Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Late Winter Doldrums

Not much to post about. After the flu, and heavy workload, now a weekend trip to the Midwest. Upon my return it will be time to uncover the peaches, maybe a final spray against leaf curl, and get a truckload of compost. Still too early for starting tomato seeds - good, since I still dont have the energy!

Where's the Spring tonic?

Friday, February 13, 2009


Getting a little carried away here. Today I'm sick as a dog. So here's my faithful "Yes I Can" companion.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More links, compact orchards for the backyard

Thanks to contributers on the Gardenweb fruit forum, here is another link to a backyard orchard:

Tony's compact orchard

Also, below is an informative infomercial on compact backyard orchard trees from the UK. There's a bit of the "But wait, there's more" syndrome, but it's still interesting and instructive.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Backyard Orchard Culture: Dave Wilson Nurseries

Here is a you-tube video from the Dave Wilson Nursery in California. This is the method that I am trying to use in my yard as well - they call it "Backyard Orchard Culture". Backyard Orchard Culture means more trees, smaller size, so that we can have a harvest with more variety in a smaller space, extending over a longer period of time in a normal sized backyard. Trees are planted close together. That method requires more severe pruning, especially summer pruning.

High Density Fruit Tree Planting:

Also see the gardening links to the right for more information.

The trees are kept to about 5 to 8 feet tall, so no ladder is needed for harvest. The branches are kept open enough to allow sunlight into the center. Summer pruning is more effective at limiting size, compared to dormant pruning. I hope that this will be our first really good year for the 3 and 4 year old trees to bear.

Pruning method:

Fig trees may take some different variations - we'll keep working on the technique.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Pruning Ginkgo saplings

Shaping the young tree will avoid removing larger branches, later. This seed-grown Ginkgo is in prior photos on this blog, now about 7 feet tall. I removed the lower branches, and shortened a couple of the longer upper branches so that it would keep to a single lead. It's probably hard to see what was done, but that is the idea: shaping and prevention.

Ultimately, I want the lowest branches to start 5 or 6 feet above the ground. That way they are less likely to be climbed on by kids, and as they arch upward, they are unlikely to be in the way of vehicles on the street. I don't want to remove too much biomass, however, because the more leaves that it has, the faster it grows. SO this method is a compromise.

Before, the lower branches are small but this year are likely to become much thicker.

After. Later this winter the tree will be given a nice compost mulch, and be ready for another year of growth. I think of the 6-foot stage as the threshold to really looking like it will be a tree.

After 3 years of my lobbying, my workplace will be planting a tree on the grounds for Earth-day / Arbor Day (April 22 and 25). As the fervent tree-promoter that I am, I get to choose. How predictable am I? It will be a Ginkgo biloba. Since it is in a public place, of course, my seed grown trees wont do. They have a 50% chance of being female, and females are too likely to be cut down due to their stinky seed coats. A male has a better chance for a long life among pesky humans.

Planting Plum Trees

The new plum trees came 2 days ago. The varieties are Hollywood (a more columnar shape, purple leaf, nice blooming, purple plum, partially self fertile) and Shiro (wider branching, green leaf, juicy yellow plum, partially self fertile). According to everything that I read, both should do well in this zone and region.

Other than the grape pruning, this then is the first major garden activity to inaugurate the year 2009! I am stoked!

I think that they do a great job packaging the trees. Only two tiny branches were damaged, and they were very minor branches.

Nice roots, nice branches. I've been ordering from Raintree for several years, and their products, plant quality, and packaging have not disappointed me yet.

Soak the new trees for a couple of hours. Since it may still be cold and frost, I soaked to get the trees well hydrated.

Generous holes, with the trees planted so that the grafts were 2-3 inches above the soil line. I did add a LITTLE compost, but not enough to create the 'flowerpot' effect in the clay soil. One tree is in a raised bed with retaining wall, replacing a magnolia that I moved out last fall. This soil was amended several years ago, and the soil level is about 2 feet above the original grade. This area is well drained. The other tree went into less ideal ground, but I heeded the warnings not to over-amend the soil, just adding a little compost mixed in for 'luck'.

Watering them in. After tamping the ground firmly with my feet (but not my ENTIRE body weight, please?), I poured on a bucket of water. Once it soaked in, both were given a layer of well aged yard compost as mulch.

Now planted, ready for Spring. How cool is that?

Birds at the feeder: House Finch

Most authorities recommend keeping a healthy population of birds around. During the summer, many of them eat insects.
Based on photos on the internet, these are male "house finches". House finches are vegetarian, so probably not much benefit for the gardener. But I still like them. The birds have eaten about 15 pounds of seeds so far this winter. Except the seeds that the squirrels got first.