Friday, September 30, 2016

Kitchen Garden Harvest. Sweet Corn, Figs, Tomatoes. 9.30.16

Tomatoes and Brunswick Figs.  9.30.16

Bodaceous Sweet Corn.  9.30.16
It's been a spectacular year for me in the kitchen garden.  Not everything works out, but the things that do are great.

Now is the end of September, and still harvesting tomatoes, sweet corn, and figs.

There are lots of other veggies out there too - peppers, radishes, collards, and others.

This corn variety was Bodaceous.  It's great, nice thick juice in the kernels.   Tastes like sweet corn.  Mirai was overly sweet and not very corn-like, watery juice.  Bodaceous is so much better.

Planting Garlic. 9.30.16

Mostly Inchelium Red Garlic for planting.  9.30.16

Garlic, placed and ready to conver.  9.30.16
This is a good time to plant garlic.  I've planted earlier and later, and it all seems to work out OK.  Earlier seems to give bigger bulbs next year.

This is mostly Inchelium Red.  I try to find the biggest heads with the biggest heads. 

The location was sweet corn this summer.  Last year it was sweet corn and squash.  The year before it was squash.  Before that it was grass.

After this rotation, beans would be a good choice to build soil and as a different species.

In my experience, garlic does not need protection from herbivores.  Deer, rabbits, and voles avoid it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

More Pumpkins & Squashes. Persimmons. 9.28.16

Pumpkins and Squashes.  9.28.16
If there's a famine this winter and we have to live on pumpkins and squashes, here we are.  Here are some more that I harvested this week.   The big pumpkin is Golias Pumpkin, and the squash on my knee is a Pink Banana squash.  The flatter pumpkins are Rouge Vif D' Etampes Pumpkins, and the smaller squashes are Butternut and Spaghetti squashes.

Nikita's Gift persimmon is looking great.   Waiting for the rest to ripen.  Beautiful tree and beautiful fruit.

Saijo is not as attractive and doesn't have as many, but it looks like there will be a taste of that persimmon too.

Ripening Saijo Persimmons.  9.28.54

Nikita's Gift Persimmon.  9.28.16

Using Tomato Surplus - Skinning for Freezing. 9.28.16

Skinned Tomatoes, Ready to Use or Freeze.  9.28.16
Yet another way to use surplus tomatoes.  Preparing Romas to freeze as whole tomatoes is easy - just wash them off, cut off any bad spots.  Bring pot of water to boil.  Boil one minute - I timed it.  Then plunge them into ice water.  The ice water stops the cooking and prevents the inside from turning into tomato paste.  The skins slide off easily.  Some need a nick with a knife to get started, but other than that the process couldn't be easier.

I froze two freezer bags for future soups or tamales or other use.  I also sliced a bunch for tamales today. 

Tomato Blossom End Rot. 9.28.16

Roma Tomatoes with Blossom End Rot.  9.28.16

Roma Tomatoes with Blossom End Rot.  9.28.16
This is a good example of tomato blossom end rot.  I knew the soil was low in Calcium, having had it tested last year.  I did not get around to applying lime to this garden bed.  Not every tomato was affected, but this was about 1/3 of this crop of Romas. 

I cut off the bad end with about 1/2 inch margin, and cooked the good part.  The bad part goes to the chickens.

Meanwhile, this fall I should get a bag of dolomite lime.  Dolomite contains magnesium as well as calcium.  I have somewhat low magnesium, but the calcium is the main issue.  In the Pacific Northwest, calcium is leached by the constant winter rains.  Low calcium causes blossom end rot.  Inadequate watering, cold soils, and using high nitrogen fertilizer can also be an issue, and I should watch for those as well.  The main thing that I am aware of is that the calcium here is low.

Sutton Beauty Apples. 9.28.16

Sutton Beauty Apple.  9.28.16
 I picked these apples yesterday, the entirety of my Sutton Beauty Apples.  Considering I just grafted this to a rootstock in 2013, that's reasonable growth.  If I just get a taste, I'm happy.

As discussed in the post yesterday, Sutton Beauty is a historic apple.  From the book, Apples of North America by Tom Burford, "Sutton Beauty was found around 1757 by Stephen Waters of Sutton Massachusetts.".  I find it mind boggling, this apple was tasted by folks before the American Revolution, 257 years ago. 

These were what I think of as a classic old apple - a bit soft, mild apple flavor.  Good tasting and filling. They don't have the Honeycrisp knock-you-over crispy sweet tart zing that knocks you over, but still a good tasting apple.

Sutton Beauty Apples.  9.28.16
 These were probably too soft for pie.  I would stick to fresh eating.  They remind me a little of Golden Delicious in flavor and texture.

As a member of a multigraft tree, this apple is worthwhile and I will keep it on the tree.  We never know what next year will bring, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were 10 apples for this year's three, and that would be fine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Apple Varieties. 9.26.16

Here is a description of the apple varieties in my collection.  It looks like a lot of trees, but most are multigrafts, as many as 6 varieties per tree.  There are a few single variety trees as well.

Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:
 There are so many options with apples, it's hard to decide which to grow.  Some of the standards are grown for their ability to be shipped, and for their superficial appearance, not flavor.  However, that familiarity results in those varieties being market in the stores as apples and as trees.  Those are not necessarily, or even usually, the most desirable to grow.

Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:
 Some apple varieties are desirable because of their link to previous generations.  The varieties go back centuries.  With some, it's possible that Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson, or Queen Victoria enjoyed apples from that same variety (Newtown Pippin), a clone that can be grown in one's own yard.  Others were mainstays a century ago, but fell by the wayside because they weren't the best for market growing (Baldwin).

My choices have changed over the years, but have been guided by suitability for my yard (shape of tree, disease resistance) or by the attraction to taste apples that previous generations loved, or by amazing, unusual and delicious flavored apples that can't be bought in stores.
Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:

Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:
Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:
 The illustrations here came from the public domain website, and from USDA illustrations that were painted late in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Following is a status report on the current varieties in my little personal orchard.  There are many varieties, mostly young grafts on multigraft trees.

Columnar Trees.
Columnar apple trees descend from a mutant of McIntosh, which was discovered in Canada.  All columnar apple trees have at least a little McIntosh in their chromosomes, but that may be diluted by hybridizing over multiple generations.  Therefore, there are various colors and flavors.  I have the columnar trees near the house in my rock garden border, for their ornamental value.

1.  NorthPole.  I've had this tree for about 14 years.  I tried to find patent info, but have not located that.  It's been around long enough that it should be off patent, but may be trademarked.  So scion from the tree can be used in new grafting, but new trees can't be named "NorthPole".  Apples from this tree are described as "McIntosh-like", with sprightly apple flavor.  I like them.  They are sweet and make great pies.  Ripens late summer / early fall.

2.  Golden Sentinel.  Newer than NorthPole.  I bought this tree in 2013, had one or two apples in 2014 and a few in 2015.  This year there were a dozen.  Golden apples with significant red blush, very pretty.  Sprightly flavor, similar to NorthPole.   Earlier than NorthPole, mid to late summer.

3.  Scarlet Sentinel.  Same age and source as Golden Sentinel.  Also similar good apple flavor, color is more green with red blush.  Ripens with NorthPole, late summer / early fall.  I had one this week, late Sept.

Minidwarfs grown with M27 rootstock.

4.  Liberty.  About 13 years old.  Too bad it's on the M27, which stunts this tree.  Excellent flavor, tart and sweet and apple-flavor.  Beautiful dark red apples with white flesh.  Overbears, apples need a lot of thinning.   Smaller size, might be due to overbearing or the M27 rootstock.   Reliable and disease resistat.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Developed at the New York, Geneva Experiment station as a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, in 1943.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  HIghly resistant ro apple scab, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew,  and fireblight.  Flavor is enhanced by storage.   I like them right off the tree.  Manhart (Ref #4 below), gives the lineage of Liberty, which includes multiple great tasting historic apple varieties (Rome, Wealthy, McIntosh, Macoun), along with Malus floribunda, a crab apple that imparts disease resistance.

5.  Jonagold.  Also on M27, although I also have a young scion on a multigraft semidwarf.  Unfortunately, downwind from a gigantic neighbor tree that is filled with disease, the  tree equivalent of sitting in an airplane seat with someone coughing and sneezing in the seat behind you.  Susceptible to fireblight but recovers.  The handful of nonwormy apples I get are sweet / tart /  very delicious.  I think the negatives are due to the rootstock and the unfortunate location.  Triploid, so requires a pollenizer and does not pollenize in return.  I really love Jonagold apples, probably more than Honeycrisp or the newer patented types like Zestar.

6.  Jonared.  A sport of Jonathan.  The original Jonathan tree was in Woodstock New York, before 1826.  In theory, sports should be identical to the tree they came from, except for a selected change such as color.  However, if multiple generations of sports are selected for one trait, others deteriorate.  That is why the original Red Delicious is less red, and much better tasting, than modern Red Delicious.  I don't know if this is true for Jonared, which when I bought the tree was the only version of Jonathan I could find.  I planted this tree in 2013, and it has not fruited yet.  I think it's on regular dwarf (not minidwarf)  or semidwarf rootstock, but not certain of the actual rootstock. From Manhart (Ref #4 below), Jonathan "is one of the best all purpose apples, especially if one likes a tart taste."

7.  Porter.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  Per Fedco:  " Sherborn, MA, about 1800. Originated on the farm of the Reverend Samuel Porter. One of the most important of all New England apples, dating back to before 1800."  Good growth but too early for fruit, maybe next year. 
From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Historically valued as one of the great American pie apples.  Bright clear yellow skin blushed on sun exposed side, with crimson red spots.   Summer apple.
Jonathan.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1905.

8.  Granite Beauty.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  Per Fedco"Zephaniah Breed intro, Weare, NH, before 1860. Very large roundish red fruit. A rare dessert apple once in southern NH over and up into southern and coastal Maine. You might describe the flesh as having an initial burst of “warm spice” reminiscent of coriander or cardamom".  A little less vigorous than Porter, in my hands, so far.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  distinctively spicy, appeared around 1815 on farm of Zephaniah Breed.  Large round fruit, balance of sugar and acid.  From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below):  "Everything about the apple is unusual. " with flavor of cardamom and curry.  Slow growing. 

9.  Redfield.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  A novelty with reddish leaves, red flesh fruit but very sour.  Growth this year was poor with distorted leaves, I may cut off the graft soon.

10.  Priscilla.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  A modern PRI Variety.  PRI is the Purdue Rutgers Illinois cooperative apple breeding program, started in the 1940s, intended to produce high quality, highly disease resistant varieties of apples.  The disease resistance comes from having a sturdy disease resistant crab apple in its ancestry, and the excellent flavor comes from choosing good parents in each generation.  Good growth, maybe first fruit 2017 or 2018.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  HIghly resistant to scab, moderately resistant to fireblight.
Baldwin.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1911.

11.  Keepsake.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco. A parent of Honeycrisp, long keeping.  developed at the University of Minnesota.  Considered very high flavor but not pretty.  Growth less vigorous than some of my other grafts on this tree.

12.  Airlie Red Flesh.  The last variety added to the Jonared tree, this was from HOS in 2016.  I also added Airlie Red Flesh to another tree, Sutton Beauty, to be described below.  This apple was discovered growing on an Oregon farm in the 1960s, and to confuse matters more was used for the trademarked clone, "Hidden Rose".  In the blog, Adam's Apples, this apple is described as "a good sweet-tart balance and last to the end of the chew...  an astringent, vinous note, some generic citrus, a hint of citrus peel, and something lush and sweet that is very like fruit punch.".  Obviously, this being the first year of growth, no chance for me to taste it yet.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Describing Hidden Rose - Moderately resistant to the major diseases.  Crisp, sugary, richly flavored.

13.  Multigraft tree #2, bought from Raintree in 2014 as Rubinette, Queen Cox, and Pristine.  Queen Cox is described as a more colorful sport of the famous Cox's Orange Pippen, the classic and long time favorite English apple.  Queen Cox bore about 6 apples this year, nice big flavorful sweet apples with a little tartness, late summer.  Introduced 1975.  The original Cox's Orange Pippin was introduced in 1825.  Of the parent variety - which I can't vouch as being identical, but it's not much of a stretch - Jacobsen (Ref #3 below) states:  Originated in Colnbrook England, 1825.  Flavor like "ambrosia salad, pineapple, oranges, marshmallow, and coconut with lime sprinkle over the top", and flower petals.  My taste buds are not so refined, but I did find Queen Cox to be quite delicious.  From Manhart (Ref #4 below): There are various strains of Cox's Orange, with Queen Cox being one of the best. 

14.  Rubinette.  Introduced 1964.  So far I've only tasted 2 apples of this variety.  Neither was great.  Maybe it needs another year to develop full flavor.  The Cox's Orange Pippin website describes the flavor of this apple as exceptional.

15.  Pristine.  Introduced 1994 by the PRI program.  I've had a couple of apples, this year and last year.  Excellent, sprightly summer apple.  Considered disease resistant.  These were the first apples of the season, mid summer.  I really like this apple, one of my favorites, and it's very early to boot.

16.  Goldrush.  Developed 1973 by the PRI breeding program.  From Fedco scion, grafted 2016 onto Multigraft #2,  From FedcoThe first of the new disease-resistant varieties has superior storage qualities. Not only that, but it’s probably the best-tasting apple to come out of the PRI program... Medium-to-large round-conic fruit has uniform deep greenish-yellow opaque chewy skin that turns golden in storage. Creamy white green-flecked flesh is hard, very crisp, juicy and tart" a very long storing apple, for season extending far into the winter.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Outstanding keeper, sprightly flavor, developed at Purdue University in Indiana.  A cross of Golden Delicious and "Co-op 17".  Good for storage.

Porter.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1897.
17.  Hawkeye.  From HOS scion, grafted 2016 onto Multigraft #2.  This is the original Red Delicious, before selecting for increasingly larger and redder strains made Red Delicious into something like soft cardboard flavor.  Developed in Iowa in about 1870.  Not much growth  yet. but this is also not a great spot on the tree.  Might re-graft next year, or just leave it alone.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Discovered as a chance seedling by farmer Jesse Hiatt, in Peru Iowa, in 1880.  He cut it down twice before letting it grow, later entered the apples into a competition and from there it was bought by Starks Bros. nursery and renamed "Delicious".  The Hawkeye variety is thought to retain the original flavors, lost in subsequent strains. Somewhat resistant to fireblight.  Manhart (Ref #4 below) tells a long history of Red Delicious, including the original Hawkeye tree died in a major winter freeze in 1940.  Manhart states that newer dark red, spur bearing strains tend to runt out on modern rootstocks, and are picked too early, fed too much nitrogen, and stored too long in controled atmosphere.  I will be interesting to see if the Hawkeye scion produces an apple that I like.

18.  Multigraft #3.  Purchased from Raintree as a 5-variety multigraft and have not added more.  Planted 2014.  AkaneAlso called "Tokyo Rose", among other names.  "
'Akane' was developed by the Morika Experimental Station of Japan, introduced into the US in 1930.   A cross of Jonathan and Worcester Pearmain. Moderately good disease resistance.    No fruit yet.

19.  Multigraft #3.  Summerred. Started bearing this year, for a taste.  For an apple I had never heard of, and that Raintree had included in the graft without telling me, this was a great Summer apple. 
Jonathan.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1915.
Porter.  Source:  USDA pomological. 1912.
20. Multigraft #3  Summerred is beautiful to look at - scarlet skin, white flesh, with a little red bleeding into the flesh.  Introduced in 1964.  The flavor is sweet and spicy.  I think this will be a favorite.  Summerred is a modern hybrid of Golden Delicious X McIntosh, from British Columbia.

21. Multigraft #3  Chehalis.  A modern, yellow skin variety originating near Chehalis Washington in 1937.  Disease resistant, possibly a seedling of Golden Delicious.  One apple this year, I haven't tasted it yet.  Per Burford (ref 2 below), "A variety of choice for the low-spray and organic fruit grower."  Resistant to scab and powdery milder.  Slow to start bearing.  This graft bore one fruit this year, which I ate today.  The apple was very mild flavored, and too soft and mealy for my taste.  I may have left it on the tree too long.  I can try again next year and if I don't like it, prune off that branch.

22.  Multigraft #3 Beni Shogun.   Early ripening version of Fuji.  I did not see whether this was a Fuji seedling or sport.  No apples yet.

23.  Multigraft #3.  Finally, Jonagold was also included on this tree.  Convenient, since I like this variety and the minidwarf on M27 is not doing that well.

24.  Multigraft #4.  This originated as the first apple tree that I grafted at a Home Orchard Society grafting class in 2012.  The first variety was Sutton Beauty.  I've been adding others in subsequent years.  Ate the first Sutton Beauty this year - large,but a bit tart for my taste.  I didn't care for the flavor, but it may not have been fully ripened.  According to, "Sutton's Beauty Apples were developed in 1848 in Sutton, Massachusetts, USA, possibly from a seedling of Hubbardston apples...grown commercially in New York State around 1900".  I'll let it grow for a couple more years, and if good, keep it.  Otherwise it has a growing graft of Airlie Red Flesh that can replace the Sutton Beauty.

25.  Multigraft #4.  Baldwin, grafted 2016, Fedco scion.  One of the classic New England Apples until an unusually frigid winter in 1934 damaged many orchards.  Then McIntosh replaced Baldwin.  From wikipedia, "According to S. A. Beach's Apples of New York, the Baldwin originated soon after 1740 as a chance seedling on the farm of Mr. John Ball of Wilmington, Massachusetts".   From Fedco:  "not practical commercially due to biennialism but the only apple that is both disease and insect resistant.” Massachusetts’ most famous apple where it grows to perfection."   Baldwin is triploid, so requires a pollenizer and does not pollenize in return.  The triploidy also makes this a vigorous cultivar.

Gravenstein.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1909
26.  Multigraft #4.  Newtown Pippin.  One of the most famous histric apple varieties, this apple was shipped to Queen Victoria who liked it so much she had the tariff removed on US Apples for this variety.  From Fedco:  "Early 18th c, near Newtown, Long Island, NY. Known as Albemarle Pippin in Virginia. Renowned dessert, culinary and cider apple. In 1817 William Coxe called it “the finest apple of our country, and probably of the world.”  This is the apple in Martinelli sparkling cider.  By growing and eating this apple, one can taste the same apple as Queen Victoria, and Ben Franklin.  
From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Can store until March or April.  Suscebtible to the major apple diseases.  Bears in late fall.   From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below): "Somewhat sugary and very acid, with a bracing lemony flavor and a green-tea note from the skin".  I bought some of these at a farmer's market last year.  Did not appreciate those flavors, but to be fair I used them for pie.  Good pie, too.  Jacobsen tells an intriguing history of the Newtown Pippin, worth reading.

26.  Multigraft #4.  I grafted Jonagold as an alternative branch, but having the same variety on Multigraft #3, I think I'll overgraft with something else.  From Manhart (Ref #4 below), Jonagold is triploid, so requires a pollenizer and does not pollenize in return.

27.  Multigraft #5.   Wincecrisp, semidwarf.  From Burnt Ridge Nuersery, I bought Winecrisp to be the base tree for an additional multigraft.  Planted in 2015, so no taste yet and growth was minimal during the first year.  Winecrisp is another PRI disease resistant variety, originally grown from seed in 1969.  

28.  Multigraft #5.  Milo Gibson.  From Fedco, grafted onto the Winecrisp base tree 2016.  This scion was small and the tree is first year bare root, so growth was minimal.  Deer ate one bud but one bud remains.  I have better fencing in place, maybe it will grow next year.  Fedco not offering Milo Gibson this year.  From the SaltSpringAppleCo website:  Gibson discovered this fine apple as a chance seedling, likely somewhere in Oregon. He named it Linnton, after a Portland neighbourhood and the apple won favour among aficionados. NAFEX [North American Fruit Explorers] renamed it in 1975, following Mr. Gibson's death... uniquely sweet, licorice-flavoured apple, likely quite different from any other you’ve tasted. "
Gravenstein.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1905
29.  Multigraft #5.  Sweet-16.  A more recent introduction from University of Minnesota, not patented.  From Fedco, grafted 2016.   Per the Fedco description, "Fine-textured crisp flesh contains an astounding unusually complex combination of sweet, nutty and spicy flavors with slight anise essence, sometimes described as cherry, vanilla or even bourbon...  Round-conic bronze-red medium-sized fruit, striped and washed with rose-red."  This may be 2 or years before I have a taste.  The scion growth was minimal, so I intend to add another this winter. 
From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below):  "An absolute delight to eat... one of the triumphs of the university breeding programs" and "a misty explosion of melon and bubblegum... a kindred spirit to the watermelon".  He also mentions notes of anice, boourbon, and cherry life savers.  I don't know if any apple can live up to those flavors, but I do want to try it.

30.  Finally, the last of the current trees, not in the ground yet.  Gravenstein.  I bought this tree locally in the end of season, container tree sale at a local nursery.  I've tasted Gravenstein apples, which were remarkably tasty.  Again, info from Fedco: 
"Thought to be of 17th c. Italian or German origin. ... Tender crisp aromatic richly flavored juicy firm tart flesh"  So this variety existed before the United States existed, and we can taste fruits that were grown before the birth of George Washington.   From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below):  Per legend, first grown in the town of Gravenstein Denmark in 1669, although others claim it was brought form Italy to Gravenstein on that year.  Jacobsen waxes eloquent about this apple, making it seem like food of the gods, but ephemeral, does not store well at all.  From Manhart (Ref #4 below):  Very vigorous, but requires many years to bear fruit.  Susceptible to most apple diseases - but the local trees I have observed were huge, and healthy.  Very popular in my area, NW Oregon and SW Washington, west of the Cascade volcano range.  Triploid, so requires other pollenizers and does not pollenize them back - not a problem on my multigrafted trees.

I already ordered scion from Fedco to be shipped in March.  This time much less, I know I already have more than I can keep track of.  The orders are for King David, Opalescent, and an additional scikon of Sweet -16 because that graft didn't grow much this year.  

King David"thought to be to Jonathan x Arkansas Black. Washington County, AR, 1893. Intensely flavored dessert apple...  an explosion of flavors. You may wince, or even see stars. Pineapple, tangerine, lemon, sweet, sour, tart, sharp, aromatic and spicy all rush around simultaneously. The medium-sized roundish fruit is very dark solid maroon—nearly black."    From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Good storage quality.  Whitish-yellow flesh subacid and slightly sweet.  Introduced by Stark Bro's Nursery in 1902. 

Opalescent:  " Ohio, 1899. Highly flavored dessert apple for the connoisseur. Biting into the very large brilliant deep red fruit will bathe your tongue with flavor. Crisp, sweet, tart, juicy—but most of all it’s supremely flavorful. From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Found by George Hudson in 1880.  Creamy yellow flesh with crisp sweet flavor.  Very susceptible to fireblight.  That last might be an issue.

I have a small Honeycrisp on M27 that is half-grafted to Liberty.  It's tiny, I think Honeycrisp doesn't have as much vigor as some of the others.  I may use that as scion on one of the larger multigrafts, this winter. 

I know this is a lot of apple varieties.  With multiple varieties on each tree, I may only get a bowl full of each, each year.  That's fine, and it's all I want.   Not every variety will do well, and some have on-years and off-years.  Even a branch on a multigraft can have a lot of apples.  With so many varieties in a small space, even within the same trees, the trees are self pollinating, ensuring good fruit set.   If a variety doesn't do will, I can prune it off, giving the space and vigor to the others on the same tree.  Grafting is lots of fun.  Scion is either inexpensive (Fedco, $5 per scion which gives one or 2 grafts), or free (Home Orchard Society, or obtain from others of my on trees or a willing neighbor).

There are some excellent references with historical and cultural information, and taste and fruit descriptions.  here are a few:

(1) Fedco in Maine.
(2) The book,  Apples of North America by Tom Burford.   Descriptions of 192 varieties.
(3) The book, Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen.    Descriptions of 123 varieties.
(4)  The book, Apples for the 21st Century, by Warren Manhart.  Descriptions of 50 superior apple cultivars.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Making Use of Extra Tomatoes. Tomato Sauce. 9.24.16

Tomatoes Harvested 9.24.16

SunnyBoy Tomatoes Chopped and Korean Red Pepper Added.  9.24.16
 I continue learning how to do things that turn out to be very simple.  Then I wonder, why did it take me so long?

This time it was tomato sauce.  After waiting all summer long for a taste of home grown tomatoes, there are now too many to eat fresh.  With considerable inspiration from my friend Rich, I decided to make tomato sauce.

This is simple.  Other than some peppers from the kitchen garden, nothing was added.  I will add garlic, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper to taste when I use the sauce.

The tomatoes were chopped.  Ditto for a few peppers.  In this case a Korean hot pepper.

Place in pan.  Heat to gentle boil.  The cell walls break down quickly, and gradually the tomatoes break down leaving a thick juice  and skins.  Simmer until volume decreases by about half.

I cooled a little, then poured into food processor to puree the skins along with the remaining tomato flesh.

About 15 Minutes into the Simmering.  9.24.16

Tomatoes and Home Made Tomato Sauce.  9.24.16
Then poured into jar to cool.  When cool, I transferred into freezer baggies to freeze.  Some went into the fridge to use in a couple of days.

I don't know yet how to can, and prefer to avoid botulism so may never can.  But freezing works well for a lot of foods, and gives us some summer sun during the gloomy rainy days of winter.

Friday, September 23, 2016

First Persimmons, "Nikita's Gift". 9.23.16

Persimmons "Nikita's Gift".  9.23.16
These are the first of the "Nikita's Gift" hybrid Asian-American persimmons.  A few fell from the tree, these are the best of those.  Most remain on the tree and are still unripe.

I'm leaving them in a bag with apples for a few days, to ripen.  There was a fourth persimmon, drier and more wrinkly, that I opened and spooned out the soft inner fruit, non-astringent and sweet but dry, probably because it fell prematurely from the tree and ripened on the ground, in the sun.

Saijo persimmons are also beginning to show ripe color.  It's a gradual start, but after 4 years of growth and nurturing, it appears that persimmons can be grown and produce fruit in this area.  Very rewarding.

Transplanting Milkweed Plants. Asclepias syriaca. 9.23.16

Milkweed Asclepius syriaca.  7.4.16
Asclepias syriaca is a fragrant native flower that goes by the names, common milkweed, butterfly flower, silkweed, among others.   Honeybees love them, as do many other pollenizing and nectar collecting insects.  They are fragrant and have distinctive balls of soft pink flowers on a tropical, rubber-tree looking perennial plant.  They are native to prairies, and considered weedy by some but attractive to others. 

These plants were grown from seeds, planted in early 2015 and planted in my fig tree row.  Some bloomed this year, especially the ones in sunnier locations.  I wanted to plant a few in the rock garden border, which is very sunny and will show them off better.

Milkweed Asclepius syriaca.  7.4.16
 Most of the web info states that milkweed is not transplantable.  They need to be grown from seeds, or in containers to be planted when small.  However, these plants were not in an ideal location, and were too close together.  This may be a good time to transplant, now that they have finished growing for the year, have collected their nutrients and stored them in the rhizomatous roots, and the hottest parts of summer are long gone.

A few hours ahead of digging, I watered generously to loosen up the dry soil.  Then I cut a wide circle under the plant, and dug under it, lifting it out carefully.  The soil fell away, leaving healthy-looking roots.
Milkweed Asclepius syriaca.  7.4.16

The pictured roots were the best looking of the three plants that I moved.  The other two had much less root mass.  I quickly re-planted and watered them in, and mulched.  They are tied so that they don't fall over and pull the roots out of the soft soil

They don't look like much.  It will be interesting to see if they grow next year.  I think they will be OK.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Update. 9.21.16

Buffalo Grape.  9.21.16

Rock Garden Perennial Border.  9.21.16
 I've been trying to work through some hardware issues, which resulted in decreased posting.  I don't usually carry my good camera around while working in the garden, because I tend to damage delicate equipment.  The Apple equipment is a few years old (I-phone and I-pad) and I've found that Apple equipment does not age well.  In addition, back-compatibility of program updates is poor, and Apple inc is too overbearing with their treatment of users, so I've been de-appling my computer life. 

Things are starting to come together again, on my old Windows-based laptop.  Meanwhile, I've been removing hardscaping from the old place in prep for eventual sale, mainly a koi pond that presented a child hazard.  I'm not a young man any more, so hauling wheel barrows of rocks has taken a month, and it's not done yet.

With cooler weather, I renovated the worst of the house perennial borders at the Battleground house.
Border, with labels.  9.21.16

 That renovation involved - removal of thistles and wild mustard, both of which have been tenacious and invasive.  I laid down newspaper or cardboard, torn such that water can seep through, but hoping that weeds and grasses will mostly be smothered.  I removed most of the bearded irises  - ugly about 90% of the year, and too welcoming to grass weeds.  I planted divided sedums, sempervivums that I had been growing in old iris beds as a ground cover, kept daylilies and divided some, kept helleborus and some sedum in place, planted crocosmia that I divided from the old place, moved poppy roots, with dormant top, and added lambs ears - Stachys byzantina, and echinacea varieties, both of which were on the almost-dead table at Fred Meyer and Home depot, on deep sale.  These were root bound, so I cut off the winding roots, cut slits into the root ball, planted and watered in.  They perked up and look much better now.  I deep-mulched with tree arborist chips.   The border still needs some river-rock for the edge / pathway, but is almost done.

The goal is a bed with very reduced maintenance, mostly drought tolerant plants but that respond to some care, mostly deer and rabbit tolerant plants, at a very low cost.  The only new plants were deep sale with some need for TLC.

Sourdough Pizza with peppers, cayennes, and onions.  9.21.16
Meanwhile, with so many tomatoes and peppers, I've been trying to find ways to eat them.  This sourdough pizza came out pretty good.   The sourdough crust used my usual starter, with just flour, water, and salt, no other additives.  These are Nikita peppers (green) and cayennes (red) - really tasty.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Late Summer in the Kitchen Garden, 9.3.16

Lots of Peppers, tomatoes, and some okra.  Very happy with the yields this season.

Radishes, Chinese Cabbage, Daikon and Chinese Radishes.  Planted late July in space left when storage onions and potatoes were harvested.

Turnips, radishes, broccoli, and kohlrabi.  These need thinning now.

Okra plants still looking good.  Yield is not high, but a lot better than nothing.

Perennial Seedlings. 9.3.16

So far, we have germination of most of the hibiscus, a few Echinacea, and a few Asclepius.  Lychnis and Rudbeckia may have some germinating seeds, or they may be weeds.  Interesting to watch.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Pumpkins, Squashes, Indian Corn. 9.2.16

Fall rains have started, so  I a starting to harvest winter squashes,pumpkins, and Indian corn
The squashes in top photo are Spaghetti squash, 

The yellow squash is a spaghetti squash.  There are any more.  The pink warty pumpkins are Galeux D'Eysines.  The small orange one is the smallest of Rouge Vif D'Etampes

Some of the painted Mountain Indian Corn.  So beautiful.

The big pumpkin is Golias.  there is also a smaller one.

One of the Pink Banana squashes and one of the Rouge Vif D'Etampes pumpkins.  The stems are not yet woody so I didn't harvest yet.