Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Berries, Berries, Berries

The various berries are doing terrific! 

Blueberries seem to just love their new large nursery pots.  They are all just loaded with flowers.  And each one of those flowers will be a blueberry!

Bluecrop Blueberry - April 2014

Legacy Blueberry - April 2014

The Blueberry "Patch" - April 2014
The Meeker raspberry has come back nicely. I think I needed to prune back the canes more when they were dormant, as the leaves and buds are all on the end few feet.  Flower buds though!   Then I had to removed a lot of baby plant suckers from the container.  I transplanted them in various planters and containers, and so far some look like they'll survive my inexperience.  If so, I will need to build a raspberry bed!

Lots of new plants coming up - April 2014

Transplanted suckers...

... more suckers - April 2014 (They cannot stay here, I need this bed for tomatoes!)
Boysenberries are leafing out, and showing flower buds!  There is also new growth for next years fruiting canes!

Boysenberries - April 2014
Today I noticed that the strawberries are blooming!  I cleaned out the bed a few weeks ago, and it looks so much better.  I dug out some of the daughters that had rooted over the winter and moved them into another bed.  I have to find some proven sow bug repellent, I lost a lot of fruit to them last year.  Just as they were ripening for human enjoyment, the sow and/or pill bugs ate them!  And... yes... it's the sow bugs!  I say that because many will say that sow bugs and pill bugs only eat dead, decaying plant matter.  I have seen with my own eyes the damage they do to ripe strawberries.  They eat little holes and actually curl up in them, waking to eat more!  So, if someone tells you it isn't the sow bugs, just ignore them!  Some of the plants will need dividing next fall. 

June Bearing Strawberries - April 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Arbor Day and my Free Trees

I became an Arbor Day member and they sent me my "thank you" ten free baby trees. They are year old trees, just little sticks right now, but they'll be fine.  I also ordered an older redbud to plant in the space where I tore out an ugly, prickly barberry bush.  That tree hasn't arrived yet, which is just as well, as I can't plant it there after all.  I neglected to consider the electrical wire directly above the space!  I'll plant it on the other side of the front yard. 

They came bareroot in some sort of root hydrating gel, and color coded by kind of tree.  
Purple = Sargent Crabapple
White = American Redbud
Dark Blue = Washington Hawthorn
Orange = White Flowering Dogwood

The free trees included 2 Sargent crabapples, 3 American redbuds, 2 Washington hawthorns, and 3 white flowering dogwoods.  Obviously way too many trees for me, but once they are a bit older I can re-home them.  For now, I put one of each kind in large containers, and the rest along one side of a raised bed.  Maybe next year, when they are dormant, I will move them.  They are too young to be planted in their permanent location right now.  

Arbor Day began in 1872, in Nebraska, US, when 1,000,000 trees were planted!  Now many countries observe similar holidays.  Arbor Day in the US this year will be on April 25.  It is traditional to plant a tree on Arbor Day.  The National Arbor Day Foundation offers membership, and low cost trees (lower to members), as well as many programs benefiting communities and youth programs. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Peas are Planted

My daughter and I planted Cascadia peas a few days ago.  I moved them to a new location, so hopefully they'll do as well as before.  The bed is one that hasn't been successful in the past, but I dug in a bag of steer manure, a bag of yard waste compost, a bunch of peat, some bonemeal, and a few handfuls of pelleted fertilizer.  How could the peas not be happy with all that?

We planted three packets of peas, first dampened and tossed with inoculant.  They should be up any day now!  Cascadia grow the best for me.  We eat them as pods and as shell peas.  They grow abut 3' high, and are pretty self-supporting, but I do provide trellises for them.  It makes it easier for me.  I only plant peas from Territorial Seed.  I have planted other brands, but they aren't as productive.  


"Frosty" the Frost Peach

I know, not very original calling a Frost Peach "Frosty."  Not nearly as clever as calling the apple tree "Dale," but he's dead and chipped for compost by now, so we move on to, if not bigger, better (as in healthier) things.  Enter "Frosty."

I researched peaches and found either a Frost or an Oregon Curl Free would be the healthiest, and I need all the help I can get keeping fruit trees healthy.  I have kept my eyes open for Frost since the bare root selections showed up a few weeks ago.  One nursery had a potted one for some outrageous price like $50, another source wouldn't have them until March 20 (too late for bare root), but low and behold Flowerland in Central Point had them!  I drove right over in the rain and got one!  $22, not a bad price.  My son and I got it right into the ground, or raised bed in this case.  The nurseryman said a raised bed was a good idea for a peach anyway, since they like good drainage.   Nice to know, since I don't have good drainage without raised beds!  He showed me where to prune it if I wanted to keep it lower and branched out too. 

Frost Peach - March 3, 2014 - Edward the Goldendoodle sauntering by...
top I pruned off per nurseryman's instructions 3-5-14

"Frosty" the Frost Peach 3-5-14 (the green grass is misleading... under it is swampy soil!)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Many Should I Plant? a basic guide for vegetable planting

I had way too many tomatoes last summer.  Too many to eat fresh.  Too many to can.  Too many to give away.  I love tomatoes, but I just planted way too many!  But, green beans... I could have used double the harvest.  Part of that was due to a nearly complete crop failure in one of my garden boxes.

If you ever wondered, "How many should I plant?" I put together this list of common home garden vegetables that I like to help both of us!  Remember, if you love, love, love a variety, plant more of it!  These figures are based on the gardener wanting a harvest a few times per week for fresh eating, not canning. 

Beans (green) - 8 plants per person.  I grew mostly pole beans last year, but am planting only bush beans this year.  I find they are more reliable in my yard. They can also be tucked into most any empty space in the garden. I like to grow them in the holes in my cinder block beds!  Just make sure to water them more frequently than if they were in a bed. I will be devoting an entire 4x8 raised bed to bush beans, for eating, and freezing. 

Jade bush bean growing in cinder block hole -  July 2013
Carrots - 30 plants per person.  Sounds like a lot, but plant them in succession, every 3 weeks is good, so you don't have 90 carrots ready to harvest all at once for a family of three!  Remember you can eat the small carrots you pull when you thin them.  I found a terrific new recipe the other day for teeny carrots, which includes the tops!
Celery - 5 plants per person.  Harvest an average of 6 stalks per plant.  I have never tried growing celery, but plan to give it a go in a container.
Chard -5 plants should be sufficient for a family of 4.  Harvest the outer leaves and let the others keep growing, you'll have chard all season.
Corn - 15-20 plants per person.  You can replant every 10 days for a continuous harvest.  I love corn! But, corn is not cost affective for me to grow.  When I can buy it 10/$1.00 at the peak of the season, why bother to grow my own?  Did you know that you only get 1 ear per corn plant?  ONE!  Not worth my time or garden space, but suit yourself!
Cucumbers - 4-6 plants per person.  I grow lemon cucumbers on a trellis.  I plant 6 for the two family members who like them, and always have plenty.

lemon cucumbers - -August -2013
Eggplant - 1-2 plants per person.  Unless you plan on cooking many eggplant dishes over the summer, you won't need a lot of plants.  My one plant would ripen 3 fruits at a time, with 4 harvests over the summer.

Dusky eggplant - July 2013
Lettuce - This is a hard one!  Do you like a lot of salads, or just want a leaf or two for sandwiches?  I suggest you plant 4 plants per person, and plant 4 more in succession every 2 weeks. I love the mixed lettuces, and pull up the baby plants to make a colorful salad.

mixed lettuce - April 2013
Melons - 1 or 2 plants per person. Most melons produce 2 or 3 fruits per plant.  I won't be growing melons this year. 
Peas - The more the merrier in my family!  Plant lots, 30 per person isn't excessive.  I plant only Cascadia snap peas.  We eat the small pods, as well as letting some mature for shell peas.  I will be planting my peas later today, in a 4x4 raised bed. 

Cascadia pea - May 2013
Peppers - 2 plants per person.  I like California Wonder.  I don't use a lot of peppers, so I will be planting 2 for my family. 
Pumpkins -  1 or 2 plants per person should be fine.  Ask yourself what you will be using the pumpkins for when you choose a variety.  Cinderella is wonderful for eating/freezing, but not so suitable for carving into Jack-o-lanterns.  Cinderella seeds cost more, but the walls are thick so there is more food value to them.

Cinderella pumpkins - September 2012 (grown in manure bags)
Spinach - 10 plants per person, plant every week for a continuous harvest. I do not have success with spinach! 
Squash (summer or winter) -  1 -2 plants per person.  Plant more winter squash if you plan to store it for winter use.  My family does not like summer squash, so I do not grow it. I grow winter squash only to use in pumpkin recipes.  Last year my squash were all volunteers in the compost heap!  I have high hopes for the same this year. 

acorn squash - August 2013
Tomatoes - for fresh, slicing use plant 1 plant per person.  Of course, if you can plant many more of a suitable canning variety.  I will be planting a Sungold cherry, an Ace, and a Yellow Brandywine (keeping my fingers crossed I can find one).  Those three are the ones I have found to be the most productive, and most importantly, the most flavorful. 

Sungold cherry tomato - July 2013
Planting the right number of plants is rather like The Three Bears.  "Too much!"  "Too little!"  Hopefully this year I have figured out just how many plants will be "Just right!" 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Signs of Spring

Yes, there are signs of Spring!





flowering quince

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Doldrums

I guess it's the winter doldrums literally, if we take it to mean a lack of wind. But, I just mean inactivity in general, particularly in the garden areas. 

It's cold. It's foggy.  It's wet.  It's no fun to be out in the garden, and there's nothing much to do even if I do go out.  So, there's little going on.

I did manage to cut out the bamboo choking the forsythia (which is getting buds!).  Never... never... never plant bamboo in the ground. Keep that stuff contained!  I didn't plant it, it came with the house. 

Fortunately the heavy freezes last month seems to have killed back some of it. 

My son and I (mostly my son, although I was instrumental in steadying the ladder) cut a lot of dead or ugly branches off the leaning tree.  It looks better, so I don't think it needs to come down completely.  If the neighbor's want the two dead ones on their side off, they are welcome to do it!
Tomorrow the trash will finally take away the last of the branches.  Then I can start removing the junipers from the front yard. Oh, the transplanting of the iris to that area may have to wait.  I probably need to have new windows installed (water is forming between the windows and the storm windows, and apparently going right down into the wood, causing the paint to peel all the way down to bare boards) and I don't want the workers to trample them.  I've never owned a house before.  It sure is one thing after another, isn't it?  

At least I can plan the spring garden.  Seed catalogs have already started to appear in the mail.  I also need to buy another blueberry bush, as well as transplant the ones I have into larger containers. Then, the family put to a vote what kind of fruit tree to plant to replace poor Dale.  Peach won.  That means a Frost peach or an Oregon Curl Free peach, as I have childhood memories of peach leaf curl on my father's trees.  Frost and Oregon Curl Free are curl resistant, if not proof.  I'd still like an apple some day. 

While I long for a sunny day, we really need some rainy ones.  My back-back yard is usually underwater this time of year, but is only damp from foggy mornings.  Nice for now, bad for summer drought possibilities.