Monday, November 30, 2015

Pink Banana Squash. 11.30.15

Ning, Pink Banana Squash, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.
  Earlier this fall.

Now cooking up Pink Banana Squash. If I remember correctly, this was 16 pounds. The Long Island Cheese pumpkin was a little less. We cooked one of the pumpkins already. The first step is cut it open. A cleaver and rubber mallet seemed like the safest approach. Lots of flesh. Lots of seeds to roast. 2nd step, scoop out seeds, place on baking pan, add a cup of water, cover the end with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour, until a fork easily pierces the skin.

Out of the oven, one hour  at 350F.

After cooling  to almost room temp.  Soft, tender flesh scoops out easily with a large spoon. 

Scoop into food processer and briefly puree. I'm not certain this is needed, the flesh is very tender.

After this, I set aside 2 cups for a pumpkin pie. The rest is frozen in 2 cup portions for future baking. I either place them in glass containers with tightly sealed top, or heat-sealed freezer sealer bags that vacuum out all of the air.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Orchard changes and plans. 11.29.15

During the cold winter season, there is more time to ponder what I will do next year.  I gave up on 2 peaches - Indian Free - no peach in about 8 years of growing it, and Oregon Curl Free - probably 75% killed by canker.  I don't want it to be a reservoir of disease for others.  If it's only going to bear one year then succumb to disease, why bother?  It could be the rootstock.  Citation seems to be canker-prone.  Peaches are hard to graft, or I might have tried to salvage some scion.  Removing them now will give me a change to clean up the locations.

Current thoughts, subject to change.  Photos are just old illustrations, not meant to depict these varieties.

Image via
Apples.    Links are to descriptions, I haven't decided on sources yet.
Add one tree, Winecrisp.  Starks states, "Disease-resistant to scab, fire blight, and powdery mildew. Stores up to nine months."  A PRI co-op disease resistant variety.  Orange Pippin states very good flavor.  Science Daily fluff article in 2009 states "More than 20 years in the making".
Add some grafts.  None of these are patented.  "I've given priority for disease resistance and complex flavors, but also some historic types.  Growing them might be the only way I ever taste them.
Sweet-16.  From University of Minnesota, a source of many good varieties including Honeycrisp, SweeTango®, and Zestar®.  "Crisp and juicy with an exotic yellow flesh and a very sweet, unusual sugar cane or spicy cherry candy flavor. The fruit stores for 5 to 8 weeks. Tree is very vigorous and fruit may be subject to premature drops. Introduced in 1977."  Various websites state Sweet-16 has spicy flavor notes and is vigorous and disease resistant.
Image via
GoldRush.   Another PRI co-op apple.  Disease resistant, vigorous, long keeper.   GoldRush was designated by the State of Illinois as the state apple - good marketing my University of Illinois.  A low-ethylene producer, which helps in longer storage.
Baldwin - a very, very old heritage variety, not much grown now.  Triploid, like Jonagold, so needs a pollinizer but can't serve as one.  Not a problem on multigraft.  Origin in the late 1700s - Wikipedia states around 1740, no special disease resistance, I just want a taste of the past.  Spur bearing.  Exceptionally good pie apple.
Newtown Pippin.   Another very, very old variety.  Grown by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin.  Origin in late 1700s.   Spur bearing.  Most of the NY harvest goes to Martinelli's sparkling cider.   I tasted some locally grown Newtown Pippins, made a pie, it was very good.  Mostly it's the idea of a more-than-200-year-old variety.    Nothing notable as far as disease resistance.
Milo Gibson - a hobbyist apple  Reported as "licorice flavored with hints of banana" .  Not much info on this one but the flavor sounds interesting.

Image via
Euro Plums.   I will use scion for grafting, not adding new trees.
Mt. Royal.  Self pollinating, heavy producer.  Developed in Quebec prior to 1903, so a heritage variety.  I want to replace most of my unidentified plum with something that produces and tastes better.  I can overgraft it with these.
Seneca.   Large Red Plums, from NY Exp station 1972.  Reportedly good for Pacific NW. 

Hybrid, Asian/American Plums.  These are some notes I had written down, but some info summarize here.  Primarily for multigrafts.  A couple of new trees, on Hollywood / cerasifera / myrobalan root stock I have already grown.
Pembina.  Hansen, 1923.  Dark red plum, yellow flesh, juicy sweet heavy yield. 
Superior - large golden plum that blushes pink.
Waneta - Yellow blushed, red fruit.  Hansen, 1913.
Pipestone.  Prunus salicina X Prunus americana "Wolf".  U. Minn 1942.  Needs pollinator. 

 I need something else to obsess over.  I've driven these plans into the ground.

Cleaning up brambles and Hawthorn Thicket. 11.29.15

Himalayan blackberries taking over natural scrub.  11.29.15
 We have 2 acres, separated by a narrow access road.  They are separate parcels that were bundled by the bank when we bought this property on short sale.  The first acre is the house, a slope, much of the orchard, and some shade trees.  The second acre is more flat, with more fruit trees, vegetable garden, wildflower meadows, and about 1/4 acre of a thicket.  Behind the thicket is a small ravine, separating us from other properties.

Much of the thicket is Douglas Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) and Himalayan blackberries.  I have also seen the name "Black Hawthorn".  Douglas Hawthorn is native, and the USDA considers it useful to stabilize slopes and prevent erosion.  According to the US Forest service, "Douglas hawthorn is an excellent soil and streambank stabilizer."  I want to keep the hawthorn healthy.

The problem here is the Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) which has taken over the area.   Himalayan blackberry is the Pacific Northwest's answer to kudzu, but with a worse attitude.  The blackberry is considered a noxious and invasive weed.  Control is not required, because they are already so widespread.  However, for restoration, removal is sometimes recommended.  According to the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board, "This species spreads aggressively and has severe negative impacts to native plants, wildlife and livestock.".  My livestock consist of a herd of deer, but I get the point.

Apparently goats eat them, but deer, in their life mission to be eternally obnoxious, do not.

I can't spray with herbicides.  First, I prefer organic, and second, I don't want to damage the Hawthorns.  So it means manual removal

Himalayan blackberries are notorious for fighting back.  For an old guy with limited energy, I need to use less force and more thinking.  The brambles are difficult to remove, due to long, strong vines that interweave and have nasty thorns.  If I use pruners to remove a foot at a time, chopping them up as I go, they don't take a lot o physical strength or stamina, just persistence  and occasional cursing.  OK,  frequent cursing.

I am also taking out fallen trees, but leaving the rest.  The brambles will need continued maintenance,  to remove crowns that will represent a reservoir of renewed growth next year, until removed.  Flatter areas can be mowed with lawn mower.
Douglas Hawthorn thicket exposed and beautiful.  11.29.15
In the second photo, an uncleared bramble area is seen on the right.  The piles are chopped brambles, which will be composted.  While living, young brambles are tough, they soften to a paper-like consistency when dead, and should compost reasonably quickly.

Once exposed, these trees have a birch-like bark appearance, and the twigs are decorated with lichens.  Very nice.  It's nice spending the afternoon outside during the brisk fall and early winter weather.  I could not do this in the summer.

The blackberries are delicious, but it's hard to get to them due to the brambles.  A domesticated, thornless, tamed type would be better.

The second acre from across the access road.   The cleared hawthorn is on the left.   11.29.15

Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Frost. 11.22.15

First Frost.  11.22.15
Today was the first killing frost at Battleground.  I'm kind of glad.  Now I can clean up the flower borders and the remainder of the vegetable beds. Yesterday this nasturtium was vigorous and full of life.  Not much there for frost to kill - nasturtiums, four o'clocks, marigolds.

I'm trying to keep the sunroom from frosting.  I have a heater on a timer.  Last night it got into the low 50s which is OK.  In the sunroom, I  have fruit seedlings and daylily seedlings, as well as orchids and cactuses.

I have a long list of changes for the home orchard when late winter rolls around.  I keep changing it based on internet research.  Mostly new grafts, and a few new trees.  Main criteria are disease resistance, non-mainstream varieties, heritage varieties, and potential for better performance in this climate.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fungus on Cherry Bark. 11.15.15

Fungus on Cherry Tree.  11.15.15
I don't know what this is.  It's on the North side of an approx 6 year old Almaden Duke cherry tree.

The tree has never amounted to much.  If it dies, it's not that much of a loss.  There are 2 suckers from the rootstock.  They could be grafted to start a new tree on the same roots.  Assuming the fungus is localized.

These mushrooms are on the North side of the trunk.  There are none on the South side.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Walking Around. More Fall Color. 11.8.15

Volunteer Seedling Japanese Maple, and Seedling Ginkgo.  Ginkgo seeds from Vancouver WA, about 6 years.   11.8.15

NoID Japanese Maple.  11.8.15

Leaf Color, Nikita's Gift Persimmon.  11.8.15
Illinois Ginkgo from seed my Dad collected in mid 1990s.   11.8.15
Leaf Colors on Saijo Persimmon.  11.8.15

Ning's seedling Ginkgos.  He wants to prune these to a big bonsai-like ornamental.  Seeds collected Vancouvern WA as above.  11.8.15

Orchard at 3 years. 11.8.15

Home Orchard.  11.8.15

Home Orchard.  11.8.15
This is the main orchard at 3 years.  There are also fig trees by the house and in the 2nd yard, apples and pears in the second yard, and columnar applesn by the house.

More should be producing next year.  Some of the plums have triple buds at the nodes for the first time.  Triple buds should indicate flower buds.  Those are:  Methley, some multigrafts, grafted Hollywood and Shiro, and some on the 1st year Ember grafted onto Hollywood rootstock that I planted here a couple of weeks ago.  Sweet Treat Plurerry has triple buds.  All of this is something to look forward to.

Others that look promising are Pawpaws NC-1 and Sunflower.   Rebecca's gold does not look like it, and Mango is just at first year.

The Asian Persimmons bloomed last year, so I am hopeful for next year.

The cherries should all produce next year.  They have lots of flower buds. Except Almaden Duke, which has tiny fungus mushroom-looking things growing out of the trunk.  Bad sign.  And some of  the apples should produce, they did this year and have active spurs.  Ditto for Asian pears and Euro pears.

Q18 peach and Charlotte peach have triple buds with fuzz - also look like potential flowers

Losses:  Indian Blood, I'm giving up.  No fruit and poor growth, it's been at least 5 years.  Minidwarfs on M27, I'm giving up.  Not worth the hassle and wait for minimal and bad yield.  Oregon Curl Free looks like it will die.

Anticipated additions or replacements:   Nadia Cherry Plum, Surefire Cherry.  Looking at web info, Rebecca's Gold Pawpaw may be late bearing.  I might buy an Allegeny Pawpaw which should be earlier and is a new-generation Peterson variety, probably the best of the best.  An apple and an Asian Pear.  That fills all of the empty, emptying, and potential new spots.

Just daydreaming.   I really don't need more fruit trees.  Pawpaws take 3 or 4 years, at least to bear.  That's a long way out, to start one at this point in my life.

There is a Korean Bush Cherry in the driveway that needs to be planted.  Possibly bloom size.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Persimmon, Pawpaw, and Peach Trees Fall Color. 11.3.15

Nikita's Gift Hybrid Persimmon.  11.3.15
Today I stopped by the One Green World nursery outlet in Portland.  Fall is a good time to plant many types of trees.  I found two fruit varieties to try:

American persimmon "Prairie Star" (Diospyros virginiana) and  Korean bush cherry (Prunus japonica).   More on the bush cherry later.

Back at Battleground, the persimmons have nice fall color.  The best is Nikita's Gift - a hybrid between Diospyros virginiana and Asian persimmon,  Diosyyros kaki.  The little Prairie Star also has nice color.

Asian Persimmon "Saijo" had a tough summer, too much heat.  The leaves curled, but did not fall off.  They have nice color now, but it's hard to see due to the curled leaves.  Maybe next year it will do better.

The other American persimmon, Yates, doesn't look like much this year as far as leaf color goes.

Prairie Star American Persimmon.  11.3.15

Saijo Asian Persimmon.  11.3.15
Other fruit trees / plants with nice fall color were the NC1 Pawpaw and the genetic dwarf peach seedling.  The peach seeedling has fuzzy buds.  Those might indicate flower buds for next Spring.  It is about 3 years post germination.

It was interesting looking at the persimmons at One Green World.  They had several Nikita's Gift persimmons with big fruits on the 1 foot tall plants.  I asked the clerk how they accomplish that.  He didn't know.  They also had a kaki persimmon from Xian, which had little green fruits.   That did not seem promising to me, November and no where near ripe.

Mine may have received too much nitrogen this year.  It is a gamble.  Too little nitrogen, growth is puny.  Too much, and fruits don't set or fall off.   I will probably fertilize the two little American persimmons prior to Spring, but not the Asian and hybrid, which are both over 6 foot tall, so I don't need growth on those so much as wanting to taste the fruits.
NC1 Pawpaw.  11.3.15

Nikita's Gift Persimmons at One Green World Nursery.  11.3.15
American Persimmons are not yet developed as commercial fruits.  The challenges are, they tend to be small, too soft to ship, and have a bad reputation because anyone who has tried an unripe one never wants to try again.  When ripe, they are very soft, and lose their astringency.  They also have the challenge that, in their wild state, male and female trees are separate, and the females require pollination to form fruits.  Many varieties of Asian persimmons lost the need for a male to pollinate them (parthenocarpic), and those fruits are seedless.  Saijo does not need a pollinator, and apparently neither does Nikita's Gift.  Yates / Juhl is parthenocarpic.

James Claypool was an amateur who attempted to breed persimmons as an ideal fruit for home gardener or orchard.  He trialed thousands of hybrids, starting with varieties from earlier, mainly amateur, developments and improvements over wild persimmons.  When Claypool developed an illness and could no longer work on his persimmons, the Indiana Nut Growers Association took over.

Seedling Genetic Dwarf Peach.  11.3.15

Yates (Juhl) American Persimmon.  11.3.15