Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Apricots from seeds. 10.6.15

Apricot Seeds.   Stratigied 2 months, then warm 10 days.  10.6.15-
Apricot seed sprouting, before covering with seed starting medium.  10.6.15
Here are some apricots seeds that I stratified 2 months in the fridge.

The peacotum seeds rotted.

I have others, mainly peaches.

I took these apricot seeds out of the fridge, left them on moist paper towel to sprout.  Room temp.  At 10 days, most are splitting and several have a root.

I planted the 3 with the longest roots in dampened peat-moss-based seed starting medium, one inch deep.  They are back in the seed starting rack again.  I left the others to continue sprouting on moist paper towel, in the same zipper plastic bag.

These are a locally grown apricot.  I looks like there will be several trees to play with.  I can use one for scion, grow a couple in containers, and grow a couple in the ground.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


 Since I did not know which squashes would do well, I planted multiple varieties.  Pumpkins are just orange round squashes. 

No use growing all one type when it's so easy to sample all sorts.

I did not know the summer would be so hot.  Expecting cool climate, I started the squash plants indoors, and planted when the soil was warm.  In order to keep the soil warm, I did not mulch.   I did not get them all into the ground as quickly as i wanted, and some were delayed.  But most did very well.

All can be cooked in similar ways.  We usually roast them.  Some can be baked to soften, then puree for pies.  My favorite last year was Waltham butternut squash, made into pie.  I do have one of those that is not yet ripe.

I like just looking at them.

The largest was Pink Banana Squash.  18 pounds.

Ning is holding a Pink Banana Squash, and a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin.  Expect some taste testing this winter.

No use saving seeds from these.   Most are cross pollinated, most by Zucchinis which had the most male flowers.  I might grow one or two for novelty but with the cross pollination, none are expected to be true next year.

Still, a squash is a squash.  So I would expect any to be edible, even if they look strange.

Sedum propagation. 10.4.15

Sedum propagation.  10.4.15
I'll add more photos from my home computer.  This one is at Battleground.

All of the large-plant sedum stem cuttings that I took 8.18.15 have taken root and grown.  So it's roughly 6 weeks.  They also have flower buds and growth of new stems from the base.  This is true for the green-leaf and red-leaf types.

Very cool.   For almost no effort, and from 2 original stems cut into shorter pieces,  I now have a half dozen new sedum plants.

Two of the leaf cuttings have grown roots.  It will take longer to see if they will grow.  most of the leaf cuttings died.

UPDATE:  These are the other sedum cuttings.  Again, these are large - type sedums.  Some are the type sold as "Autumn Joy".    For the smaller sedums, all that is needed is cut off a bunch of pieces with a pair of scissors, insert the cut end into some soft soil, and treat them like seedlings with a little water and weeding.  I've never had a sedum not-grow from that type of cutting.

More sedum cuttings.  10.6.15
 It's interesting to see that some of the cuttings produced more terminal stems, then flowers.  That is even though these are pieces that I cut from the original, long stem, and potted up each one.  And they all have little plants growing around the base of the cuttings.

The plan is that, once winter sets in, keep these in a sheltered place during the coldest weather, and plant in the bee border late Winter / early Spring.

Opuntia trial. 10.3.15

Opuntias for experiment.  10.4.15
These are the opuntias that I want to overwinter.  I hope they will produce fruits next year.

The larger one is from Raintree, sold as "Large fruit opuntia".  Image below links to their catalog URL.

Raintree Nursery Opuntia.
From Raintree catalog:  "(Opuntia engelmannii) Like the cycloides cactus, but with red/purple, flavorful fruit that is twice as large. Enjoy the pretty yellow flowers. It grows to 4' tall and has blonde colored spines.". 

Did I post the info on the smaller one?   That was from Shorty's nursery in Vancouver WA.  Just being local does not prove adapted to this area. I have seen lots of things that were not idea here.  But it was different, so there we are.  This one is "Baby Rita Prickly Pear".  There is a beautiful photo at this link.   On Dave's garden, the pads are purple.  On cactusjungle.com there is a beautiful photo of the pink flower, and this description:  "Prickly Pear season starts with Opuntia “Baby Rita”, a santa-rita hybrid with small and spiny pads. Small pads, will grow 3 feet tall. Very spiny pads turn purple in winter.  Hardy to 15F.  Monrovia - the brand for this plant, states this is Opuntia basilaris hybrid. "Exceptional dwarf hybrid with brilliant carmine colored flowers in a small padded, purple skinned prickly pear. Thrives from the coast to inland deserts, and even into high altitude mountain areas! Loaded with spring blooms, the purple foliage intensifies in winter, providing year-round interest." and gives hardiness range as 0 to 15F.

I was interested in opuntia in the past.   These photos were from my yard in 2007-2008.   I did not get ripe fruit from the opuntias, and they died after a hard freeze the next winter.  I enjoyed that the flowers changed color, so there were yellow and orange flowers on the same plants.  The freeze-kill might have been because I did not keep them sufficiently dry, or the variety might not have been as hardy as needed.

With summer 2015 hotter and drier than any on record, highly dry adapted plants like opuntias are worth another look for fruit, flowers, and vegetable - nopales.  Worth a try.

Opuntia in Bloom.  Vancouver WA 2008

Opuntia.  Vancouver WA 2007

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Greens in Container Garden. 10.3.15

Cilantro.  10.3.15

Mixed Greens.  10.3.15
 Greens, planted late summer, now eating regularly.  Most are doing well.

Radishes look like they might be woody.

I should thin the turnips.

I'm not as crazy about eating the Swiss Chard, as I am about growing them.
Spring Scallions and Turnips.   10.3.15

Chinese Greens and Cilantro.  10.3.15

Daylily Seedlings. 10.3.15

Daylily Seedlings 1 week after moving to seed starting medium..  10.3.15
The first of the daylily seedlings are doing nicely.  These were from variety "Happy Returns", a repeat blooming, pale yellow, compact variety.   At the time they set seed, I did not have others blooming, and did not pollinate them.  They are most likely self pollinated, and expected to be compact yellow flowered plants as well.

Seeds were stratified for one month, damp paper towel in zipper bag in refrigerator.  Then set at room temp in same damp paper towel/zipper bag.  If mold starts to grow, I change the paper towel to a fresh one with fresh water.  Checking every few days.  They started germinating in 2 weeks.  I planted in seed starting medium.  They are under lights.  The plan is get a head start, see if they can bloom next year.

Today I noted the first of the pod-parent Chicago Apache germinated.  Most of those were pollinated with Fooled Me.  Both are tetraploid.  Depending on the genetics, they could be red, yellow, or other colors and probably have an eye zone.  I also tried pollinating some Chicago Apache with the either incorrectly labeled or mutated, lavender, labeled "Daring Deception".  I did not cover or emasculate them, so there is a random element as well.  The last ones may be with the unlabeled "Vigaro" which has an eye zone and brick-red, almost brown color.

I have lots more seeds stratifying in the refrigerator. 

Daylily seeds 5 days after removing from refrigerator.  9.26.15

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Walking Around. 9.17.15

Yellow Single Marigold.  9.19.15
 Random photos.

The heirloom french marigolds had some atypical plants.  A single yellow - the rest were doubles.  And a taller, looser double red.  That one had more marigold fragrance, looks like a reversion to earlier type.  I am saving seeds from both.  I like the difference.

Only 4 seeds from Ning's beans.  Not much to start a self-saved strain but better than zero seeds.\

Squashes ripening and curing now.  The first of many.

Illinois Everbearing Mulberry is a pale green.  Not due to insufficient nitrogen.  It's been that way every year, and in 2 locations.  Other trees nearby are fully green.

The Four Saved Chinese Bean Seeds.  9.17.15

Atypical Large Red French Marigold.  9.17.15
The first Chinese Haws here.    Great to have a start.

This is the Year of the Squashes.  Lots to eat during the winter.

Squashes So Far.  9.17.15

Mulberry Illinois Everbearing.  9.17.15

Chinese Haw Red SUn.  9.17.15

Concrete Tree Ring Raised Planter for Daylilies. 9.18.15

 This is the "Tree Ring" planter I put together over the past couple of weeks for some daylilies.  This is a spot that I often drag the garden hose across, damaging plants.  The planter will stop the hose from causing damage.  The planter is raised, which is nice for an old guy  to weed and trim the plants.  About the same size as a half wine barrel.  Especially since I had them sitting around.  This is between a container and a raised bed, in concept.

I leveled the ground for the base.  Arrange first ring, right side up.  Arrange second ring upside down, so the scalloped edges mesh.   Arrange the top level right side up again.

I mixed together yard soil with about 1/4 kitchen compost.  The yard soil is mole hills that I collected in the wheelbarrow.  The soil is finely ground, and taken from deep under my yard.  My soil tests low in magnesium and calcium, so I added about 1/4 cup of lime and 1/8 cup of Epsom salts.  Not rocket science, did not use a measuring cup.  I saved some coffee grounds, added about 4 cups of those for ongoing organic matter and nitrogen.

The daylilies were from other parts of the border where they were difficult to see and difficult to weed.  I wanted one bigger one - the maroon, almost coffee-brown one with darker eye, no name other than "Vigaro" from Home Depot.   The other two were incorrectly labeled or mutant, a very compact, very light yellow and taller, finer sort of apricot pink.  All of these will be easier to view and enjoy at this higher level, about 18 inches higher than the garden border.

I filled soil to the point where I could set in the daylily clumps on the soil.  Between the daylilies, I set hyacinth bulbs and pushed into the soil slightly  Those will have roots deeper than the daylilies.

Then I filled in the rest of the soil, watered in, and mulched with chipped tree trimmings.  Almost no transplanting trauma to the daylilies,  I imagine they will need dividing in one or two years.  No problem.

I saw some of these tree ring sections on the web for about $4.00 each.  That would make it $36.00 if I bought them new, roughly the same as a half wine barrel.  I think I bought them on sale a few years ago for about half that.  They should lase a lifetime.  A half wine barrel seems to last about 10 years in this rainy Pacific NW climate.  Compared to a wine barrel, the rings are easier to carry, can just carry one at a time.  I don't know about insulating properties.  Might not be as good as wood.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Figs. Progress Report. 9.13 15

Brunswick figs starting to ripen.  9.13.15

Hardy Chicago fig wood lignification.  9.13.15

Carini fig wood  lignification.  9.13.15

Sal's Fig.  9.13.15

Celeste Fig Start at 2 1/2 months.  9.13.15

LSU Tiger ripening.  Container grown.  9.13.15

Lattarula showing lignification.  9.13.15

Row of Figs trees bordering easement.  9.15.15
Here is my fig progress report for 9.13.15.  I am nearing the end of starting new fig trees, at least for myself. 

Starting fig trees.
Establishing a small fig orchard.
Testing fig varieties.
Testing for or promoting hardiness.
Ripening figs now.

Starting fig trees:
The newest, and last intended attempts, are for the Celeste cuttings and cuttings of Petite negri / Aubique petite.  I started the Celeste in June.  There are 2 growing plants, well past the tenuous stage when there are leaves but no roots supporting them.  These just need to store some carbohydrates and go dormant.  I can early-start them in sunroom in Jan for a head start next year.

I want to try Aubique Petite again at Battleground.  I don't know if my original tree can be moved - may be too big.  I started a cutting last month.  Cut a semi-hardwood cutting, cut leaves in half, scored the sides through cambium, dipped into Dip-and-Grow, and placed in water on North side of house.  I have been changing the water when I think of it, about weekly.

The roots are at the callous - small root stage.  I moved this on into potting soil today.  Will keep it watered until fall, store in garage, and probably also bring out of dormancy in January.  This will need extra TLC to grow fast, since it is slow growing.  I want it to fruit as soon as it can.

Establishing a Small Fig Orchard.  I don't know which ones will do well, and there is room, so I am trying many varieties.  This row is shaded on East by a large fir tree.  On the west is an easement, which I can't use for much.  These are out of the easement.  If a road is ever built, the fig trees will provide some privacy.  I planted Champagne into ground.  There are already Brunswick, moved 2 years ago.  There are starts from Dominick and Atreano.  I might add Smith and one or two more.

There is also the row of fig trees south of the Battleground house. 

Testing fig varieties and hardiness.   It's too much trouble to maintain more than a few trees in containers.  Even if it's a variety that I like and may not be able to survive in ground, I am moving most into ground.  It's young fig trees that are most susceptible to freezing damage.  Some thoughts - I am only planting trees that have been container grown, outside, for 2 or 3 years.  They should be more hardy than new ones.  I am avoiding stimulating more that about a foot of new growth on these trees.  That means the new growth should have a chance to lignify.  Ditto for in-ground trees.  For some, there was only a few inches of growth.  Not great for fast enlargement and production, but I think they should be more hardy.   I will leave a few in containers, but the long term plan is all in-ground.

The fig tree row south of the house, Hardy Chicago, Sal's and Dominic seem the most lignified.  LSU Tiger, Carini, and Lattarula are not there yet.  Lattarula is ahead of Carini and Tiger.

Figs Ripening Now.  This is the best part and why grow figs.  Getting a bowl full of Hardy Chicago about every other day.  Sal's is still young but getting a taste every few days.  Tiger in container is ripening more.  Not confident Tiger in ground will make it this year.  Carini might get there.  Brunswick has multiple figs that have reached the tipping point to ripening.  The most ever. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bee Garden Observations and Progress Report. 9.13.15

First Year Bloom, Agastache.  9.13.15

Buckwheat Falling Over.  9.13.15
Most of these are first year growth on perennials.  Expected to reach full bloom and maturity next year.

Agastache / Anise hyssop  is blooming now, first year.  Maybe I should start some earlier next year, for more plants and earlier start on blooming.  As it is, I'm surprised.  No bees on them yet.

Buckwheat now falling over.  Very few flowers appear to have set grain, so far.

Joe Pye Weed starting to bloom.  No bees on that so far.  It's just one plant.  Maybe they need more.

Milkweed, Asclepius syriaca remaining fairly small.  Expect full growth and bloom next year.

Chinese chive, Allium tuberosum, discussed already today.

I also planed two grocery store packs of ornamental alliums.  "Gladiator" and a giant blue one.  They bloom Spring or early Summer.
First Year Bloom, Joe Pye Weed.  9.13.15
First Year, Milkweed and Chinese Chive.  9.13.15