Tuesday, May 31, 2016

now just waiting for the party

squash seeds went in the ground - table queen acorn, table king acorn, butternut and yokohama; the last one came well recommended from baker creek seeds.

from japan in the mid 1800's.  not a variety you would find at your local nursery.

so the garden is pretty much done, just the last layering of straw to finish it up.

we will see how once a week watering works for squash.  coir has been added to the soil and with the layer of straw, i hope 2016 proves to be a water efficient year in the vegetable garden; just as 2015 proved it could be.

Monday, April 25, 2016

2016 season begins

second year of no-till.  pleasantly surprised that it results in less work and even better - successful plants.  weed mgt during the off season with a weed torch helps stay ahead of any issues.  i would think folks with a heavy clay type soil that benefit from working in organic matter, might feel differently - but us fluffy store bought soil guys can actually make no-till a way of life.

4 beds had their soil level augmented with a multitude of g&b chicken fert bags and the first four tomatoes went into the ground on 4/26.  4 more plants will hit the dirt in a few weeks when they get bigger.

on deck for the tomatoville mudhens:  cherokee purple, black zebra, celebrity and super fantastic!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

first tomato for 2015

and the winner is..... cherokee purple.  i have had a few sun golds, but according to farmer fred's rules - those dont count.  no worries.  so far watering once a week has worked out OK.  the coir and alfalfa mulch seem to be doing their jobs and we have had a string of very hot days.

who says you cant have a garden in a drought.  next year, maybe 6 tomato plants!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

the lady and the apple

if they grow as planned, these little apples will be my first ashmeads kernels since i planted the tree a few years ago.  its espaliered on the fence.  nice little bug keeping an eye on the garden for me too.

for your viewing pleasure.

yup - i am a weather geek

finally ponied up some bucks for a high-end weather station.  my buddy alan has had one for years and i had to have one.  it is wirelessly linked to the console in the house so i can track temp, wind, humidity and rain totals.

dont know why, but i love watching local weather on TV, been a weather geek for years and have enjoyed the best channel 3 has to offer in weather - shelly monohan, mark finan, angela buchman (i got a bday card from her back in the day - had a weather chick crush), eilene javora (who i saw at the local placerville safeway).

one day i will get it linked to the internet so the entire world will know what the weather is like in my tiny portion of the world.  until then, this is all you get....

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

i am now no-till

i have been a tiller since i have been a gardener.  its just the way its supposed to be.  so every spring, i would rip out the weeds and use the mantis to roto-till a bag or two of chicken poo into each bed - to prep for the impending growing season.

an example of my typical roto-tilling task:

well after listening to farmer fred http://farmerfred.com/ for years and hearing him and steve zion chatting about the lack of need to roto-till, i figured 2015 would be the year i give it a try.

i am always up for giving up an unnecessary chore and with last years re-set of the raised bed, this was the perfect time to give this no-till method a shot.

each bed was topped with gardener and bloom chicken fertilizer (essentially high priced mulch) this winter.  the poo was watered down with the 13 or so inches of rain we have seen this winter - so the beds are ready to go.  no-till should make for few weeds and the few that have popped up have been either pulled or torched.

so this week, 4 tomatoes were planted - 1 per bed; and when the hole was dug, it was apparent that there was good water penetration as the bed soil was nicely moist.  i buried the tomatoes deep, added dr earth vegetable fertilizer, coir (as explained in a previous post) and some azomite to add trace minerals and back-filled.

time will tell how well this no-till method will work - but i will keep you posted as to weeds and productivity of the tomatoes.

no-till beds with tomatoes and alfalfa bales:

grafting made simple

i have been a grafter for sometime now, albeit - not active.  my grandpa taught me how to graft in my learning orchard at my old house.  it was successful.  i grafted a wild variety of apple as a bud graft and also with the typical end of the limb type grafts.

fast forward 20 plus years - pa is gone and so is my learning orchard, and now i had a new challenge.  i am espaliering apples and pears on my fence at the new house.

the challenge?  fill in gaps on the espaliered trees so i can get more apple varieties and more horizontal growing branches.  if you have ever espaliered, one of the challenges is not enough lateral branches sprouting from the trunk or sprouting in the wrong place.

well obviously i cant be the first to come across this issue.  luckily the folks at Lee Valley have a tool that solves the problem.  The Plugger Bit allows you to drill a hole directly into the trunk - so you can place the scion at the exact spot you need an additional lateral branch.

so how do you fit in the scion?  simple - quickly run it thru a pencil sharpener and you have an exact geometric match for the hole the plugger bit created.  you still have to be sure you match up the cambium of the trunk and the scion, but based upon this years success, it works pretty darn good.

here is an example of honeycrisp scion grafted to the trunk of my ashmeads kernel:

you also need to seal the ends and the insertion point on the trunk and then support it.  i chose grafting wax for the sealer and good old electrical tape to hold the parts together until its all sutured up.

this my hosui asian pear that i grafted additional hosui scions to, to fill in gaps: