Sunday, January 27, 2013

Apple Tree Maintenance

The weather finally allowed me to spray my apple tree.  It has to be over 40 degrees, and not raining.  That has been rare weather for the past month!   I used dormant oil spray and a copper spray.  A woman at The Grange told me it was fine to mix the two, so I measured them into a 32 oz spray bottle.  That took a bit of math!  So many tablespoons per gallon is how many teaspoons per oz. etc.   After that it was as simple as spraying the liquid on all parts of the tree, being careful to get all the leaves, branches and trunk.  That might seem like a "no brainer," but remember Dale is my first fruit tree!  (See March 12, 2012 for The Story of Dale.)

Apple Tree Sprays for Dormant Use
 I also got him pruned.  Correctly?  That's yet to see!

Prunings off Dale
The nasty dug out parts of the trunk (where I found borers) are looking better.  Nothing dead or rotting at all.  The Master Gardens with Jackson County told me that it didn't look like I would need to fill the holes, and they were right!  Those Master Gardeners sure know their stuff!  I made sure to get a generous amount of spray mixture into the borer holes.  I will respray in two weeks. 

Borers just dug out - November 11, 2012
Same wound healing up nicely - January 17, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pretty Winter Sights

Along with the extra cold weather has been some really pretty ice and frost.  This is new to me, even though I lived at 5,000 feet for one long winter.  There it snowed, but none of the pretty ice crystals and ice needles we are getting here. 

These are some of the winter wonderland sights from two mornings ago...

Ivy Berries

Chain Link Gate

Cedar Bough

Apple tree and Erika
Edward, who has to lick everything at least once, tasting the frost.  He has a particular liking for frozen dirt.
The "fuzz" on the rocks and gnome is really ice!

The amazing thing is how resilient lettuces are!  Frozen stiff in the morning, and fresh for picking in the afternoon.  They seem so fragile, but apparently they are tougher than they look!

Lettuces picked the afternoon after the above photos were taken.  They were frozen stiff earlier in the day. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Last of the Wild Blackberries

I used the last of my wild blackberries last night.  I made a delicious cobbler.  I was thinking too fondly of those brambles as I stirred the berries over the stove.  I have to remember how they were overtaking the yard!  A foot of bramble quickly became five feet, then before the summer was over, eight feet. 

They did draw in the pollinators though.  In this photo there is both a bumblebee and a butterfly. 

The Boysenberry sticks better live up to their reputation!  They are my blackberry replacement.  As you may have read, I originally planned on raspberries, but nine free Boysens will do.  Better if they really can do wel in containers.  I have their locations all planned out.  I need to get them in next month or in March. 

As for the blackberry cobbler...

First Step: boiling the berries with sugar and cornstarch (yes, these are blackberries, they turned rather pink when frozen)

Ready to Bake!

Ready to Eat! 
So good, and so easy to make!
 You make this recipe in two steps.  One is the biscuit topping, the other is the berry part.

Berry part:
3-4 cups or so of fresh or frozen whole blackberries.  I had a medium sized freezer bag full.  
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS lemon juice (this helps the natural fruit pectin thicken)
2 TBS cornstarch (this also thickens it)
1/4 cup water

Place berries in a sauce pan.  In a bowl mix cornstarch and water.  Pour over berries.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  Bring to boil, stirring often.  Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of a greased 9x9 or similarly sized baking dish.  I used a metal square, but you can use a glass casserole dish too.

Biscuit topping:
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 TBS cold  margarine or butter (you can read the TBS on the cube wrapping, 6 TBS is almost all of it)
1/4 cup boiling water

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in margarine or butter.  Add boiling water and stir until a soft dough forms.  The boiling water will melt the butter crumbles.  

Drop spoonfuls of the dough on top of the berry mixture.  Just use your judgement as to size!  Not too large or thick or it will still be doughy inside after it bakes!

400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Check for brownness and remove when you like the looks!  I like mine a little bit crispier on top, so leave it a bit longer.  

Serve warm.  If you want top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  It is also delicious cold!  It's good reheated for breakfast too.  
How many servings?  Hmmm... at my house not many.  4 large maybe? 



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter Blahs...

Nothing much has been happening in the garden. It has been too rainy, too foggy, too icy, too snowy... just too to do anything!

It's been much colder than last winter.  There is more damage in the garden that I had last year.  My Christmas cactus was killed a few nights ago, on a covered porch.  It was fine last winter.  The lettuces are not going to winter over, this morning they were too far gone.  The chard wasn't looking too well either, but it wasn't looking good anyway.  For some reason it isn't growing tall.  It is forming ground level rosettes.  Nothing much I can harvest. 

Chard - stayed at ground level
I pruned the apple tree.  I have never done it before, so have no idea if I did it right!  I haven't been able to spray it yet (copper and dormant oil sprays) because it was too wet, and now it is too cold.  The tree does't seem to have any lasting damage to the borers I dug out of it.  Plus it is forming nice new buds.

Braeburn Apple Tree - buds under ice crystals January 17, 2013
The ice is rather pretty, but very cold.  If I have to go out in the car the next day, I park under the carport.  Otherwise the ice on the windows causes delays and frozen hands.  Interestingly, the ice crystals on the rose bushes are needle shaped, the apple tree ice is cubes. 

Rose - ice crystals January 17, 2013

So, forgive me the lapse in updating the garden!  I am doing some indoor preparations, buying some new things, etc.  I will be telling you all about those soon!  For now I'll leave you with a picture of silly ol' Boo, who doesn't mind the weather, he loves it all!