Diane Kistner

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since Sep 06, 2018
Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Recent posts by Diane Kistner

I live in a suburban bordering on rural neighborhood in Athens, Georgia, with houses built in the eighties that have seen better days. There used to be an HOA here, but now there are so many renters (like us!) and a few abandoned houses that nobody cares unless somebody is extremely trashy or noisy. When we moved in, the 3/4 acre lot was overgrown with knee-high poison ivy and English ivy growing up into the pines and sweetgums and killing them. I've worked for five years now to get all that cleared out and about 96 sick trees taken down on the cheap. I don't own this house, after all...although one day maybe my son can buy it.

There was a sizeable amount of lawn, too, that I've cut down considerably in size. But the part of the lawn I've kept, I keep mowed and try to plug in perennial flowering plants for pollinators that will look "planned." I think "planned" is the key word for those neighbors who bristle at the thought of somebody not taking care of their property.

The back yard has large brush piles and lots of pine logs lying around, some of them cut up and upended to make little log-lined beds and some of them just lying there until I can either cut them up myself or get somebody out to cut them up. I've also "landscaped" some beds through the mowable part of the lawn that I've set up to look like raised beds, but I break down all my cardboard and stack it there where the neighbors can't see it but use it to sheet mulch areas as I get them under control. I've pretty much got my arbor and chicken run infrastructure built, and I've got most of the guild-anchoring fruit trees in, so now I'm just focusing on plenty of pollinator plants and soil building. When people ask me about what I'm doing "back there," I say I'm working on a forest garden to replace the diseased pines that I've had taken down at my own expense, even though I'm a renter. I tell them "I'm just working on making it better than it was, but I'm seventy on low fixed income, so I can only move so fast."

4 days ago

Hans Quistorff wrote:That is a bad break. You could let the top grow this season to strengthen the tree then cut it back next winter and develop that lower branch into anew leader. Observe how well it forms a callas ring of new bark around the break. The better that potential the better the expected outcome.

Breaks my heart. I'll try what you suggest, Hans. Maybe I'll wrap a few of those cloning ball things that I have around the break with some soil to try to protect it a little...
1 month ago

Hans Quistorff wrote:My impression is that it will be weak to resist wind and weight of any fruit for a few years but as new wood covers the break it should get stronger and when mature not much of a problem unless there is an opening through the bark allowing rot or larva to enter.

Thank you, Hans. I decided I'd better post a few close-up photos. The part where you see the exposed rough wood is where the break was, and the trunk is cracked in half above that.. I'm thinking it will probably never mend to the point that insects won't get in. See that photo with the little leaflet poking out from the trunk? That's down about 8 inches from the broken part. There is what looks like a good node above it that I think you can see. If I were to cut it now (as spring has just started to spring here) above where that node is, would it likely then branch from those points? If I do cut it, should I put anything on the cut itself to seal it since it's such a young tree? Or, like you suggest, leave it for a few years without doing anything to it and keep any fruit picked to prevent it from breaking the tree?

1 month ago
I purchased a Spicy Zee Nectaplum last year, a whip planted in November that now has a few branchings up about 8 feet tall with the lower trunk about 3/4" in diameter.  I had a guy take down a damaged sweetgum tree, and he managed to drop it on my Nectaplum. The tree bent over and almost broke off about 4 feet up the tree, and the guy said "Oh, it's traumatized...here, let's fix this." Well, fixing meant bending the tree back up into its original position and zip-tying along a five-inch section of the tree to hold the whole thing together. Now it is standing like it was before, with some of its spring growth on the top part, but I am doubtful this approach is going to help this tree very much. The point of the break has a shattered woody piece about and inch or so long, and I really doubt that's going to knit back together.

What should I do in hopes of saving this tree? Leave it like it is for a while, maybe cut back the leafy branchings at the top? Or cut it off below the break, as if pollarding, and hope it puts out new growth?

Most expensive tree I had in my garden, and it had to be that one he hit.

1 month ago

Lorinne Anderson wrote:Diane:  this can be done much more simply and cheaply with zap straps, on any kind of fence using any sort of branch/pole/bamboo some string, and flagging tape.  

Yes, it is effective - with deer you need only have a "visual barrier" and/or something that moves.  To be clear, the flags must be placed, at minimum, every two feet (at one point they say every 20 ft...I suspect that is a typo) and can be done with multiple layers of string/flags to a minimum height of 8 ft.  If you are in a snow zone, or on a slope you will need to be higher.

I think they were saying place the poles every 20 feet, not the flags themselves. On their website, they show how they did it. They used green flagging tape.

I went on and ordered just some of the post hardware pieces from their website (cheaper) because I’ve got plenty of my own pipes and poles here and want to try it with fishing line and maybe some artsy-looking mobiles and twirlies made from cutting up soft drink cans or CDs. I’ve got neon pink flagging tape, which would be easier, but I’m in a residential neighborhood and people might not think it looks very good.

I really do hope I get to have a garden next year.

8 months ago
Where did you get your purslane seeds? I want to try some.
9 months ago
Well, I’m certainly going to keep my eyes peeled for seeds to purchase. Every year the bug problems get a little better here, but the blights are pretty entrenched. Thank you for doing what you’re doing for tomatoes!

10 months ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
The great project of my life, is creating landrace tomatoes. Neither genetic-diversity, nor promiscuous pollination were available in domestic tomatoes, so I ended up making inter-species hybrids between domestic tomatoes and wild tomatoes.  

Did I dream this, or did I read you are interested in working with some folks who experience late-season blight in tomatoes? I’m in Athens, Georgia, Zone 8a working on becoming Zone 8b, and we have that in spades. High humidity. Hot.

The only tomatoes that grew for me last year were the Juliets, and were they ever prolific! Now I’ve got Juliet tomatoes coming up everywhere, so I’ll be curious to see what they do. I’ve got Marvel PhD’s in buckets, trying them new this year, and some seeds from a friend in New York that I think may be landraces (he calls them Jimmies and Vinnies, two different types, for the couple he got them from); I’ll have to see what they do here.

But I’m excited to be able to look at my tomato blossoms and know they are all closed up, and why. Your book is so great, Joseph!

10 months ago