Saturday, February 27, 2016

Opuntias. 2.27.16

Texas Opuntia.  2.27.16
 Today I took most of the Opuntias outside from the sunroom.  The "Texas Opuntia" - most likely Opuntia Engelmannii - has roots in the drainage holes of the pot.  There also appear to be growth buds vs. flower buds.

The original cutting from October is pictured below.

It might be my imagination, but I think the pad is a little fatter than it was at the outset.

The "Baby Rita" hybrid Opuntia also has what appears to be growth buds.  I'm going to think they are all growth buds and not flower buds, due to the time of year.

I have the containers under the eaves, on the West side of the house.  They get full Western sun, and no rain.  I am avoiding rain due to potential for rot diseases in the cool weather.

"Baby Rita" hybrid Opuntia.  2.27.16
Texas Opuntia cutting.  October, 2015

Grafting Ginkgo biloba tree. 2.27.16

Whip/Tongue Grafted Ginkgo biloba.  2.27.16
Today I grafted the third of the Ginkgo biloba trees.  The scion if from a tree grown from seeds that my Dad collected, nearly 30 years ago.  I want to keep the tree if possible, after moving from the Vancouver house to the Battleground place. 

The rootstocks are Ginkgo trees that I started from seeds 3 years ago.  They are all on containers.

The cambium layer seems very thin and delicate.  The wood is harder to cut accurately, compared to apple and pear wood.

If the grafts don't take, I'm sure the rootstock trees will regrow from the buds below the graft.  But I want them to take.

In case they need protection longer, compared to apples and pears, I wrapped the entire length of the scion.  They are double-wrapped, first polyethylene grafting tape, then parafilm tape.  Both tapes are 1/2 inch wide.

Late Winter Vegetable Seed Planting. 2.27.16

Aquadulce Fava Bean Seeds, Planted Hilum Down.  2.27.16

Aquadulce Fava Bean Seeds.  2.27.16
 Today I planted more kitchen garden seeds.  This is the 2nd batch of favas.  I bought today's seeds from Victory Seeds.  Oregon sourced, and all open pollinated, historic varieties. 

The Aquadulce Fava seeds were larger compared to Windsor.  I wanted to compare the two types.

Also a bit of an experiment, I planted 1 row on their sides, and 2 rows were planted hilum-down.  I read that hilum-down results in faster growth.  We'll see what happens.

Also snow peas, Mammoth Melting.

I covered the raised bed with bird netting.  In the past, zero-germination of peas appears to have been caused by birds, who seem to regard a freshly-planted pea bed as a sort of Easter egg hunt.

Temps in 30s and 40s at night, 60s during the day.
Mammoth Melting Pea Seeds.  Planted 2.27.16

Moving Warm Climate Shrubs Outdoors. 2.26.16

Meyer Lemon.  2.26.16

Tender shrubs brought out of dormancy.  2.26.16
I brought most of the tender shrubs / trees outside this week.  They were in a sunny, South-facing room with the heat turned off, for the winter.  I might have watered them twice.

The Meyer lemons ripened during the winter.  This is the largest crop yet.  These are great for anything that requires lemons.  They can be left on the lemon tree for months, for fresh use.

The other tender shrubs also look fine.  This might be a deciding year for the Nagami Kumquat.  If no blooms / fruits - might not keep it.

The olive was in the sunroom for the winter.  There are flower buds.  It had those last year, but did not set fruit.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Potato Starts. 2.21.16

Sprouted, Mixed Potatoes.  2.21.16
I found this bag of potatoes in the garage yesterday.  It's a few weeks early to plant potatoes, but these may be past their survivable stage anyway.  I can either throw them away, or plant them.  If they grow, that's good.  If they don't, nothing lost.

I planted fairly deep, with the long stems underground and on their sides underground, just the tip showing.

Last year this garden bed contained sweet corn.  This bed is situated South of the house.  May be a bit warmer compared to other locations.

I think these are Red Pontiac and White Gourmet varieties. 

I've read that mid to late March, to early April, are the recommended times to plant potatoes in SouthWest Washington.

Daylilies Growing. 2.21.16

Last summer I planted a number of daylily plants.  In past years a few did not make it through the winter.  My guess is underground herbivores, such as voles, were the reason they didn't survive.

Some are ahead of others, but so far this year, most look great.  This one is "Winsome Lady" and is close to the edge of the bed, for a photo. 

Slugs can be an issue, so they get a dose of Sluggo when I see damage.  With frequent rains, Sluggo tends to dissolve and may not do much good then, so I wait for a little damage before using it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Planting Blackberry Starts. 2.21.16

Prime-Ark Blackberry Starts.  2.21.16
The irony is not lost on me.  I'm still in the process of clearing massive blackberry bramble thickets.  After several hours of clearing them yesterday, I'm so sore I can barely move.

Then I buy blackberry plants.

The difference is, these are a compact growing variety, developing into a bush about 5 feet tall  and similar or less width.  Prime-Ark Blackberry, is a new hybrid from Arkansas, which I have not tried before.  They are a thornless variety.  So, I don't need to climb into 12 to 20 foot tall thickets, and come back bloodied, for the delicious blackberries.

I don't know if deer will eat them, not being deterred by thorns.  But the leaves seem coarse and unappetizing, so maybe not.

These are small plants.  They are going into the garden beds South of the house, for full sun.

I also bought 3 Ebony King Blackberry starts at Lowes, for variety.  Almost thornless.  I am hoping the timing will be a little different, for a longer blackberry season.  I love these fruits, and they also make an easy and delicious jam. Ebony King is almost thornless - at leas from the stems of these starts, no where near as vicious as the wild Himalayan Blackberries that I am striving to clear.

I read Prime-Ark needs to be 3-4 feet apart, or 5 feet apart, depending on who I read.  Mine are at the close end of that.   Some may need transplanting later.

Fruit Tree Buds. 2.21.16

Flower Buds.  NOID Asian Plum.  2.21.16

Flower Buds.  Methley Plum.  2.21.16
 Many of the fruit trees have enlarging buds, but many are still looking closed tight.  I was anxious about how early they are developing - concern for frost kill on delicate new flowers and growth, but that is becoming less of a concern as Spring approaches and the flowers are not yet open.  We have low into high 30s tonight, not worrisome for fruit tree flower buds.

The furthest ahead so far -
 Charlotte Peach - pink is showing.
Sweet Treat Pluerry
NOID Asian Plum - might be pluot.
Toka Hybrid Plum.
Methley Asian Plum
Maxie Pear - not a fair comparison, because this was a container tree planted in December, which might have influenced this year's  bud development.

Next in line -
Hollywood Plum - almost as far along, can see some pink coloration, this tree has burgundy leaves which influences the color of the buds.
Nadia Cherry - Plum Hybrid - not a fair comparison, I planted this as a bare root tree last month. If the blooms taste, it would be interesting to get a fruit or two to taste on this first-year tree.
Prunus americana seed grown plum - flower color is starting to show.  This tree is 4 years from seeds.
Unnamed Asian Pear
Hosoi Asian Pear

Buds showing signs of life -
Illinois Everbearing Mulberry - leaf buds - flowers form from growing shoots.
Saijo Persimmon - barely.  This is leaf bud, flowers form on shoots that grow from buds, not the dormant buds themselves.
Nikita's Gift Persimmon - barely and as for Saigo
Unnamed Korean or Japanese Cherry, planted this winter.
Juliet hybrid bush cherry - planted from container this winter.

Most of the European cherries bad barely visible swelling on some buds, both sweet and sour cherries.  Most of the European pears and apples have no discernible bud swelling.

Flower Buds.  Toka Plum.  2.21.16

Flower Buds.  Charlotte Peach.   2.21.16

Flower Buds.  Maxie Hybrid Pear.   2.21.16

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Planting Leyland Cyprus to Inhibit Blackberries and Stabilize Soil. 2.13.16

Leyland Cyprus Tree, Anticipating Planting.  2.13.16
This is part of the approx. 1/4 acre that I have been clearing of Himalayan blackberry.  The now - barren looking soil has been planted with grass and clover to retain soil and add nutrients.  The clover also for bee forage.  The grass and clover can be mowed repeatedly, to kill off residual bramble roots and crowns.  I have already added a pine tree and an aspen that are not visible in this photo.

At the back of the photo are massive piles of the blackberry prunings.  Behind them, and behind the trees - mostly Douglas hawthorn and some wild filberts - is the property line, then more of what is mostly Douglas hawthorn, a few maples, and some scattered blackberry brambles.  In that location, there is more shade, and the blackberries do not grow as well.  Just beyond those trees, the land slopes fairly steeply into a ravine and creek.

As discussed by Tao Orion (Beyond the War on Invasive Species) - highly recommended book - I have not used Roundup / glyphosate or other herbicides to remove the blackberries.  Which is good.  Roundup would also kill the existing trees.  They should be kept in place as long as possible for habitat and soil preservation, at least until other plants serve those roles.

Unfortunately, most of the hawthorns have reached their age span and many are falling over.  I wanted a fast growing evergreen tree to out-compete existing and new Himalayan blackberry.  Leyland cypress is controversial.  They are fast growing, 3 to 4 feet per year. At a property boundary, their highly vigorous growth can result in landowner disputes.  That will not be an issue here, because the bordering land is semi-wild, cannot be built upon or significantly altered, and my side of the boundary needs soil-holding trees.  Leyland cypress is considered a sterile hybrid of Monterey cypress and Nootka cypress, so despite great vigor, is not capable of being invasive.

The Leyland cypress will effectively shade out the Himalayan blackberry, to the north of these trees.  I'm anticipating many of the rest of the hawthorns to die and fall over, which is clearly evident with about half of the trees in this thicket.  This area does not seem to support growth of seedling hawthorns, either due to shade by larger trees and blackberries, or possible deer eating them.

Planting Sprouted Fingerling Potatoes. 2.13.16

Sprouted Fingerling Potatoes in Furrows.  2.13.16
I have been noting the fingerling potatoes in the garage are sprouted.  I grew them last year in raised containers - stacked concrete tree rings.

It's too early to plant, but they are already sprouted vigorously.  So I planted them.

These are in furrows, with the sprout barely covered with soil.

If they rot in the soil, that's OK.  If they grow, even better.

This is 1/2 of a 4x8 foot raised bed.  For 2 years, this bed grew garlic.  Last summer and fall I grew buckwheat to rebuild the soil.

The other half of this bed may also get potatoes.  I saw starts of Yukon Gold and some red potatoes at Fred Meyer, yesterday.

Planting Fava Bean Seeds. 2.13.16

Fava Bean Botanical Illustration

Fava Bean Seeds.  2.13.16
  Today I planted a packet of fava beans.  The variety was "Windsor", from Johnny's Selected Seeds, although that variety is available via many sources.

The illustration is via Wikipedia, public domain due to age. 

Fava beans have been grown since the bronze age (Wikipedia).  They have been found in Egyptian tombs.  Ancient Greeks and Romans grew them.  They are eaten in cultures around the world, but minimally in the US.  I have never eaten them.

I became interested in favas due to reading about their utility for soil building.  Favas are a kind of legume, different species from the better known American garden beans.  They are very cold tolerant, whereas most beans require warm summer sun and soil.   Favas can survive through the winter in the Pacific Northwest (OSU dept of horticulture), or can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked.  Which is now.  The raised bed soil is easily worked and friable.

Never having grown favas before, let alone eaten them, this is all new to me.  Documenting here as we see what happens.

They are planted deeper than most seeds, due to size.  I planted in furrows  about 1 to 2 inches deep.  After planting, I did not water because it is pouring rain.
Fava Bean Seeds in Furrows.   2.13.16

They will need protection from deer and rabbits.  This raised bed already has chicken-wire fencing to 5 feet, taller than they are expected to grow.  I should add a top of bird netting so the avian herbivores don't dig them up.  Might not be a problem, these are much bigger compared to the pea seeds that birds dig up and eat.

It may be a few weeks to germination, in this cool weather.  Expect to post when that occurs.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fruit tree bloom times. 2.11.16

Sweet Treat Pluerry Buds.  2.11.16
Current bloom status on fruit trees.

Big fat buds.  Sweet treat pluerry, Hollywood plum, Methley Asian plum, unknown variety of Asian plum.

Fuzzy buds but not showing petal color.  Peaches, Charlotte, Q18/Salish.  Leaf buds of Saijo and Nikita's Gift persimmons.

We are not as far ahead as I had worried.  Last year, full bloom for plums was March 7th.  We might be 2 or 3 weeks early this year.

This will be a good year to see if the Asian/American hybrid plums bloom later than the all-Asian plum varieties.

Euro plums, cherries, pawpaws, apples, most pears, no or minimal bud swell so far.

What's blooming. 2.11.16

Epiphyllum NOID cactus in bud.  2.11.16

Helleborus.  2.11.16
 In february there isn't much blooming here.

In the sunroom, an epiphyllum I picked up for a dollar or two, a couple of years ago at Home Depot.  I didn't know or expect for it to bloom, but there are the flower buds.

Some of the Epiphyllum orchids are blooming in the sunroom.

Helleborus are blooming around the yard.  This one was a volunteer seedling I moved last year from the old yard.
Dendrobium.  2.11.16

Dendrobium.  2.11.16

More Arborist Wood Chips. Bearded Irises. 2.11.16

Another pile of arborist chips.   2.11.16
 I heard the heavy equipment noise down the street and went to check it out.  An arborist was removing the top 15 feet or so from a long tall hedge of Leyland cyprus.  I offerred my driveway as a way to dispose of the chips, which he otherwise needs to pay to get rid of.  So here is another pile of chips.

We have a large area to mulch.  We'll get through them in a month.

I also weeded the bearded iris beds.  Weeds were minimal this time.  The irises have broken dormancy and are growing strong, although that happens each year, then there is extensive leaf spot and bacterial rot, which is frustrating.  Reading multiple sources, they state don't mulch them, that promotes rot.
Mulched Iris Beds.  2.11.16

But they were not mulched for years, and the diseases were a big problem.  I am experimenting now.  Last summer I applied an arborist chip mulch, and they grew very well with, I think, much less disease.

My working theory is the chips are open enough to prevent sogginess, they dry quickly.  Maybe - maybe - the evergrees contain substances that reduce fungal and bacterial diseases.  By applying on top of the soil, rains do not splash spores onto the plants.  If not, and they all die, that's OK - 3 years is long enough to try and be frustrated.  Darwin at work, survive or be replaced.

More chips will go onto the strawberries, and we have a lot of perennial borders and other places in need of the weed suppression and water retention effects during the summer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Allium Family Perennial Vegetables. 2.10.16

Chive Beds and New Raised Bed.  2.10.16
 All of the overwintering Allium family perennial vegetables are growing.

The 2 raised beds of garlic chives broke dormacy last week, now 2 to 2 inches of growth. 

I priced these concrete blocks today at Home Depot.  They were 99 cents each.  I think they are less expensive than the wooden beds, will last longer, and are easier to assemble.  I don't know about thermal properties.  The corners have openings that would be good for posts.
Garlic Chives.  2.10.16

Chives.  2.10.15
Garlic Raised Bed.  2.10.16
Egyptian Walking Onions.  2.10.16
Standard chives are growing fast.

Garlic is showing great growth.  My subjective estimate is the garlic in the raised bed is about  twice as big as the garlic in the ground, probably due to warmer temperature although the soil mix could also be better.

Egyptian Walking Onions are also growing nicely.  I protected them from deer and rabbits this year.  There was still evidence of something foraging - maybe slugs.

Not shown, the new starts of White Potato Onions are about 6 inches tall.  This time around they are also protected from herbivores.  There is no evidence of foraging on those plants.

I'm not concerned about potential frost or freeze.  These are hardy plants.

Planting Bare Root Strawberries. 2.10.16

Bare Root Strawberries.  2.10.16
 I'm on vacation this week and did some gardening today.

These are "Ozark Beauty" everbearing strawberries.  I bought them mail order from Starks.  They don't look like much when dormant but should take off and grow in the warm weather.

I have been preparing the former chili pepper bed for this planting.  Over the past couple of months, I topped off the soil, which was already good from 2 years of amendments and care.  I added a large amount of eggshells for calcium.  This bed received a large bag of Starbuck's coffee grounds a few weeks ago.  I added some urea nitrogen and mixed it all together, smoothed it somewhat, and planted the berries.

This bed is 2 feet by 8 feet, so each berry plant gets slightly under one square foot of soil.
Bare Root Strawberries.  2.10.16
Planted Strawberries, nearly invisible.  2.10.16

Last Year's Strawberry Plants.  2.10.16
I also added chopped cypress mulch to the prior 4 x 4 foot strawberry bed.  That one contains 4 plants of "Pineberry" strawberry, one of a pollinator, and several of unnamed from the front yard.  This bed should bear this year.  The new one might or might not.

Very important for strawberries here, is animal control.  I have each bed surrounded by rabbit fencing and a top of deer fencing,

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Planting Final Fruit Tree Shipment. 2.4.16

Tree Shipment.  Burnt Ridge.  2.4.16

Pawpaw Roots in Airpot.  2.4.16
This was the final tree shipment.  I still have some berrries en route.  This year I planted more than any previous year. Probably enough for a lifetime.

These were from Burnt Ridge Nursery.  All of the trees had amazingly full root systems, intact and healthy appearing.

The pawpaw was interesting.  This pawpaw was taller than any prior purchase.  It was grown in an open-bottom container, which results in a more branched, less wind-around root sustem.  Very nice roots.  I think this tree will be a year ahead of any pawpaw I've planted in the past.

All are planted now.

Allegheny pawpaw, Winecrisp  apple, Sam cherry, Aromatnaya quince. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Grafting a Ginkgo biloba. 2.2.16

Dormant Ginkgo biloba seedling.  2.2.16

Ginkgo biloba whip/tongue applied.  2.2.16
 I have 3 Ginkgo biloba seedlings, each 3 years old, grown from local seeds.  I want a tree from my Dad's Illinois ginkgo tree, for sentimental reasons.  It's now a huge tree, no way to move it to Battleground.

I don't know much about grafting ginkgos.  This may not work.  If they don't take, I should still have trees from the stocks, since they have lots of buds.  I cut the branches, leaving one 1-inch long spur below the graft.  The other branches are flush with the stem.

Grafting was standard whip & tongue method.  Ginkgo stems turn out to be quite soft, pliable, and easily cut with a grafting knife.   Easier than the pears I did last weekend.  They are also rather delicate and easily damaged.

Two of the three are now grafted, wrapped and sealed.  I used ½ inch polyethylene tape for the internal wrapping, works well for a tight wrap.  I over-wrapped with ½ inch Parafilm tape.   I made the ½ inch parafilm tape by cutting one-inch tape with scissors.

This may be too early.  Weather is predicted this week up into the mid 60s.   Given the warm weather, I wanted to graft while still dormant.  The cambium is soft and green. 

Grafted Ginkgo biloba, wrapped.  2.2.16