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The Birth of an Arboretum  RSS feed

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Over the last few weeks, we have finished up planting our first year selections for the arboretum.  Since nearly all the selections produce a food crop, it can also be considered an orchard.  However, our real orchards will be developed based on the varieties that do well in the arboretum.

Our plan is to put in as large a diversity of types of fruit/nut/berry varieties over the next couple of years that we can.  Once we see how these initial plantings do, they can be refined based on success.  The best selections will be propagated in nursery beds and then planted out in larger orchards.

It has been quite a bit of prep work to get here, but now that the plants are in, we get to slow down and settle in to maintenance and observation mode. 

All of these plants have been put in to hugelkultur beds.  Over the years, this should drastically reduce the amount of irrigation and fertilization that would be necessary if the plants were planted in a typical fashion in our climate.

The layout of the beds is designed to intermingle taller trees with shrubs, brambles, vines and low growing perennials and annuals (herbs, nitrogen fixers, vegetables, etc…).  While the trees are getting established, we will also be able to use the hugel beds for growing annuals such as squash, melons, etc.  By amending planting hills in the beds for these crops we will be able to get some early yields and make use of the extra sun until the canopy fills in.

Most of the arboretum selections are within 100 feet of the home-site (we’re still working on getting the house built), and all are within 250 feet.  This keeps the plants close enough (within zone 1 or 2 in permaculture terms) to our main focus so that it will be easy and natural to pay frequent attention to how they progress and quickly identify any problems.  Due to a high density of deer in the area, a substantial portion of the arboretum is enclosed in a double fence (what will someday be a chicken/duck moat).  Those plants that are not likely to be bothered by browsing deer are planted outside the fence (figs, persimmon, jujube, etc…).

Here is the list of selections for this year:

Nuts
Almond Seaside
Almond Titan
Apricot Chinese Sweet Pit
Apricot Hunza
Chestnut Collosal seedling
Chestnut Schrader
Chestnut Skioka
Chestnut Seedling (chinese)
Filbert Jefferson
Filbert Santiam
Filbert Yamhill
Goldenhorn Seedling
Siberian Pea Shrub Seedling
Walnut Ambassador

Fruits
Apple Enterprise
Apple Evereste (crab)
Apple Fiesta
Apple Kingston Black (cider)
Apple Williams Pride
Apricot Hunza
Apricot Chinese Sweet Pit
Asian Pear Hosui
Asian Pear Shinko
Asian Pear Twentieth Century
Asian Pear Chojuro
Asian Pear Ichiban
Asian Pear Korean Giant
Asian Pear Tsu Li
Asian Pear Yoinashi
Cherry New York 518
Cherry Vandalay
Cherry Surefire (duke)
Cherry Utah Giant
Cherry Stella
Fig Black Mission
Fig Dessert King
Fig Texas Blue Giant
Fig Sultane
Fig Italian Honey (Lattarula)
Fig Brown Turkey
Fig Hardy Chicago
Fig Violette deBordeaux
Jujube Kima
Jujube Li
Jujube Lang
Jujube Sherwood
Mulberry Beautiful Day
Mulberry Kokusa Korean
Mulberry Oscar
Mulberry Pakistan
Mulberry Illinois Everbearing
Nectarine Necta Zee (dwarf)
Olive Mission
Olive Saracena
Peach Q18
Peach Rick Landt
Peach Fourty-niner
Peach El Dorado (dwarf)
Pear Early Homestead
Pear Bosc
Pear White Doyenne
Pear Conference
Persimmon Chocolate
Persimmon Coffee Cake
Persimmon Suruga
Persimmon Izu
Persimmon Giant Fuyu
Plum Elephant Heart (japanese)
Plum Howard Miracle (japanese)
Pomegranate Parfianka

Berries
Aronia Seedling
Autumn Olive Delightful
Autumn Olive SweetnTart
Autumn Olive Brilliant Rose
Blueberry Duke
Blueberry Elliot
Blueberry Toro
Blueberry Darrow
Blueberry Draper
Blueberry Elizabeth
Bramble Blackberry - Chester
Bramble Blackberry - Triple Crown Thornless
Bramble Boysenberry
Bramble Loganberry - Thornless
Bramble Raspberry - Jewel Black
Bramble Raspberry - Anne (Golden)
Bramble Raspberry - Caroline
Bramble Raspberry - Autumn Britten
Bramble Raspberry - Meeker
Bramble Raspberry - Rosanna
Bramble Tayberry
Bush Cherry Jan
Bush Cherry Joy
Currant Black
Currant White
Currant Orus 8
Elderberry Nova
Elderberry Johns
Gooseberry Black Velvet
Gooseberry Glendale
Gooseberry Hinnomaki Red
Gooseberry Hinnomaki Yellow
Goumi Sweet Scarlet
Goumi Raintree Select Seedling
Musk Strawberry Capron
Musk Strawberry Profumata
Musk Strawberry Male
Serviceberry Regent
Serviceberry Thiessen
Serviceberry Autumn Brilliance
Strawberry Earliglow
Strawberry Jewel
Strawberry Shuksan

Misc
black locust Seedling
Pear Rootstock OHxF 333
Apple Rootstock EMLA 26
Camellia sinensis Russian tea
Camellia sinensis Blushing Maiden
Vitex Seedling?
Comfrey Cutting

In addition to the above plants, I also have 12 varieties of wine/juice/fresh eating grapes picked out that will be planted over the next month.

As time goes on and the plants begin to grow, we will be taking photos and documenting their growth and yields.
 
Leif Kravis
Posts: 78
Location: Toronto Canada
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i'm wowed, my plan for this year is a few berry bushes, a hazel and either a salmonberry or plum, i have a tiny downtown lot, though the land in Jamaica is steadily being planted. i hope for your success, like the plan.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Thanks!  Looking forward to warmer weather.

Best wishes for your plantings, as well!
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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The first freeze of this Fall hit our area last night.  It has been a great year for the fruit, nut and berry plants.

The mulberry trees as a group took highest honors, with a ridiculous 8 feet of new growth on the Pakistan mulberry tree.  It was a good sized whip to start with (~5', and decided to put a few leaves and fruit out on the top buds, then put all energy in to a lower bud and took off.  The leaves were gorgeous, heart-shaped and the size of a dinner plate. Other mulberry tree types did well, also, with good growth from Beautiful Day, Oscar, Kokusa and Illinois Everbearing.

Runner up in terms of vigor, were the Autumn Olives.  They started very slowly in the Spring, but it seemed pretty apparent once they formed their relationship with the nitrogen fixing bacteria.  The size of the leaves doubled and seemed to glow with health.  They finished with about 3-4 feet of new growth on them for the season.  Looks like some nice buds forming for next year.  Kudos to Hector Black for some quality plant breeding.

The peaches all grew vigorously, as did most of the asian pears and apples, along with the pomegranate.  The exception on the apple was for the Kingston Black.  It stayed small and suffered from grasshopper damage.  I will likely replace it next year with Arkansas Black due to better disease resistance and a similar utility.  The genetic dwarf peach and nectarine were family favorites as they look like something from a childrens story.  The peach gave us a number of fruits in August and they were very good.  I expect a good crop from both next year.

Most other plantings put on moderate to low growth during this first year.  In general, if I see 6-12" of new growth, I am confident that the plant will do well.  I'm still recording final growth numbers, but I believe >60% of the different types met or exceeded this criteria.

A few types of plants did not survive or thrive.  The deer browsing was even worse than I had feared on unprotected plants.  By the time I got cages up around EVERYTHING, the damage was done for some plants.  Neither elderberry survived, which shocked me.  They have been some of my most bullet-proof plants in the past.  The persimmons did not thrive and I believe one is dead.  I have heard that persimmons can have a hard transplanting year.  I will hope for the best next year.
Three of my four chestnuts may not make it.  One I am sure is dead, and two others did not look good at all. 

Once the Summer finally turned warm, I started irrigating in July.  As a general rule, trees got 4 gallons per week, brambles and bushes received 2 gallons per week.  Herbaceous plants like the strawberries were watered with a quart or so per plant per week.  Most of the plants are in hugelkultur beds, so I'm not sure how necessary the full 4 gallons was, but I wanted to play it safe.  Irrigation water came from our well, and I believe several types of plants do not care for the relative salty nature of it.  It isn't bad to taste, but the analysis indicates that there is a fair bit of sodium in the water and the pH is slightly alkaline. 

The musk strawberry plants and the hazels seemed the worst affected, showing problems with the leaves.  Once I realized what may be happening, I switched to a different source of water for these plants and saw a general recovery.  I am setting up rain harvesting for this wet season, so no well water should ever have to be used for these plants again (or perhaps any of the others).

A few trees fell victim to accidental death.  My olives were killed by heavy equipment work when the operator when off the driveway in a direction I did not expect.  The wire cages were not enough to get his attention, I guess

I continue to be very impressed with the hugelkultur bed technique.  I did not use any manure or other nitrogen supplementation when making the beds, just old and fresh woody material topped with topsoil.  My soil analysis came back with barely detectable levels for NPK, but showed a clay loam soil type with a pH around 6.  Myco-packs from Raintree nursery were used in the planting holes of all trees and bushes.  Once growth began in late spring for most plants, I sprinkled a small handful of mineral supplement around each plant and let the rain soak it in.

Seeing the vigorous growth on plants such as the mulberry, peach and pear trees, I have to wonder where they are pulling the nitrogen from?  Some fertility may be coming from the bit of chop and drop I did with weeds, but I doubt that accounts for most of it. 

I am very excited for next year to see how these plants perform and begin to bear!
 
rose macaskie
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leif kravis, would not you grow bananas and advocados and coco plams in Jamaica.
 
rose macaskie
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we are bad permaculturist on this site. A permaculturist grows quiet a frew trees that are not fruit and nut trees just to have leaves for compost or leaf litter, lots of locusts and other nitrogen fixing trees. Probably also not to have to many trees of one type together for biodiversity.
    Juniperus thurifera and oxycedrus have  a smell that insects dont like whichmay scare insects off your fruit trees and wood that you can use to put in your cupboards to put off moth and death whatch beetle and berries all winter for the fauna and they are very hardy trees for bad soil and rough weather. Oaks give you acorns for chickens as well as biodiversity among your tree types, chose the right sort, ever green oaks, or  holms oaks and it even gives you flour for making acorn bread with. Poplars give you fast but light wood for i dot know huggle culture amyube oaks give you good fire wood and so on. Some junipers give you very hard trunks that used to be the iron bars of house building in old Spain. 
Then there are permacultures prescrbed amny storeis of plants so tall trees short trees bushes and herbaceouse and creepers should be in the arboretum a winter flowering cherry for bees that are out late in the year and arbutus uneda for the same. agri rose macaskie.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Hi Rose - Sorry I am not following you very well.  Our 80 acres is mostly white oak and madrone mixed with some Doug-fir and pine.  So we do have lots of other types of trees, but I am not including many of these in the arboretum at this point to stay focussed on a diverisity of food crops.

I have left quite a few stumps of trees in the arboretum area and have now inoculated them with edible and medicinal mushroom spawn.
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Hi K.B.
What a lovely list of things you are experimenting with!
I have 20 acres of mostly oak in the Roseburg area. How far south in western Oregon are you? (And how far west? -- salty well  ). I would be interested in seeing your arboretum sometime. [edit] I see you're in Jackson County, so the climate's a bit different than mine, still like to see your arboretum. [/edit]
We bought this summer, and building work has taken precedence on my time for the moment. I expect we'll fence before we plant things the deer would like a lot. Um, guess that's about everything. The one score I've made so far is a bit of 3" diameter timber bamboo. Hoping to eventually do biogas/biochar with it in addition to trellises etc.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Hello GES - congrats on your land purchase!  If you have mostly oaks (Oregon white oak?), then we may not be terribly different in climate.  We are in the northern part of Jackson county, so the Tiller-Trail hwy through Canyonville would be the way to get to this area.
Send me a PM if you get down to this part of the state and we can work out a time to have you come for a visit.

Yes, the fencing is unfortunate, but probably a necessary evil when starting out.  I'm hopeful that once we expand the plantings on a large scale, there will be enough for us AND abundance for the wildlife.  Then the fences can come down or at least new ones will not be necessary.

The timber bamboo sounds like a very good score.  Bamboo is something I would like to add in the near future once I establish a wet spot from grey water use.  I think it likes more water than we have currently available. 

If you have the Oregon white oak, it coppices vigorously.  Both the oak and madrone remind me of bamboo when looking at the re-growth!
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Heh! used to live in Days Creek a long time ago, and the climate is similar, you probably get a little more snow in winter and your growing season' probably a skosh shorter.
As soon as the bamboo starts to put out runners, you can have one. Maybe in the spring? It's in a pot till I have time to build a hugel to stick it in, but once it's in, I bet it will start to spread.
I'll let you know when I am coming down that way again. Was down a couple weeks ago for a biochar demo at alder creek community forest.
Can't currently tell a white oak from a black. I'll work on that. Coppicing is definitely in my plans.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Spring is truly a beautiful time of year! The temperature hit the upper sixties yesterday and gaves us a break from the rain. We took the opportunity to spend some time in and around the orchard.

We were not the only creatures out enjoying the sunshine – the fence lizards came out in force from many of the little burrows and holes. Hearing them skitter around is fun, but it takes some getting used to again. They make a surprising amount of noise for little lizards.


The fence lizards are a frequent patron and not very shy. We also got a chance to see one of their larger relatives just outside the orchard. This alligator lizard was also soaking up some rays:


After all the rain recently, the wild mushrooms are still going strong. The flush of LBMs around the 49′er peach tree keeps on expanding. Really have to try and figure out what it is.


All in all, the orchard is shaping up quite well for the warm season. I am still concerned that the warm weather in Feb has started the trees to begin developing buds too early, but time will tell. I can see freeze/frost damage on the bush cherry buds, but they are already showing signs of regrowth. It just means we will have less of a crop this year. Some of the peach trees have a couple flowers open, along with the Hunza apricot. Most of the blossoms are yet to come. Here is a shot of the Elephant Heart Japanese plum with a close-up of a branch filled with flower buds:


Our cisterns are plenty full at this point, so I am ready for the warm season to begin! This is looking downhill at the two cisterns (straw bales stacked two high and covered with epdm pond liner.


Spring is bringing out the wildflowers and other plants to put on a show and see who can win this year’s battle for territory. Here is a picture with a (mostly) native polyculture – all pretty aggressive plants growing in a path: mullein, greater hounds tongue, wild strawberry, dandelion and cleavers.


The great hounds tongue is a local member of the borage family and has interesting blue flowers that are just starting to come out on some of the further along plants.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Through my FIL, I was able to save a few items from the scrap heap/trash over the Easter weekend.

He had been holding on to a good size ~2' x 5' stainless steel screen basket that had been left behind by a client. It was formerly used to harvest algae, but had been sitting outside for years until a good use for it was found. I mentioned my interest in trying to grow some water chestnuts this season and that I would need to keep an eye out for something to use to make a raft to grow them in. If I can rig some lines up to this basket so that I can keep the bottom of the basket 6-12" under the surface of the water, it should work very nicely!



The other rescued item is a goodly amount of "used" oxygen tubing from a medical supply company. Turns out they can't reuse it and even unopened packages have to be thrown out if they spent any time at a client's home. The tubing will be very helpful in training the branches on my trees. Now that the fruit and nut trees had a chance to settle in last year, I will start using stakes or rebar and the oxygen tubing to gently train the branches into better positions for strong angles, air flow, sunlight exposure, etc...
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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Hi Kay Bee,
Nice scores!
Would you consider resizing your photos down a little to have mercy on those of us with smaller screens or weaker eyes? By the time I get to where I don't have to sidescroll your pictures, the text is the size of ants. Sugar ants
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Hi GES - thanks! resizing the pic's is on my list. Not sure why they are coming through so big here compared to how they show up elsewhere. If I don't get them fixed soon, I'll just edit the pics to links to the blog where they show up more in line with the page.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Lady Godiva (naked seed) Pumpkins

Last summer I grew a few Lady Godiva squash (cucurbita pepo) plants in the orchard, trying to take advantage of some of the extra sun while the trees are still small.

This particular variety of squash is interesting to me as the plant produces a pumpkin up to 20lbs in size that contains seeds without the usual thick hull. They are classified as a naked-seeded or hull-less type pumpkin. This variety was released in the US in 1972 and was developed by Allen Stoner. I believed this variety was developed using the Styrian hull-less pumpkin types that were bred in Austria, intended for oil extraction from the seeds.

As the name implies, the great thing about this variety is that without the thick white hull, the seeds are ready to eat in their raw state (after a quick rinse, if you prefer) or can be toasted and eaten. Very tasty!

The pumpkins off of my plants were quite small, a couple pounds or less, but fully developed. My soil is fit for growing trees rather than vegetables at this point, so I’m not surprised at the small size. Our melons were the same way last year. As our beds mature and more organic matter builds in the soil (you can only go up from zero!), the size and yields will improve. Even so, the outer skin on the pumpkins that I harvested in October was quite tough. The pumpkins lasted at room temp storage until they started to show signs of softening this week. Not a bad storage life. Here are a couple pics of one of the pumpkins and the seeds inside:





Some of the seeds were starting to sprout, so I separated out the seeds that appeared dormant (a few hundred) and will replant some more of these this summer. If the number of seeds scales up with the size of the pumpkins, I think these will be a valuable addition to the homestead. I can envision opening up several of these pumpkins a week through the winter for the seeds to be eaten by us and the squash meat to be given either cooked or raw to livestock or our local herd/flock of deer/turkey.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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hmm, tried dropping the image size (resolution) on my camera and the pics are still coming out too big... I can keep dropping the size down. Unfortunately the last forum software update no longer allows edits to older posts, so the older images are stuck the way they are...
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Do you ever get any bats drinking from your cistern? It seems like they would be interested in it.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Hi Dave,

I haven't seen any bats using it for drinking or hunting as of yet. Interesting thought, though. I'll have to watch more closely in the evenings...

There are a lot of dragonflies that hunt around 30 feet up in the air as the evening insects come out. I suspect the hunting for the bats must be pretty good up there.

I'd like to establish some bat houses on the property. We received on as a gift at our old place, but it never was occupied over the years. Need to do some more research on positioning, and such.
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Yes you definitely should put up your bat house. I have made 3 bat houses, all of which are used by bats. Also for many years I hosted a forum on bat houses. I can help you decide where to place it. Here is some good info from Bat Conservation International: http://www.batcon.org/index.php/get-involved/install-a-bat-house.html (follow the links at the bottom of the page)
Kay Bee wrote:Hi Dave,

I haven't seen any bats using it for drinking or hunting as of yet. Interesting thought, though. I'll have to watch more closely in the evenings...

There are a lot of dragonflies that hunt around 30 feet up in the air as the evening insects come out. I suspect the hunting for the bats must be pretty good up there.

I'd like to establish some bat houses on the property. We received on as a gift at our old place, but it never was occupied over the years. Need to do some more research on positioning, and such.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Thanks for the link - I will check it out and see if I can get some bats in residence
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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I’ve been looking forward to morel season this year and hoping to get some time to go hiking in the hills where I think there would be a good chance to find them… I certainly didn’t expect to find them in the hugelkultur beds!

As we were finishing up the days work in the garden/orchard, I decided to take a look at the buds swelling on the pakistan mulberry. I stopped in my tracks when I saw the size of the morel at the base of the tree, growing amidst the rye and wood chips:

http://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/morel2-4-20-12.jpg
Another dozen or two of it’s friends were hanging out within ~50′ up and down the berm. This section gets quite a bit of afternoon shade from a hundred plus year old oak. There is also a lot of water runnoff in to the bed from up the slope. Whatever works, the morels are happy…

http://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/morel-basket-4-20-12.jpg
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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It has been a good week for getting things in the mail…

Many thanks to Donna for being kind enough to send some elephant garlic cloves! They are now planted under my Enterprise and Evereste apple trees. Looking forward to seeing if they do as well as the other garlics and leeks in the orchard.
https://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/elephant-garlic-4-20-12.jpg

I also received several packets of seeds from a Japanese friend – pumpkins, shiso (perilla) and a type of tatsoi (I think). I’ve been interested in trying the kabocha type pumpkins for a number of years since a neighbor had rave reviews of them. The shiso will be a nice addition to our herb and salad garden. fun times with sushi ahead!
https://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/japanese-seeds-4-20-12.jpg
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Beautiful week on the land... lots of nice green growth coming out from the plants.

Looks like the cold weather early in April wasn't kind to the peach and plum blossoms, so it will probably be a limited crop for them this year, if anything. The asian pears, apples and cherry trees are flowering nicely right now. Two of the apples Arkansas Black and Evereste have lots of nice flowers. Four of the asian pears (Chojuro, Ichiban, Hosui and Shinko) have between 6 and a 100+ blossoms each. Not bad for being only a year in the ground. We'll see how many they try and set. Asian pears tend to try and over-bear. I'll probably prune off the fruit down to no more than a dozen for each tree. The NY518 yellow cherry is the big winner for flowering this year, followed by Vandalay and then Stella. The Surefire cherry may not flower this year, but it is just getting started breaking dormancy. Surefire is really late in the season to flower compared to most cherries.

The gooseberries and currents all are either flowering or have already set fruit. The Orus 8 Jostaberry has the most berries on them, so far. We may get a pound or so of fruit from each. Four of the five varieties of autumn olives have flowers almost ready to open or are blooming right now. It looks like we may get small crops from five of the seven blueberries and a pound or so from the Darrow variety.

The brambles are really showing some vigor this spring! The raspberries have buds coming on last years growth and are sending up new canes. The blackberries and blackberry/raspberry crosses are showing a lot of new growth and putting up new canes, but the flowers should come later. It looks like my Beauty Seedless grape is not growing yet and may have been lost, but the rest of the grapes are all leafing out.

The figs are a wildcard... the Desert King is breaking buds and I can see some swelling for a handful of breba crop fruits, but otherwise, only the Violette de Bordeaux and Cantor figs are budding out. Hopefully the rest will follow soon. Young figs are a crapshoot.

The strawberries are sending out lots of leaves and blossoms. The Earliglow and Jewel types are showing some fruit set already. The Shuksan should set fruit in the next week. I'm curious how the wild strawberries do in terms of setting fruit. They have a LOT of flowers this year and are everywhere in the berms and paths. I think they are usually pretty shy about setting fruit. Maybe next year will be different once we have the bees...

The bees should be ready to pick up in a few weeks! I have the hives constructed and ready to transport to the orchard for assembly and weatherproofing.

Our wood chip hugelkulture annual beds are about half completed. Hopefully the couple hundred square feet will be enough for a decent number of our favorite tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions, etc.... I ended up planting a potatoes and sunchokes in the orchard hugelkulture beds. We'll see if I regret adding the sunchokes in a few years!

I transplanted my asparagus seedlings and got them in the ground. I planted them mostly in rows of their own, with about a foot spacing and several feet between rows. A straw mulch will be maintained around them throughout the growing season if they survive the transplanting. The root systems and tiny little crowns seemed very delicate. I hope we get at least a couple to survive and then I can let them set seed to encourage volunteers wherever they want to grow.

Sorry for the rambling post...lots to catch up on!
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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We've decided to do an experiment this year and try and grow asian water chestnuts (Eleocharis dulcis).

Since our local grocery store doesn't normally carry live water chestnuts, I special ordered 10 pounds of them from our local produce manager. We're splitting the order with a couple other friends.

The order came in yesterday:
http://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/water-chestnut-case-5-3-12.jpg

I'll start them in tubs with some wet soil and transfer to the pool if/when they start to put on some green growth. Here they are ready to be covered in wet soil in their nursery bed:
http://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/water-chestnut-nursery-bed-5-3-12.jpg

Hopefully we will see some growth starting in a week or so. I sampled a couple last night from the ones left over after planting about 120. I just peeled the skins off and ate them raw...so much better than canned!

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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The water chestnuts are sprouting! It has been about 10 days since planting and as of this morning, 47 of the 120 water chestnuts planted in the nursery tub have started sending up shoots. Most of shoots are only an inch or two tall at this point.

http://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/water-chestnuts-5-13-12.jpg

I will keep them in the nursery bed until the shoots are about 6-12 inches tall and then transplant them into their final growing locations in the water.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Our five hives are now installed and busy with bees. On May 22nd, I picked up my five 5 frame nucleus hives (nuc's) from a local apiary that raises it's own queens and nuc's without any chemical treatments.

The nuc's were picked up in the evening and the opening sealed after the foraging work force returned home for the night. I let the nuc's rest on top of the hives overnight so they could calm down from the 20 mile trip back to my place.

The morning of the 23rd, I installed the 5 frames in the hives that I built for them. Here is the inside of one of the nuc's:
https://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/inside-the-nuc.jpg

The hives that I built are my own design that is shaped around top bar hive management, but accepts standard Langstroth deep hive body frames. All of the frames that the bees will build out will be without foundation, so they can choice will be up to them in how to size the cells. The wooden frames will provide external support and help guide the comb to be built straight up and down. The top of the hives is in three sections (middle, left and right). Here is a look in to the middle section where the nuc's were installed:
https://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/hive-ready-for-frames.jpg

The installation went well and the bees were very calm during the process. This picture is looking towards the hives after installation:
https://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/bees-installed.jpg

Since the five hives are located pretty close together (and just for fun) we wanted each hive to have it's own flower symbol. My wife was kind enough to paint a different flower over each hive’s center opening:
https://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/flowering-hives.jpg
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Went out to check on the orchard today after the very rare summer rain and came across this little fellow:

http://wellheeledhills.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/rough-skinned-newt-6-22-12.jpg

While we have many fence lizards that call the orchard their home, a handful of 5-lined skinks and even a couple of alligator lizards... this is the first newt that I have encountered out there. Turns out it is a Rough-skinned newt:

http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/rough_skinned_newt/

I had no idea that some newts were poisonous due to tetrodotoxin in their skin (familiar with pufferfish?).

While the bullfrog who has shown up lately and hangs out singing in the cistern may be less welcome, I am quite happy that the reptiles and amphibians are feeling at home in the area.

 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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The heat of summer has finally arrived, it seems. With it comes the chance to sample some new flavors of fruit and berries!

I was excited to see the Tayberries plumping up over the past week, and now they have started to really put on some size and color. I'm still not exactly sure what the pedigree of a Tayberry is... different sources claim different parents. All that I have seen so far agree that it is a hybrid cross of a blackberry and a raspberry. Some sources say a black raspberry, others a red raspberry. Yet others claim a loganberry (another hybrid) is in the mix. However this plant came to be, I'm grateful to the Scottish folks who bred the Tayberry. I was impressed with the flavor and texture of the berry. Looking forward to eating many more!



Another first this year was the Nugent-NY 518 cherry. This is an all yellow cherry, skin and flesh. It is quite sweet and has a nice firm texture to the flesh. Not a real stand-out as far as "cherry" flavor goes, but I think we will enjoy this one, too. The yellow color is supposed to fool the birds into thinking it isn't ripe yet. We didn't have any trouble with the birds on the few dark red Stella cherries that set this year, but I expect the fruit eating birds will find our orchard before too long.


This week also brought about the first ripe blueberries, meeker raspberries, black currants and white currants. Today, we were able to eat eight different kinds of fruit/berries: Elliot blueberries, Musk strawberries, Primus white currants, Tsema black currants, Autumn Britten raspberries, Meeker raspberries, Nugent cherries and the Tayberries... what a treat!

They were all given the thumbs-up by my boys, except for the black currants. None of us are still quite sure what to make of them, yet. I need to look up some recipes and find a way to use the strong flavored taste.

The next few weeks should bring on the different types of gooseberries and jostaberry along with more kinds of blueberries, loganberry and boysenberry. Summer is delicious!
 
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