Posts tagged ‘apple tree’
How time flies when you’re busy gardening, getting the kids back to school and generally trying to catch up with life.. I can’t believe it is a month since my last post..
Anyhow, things are a little wet today (3.5″ of rain so far since yesterday), so no gardening for me – just sorting out house things and maybe a little harvest preservation.. I have the last of the Marinara tomatoes to process – I’m thinking of combining them with the yellow peach tomatoes and making salsa, then I also have to make some more pasta sauce to add to the stocks. The tomatoes are suffering from Early blight and it is taking its toll on the productivity now, plus all the rain probably doesn’t help either – I was planning to remove all the infected leaves over the weekend, but didn’t quite get to it and now it’s going to be wet for a week. The other thing I didn’t get to was re-spraying my squash (pumpkin, butternut & delicata) with a dilute milk solution (1:10) for powdery mildew that they all came down with. Hopefully the fruits will survive, normally they seem to.
Well the peaches seem a long time ago now, but we had a total of 60lbs which was great for the three-year old tree – about half were eatable whole, but since they didn’t keep long and the harvest was over such a short period (10 days), most were processed – made into freezer jam, used in hot pepper sauce, eaten as salsa, baked peaches or peach crumble, the rest were frozen in light syrup for later use. The apple tree didn’t fare so well, it is a sad-looking thing – badly infected with cedar apple rust, plus the birds and the wasps enjoy the fruit, so I picked most of the apples early and made apple crumble and apple cake with the meager harvest – tasty nonetheless!
This is definitely a good year for green beans – the ones I planted in spring are still producing and a second succession has just started producing prolifically! I must admit I’m getting a bit fed up of chopping, blanching and freezing them, but since it is one of the relatively few vegetables my boys will eat, I’m doing it gladly – we’ll be eating green beans well into the fall and hopefully through the winter.
Talking of winter storage, I have harvested some potatoes – still got a few to do – I probably better get on them since they might start rotting with all this rain. Not a bad harvest so far though – they are drying off in the basement before I store them for the winter. Another storage crop – kidney beans and cranberry beans have done well – we harvested them just before the hurricane last weekend since some were already rotting – we netted about 6lbs before podding (~3lbs after) and there are still quite a few left on the bushes (I probably need to get out there again soon). They tasted great in a veggie chili and in a lasagna I cooked yesterday. (Not so popular with the boys, but good protein source if I can sneak them in without them noticing!).
We ate our first cantaloupe melon yesterday – they seem to be pretty late this year, I have to go back and check on my planting dates for them. The watermelon fruits stopped growing due to some disease – I have to identify the problem with that, the cantaloupe also has a disease, but one of the two I picked (actually they picked themselves – by falling off the vine) was a good size – bigger than I’ve grown before with the same seed. It’s funny how things vary from year to year. Like my onions were a relative disaster this year (compared to last year when they all did really well) – I planted a whole lot of sets – red, white and yellow – the red and white hardly grew – they were in the new part of the garden outside the fence – maybe it wasn’t very well-drained or needed more organic matter, or I planted them too late – anyhow they weren’t good and even the yellow onions were small compared to last year when they all did really well. I’m going to try growing them from seed next year.
I have my fall/winter vegetables in the ground – the brassicae I grew from seed didn’t look too healthy but I transplanted them anyway but I also bought some cabbage and brocolli plants for insurance and they are thriving so far. The root crops – rutabaga and turnips are coming along – hopefully they will be good – I love root vegetable soup! My second sowing of romaine lettuce actually germinated so I have some baby lettuce coming up – I have to plant some more mesclun to get some variety.
This week I want to get on with building my larger raised bed close to my house, which will be double covered in the winter with row cover and plastic – I will sow some lettuce, kale, etc. in it, but mainly it will be for early crops next Spring. I would like to get an earlier harvest of peppers and cucumbers in next year.
How satisfying it was (and just a bit sweaty) to dig up 96 great heads of garlic yesterday! I had to fight through the weeds to get to them, but it was worth it! I attended the Easton Garlic Festival last Fall and purchased a bulk load of garlic – mainly Turkish Red, but also a variety pack that included German Red, Music, Elephant, French to name but a few. My son and I planted the bulbs late last October, we mulched them with pine needles and waited… I cut the scapes off in May (although some escaped – resulting in smaller heads) and treated them to some fish fertilizer in Spring and that was pretty much it – they are a very low maintenance crop! The yield was pretty impressive – about 90% of the bulbs produced full heads. (A few of them had gone too far and were splitting at the top – but I will use or trade these ones early).. I made a screen from hardware cloth and an old window frame for them to lie on to cure (out of the sun, dry place) for a week or two.
This week has been hot but productive, I can last until about 11:30am in the hot sun and then I have to retreat inside – how do those real farmers do it? I sprayed my fruit trees with the homemade beneficial spray again – this time it included Neem and Bt for insect control as well as the usual molasses, vinegar, soap and seaweed extract. I got really annoyed though, I had purchased a new gallon sprayer and after 10 mins of spraying, the handle (on/off switch) failed and it was such a pain to keep fixing during the spraying (luckily only my dog was the only witness to the expletives being muttered!). Whilst I was dealing with the trees, I decided to prune them – the peach tree was getting a bit tall, cherry that I am training in a fan against the fence had a center branch that needed to come out, and the apple had two central leaders that I had to choose between. It was tough, but it had to be done!
I started on the new raised bed for the carrots this week and also decided to where I am going to locate the new raised bed for my fall/winter produce – I thought it was going in or near the fenced garden but realized it needed to be nearer to the house (to make it more usable in the winter), so it will go by the back deck where the cold frame is currently. I think I am going to use concrete blocks to frame that out too – the ground is not level there and so I was worried about using wood or plastic lumber.
I sowed some more green beans and a few peas – just to see if they would work this year (I planted them too late last year and the flowers didn’t survive the cold weather). The various squashes are doing very well so far – the butternut is flowering and we ate the first yellow summer squash last night – no signs of squash bugs or cucumber beetle this year.
Hurrah! I have harvested 10lbs of delicious strawberries over the last week or so. Some are sweeter than others but all are sooo much better than those Californian strawbs with all their associated air miles.
I made my first ever strawberry jam last night – I can’t believe how easy it was! 4 cups of mashed strawberries, 1oz of low sugar pectin and 2 cups of sugar – stir the pectin into the strawberries, heat it to boiling, stir in the sugar and boil for 1 min and voila – 2.5 pints of strawberry jam. So much easier than pasta sauce – none of that stirring for 4 hours. The jam even passed the Marcus test!(Never did get the homemade tomato ketchup passed by him).
What else is going on in Winifreds Little Acre – well, I sowed my beans today – I am trying red kidney beans and garbanzo beans (since those are the two beans we eat a lot) and there is no pressure to harvest them since you let them dry out before picking.
The peaches are in need of thinning and there are signs of oozing from bug penetration in some of them, but not a majority like last year – maybe my homemade fruit tree spray is working a little.. The apple tree has baby apples but is showing signs of cedar apple rust, so the fruit spray was ineffective on that disease. The peas are coming but there aren’t enough of them to make a meal, so mainly they are for snacking in the garden.
I spotted (and squished) a couple of Colorado Potato beetles a week ago and haven’s seen any since, but my poor asparagus is suffering under the strain of asparagus beetle larvae – I sprayed it with Neem last week, but that didn’t have any effect. I’ll try spinosad this week – there are too many to hand squish.
We’re in for some hot weather this week, so I have to get my watering system organized – I need more soaker hose and I think I’m going to get some drip irrigation for the new (straight) beds outside the deer fence.
Hi all, I’m getting back to writing my blog. My parents have gone back to the UK after a great month-long visit. My Dad was a star! @72yrs old he opened up ~ 200 ft2 of virgin clay ground covered in vegetation (mostly goldenrod – so not an easy task!). It got drier and harder as the days went on, but he persevered and I even managed to plant my sweet potatoes (arrived in the mail last week) in two of the beds before they left! I didn’t have enough compost to mix in to make the soil really nice, but hopefully the sweet potatoes won’t mind too much (I sprinkled over some organic fertilizer before planting them).
This morning, my sons & I transplanted some raspberry shoots in front of the beds to make a living fence to hopefully deter the deer from entering the new garden area – we’ll have to see how that works! For now, I also cover the sweet potatoes with row cover for some insurance – they actually don’t look very tasty at the moment since they are pretty dead looking when they arrive. (I planted them like that last year though and they grew pretty well).
It was actually a bit of a bonus gardening day today since it was supposed to rain all day but it actually only drizzled and then got quite nice by the afternoon. I transplanted my first tomato plants – 3x Early Girls – they look pretty healthy, I’m pleased with the quality of seedlings. I have been putting the whole lot of the seedlings from the basement out every day for about three weeks and a couple of days ago, I put them in the cold frame in the main garden and left it open at night – it is in the 50F’s now, so cold is not a problem. I plan to transplant most of the other seedlings within the next couple of weeks into their respective spots.
Excitement on the fruit-growing front – we have baby peaches, apples, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries growing! I sprayed the apple and peach with the holistic spray mixed with kaolin clay to hopefully prevent pests getting into the fruit. So far so good on the cedar apple rust – no sign of it on the apple trees. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and give it another spray when it stops raining next weekend!
It’s getting busy in the garden now!
My parents arrived from the UK last week and I been keeping them busy digging new beds and tidying up the perennial beds out front. I have been busy repotting some of the seedlings – even though it has turned warm all of a sudden, I am not planning to put out the tomatoes, peppers etc. for another couple of weeks at least, so they needed a new temporary home. I harvested the bottom box of the vermicompost (worm), mixed it with 1/3 part coir and 1/3 part vermiculite for the potting mixture – it seemed to be a little lacking in substance compared to the commercial mix I had been using but at least it was homemade (aka cheaper) and the seedlings will tell me if its good or not. They have been enjoying the warm weather in the last couple of days (and I have been saving electricity), by putting them outside in the daytime to see the real sun instead of pretend fluorescent lamps!
I sprayed the apple & cherry trees and the grape vine yesterday with the homemade spray – molasses, vinegar, fish and seaweed. I couldn’t do the peach since it is in full bloom right now – how pretty it is! I do have some blooms on the cherry tree, but not much coverage. I did purchase some Neem oil to add to the mixture but it was solid, so I have to take it back.
On the harvesting front – we have been enjoying the asparagus – super tasty. I read in the Victory Garden cookbook, that you can peel asparagus so that the lower less tender portion is more palatable – that worked great! We had friends over for Easter lunch and we had plenty for a small appetizer. We finished the first radish crop and have been taking the odd lettuce leaf from the cold frame for our lunches. The lettuce seedlings I transplanted into the garden are much less happy than the ones in the cold frame, I think it got a bit too cold on a couple of nights and also the soil is much less rich – it was a bit of a shock to them – hopefully they will buck up and start growing soon.. I also transplanted six broccoli seedlings from the cold frame – I have them under fabric to protect them from the dreaded cabbage worm that ate them all last year.
After a short break to pull together the final pieces of organization for the Lehigh Valley Green Home & Building Expo and to work the event itself, I was back in the garden this afternoon – and what a beautiful day – 50F and sunny! (Snow is on the way tonight though).
I did manage to plant my peas last Monday (3/15) – I needed to get them in, in order to hopefully have them ready before my trip to the UK in June. I put in a total of 100 seeds of four different varieties – I soaked them all first for about half an hour and then rolled them in innoculant to help them fix nitrogen from the air.
I started today by harvesting compost from a tumbler composter and my “Darlek”-like container. I got a wheel barrow full and spread it under my fruit trees and around the asparagus – and guess what – there are some tiny spears starting to come up! Hurrah! The compost adds some nutrients but also helps fights any diseases lurking around the base of the trees.
On the seed starting front, I did sow some Early Girl tomatoes last week too – they have germinated already, so we are on the way to having tomatoes by July 4th! (That’s the plan anyhow). The cosmos and marigold seedlings are doing well, but the beets are not looking very happy and the parsley has not shown any signs of life. I fed them using a weak solution of fish emulsion. In the cold frame, things are going a bit better – pretty much everything I sowed is coming up – I thinned the seedlings out (by snipping off the weaker seedlings with scissors so as not to disturb the roots), but may have to transplant some of the lettuce into the garden to give everything enough room.
Anyhow, I thought it was about time to prune the apple trees – I missed “late winter” last year because I didn’t quite know when that was. I think about now is good though (late Feb) – the buds are starting to open – or at least are showing signs of life. I got stuck on the pruning though – I had my written instructions in one hand and pruning shears in the other, but couldn’t work out which branches I was supposed to trim. After staring and walking around the tree for quite a while (must have looked a strange sight!), I decided I didn’t know whether (or which) competing “central leader” to take out – so I took a photo instead and will seek some professional help!