Paw-Paw Trees

We acquired two Paw Paw trees from One Green World last spring, along with an Oregon Grape.  The paw-paws need two trees to produce fruit so we bought two of them.  They were both about a foot high, once I’d planted them.  The first one grew several leaves fairly quickly, but the second one never did.  I called OGW a number of times to keep them abreast of its progress. They asked me to give it a “scratch” test.  This consisted of scratching the bark to see if the tree was alive and green beneath.  It continued to be green but it never produced any leaves.  By fall, I’d given up on it.  They agreed to send me another come this spring.  I’ll give them a quick call next week.  In the meantime, I’m hoping that other one will start to bud.  The cherry, apple and peach trees have started to bud but perhaps the Paw-Paw is a later budder!  I’ll find out.  We chose the Paw Paw for its custard like, highly proteinous, sweet fruit.

April 2012 – We went by One Green World last weekend and picked up our replacement Paw-Paw Tree.  They gave us one which was quite a bit bigger than last year’s.  I’ve planted it, so I’m hoping for the best.  Both Paw-Paws look like they have the beginning of buds on them.

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Spring Summer Garden 2012

March 20, 2012

I’ve opened up another section of the garden, about increasing it 30%.  This section is going to be planted entirely into wheat straw.  Yes! Straw Bale Gardening!! I picked up 27 bales of straw at $2.00 a bale from a local farmer.  That really beats buying enough dirt to cover the same area!  I’ve scrounged enough chicken poo from the coop to cover 4 bales, which should put them well on the way to decomposition.  Actually, by the time the first of June arrives, they should be well on the way to decomposition.  According to one website, if you put them out 10 days ahead of planting into them, you need either chicken poo or aluminum sulfate to urge the process.  But I’m a good 2 months early, so they should be ready to go by the first of June, which is our last frost day.  I’ll need to line up a soaker hose on each bale to make sure they stay plenty damp. I’ll keep you posted on progress!

As for getting ready for spring, aside from the 100 broccoli starts, more Chinese greens are growing, green  peppers, celery, 4 varieties of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, endive and parsley.  I started sugar peas last December and put them out a week ago.  The vines were all about a foot long.  They survived one freezing night and seem to be climbing right up the nylon grid.

As for the rest of the garden, I’m going to pick up some “almost compost” from a farm nearby in the morning.  I’ll cover the rest of the raised beds with that which should prepare the beds for June, too.  In the mean time, I need to repair the fences to keep the chickens out and reinstall all of the watering systems.

March 22, 2012

I picked up about two yards of “almost compost” from a local farmer yesterday! It is really steaming horse poo mixed with straw.  I thought I’d be able to put it fairly deep in my raised beds, but it seems I need to let it process a bit longer.  I’ll wait until fall and spread it over my raised beds in preparation for next year.

The master gardener at the Marion County OSU Extension Service also noted that you don’t want to disturb the soil deeper than, really, just a scratch to plant seeds.  It destroys the structure of the soil, killing many beneficial microbes.  The advice: layer your compost on top in the early fall, after your harvest, grow a crop of buckwheat which will die with the first frost.  What’s left of that will protect your bed.  In the spring, remove the buckwheat remains and get ready to plant!

March 24, 2012

Poisonous Parsnips:

We become aware today that harvesting over wintered parsnips, in the bright sun, can cause some pretty severe blistering to your hands.  This site has more details: http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/

April 4, 2012

I had a pretty productive weekend.  I repotted from flats into quart pots 5 kinds of cabbage.  They should be harvestable from mid June through the winter.  I potted about 20 plants of each type.  I also potted from flats Brussels sprouts and Carnation seedlings. I also put into a raised bed 20 or so broccoli plants that I’d germinated last December.  They vary from 3 inches to 10 inches high, but they’re all really floppy.  I put some agri-cloth over them, as well as over the newly sown carrots.  The carrots also vary from 70 day to 220 days maturity.

It seems that I’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t germinate the spring crops so early as it may diminish the productivity of the plant.  I guess I’ll see.  On the other hand, I’d read that you can actually sow some seeds the previous fall with them coming up when the weather warms enough. I germinated these seeds inside but once germinated they grew in my cold greenhouse.  We never received a real cold snap this year so everything did fairly well in there!  I should have germinated the greens during August or early September, though.

I have one actual raised bed in the greenhouse in which I planted sweet potatoes last year.  In the fall, after the sweet potato harvest, I planted some onions and carrots.  It seems that they’re finally starting to grow.  I’m thinking that had I sown the seed earlier, I might have had some actual winter or early spring carrots and onions.  I’ll try this again next fall sowing earlier and try to increase the heat into the greenhouse by routing the dryer exhaust into it.

The bales of straw are slowly decomposing.  I threw some new dropped chicken poo on a couple of bales; on a few others, new collected steaming “almost compost” horse droppings and yet on a few others, aluminum sulfate or sulfite and yes, on another, constant annointings of whey left over from making yogurt!

April 9, 2012

I finished moving all of the broccoli from the greenhouse into the one raised bed.  The first ones I transplanted a week or so ago are standing up now.  That’s a good sign! I noticed a snail in the bed and it looked like some insects were munching on the leaves, I sprayed the plants down with Organicide, a fish based insecticide, then surrounded the bed with the pelleted snail bait.

I transplanted from a flat 10 cauliflower seedlings and a bunch of flowers into pots. I also transplanted 20 turnip seedlings into the carrot bed…along the edge.  We’ll see how they do. I’ve been keeping the entire bed fairly damp, since it quit raining a couple of days ago.

I spent some time cleaning out the greenhouse today.  I’m going to put a layer of cedar hog fuel over the gravel floor.  It should hold down any insects.  I’m planning to use the hog fuel to surround the greenhouse and as a mulch this year.

April 21, 2012

Since my last update, we’ve planted a new olive tree in the middle of the backyard.  We’re looking forward to getting some olives off of it.

All of the transplanted broccoli looks good.  The carrots are starting to germinate!  In the greenhouse, all cabbages, tomato and squash seedlings are growing quickly.  I’m looking forward to getting those into the ground.  I guess I shouldn’t be too anxious for June 1st!  I have yet to set up the watering system.  My plan is to use soaker hoses on the straw bales and in the raised tomato bed.  The rest will be small sprayers. – More updates later!

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Winter Garden 2011 – 2012 Notes

The Greenhouse plants are doing well expect spinach and Merlot lettuce which were attacked by some bug.  The Greenhouse temps have dropped to as slow as 29 F  but usually stay above freezing.

Planted these seeds for germination today. 12/16/2011

  • New Zealand Spinach
  • Miner’s Lettuce
  • Corn Salad
  • Cilantro
  • Merlot Lettuce
  • Purple Broccoli
  • Chinese Veges: Bok Choi, Joi Choi, Napa Cabbage

3/20/2012 Well, it was quite the winter.  The weather was fairly mild but the Greenhouse didn’t produce as well as I’d hoped.  I should have planted the above crops in late August outside, then brought the in before the first frost.  As it was, because I didn’t plant early enough, what survived the squirrel attack wasn’t ready to eat until late February.  As usual, I didn’t plant quite enough.  I should plant at least 10 pots of each.  I just transplanted the broccoli into 4 in pots; they’re about 6 inches tall now, awaiting transplant to the outdoors.  I’ll put them out in mid-May.  The rest of the crops are well eatable now!

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Harvest 2011 Notes

Veggies

Potatoes: Overall good harvest; 40# or so from 4 x 10 plot.  The largest potatoes had brown interiors that looked like rot.  It occurred from over watering.  The normal sized potatoes were fine and tasty.

Sweet Potatoes:

Georgia Sweets

The Georgia Sweets harvest was disappointing.  Each slip only yielded 2 to 3 potatoes each.  These were planted in the green house.  It evidently didn’t get hot enough in the greenhouse to produce more.  The outdoor raised bed slips didn’t yield more just a few vines, but no potatoes.  I’m guessing that the summer wasn’t hot enough.  I harvested the greenhouse potatoes during the first week of October, once the greenhouse was staying at around 50 degrees.  Of course the following week, things warmed up into the 80’s again!

Paprika Peppers: Harvested 10/24.  Only 5 out of 20 peppers, from 5 plants, turned reddish.  I’ve saved a couple of hundred seeds for next years use.  I dried half of these in a food dryer for later use, and used the second half in a canned up green tomato salsa.

Cayenne Peppers: Harvested 10/24. Only a third of the harvest had time to turn red before the first frost.  The red one I put into my ham sandwich for lunch was plenty hot, though it was a red one.  I used a couple of these dried peppers to season the green tomato salsa.  Because we used primarily green peppers instead of Anaheim, the salsa turned out pretty sweet.  the kids like it!

California Wonder Green Peppers: Harvested early Oct or late Sept.  Not an exceptional harvest, but adequate.  I probably harvested them too early for the reds to turn red.  They were looking too close to being spoiling so I grabbed them!

Cantaloupe: 2010 sowed directly outdoors in early spring.  They drowned in heavy rains and cold weather.  In 2011, germinated in 5″ pots, then transplanted when soil warmed.  Used pole hole digger, used PowerPlant fill hole, then transplanted vines to climb on fence.  Vines really didn’t take off until July.  As of Sept, 3 fruit are on one vine.  Weather is in the 90’s.  Harvested 4 small but very sweet cantaloupes in late Sept.  Recommendations for 2012: Plant more plants. GH germinate in 5” pots plenty early then transplant when the weather really warms. Make sure vines climb trestle of some sort.

Tomatillo: I transplanted 10 plants against a fence for support.  Over the entire summer, I gathered 4 gallon ziplock bags full.  These are in the freezer, awaiting “salsification!”

Tomato: I transplanted both Yellow Taxi, Money Maker and Oregon Spring tomatoes.  I transplanted 20 in a raised 4 x 10 bed and 20 in 15″ pots.  I won’t use pots anymore because I didn’t get them set up to water well enough.  The first batch of the fruit had blossom end rot.  I didn’t get around to treating the ground for that problem, but it seemed to resolve itself.  I ended out with a late but tasty harvest.  We made several pints of yellow tomato jelly and ate the rest of them. Recommendations for 2012: Use only raised beds, make sure to germinate the seeds early enough.  Transplant the seedlings to large enough pots (over 5″) for later transplant to the garden.

Garlic:I planted all the cloves from three bulbs of Oregon garlic last October.  This is the entire harvest!

Our First Garlic Harvest

I planted 150 cloves earlier in October.  I’m looking forward to next spring’s harvest!

Zucchini: Here it is, the end of October with temps dropping to the high 30’s and what do I harvest today!?  The only notable zucchini of the summer!  They were transplanted from the greenhouse into a 5″ wide and 10″ hole of PowerPlant, in line with several summer squash, acorn, and butternut squash plants.  The summer squash and butternuts did fabulously but from the zucchini, hardly a squash!

Summer Squash: We were eating those until we were sick of them!  I froze a few gallons bags of them.

Acorn Squash: A sad harvest indeed! We got 3 fist sized squash!  Last year, we had several from only one or two plants.

Nuts:

Black Walnuts

We beat the squirrels to at least 3 gallons of Black Walnuts this year.  It’s the first year we’ve tried harvesting the nuts from our Black Walnut Tree.  They’ve been curing in the greenhouse for at least two weeks.  One of these days, I’ll crack and sample one!  We didn’t have to go to the trouble of removing the green outer layer.  Either the squirrels or the weather did that for us.  We just picked up the nuts from the ground!

Herbs:

I usually germinate just enough seeds to grow enough plants that I think we’ll use.  This year I always germinated each entire seed packet!  This way, each plant wasn’t so precious to me!

Large Leaf Basil– grew well in both pots and raised bed.  We continuously clipped a couple of inches from the tops of each plant which pushed the growth down to make each plant fairly bushy.  Also harvested the large lower leaves for pesto.  Recommendation for 2012: Grow an entire 4 x 4 bed of this basil as well as a few pots to extend the season in the greenhouse.  Outdoor basil dropped leaves at 40 degrees.  All fo the leaves need to be harvested before the weather even threatens to drop into the lower 40’s.

Cinnamon Basil: – Grew in pots.  Grew well, but I don’t think we used it too much.

Thia Basil: – Grew 3 pots of this and used it continually in stir fry.  It’s kept its leaves, so far even though the temp has fallen below 40 at night.

Black and White Mustard Plants– I planted these to harvest the seeds to make our own mustards. but we got hooked on the really spicy hot leaves!  I’ve been harvesting the seed pods as they turn brown.  I’ll get enough seeds to plant a whole lot of it next year.

Fenugreek: A medicinal herb.  I grew this to harvest the seed pods, as well.  These are supposed to be harvested after the first freeze.  I think, though, I lost out on these because the weeds over took them.

Roman Chamomile – I grew this to harvest the fragrant tiny yellow flowers for tea.  We’ve never gotten around to harvesting them, though.  They did grow well.

Thyme- 

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Winter Garden Oct 2011 Notes

Again, I was late in planting this year! My goal was September planting but I didn’t get around to it until now!

I’ve planted these in the greenhouse.  The greenhouse is a cold one with no heat at all.  I cover the plants with agricultural cloth to protect them from the cold in extreme (below freezing) temps.  The British call this cloth, “fleece!”  I like that, so I’ll refer to “fleeced” plants from now on!

 

 

 

 

Greenhouse Crops:

The Greenhouse Winter Garden

Miner’s Lettuce: Germinated after 5 days, photographed 11/13

Miner's Lettuce

Chinese Hybrid Cabbage: Germinated after 2 days

Chinese Cabbage

Ching Chiang: Germinated after 5 days

Ching Chiang

Dazzle Romaine Lettuce: Germinated as of 10/20

Dazzle Romaine Lettuce

Swiss Chard: Germinated as of 10/20

New Zealand Spinach: Germinated as of 10/20

Carrots: Planted 3 x 4 3 ft raised bed with seeds.  Germinated after a week. 2 ”  as of 10/20.

Snow Peas: 5 inches high as of 10/20

Oregon Sugar Peas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside Crops:

Beets: 2011: Planted directly in deep raised bed on 9/13/2011.  Covered with fabric.  By Oct, 2” high.  Recommendations for 2012: Next year, seed an entire bed in mid sept for a winter harvest.

Parsnips: Planted in the spring, in raised beds.  Looking good as of sept 2011

Garlic: Planted 150 cloves directly in the ground, where I just harvested white potatoes.  I used both large and small cloves.

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The Kumquat Tree

The Troubled Kumquat Tree

A quick note on my kumquat tree: I wintered it primarily in my cold greenhouse after a summer outdoors.  It produced 2 good sets of fruit during that time.  We had one or two bouts of 18 degree weather so I brought it and my lime and Meyer lemon tree indoors for the two weeks of cold.  None of those trees are not supposed to do well below 20 degrees.  By the beginning of spring, the lime and lemon trees had lost their leaves but as soon as the weather warmed, the leaves returned like block busters.  Now, in early June, their outside and starting to blossom.  The kumquat tree, by early spring hadn’t lost any of its leaves.  I attributed the other citrus trees leaf loss to shock from the indoors.  We have fire heat so the indoors stays fairly warm.  The kumquat tree seemed to weather the temperature changes just fine until later in the spring.  I noticed some bugs, aphids, it appeared, on the tree, so I sprayed in down with a fish oil based insecticide.  I’ll fill in the name of it when I remember it!  The first spray didn’t seem to do much so I sprayed it again a week later.  The next day, I discovered all but 5 leaves had fallen off of the tree.  The bugs had all disappeared though.
I set all trees out of the greenhouse after the weather remained above 40 in the evenings, expecting the kumquat tree to re-leaf.  The other two had done so by now.  I went to Al’s to pick up some miscellaneous spices and asked them about the tree.  The lady there stated that I should give it some Citrus Tone then to trim off any dead branches.  Evidently, the removing the dead branches would stimulate it.  I did so yesterday and by today, I see two new branches forming!  I’m looking forward to some new leaves and fruit!

March 2012

Those two branches turned out to be decked out in 2 inch thorns, which I don’t remember the tree having. No flowers so no fruit formed on them.  They grew to a foot and half long then broke off the trunk.  I had a conversation with an expert at Al’s…probably the third place I’d asked about it.  I told them that I’d used fish oil insecticide on it and the expert said that it was too harsh.  I should have used a Neem oil based product. So, so much for that story.  Lesson: use a neem oil based insecticide on citrus!

As for the Meyer Lemon and Lime trees, I left them in the greenhouse all winter without moving them.  My plan was to cover them if the temperature dropped below 20F.  It never did so I didn’t bother covering them.  They both have between 10 and 20 small fruit on them and the Lemon tree’s starting to blossom.  I look forward to some good fruit this year.

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The Germinator Installed

Hello Fellow Gardners
Spring is here, so I started the necessary preparations over my last 3 day weekend.  I’d already ordered some seeds from Territorial Seeds.  I went a little crazy with the peppers this year and bought some paprika peppers and creme boule peppers!  What fun!  I can’t wait until harvest.  I also purchased some hot peppers from Home Depot: Cayenne, Cubanelle, Anaheim, and a couple of others.
  In addition, I purchased a heating cable, designed to keep a contained plot of dirt at 70 degrees F.  The cable’s designed to sit a few inches beneath the surface in your planting bed.  I designed and built a 3 x 4 ft x 5 inch box in which to install the heating cable.  I was going to directly install in one of the greenhouse beds but decided that I wanted portability, in case I want to germinate the seeds next year in the garage that I’m finishing out.  Any, I installed the “Germinator” on top of one of the beds in the greenhouse, plugged it in and started planting!
I’m using a 1/2 soil blocker.  It creates 20 1/2 blocks, just perfect for the tiny seeds.  After thoroughly dampening the Germinator soil, I placed the seeded soil block, both directly on the soil, while others, I placed on a plastic bag.  In either case, I placed a piece of clear plastic wrap on each “crop” (if you can call 20 seeds, a crop!) to keep in the heat and moisture.  The greenhouse still dips into the upper forties at night so it might take a bit of work to keep the seeds warm enough.  I planted these: celery, Joi Choy, Tenderheart Chinese Cabbage, heirloom tomatoes (a few left over tomato seeds from a collection of tomatoes from 2009.  Maybe they’ll germinate, maybe not), banana peppers, New Zealand Spinach, Taxi Tomatoes (yellow), Paprika Peppers, Marigolds, marjoram, Oregano, Cilantro, Creme Boule Peppers, Cumin, Astor Hybrid Peppers, CA Wonder Green Peppers, mustard seed (an experiment…a story later if they work), Lola Greenhouse tomatoes, Parsley, asparagus, Anaheim Chilies, Cubanelle Peppers or Chilies, Cayenne Peppers, Beira Tron…Cabbage, Poblano Peppers, Cinnamon Basil, and finally, Red Sweet Marconi Rosso Peppers. 
Once these are germinated and put into either pots or 2″ soil blocks, I’ll start the next batch of seeds!
By the way, we continue to enjoy the results of the winter garden.  The Merlot lettuce is especially proliferating. The miner’s lettuce, Bok choy, and arugula are going to seed, but still edible.  The radicchio is going great guns.
more later
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