Saturday, September 19, 2015

Walking Around. 9.17.15

Yellow Single Marigold.  9.19.15
 Random photos.

The heirloom french marigolds had some atypical plants.  A single yellow - the rest were doubles.  And a taller, looser double red.  That one had more marigold fragrance, looks like a reversion to earlier type.  I am saving seeds from both.  I like the difference.

Only 4 seeds from Ning's beans.  Not much to start a self-saved strain but better than zero seeds.\

Squashes ripening and curing now.  The first of many.

Illinois Everbearing Mulberry is a pale green.  Not due to insufficient nitrogen.  It's been that way every year, and in 2 locations.  Other trees nearby are fully green.

The Four Saved Chinese Bean Seeds.  9.17.15

Atypical Large Red French Marigold.  9.17.15
The first Chinese Haws here.    Great to have a start.

This is the Year of the Squashes.  Lots to eat during the winter.

Squashes So Far.  9.17.15

Mulberry Illinois Everbearing.  9.17.15

Chinese Haw Red SUn.  9.17.15

Concrete Tree Ring Raised Planter for Daylilies. 9.18.15

 This is the "Tree Ring" planter I put together over the past couple of weeks for some daylilies.  This is a spot that I often drag the garden hose across, damaging plants.  The planter will stop the hose from causing damage.  The planter is raised, which is nice for an old guy  to weed and trim the plants.  About the same size as a half wine barrel.  Especially since I had them sitting around.  This is between a container and a raised bed, in concept.

I leveled the ground for the base.  Arrange first ring, right side up.  Arrange second ring upside down, so the scalloped edges mesh.   Arrange the top level right side up again.

I mixed together yard soil with about 1/4 kitchen compost.  The yard soil is mole hills that I collected in the wheelbarrow.  The soil is finely ground, and taken from deep under my yard.  My soil tests low in magnesium and calcium, so I added about 1/4 cup of lime and 1/8 cup of Epsom salts.  Not rocket science, did not use a measuring cup.  I saved some coffee grounds, added about 4 cups of those for ongoing organic matter and nitrogen.

The daylilies were from other parts of the border where they were difficult to see and difficult to weed.  I wanted one bigger one - the maroon, almost coffee-brown one with darker eye, no name other than "Vigaro" from Home Depot.   The other two were incorrectly labeled or mutant, a very compact, very light yellow and taller, finer sort of apricot pink.  All of these will be easier to view and enjoy at this higher level, about 18 inches higher than the garden border.

I filled soil to the point where I could set in the daylily clumps on the soil.  Between the daylilies, I set hyacinth bulbs and pushed into the soil slightly  Those will have roots deeper than the daylilies.

Then I filled in the rest of the soil, watered in, and mulched with chipped tree trimmings.  Almost no transplanting trauma to the daylilies,  I imagine they will need dividing in one or two years.  No problem.

I saw some of these tree ring sections on the web for about $4.00 each.  That would make it $36.00 if I bought them new, roughly the same as a half wine barrel.  I think I bought them on sale a few years ago for about half that.  They should lase a lifetime.  A half wine barrel seems to last about 10 years in this rainy Pacific NW climate.  Compared to a wine barrel, the rings are easier to carry, can just carry one at a time.  I don't know about insulating properties.  Might not be as good as wood.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Figs. Progress Report. 9.13 15

Brunswick figs starting to ripen.  9.13.15

Hardy Chicago fig wood lignification.  9.13.15

Carini fig wood  lignification.  9.13.15

Sal's Fig.  9.13.15

Celeste Fig Start at 2 1/2 months.  9.13.15

LSU Tiger ripening.  Container grown.  9.13.15

Lattarula showing lignification.  9.13.15

Row of Figs trees bordering easement.  9.15.15
Here is my fig progress report for 9.13.15.  I am nearing the end of starting new fig trees, at least for myself. 

Starting fig trees.
Establishing a small fig orchard.
Testing fig varieties.
Testing for or promoting hardiness.
Ripening figs now.

Starting fig trees:
The newest, and last intended attempts, are for the Celeste cuttings and cuttings of Petite negri / Aubique petite.  I started the Celeste in June.  There are 2 growing plants, well past the tenuous stage when there are leaves but no roots supporting them.  These just need to store some carbohydrates and go dormant.  I can early-start them in sunroom in Jan for a head start next year.

I want to try Aubique Petite again at Battleground.  I don't know if my original tree can be moved - may be too big.  I started a cutting last month.  Cut a semi-hardwood cutting, cut leaves in half, scored the sides through cambium, dipped into Dip-and-Grow, and placed in water on North side of house.  I have been changing the water when I think of it, about weekly.

The roots are at the callous - small root stage.  I moved this on into potting soil today.  Will keep it watered until fall, store in garage, and probably also bring out of dormancy in January.  This will need extra TLC to grow fast, since it is slow growing.  I want it to fruit as soon as it can.

Establishing a Small Fig Orchard.  I don't know which ones will do well, and there is room, so I am trying many varieties.  This row is shaded on East by a large fir tree.  On the west is an easement, which I can't use for much.  These are out of the easement.  If a road is ever built, the fig trees will provide some privacy.  I planted Champagne into ground.  There are already Brunswick, moved 2 years ago.  There are starts from Dominick and Atreano.  I might add Smith and one or two more.

There is also the row of fig trees south of the Battleground house. 

Testing fig varieties and hardiness.   It's too much trouble to maintain more than a few trees in containers.  Even if it's a variety that I like and may not be able to survive in ground, I am moving most into ground.  It's young fig trees that are most susceptible to freezing damage.  Some thoughts - I am only planting trees that have been container grown, outside, for 2 or 3 years.  They should be more hardy than new ones.  I am avoiding stimulating more that about a foot of new growth on these trees.  That means the new growth should have a chance to lignify.  Ditto for in-ground trees.  For some, there was only a few inches of growth.  Not great for fast enlargement and production, but I think they should be more hardy.   I will leave a few in containers, but the long term plan is all in-ground.

The fig tree row south of the house, Hardy Chicago, Sal's and Dominic seem the most lignified.  LSU Tiger, Carini, and Lattarula are not there yet.  Lattarula is ahead of Carini and Tiger.

Figs Ripening Now.  This is the best part and why grow figs.  Getting a bowl full of Hardy Chicago about every other day.  Sal's is still young but getting a taste every few days.  Tiger in container is ripening more.  Not confident Tiger in ground will make it this year.  Carini might get there.  Brunswick has multiple figs that have reached the tipping point to ripening.  The most ever. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bee Garden Observations and Progress Report. 9.13.15

First Year Bloom, Agastache.  9.13.15

Buckwheat Falling Over.  9.13.15
Most of these are first year growth on perennials.  Expected to reach full bloom and maturity next year.

Agastache / Anise hyssop  is blooming now, first year.  Maybe I should start some earlier next year, for more plants and earlier start on blooming.  As it is, I'm surprised.  No bees on them yet.

Buckwheat now falling over.  Very few flowers appear to have set grain, so far.

Joe Pye Weed starting to bloom.  No bees on that so far.  It's just one plant.  Maybe they need more.

Milkweed, Asclepius syriaca remaining fairly small.  Expect full growth and bloom next year.

Chinese chive, Allium tuberosum, discussed already today.

I also planed two grocery store packs of ornamental alliums.  "Gladiator" and a giant blue one.  They bloom Spring or early Summer.
First Year Bloom, Joe Pye Weed.  9.13.15
First Year, Milkweed and Chinese Chive.  9.13.15

Random Daylily Observations and Progress ReportDaylily . 9.13.15

Daylily Starts "Nursery".  9.13.15

Daylily Pods.  Left is "Pardon Me" and Right is "Chicago Apache".  9.13.15
 Various Daylily notes.  Soon the season will be over.

The starts, taken from plants I bought for Ning, are all growing nicely.  These are about one month old.  Most are one fan.  In general, I removed the smallest fan from the plants.  These are getting some TLC.  All of the leaf growth is new.

The far left plant is NOID that I dug from my old yard and gave some TLC.  It's ready to plant.  Maybe during the next week.
Daylily Pods.  "Fooled Me".  9.13.15

Daylily Seed Pods.   "Pardon Me".  9.13.15
Most of the pods, resulting from pollination / hybridization efforts this summer, are maturing.  I've harvested about 1/2 of them.  About 2/3 of  those are stratifying on moist paper towels, in zipper bags, in the refrigerator.

Signs of maturity:
Definitely if the pod is dry, brown, and the top splitting open, it's ready.  The seeds are black and shiny.

If the stem is dry and straw brown, then no nutrition can get from the plant to the pod.  The pod may be green, but in most cases it is starting to split and the color is becoming pale.  I think it's OK to harvest those too.  The seeds inside those pods are black and shiny, a sign of maturity.  If the stem is dried and light brown,  but the pod is still green, I cut it and place in paper envelope to finish maturing.  Probably not necessary.

Different plants have different rates of maturing.
Daylily "Stella De Oro".   9.13.15
 Some are still blooming.   Most of the yellows - NOID pale yellow, large flower, Stella De Oro, mutant labeled as something else but pale yellow and small, and Happy Returns, all have at least a few flowers.  Mutant labeled as "Frans Hals" continues to bloom.  I transferred pollen among these.  No expectations they will take or have time to mature, but no harm done either.
Daylily Mutant of Frans Hals.  9.13.15

Random Observations. 9.13.15

August-Planted Beans.  9.13.15
Chinese Chive Seedlings, One Year.  9.13.15
Random observations around the yard.

I don't know if the beans that I planted in August will reach bearing before first.  It's worth a try and doesn't hurt anything.  If the frost kills them, the plants will be turned into the soil and improve tilth and soil nutrition.

The Chinese chives that I planted from seeds last fall, made nice little plant bunches.  No where near the harvest or bloom stage.  Probably next year.  These were planted on the surface in a planter box, left outside over winter, then kept sheltered this year.   Taking them out of the planter was like removing a cake from a cake pan.  Then I sliced the seedling bunches into 8 "pieces of cake" and planted in the bee forage bed, last week.  I imagine they will bulk up and bloom next year.

I'm leaving the sweet corn stalks in place to improve soil.  I cut the tops off and chipped into pieces a few inches long, then left them at the soil surface.   The buckwheat seedlings have grown around them.  This is less like "Three Sisters" garden than "Two Sisters and a Friend" since I didn't include beans but have added buckwheat.
Corn Stalks, Buckwheat, Squashes.  9.13.15

Pink Banana Squash.  9.13.15
 Itching to harvest pink banana squash.  This one grew really big.  Not quite ready - stem isn't dry yet.
Chinese Beans - seed saving.  9.13.15

Meyer Lemon.  9.13.15
Ning's beans didn't do so well  A few have tiny beans.  I don't know if those will make it to harvest before first frost, either.  These two are the only ones that made it to seed-saving stage.  If they grow, that will be 5 plants next year.  If those produce 5 pods of 5 seeds each, that will give 25 the following year, and then we are in business.  A genetic bottleneck but with beans that should be OK.

It's possible some of the old packets of Chinese bean seeds are still viable.  Getting to the end of those.  See next year what happens.

Meyer lemon looks good.  Should be more lemons than I need.  They are expected to ripen next year.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Fall Begins. 9.6.15

 It's like someone flipped a switch.  It was too-hot summer.  Now it's rainy fall.

Most fruits are done.   We are starting to get some apples.

Bagging fruit was not the perfect solution.  Fruits have much less disease.  But they also have internal mushiness due to the bags, maybe holding in too much moisture.   Some of them are inedible due to the internal mushiness, even if there was no external disease.  That's true for Asian pears and apples.  I'm irritated.  All of the web info was highly positive.  That was not my experience.

I tasted the first Rubinette and Queen Cox apples.  They say the first year they don't have full flavor.  I could tell they were not just regular grocery store apples.

Hosui Asian pear really does have a butterscotch flavor.  Smaller than the others, but good. Asian pears are much easier to pick ripe, compared to Euro pears.

Bearded Iris started again with the damn fungal spot.  I cut off affected leaves and sprayed with neem oil.  I don't know if that will help. 

I put in the second cinderblock raised bed for Chinese chives.  We grow a lot.  Ning uses them as a Chinese vegetable.  They are also excellent bee forage, and beautiful.  These beds are 18 inches high, compared to the 12 inch high wooden beds.  They are noticably easier to scratch out the weeds with a mini-hoe.

The mini-hoe is actually a kitchen tool, sort of a big fork.

All of the garlic is planted.

I moved one of the tree-ring mini raised beds to put in the cinder-block bed.  Then replanted the scallions.  So it's not really a tree ring.  A better name would be onion ring.  Also a convenient height.  Lasts longer than wooden barrels or plastic containers, all of which are deteriorating.  The oak barrels in about 10 years, the plastic containers in about 4 years.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Greens. 9.3.15

Greens at 1 month.  9.3.15

Greens at 1 month.  9.3.15
Greens really took off with the last couple of days, a little cooler and rainy.  Swiss Chard about ready to eat.  Ditto with nasturtiums.  Spinach further behind but growing.  EW Onions are nearing edible stage.  Cilantro is hidden b the Swiss Chard, but I expect it to take off once the larger vegetable is eaten.

Various Observations. 9.3.15

Daylily proliferations at 3 weeks.  9.3.15

 The daylily proliferation was cut and placed in water, and when a root started forming was moved into potting soil.  There was a smaller proliferation on the same stem.  I separated that, and planted both into potting soil.  They are in a sheltered location outside.

This was planted into potting soil 8.11.15.  The original cut was made about 8.3.15, so this is about one month.

It's nice to look under the container and see some roots growing out of the holes.  That way I know for sure the roots are growing.  This is a cool way to start new daylily plants without disturbing the parent plant.  But I do expect them to take as long as a seedling to grow to blooming size, maybe 2 to 3 years.
Roots forming from daylily proliferations.  9.3.15

Celeste fig cutting at 2.5 months.  9.3.15
The Celeste fig cutting was started mid june.  This came from dormant, hardwood cuttings that I received in Jan.  I was not enthusiastic about starting more then.  Made a half-way effort to start a few at that time and left the rest in the fridge.  I didn't give the cuttings the TLC that I usually do, and they did not make it.  In June I found the chilled cuttings in the refridgerator - they were in plastic zipper bag - and made an effort to start them.  They were treated with a cambium incision, a little dip-and-grow, and placed in potting soil outside.  I watered regularly.  Several started, but some stalled at the 1-inch-leaf stage and died.  I nurtured the remaining two with fertigation and kept them in sheltered locations.  I think they have grown well enough to survive their first dormancy and make it through their first winter.  Then I can give some TLC and they will have a head start next year.
Large Sedum Cutting at 3 weeks.  9.3.15

Large Sedum Cutting at 3 weeks.  9.3.15
The sedums were cut into pieces on 8.18.15 - pictured on that date.  No rooting hormone or special treatment, just stuck in fresh potting soil, sheltered location, and watered daily.  I don't know if they have roots yet, but they are growing new top growth at leaf axils.  Probably Autumn Joy - type sedum, and Munstead Red.  The leaf cuttings don't look so good.  A couple have not wilted.  If this works, it's very cool.  Several new sedum plants from 2 pieces that broke off in the wind and laid around a while before I cut and planted them.

 In the end, all it took to regenerate the Egyptian Walking Onion colony was to clean up the dried out splits from the prior bed, trim them, plant, and water.  Growing well.  We have scallions to eat now, and plenty to overwinter.
E.W. Onions at 3 weeks.  9.3.15

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Bee Forage. 9.1.15

My Bee Border.  9.1.15

Honeybee Foraging Buckwheat Flowers.  9.1.15
 This is a difficult time for honeybees to find forage.   There isn't a lot blooming in the fields out there.  Some dandelions, wild carrot, and tansy ragwort.  Tansy ragwort has toxicity issues.  The honeybees don't seem to care for the wild carrot and have been ignoring the local dandelions.

While, in bee terms, my gardening efforts are small, they do forage heavily on some plants that I selected for that purpose.

Buckwheat - the foraging is variable.  Sometimes when I look, there are few bees present.   Then I look again an hour later, and the buckwheat flowers are full of bees.  Overall, this plant seems to be very good for honeybee forage.

The Chinese chives flowers are always full of bees.  As a perennial, this plant has good potential for bee forage in a flower border.  I don't know how much it takes to make a difference, but the bees are crazy about it.

There are always some bees on the French marigold flowers.  More on orange flowers than on yellow or brick red.  I am saving seeds from these plants for next year.  I like the yellow and brick red better, but I am saving some from each so the honeybees get some they like too.

Borage continues to bloom and honeybees continue to forage it.  This is the 3rd wave, from volunteer plants.

Pink Sedum is in full bloom.  Each flower head is busy with multiple honeybees.

All of these plants make an attractive front flower border.  The annuals and perennials make a nice mixture.  The perennials can be divided for more plants next year. and in the case of the Chinese chives, both divided and seeds saved.  I have cut dried flower heads from those, saving in a paper bag to dry more thoroughly.  I am saving seeds from the annual French marigolds.  I might from the borage as well. So next year, this bee border will be zero cost, and little effort.  I don't  have buckwheat in the border.  The garden rol of buckwheat is to build soil and potentially provide some grain.  However, a few buckwheat plants would also be attractive in a flower border.

Honeybees Foraging Chinese Chives Flowers.  9.1.15

Honeybees Foraging Chinese Chives Flowers.  9.1.15

Native Bee Foraging Marigold Flower.  9.1.15

Honeybee Foraging Chinese Chives Flowers.  9.1.15

Honeybees Foraging Sedum Flowers.  9.1.15

Buckwheat Stand.   About one month after sowing.  9.1.15
Honeybee on Marigold Flower.  9.1.15