Saturday, January 30, 2016

Propagating and Transplanting Some Big Bamboo Colonies. 1.30.16

Bamboo Divisions Loaded into Pickup.  1.20.16
Bamboo Divisions Loaded Into Pickup.  1.30.16
Yellow Cane Bamboo Division.  1.30.16
Yellow Cane Bamboo Starts.  1.30.16
Today I moved some bamboo divisions.  This was a big project.

Both bamboo clusters have been growing about 14 or 15 years.  One is a yellow cane runner-type bamboo, Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'.  The runners have been held in check with a heavy plastic surround, that we placed when we planted this bamboo.  It appears to be starting to escape the plastic, but just barely.  The plants are roughly 20 foot tall.

The other was labeled "Timber Bamboo".  Maybe, Phyolstachys bambusoides?  I don't know.  Various species are given that designation.  The canes are green, and much larger compared to the Spectabilis.  We did not use a barrier to contain this plant.  In at least 14 years, spread is under 6 feet diameter, one larger cluster.

The first attempt at a division was using a shovel, for the Spectabilis.   That was last week, not too difficult, but I was unable to dig any other divisions.

After watching some videos showing use of a Sawzall reciprocating saw with a one-foot pruning blade, cutting into the ground and through the rhizomes.  In the videos, this looked kind of like cutting a Duncan Hines chocolate cake, with an electric knife.  In reality, it was much more difficult.

Even so, I was able to cut a division of Spectabilis with about an  hour of effort.  Then moving to the timber bamboo. the difficulty was much worse.  The blade could not slice through the soil at all.

I pondered  the issue, poked around, dug, and sawed.  Then I discovered the problem - this area was the former chicken yard.  I had a cobblestone paving stone base for the chicken house.  Apparently, the hens had shifted enough soil around, that the bamboo was able to grow on top of the paving stones.  I had been trying to cut through concrete paving stones with a pruning blade on a Sawzall.

Armed with the new information, I slid the shovel between the bamboo clumps and the paving stones, scraping just on top of the stones.  Then I used the now-dull Sawzall pruning blade, then a hand pruner - easier - to cut the clumps from the parent plant.  The result was a much thinner root disk, compared to the much deeper roots on the Spectabilis Yellow Cane bamboo.  Much lighter and easier to transport.  I have thoughts that the timber bamboo plants will be a bigger challenge to keep alive, until and if they establish, due to the much more limited root mass.

There were also a couple of chunks from cutting the Spectabilis.   I also planted those, to see if they would survive as new starts.  If so, I an move them in a year to a better spot, or just let them grow.

Since bamboo is a grass, their transportability is likely different from shrubs and trees.  I don't know if that will translate into better or worse survival, but I think, better.

I read that some bamboos can be grown from cuttings.  Since the small pieces have both stem and roots - albeit minimal - I think they are a step ahead of cuttings.

Yellow Cane Bamboo Transplant. Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'. 1.30 16.

Timber Bamboo Division.  1.30.16
The Spectabilis was planted up wind of my little orchard.  The clumps look well established, already.

I am not worried about the spread of these bamboo clumps.  We use the bamboo for lots of projects.  They make great canes for gardening supports, can be used for fencing, and other projects.  Once planted they are free, self-regenerating, drought tolerant, rabbit and deer resistant, don't get diseases, and hold the soil in place.

The chickens enjoy the timber bamboo, for shade and protection.  It self-mulches, creating a soft, moist layer that the hens like to scratch through.  I did give them protection from the hens for until they establish.
Timber Bamboo Divisions.  1.30.16
Because of the small root disks on the timber bamboo, they needed stakes for support.  I also took off the top 4 feet or so, for transport.  At least immediately after planting, there was no wilting or curling of the leaves for any of the transplanted bamboo.
Timber Bamboo Transplants.  1.30.16

A lot of people hate bamboo.  Some of their reasons, are why I like it.  Most bamboos are very durable.  They tolerate heat, they are not susceptible to insects or diseases, and as  I noted, herbivores don't eat them.  Each year, they produce a new set of canes (culms) that grow to full height in a single season.  For a gardener - as opposed to a landscaper - maintenance is not a problem.  A pair of pruning shears is helpful, as is a shovel to cut any wide ranging rhizomes.  Placement is important - a good neighbor won't plant a running bamboo anywhere that could result in invasion of a neighbor's property.  A clumping species is less of a concern, but you still don't want it too close to a fence or border.  I planted the Spectabilis just uphill of the road, where I want the soil held solidly in place.   It will give privacy as it takes over for the dying Arborvitaes.  We will have a good source of material for lots of projects.  It's a great plant.

I should try to replace some of these photos.  They are via I-pad, and not as clear as I like.
Timber Bamboo Transplants.  1.30.16

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fruit Tree from BiMart for $12.88. 1.28.15

Ranier Cherry Tree, Bare Root.  1.28.16
 This was a surprise.  I went to BiMart to buy a pocket knife for grafting.  There were bare-root trees in front of the store, all marked at $12.88.  The varieties were standards, nothing cutting edge or exotic, and very limited selection.  For that price, what can you ask?  I have been wanting to add a Ranier Cherry to the Battleground orchard, by grafting another tree from the one in Vancouver.  Which is way, way to big to think about moving.  At this price, I can start over with a new tree.  Cherries grow fairly fast, and this will likely produce as soon as the tree I was trying to top work and now has some sort of fungal issue.

Roots of Ranier Cherry Tree.  1.28.15

The roots are as good as a lot of mail-order trees that go for $20 or $30 or more, and s good as a lot of container trees that are just bare-root or balled-and-burlapped trees that are stuck into some compost and sold as garden-ready.

Planting Bare Root Trees from Raintree. 1.27.16

 Order arrived from Raintree nursery.  Anticipating tree planting helps keep me going.  In the case of this shipment, I ordered the trees last summer.

Nadia Cherry X Plum hybrid.  One of only 3 such hybrids in existence.  All are untested here in this area as far as I know.

Surefire Pie Cherry - the one in the Vancouver yard is way to big to consider moving.  Great variety.

MaryJane Peach - yet another trial for leaf curl resistance.

All of these fill empty orchard slots left by culls of long-term nonperformers.

I am very impressed by the quality of the trees, their roots, and the packaging.  A+

These may need some pruning or a little shaping,  but they really are excellent.
New Bare Root Fruit Trees.  1.27.16

Nadia Cherry X Plum, planted 1.27.16
They all got the needed vole/rabbit hardware cloth sleeves, and deer fencing.  I don't wait, any more.  Better to do at the start.  They will need some mulch, which does not need to be immediate.

MaryJane Peach.  1.27.16.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Unseasonable warmth. 1.24.16

Peach buds swelling.  1.24.16
The temperatures have been 40s to 60s here in Southwest Washington State.  Combined effects, I imagine, of El Niño and climate change.

These are buds on the containerized "El Dorado" peach tree.  The in-ground, more standard peach trees also have swelling buds.  

Other trees with evidence of early awakening include the newly planted Maxie pear, and terminal tips of some apples.  The persimmon buds appear to be swelling, but not cracked open.  The pawpaw flower buds look larger but also still closed.  Same with fig buds.  Some lilac buds are open to the point where primordial flower buds can be seen.

Most of the fruit and other trees are in dormancy or have barely begun to break dormancy.  Now it's a waiting process.  If no hard freezes, we should be good.  If there are some hard freezes, nothing I can do about it.

Daylily Seedlings. Looking Sad. 1.24.16

Daylily Seedlings Late Winter.  1.24.16

Daylily Seedlings Mid Winter.  1.24.16
Most of the daylily seedlings look sad now.  The leaves have a loss of chlorophyll.  Some have brown leaves.

I wonder it they are just going dormant, or headed there.  It's either that, or some sort of ailment.

I don't know what drives daylily dormancy - daylength, intensity of sunlight, or temperature.  Some of these changes started while still under lights inside.  Not that cold, and daylength is 14 hours.

It's also possible that they reach a stage then stop, until the next season.

At least one of the brown-leaf plants has a crown of new growth.  Maybe it is dormancy.

It's so unseasonably warm outside, I moved them out doors for some rain and light and moving air.  Maybe they will do better, or die off. 

This is my first try with daylilies from seeds.  I don't know what to expect.

Using Extra Pumpkin and Winter Squash. 1.24.16

Prepared Pumpkin.  1.24.15
We didn't want to waste pumpkin.   Yesterday I prepared one for future use.

Very easy.  Cut pumpkin in half.  Scoop out seeds and their surrounding fibrous material.  The seeds will get roasted later.

Place cut side down on cookie sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven for one hour.  Let cool onough to handle, then scoop out the soft mash.

For this pumpkin - Rouge vif D'Espampes - which I think is the same as "Cinderella pumpkin" - the pumpkin came out so tender, it did not need to be pureed.  I just stired it up.  When cooled, I measured out 1 cup or 2 cup portions, scooped into vacuum sealer bags, labeled, and sealed up.  These portions are the same size as 1 or 2 cans of canned pumpkin, but much better.  Ning used a batch to make pumpkin bread - excellent!  Winter squash is processed the same way, and for the same recipes - equally delicious.

The bags go into the freezer.  They thaw out fairly quickly if immersed in cold water, or overnight in fridge,

Presprouting Okra Seeds. 1.24.16

Presprouted Okra Seeds.   1.24.16

Presprouted Okra Seeds.  1.24.16
I let these go a day longer than I should have.  These are okra seeds, soaked 24 hours in water, then placed in the moist paper towel on seed warmer.

Okra has an aggressive root.  Grows through the paper towel layers.  Can be difficult to dissect out without damage to the root.

I transferred the seedlings to seedling 6-packs.  If they grow, good.  If not, I can start again.  The second time, I think starting them in 6-packs would be better.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pepper Seedlings. 1.16.16

Sweet Banana Pepper Seedlings.  1.16.16
 I germination tested these pepper seeds on Jan 5th.   These Sweet Banana Pepper seedlings looked good, so I transferred them today into cells of seed starting medium.

Most of the Red Portugal seeds have germinated, more slowly.

No Tabascos yet.
Sweet Banana pepper Seedlings.  1.16.16

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Transplanting a ginkgo tree. 1.14.16

Digging Ginkgo Tree.  1.14.16
I'll add another pic of this tree on the truck, when I get to the other computer with the photos.

This is one of my 18 year old ginkgo trees that I grew from seeds my Dad picked up in Illinois about 19 years ago.  They are a living reminder of him.

The largest is twice this size.  Magestic.  It stays where it is.  Good location, and the dogs have fertilized well over the years.

This is the 2nd largest.  It was in the front yard on a hard clay subsoil, didn't get much TLC.    This week, I dug it out, and moved it to the Battleground place.  My thought is many people don't like ginkgos, and cut them down.  So if it doesn't survive this move, at least I gave it a chance.  I think it will not only survive, but thrive.

I did the usual trench around the tree, then cut under the tree with shovel.  I made the root ball diameter about 4 foot, based on 2 inch diameter trunk.  This was a little less than the canopy diameter.  In the end, the hole was about 2 feet deep, but once I removed the tree, I discovered the roots were only about 18 inches deep, and knocked off some of the heavy but rootless soil.

A few roots needed pruning, but not much.  I am very happy at the size of the root mass that resulted. 

It took several days for me to dig, a little at a time.  Mostly it's been chilly and raining, no freeze and no sun.  Good dormant tree moving weather.  Between digs, I protected the roots with big sheets of heavy plastic bags.

Once under-cut, I worked a tarp under the tree and tied it up to hold in the soil and reduce root injury.  Ning and I slid the tree onto the pickup, up a 2x12 board ramp left over from a house remodel.  I tied the tree every direction, we drove slowly, then at the new location, untied the tree, slid it back down the ramp into the hole for its new home.  Filled around it and watered with 10 gallons of water to settle it in, despite rain.
Transplanted Ginkgo Tree.  1.14.16
As for top damage, there was one tiny broken twig, less than 3 inches long.  That's all.

Now I get to enjoy another of my Dad's ginkgo trees for a little more of my life, even after we sell the Vancouver house.  I will nurture it, mulch, feed, water, and hover around it.

The 3rd ginkgo tree is already at the Battleground place, having moved it the first summer - now, more than 3 years ago.  It was the slowest, and least nurtured of the 3 until moving it.  For the past 2 years, I gave it good boosts or organic nitrogen, thick mulch, and water during seasons.  With that treatment, growth has been tremendous.

I've planted some big containerized nursery trees.  This is the biggest tree that I have transplanted by digging it up myself.

Lilacs are moved. 1.13.15

Freshly transplanted lilac bush, me, and a helper.   1.14.15
The last of the big lilacs is moved.  This was a 2 month project.  If I was young and healthy, it would be a 1 week project, but I'll take what I can get.

In the photo, the lilac doesn't look that big.  Each was a heavy load.  Fortunately I have help.

Divisions broke off from each of the last two, one with quite a bit of root mass and the other with one main root and only part of that.  So now, if they survive and grow, I have 4 bushes where I started with two.

Accidental Lilac Division with minimal root.  1.4.15
I hope they survive.  I took a large root mass with each.  All but the last two, have a thick layer of mulch.  They will get mulch over the next week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Moving very large lilac bushes. 1.11.15

 Moving the last of the big lilac bushes.  I think we planted these in about 2004.  They are much bigger than me.  I can't reach the tops of the branches.

It's a luxury to move established shrubs from the old house to the Battleground place.  I would not, but I suspect new owners would cut most of them down.

This is the usual method, dig a trench in a large circle around the bush.  Use pruners for larger roots that extend beyond that, for a cleaner cut.   Undercut the bush, using a shovel.  Gradually sever the bush from the underlying soil, using the shovel.

We had a hedge of 8 mature Lilac bushes against the curb.  For the most part, this area will be lawn again.  The house shows up better for potential buyers, and they won't be intimidated by potential maintenance.

 We have also been moving 15 year old rose bushes, same idea.  They are less difficult, not as big, deep rooted, or heavy.

I'm leaving one lilac in a corner.  We already moved 5 of them last month.  That leaves these two.  These were the largest.

I did prune a few large stems to make up for lost roots.  According to horticulturist Linda Chalker-Scott, "It’s important to realize that roots respond to pruning in much the same way as the crown: pruning induces new growth. Roots that are pruned at transplant time, especially those that are excessively long or misshapen, will respond by generating new, flexible roots that help them establish in the landscape."  Since some of the lilac roots were wide ranging and needed to be cut, I did so using a sharp pruners.    Chalker-Scott also states, "There is no need to top-prune landscape plants if post-transplant irrigation is available...The only time transplanted materials should be pruned is to remove broken, dead, or diseased branches, or to make structural corrections to young trees."  It's hard to break that habit.  In the case of these lilacs, some branches will killed last year in the drought.  They also needed some shaping.  Old habits are hard to break.  I have plans to move a 10 foot tall ginkgo tree.  I will not prune the top of that tree.

It is interesting to observe the root ball.  The roots did not extend deeper than about 18 inches.  They did extend horizontally, but it seemed that the thickest mass of roots as within 2 feet of the bush.  Good thing.  The soil is heavy.

I hope we have not killed these nice shrubs.  If we did, at least we tried to move them, and they would likely have been cut down in their original locations.  If they survive, they will be a nice, mature hedge the first year, and may bloom the first or second years.

Seeds at 10 days. Germination Testing. 1.11.15

Sweet Banana Pepper Seeds at 10 days, not 5.  1.11.15

Red Portugal Pepper Seeds, 10 days, not 5.  1.11.15
Of the peppers, the Sweet Banana Peppers are germinating the best.  Red Portugal are beginning to grow.  Tabasco, no growth at all.  Age of seeds is on original post.

The Titan sunflower seeds all germinated at 5 days.  The Mammoth sunflower seeds rotted.
Titan Sunflower Seeds, 5 days

Grape Cuttings. 1.10.15

 Today I took some grape cuttings.

These are from 14-year-old grape vines at the old place.   They are too big to move to the new place.

I like the "Price" and "Interlaken"  varieties.  The others are OK, but I like these the best.  I want to grow them with TLC to either bearing size for next year, or close to it.

This starts with the cuttings.  In the past I have just stuck grape prunings into the soil in the garden, and they grew.   However, those are slow and take a few years to reach bearing size.  The first year, only a few inches of growth.

With some TLC, I may get a few feet of growth.

To start - cut prunings.  About 1 foot to 1i8 inches.   Stout strong first-year stems.  If possible, nodes a few inches apart, as many nodes as possible.

At least 2 nodes, better if 3 or 4.  Cut bottom end, flat, about 1 inch from node.  Cut top end, at angle, about 1 inch from top.

I used Dip-and-grow.  I don't know that it's necessary.  I've grown grape cuttings without it. Also, the container is old, maybe several years.  But I used some anyway.

Then LABELED, inserted into potting soil with lowest nodes about 3 or 4 or 5 inches down.   Leaving them outside on the deck, north of house so they don't get sun and overheat.

The late Lon Rombaugh was far, far more experienced than I am.  His method is more detailed, probably more successful and better.  My method is amateur but works for me.  The main difference is he puts more effort into callousing the root end, by warming them.  If I have a chance, I may do that in a couple of months, with fresh cuttings, as a back-up plan.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Seeds: Organizing, testing, and starting. 1.5.16

Testing Sunflower Seeds.  1.5.16
 Today placed some seeds in moist paper towel system to test them.   If they don't grow, I can throw them out.

Titan packed for 2014
Mammoth Gray Stripe for 2013

Sweet Banana for  2015
Hot Portugal for 2013

These are no big deal if they don't grow.  If they do, I'll keep the packets for later sowing (Sunflowers) or possible keep the plants growing indoors until Spring (Peppers).

I don't throw away partial packets of seeds.  I also fail to check my stash before buying more.

Stored Garden Seeds.  1.5.16

Testing / Sprouting Pepper Seeds.  1.5.16
 These are now filed somewhat neatly.  Some of the envelopes are redundant.  This Spring, I can start planting many of the saved seeds for either our use or the chickens.

The Daylilies labeled Frans Hals bloomed in Sept.  I collected the seeds late Oct, stratified moist in fridge, then sat them out at room temp.  Now about 1/2 are in seed starting containters.  I am curious about this one because the Fans Hals was off - type, should be bicolor brick / yellow but instead salmon / darker eye with hint of the bicolor.  The yellow should have been dark yellow with brick eye ("Playground") , but were very pale yellow with no eye.  I suspect genetic instability due to tissue culture.  I'm curious about their offspring - will there be reversion to type, mixed in hybridization?  Will they be something completely different?

There are many tables online for how long seeds last.  Mine are in cool, fairly dry basement of daylight basement house, except some were in bedroom.
Based on  the link, the Sunflower seeds should keep 5 to 7 years, and the peppers should keep 2 years.  I have sprouted peppers from seeds kept in the kitchen, after 8 to 10 years.
Sprouting Daylily Seeds, Frans Hals X Unknown Yellow 1.5.16

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's Day. Clearing Blackberries. Rain Water Barrel. 1.1.16

For New Year's, cleared more Himalayan Blackberry bramble.  I might be half way through them now.   Those haystack-looking mounds are blackberry brambles that I cut up with pruning shears.  It's not physically hard work at all.  Does require patience, persistence, and falling into a rhythm.  Ultimately I think I will pile all of them into one large, hidden-in-the-woods compost pile.  Blackberry bramble stems are not woody, even the very large, thicker than my thumb and 20 foot tall ones.  The stem is pithy.

When this area is cleared, the back / North end may get some Cyprus as a privacy hedge and to hold soil.  Downhill from that is a ravine.  More within view and  a little south of the Cyprus, I want to plant some diverse types of trees.  The remainder of horticultural remediation for the Himalayan blackberry thicket monoculture, will involve planting grass seed and frequent mowing until blackberries are fully dead and no more self-regeneration from seeds or underground roots or runners.  Then maybe let it go a little more wild with wild flowers.  I may not follow that plan as my thoughts evolve.

Cat was hiding in the brambles.  I hope she finds a good place to hide otherwise.  We need a predator for rabbits and voles and moles and t mice.

I placed the first of the black plastic sod-killing weed-killing sheets.  Rather than tilling or applying weed killer - no damn way - we put down the big plastic sheets for about 4 or 5 months.   All of the plants under the plastic die.  On removing it in Spring, the soil is soft and easily dug.  Far easier than any other method, effective, and no poisons used.  We will create, maybe, 4 or 5 beds, for sunflowers, sorghum / broom corn, amaranth, and Indian corn - all of which are for experiment for  home-grown chicken feed.   Plus they all look interesting and beautiful.  The Indian corn will need to be a big distance from the sweet corn, so neither gets pollen from the other.

I installed a rain water barrel that has been sitting unused after hauling it from the old place.  This one is 57 gallons.  Now that I am comfortable with the installation, I want to install a much larger water harvesting and storage system.  There are reused food-grade plastic containers that hold several times more, for much less.  Will post when I buy one.

2016 is expected to be hotter and more dry than 2015.  We are on a well, but the water, especially in summer, is very mineral rich and full of iron sediment.  The filters clog quickly, and are expensive to replace.  Harvested water will be much less expensive in the long run, avoid run-off, and is plenty pure enough for garden and chickens.

This was a Fiskars unit, bought a few years ago at Home Depot.  There has been no leakage but algae does grow in the barrel  during summer.