Monday, May 23, 2016

Kitchen Garden Update. 5.20.16

Grafted "Better Boy" Tomato Plant.  5.21.16

Tomato Raised Bed.  5.21.16
Here  is how some of the kitchen garden plants are doing.

Most tomatoes are growing vigorously and a few are producing flowers.  The furthest ahead was Jersey Boy, but then the top of that was eaten by deer.  I plan to build a fence, meant to and procrastinated.

The grafted Better Boy has caught up with the others.  The grafting process puts it behind.  The grafted SuperSweet100 was too close to the Deer Superhighway, and therefore has a major setback.  I don't know how much fencing I can put in, it's awkward to work with and there is a cost, but if I want to grow plants that deer and rabbits also love, that's the only choice.

The potato plants are in the exposed  - not fenced - garden, and are growing lush and big.  I hilled them up as much as I could.
Potatoes.  Yukon Gold (front), Burbank Russett (back).  5.21.16
The collard greens are also exposed.  One plant vanished without a trace.  Space aliens?  But the others are all looking good and not chewed on so far.  They look small but actually growing pretty fast.  They have a grass clipping mulch to hold in the soil moisture and keep weeds at bay.
Collard Green Starts.  5.21.16

Egyptian Walking Onions.  5.21.16
I love the look of the Egyptian Walking Onions.  They are past the edibility stage - these are early Spring and late Fall kitchen plants.  Other onions are filling the scallion role, sets that I bought in April and am growing for bulb onions.  Back to the deer and rabbit issue, those beasts don't seem to eat onions or garlic.

I need to fence them in, but some of the okra seedlings remain.  Same theme, some were eaten last week.  That was mostly the transplants, so I won't know if early starting is helpful.  The seeds sprouted nicely without pre-soaking.
Okra Seedlings.  5.21.16
Fava Beans.  5.21.16
Fava bean pods are in the tiny stage, to about 5 inches long.  The plants continue to bloom.  I ate a raw fava bean pod, it wasn't too great, but it was raw. 

Green pepper plants - purchased - are looking good.   Pumpkins and squashes are also looking good.  I think there will be zucchini flowers in a few more weeks.

Sweet corn is looking good.  I continue to plant more seeds every 2 or 3 weeks.  The last batch was "Mirai" - wrinkled seeds that are hard to imagine they will grow.  In fact, it's been cool and rainy, and I read that Mirai seeds will rot if not given ideal conditions.  I'll give them a week and if no growth, plant something else.
Kitchen Garden Bed.  5.21.16

Sweet  Corn.  5.21.16

Graft Union for "Better Boy" Tomato.  5.21.16

Blackberry Progress Report. 5.20.16

Ebony King Blackberry, planted February 2016.  5.21.16
These are the domesticated blackberry plants that I planted a few months ago.  It has been interesting to watch them, and I have learned a few things.

First, the Ebony King.  These were packaged dry-root starts from Lowes.
The stems were about pencil size, with minimal roots, packed in peat moss.  I planted them Feb 21st.  Of the 3 plants, one started growing in about March, one in April, and one just began growing now in late May.  So they all are alive and growing, and there is some chance for a taste next year.  These are floricane varieties that bloom and bear on the previous year's canes.  It pays not to give up, since one of the plants required 3 months to start to grow.

I need to get some protection on these, from marauding rabbits and deer.  They have not eaten the Ebony King Blackberry plants yet, which are not as perfectly thornless as Prime Ark Freedom, but I don't  want to take too many chances.  Damn rabbits.   Damn deer.

Second, the Prime Ark Freedom, thornless primocane blackberries from Starks.  These were expensive, and the plants were tiny.  They are growing nicely now, with one exception that is failing to thrive and still only a couple of inches tall.  Tow of the most vigorous were eaten half-way off by rabbits or deer, so now I have fencing sleeves on each plant.  Herbivores have not been eating the Himalayan invasive blackberries - possibly due to thorns, or there could be protective flavors that are lost in domestication.  These are primocane, so could potentially bear this year.  They have bloomed at only a few inches tall, but I removed the flowers so their photosynthetic energy goes to establishing roots, canes, and leaves.
Growth on Ebony King Blackberry, at 3 months.  5.21.16

Prime Ark Freedom Blackberry Plant, Planted Feb 2016.  5.21.16
The third is one plant of Columbia Star blackberry, bought in a one-gallon container at Yard - And - Garden - Land here in Vancouver, I think in March.  The plant was really a tiny tissue culture plant like the Prime Ark Freedom, planted in larger container for sale, I suppose.  Or to grow larger in the nursery pot. The Columbia Star is growing with the same vigor as Prime Ark Freedom.  Columbia Star is a trailing blackberry that will beed some support.  I have already built a frame for that, using 6 foot long tree limb prunings.

Walking around. Lindens, Herbs, Plant Starts, Persimmons, Ginkgo, 5.21.16

I planted this Greenspire Linden as my birthday tree in September 2012.  The tree was an end of season sale at Home Depot, with roots encircling the container.  I pruned off the encircling roots, dug in the dry soil, filled twice with water, and did some light pruning to one leader a the top.  I watered twice monthly the first summer, once monthly the second summer, and little or none, last summer.

This Linden has become a nice looking tree.  Much taller and more full.  There are 3 other Greenspire lindens around the yard, started smaller, planted later, but still growing nicely.  They all have many flower buds.  I planted these especially for the honeybees to have an excellent pollen and nectar source.

I also planted a Redmond American Linden, which was smaller, but has grown fast and is covered with flower buds now, as well.

Around the yard, Lavenders are blooming.  Honeybees are foraging the lavenders.  Chamomile is growing nicely, started from seeds this winter.  There are quite a few volunteer nasturtiums growing.  I have some other spots where I might plant some nasturtium seeds.

 The Saijo and Nikita's Gift Persimmons have flower buds, with the Nikita's Gift covered and Saijo with just a few.  The Yates American Persimmon has taken off and growing fast.  Any stems that stick out from the fencing are eaten quickly by the damn deer.

Blue-grey Lavendar.  5.21.16

Chamomile.  5.21.16
 Grape cuttings started late winter have a small amount of growth.   The largest are past the stage where they could be growing just on stored nutrients, so must have roots.

The ginkgo tree that I moved in January this year is looking good.  The leaves are smaller than expected for an established gingko tree, but OK for one in it's first Spring after a big move.

I have a bucket with onw 1/4 inch hole drilled in the bottem.  If there is no rain for a week, I fill the bucket with water, let it drain, move it and repeat, then move to a third location and repeat again.

Volunteer Nasturtium.  5.21.16
Saijo Persimmon Flower Buds.  5.21.16

Yates American Persimmon, in ground about 2 years.  5.21.16

Nikita Gift Persimmon Flower Buds.   5.21.16
Price Grape Cuttings, a few month old.  5.21.16

Ginkgo tree transplanted Jan 2016.  5.21.16

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Follow up for Transplanted Bamboo. 5.20.16

Following up bamboo clumps that I transplanted in January and February. These were dug with combinaton of Sawzall demolition saw, and shovel. They were planted, mulched with wood chips, and had a dose of organic nitrogen fertilizer given during Spring rains. All but one of the clumps have been growing new canes (culms), some larger than others and some quite small. New cane growth indicates the clumps settled in and established.  Bamboo should not grow if it's not established.

I think none of the new canes outsizes the largest of the transplanted ones.  That will likely happen next year.  Some are about 10 feet tall now, so growth is significant.

Even small chunks that I planted, thinking they wouldn't grow, have produced at least tiny canes.

The timber bamboo in the chicken yard does not have new growth yet.  I don't know if it will need another year, or is just later to grow.
Bamboo clump dug 1.30.16

Wildflower meadow. 5.20.16

Some photos from Ning's wildflower meadows. California poppies and Lupines continue to dominate, but now there are also lots of Sweet Williams.

Fig Progress Report. 5.20.16

Brunswick Fig Breba Crop.  5.20.16

Fig brebas are getting big.  Brebas are figs that grow from buds on last summer's stems, and ripen during this summer.  Figs that grow on this year's stems are called Main Crop, and ripen in the fall.

Some fig trees are mainly breba producers, some are mainly main crop, some are both.

The Battleground fig trees are 3 to 5 years old, except for Brunswick which I moved there 4 years ago, and was 10 years old at the time.

Brunswick rarely has brebas, and is one of the sweetest figs, so the handful this year is great.

Brunswick goes by other names - Dalmation, Madonna, Castle Kennedy, Magnolia, Kennedy, Clémentine.  Ancient varieties often go by many names, because they have been taken from place to place, and people who forgot the original name gave them new names.  Later, they are found to be the same variety, but many people then know them by other names.   Brunswick's place in the Pacific NW is tenuous - there are other fig trees that bear more figs, are more reliable, and that have most before the fall rainy season, which makes the last figs on this tree moldy. But when it bears, the figs are so amazingly sweet, juicy, and "fig flavored".

Brunswick Fig Tree, moved Dec 2012
Carini Fig Breba Crop.  5.20.16
White Marseilles / Lattarula Fig Breba Crop.  5.20.16
I moved this tree to Battleground as an experiment.  I didn't know if it would survive.  Now, after more than 3 years, it has increased a little in size, and growing many new shoots from the base.  I will let the largest of those shoots grow, since they seem more vigorous than the top.

LSU Tiger Fig Tree.  5.20.16
Other fig trees with brebas this year:

Big breba crop:

Lattarula - also called White Marseilles and Italian honey Fig.  Both the big original tree and the smaller tree grown from cutting and planted at Battleground, are covered with figs.   This is an old variety - Thomas Jefferson was enthusiastic about White Marseilles fig.

 King - also called "Desert King" - only the one at the old place.  The cutting at Battleground is slow to establish.  I expect it to need a few more years.  Once established, this tree grows huge for a fruit tree.  The tree at the old place is covered with breba figs.

 Carini - a NOID from a Fig Forum member.   Really should have a place in the Pacific NW.  Generous sized figs, reddish coloration, sweet, vigorous, and bears a lot at a young age.  Probably comparable to Lattarula, which is one of the best.

Fig trees with only a few brebas -

Petite negri - worth it for the fall figs.  Usually has a few brebas.

Hardy Chicago - rarely has brebas but is among the first of the Main Crop summer figs.  The few brebas it has, usually fall off.

No brebas at all:

Sal's fig - usually has a main crop, but the tree is not thriving at all, much smaller than any of the other, similar range in size as Petite negri but the figs are not as good.  Very hardy even in our coldest winter, but I am thinking about replacing it with Celeste, when that cutting reaches a bigger size, maybe Spring 2017.

LSU Tiger - Modern fig tree from Louisiana, very big juicy figs, bears well, very vigorous, but not brebas this year.  Hardiness here not known, last winter was so mild it wasn't a good test.

Smith Fig - an old Louisiana variety.  May not be hardy here.  I planted outside last summer, survived the mild winter.  No figs yet this year.  Not fertilizing because I want the growth to be tough for next winter.

Champagne Fig - a modern Louisiana variety.  The figs are nice, sprightly yellow figs, small.  I don't know the hardiness here and no brebas this year.  Not fertilizing, as for Smith.

Dominick's Fig - a heritage variety from a fig forum member in the Eastern seaboard.  I have two, one might become the rootstock for Petite negri.  Haven't tasted from this tree yet.

Atreano - this might have had some if not for deer.  I did not protect it well.   Considered good for Pacific NW.

Other than a NOID - I'm thinking was labeled as "Sicilian white" but the label is lost so not sure, very young with 2 brebas on it's skinny stem, and Celeste - grew from cutting too late last year to get much growth, still in container for this year - I think that's all of my fig trees.

Where there is vigorous top growth, I have been snapping off the terminal leaf, leaving 5 or 6 leaves per shoot.  Tipping the shoot is thought to stimulate earlier and/or better production of main crop figs, and that is also my experience.  I am not doing that for the smaller Battleground fig trees, because I want them to get in as much good growth this year as possible.   I did tip the strongest growth on Brunswick, Lattarula, and LSU Tiger.

Grafting apples and Asian Pears. Progress Report. 5.20.16

North Pole Apple Graft ~  3 months.  5.20.16
 Of the apple and pear grafts that I added to existing trees, 100% took and are growing rapidly.  There was one small graft that I added to a small rootsstock, the jury is still out on that.  That was a bark graft, all the rest were whip-and-tongue.

I won't add all, since they look about the same. 

From my own tree - North Pole added to a Golden Sentinel.  This was added to the top, because I want a tree with columnar shape.  The understock bloomed then wilted, and the leaves exhibited very stunted growth.  However, now it appears to be recovering.  The rootstock was from a tree that was cut down, and grew suckers.  I don't know the type, probably a dwarf.

Apple scion from Fedco - all grew well, even the smaller ones.  Those were Goldrush, Sweet 16, Milo Gibson, Newtown Pippin, and Baldwin.

Arlie Red Flesh Apple Graft ~ 2 months.  5.20.16

Goldrush Apple Graft ~ 2 months.  5.20.16
Apple scion from HOS scion exchange - Arlie Red Flesh, Hawkeye, and Dolgo crab.

The grafts I added to Maxie pear have also taken and grown well.

I'm starting to remove the scion wrap.  I like to get 6 inches or a foot of growth, so the wrap has done has done its job and is not not restrictive.  It might come off on its own, and on other occasions has done so.

Apple Whip and Tongue Graft at about 2 months.  5.20.16
 This was probably my last year with more than a couple of grafts.  Assuming these grow OK, it's all I want or need.  Since my Honeycrisp tree died - voles? - I may add one or graft from my little minidwarf Honeycrisp onto something bigger.
Apple Whip & Tongue graft at ~ 16 months.  5.20.16

Grafts added to Maxie Pear tree ~ 3 months.  5.20.16

Grafting Progress Report. Plums, kiwis, figs, ginkgo, persimmons. 5.21.16

Male fuzzy kiwi on fuzzy kiwi female.  Graft at ~ 2 months.  5.20.16

Chocolate persimmon on Saijo.  Graft about 6 weeks.  5.20.16
 First graft follow up today for the less typical  - for me - grafts.  All were whip-and-tongue.

The kiwi grafts were quite delicate.  The scion wood is hollow with a pithy center.  It oozes a slimy sap that reminds me of the fruit juice itself.  I have two kiwis, one is the big fuzzy type, and one is the grape-size hardy type.  From my reading, both will probably need a male pollinizer, something some of the nurseries don't tell you.  The scion were from the Home Orchard Society propagation / scion fair.

The fuzzy kiwi graft is looking good.  The growth appears to be past the stage of obtaining nutrients and must have a vascular connection now to the understock.  I usually unwrap scion at about 6 inches or 1 foot of growth, so leaving the graft wrapped.

The hardy kiwi is further behind.  I had trouble determining which end is up and wondered if I got it upside down.  If so, I expect it to rejecct the graft.  Just a little growth so far.

I stored persimmon and kiwi scion in the refrigerator until the understock plants were well leafed out.  I understand that works better for these, less easy, plants for grafting.  Less easy compared to apples and pears, anyway.  I cut the Chocolate Persimmon stick into two scions.  After grafting - all of these are whip-and-tongue - I wrapped the scions completely in grafting tape and overwrapped in parafilm, then covered with aluminum foil to protect from the sun.  After about 2 weeks, I removed the foil on a clouded rainy day.  One graft looks dead and one looks like it's starting to grow.  I cut the lower growth from the stem today, to reduce nutrient competition.
Hardy kiwi male on Ken's Red hardy kiwi.  Graft about 2 months.  5.20.16

My Dad's male ginkgo on seedling.  5.20.16
 The ginkgo scions looked good for a little while, then seemed to die back.  This one has started a little growth again.  I cut back the major growth on the understock, but leaft a few leaves at each point.  I don't know if it will grow and take over.  Intent is to keep enough understock growth to keep it alive, and if the scion is viable maybe it will take over later this year or next year.

The figs were from my old Petite negri fig tree in Vancouver.  I did 3 whip-and-tongue grafts onto the extra Dominic fig tree, which has several stems coming from soil level.  These were scion that I had refrigerated for a few months, well wrapped.  Like kiwi, the scion has a soft pith and is very fragile.  Petite negri establishes slowly from cuttings - for me - and the first tree I started from this variety died 2 winters ago.  No harm trying a more vigorous rootstock.   Of the 3 grafts, one appears to be leaving dormancy.  For cuttings, this is still much to small bud growth to say if roots have started, so same for graft take.  However, these have been at ambient temperature for a couple of months, and I think if they are not deriving nutrients from the understock, they will not swell at all.  We'll see.

The Red Washington (European) Plum - I guess, a NOID - scions looked near dead, but both have taken and grown.  These were also from the Home Orchard Society scion fair.  I added them for the pollination effect,  but in case they are good plums, I should prune back more of the Stanley Plum branches to allow them to grow larger.

I don't have a good macro lens and some of these are small, so some are a bit blurry.

Not pictured, one of the ornamental cherries that I grafted onto wild - likely sweet - cherry rootstock did not take, but the other did.  The other two ginkgos look like they did not take.

Red "Washington Plum" on Stanley.  About 2 months.  5.20.16
Petite negri fig graft at about 2 months.  5.20.16

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blackberry clearing and remediation project. 5.10.16

Before clearing blackberries.  5.10.16
Here is the status of my Himalayan blackberry removal project.   Moving into summer, I doubt I will do much work on removing more, too hot and sunny.   I started last winter, not intending to go far with this.  

However, after seeing the results, my intent is to clear all of the brambles from this part of our property.  Originally, blackberry thickets covered about 1/4 acre of this 1 acre parcel.  I have cleared, maybe 2/3 of the brambles now.

Before and after removing blackberries.  5.10.16

After removing an area of blackberries.  5.10.16
 I wear leather gloves, and use bypass pruning shears to shop approximately 2 feet at a time.  Often I grab multiple stems at a time and cut through them.  I make piles of the cut brambles, like little haystacks in the cleared area.

Gradually, the land is cleared.  Cut blackberry stems are like dry sponge.   The seem to degrade fairly fast, easier than tree stems.  I made some very large piles in an out of the way location, so they will compost themselves.  The compost will be added to garden beds.  Composting may take a year.
Six months after removing blackberries.  5.10.16
For the area that I cleared last winter, I scattered grass seed.  The grass established during late winter and spring.  Mowing the grass is also killing off the blackberry stems that re-grow, and will eventually kill it off entirely.  No chemicals.  Some sprouts are so vigorous, they are as soft as asparagus spears, and I just wear gloves and snap those off.  It will take about 2 solid days of work, to clear the area in the photo, labeled "Before Removal".

The photos are separate parts of the cleared and uncleared areas.  I did not think to take actual before photos.  The cleared area was actually worse than what I have not done yet - brambles were 25 feet into the trees, and the depth of the thicket was greater.

The hawthorne trees in this area are unstable, weak and falling.  They  look nice when cleaned up a bit, but I don't think they will last very long.  We've planted cyprus to protect the soil, which a bit beyond this area slopes into a ravine and creek, and for privacy.  Cyprus grow rapidly and thick, so the intent is to shade out any remaining blackberries - this photo faces south, with the forested area north of the cyprus trees.  They are a hybrid cypress which does not make seeds so is not invasive.

There may be some cool mornings this summer when I can clear more.  I'll hold up seeding more grass until then, when rains will help it establish.  Meanwhile, ripe blackberries will be much easier to harvest adjacent to sections that I have already cleared.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Planting, first week of May. 5.7.16

No photos today.  Too busy around the garden.

Most of the kitchen garden beds are planted.  So are the chicken feed beds.

Painted Mountain Corn.  Front row is cilantro.   5.9.16
The chickens get:  One row of sunflowers, surrounded by Painted Mountain Indian Corn.  There are also 3 rows of Dakota White flint corn.  It doesn't matter if the Dakota Ivory mixes with the Indian mountain, they are both flint corn.

It's early for corn, but they all germinated within 2 or 1 weeks, mostly 1 week.  Very few kernels did not germinate.

I surrounded the sunflowers with corn, to see if that keeps out rabbits and deer.  Those herbivores did not bother corn last year.

I've planted the 3rd batch of sweet corn.
#1 is Trinity.
#2 is Bilicious.  Se+ therefore OK to plant near Trinity which is also Se+.  I think.
#3 isTrinity again.

I'm aiming for about one patch every 2 weeks until early or mid July.  Watching soil temp, it's been above 60 since early April and mostly above 70.  On sunny days, soil temp is up to 80,

A patch of corn in my garden is about 3 or 4 rows of 5 or 6 plants per row.  According to most advice, it's better to plant corn in patches instead of single rows, because pollination is less effective in long straight rows.

I may take some photos tomorrow and add to today's post.  It seems kind of drab without photos.

Tomatoes are growing rapidly.

Peppers don't look so great.

Eggplants are in between.

Okra looks sad.  I don't know if I will get it to grow and produce.

Potatoes look amazing, huge green lush plants.  I hilled them up with soil, to about 1 foot.

Favas in bloom.  5.9 16
Favas are full of flowers.  No beans set yet.

Squashes, pumpkins, and melons all planted.  Most are not yet to true leaves.