Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Eggs. 11.22.16

The hens had stopped producing, so we fired up the light timer in their hen house.  Now they are on 14 hours days again, and producing eggs.  The white egg is from a leghorn.  Small hen, big eggs. I bet that one hurt.  The smallest is from an Ameraucana.  This is her first egg.  Most of the rest are Rhode Island Red or mixed heritage hens.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Planting a Dawn Redwood, Metasequia glyptostroboides. 11.17.16

Dawn Redwood with ball/burlap/clay removed.  11.17.16

Close up of Root Ball.  My finger touches a girdling root that will be removed.
 Today we planted a Dawn Redwood Metasequia glyptostroboides tree.  Dawn redwoods are deciduous conifers, related to Bald Cyprus and redwood trees.  They were known in the fossil record long before living trees were found in Southeast China.

I wanted to plant a tree for a memorial for my aging dogs.  Planting a tree gives me peace of mind and a focus for my thoughts.

To the best of my ability, I followed the bare-rooting method described by Linda Chalker-Scott of WSU.  I had done that before with a Gravenstein apple tree in full leaf, so far so good.  It looks radical, but the logic is sound.  This tree was in last week's shipment at Portland Nursery, balled and burlaped and placed in container with compost yesterday.  Because it was so recently dug, there has been no chance for roots to fill throughout the container.  It looks scary, seeing so few roots, but this feels like a good chance to catch it before roots grow in bad directions, setting the tree up for future girdling and early failure to thrive, or death.

As Chalker-Scott notes, fall planting is an excellent time to plant trees.  They have the remainder of the fall rainy season, plus late winter and early spring,  to add feeder roots, before starting to produce leaves next year.

When I removed the ropes and burlap, most of the clay just fell off.  I hosed off the rest.  This is the tree inside that pot, that you can't see unless you remove the burlap and wash of the roots.  It looks so drastic.  I've planted lots of fruit trees that were as drastic looking, and they did great.  So I think this is OK.
The girdling root is removed.

Holding another deformed root that crosses through others.  I removed that one too.
 Three photos illustrate the root pruning that I did.  Even though it seems this tree already has almost no roots, I removed the ones that looked like they might lead to future troubles, such as girdling.  One appeared to have auto-grafted onto another.  I removed the smaller of the two.

In the end, my root removal was very minimal.

I also followed other recommendations by Chalker-Scott.  Her two books, "The Informed Gardner" series, are the best that I have read.  In this case, I planted the tree much more shallowly than the burlap would have indicated.  It was too deep.  All  of the roots are fully buried, but the root flare is still at the soil level.

Second, I did not amend the soil with anything extraneous.  The tree has nothing between it and the native soil.  The roots are in full contact with the soil that will nourish and support the tree.  As I discussed with the Gravenstein tree, I also did not want to attract moles and voles to this tree, which I suspect to be an issue if I include compost additives in the soil.

This is the area that I cleared of blackberry brambles and some fallen Douglas Hawthorn trees, over the past couple of weeks.  The soil has been nourished by fallen blackberry leaves, rotting brambles, and tree leaves, for unknown number of years.  But even if that was not the case, I would not be adding compost or other amendments to the soil.

I did tie support to the tree, very loosely.  The intent is not to prevent swaying, but to keep it from falling over if there is excessive weather.  The main thing holding the tree in place, is the soil and root interaction.
The tree is planted about 6" shallower than the burlap was.

There were daffodils on sale at Home Depot.  I planted a wide circle outside of the planting hole area.  Those are for my benefit, but I like to think the bulbs deter underground rodents. There is no proof, that I know of, that daffodils do that.

Ning with the tree.  He's about 5'10".  Temporary deer fencing.
 Finally, I provided hardware cloth vole protection, and fencing deer protection.

This week I will also add some wood chip mulch, and check the support.  The rope is very loose, by intent.  This makes me a bit nervous, with such a tall tree - about 8 foot.  However, the trunk is thin and the top is not very heavy.  I've had posts that were heavier and not any deeper, and they stayed in place just fine.

As an after thought, I looked at those pruned roots and wondered if Metasequoia can produce shoots from roots.  I can't find any such info on the internet, but there are trees that grow from root cuttings.  So I planted those in my ginkgo seed raised bed.  If they grow, fine.  If they don't, nothing lost.

I think this will be a beautiful and healthy tree. 
Prunings saved for root cuttings experiment.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Planting Ginkgo Seeds. 11.14.16

Planting ginkgo seeds.  11.14.16
I decided to plant the ginkgo seeds that I collected without cleaning off the punguent seed coat.  It's not that difficult, but I just wanted to get them planted.

These are from 2 female trees about 3 miles apart from my part of Vancouver WA.  They are different source from the ones that I obtained 3 years ago.  The aim is for genetic diversity.

Most references state the seeds need to be cleaned before planting.  I don't know why.  Maybe they will grow, maybe not.

I am planting directly in the kitchen garden, no refridgeration or scarification.

Kitchen Garden. Turnips. 11.14.16

We have some nice turnips waiting in the kitchen garden.  These are "Ideal Purple Top Milan" from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I also grew the more standard Purple Top turnips, which are not as big but very good.

Turnips, Chinese Radish, Sunchokes, are all good for roasting, stir fry, and slicing thin for snacking.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kitchen Garden. Sunchokes and Chinese Radishes. 11.11.17

Green Luobo Chinese Radish.  11.11.17

Sunchokes.  11.11.17
Even though I don't do much in the vegetable beds, they continue to provide interesting crops for cool weather use.  The Chinese Green Luobo Radishes, planted late summer, finally plumped up very nicely.  The Jerusalem Artichokes / Sunchokes were growing in an out of the way spot.  They were planted, I think, in 2014 and I gave up on them because either deer or rabbits ate the plants.  This year two big Jerusalom Artichoke plants grew in that spot, and here is the harvest today from one of those.  Tasty, crisp, a little peppery.  Nice.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Saijo Persimmons. 11.9.16

Saijo Persimmons, with Nikita's Gift for Comparison.  11.9.16

Saijo Persimmon.  11.9.16
I placed Saijo Persimmons into a plastic box with apples for ripening, for a few days.  They are now very soft and sweet with no atringency at all.  Nice flavor.  I think I like the Nikita's Gift better, but if I had not tried those, I would like the Saijo a lot.

Only 8 persimmons on the Saijo tree, but that's OK.  This is my first taste of this variety and this is the first year of any persimmons in my orchard.  Very nice.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Nikita's Gift Persimmons. 11.4.16

Nikita's Gift Persimmons.  11.4.16
About 10 days ago, maybe less, I cut these persimmons from the tree.  They were firm and fully colored, although not as red as now.  I placed them in a plastic bag with 3 apples for ripening.  Now they are as soft as a slightly overripe tomato. 

I sliced in half and scooped out the jelly-like contents with a spoon, eating like a small cup of pudding.  Excellent sweet flavor, with a spicy element similar to clove or cinnamon. 

So now I know, at least these persimmons can be grown and ripen in my cool summer, short season Southwest Washington State climate.  So good.

There are some Saijo to follow.   A little behind Nikita's Gift, but not by much.