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Luke Perkins

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since Dec 03, 2012
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Recent posts by Luke Perkins

25 foot avocado in the snow. Bet not many of you have seen both of those in the same photo. Taken at Rolling River Farm- home of Fruitwood Nursery, one of the best sources for affordable scion wood and propagation material.

As of Spring 2019 we are currently looking for a couple people for long term caretaking/work trade positions. Located in Northern California along the Klamath River. See our posting here..
5 days ago
Hi All-

I wanted to echo what Elizabeth Rose said- this place is quite special. We're still looking for the right person (or people- we have two positions open) to come live here. I moved here a little over a year ago, also committing to just three months at first. It's been a transformative year. I plan to stay here through this coming fall... possibly longer. I'm the only 'caretaker' here at the moment.

I could go on and on, but I think Liz covered most of the bases. Eight hours of work trade plus an hour or two of animal chores a week, and caretaking responsibilities when the farmers are away, in exchange for staying in one of the most biodiverse food forests in the continental United States. We get a lot of food from the garden. It's a pretty generous situation in my humble opinion. My work this week was planting out peas and lettuce. The week before I was taking kiwi cuttings. The week before that I was potting up rootstocks. Other things I've done recently include seeding hundreds of peach, paw paw, and persimmon rootstocks, seeding plants for the spring garden, and last fall I helped build an extension to the goat's barn.

All the people who have stayed here recently have been here for at least a year- people tend to enjoy it here. All the recent caretakers were in their late twenties/early thirties and left on good terms seeking far off adventures. Our little farm community here has been quite harmonious. And we get a LOT done, considering how few people are here.

We're eager for someone to come and join us for a season or more. We are putting in the spring and summer gardens. Two of the does are about to give birth (more goat milk is on the way!). The days are getting longer and the soil is warming up. I'm surprised their isn't a long list of people pounding on the door to work here. But we kind of go under the radar here. Marc and Corinna tend to spend their time with homesteading activities, and have kept a somewhat low profile online.
5 days ago
Merritt Tree Collards flowering in the garden
This is late but I thought I'd chime in for anyone curious about this in the future. The purple tree collards I grow rarely go to seed in our SF Bay Area climate. However, last year in our region just about every purple tree collard plant I knew of produced a few seeds. This year I haven't seen any purple ones flowering, but I know of several people in the central valley whose plants are flowering. There must be some kind of weather/regional condition that triggers flowering.

Their seeds are not known to come reliably true. However, they are certainly viable. They will produce a range of progeny, some of which will be similar to the mother plant, and some more reminiscent of other leafy cole crops. It is similar to planting the seed of an apple tree... you don't know if you're going to get a delicious vigorous apple variety, but it will definitely be an apple. Occasionally a seedling will produce something worth propagating. The purple tree collard itself was at one point a seedling from some cross...

So, I recommend growing some plants from cuttings or already rooted plants if you are able to get ahold of them. The purple tree collard plant is an amazing perennial vegetable. We actually began selling purple tree collard plants a year ago because they were so hard to find elsewhere.

We have also been collecting and trialing other more obscure varieties of tree collards. We have so far tried two varieties that we have since decided aren't worth sharing- one marketed as a 'white' tree collard, and another was a seedling of a purple tree collard which then was propagated by cuttings. Both went to seed heavily and had much less vigor that the purple tree collards we grow.

We have however come across some varieties which are worth sharing. One is a cross between a dinosaur (lacinato) kale plant and a tree collard saved by a local backyard gardener. It is named the Dino tree collard. It goes to seed each year heavily but rebounds with impressive vigor as opposed to other kale plants which tend to slow down after their first year. It is possible that a future breeding program could result in a plant with similar characteristics but with less tendency to flower.

We also discovered a plant at a local community college where they had let loads of brassicas go to flower and reseed all over the place. It is named a "Merritt Collard". It is more bushy than a typical tree collard but produces enormous leaves: up to 2+' and 1/2 a lb. in weight. It also goes to seed annually but has a vigorous growth response in the following months. They are flowering in our garden right now.

It would be great to get a cross of the dino collard and Merritt collards which had the size and vigor of the Merritt Collard, but had the ruffled slightly more tender leaves of the dino collard plants...  

In a few weeks I am going to go visit my friend in the central valley whose plants flowered this year. We hope to be offering limited quantities of his purple tree collard seeds later this year. For people outside of the U.S. this is currently the only way of getting tree collards. They should also be of value to plant breeders. We shipped this guy in Australia seeds last year and he has gotten a  variety of interesting seedlings.

Hope this is of value.
I have used these Fogg-It nozzles for seedling watering with great success. I've found it makes a big difference in preventing 'wash-out' of seeds from newly planted flats. I find the 1/2 gallon ones work well for me.

Here they are on Amazon - should also be available at local irrigation stores

2 years ago
Hi David-

Paul has an article on lawn care here:

With further discussion here:

2 years ago
Hi Paul-

I'm coming to the ATC and am interested in filming. Do you think I will be able to get the instructor(s) to sign a release for use form? I like the idea of being able to do whatever I want with the footage in the future. I'm not a professional but have access to good equipment and have basic experience with film.

2 years ago
R Ranson- we are now selling purple tree collard seeds internationally. A chap is growing some of our seeds down in Australia and seems to be having good luck. You can see updates from him in this post on our Facebook Page.  
2 years ago
I would love to see some photos of how things are progressing Gilbert. A local seed saver has bred a mix of lacinato kale and purple tree collards that has grown perennially for us three years running now. It sets an enormous amount of seed each spring then comes back strong later in the summer through the following spring. I'm uncertain of the cold hardiness... it does just fine for us through the winter but we've only been down to 25° F the last few years. This last year our purple tree collards went to seed for the first time in over five years. They went to seed at the same time as the "Dinosaur Tree Collards" (they above mentioned hybrid) were flowering. We saved the seed of the tree collards and the dinosaur collards.  

We are now selling the seed from our purple tree collards and rooted cuttings of the dinosaur tree collards on our website.

Attached are some photos of the dinosaur tree collard plant... I hope to take some better ones of it in the near future. We shoved the original plant into a corner of the garden when we first got it not thinking too much of it because it was flowering and looked rather pathetic. Now it's gotten much larger but we haven't staked it, so it's flopping all over the place. We have started new ones in the garden and will do a better job training them for some decent photos to show their potential. Note that all the leaves and shoots in the second photo are from one single plant- there are many other shoots that didn't make it into the frame.

2 years ago
Hi Janet-

Thanks for sharing the pics. If you see some bees coming into the hive with yellow pollen on their legs then you'll know that they are living there. If none of them have pollen, then they're probably robbing the hive. Below is a photo of one of my bees with pollen on its legs (pollen sacs) that it harvested from a ceanothus. The pollen is a protein source for the bees and is used to feed brood.
2 years ago