easy to start from cuttings - all grew.  Shiro plum did not grow at all from cuttings.  With hand cross-pollinating, the Asian pears had heavy yields, really productive, for the first time ever.  By grafting pollinating varieties within each pear tree, I hope the pollinating is easier in the future.  But I really didn't mind doing it.  Enjoyable.  I have almost every tree in a fencing circle to reduce or prevent deer browsing next year.  Lesson learned - install the fencing at the time the trees are planted, even before planting.  Then it is done, and you don't wind up saying "I wish I did that".
Lilac Propagation via Suckers.  Jan 2014

Covered Bed.  Feb 2014

Pepper plants, 2.1.14
Asian Pear - Whip and Tongue Graft.  2.25.14

Apple.  Whip and Tongue Graft.  2.25.14

Bulb transplants.  3.2.14
Plant light project.  3.2.14
 For me, the best way to grow 4:00's / Mirabilis jalapa, was to soak seeds for 24 hours, pre- germinate seeds on moist paper  towel, in zipper sandwich bags, on heating mat, then plant into seedling cups.  They did really well that way.  4:00's were great fun and I will grow them again this year, from seeds saved in 2014.  They do stop blooming in Sept, but that's OK. They also grew faster, bloomed sooner, and stopped blooming sooner, in containers.

The bearded irises were very frustrating.  Big, very frustrating, losses from bacterial rot.  Almost every plant had at least some rot.  A few were completely killed.  May have been due to too much nitrogen the fall/winter before.  Lesson learned.  No nitrogen boost this time around.  Also no ground covers, although weeds are challenging for bearded iris.  We'll see if they do better this time around.

Lilacs did great this year.  It's nice to have several types.   Now I have starts from 5 colors, at the Battleground place.  Bud grafting was about 30% successful on lilacs.  Maybe - we'll see if they grow.

Bud grafting is also awesome.  Some of the early bud grafted plums grew rapidly.  The later ones, healed but I will not know if they grow, until Spring.  All of the plum bud grafts look like they took.  About 75% of the cherries look good.  Not sure about the peaches, and the lilacs may have a few.

The buddleias were a mixed bag.  The "Cobbler" varieties - Peach Cobbler and Blueberry Cobbler - grew huge.  That was OK in that location, they will be a bit of a windbreak.  The flower heads are also huge.  They start blooming from the bottom, and work to the top.  That means, most of the time half of the flower is brown and dead, before the rest is done blooming.  The result is an ugly bush.  The "Miss" varieties  - Miss Molly and Miss Ruby - those have smaller flowers, and less of the half dead/half blooming issue.  They are more compact.  Neither the Cobbler varieties, nor the Miss varieties, attracted honeybees, but they were good for bumblebees.  The Honeycomb variety was newer, I'm not sure about that.  The Blue Mist variety stayed more compact, the flower heads were small and much less of the half-dead aspect, looked very nice and the honeybees liked it.

Peecycling was the big lesson this year.  Excellent source of nitrogen.  Our water bill decreased due to not flushing it down the drain.  Tomatoes were the most productive ever.  Peppers did excellent.  Lindens grew their most lush ever.   Negatives, leaves on some buddleias, and laburnum, were curled.  I used moderately on the Bearded Irises, and that may have been the issue with the bacterial rot.  Possibly too much on those.  I would not use on pear trees - they grow too fast, and lush growth is susceptible to fire blight.  Sourwood also had a touch of fireblight, but recovered and grew nicely. I think this concept is mostly a "guy thing".  We have been saving all of the at-home pee for the garden, and it was very lush in 2014, the best ever.
Plant light project.  3.2.14

Orchard.  4.6.14

4:00 seedling.  4.6.14

The persimmons and pawpaws did respond to the nitrogen boost.  I would not do that for mature trees, but it might be good for getting them larger, faster.

I still have a lot to learn about growing okra in this cool maritime climate.  The container okras did much better than last year's in-ground okra.  The varieties, "Burgundy" and "Baby Bubba" did best.  They are hard to grow in sunroom due to attracting aphids.  It helps to soak seeds over night, and pre-sprout on moist paper towel / zipper sandwich bag / on seed sprouting warming mat.  Contrary to info on many websites, okra is easy to start in containers.  You just have to be careful to slide them out of the container without damaging roots, when transplanting.  More to learn, but so far, so good.

This as a lot of learnings in 6 months.  Most of it went well.  I tend to forget the unsuccessful things.  The uncertainties to carry over to next year, mainly working on other herbivore control fencing, seeing if bearded irises will be free of bacterial rot, getting more okra in containers.   I plan to move more bulbs in March after they start growing, as I did last year.  Good to know that works.  Lilac starts are now in their permanent locations.   Much more grafting this year, based on last year's learnings. 

Historic lilac bed.  There were some good flowers despite a bacterial rot epidemic.

It' nice having multiple varieties of lilacs.  The different colors make for a beautiful bouquet.
This was my first try for camassia.  Very nice!

Pepper bed worked out really nice.  The cover kept them growing before the weather warmed up.  Covering also prevented herbivory.

Potato "wells" were OK, not great.  Not sure if I will do that this year.

Freeze killed figs grew back from the roots.

Okra was OK in containers.  Not lush like southern grown okra, but there was enough for some soups.

Peecycling was a big new lesson.  We got excellent results.
This plum bud graft took and grew rapidly.
Four O'Clocks were a new experiment.   They were great!

Buddleia Miss Ruby was good.  Compact and a nice bloomer.