Sunday, December 21, 2014

Perfect Gardener's Gift. 12.21.14

Muck Boots.  12.21.14
This was a gift from me, to me.  I saw them on another gardening website.  I did not write down which one.

I've been wearing neoprene winter boots.  They crack, I repair them, they crack, I repair them.  I've used bicycle inner tube repair kits, and duct tape, and Gorilla tape.  They just crack and leak again.  Water soaks in.  My feet and socks are muddy and soaked.  I also wear hiking boots.  The water soaks in and my feet are again, muddy and soaked.

First wearing, these Muck boots were awesome.  Sturdy, thick, nice lining, comfortable, warm.  I can't promise they won't crack, but they seem a lot better made.

I love the Pacific Northwest.  I hope the boots will help me love it more.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Moving Volunteers and Tree / Shrub Starts 12.19.14

No photos - raining and didn't want to damage camera.

This week I found more suckers in the lilac hedge.  Dug them out for starts at the battleground place.  About 18 inches to 2 foot tall.

There was a hazelnut by the house, same size range.  Moved that, too.

Near the Vancouver house is a stand of Staghorn Sumac.  I found 2 clumps in the 2 foot tall range and moved them.

Free plants are good.  These are locally proven, locally adapted.  The seedlings increase genetic diversity.  They are organic.  Not fuel spent going to store to buy them.

Reading about sumac, some sources state they are deer food, other state deer don't browse them.  I have one sumac tree, different variety, that was partially tasted by deer, then apparently left alone.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thomas Jefferson on the ideal garden. 12.18.14

"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest a continued one through the year." 

--- Thomas Jefferson (August 20, 1811, to Charles W. Peale)

(Image of Monticello via

Persimmon Daydreaming. 12.18.14

American Persimmon.  Image source commons.wikimedia,org

American persimmon.  Image source
I've been thinking about adding an American persimmon tree.  I have a location in mind.

There are a few varieties described as not needing a male to pollinate them.  Yates, Prok, Meader.   Time to bear is listed as 3 to 5 years.

The varieties at Starks are 1 to 2 feet tall, in air pots.  Those are containers with open bottom, so the roots are "air pruned" resulting in bushier root mass and considered more likely to survive.  That size is small to my mind.  I have grown other trees from smaller, however.

Burnt Ridge also carries persimmon trees.  I sent them an email asking size, time to bear.

I only want to try one tree.  Yates or Prok are options.  Yates has more of a flavor description, Prok has more claim about how much they bear, and larger fruit.  Those are not side to side comparisons.

Starks gives ideal planting time as early march.  Will think about it some more.

We bought Asian persimmons at the grocery store the past couple of weeks.  Hichaya was much better than Fuyu.  Fuyu are more common.  They are better if allowed to ripen until soft.  They are like a tropical fruit flavor, a jelly in a fruit skin.

Germination Testing. Beans and Okra. 12.18.14

Clemson Spineless Okra Seeds.  3 years old.  8/10 Germinated.  12.18.14

Roma II bean seeds.  3 years old.  7/9 germinated.  12.18.14
This is the end of the germination test.

Two to three year old seeds.

Okra Cajun Jewel remained at 9 of 10 seeds germinated.

Okra Lee remained at 1 of 10 seeds germinated.

Okra Clemson Spineless increased to 8 of 10 germinated.

Bean Roma II increased to 7 of 9 germinated.

Pretty good germination rates overall.  I only need a couple of each okra, to test them, and only a couple row of the beans.

This was a quick test.  The rate might be higher if giving a few more days.

It's way to early to grow these.  I added the sprouts to the compost bin.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Germination testing before ordering. 12.16.14

Okra seed packets showing water damage.  12.16.14

Okra Cajun Jewel at one day of germination.  12.16.14

Okra Lee at one day of germination.  12.16.14
 I think it's a good idea to check last year's seeds for germination, before ordering others of the same variety this year.  Not that I heeded my own advice.

Still, I wanted to see if some of the varieties I had but didn't try last year, had potential for this year.

Last spring I spilled water on the envelope holding the seed packets.   I let it dry at ambient room conditions.   Some of the packets are water stained.  I thought that might doom the seeds.

Sunday pm, I placed 10 seeds each of these 3 varieties in small jars, with shallow water.  Monday morning I transferred the seeds to damp paper towels, and placed them in zip-lock bags on seed starting warmer mat.

Now, tuesday am, here is the early result.

Cajun Jewel:  9/10 germination.
Lee:  2/10 germination.
Clemson Spineless.  1/10 germination.

I think it's still very early.  Very surprised at those Cajun Jewel.

I also placed Roma beans, packed for 2012, on damp paper towel, in ziplock, without presoak.  So far, there is 1/10 germination.  I think it's very early.

Okra Clemson Spineless at 1 day of germination.  12.16.14
Roma beans at 1 day of germination.  no presoak.  12.16.14

Monday, December 15, 2014

Plum Scions for 2015. 12.15.14

Botanical - Educational plate - Fruit - Drupes eductational plate (1902)
Image source:

I went ahead and placed an order to Fedco. Apple scion as in previous post. Each will be a branch on a multigrafted tree, so I don't need room for more trees.  And so there is a range of ripening times, so I don't suddenly get more fruit of a particular type, than we can use, and waste  them.   Also the following plum varieties:

"Ember.  Late Summer. (Prunus salicina Shiro x P. americana var) 1936... red-blushed fruit...Rich yellow juicy sweet flesh is very firm and meaty but tender.... Tastes and looks like an apricot...

La Crescent. Late Summer. (Prunus salicina Shiro x P. americana Howard Yellow) 1923.... thin-skinned yellow fruit is sometimes blushed with a little pink. Tender yellow juicy fle...aromatic and suggestive of apricots...

South Dakota. Late Summer. SD 27. Prunus americana unknown parentage. 1949... tough yellow skin with bright red blush. Medium-firm yellow flesh is meaty, juicy, sweet... very long flowering period... pollinator for all hybrid plums...developed before 1907.

Hanska. Summer. (Prunus americana x P. simonii) 1908. Medium-sized bright red fruit with a heavy bluish bloom. Firm fragrant yellow semi-freestone flesh. When cooked, the fruit has a strong apricot-like flavor reminiscent of its Chinese “apricot plum” parentage. "

All info is from the Fedco catalog,  edited for brevity.  It seems like a lot.  On the other hand, how much does 1 plum, or 1 apple, cost at the grocery store?   Each scion is $5.  If these take, each grafted branch can give a couple dozen a year, for potentially many years.  They are intended to give a diversity of size, shape, flavor, color, and ripening times.  The main trend here is 3 with apricot flavor.  I hope they are much more adaptable to this area, compared to apricots.  Toka has some of that too.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Final Seed Order. 12.12.14

 Art - American - Print - American Farmer

 Today was the final seed order for next year.  This batch was via / Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Beautiful catalog, amazing selections of open pollinated, often heritage varieties of vegetables and flowers.  I ordered almost as much to support the company, as to buy the seeds.  Again, emphasis is on short season, or cool summer varieties, or ones that emphasize flavor and look possible in this cool maritime climate.

Jing Orange Okra - 60 days, very pretty looking plant.  Not many seeds for the price, but it only takes a couple.  I am trying several okra varieties again.

Melrose Pepper - Italian variety, sweet.  I have plenty of left over hot pepper seeds, but my stomach doesn't  handle them now.

Crookneck-Early Golden Summer Squash - love summer squash and it will be fun to have something other than Zucchinis to share.

Gelber Englischer Custard Squash - ditto.

Jumbo Pink Banana Squash - nostalgia variety.  My great aunt gave me seeds and they were so productive, made great pumpkin pies.  Listed as good for this region. 

Petite Mix Marigold - I've grown this one before.  Nice, maybe the marigold scent will repel animals.

Alaska Mix - Nasturtium - I've grown this one before.  I wonder if it will be pest resistant, with the peppery leaves.  I can't see buying annuals when a packet of seeds goes much much further for much less money.

Most of the vegetables will only be a couple of plants per packet.   This will be the rest of my "test garden" - see which ones do better for me.

Image source:

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Hollywood Plum Cuttings. 12.9.14

Hollywood Plum Cuttings, Root Growth.  12.9.14

Hollywood Plum Saplings.  12.9.14
Today I dug up the remaining Hollywood Plum cuttings.  These were hardwood cuttings taken, I think, in April.  They were treated with rooting hormone then stuck into the soil in the tomato bed.  They did not receive any special treatment, other than what the tomatoes needed.

I did the same with Shiro plum.  None grew.  And with an ornamental quince - not sure if any grew, need to check again.

I potted them up.  I don't know what I will do with 6 new plum trees.  Two have bud grafts of Shiro.  It's a wait until Spring to see if those take.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The effect of compost. Kitchen garden winter prep. 12.7.14

Untreated soil vs. soil with 2 1/2 years of compost and TLC.

Garden gold.  Chick house cleanings for the kitchen garden.
 Today I did some cleanup and winter prep for next Spring.  I don't like seeing the raised beds full of dead tomato and pepper plants and weeds and bean stalks.

Several of the raised beds have settled significantly.  I topped the off with soil from this raised bed.  That used 2/3 of the bed's soil.  The other 1/3 is perennial - Chinese chive, which I consolidated from this raised bed and another.

The difference is soil appearance is dramatic.  The native soil, on the left, is what the enriched soil, on the right, looked like 2  1/2 years ago.  The difference is 2 /12 years of adding chicken house compost, leaves, kitchen scrap compost, worm compost, coffee grounds....

I filled partially full with yard soil, then mixed in a wheelbarrow full of chicken house cleanings.  That is a year old, but dry so not composted.  Too rich to use immediately.  This being December, there will be 5 or 6 months to mellow before use.  Plan for this area is bush beans.

I also added a cup of lime based on last year's soil test result showing low pH and low calcium.

Then I topped off with more yard soil, then more chicken house cleanings.  Let the earthworms and bacteria and fungi do their thing now. 

Several of the beds are cleaned up now.  When spring comes, prep for planting will need minimal effort.

The other thing that needs to be done for these beds is better animal fencing.  That is another project for this winter.

For the beds that I topped off, I removed the larger, tougher plant stems to go into the compost heap.  I covered the cardboard/grass clipping mulch with a layer of improved soil.  No major digging, the soil is already well aerated and rich.
Cleanup half done.  12.7.14

My kitchen garden in winter.  12.7.14