Friday, April 29, 2016

Grafting Progress Report. Apples, Pears, Figs, Ginkgos, Plums. 4.29.16

Nijiseiki Asian Pear on Hosui Asian Pear.  4.29.16
 All of the pear grafts took.  I've red that pears are among the easiest trees to graft, and from my experience that is true.  I thought the NoID Asian pear tree might me Nijiseiki, but from these grafts of that variety, I don't think so.  The grafts have red coloration in the leaves and stems, not present on the NoID Asian Pear.

Two apples look tenuous.  The first is from North Pole Columnar apple.  Not sure, the entire tree looks sickly.  Prior grafts from that variety took and grew quickly.  The second is Hawkeye, reportedly the original "Red Delicious" before the "Red Delicious" was mutated into the brilliant deep red skin, tasteless apples of today.
Milo Gibson Apple on Winecrisp Apple.  4.29.16
 The other apple grafts are growing nicely.  They include all of the Fedco scion, even though those scion were small diameter:  Milo Gibson, Sweet-16, Baldwin, Newtown Pippin, and Goldrush.  The others from the Home Orchard Society scion exchange also took and look excellent:  Arlie Red Flesh, and Dolgo Crab.  The Nijiseiki  was also from HOS.

The "Washington Red" Euro plum - I guess a NoID plum - scion from HOS is growing as well.  I had doubts about that one.
NOID Euro Pear lon NOID Asian Pear, 2 years.    4.29.16

Sweet-16 Apple on Winecrisp Apple.  4.29.16

Arlie Red Flesh Apple on Rubenette Apple.  4.29.16
Grafts from prior years all look great.  I've lost a few because the understock died.  Not all cherry grafts took. 

I think the ginkgo and cherry grafts that I did this year are not taking, they look small and might be dying.

Porter Historic Apple on Jonared at one year.  4.29.16

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Grafting Progress Report. Kiwi. 4.28.16

Never having grafted kiwi before, I wasn't sure how to proceed. I waited until the understock vines started growing. I used whip-and-tongue method. The scion is fragile, leaks a slimy sap, and splits while being worked, but it looks like they took.

Usually there is not enough reserve nutrition in a small scion to put out this much growth, unless they take.

Adding to uncertainty, I could not tell which end was up for the hardy kiwi scion. It's possible it will take, then abort, or grow poorly, if I grafted it upside down.

All things considered, the growth is promising. In both cases, the scions are male, grafting onto female vines so I don't need to buy additional plants for pollination.

Fuzzy kiwi vines are really beautiful by themselves. This one has a reddish coloration and fuzzy leaves and stems, very nice.
Hardy Kiwi Graft at 2 weeks.  4.28.16

Fuzzy Kiwi Graft at 3 Weeks.  4.28.16

Persimmon Progress Report. 4.28.16

Scion of Asian Persimmon "Chocolate" on "Saijo" branch.  Two Weeks.  4.28.16

Early Flower Bud of Persimmon "Saijo".  4.28.16
 At only 2 weeks, I don't expect much.  Temperatures have been lower - lows in high 30s, highs in 60s and 70s.   I uncovered the "Chocolate" Persimmon grafts so that if the buds do break, they won't be too pale and sun sensitive.  The buds look a little plump, and maybe larger than when I grafted.  That could be wishful thinking.

Meanwhile there are quite a few buds on Saijo, and lots and lots of buds on Nikita's gift.  Those are both in their 4th year, from bare root planting.  Both are considered parthenocarpic - bearing fruit without pollinization - so I may get something here.

The American persimmons, Yates (one year) and Prairie Star (two years) are growing nicely.  Yates had some deer munching, but it looks like it was not delicious.  Only one twig eaten, so far.
Early Flower Buds of Persimmon Variety "Nikita's Gift".  4.28.16
As with the pawpaws, if I actually get some fruit on these persimmons, that will be "the bomb".

Pawpaw Progress Report. 4.28.16

Pawpaw flower.  4.28.16
Maybe this will be the year of the pawpaw.  The oldest three trees were planted in summer 2012.   Of those, two - "Sunflower" and "NC-1" have / had lots of flowers this year.  A one year old -  tree about 18 inchest tall, "Mango" also had all of 2 flowers, tiny tree size.  even though "Sunflower" was definitely ahead of "NC-1", there has been overlap of both pollen shedding and stamen receptivity for both.  Some of the "Sunflower" flowers were the first, so there was no "NC-1" pollen to pollinate them.  Even so, it looks like those set.  "Sunflower" is considered unusual in that it may be self fertile.

I continue to collect pollen when the anthers are shedding, and transfer to what I perceive to be receptive stigmas on the other tree.  I also transferred some to "Mango" although that one is way to small to think it will bear.
Pawpaw flower.  4.28.16
It looks like some of thepollination took, especially on these first flowers on "Sunflower".

I need to keep my excitement in check.  There are lots of things that can happen between now and Sept or Oct, when I expect these to ripen.  Still, if all of the flowers set fruit, they will need some thinning and good watering for the summer.

I have never tasted my own pawpaw, and have only tasted tiny bites at the Home Orchard Society fruit fair - probably not optimal.  Looking forward to tasting my own pawpaw fruits.
Early fruit formation, Pawpaw "Sunflower".  4.26.16
Early fruit formation, Pawpaw "Sunflower".  4.28.16

Ning and the dogs. 4.28.16

I couldn't decide which photo to post so I posted all of them. Charlie (black) is 15, and Baigou (white) is 14. I won't say how old Ning is.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

IBC Tote rain water storage.  4.23.16
Rainwater diverter close-up.  4.23.16
Two weeks ago I finally completed installation of the second rain water tank.  This tank is 275 gallon, used, food grade plastic.  The section of roof is only about 1/4 of the house roof, so there is potential for more.  After seeing that 2 rainfalls only filled the tank about 2/5 full, Ning diverted  another section of the roof gutter towards this downspout for more roof area rain supply.  It's raining now, so we can check in the am to see if the tank is full.

This climate here is sort of Mediterranean, with most of the rain in the late Fall, Winter, and early Spring, with mostly dry during the rest of the year.  I need to water most of the garden for most of the summer.  The house is at the top of a hill, the home orchard and some of the vegetable garden are downhill from the house.   This, in addition to the 75 gallon tank I installed this spring, gives 350 gallons, minus some at the bottom of the 75 gallon drum that can't be accessed via the drain.

This tank system should supply most of the garden, south of the house, with much of this Summer's water needs.  I have not calculated how much I used before, so it's only a guess.  I can also run a hose from the tank down the hill

Roof water is not potable - who knows what lands on the roof via birds and wind? - but is usable for watering the garden.  

The diverter has a simple feedback system.  When the tank water level is the height of the diverter, any additional water goes down the downspout same as if the diverter wasn't there.  There is a debris screen, so that any debris goes into the drain same as it would without the diverter present.

What's Blooming? 4.23.16

Lilac "Bloomerang" 4.23.16

Iris "Florentina".  4.23.16

Iris, either Mme Chereau or Swertii.  Bought as Mme Chereau.  Amazing fragrance.

Mountain Ash.  4.23.16

Viburnum "sterile".  4.23.16

Fava Beans. Progress Report. 4.22.16

Fava Bean "Windsor" 4.22.16
Favas are blooming at about one foot tall.  I was concerned about the extra warm weather, into the 80s but now it's down into the 60s and tonight into the high 30s.  So the cool friendly favas should be OK.

The photo blurring is due to taking the photo through chicken-wire cage.  Necessary to keep herbivores at bay.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tomato Plant Grafting, Update. And Tomato Cuttings. 4.22.16

Better Boy Tomato Graft, on SuperNatural Root Stock.  4.22.16
Now the grafted tomatoes are out of the humidity chamber.  Only two of the six, survived.  The reason was not the technique, but my anxiety.  I took them out of the chamber too soon.  The leaves wilted, in some cases not recoverable.

The two that survived are Better Boy and SuperSweet 100.  The Better Boy looks especially good.

Meanwhile, I had kept a few of the tops of the rootstocks, by placing them in a cup of water, and kept on window sill.  Those cuttings grew nice roots in the water.  I also had a Better Boy that I accidentally decapitated, and am rooting that as well.

This can be a way to increase the number of tomato plants in a vegetable garden.  If there are lower branches, cut those off and root in water for planting back in the tomato patch.  Doing so means free plants.

I still have some plants for scion, mainly Roma.  Those will be next.  Romas are great cooking tomatoes, but in my garden the plants tend to be smaller compared to other types.  Maybe grafted plants will be more vigorous. 
First Attempt at Grafting Tomatoes.  One Week.  4.22.16
Tomato Cuttings in Water at One Week.  4.22.16

Tomato Cutting Rooted in Water.  4.22.16
I trimmed the wilting leaves from the grafted SuperSweet 100.  Maybe that will give it a better chance to take off and grow.

Actually I'm pretty happy that even one, and maybe two, took off and are growing.  Now they should grow quite fast.  Even ungrafted tomatoes grow fast at this stage.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Raised Beds, Peppers, Onions, and Tomatoes. 4.21.16

Maturing Egyptian Walking Onions.  4.21.16
Peppers in Protected Raised Bed.  4.21.16

First Tomato Plants Planted Out.  4.21.16
With early warming, I don't know what will happen with early planting, but am planting things out as soon as they seem ready.

The overwintered Eqyptian Walking Onions are producing topsets.  These are in a container / small bed constructed from tree edging rings.  So this is my onion ring planter.  I recovered these last year from a nearly-dead plot, weed competition and herbivores.  Now they are vigorous and excellent.

I used large-cell chicken wire fencing to protect the raised pepper beds.  This is my favorite type of raised bed now, easy to work accessible, and easy to keep clean.  It's early to have peppers outside.  I don't know if deer will reach over and much on the plants.  I hope not.  They should be secure from rabbits.

I planted out the first of the tomatoes.  These were non-grafted, own-root seedlings I started earlier.  Better Boy, Jersey Boy, Sunny Boy - I guess this is a "Boys Club", also Supersweet-100 and Sungold.

Pawpaw in bloom. 4.21.16

NC-1 Pawpaw in bloom.  4.21.16
I've been using an artist's paint brush to transfer pollen between flowers of pawpaw varieties "NC-1" and "Sunflower".  Supposedly, "Sunflower" may be self fertile.  This tree bloomed first, and maybe some flowers did take.  The stigmas are receptive before the flower produces pollen, and once the anthers ripen and release pollen, the stigmas are not receptive.  So the timing for both the donor and recipient flowers is important.

The tiny "Mango" pawpaw tree- about 18 inches tall - has 2 flowers.  I pollinated one today.  I doubt that will produce fruit, but you never know.

Preparing Garden Bed From Sod. Black Plastic & Mole Family Method. 4.21.16

Start raised bed by spreading black plastic and weighing down edges.
 I started these beds Jan 1,   so they are about 3 1/2 months in the making. This method is minimal effort compared to rototilling a patch of fresh sod, and not nearly as obnoxious .  I wanted some much larger garden beds, mainly to raise corn and sunflowers for chicken feed.  There are also some other things to grow for the kitchen garden, overflow from the raised beds.

Three months or so later, uncover.
 The method is very straight-forward.  Obtain medium grade black plastic from the grocery or hardware store.  Spread over the planned garden bed.  I bought sheets that were 10 by 20 feet, so that is the dimension of the garden beds.

Weigh down the ends and sides with bricks, stones, logs, or dead rabbits.  Not serious about that last, and they don't keep long enough.
Till or turn over soil.
Wait a few months.  The exact timing is not rocket science.  I figured 3 months would be plenty, but 2 months might have worked, or they could sit a couple more months.

When uncovered, all of the grass and weeds were dead.  Oddly, there was green moss.  I consider that about the same as peat moss and worked it into the soil.

We have a family of moles in our yard.  There are annoying, and dig where I'd rather they don't.  I accomodate to them by lining the bottom of raised beds with chicken wire, which keeps them out.  For a while, I collected mole-hills in the wheelbarrow to use as the base soil in raised beds.  Now I usually use a garden rake to smooth molehills and fill in low spots in the yard.

As it turned out, moles loved the black plastic.  They tunnelled throughout the beds, such that all that remained was finely tilled soil and a few patches of moss.  I started with a hand tiller, but it was easier to use a garden rake - type - hoe to break up the soil and smooth it.  Very easy.

Note, I turned over another bed last month, and the soil was much tougher.  There was no mole-assistance with that bed.  These moles were my buddies.  Moles are carnivores, so I imagine there are no bugs, slugs, or caterpillars in the bed.  Didn't see any.  No earthworms, either, but they will return.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Asclepius Syriaca Seedlings. Year Two. 4.20.16

Asclepius syriaca sprout.  4.20.16
I thought the milkweed did not survive our mild wet winter, and had rotted away.  I had not labeled the area.  It turns out, at least this sprout survived and is growing strong.  Others may or may not follow.  I was excited to see this, even if it's the only one to survive.

Update.   4.21.16.  All told, there are 6 milkweed plants growing through the grass clipping mulch now.  They look stout and healthy.  Much larger and more robust appearing than last year.

Corn. 4.20.16

Germinating Indian Corn "Painted Mountain".  4.20.16
Over the past 2 weeks, I have been planting rows of Indian Corn "Painted Mountain".  This variety is genetically diverse, from Native American collections, and is considered more cold tolerant than others.  The soil temp is 58 to 60 degrees overnight, and high 70s to low 80s during the day.  This is unseasonal heat.  The normal practice is wait until mid May or later.

I decided to plant now.  If there is a frost, that will kill the plants.  If  we have an unseasonable warm year all year, it will be good to get it growing early.

I also planted a block of Trinity Sweet Corn 3 days ago, far removed from the Indian corn and not downwind.  The intent it plant more every 2 or 3 weeks, to get a long summer of sweet corn.

Blackberry plants. 4.20.16

Establishing blackberry plant "Columbia Star"  4.20.16
 Most of the blackberry plants are growing.  All 6 of the "Prime Ark Freedom" plants, that were so small when received in the mail, are growing new leaves. 

Of the 3 "Ebony King" plants that I bought at Lowes, as dry bare root plants, one is growing, the other two look alive based on can coloration but no growth yet.

I also bought a potted "Columbia Star" plant a few weeks ago.  That turned out to be a small tissue culture plant that had been placed in a larger container.  That one is also growing.
Establishing blackberry plant "Ebony King".  4.20.16

Establishing blackberry plant "Prime Ark Freedom".  4.20.16

Bearded irises, second wave of flowers. 4.20.16

Now is the second wave of iris flowers, after the extra earlies. Most of these are historic irises. Most of the irises are yet to bloom, but there are many buds. This looks like the best year ever for them. I almost gave up last year, but this Spring makes the effrort worthwhile.

There was a little basal rot this year, but only a fraction of what I had in the past.  The clumps are much larger and many more flower buds, compared to the past.  They are all mulched with arborist chips - I wonder if that helped?  I've always read that irises should not be mulched, but my thought is arborist chips are very open, and might restrict spread of disease.

Iris beds.  4.20.16

Bearded Iris "Alcazar".  Faint fragrance.  4.20.16

Bearded Iris "Her Majesty".  Introduced 1903.  Strong fragrance.  4.20.16

Bearded Iris "Indian Chief".  Intro 1929.  Strong sweet fragrance.  4.20.16

Unknown, was at Battleground property when we bought it.  No fragrance.  4.20.16

Bearded Iris "Pallida dalmatica".  Introduced in 1500s.  Very strong sweet fragrance.  4.20.16

A rebloom of Eleanor Roosevelt.  Introduced 1933.  Fragrant.  4.20.16

Modern Bearded Iris, unknown variety.  Not fragrant.  4.20.16

I think this one is "Autumn circus".  4.20.16