Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fruit tree bloom times. 2.11.16

Sweet Treat Pluerry Buds.  2.11.16
Current bloom status on fruit trees.

Big fat buds.  Sweet treat pluerry, Hollywood plum, Methley Asian plum, unknown variety of Asian plum.

Fuzzy buds but not showing petal color.  Peaches, Charlotte, Q18/Salish.  Leaf buds of Saijo and Nikita's Gift persimmons.

We are not as far ahead as I had worried.  Last year, full bloom for plums was March 7th.  We might be 2 or 3 weeks early this year.

This will be a good year to see if the Asian/American hybrid plums bloom later than the all-Asian plum varieties.

Euro plums, cherries, pawpaws, apples, most pears, no or minimal bud swell so far.

What's blooming. 2.11.16

Epiphyllum NOID cactus in bud.  2.11.16

Helleborus.  2.11.16
 In february there isn't much blooming here.

In the sunroom, an epiphyllum I picked up for a dollar or two, a couple of years ago at Home Depot.  I didn't know or expect for it to bloom, but there are the flower buds.

Some of the Epiphyllum orchids are blooming in the sunroom.

Helleborus are blooming around the yard.  This one was a volunteer seedling I moved last year from the old yard.
Dendrobium.  2.11.16

Dendrobium.  2.11.16

More Arborist Wood Chips. Bearded Irises. 2.11.16

Another pile of arborist chips.   2.11.16
 I heard the heavy equipment noise down the street and went to check it out.  An arborist was removing the top 15 feet or so from a long tall hedge of Leyland cyprus.  I offerred my driveway as a way to dispose of the chips, which he otherwise needs to pay to get rid of.  So here is another pile of chips.

We have a large area to mulch.  We'll get through them in a month.

I also weeded the bearded iris beds.  Weeds were minimal this time.  The irises have broken dormancy and are growing strong, although that happens each year, then there is extensive leaf spot and bacterial rot, which is frustrating.  Reading multiple sources, they state don't mulch them, that promotes rot.
Mulched Iris Beds.  2.11.16

But they were not mulched for years, and the diseases were a big problem.  I am experimenting now.  Last summer I applied an arborist chip mulch, and they grew very well with, I think, much less disease.

My working theory is the chips are open enough to prevent sogginess, they dry quickly.  Maybe - maybe - the evergrees contain substances that reduce fungal and bacterial diseases.  By applying on top of the soil, rains do not splash spores onto the plants.  If not, and they all die, that's OK - 3 years is long enough to try and be frustrated.  Darwin at work, survive or be replaced.

More chips will go onto the strawberries, and we have a lot of perennial borders and other places in need of the weed suppression and water retention effects during the summer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Allium Family Perennial Vegetables. 2.10.16

Chive Beds and New Raised Bed.  2.10.16
 All of the overwintering Allium family perennial vegetables are growing.

The 2 raised beds of garlic chives broke dormacy last week, now 2 to 2 inches of growth. 

I priced these concrete blocks today at Home Depot.  They were 99 cents each.  I think they are less expensive than the wooden beds, will last longer, and are easier to assemble.  I don't know about thermal properties.  The corners have openings that would be good for posts.
Garlic Chives.  2.10.16

Chives.  2.10.15
Garlic Raised Bed.  2.10.16
Egyptian Walking Onions.  2.10.16
Standard chives are growing fast.

Garlic is showing great growth.  My subjective estimate is the garlic in the raised bed is about  twice as big as the garlic in the ground, probably due to warmer temperature although the soil mix could also be better.

Egyptian Walking Onions are also growing nicely.  I protected them from deer and rabbits this year.  There was still evidence of something foraging - maybe slugs.

Not shown, the new starts of White Potato Onions are about 6 inches tall.  This time around they are also protected from herbivores.  There is no evidence of foraging on those plants.

I'm not concerned about potential frost or freeze.  These are hardy plants.

Planting Bare Root Strawberries. 2.10.16

Bare Root Strawberries.  2.10.16
 I'm on vacation this week and did some gardening today.

These are "Ozark Beauty" everbearing strawberries.  I bought them mail order from Starks.  They don't look like much when dormant but should take off and grow in the warm weather.

I have been preparing the former chili pepper bed for this planting.  Over the past couple of months, I topped off the soil, which was already good from 2 years of amendments and care.  I added a large amount of eggshells for calcium.  This bed received a large bag of Starbuck's coffee grounds a few weeks ago.  I added some urea nitrogen and mixed it all together, smoothed it somewhat, and planted the berries.

This bed is 2 feet by 8 feet, so each berry plant gets slightly under one square foot of soil.
Bare Root Strawberries.  2.10.16
Planted Strawberries, nearly invisible.  2.10.16

Last Year's Strawberry Plants.  2.10.16
I also added chopped cypress mulch to the prior 4 x 4 foot strawberry bed.  That one contains 4 plants of "Pineberry" strawberry, one of a pollinator, and several of unnamed from the front yard.  This bed should bear this year.  The new one might or might not.

Very important for strawberries here, is animal control.  I have each bed surrounded by rabbit fencing and a top of deer fencing,

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Planting Final Fruit Tree Shipment. 2.4Pawpa.16

Tree Shipment.  Burnt Ridge.  2.4.16

Pawpaw Roots in Airpot.  2.4.16
This was the final tree shipment.  I still have some berrries en route.  This year I planted more than any previous year. Probably enough for a lifetime.

These were from Burnt Ridge Nursery.  All of the trees had amazingly full root systems, intact and healthy appearing.

The pawpaw was interesting.  This pawpaw was taller than any prior purchase.  It was grown in an open-bottom container, which results in a more branched, less wind-around root sustem.  Very nice roots.  I think this tree will be a year ahead of any pawpaw I've planted in the past.

All are planted now.

Allegheny pawpaw, Winecrisp  apple, Sam cherry, Aromatnaya quince. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Grafting a Ginkgo biloba. 2.2.16

Dormant Ginkgo biloba seedling.  2.2.16

Ginkgo biloba whip/tongue applied.  2.2.16
 I have 3 Ginkgo biloba seedlings, each 3 years old, grown from local seeds.  I want a tree from my Dad's Illinois ginkgo tree, for sentimental reasons.  It's now a huge tree, no way to move it to Battleground.

I don't know much about grafting ginkgos.  This may not work.  If they don't take, I should still have trees from the stocks, since they have lots of buds.  I cut the branches, leaving one 1-inch long spur below the graft.  The other branches are flush with the stem.

Grafting was standard whip & tongue method.  Ginkgo stems turn out to be quite soft, pliable, and easily cut with a grafting knife.   Easier than the pears I did last weekend.  They are also rather delicate and easily damaged.

Two of the three are now grafted, wrapped and sealed.  I used ½ inch polyethylene tape for the internal wrapping, works well for a tight wrap.  I over-wrapped with ½ inch Parafilm tape.   I made the ½ inch parafilm tape by cutting one-inch tape with scissors.

This may be too early.  Weather is predicted this week up into the mid 60s.   Given the warm weather, I wanted to graft while still dormant.  The cambium is soft and green. 

Grafted Ginkgo biloba, wrapped.  2.2.16

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Propagating and Transplanting Some Big Bamboo Colonies. 1.30.16


Bamboo Divisions Loaded into Pickup.  1.20.16
Bamboo Divisions Loaded Into Pickup.  1.30.16
Yellow Cane Bamboo Division.  1.30.16
Yellow Cane Bamboo Starts.  1.30.16
Today I moved some bamboo divisions.  This was a big project.

Both bamboo clusters have been growing about 14 or 15 years.  One is a yellow cane runner-type bamboo, Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'.  The runners have been held in check with a heavy plastic surround, that we placed when we planted this bamboo.  It appears to be starting to escape the plastic, but just barely.  The plants are roughly 20 foot tall.

The other was labeled "Timber Bamboo".  Maybe, Phyolstachys bambusoides?  I don't know.  Various species are given that designation.  The canes are green, and much larger compared to the Spectabilis.  We did not use a barrier to contain this plant.  In at least 14 years, spread is under 6 feet diameter, one larger cluster.

The first attempt at a division was using a shovel, for the Spectabilis.   That was last week, not too difficult, but I was unable to dig any other divisions.

After watching some videos showing use of a Sawzall reciprocating saw with a one-foot pruning blade, cutting into the ground and through the rhizomes.  In the videos, this looked kind of like cutting a Duncan Hines chocolate cake, with an electric knife.  In reality, it was much more difficult.

Even so, I was able to cut a division of Spectabilis with about an  hour of effort.  Then moving to the timber bamboo. the difficulty was much worse.  The blade could not slice through the soil at all.

I pondered  the issue, poked around, dug, and sawed.  Then I discovered the problem - this area was the former chicken yard.  I had a cobblestone paving stone base for the chicken house.  Apparently, the hens had shifted enough soil around, that the bamboo was able to grow on top of the paving stones.  I had been trying to cut through concrete paving stones with a pruning blade on a Sawzall.

Armed with the new information, I slid the shovel between the bamboo clumps and the paving stones, scraping just on top of the stones.  Then I used the now-dull Sawzall pruning blade, then a hand pruner - easier - to cut the clumps from the parent plant.  The result was a much thinner root disk, compared to the much deeper roots on the Spectabilis Yellow Cane bamboo.  Much lighter and easier to transport.  I have thoughts that the timber bamboo plants will be a bigger challenge to keep alive, until and if they establish, due to the much more limited root mass.

There were also a couple of chunks from cutting the Spectabilis.   I also planted those, to see if they would survive as new starts.  If so, I an move them in a year to a better spot, or just let them grow.

Since bamboo is a grass, their transportability is likely different from shrubs and trees.  I don't know if that will translate into better or worse survival, but I think, better.

I read that some bamboos can be grown from cuttings.  Since the small pieces have both stem and roots - albeit minimal - I think they are a step ahead of cuttings.


Yellow Cane Bamboo Transplant. Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'. 1.30 16.

Timber Bamboo Division.  1.30.16
The Spectabilis was planted up wind of my little orchard.  The clumps look well established, already.

I am not worried about the spread of these bamboo clumps.  We use the bamboo for lots of projects.  They make great canes for gardening supports, can be used for fencing, and other projects.  Once planted they are free, self-regenerating, drought tolerant, rabbit and deer resistant, don't get diseases, and hold the soil in place.

The chickens enjoy the timber bamboo, for shade and protection.  It self-mulches, creating a soft, moist layer that the hens like to scratch through.  I did give them protection from the hens for until they establish.
Timber Bamboo Divisions.  1.30.16
Because of the small root disks on the timber bamboo, they needed stakes for support.  I also took off the top 4 feet or so, for transport.  At least immediately after planting, there was no wilting or curling of the leaves for any of the transplanted bamboo.
Timber Bamboo Transplants.  1.30.16


A lot of people hate bamboo.  Some of their reasons, are why I like it.  Most bamboos are very durable.  They tolerate heat, they are not susceptible to insects or diseases, and as  I noted, herbivores don't eat them.  Each year, they produce a new set of canes (culms) that grow to full height in a single season.  For a gardener - as opposed to a landscaper - maintenance is not a problem.  A pair of pruning shears is helpful, as is a shovel to cut any wide ranging rhizomes.  Placement is important - a good neighbor won't plant a running bamboo anywhere that could result in invasion of a neighbor's property.  A clumping species is less of a concern, but you still don't want it too close to a fence or border.  I planted the Spectabilis just uphill of the road, where I want the soil held solidly in place.   It will give privacy as it takes over for the dying Arborvitaes.  We will have a good source of material for lots of projects.  It's a great plant.

I should try to replace some of these photos.  They are via I-pad, and not as clear as I like.
Timber Bamboo Transplants.  1.30.16

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fruit Tree from BiMart for $12.88. 1.28.15

Ranier Cherry Tree, Bare Root.  1.28.16
 This was a surprise.  I went to BiMart to buy a pocket knife for grafting.  There were bare-root trees in front of the store, all marked at $12.88.  The varieties were standards, nothing cutting edge or exotic, and very limited selection.  For that price, what can you ask?  I have been wanting to add a Ranier Cherry to the Battleground orchard, by grafting another tree from the one in Vancouver.  Which is way, way to big to think about moving.  At this price, I can start over with a new tree.  Cherries grow fairly fast, and this will likely produce as soon as the tree I was trying to top work and now has some sort of fungal issue.

Roots of Ranier Cherry Tree.  1.28.15

The roots are as good as a lot of mail-order trees that go for $20 or $30 or more, and s good as a lot of container trees that are just bare-root or balled-and-burlapped trees that are stuck into some compost and sold as garden-ready.

Planting Bare Root Trees from Raintree. 1.27.16

 Order arrived from Raintree nursery.  Anticipating tree planting helps keep me going.  In the case of this shipment, I ordered the trees last summer.

Nadia Cherry X Plum hybrid.  One of only 3 such hybrids in existence.  All are untested here in this area as far as I know.

Surefire Pie Cherry - the one in the Vancouver yard is way to big to consider moving.  Great variety.

MaryJane Peach - yet another trial for leaf curl resistance.

All of these fill empty orchard slots left by culls of long-term nonperformers.

I am very impressed by the quality of the trees, their roots, and the packaging.  A+

These may need some pruning or a little shaping,  but they really are excellent.
New Bare Root Fruit Trees.  1.27.16

Nadia Cherry X Plum, planted 1.27.16
They all got the needed vole/rabbit hardware cloth sleeves, and deer fencing.  I don't wait, any more.  Better to do at the start.  They will need some mulch, which does not need to be immediate.

MaryJane Peach.  1.27.16.