Friday, September 4, 2015

What's with this (crab) apple tree?

I was at a meeting today and noticed a beautiful crab apple tree with apples on the ground under it.

Huh?

Had to take a closer look, and this is what I found.

Large apples on the same branches as small crabapples.

What's going on?

This does not appear to be grafting magic, because apples and crab apples were growing on hte same branches!

Can anyone shed some light on this wonder?


Friday, August 14, 2015

Welcome to the plant zoo

There are a few corridors at work that have wonderfully large windows overlooking lush gardens with flowers, shrubs and trees. I was walking through one of them today and discovered new signs, stuck on the windows, just in front of each type of plant. AND, they have QR codes if someone wanted to learn more about what they saw. Here's what it looks like walking past the plants and signs. Neat idea and nice use of mobile technology.







Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chickens discover gooseberries

This weekend I harvested gooseberries and learned several things.

  1. One variety has thorns, one has less. The thorny bush is scheduled for departure this autumn. I have visions of using layering to propagate a living edible hedge around my community garden that may have holes big enough for ground squirrels and rabbits, but may deter deer!
    This variety seemed to produce slightly smaller berries, many more berries and ripened before variety #2.
  2. The other variety is not quite thornless but awfully close, had larger, fewer berries and ripened later than it's thorny cousin. I hope to again use layering to propagate a few more of these and add them to the front yard. It wasn't nearly as painful harvesting this variety.
Gooseberries ripen and then fall off the bush as easily as mulberries do. This means there were a lot on the ground. I scooped up many of them and fed them to the chickens. The girls seemed to love them!

video



Friday, July 31, 2015

A Good Farmer's Husband (and the inherent perils)

Guest post this evening—this is Jay, Josh's husband. Josh is off on an adventure that I'm quite sure he'll blog about soon. In his absence, I've had a couple of small projects he asked me to do, including harvesting the garlic in the front yard and hanging it in the garage to cure with the rest he harvested and we hung together, and picking the remaining pea pods. I did that earlier in the week.

I noticed the grass was getting long in the back yard (the only grass we have). Josh does most of the mowing—heck, he does most of the outside stuff. I am the "yes dear" with the outside projects. That is, Josh says, "Let's build an orchard in the front yard." "Yes, dear." "Let's build raised beds in the back yard." "Yes, dear." "Let's add two hugelkultur beds in the back yard." "Yes, dear." And I jump in and help. I help with preparing beds and planting in the spring, and harvest in the fall. Josh does most everything else.

Anyway, I thought I'd be a good husband and mow the back yard while he's gone. While I was mowing, I noticed the ever-present Creeping Charlie was encroaching on the asparagus beds. So I circumnavigated each bed, pulling it up. Between the bed and fence it was so thick, I literally rolled it all up from the dirt like carpeting.

Then I checked out the hardy kiwi Josh planted, for which we built the trellis. I saw that it was doing a great job of vining on the asparagus, shown right. I teased it apart from the asparagus (no small feat!), and trained it up on the wires of the trellis.
Hardy Kiwi and Asparagus at war

Much better
Nettles, right?
I then continued weeding around the beds. When I got to the east end of the beds, I grabbed a weed and tossed it behind me. It felt little thistle-y. Within moments my right hand started stinging. What the...! I ran into the house and washed my hands several times with dish soap. Must have been nettles.

OK, now the Farmer's Husband knows what nettles look like. Be careful with nettles. No more nettles stings. [Yeah, I probably should have warn gloves.]

I come back outside and continue my weeding. A few seconds later, "ow, OW. OWOWOW!" I got two bee stings, one on the back of my left hand, the other above my left elbow. I went in—again—and washed, and checked for stingers. I didn't find one.

I went back out again (can you see it coming?) and got stung AGAIN by a bee—this time below my left knee. There must be a beehive on the east end of the asparagus beds. All bad things happen on the east end of asparagus beds. I took a Benadryl.

I'm attempting to NOT have my lesson be to avoid doing yard work. :o) However, we will need to do something about the bees, I think.

So, I have a lightly stinging right hand, and three stinging welts. What an adventure! However, it's very gratifying to see the kiwi vines getting trained on the trellis. I can't wait for Josh to post pictures in the future when it's really established in a couple of years. Fresh kiwis here we come!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kiwi trellis installed

Hardy kiwis are vines.
Kiwis?

In Wisconsin?

You betcha.

Hardy kiwis are a sprawling plant that, given time and neglect, can take down a building with heavy vines and fruit. Mine are wispy things that I fear won't survive the summer, much less the winter. But with faith and a credit card to buy new ones next spring should something die, Jay, friend Dale and I built one heck of a trellis last weekend.

The kiwis are planted on the north side of my asparagus bed. They are in the raised bed because Dale told us they don't like to be in compacted soil, so I put them where they won't be trod over.

Using cedar 4x4" posts and fencing supplies from Farm and Fleet, we put together a handsome trellis that should last for years to come.

For now, the plants are merely staked, they haven't even reached the lowest wire. As they grow, I will train them along the wires.

Kiwis are male and female, one male for up to nine female plants. I have two varieties of females, and each has it's accompanying male. They all flower and smell divinely. This will be an exercise in patience however, it will be some years before we taste the delicious fruit.






Saturday, July 11, 2015

One good thing about the cool summer

Peas and lettuce are very happy. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant however are not.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Flowers in the terrace

I took a walk around the front yard to see what was in bloom. It started to sprinkle lightly, just enough to make the flowers look a little more magical than they already are. Here's a visual tour. While I'm good at identifying my veggies, if you're able to help ID any of these, THANK YOU. I'll put a number in the caption line under each, see how many you know!


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