Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rehydrating Peach Seeds. 7.30.15

Rehydrated El Dorado peach seeds.  7.30.15
When I cracked open the El Dorado peach pits, the seeds looked like tiny dried out potato chips.  I soaked them for 2 days in water.  Now they are plump and heavy.

I don't know if they are viable.

Now they go into the fridge in a wet paper towel.

Seedling genetic dwarf peach trees, 3rd year.  7.30.15
 This is the 3rd year for the seedling genetic dwarf peaches.  I don't know the source variety - either Sungold or Honey Babe.  They were in-ground the first and 2nd years.  Last fall I transplanted them into containers and kept under cover for the winter.  The foil reflects light from the black nursery pots to keep them from overheating.

Fresh Fruit. 7.30.15

King Figs.  7.28.15

Petite Negri Figs.  7.28.15

Hollywood Plums, Oregon Curl Free Peaches, figs, Pristine Apples.  7.30.15

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Egyptian Walking Onion Starts.  7.28.15

Buckwheat at one week.   7.28.15
 I don't know if these will work.  If I don't try, I won't know.

The Egyptian Walking Onions were eaten by rabbits.  I covered them with chicken wire.  They grew back, but then I was ill and could not get in to pull weeds.  The plants appear to have small bulbs at the bases, although dried out.  I divided some and planted in one of the "wells" that I originally set up for potatoes.  Basically, cinder-block circles stacked on top of each other, chicken wire bottom to deter moles, and filled with garden soil.   I think they will grow.  I have more to plant in container at home, and still more to dig out soon.  Technically these are not seeds, I know.

The buckwheat germinated thickly, in both 1-week-old plantings.  I watered well, and also watered the 3 day old plantings that are not germinated.  Prediction for today is mid 80s or higher.

I planted bean seeds in a raised bed that I cleaned up and topped off with yard soil.  Most of the seeds are old.  I planted 3 rows of Ning's Chinese pole beans, alternating the 2 packets so if one is bad, but the other is good, they will be evenly spaced.  Those seeds are several years old.  I did the same with Roma bush beans.  The Romas are 1 to 4 years old.  The Romas claim 53 days to harvest, which would be mid to late Sept.  If they grow, they should grow fast in the current heat.
Bean Bed, with bird protection.  7.28.15

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Seed Planting. 7.27.15

Image via, old botanical illustration, public domain due to age.
Today I am off work, although I need to do remote work plus study.  For a brief break -

Cleared dead nasturtiums out of deck barrel.  Planted fresh nasturtium seeds in same barrel.  These were a mixture of ages, may not be viable.  I mixed all of the packets together and planted close together.  I can thin if too many germinate.

Did the same with swiss chard.

The plan is to have some fall greens and color.

I have one more half-barrel to plant.   This week, I also want to start some bush beans for fall.

If they don't do well in the heat, that's OK.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kitchen Garden. 7.26.15

Germinating Buckwheat.  5 days.  7.26.15

Trinity Sweet Corn.  Planted Seeds 5.12.15.  Photo 7.26.15
From / In the kitchen garden -

Today I dug up the garlic from the garlic raised bed.  Not pictured, needs to be cleaned up.  Not as productive and big as last year.  I was not up to taking good care of them through the winter, planted later, didn't weed as well.  Still there will be some.

Ning dug up his potatoes.  He estimates 50 pounds of red potatoes.

Buckwheat has germinated in the first bed.  I include buckwheat in kitchen garden, because it might be usable either as grain for us, or for the chickens.  We had a brief rainy spell which helped.  This week, 90s to 100 expected for several days.

Over the past week, I cleaned up 3 raised beds that were all weeds, plus the garlic raised bed.  I topped off the soil where it had sunk, with yard soil.  The sinking does not appear to be compaction.  The soil mix was about 30% or more compost, which is probably biodegraded now to the humic particles that maintain tilth.  It was easiest to pull the weeds by hand.  I managed to salvage some handfuls of shallots, that will get their own location. 
Early Sunglow Sweetcorn.  5.26.15
Trinity Sweet Corn.  7.26.15
Trinity Sweet Corn.  7.26.15
Summer Squashes.  7.26.15
I over-planted three of the raised vegetable beds with buckwheat seeds, watered thoroughly.  If it grows in the heat, that will give the four benefits of (1) organic matter for soil building (2) beaucoup flowers for nectar and pollen for bees, and (3) potential source of grain.   And (4) eliminate weeds by overgrowing them.   Never grew buckwheat before, interested in what happens. 

Had the first of the Trinity Sweet Corn today.  Might have benefit from another few days to fill in and expand the kernels but it was excellent flavor.  I estimated it would be ready in September.   This was a month sooner.  Early Sunglow sweet corn looks stunted in comparison- about 2 to 3 foot tall.  We will see what happens.  The second batch of Trinity, planted about one month later, is tasseling now too.

Lots of squashes.  No wonder they were an important crop for Native American communities.   Very productive and low maintenance.

Walking Around. 7.26.15

Front Border.  7.16.15

Agapanthus.  7.26.15

Joe Pye Weed at about 4 months.  7.26.15
 Random updates.

Front borders are getting close to where I want them.   There are plenty of Spring blooming bulbs, foliage now dead and waiting for another turn of the year.  They are the first wave.

For the second wave, there are lots of Daylilies and annuals.  I know better what annuals will do well.  The nasturtiums that have a big early display, then die, I will not save seeds from those.  I will save seeds from the ones that bloom for another month or more.  The marigolds, heritage French type, have been excellent and continue to bloom like crazy.

Daylilies take the heat and just continue to bloom.  The new daylily plants continue to grow, slowly.  Now that there are plenty of seed pods, I am dead-heading some of the just-bloomed flowers to keep them looking neater.

When I took the overwintered, dried-out Agapanthus out of the garage this Spring, it didn't look like much.  So I planted nasturtiums in the container around the Agapanthus.  They had their burst of bloom, then burnt out.  Now the Agapanthus is blooming generously. 

Geraniums need dead heading.  The 90s to 100 temp, and blazing sun, burns out the petals.  The leaves look good.

The borage died out, but now a second wave of volunteers is blooming, and a 3rd wave of seedlings has germinated.

The Joe Pye Weed is settled in and growing robust leaves.  At the top - there may be some early flower buds.  That would be nice.
Four O'clocks, Nasturtiums, Geraniums.  7.26.15

Tigridia.  7.26.15
Tigridia continues to bloom.  Even though each flower lasts one day, each stem has a succession of bloom.  Planting them in a cluster, in container, works well.

Four O'clocks are blooming nicely too.  The plants that survived the winter are larger and more robust than the new seedlings, but they all look good.  The more I grow Four O'clocks, the more I like them.  They don't mind a little shade, but they grow better in full sun.  They do make a lot of volunteers, but those are easy to pull out if not wanted.

Sedums grew robust new mounds, with lots of flower buds.  They will be the 3rd wave of flowers in the front borders.  Bees really love sedum flowers, so that is an additional benefit.

Of all of the main flowers, borage is about the only one that really feeds the bees.  I have bunches of oregano plants throughout.  The bumblebees and honeybees also forage heavily on oregano flowers, in full bloom now.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chickens. 7.25.15

Earlier this summer, Ning gave away 2 of the post-menopausal hens for pets.  Then another died of unknown causes.

Three weeks ago, I bought 3 Rhode Island Red pullets.  They are growing nicely.

Then some mysterious person or persons, added 2 Leghorn roosters to the chicken yard.  Which resulted in battles and discontent and bloody feathers.  I found someone to take the roosters off my hands, and we are at peace.

The rooster and hen won't let me near the pullets.  They are very protective.  I think we will start getting eggs again in a month.

Stone Fruit Seeds.

El Dorado Genetic Dwarf Peach Seeds.   7.25.15

Peacotum Seeds.  7.25.15
 After letting the dried pits sit for a couple of weeks, I decided to remove the seeds from the pits. 

A Vice-grip works almost perfectly every time.  One precaution:  This needs to be done with the seed, vice-grip, and hand, in a plastic food bag.  The seed snaps open so suddenly, the seed and pit parts can fly across the room if not contained.

I was surprised at how puny and dried out looking the El Dorado seeds were.  Maybe they are not viable.  I placed them on a wet paper towel, folded, placed into a jam jar, and they are now in the refrigerator.

Not shown, two regular size peach seeds were a bit bigger, but still didn't look great.

Maybe this is an issue for early ripening peaches.  Or maybe I should not have let them sit for a few weeks.  Or maybe this is how they should look.

The peacotum seeds, same duration, are a little bigger but not much.

The apricot seeds, one week less, look much more robust.  That's either because they are better seeds, or more air-tight pit, or the shorter time.
Apricot Seeds.  7.25.15

I have the peacotum seeds soaking in some water overnight.  Maybe they will plump up.  If so, the same might be helpful with the El Dorado seeds.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Veggies 7.23.15

Veggies.  7.23.15
Getting more and more veggies.  Tomatoes, a few every day.  Ditto for summer squash, sometimes zucchinis, sometimes the yellow summer squash.  I have not tasted the pale yellow crookneck squash yet.  They have an interesting oily feel to the skin.   The green beans are the first of the Romas.  We had an earlier crop of yellow wax beans.

As usual with zucchinis, we have too many.  We can shred some to feed the chickens.  I have given some away.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Daylilies, 10 days later in the heat. 7.21.15

Daylily Carefree Peach, 10 days later.  7.21.15
 The new daylilies are surviving the 100F week after planting.  I watered every day.  The original cut foliage died off, leaving the start of new leaves.  I  think this is promising.

These are tough plants.  I don't know of a lot of perennials that would take digging up, hosing to bare root, chop roots and top, then plant and expose to 100F sun.
Daylily Strawberry Candy, 10 days later. 7.21.15

Daylily Siloam Virginia H. 10 days later.  7.21.15

Starting Buckwheat for Green Manure / Cover Crop / Bee Forage. 7.21.15

Bed prep for buckwheat.  7.21.15
Today I took a little time to prep the former borage bed for Buckwheat.  I planted the borage late winter.  In this location, the borage plants grew to 5 foot tall, some 6 foot.  Might have been influenced buy the organic nitrogen, and might have been due to whatever was already in the soil.  The soil has been used, either as a dumping location for fireplace or grill ashes, or was a burn location.  Lots of biochar and ashes.  That may not be a good thing, for many reasons.  But the borage grew like gangbusters.

 The borage has dried out and was done blooming.  I wanted to collect seeds, but not up to it.  It pulled out  very easy, leaving an almost weed-free bed.  Quite a bit of water was needed to soften the soil, then worked it shallowly, smoothed with garden rake, spread buckwheat seeds, smoothed a little more, and watered.

Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany.  Image via
From what I read, buckwheat is an excellent plant for conditioning the soil (green manure, cover crop).  It crowds out most weeds - which apparently borage also does - and is killed by the first frost.  Buckwheat grows in hot summer, and has a fast life cycle.  I don't know yet, but am hoping it will bloom in the fall.  Buckwheat is also considered excellent bee forage.  A comment on solarbeez blog states buckwheat started flowering 3 weeks after planting.  Mother Earth News states some bloom starts as little as one week from planting.  From Mother Earth News"Buckwheat is one of the best sources of high quality protein in the plant kingdom. It's easy to grow, harvest, and process; it prospers on soils too poor for other crops; and it's not susceptible to any major disease or pest problems. On top of all that, buckwheat is an excellent smother crop for weed control, a superb green manure crop, and a legendary nectar source for honeybees.".  From this extension website, Buckwheat is not tolerant of hot, dry conditions.  I'm thinking it will need the same watering as I am currently doing for squash and corn, until fall arrives.  Never having grown buckwheat, some experimentation is likely needed.  Also from the extension site:  "Buckwheat can be raised for grain if planted by mid-July in northern states or by early August in the South.  If we want to try, according to Mother Earth News, a gardener can get a usable amount of buckwheat for food in 40 square feet - a little more than my raised beds.  I guess, for us or for the chickens.

The seed package was very large - 5 pounds.  Plan: pull the weeds out of the 3 raised beds I lost to weeds, and plant buckwheat.  The area planted here is about the same as 1 1/2 raised bed.  Ditto for the garlic bed, once the garlic is harvested.  Ambition and energy, those are the limitations.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Saving Seeds and Making Hybrids. 7.18.15

Many flowers are setting seeds now.  For ornamentals, there is a choice between, letting them do their own thing, or deadheading to stimulate bloom and allow photosynthetic energy to go to root and stem storage, or let the seeds ripen and save the seeds.

For some plants, it takes intentional pollination.

My plan is to save the following seeds.

Ornamental Alliums - already discussed.  Cutting off dried seed-heads and shaking/rubbing the seeds into a bowl, then save in envelope.

Chives - same as Ornamental Alliums.

Dried El Dorado Peach Seeds.  7.21.15
Peaches - saving seeds from genetic dwarf tree to play with and experiment.  Those are dry in an envelope.  I need to crack them open and stratify some, plant others for nature to do its own stratification.

Peaches - from locally grown RedHaven, also dry in a bowl.  I want to grow one for a peach tree, maybe.  The others are for rootstock.

Apricots - see if I can sprout a couple to use as scion on a plum tree.

 Peacotum - ditto as for apricots.

Marigolds - save yellow and rust red varieties.  They are open pollinated so doubtless have mixed.  I'm not crazy about the more common orange ones, so I won't save those.   If orange dominates yellow or brick red, I could wind up with mostly orange again.
Tigridia Early Seed Pod.  7.21.15

Seed Pods Among Flower Buds on Daylily "Fooled Me"  7.21.15
Tigridia - I've been pollinating each, either self or with other color blooming at the same time.  no rhyme or reason.  I like the yellow/red mix the best.  I should cut off the seed pods for the others, why grow the ones I'm not crazy about.

Chicago Apache Early Seed Pod.  7.21.15
Dayilies.  Cross pollinating Chicago Apache (triploid) with Fooled Me (triploid).  Each gets the pollen from the other.  I am not emasculating them, so there could well be some self pollinating going on.

Also pollinated mystery variety "Vigoro" which has a triploid look, with pollen from Chicago Apache and Fooled me.

Also some others among the diploids.  Pardon Me with Stella De Oro, and with Luxury LaceLuxury Lace with Pardon Me.  Selfed the pale yellows.    I don't know if the one sold as Daring Deception is a mutant of that variety, or if in tissue culture it lost its polyploidy and became diploid, or was mislabeled, or is a seedling of Daring Deception that was mistaken as the real thing.  Still, it's the only lavender daylily in the bunch, so I used pollen from both diploids and triploids to see what sets.

No real strategy.  Only one currently with a contrasting eye color, which would be nice to pass on to progeny.

That's a lot of seeds.  It's all experimentation, doesn't matter if they don't grow, or if there is nothing worth while.  I bet some will grow, and there will be something worthwhile.

Freezer Jam. 7.17.15

Cut up enough plums for 2 cups.

Mix in 1 teaspoon of fruit preservative, vitamin C.
 I made my first batch of plum freezer jam.  Easier than expected and delicious.

I did the same thing with King figs, except chopped them by hand into about 1/2 inch pieces.  That was my first try, and I used 1 cup  of sugar, which was too sweet.
Dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoon low-sugar pectin in 1 cup water.

Heat to boil while stirring.  Boil one minute while stirring.

Mix the fruit with the pectin solution.  Mix in 1/2 cup sugar.

I like to pulse a couple of times in food processor but leave lots of chunks.
Ladle into fruit jars.  I used 4 ounce.

Cap, label, chill or freeze.

King Fig Jam.  7.17.15

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Couple More Irises. 7.17.15

Iris Shipment from Schreiner's.  7.17.15
My bearded iris shipment came yesterday from Schreiner's.  As usual, they are big fat rhizomes with thick healthy appearing leaves.  If they don't grow, it's something I am doing, and not the product.

I bought -

Owyhee Desert.  1997.  Again.  Unusual flower, with white edges on falls and white standards, with falls washed with rusty brown  and violet stippling.   Previous one never bloomed, and died in the bacterial rot epidemic.  It might not be suitable for her but I want to try again.  This time around, using chopped evergreen mulch, no summer water after the first planting, keep most other plants out.

Sea Power.   1999.  Highly ruffled blue.  Fragrant.

Kinkajou Shrew.  1999.  Highly marbled, grape purple, fragrant.   Reported as vigorous.

Other than watering them in now, intent is no further summer watering.  Nor, any of the others.

I also planted another of my own hybrids, in the iris bed.  This one has not bloomed yet, so I don't know what it will look like.  Probably also hybrid of Immortality X Spiced Custard, although there were others.  If I name them, I would like something colorful, such as "Yellow Caterpillar, Shivering in the Snow", or "Happy Puppy, Rolling Around in the Dust".

Irises Quickly Planted.  7.17.15

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bearded Iris Beds. 7.16.15

Bearded Iris Bed.  7.16.15

Bearded Iris Beds 2 and 3.  7.16.15

Sempervivum.  7.16.15
Looks like the bearded iris beds have fully recovered from the bacterial rot an leaf spot fungal infections of this Spring.  Hot dry summer, lots of sun, no added water, keep weeds out, and ground-up-cedar-tree mulch. 

I gave up on companion planting, except for SempervivumSempervivum do not shade other plants, they do not crowd other plants, and they are happy with the hot dry conditions, same as bearded irises.

I have a shipment of 3 varieties coming in a day or two.  I also added back a seedling that I grew by hybridizing "Immortality" X "Spiced Custard", that bloomed this spring, nice white flower, yellow beard, not too large.  There is room for a couple more seedlings from that cross, that might be entirely different.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

This and That. 7.13.15

Yellow Beans.  7.13.15

Begonia.  7.13.15
 First crop of beans ready today.  I thought the Romas would be first.  Instead, it was these Yellow Wax Beans.  All of a sudden, there they are.  Supper tonight.

The begonia tubers I bought this spring all grew.  Some much faster than others.  This is the first, about to bloom.  On North side of the house.  No direct sun at all.

Daylily Luxury Lace.  This is a group of 3 starts, that I planted together in container when they came in the mail this spring.  They were fairly dried out.  They got some TLC, then into ground.  Blooming now.  I'm impressed, blooming first year.  This is considered a historic variety.  1959.  Which also makes me a historic variety.  According to OldHouseGardens, this variety"was bred by Edna Spalding of rural Louisiana who grew her seedlings in the vegetable garden and culled the rejects with a kitchen knife"

Daylily pink is kind of a different pink.  I don't know how to describe it.  Daylily red is the same way - not what I would consider a true red, but I like it very much.
Daylily "Luxury Lace".  First bloom.  7.13.15