Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Puttering. 2.24.24

Shrub and tree cuttings, 1 to 2 years old.  2.24.15

Forsythia cutting.  One year old.  2.24.15

I finished adding cedar wood chip mulch to the front border.  Now it should be maintenance free for a long time.  Maintenance free is good.

Forsythia cutting from this time last year is blooming.  Didn't grow much last year  Lots of roots.  I think it will grow this year.

Plum cuttings from last year are starting to grow.  No flower buds.

Two year old Laburnum / Golden Chain Tree cuttings, I removed from ground an potted for some TLC.   I think this is 2 years old, might be 3.  Buds starting to swell.

Potted genetic dwarf peach is starting to bloom.  If it frosts, I can move it inside.  Looks like growth is starting much lower on the tree.  Good.  I can prune it back for a more compact plant.  I kept it out of the rain all winter.  Too soon to see if that helped with peach leaf curl.  I am playing the bee with a paintbrush, to support pollination.  This is either Bonanza or Ponderosa.  I mix up the names, which shows my age.

Bee forage plots, seedlings have germinated.  Borage, Phacelia, Crimson Clover.   The borage will crowd and shade out all weeds and grasses in its plot, which is good.  I expect so will the crimson clover.

I transplanted lemon balm into the remaining bee forage plot.  Lemon balm / Melissa is considered great bee forage.  They ignored it last year.   I had it planted around seedling trees, but it's too vigorous and competed with the trees.  So today it's in it's own plot, much nearer the beehive.

Honeybees are out in force, for past 2 weeks.  This is good.  They survived the winter and did not swarm.   Which reminds me, I need to paint the new hive.  This time it will be a Warre hive, which I hope needs less effort to keep the honeycombs straight.

Within a few yards of beehive:  Linden, Sourwood, Melissa, Borage, Phacelia, bee-friendly Buddlea Blue Chip, lavender - minimal, and a few more yards away, Nings wildflower meadow.  more Lindens, maples, and others.  That won't be enough to keep all of the foraging at our place, but I hope it helps a bit.

Smith Fig, kept in garage all winter, growing.  I moved it inside with predicted 29 degree night, not is back outside.  None of the others is growing, even kept in garage next to Smith.  In-ground Smith thoroughly dead.  It is more suited for more southern climate.

 Or is that peach El Dorado?  Nothing to do with Bonanza?  I'll have to look it up.

Bonanza Peach.  2.24.15

Bonanza Peach.  2.24.15

Borage Seedlings at one week.  2.24.15

Crimson Clover Seedlings at one week.  2.24.15

Transplanted Lemon Balm.  2.24.15

Front of house, with beehive.  2.24.15

Smith Fig starting to grow.  2.24.15

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fig row / bee forage seed beds. 2.18.15

When we bought the place this was all weeds, especially Johnson Grass and some very tough weeds.

I wanted to make the mowing easier, so I covered the ground between the fig tree saplings, with plastic for the winter.  That killed the grass.  Last weekend I pulled up the plastic, and raked the soil reasonably smooth for seed beds.  I scattered borage seed on the largest bed, and the others are either phacelia or crimson clover. 

This abuts a neighbor's weedfield.  The appearance isn't very important.  I want to be able to run the lawn mower up and down both sides, without the much more difficult method of mowing around each tree.

If the beds work out, next year I can make them much wider, and just have 2 mower-widths of lawn on each side

One seedbed remains.  I bought Viper's Bugloss seeds, reported as excellent bee forage.  Then I read there are toxic pyrolizidine alkaloids in Bugloss' nectar and pollen.  Probably not enough to matter, but I may plant something else - maybe Agastache.  Another choice, lemon balm - I have lots of volunteer plants I can move there, enough to fill in an entire bed.

The lawn was carpeted with white Dutch clover last year.  I don't see any now.  It may just not be ready to grow yet.  I hope it does - excellent bee forage.

The areas just adjacent to the fig trees will be mulched, with a space between mulch and trunk.  I'm thinking of using straw.

This area is almost done and ready for Spring.  About the only maintenance will be quick runs of the lawn mower.

Front Borders Work In Progress. 2.18.15

Front Border and Walk.  2.18.15
Front Walk and Border.  2.18.15
So far, here is the front walk and border bed.  I've been working on them for 6 months.   The themes, if there are any -

-Most plants are usable for bee forage.

-Most plants were self-starts or transplants.

-Most plants are deer and rabbit resistant.

-Some edible plants are included, mainly herbs.

-Pavers are about 1/2 reused from various places, and 1/2 new.   So that they don't look uneven, I've been randomly mixing old and new, and the new is a mix of grey, brick red, and brown pavers.  Edging is also about 1/2 reused (grey) and 1/2 new (brick red). 

Under the mulch is a layer of cardboard food packaging, to prevent perennial weeds from coming up through the wood chip mulch.  It's working very well.

The plastic is there to kill the grass.  It's much easier to smooth the soil and prep a base for pavers, when the sod has been killed by this method.  It's slow - takes a few months.  But no hurry.
Front Border.  2.19.15

Front Border.  12.18.15
 By the house foundation, I will have a gravel walkway.  That avoids plants from growing up to the siding, and reduces risk for carpenter ants and termites.   It's been inspected - there are none.  I want to keep it that way.

For bee forage -
Sedums, big bunches of large varieties.
Helelborus - new clumps.
Daffodils, many.
Chinese chives, many clumps.
Oregano, multiple clumps
Daylilies, multiple clumps.
Blue chip Buddleia.
Alliums - multiple

For kitchen herbs and kitchen garden -
Rhubarb - large established clump and one I rescued.
4 miniature sized apple trees, 3 are columnar.
Oregano, Rosemary, Sage
Chives, Chinese Chives
Multiplier onions

This list is far from complete.  There are more varieties of bulbs including lilies and irises, Hyacinthoides and Leucojum and others.  There are groundcover sedums, violets, a big lilac that came with the place, some roses, and some I have forgotten.

Once the rest of the mulch is down - not much remaining to fill in - the bed should be mostly low  maintenance.  The edging and walkways will cut weed invasion back to a minimum.  The mulch will reduce water need.  The edging will keep grass out.  There is pretty good access via the walkways.  The edging needs tidying, the walks need completion and leveling, and that's about all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. 2.11.15

I sent an email to Raintree Nursery.  Wondering about when the order will be sent.  Pawpaw "Mango".  Pluerry "Sweet Treet".  Cranberry bushes.  A genetic dwarf apricot and an olive tree - both for containers.

Plenty of time - but I'm hoping for their arrival soon.

They replied quickly, should be sent by the end of the week.

Nice weather now.


Sunday, February 08, 2015

Winter Puttering. 2.10.14

Borage 6.5.14
 No new photos today.  I puttered as much as my energy allowed.

Cleared up about 50 sq foot area in fig row, that I covered with black plastic last fall, to kill grass.  Now it's apparent the area was used by previous owners to dispose of fireplace ash.  The grass and weeds were thick so apparently not too toxic.  In the center of that area, I have already planted a start of "King" fig.  In the cleared portion, I smoothed with garden rake and scattered borage seeds for bee forage.

Borage grows rampantly.  Big lush, muscular, drought tolerant plants.  The honeybees and bumblebees both love it.  This is a much larger area, compared to last year's few borage plants.

I uncovered the rest of the killed grass.  That area needs some rain for softening, then some more borage seeds.

Between the fig trees in the row, I've laid down plastic to kill grass.  Each section is about 25 square feet.  I want to use each section for bee forage.

Borage with honeybee.  7.5.14

 Based on last year's results, other great bee forage plants include Phacelia "Bee friend", and Dutch clover.  Last year Dutch clover took over much of the yard.  It is not visible now, but I imagine when the warm weather hits, it will do so again.

I have also bought seeds for a patch of Crimson clover, and a patch of Agastache.  It's not a huge increase in the size of the bee forage area, but bigger than last year and with some more experiments.  All organic, no pesticides, no neonicotinoids, no round-up, just nature.
Borage.  7.5.14

I have also increased the amount of Chinese chives - another flower the bees love to forage.  Being perennial, all I need to do is save seeds and sow them.  Any that grow, are in addition to the existing clumps.

Borage with bumblebee.  7.5.14

Dutch Clover with honeybee.  7.5.15
Phacelia tanacetifolia "Beefriend"  6.22.14
 In addition to clearing that area, I planted a mini-dwarf Jonagold apple tree that I grafted last year, using sucker from rootstock of another minidwarf tree and scion from the top.  This is in a perennial, shrub, and herb border.  They are more ornamental than useful, but again, some bee forage, and a few apples should result.

I planted some Egyptian Walking Onions that were lying around sprouting.
Phacelia tanacetifolia "Beefriend"  6.22.14

I provided the last pre-spring nitrogen boost for young trees in the mini-orchard / food forest.  The trees that benefited were:  Two sweet cherries; 2 years old.  One North Star tart cherry.  2 years old.  Newly planted American persimmon, Yates; and 2 year old Nikita's Gift and Saijo persimmons.  The Saijo might be a mistake - near bearing size and I read nitrogen boost can call fruit fall.  All three of the three-year-old pawpawsHollywood plum, 1 year old from cutting.

None of the plums got nitrogen boost, none of the peaches - those grow too rampantly as is, and are bearing size.  Rule of thumb for me - if bearing size, and last year's growth was more than a foot, then the extra nitrogen is probably not needed.  The plums grew more than 2 feet, and the peaches grew 2 to 3 feet, last year.  Ditto for Montmorency cherry.

There was some left over, so all of the fig trees in the fig row, south of the house, got nitrogen boost too.

"Nitrogen boost"  is euphemism for pee-cycling, or Urine Fertilizer.  In this case, I used 1:4 dilution.  One 1 liter, diluted, was watered in around each of  3 trees.

It's an early Spring.  Plum and peach buds are nearly open.  I hope we don't get a hard frost when they are susceptible.   If we do, we do.

Still anxiously awaiting Raintree nursery order and scion from Fedco.  Maybe end of the month.