Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Planted Garlic. 10.17.17

Today I planted garlic.  Three rows from my own harvested garlic, I think German Red.  Four rows of this Duganski from Territorial.  I also bought another type from Territorial, but the cloves were soft and shriveled.  I don't know if they are worth planting, or could have a disease.  I may try those in an unused raised bed, not anticipating planting onion family in that bed so maybe it would be worth a try.

Why The Biggest Expense Isn't Trees and Plants, It's Fencing. 10.17.17


Thursday, October 12, 2017

First Turnip.  10.12.17
First turnip from the ones I planted this summer in July in a raised bed.  Looking good.  Nice flavor, crisp, not at all woody.

Nerine and Geraniums. 10.12.17


I moved these out of the rain, and will let them dry out as much as possible before moving them to the garage for the winter.  This planting is about 3 or 4 years old now.  The nerine is a nice surprise.  I thought they had died out.

New Load of Arborist Chips. Nulching Young Trees and Borders for Next Year. 10.14.17

 We had a large, old, dead tree cut down.  The arborist had a truck load of chipped tree branches, including those from our tree, so I asked for them to use as mulch.

It will take several truck loads to haul all of them.  So far, I've mulched a major section of the woods edge border, which I spent the last 18 months cleaning up and planting with trees, shrubs, and perennials.  It was fairly clean already, but with about 4 inch thickness of arborist chips, should not need any significant maintenance for most of 2018.
Chestnut Tree, One Year Old.  Double-Fenced, Mulched, and Ready for Winter.  10.12.17

That's a major step in reducing my workload next year.  Many of the things that I planted there, were unwanted plants and shrubs that needed a new home.  Some were sizeable.  I didn't want to buy things that might not do well, or more likely, be eaten by deer.  Deer are the major limitation to what I can grow.  At this point, I just want to get trees growing above deer browsing height, and stick to the ornamentals that they don't like to eat. I know they won't eat the dwarf mugo pines, crocosmia, gladiolas, ferns, Helleborus, daffodils, or hyacinthoides.  Not sure about the Rhododendrons.  I'm watching for deer damage to the Dawn Redwood, but so far they have not taken a liking to it. 

I also mulched the year old Chestnut trees.  They still need some hardware cloth to protect from rodents, then they too are set for the winter and for 2018 as well.



Sunday, October 08, 2017

Update: Transplanted Old, Minidwarf Apple Trees, 2 seasons later. 10.8.17

Jonagold on M27.  10.8.17
 These are dwarfs, on M27 rootstock.   I transplanted them last winter.  I think they are around 16 years old.  They did fine.  The Liberty had about 20 apples, maybe as much as it can handle anyway.   Then Jonagold only had 3, and of those only one looks edible.  That one is alternate year bearing anyway, and this was to be the off year.

I'm happy with how they responded to transplanting and care. 
Liberty on M27.  10.8.17

Kitchen Garden Harvest. 10.8.17

 The turnips were planted in a raised bed in July.  This is a massive turnip now.

The squashes are butternuts, scallops, and some compost volunteers.  Those may be natural hybrids of different types that I grew last year.

Fall/Winter Projects. A New Deer Cage for Young Chestnut Tree. 10.8.17

Maraval Chestnut Tree in Deer Cage.  10.7.17
Things are winding down for the gardening season.  I am starting some maintenance and improvement projects to help next year go better.

The make-shift deer cages mostly worked for the young chestnut trees.  Minimal damage.  However, I wanted room to grow for next year, potentially the last year or next-to-last year they will need deer cages.

This year, some parts of my orchard had major, disappointing, set-backs due to failed deer cages and more aggressive browsing.  I think there are more deer this year, and saw a group of five in a neighbor's yard this week.  There are no deer predators now, and hunting is not  allowed.  I don't know what will happen as the population increases above what the ecosystem can handle.  Meanwhile, with a hot dry summer, and probably more hunger and thirst, they ventured into tree and plant varieties that they would normally not eat, and they were more aggressive about getting into barriers that they would normally not bother with.

I usually use standard welded wire fencing, holes are 2 inches by 4 inches, and height 4 feet.  That was usually fairly secure, but then deer learned to grasp leaves that stuck out through the fencing, pulling to rip off branches much further in the cage.  In some cases, branches were pulled off the trees, leaving big wounds.  One tree was completely destroyed.  Deer also reached over some of the fences to chomp down branches that emerged above the cages.  So, I changed some of the fences to plastic fencing with 1 inch gaps.  That prevented leaves from sticking out through the gaps, but the material was too flexible, and in some cases the deer pushed the fencing down, giving access to entire trees to eat the tree.  I want to be more prepared for next year, and avoid more disappointing damage if possible.

Maraval Chestnut Tree in Deer Cage.  10.7.17
Two of the new chestnut trees put on roughly 4 feet of growth this year, growing from about 2 feet tall to a little more than 6 feet tall.  I cobbled together protective fencing as they grew, which mostly worked but didn't feel stable.  I used the heavier metal fencing, and added either chicken-wire fencing, or plastic 1-inch mesh fencing, as a second layer of protection.  Anticipating next year's growth, I wanted wider, taller fences, so built a new one yesterday for one of the trees.

Now it has stronger fence posts to prevent knocking the fencing over.  The fencing is 6 feet tall, and is 2 layer, with both the sturdy, wide-mesh metal, and the narrower mesh plastic.  As the tree grows next year, I may need to add a bit more, higher, level, but I think this will be good, for the most part, for protection in 2018.  After that, I think these trees will be tall enough to dispense with the fences.

This was the chestnut variety Maraval.  Next, I need to to the same for the Marissard seedling that grew as much, and the smaller Marigoule that I moved to a new location last week.

Edit 10/8/17:  Now Marissard seedling is also in a new, larger, double-fencing cage too.  I hope these work.  It's really disappointing to check on trees and discovered that a year of effort, or more, has become a salad for roaming deer.
Marissard Chestnut Tree in Deer Cage.   10.8 17

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Yates American Persimmon. First Taste. 10.7.17


Yates American Persimmon.  10.7.17
Today was my first taste of any American persimmon, and in this case, the Yates persimmon that I planted in early 2015.  This tree has about a dozen fruits.  The ripe persimmons almost fall from the tree, when touched. 

These are smaller than Nikita's Gift, and earlier.  Not quite as sweet, I think as Nikita's Gift or Saijo.  They are a wonderful rich flavor, thick texture, not as liquidy as some ripened astringent Asian persimmons I've eaten.

All I can say is, definitely worth growing.
Yates American Persimmon.  10.7.17

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Airlie Red Flesh Apple. First Harvest. 10.5.17


 Last year I picked up some scion of "Arlie Red Flesh" apple at the Home Orchard Society scion exchange.  It took, grew rapidly, and there are a few apples on that branch.  This was my first one, ever.  Cool to look at, slightly tart, sweet, pretty good tasting apple.   Others have re-named and trademarked this apple as "Hidden Rose", but it is not patented.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

Transplanting Columnar Apple Tree. 10.1.17

Columnar Apple Tree Grafted to Rootstock Sucker.  Transplanted 9.30.17
Rainy season has started, so I think it's a good time to transplant some trees.

A few years ago, root-stock suckers grew from an apple tree that I had cut down the year before.  I believe it was a semi-dwarf size.  Just playing, I grafted a columnar variety onto the root-stock.  This weekend, I wanted to transplant it to a more suitable, permanent location.

When I dug it up, the root was rather oddly shaped, I imagine due to the origin from a prior tree.   I don't know if it will survive, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Dawn Redwood, One Year Later. 10.1.17

Dawn Redwood Tree at One Year.  10.1.17

Dawn Redwood Leaves.  10.1.17
 Last year we planted a Dawn Redwood (Metasequois glyptostroboides) tree.  I followed the recommendation of Washington State Horticulturist Linda Chalker-Scott, and washed the soil from the roots, pruned crossed or damaged roots, before planting.  It had so little remaining root, I wondered if it would live.

It did nicely, leafed out nicely, and grew about a foot taller.   I didn't expect much. The adage is First year sleep, Second year creep, Third year leap.  I think the second year grown is at least "creep"  so maybe next year it will leap.  These trees have the potential to grow 5 feet per year.

Dawn Redwood when planted 11.17.16

Monday, September 25, 2017

Leyland Cypress Trees at 18 Months. 9.23.17

Leyland Cypress Trees at 18 Months.  9.,23,17
Leyland Cypress is a naturally occurring hybrid between Monterey Cypress and Nootka Cypress.  They are sterile, so cannot become invasive.  For some situations, they are excessively vigorous.  We wanted fast growing, densely bushy trees to line our yard, as privacy barrier and to shade out the encroaching blackberry vines on the far side.  The current scrubby trees have been dying and falling over, and we wanted something more durable.

These trees were about waist height, when I planted them approx. 18 months ago.  I watered them in 2016, but only twice during this hot dry summer in 2017.  They have no deer damage at all, very important in my yard which is a Smörgåsbord on a deer super - highway.  These are among the fastest and most vigorous trees that I have planted.  At this rate, next year they should start filling in, between the trees, and develop into a nice, woodsy, privacy barrier.

Jonared Apples. First Harvest. And Apple Pie.

These are Jonared apples. I grew them for nostalgic reasons. My parents had a Jonathan apple tree in their yard, more than 50 years ago. I couldn't find a Jonathan at the time that I planted this tree, but Jonared is just a red sport, so the apples should be the same. This is the first year that it bore. I planted it about 4 years ago.  The fruit set was very good this year - several dozen - but deer managed to get into the tree cage, and damaged about half.  This was a hot dry summer, and I watered this tree, but not a lot.

The Jonared apples are crisp and tart, not very sweet.  I read that Jonathan apples need a Midwestern climate to  reach peak flavor.  That's OK, my wish was to make a pie.


 In our household, during my parents' later years, it was my dad who made the pies.  He always used tapioca starch as a juice thickener, but I usually use flour. In his honor, I used tapioca starch this time, sold locally as tapioca flour, in the specialty flours section at the grocery store. It worked much better than my usual flour, wasn't soupy at all, even with a hot pie. I usually add a half teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, plus 1 teaspoon vanilla that I mix with the sugar before mixing with the apples. Very happy, reminded me of my dad's pies.

Playing with Gourds. 9.25.17

 These are birdhouse gourds that I grew last year.  I let them dry in the sunroom, where they developed discoloration, I assume from molds, as they dried.  When they dried completely, that growth stopped, leaving interesting colors and patterns.

This week I played a little, and sanded 2 of them with #220 sandpaper, then gave them a coat of oil - based, satin finish, polyurethane. 

I think they came out interesting.

There are several more to play with.  I think I'll try growing them again next year.  Our season is a little short and summer a bit cool, for optimum growth and production, but I liked what we did get.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall Fruits - First Harvest 9.23.17

The smaller red apples are Jonared. 

The small peaches are Charlotte, didn't do great this year but still, it's some fall peaches. 

The golden apples are Porter.  The large red/green apple is Sutton Beauty. 

Dark blue, Stanley Plums.

Various Asian pears.

At the center, an Asia/American pear hybrid, "Maxie".  Actually, not very good.  Maybe I didn't let it ripen enough.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prime Ark Freedom Blackberries 9.16.18

 These are some of my first Prime-Ark Freedom blackberries.  I'm very impressed with the size, juiciness, sweetness, and flavor.  I have never seen such large blackberries.

Unfortunately, the deer like eating the plants.  I'm building a better enclosure for them.  I definitely want to see how they do next year.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sweet Treat Pluerry and Hollywood Plums. 9.3.17Plum

Plums as of 9.3.17
Hollywood is almost overripe, and Sweet Treat are just coming into their prime.  Together, and along with some grapes, they make a great sweet fruit salad desert.

I didn't know what would happen with Sweet Treat.  There isn't much info out there on pollinators.  All I had blooming when Sweet Treat was in bloom, were Hollywood and Crimson Spire plums.  Apparently that was enough.  This is about year #4 for this tree, first substantial crop, a couple dozen plums.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Updates. 8.26.17

Blueberry Pie.  Mid Aug, 2017.
 I haven't been keeping up on the garden blog.  With historic high temperatures, no rain - expected this time of year - and deer issues, I haven't had the time. 

I'll come back and add some text later, but here are photos from the past couple of weeks. 

The blueberry harvest was great.  The difference between this year and previous years, was bird netting.  Made all the difference in the world.

I wondered if there would be sweet corn, due to the slow and irregular germination.  Plus rabbits eating a lot of the plants.  Now, there is a good harvest of sweet corn.
Sweet corn, beans, chilis.  Mid Aug, 2017.
 The beans that I recovered from 15 year old seeds, last year, are doing quite well.

Peppers are doing great in their cement block raised beds.  They do have deer protection fencing.

Two of the chestnut trees that I planted late winter, put on 3 to 4 feet of new growth.  The other one put on about 3 inches.  I'll sort out the varieties later.  They are well protected by deer fencing.

I wondered if I planted the onions too early.  They did amazingly well.  Huge onions.  The biggest were Ailsa Craig.  Growing from seeds, and planting early, definitely worked.

Sweet Corn, various planting times.  Mid Aug, 2017.

Russet Potato Harvest.  Mid Aug, 2017.

Chilis in cement block raised bed.  Mid Aug, 2017.

Chestnut tree, first year, mid Aug 2017.

Chestnut tree, first year, mid Aug 2017.

Ailsa Craig onions.  mid Aug, 2017.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

More photos. 7.29.17

 Some nice flowers are blooming now.   Now that the zinnias are larger, they seem less palatable for rabbits.  Maybe the leaves are dryer and more tough in the summer.  Even weedy flowers are nice when cut.

The Rudbeckias are second year now.  I'm glad they survived another season.

I don't know that bigger is always better, but the current batch of onions is the biggest I've ever grown.  The ones in the ground are even larger, but the tops have not fallen over yet, so I'm waiting to harvest them.  The brown-wrapper onions are the hybrid "Patterson".  The white ones, which are the largest and the biggest of those not yet ready, are Ailsa Craig.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Fruit Salad. Plums and mulberries. Yum. 7.24.17


Raised bed changes. Planting Summer Seeds for Fall Crops. 7.24.17

 I decided to make some changes in the raised bed kitchen garden, for easier gardening.    I added another level of 2 X 6, so the bed is 6 inches higher, then added a 2 X 6 edge to each side to support me.  I can lean or sit on that edge.  This bed contained bearded irises that never did well.  I moved them to a sink-or-swim out of the way border, where they will either grow, or not.  That gave me a new bed to plant seeds that grow for fall kitchen crops.

I used old seeds, turnips, Chinese radish, Chinese cabbage, Daikon.

That was last week.  They do need daily watering, but otherwise no special care.  Some rows have germinated nicely.  It's possible that some seeds were too old, and I intend to replant today.

I didn't label the rows.  I think some of the Chinese cabbage did not germinate, and one of the two rows of turnips.  Those seeds were 5 years old.

The current raised bed arrangement is 12 4 X 8 foot raised beds, 1 foot high, separated by mowed grass paths about 3 feet wide.  Those paths are too narrow for a riding mower.  The plan, which will develop as crops mature and are gone in the fall, is to replace the 2 middle rows with 1 middle row.  That will make paths wide enough for riding mower, which really reduces maintenance.  The sides will be higher, with edge as described for this bed.  Most of the wood will be reused from either the old beds, or from a deck that I tore apart this Spring.