Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aaaand - we're off!

I started some seeds indoors tonight for planting in out in a few weeks: Onions, leeks, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, head lettuce, parsley and artichokes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Perpetual Calendar

I really hope the world doesn't end in 2012 as I've been bustin' my hump ALL DAY creating a perpetual calendar for the garden. I feel like I'm back in school. Since sun up I've had my nose in a stack books (and on-line) pulling information and consolidating it into one excel spread sheet. It will be glorious and simplify my life considerably when it's all done but right now what a PITA to create. Still it's a good brush up on what will need to be done this year. I'm about 1/2 way through the herbs and 1/3 of the way though the fruits and veggies. It feels quite extensive however I know I'm missing things even as I go through them. I guess it'll just have to be a work in progress.

I also discovered that I need to prune my blueberry bushes this year. Zoinks, that makes me nervous!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Honey Crisp Apple

Be among the first to enjoy this delicious, new, patented variety from the University of Minnesota! A large, round, scarlet red fruit with a yellow background, Honeycrisp™ is very crisp, juicy, and flavorful. Honeycrisp™ ripens in early September and can be stored for several months in cool storage. It grows and colors best in the Northwest and other northern regions of the U.S.

Latin Name: Malus pumila
Class: Apples
Size at Maturity: 8-12 ft.
Rootstock Description: M-26 is considered a dwarf rootstock. Apple trees on M-26 typically grow 8-12 ft. in height and are usually spaced 8-12 ft. apart. Crabapples, Columnars, Espaliers, and Combination Apples will likely be smaller. M-26 induces early bearing, usually in 2-3 years after planting. M-26 grows well in most soils, except very wet and poorly drained ones. On windy sites, trees grafted on M-26 may need staking.
Pollination: All apples need another variety for pollination. Neighboring trees often offer sufficient pollen for good fruit set.
Pests & Diseases: All apples, except those that are described as disease resistant, can be affected by Apple Scab. Apple Scab is especially a problem in regions with wet springs, like we have in the Pacific Northwest. While it doesn’t seriously affect the eating quality of the fruit, it can cause black spots on the apples and foliage. Apple Scab can be controlled by sulfur and other sprays. Pests such as Codling Moth and aphids can also damage apples or the foliage of apple trees. See our Sulfur and Codling Moth traps in the Supplies section.
Hardiness: Most apples are hardy to minus 30º F or below
Bearing Age: 2-3 years after planting.
Bloom Time: April
Ripening Time: Early September
Yield: 30-50 lbs.
USDA Zone: 4
Sunset Western Zone: 1-9, 14-16
Sunset Northeast Zone: All zones

As described by the nursery, One Green World where it was purchased.

Formerly Minnesota #1711 (US plant patent #7197) by the University of Minnesota, a cross of Macoun x Honeygold. It is a large apple with at least 50% red color over yellow background. A reliable annual bearer that blooms in early to mid-season. This is a sleeper and had been acclaimed by testers across the nation, and not just from north of USDA zone 4.

Honey Crisp, like all Minnesota apples, was tested for many years and, as of this writing (1995) may be suggested for USDA zone 3 (northern Minnesota), at least for trial. I suggest testing in zones 4 - 8 and protected zone 3 on a cold hardy root stock in zones 3 or 4 (not the Malling series). Pick fruit around Sept. 10-15 in Minnesota.

Many nurseries have been granted the rights to propagate it; some known to me are Bailey Nurseries, Start Bros. Nurseries, and Burchell Nursery. Available in 1995/1996. In the "very good" class.

(Suggested for USDA zones 4-8)
This rootstock was derived from a cross of M.9 and M.16. M.16 had been named the Ketziner Ideal in Germany and was known to be very cold hardy. This cold hardy trait persisted in M.26. M.26 is the only commonly grown Malling rootstock to survive the frequent severe test winters at the University of Minnesota, such as the one in 1983/84, but it does have its limits.

M.26 produces a tree that is 15-20% larger then those on M.9 in the same soils and climates. One must be careful with certain vigorous triploid cultivators on this root as they become shockingly large, especially Gravenstein, Mutsu, Baldwin and Holstein. On the other hand, when the heavily fruiting triploid Jonagold is grafted to M.26, the tree size is medium, but i use minimum nitrogen and bend the leader over to restrict size.

M.26 rootstock should not be free standing the first five to seven years, or too many trees fall over or lean badly, unless one is willing to defruit them for some years and keep them growing very straight. Because M.26 roots tend to make certain cultivars grow in a crooked configuration, it is difficult to keep them growing straight during any time frame. Most of the small commercial orchardists I work with prefer to us the trellis.

Disease resistance varies. In eastern North America M.26 is sensitive to tomato ring-spot virus, which is transmitted in soils infested with the dagger nematode. The virus affects the graft union, usually killing the tree, and is called brown-line decay or apple union necrosis. In poorly drained soils that occasionally puddle, it is susceptible to collar rot (Phytopthera cactorum) an other Phytopthera species. Although it does not sucker, the root is susceptible to fireblight. In those areas with this bacterial disease, M.26 rootstock should not be used, and M.7A is a better choice.

Cultivatars on M.26 rootstock are quite susceptible to drought and I would not use it in any areas depending on variable summer rainfall, unless supplementary irrigations has been supplied.

Here in the Willamette Valley we summer irrigate almost all apple rootstocks so M.26 has proven to be an outstanding performer, giving very high production. It seems easy to care for on a trellis as we do not have fireblight to worry about, and apple union necrosis has not been detected in this area. EMLA.26 is a virus-free clone.

Source: Apples for the 21st Century by Warren Manhart. pp189-190 pp220/221

Other apples to consider if I ever get room for more trees: Elstar, Spitzenberg, Braeburn and Newtown.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Siren Song of the Seed Catalogs!

Well tonight sure has been fun! I'm trying not to go nuts with ordering seeds and plants but gosh it's *hard*!

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:
Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash
Tigger Melon
I'm *really* proud of this short order as there are about a bazillion different varieties I wanted to order from this company!

One Green World:
Canadice Grape Vine
Honeycrisp Apple Tree
Yeah, after all that studying and tasting and wavering back and forth, I'm just gettin' the dang Honeycrisp. I would've bought an Elstar but I couldn't find anyone that had any in stock or would ship to Oregon. Foo! I'm also not eeeeentiiiiiirly sure where that grape vine is going either. ::blushes:: BUT, the kiddo and DH both love grapes so I'll be sure to just scooch something aside to make room for it. Heh. Next year I've got to figure out where a raspberry vine or two can be plunked in too.

Annual Flower Garden Seed Collection
Cleome, Cornflower, Cosmos, Marigold, Nasturtium and Zinnia.
Normally I wouldn't order from this company but because it's a non-food item and I want the flowers mostly to attract pollinators I feel like it's okay. It was sold as a collection for less then it would've cost me to buy all the seeds separately at their or other company. I'm excited to plant this in the bed behind the peach tree - there was nothing there all last year so this riot of color should be wonderful in the summer! Also because they're annuals it won't crowd the peach tree as it gets older.

Territorial Seed Company
Canoe Shelling Peas
Early Jalapeño Pepper
Nova Tomato
Black Prince Tomato
San Marzano Gigante Tomato
I didn't have *nearly* enough tomato plants last year. What the heck was I thinking? So I'm going with these guys - again I'm not too sure where they're all going to go yet. Guess I should stop shopping and finish with the garden planning.

...and if you've never started plants from seeds before it's pretty dang easy: Seed Starting Video.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 Garden Recap

I was asked recently, "I too have been drooling over the seed catalogs. So...out of everything you grew last year what will you not be growing this year?"

Like New Year resolutions it's good to look back at the garden and evaluate what worked and what didn't and why. Is it worth taking another stab with a variety of something or is it best to know when to fold 'em? I would say there's a few things that I will not be planting again. Out of the 45 or so varieties of fruits and veggies that I'm am growing these will not make it back into the garden.... this year at any rate.

Any varieties of the bright green loose leaf lettuce in the spring. The buggies *adore* them. I can grow a freckled red and green lettuce that tastes just as sweet and the slugs and snails could give a poop less about it. Heh. Since I have the seeds, and it seems a waste to NOT try to plant them) I'll save them for the fall when the soft bellied beasts are scarce.

Fairytale squash and pumpkin. While these are two delightful varieties the bugs once again loved them. The pumpkin came out er, marbled with gnawed in little tracks. The squash has been good but I have way too much of it, far more then I'm eating and well, we're just not consuming enough to justify it's existence in the garden next year. Plus I'm "losing" a bed to the apple tree this year so I don't have the space even if I wanted to keep growing winter squashes.

The only reason I even attempted to grow these is because Sophie love pickles. I was hoping that they'd come ripe all at once and I could make a big batch of pickles. However, despite three failed attempts to get them to grow in my garden I did get four plants to finally live and they were sparse indeterminate producers. Also, no one likes cucumbers! lol... So, fail.


I may or may not grow potatoes. I do love the smell of the flowers but they take up a lot of room and I had trouble with some varieties. If I do find a spot for them I will most likely grow Russet and Yukon Golds. I made THE BEST potato leek soup with the ones from the garden last year. I'll also have to work a little harder at the taters since I kinda ignored them more then I would've liked. If I can figure out where to put a potato box I'd grow them for sure.

Maybe, maybe not. This got hit really hard with powdery mildew last summer. It might be worth it if I can keep more on top of trimming it up and finding an organic solution to the mildew.

I'm not sure, I had such trouble growing these... since I have seeds I might give them another try but for whatever reason I couldn't get them to get bigger then my pinky nail before they keeled over. Too much water? Sometimes I do like the watering can a bit too much!

Other crops did give me some trouble but I like them enough to make it worth giving it another go.
Artichokes: bugs and fungal issues.
Garlic: fungal issues, but I also moved them around too much while still trying to build garden beds so they should stay really put this time around.
Roma Tomatoes: I had some blossom end rot but over all once the water schedule was tightened up this improved dramatically and I did get a good second round of lovely tomatoes.
Spinach: Is in the realm of beets (can't get it much beyond the sprout phase) but since we love to eat it I'm determined to get it to grow.
Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower: I only planted these in the fall and didn't have much success because I think the planting time was off. I need to figure it out better this year. The cold came too quick for them. I'm hoping that a spring planting will treat them better. I love brassicaceae veggies.
Onions: I think my problem with the onions was just getting a late start. I also need to check the seedling temps so they get the right start. They hardly bulbed at all. I had much better luck with blub sets but even then I had a few flower. Zoinks. I thought onions were supposed to be easy!
Hot peppers: I learned my lesson - less water for success!

These will have a place in my garden for as long as I can stand to grow them. They were vigorous, resistant to disease and pests and were super tasty.
Sweet corn: Easy to grow, sweet and a good producer.
Peas: I don't think I could ever grow too many peas. These are wonderful for snacking on straight off the vine. Even Sophie was eager to pick 'em. (along with the blueberries and strawberries)
Green Beans: Also easy to grow and vigorous. We got a steady flow of beans, enough for fresh eating and canning.
Radishes: If anything these were too easy to grow! lol... we could barely eat them all.
Sweetheart Grape Tomatoes: Also a wonderful producer and fantastically sweet and perfect for snacking out of the garden, roasting, salads, etc. I think this was my favorite of all the plants I grew in 2009.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Garden Planning

I can't believe it's time to start planting my seedlings for early spring crops in about two weeks. Seems like I just wrapped up the garden! Better order the few seeds I'm missing this week. Also I miss fresh veggies. I'm surprised how much of a difference I've noticed in taste between what I pick and eat out of the garden and what I buy at the store. It's a lot more noticeable in some veggies then in other, peaches, peas and broccoli have a much better taste, (it's a huge difference to me) coming out of the garden where as something like carrots or bell pepper taste nearly the same as what I can get in the store. I still haven't finished planning out what's going where yet. I better get on that. Mother nature sure isn't going to wait around for little ol me!

What fruits and veggies do you find have an improved taste coming straight from the garden rather then what you can buy in the store.

BTW Hope everyone had lovely holidays and a Happy New Year!