Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fruit Tree Blooming. Pear Graft Progress. Orchard Phenology. 3.31.16

NOID Asian Pear.  3.31.16

Vandalay and Sweetheart Cherries.  3.31.16
 The fruit tree bloom stage now, is sweet cherries and pears.

Full bloom:
NOID Asian Pear - I wonder if this is Nijesseiki?

Maxie Hybrid Pear
Hosui Asian Pear
Mishirasu Asian Pear
Hamese Asian Pear - this one never blooms much.
Shinseiki Asian Pear
Rescue European Pear - just started.

Early full bloom-
Vandalay Sweet Cherry
Sweetheart Sweet Cherry
Ranier Sweet Cherry
Stanley Plum

Vandalay and Sweetheart are described as self pollinizing, which was part of why I planted them.  Even so, it can't hurt for them to bloom together.  Vandalay is slightly ahead of Sweetheart.  There is promise of several bowls of cherries from each tree, for the first time, this year.  This is 4th leaf.

Late Full Bloom
American species plum
Ember hybrid plum
Hanska hybrid plum

Finishing  bloom
NOID Euro Pear, I think Green Gage

 I can't find the grafting date, I think mid February, but here is the progress for the two pollinizers I added to Maxie.  Both are ghrowing.  Both source trees are blooming now, as well as Maxie, so this looks like a good choice.

Graft of Rescue Pear onto Maxie.  ~6 weeks,  3.31.16
Graft of NOID Asian Peare onto Maxie.  ~6 weeks.  3.31.16
A good pomologist would not let the stock bloom below the grafts, but I'm not looking for maximal growth, just some pollinizing blooms.  Also, I really want to try the Maxie pears, and want to give it all the chance I have to bear.  The priority is on the Maxie, not the grafts.

Fig Status Report. 3.31.16

Carini Fig Starting Growth.  3.31.16
Lattarula Fig Starting Growth.  3.31.16
All of the fig trees came through the winter with no damage at all, and all have primordial breba buds swelling.  Even the more tender fig trees, Smith and Champagne, were unfazed.  Thank you El Nino.

I attempted a graft of Petite negri onto the extra Dominic.  I don't know how that will come out.  The scion were refrigerated for a few months due to not wanting them to start growth before I could graft in Spring.

What's Blooming. 3.31.16

I love this time of year. Many flowers are blooming. They show the efforts of fall and winter were worthwhile.

Hyacinths.  3.31.16

Tulips.  3.31.16

Hosui Asian Pear.  3.31.16

Daffodils.  3.31.16

Eggs and Dandelions. 3.31.16

Eggs from our chickens.  Left is after feeding dandelions.  3.31.16
For the past 4 days, I've been digging a big bucket of dandelions every day and feeding them to the chickens.

Maybe it's my imagination, but the yolk on the left looks more deeply colored, compared to the other two.  The one on the left was laid today, the two on the right were laid 3 days ago.  Since the hens are free range, the 2 eggs on the right probably contain some yard weed nutrients, but not as much.  Their yard is mostly grass, almost no weeds due to their feeding and scratching.

The hens like the dandelions and eat a pile down to nothing in an afternoon.  We have enough dandelions for many more buckets of feed.  Feeding dandelion greens may also slightly decrease the cost of feed, depending on whether the greens replace some of the feed grain.  In my yard, they are totally organic, no pesticides or herbicides at all.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sunroom Orchids. 3.24.16

Here are some of the sunroom orchids. I don't do much to take care of them. Once in a while I repot in some arborist woodchips. Once in a while I give them very dilute tomato fertilizer.  This year I do not have the burden of corporate life, and might give them more attention.
Dendrobium nobile.  3.24.16

Cymbidium.  3.24.16

Dendrobium nobile.  3.24.16

Dendrobium nobile.  3.24.16

Twinkle type oncidium.  3.24.16

More Seeds Planted for Kitchen Garden. Seedlings. 3.24.16

Today I planted tomato seeds.  This year I want to experiment with grafting tomatoes onto performance enhancing rootstocks.  I tried this about 5 years ago, but was sidetracked. 

Several rootstock varieties are available for tomatoes, also grown from seeds.  The improved rootstock gives much more vigorous growth, much better productivity, and confers disease and nematode resistance.

I have some old seeds of Maxifort rootstock.  I don't know how well they will germinate at 5 years old, but the seeds can be expensive so I will give them a try.

This year I bought "Supernatural Hybrid" which is also a performance enhancing rootstock.

Tomato Seeds planted 3.24.16
All of the tomato seeds are from previous years, so they were no cost at all.

I planted seeds for the following:

Both rootstock varieties.

Jersey Boy Hybrid
Supersweet 100 hybrid
Sungold Hybrid
Sunny Boy Hybrid
Better Boy Hybrid.

It looks like I'm not so enthusiastic about Heritage varieties this year.  I may get some out and try, depending on how this experiment goes.

They are planted in the usual seed starting medium in 6 packs, on a seed warming mat.
Kitchen Garden and Herb Seedlings.  3.24.16

Kitchen Garden Seedlings.  3.24.16
Meanwhile, the seeds from last week have all germinated -

Edible Chrysanthemum
Japanese eggplant
Johnny Jump Up

The catnip seeds were about 8 years old so I planted thickly.  I want to attract cats to my yard to eat voles and rabbits.  Catnip is also a good nectar plant for beneficial insects and bees.

I let the original okra seedlings dry out.  Too much trouble to grow such a vigorous plant indoors, so early.  So now starting again.  When they size up, I can plant them in the sunroom until outdoors is more summery.

The peppers are blooming.  I started them too early.  They look good in the sunroom.  They had spider mites.  I treated with "Dr. Earth" which seems to have done the job.  I am skeptical about such products but I do not want to spray carcinogens around.

Sweet and Chili Pepper plants, started in January  3.24.16
More peppers and other plants.  3.26.15
These peppers probably need larger containers now. There are so many, that will be a project.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What's Blooming. Fruit tree Phenology. 3.21.16

Forsythia.  3.21.16
 I love this time of year.  Buds swelling and opening, bulbs making themselves seen with leaves and flowers, trees and shrubs blooming.

This forsythia was one of the first shrubs I moved to the Battleground place Oct 2012.  Forsythias are tough and can take a lot of trauma and are drought resistant in my yard.  I grew this specimen by rooting a small stick found on the street about a decade ago.

Most of the front bulbs are transplants from the old place as well.  If you have old clumps of bulbs, they can be dug and divided, and have as much or move vigor than newly purchased ones.  Old ones are proven to grow in their current climate and soil, unlike imported ones, and do not bring viruses and other diseases into the yard.
Same Forsythia Oct 2012
Same Forsythia 2009
Mixed bulb and perennial fron flowr border, now at daffodil blooming stage.  3.21.16

Hyacinths and daylily clumps in tree-ring planter.  3.21.16

Hanska plum first flowers.  3.29.16
 The tree ring planters are nice.  They bring the plants up closer to my eyes.  They are easier to keep free of weeds, compared to the ground level soil.  They have a base of chicken wire fencing, so moles and voles do not get into them.  They are probably a bit warmer and therefore a bit earlier, than ground level soil.  I planted the hyancinths much deeper than the daylilies, so their roots should be even deeper and they can coexist.

Fruit tree blossoms -

Finished blooming -
Hollywood plum.
Crimson Spire plum.
Sweet treat interspecific plum (pluerry)

Almost finished blooming -
Methley plum
Unknown Asian plum.
Shiro plum.
 Charlotte peach

 Eldorado peach.

Late-full bloom.
Toka plum

Full bloom.
Most Asian pears - early to mid blooming
  Unknown - maybe Nijisseiki
  Maxie hybrid

Early opening.
The historic Asian-American hybrids
  Hanska Plum
  Ember plum
  LaCrescent plum
Green European Plum - green gage?  Came with the place, I don't know the variety
Stanley European Plum
Probably Prunus americana grown from seeds - first bloom this year.  Pollinizer for the Asian-American hybrids.
Salish peach - bought as "Q18"

American plum (Prunus americana?) flowers.  3.21.16

American plum (Prunus americana?) flowers.  3.21.16
 The American plums were from this batch of seeds, collected in 2012.  They have a slightly astringent skin, yellow very juicy, sweet, soft interior.  I have two other starts.  They are much smaller, partly due to browsing deer and partly because I chose the most vigorous for the main tree.
Plums used for tree seeds in 2012.

Maxie pear in early to mid bloom.  3.21.16
Swelling buds but not blooming yet -
Sweetheart cherry
Vandalay cherry
Ranier cherry - ahead of the other sweet cherries, but planted bare root this year so may not be representative.
Montmorency tart cherry - behind the sweet cherries.
Pawpaws -
  Sunflower - seems ahead of other two,

Swelling  buds, bloom from secondary growth - later
Saigo persimmon
Nikita's gift persimmon.

There are some new trees that probably don't count because I planted them this winter.  Their timing may be off because they were bare root and shipped, then planted.  That depends on how the internal timing works in those trees.  New ones -

Nadia interspecific cherry x plum - a few flowers, finishing and a few more buds.

Empress genetic dwarf peach - a few buds, full pink stage.

Mary Jane Peach - reportedly peach leaf curl resistant.  A few buds at full pink.

No apples are blooming yet.  A few are close - Queen Cox, and the columnar varieties North Pole, Scarlet Sentinel, Golden Sentinel.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Grafting Progress Report. 3.21.16

First bud break on grafted ginkgo tree.  3.21.16
 This is one of the ginkgo trees that I grafted 2.2.16.  At this stage, growth doesn't prove the graft took, but it does show it's alive.  Considering about 7 weeks have passed from the graft, I'm thinking they have taken.  More new growth, especially vigorous, will make me more confident.

I don't have a pic, camera battery died, but the pear grafts from about the same time, also look good, with larger bud growth.

In addition to the apple grafts from Fedco last week, I added more today.  These came from this weekend's Home Orchard Society scion exchange yesterday.  From those, I grafted -

Red Airlie apple, which is sold in stores with the trademarked name "Hidden Rose".  Inside of the ripe apples is pink.  According to reviews, these apples are slower to brown after slicing.  Flavor is considered good.  Late ripening.

King David, apple.  I looked for this one via Fedco, they didn't have any this time around.  Thought to be a hybrid of Jonathan and an unknown, possibly Arkansas Black or Winesap, 1893, apple looks more like Arkansas Black.  Very resistant to fireblight. 

Dolgo Crabapple, because crab apples are considered good pollinizers for other apples.

Hawkeye, considered the original Red Delicious, before Red Delicious underwent multiple generations of sports giving us the famous beautiful, cardboard tasting apple.  Hawkeye is said to be the true "Delicious".

These are all the apples varieties my little trees can handle for now.  If some turn out to be duds, I can prune them out and let others take over.  The multigrafts should all be self pollinating, and each branch should give at least a couple of pies, or a few bowls of apples, which is all I want from each variety.  For me, it's like a collection, I see something interesting and add it.  The cost is minimal - $5 for scion at Fedco, or free at the scion exchange.

The new scion from this year, assuming they take, will need 2 or 3 years to produce fruit for a taste.

I also grafted the following, yesterday and today:

Onto the Stanley European plum, a plum labeled as "Red Washington European Plum".  I grafted that one as a polllinizer for better or more fruit production on Stanley.  If it's a good plum, that will be good too.  I don't have more info on this plum.

Male Hayward Kiwi - to pollinize the no-name kiwi that has been growing for 3 years in my arbor.  I didn't want to buy an additional plant, not knowing if it would help.  Kiwi turns out to be very soft wood, hollow with a pith.  The wood was also delicate, fell apart easily.  I needed several tries, and in the end it was not clean.  The kiwi sap is syrupy.  It might take.

I grafted three grafts of Petite Negri Fig from home, onto the extra Dominick fig tree at Battleground, to see if I can get a good start of this fig without growing from cutting.  Fig wood is also soft, and fragile, with a central pith.  These might or might not take.   I had stored the scion, well wrapped, in the refrigerator to keep it dormant until the understock started growing.  The figs are all producing buds now.

Flowers on Ember Plum.  3.21.16
I did a whip and tongue from Toka.   That was also stored in the refrigerator, well wrapped.  I used one of the Hollywood Plum own-root starts as understock.  I want a spare Toka.  It's a delicious plum, a vigorous pollinizer, but the existing tree appeared to have some canker last year.

This leaves a male scion for the hardy kiwi, and a persimmon scion, "Chocolate" to add to either Saijo or Nikita's Gift.  From my readings, persimmons are difficult, and take best if the under stock is already growinbg actively.  That will need to wait a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Native Plum Seedling in Bloom, 4 years old.  3.21.16
From grafts done last year, Ember and Hanska plums are now blooming.  They are later, compared to the Asian plums.  One Ember plum is a free standing tree, grafted March 2015 onto Hollywood rootstock.  The seedling plum, taken from what I think are native American species plum tree, is just beginning to bloom for the first time.  This tree is 4 years old.  It has been raining a lot, so I don't know if they will pollinize even if compatible.

Fava Bean Progress Report. 3.21.16

Fava seedlings about 6 weeks after planting.  3.21.16

These are the favas I started 2.13.16   They are looking succulent and vigorous.

The seeds I planted one week later also look good, about 1/2 are above ground.  Raining too much to weed or hoe, maybe better during the next few days.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review. How to grow perennial vegetables, buy Martin Crawford. 3.17.16

Red mulberry
This week I went to the local library and checked out the book, "How to Grow Perennial Vegetables" by Martin Crawford.  2012.

This book is interesting because growing perennial vegetables allows us to have plants that require minimal maintenance, fit into a permaculture landscape, and puts to work some plants that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered weeds.

The book is well written and interesting.  There is a comprehensive list of plants with descriptions, instructions for how to grow them, and culinary uses.  The format is easy to follow and informative.

Plants that were interesting to me -

Apple mint -  because I recently saw a video about how to make a tea from apple mint.
Asparagus - which I just planted yesterday, "Millenium".  I don't know how that will do, but it's worth a try.
Chives and Chinese Chives - which we already grow.
Columbine - for the leaves.  Salad greens.  I didn't know that.
Dandelion - multi uses, greens and root.   Planning to experiment with both the weed and improved cultivars.  One application is a sort of "wilted lettuce salad" which involves saute of the leaves.
Daylilies - for the flowers or flower buds.  The unopened buds can be used as a sort of green bean - like vegetable.
Hostas  - eat the young shoots as a fresh vegetable, apparently popular in Korea.
Horseradish - I think I will add some in the orchard row.  That should at least give the moles and voles extra flavors to savor as they tunnel through.
Sedum spectabile - I didn't know that!  Already growing many bunches for bees.  Use leaves as a fresh green.  The book states, "succulent and juicy and ready to add to a salad on a hot summer day"
Linden - leaves for cooking like spinache, or salad.  I imagine better in spring when fresh and young.
Mulberry - leaves can be used as a cooked green. Also, I imagine better when fresh and young.
Opuntia cacti - for nopales.  I don't know how they will do but I am experimenting with them.
Oca - I found these in a catalog but way too expensive.  If I can find a less expensive source I will try.
Rhubarb - mostly uses as a pseudo-fruit, but can also be savory.
Violets - leaves for soups, have a thickening effect.

The book describes many times more than this list, which other than oca and apple mint, I already grow.  All very interesting and useful

I'm fairly impressed at this list, so many edible plants already in my yard, and quite a few that I have not sampled.  I suspect some are better and some are not so good, but we can be sort of like Euell Gibbons, we can "Stalk the Wild Asparagus", in our own yards.

[All images via public domain website,]


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kitchen Garden Progress Report. 3.17.16

Container Planting of Radish and Spinach Seedlings.  3.17.16
 I did a lot of gardening today.

Large half-barrel size containers with greens and favas are coming along nicely, roughly one month after planting.  Pictured, radish and spinach.  Favas are also growing nicely both in containers and in-ground, and scallions are more than a foot tall - Eqyptian Walking Onions.

Grape cuttings look good, about one month.  I am starting Interlaken and Price.  These will get extra TLC this year to achieve planting size as soon as I can manage.
Grape Cuttings at One Month.  3.17.16
Favas Germinating at one month.  3.17.16

Apple Scion, Fedco.  3.17.16
 Fedco apple scion came yesterday.  I stored in refridgeratore overnight.  Scion includes Milo Gibson, Sweet-16, Baldwin, Newtown Pippin.  Some were very small.  I multigrafted 3 existing trees, and also created one from a one-year plant of semidwarf stock taken from the stump of a prior apple tree.  That last was a rind graft, because the scion was so much smaller than the rootstock.  I used Mil Gibson because it is rare and unique.

The seedling gemetic dwarf peach is blooming at 4 years.  Others at same age and younger are not blooming.  I'm designating these as "gremlin peaches" because the trees are so tiny, suitable for container.  I don't know what they will be like.  They need a designation because it's too much typing to continue stating "seedlings of genetic dwarf peaches".

I planted herb seeds indoors in seed starting soil, in reused, washed seedling 6-packs.  I started seeds for greens in the outdoor half barrels.  As pictured below.

Rind Graft, Milo Gibson Apple on unknown semidwwarf rootstock.  3.17.16

Seedling Gremlin Peach at 4 years.  3.17.16

Seeds planted indoors.  3.17.16

Seeds planted outdoors in large containers for greens.  3.17.16

Monday, March 14, 2016

Genetic Dwarf Peaches. Progress Report. 3.14.16

Genetic Dwarf Peach "Garden Gold"  3.14.16

Genetic Dwarf Peach "Honeybabe".  3.14.16
 All of the genetic dwarf peaches are blooming.  The almost insurmountable challenge with these, is peach leaf curl disease.

There are several ways to address leaf curl.  Among those, sprays, cover the trees for the winter to prevent fungal growth in the buds, or be more creative and intense, growing in containers.  To grow in containers, one can buy  a bare root tree and plant in container, or try growing seedlings from genetic dwarf varieties.

During fall, 2014, I dug up the smallest of my genetic dwarf peach trees, and planted in container.  That required significant loss of very large roots.  Even so, in 2015, that tree was the best of any of my peaches, and the fruit was the most delicious peach crop I've had in years.

Here is a summary of my varieties:

Garden Gold.  White flesh.  Approx 14 years old.  Always blooms well, gets a bad dose of PLC - peach leaf curl disease - loses most of the peaches, recovers, gets a few peaches for fall.

Honeybabe.  Golden flesh.  I like the flavor better than Garden Gold.  However, Honeybabe has worse leaf curl.  This year it looks even worse than usual.  I don't know if it will survive.
Genetic Dwarf Peach "Eldorado".  3.14.16

Seedling from Genetic Dwarf Peach.  4th year.  3.16.14
Eldorado.  As described, excellent small peaches.  PLC was as bad as the other varieties, even though I had it planted under semi-shelter.  Containerized and not exposed to rain during wingter 2014-2015, there was almost no PLC at all, that cleared up quickly, and it made a great crop.

Empress.  I bought this as a bare root tree, winter 2015-2016.  It is planted in container.  No way to know how it will do.

Seedlings.  I have several seedling trees.  Initially, this was unplanned.  The parent varieties are either Garden Gold or Honeybabe.  This winter, the first is starting to bloom, at 4 years old.  I kept it in a shed for much of the winter, then on a deck not exposed to rain.  No way to know yet if it will bear fruit, or what the fruit will be like.

If I was to start over, I would grow these peaches, only in containers.  I would save seeds from the first year or two fruit, to experiment with.  

Container growth requires a lot of attention.  They dry out quickly, so need water on a daily or twice daily basis.  Wrapping the container with foil can reduce soil temp, but they still need daily watering.  Container trees need pruning to keep branches close to the core, to reduce top heaviness and risk of falling over, and broken branches.  Genetic dwarf trees over-set badly - something like 90% of fruit should be removed at pea-size stage.  Fortunately, the trees are small so that does not require ladders.