Leave a comment

Tiny Fruits

This is going to be the last post on the fruit trees–probably.  Most of the trees now have fruit on them and they are super cute!


May-Winesap                  May-RedGravenstein2

Winesap Apples                                                                            Red Gravenstein Apples


May-Quince  Quince.  Notice the furry skin.


May-Plum                 May-MontmorencyCherry

Plum                                                                                               Montmorency Cherries


Izu Persimmon.  It’s just now starting to blossom.  You can see a white bud in the center of the photo.


May-ItalianPrune  Italian Prune


May-Grapes3  We have grape trees and a grape arbor. May-Grapes2


May-GoldenDelicious                                 May-EarlyLaxton

Golden Delicious                                                                                                      Early Laxton Plum


Crabapples.  The tree is loaded with fruit.



This is the Black Walnut.  The tree I have listed in Fruit Tree Study Part 2 is not a Black Walnut…Bruce thinks it’s a Mulberry.


May-BartlettPear  Bartlett Pear


You may have noticed something odd about the Red Gravenstein apples and the Golden Delicious apples.  I told Bruce that I think they got mixed up on the map that I’ve been using, but he insisted that you never know what an apple will look like until it gets to maturity.

Well…does this really look like a Golden Delicious??


I guess we’ll just have to wait until Fall to find out.  Stranger things have happened.





It is Iris season here in Oregon and the varieties are seemingly endless.  Since this is our first spring here I never know what is going to pop up out in the gardens and it’s always a very nice surprise to see so much variety.  Before this week I knew just about nothing about irises except that they are pretty.  After a bit of study I at least now know what I am looking at and will probably stop trying to get the top petals to lay down flat to get better photos of the insides.

We were up in Portland last week and on the way home we stopped in at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.


What a great idea that was!  They are just a bit north of Salem in the Quinaby district.  They have a 10-acre display garden with 500 varieties of irises along with other plants and trees.

Iris-ColumbineGarden         Iris-Dogwood

The bloom season is May 9 to June 1 and is well worth the trip.  The Schreiner’s have been in business since 1925 and they are the nation’s largest retail grower of irises. Their hybridizing program has been internationally recognized as one of the best  and their irises have won eleven Dykes Memorial Medals, the highest award given by the American Iris Society.

Iris-2TonedBlueBearded Iris-RedColumbine

Iris-PurpleColumbine2 _MG_4714

_MG_4717 _MG_4720

_MG_4774  Iris-PurpleBeardedSchreiners

Their website is http://www.schreinersgardens.com.  You can order irises on-line and also at the gardens, where they have other plants and cut flowers for sale.

Iris is from the Iridaeceae family and is a genus of 260-300 species of flowering plants with large, showy flowers.  Its name is derived from the Greek word for rainbow.  Irises can be found throughout the north temperate zone from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle.

They are perennial plants, usually growing from creeping rhizomes ( a modified subterranean stem of a plant, usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes.  They grow perpendicular to the force of gravity and have the ability to allow new shoots to grow upwards).

The inflorescences (a group or cluster of flowers on the central floral support) are fan-shaped and have one or more symmetrical 6-lobed flowers.  The 3 sepals (outermost whorl of the flower) spread or droop downwards and are called “falls”.  The falls are the most colorfully marked part of the flower.  Bearded irises have white or colored hairs in the center of each fall, called the “beard”.  Crested irises have a ridge or crest on each fall.

The 3 inner petals are called “standards”; they stand upright in the enter of the flower, but may be horizontal.

 Iris-Chart   Iris-BeardlessChart

All parts of the plant are poisonous and contact with the sap can cause skin irritation.  On the good side, they are low-allergen plants and are used for floral arrangements.

There are five classifications of irises according to the Royal Horticultural Society in London, England:

1.  Bearded Iris-from miniature dwarf to tall, the most widely cultivated group of irises.  They grow from rhizomes and prefer well-drained conditions.

2.  Beardless Iris- they generally have more flowers per stem than the bearded.  There is a bright contrasting spot of a different color on the falls that replaces the beard, called a “signal”. They grow from rhizomes and prefer well-drained conditions.

3.  Crested Iris- they grow from rhizomes and spread freely.  Each petal has a white patch and a yellow or orange crest on each fall.  They prefer moist soil.

4.  Bulbous Iris-  they are beardless and dormant in the summer.  They grow from bulbs and prefer well-drained soil.

5.  Aril Iris-a bearded wild iris species found in semi-arid to desert climates from Central Asia to the Middle East.  They become dormant in the summer. Good drainage and full sun are a necessity.  They prefer totally dry, baking summers, but can tolerate some wetness.  There is another type of iris called Arilbred which is a cross between arils and bearded iris.  They will grow anywhere that bearded irises grow.

In our garden, I think we have only the bearded and beardless types of irises and some wild purple/blue irises growing out in the woods .

Iris-YellowUnbearded Iris-YellowBearded2

Iris-WhiteBeardless   Iris-YellowBearded

Iris-Purple Iris-PeachBearded

Iris-CircusWorld  Iris-LtPurpleBearded

Iris-Wild  Wild Iris


Schreiner’s Gardens website- http://www.schreinersgardens.com


American Iris Society-  http://www.irises.org

Aril Society International- http://www.arilsociety.org

An Illustrated Guide to Perennials by Professor Marshall Craigmyle


Fruit Tree Study–Part 2

The fruit trees are in full leaf  with miniature fruits on them.  I’m hoping we will be able to make use of some of them in their fully formed size in spite of the birds, insects and anything else that will be competing with us for food.

I grouped the fruit trees by type and tried to get a sample of each one with leaves, buds, petals and fruit.  They didn’t all bloom at the same time and not in the order that I thought they would.  The trees on the south side of the garden bloomed later than the same ones on the north side.  My favorite tree is the Crabapple with such an incredible amount of  beautiful blossoms.  I don’t have many photos of the fruit, due to many factors, but I hope to get out soon to capture the mini-fruit before they get too large.




April 5


April 12

Apr12GoldenDelicious3 Apr12GoldenDelicious2 Apr12GolDelLowerGarden2



April 5

Apr1GrannySmithApr5GrannySmith3  Apr5GrannySmith

April 12




April 12

April 12Merose2 Apr12Merose6

May 1




March 24

Mar24RedGrav2 March24RedGravensteinA4-2

April 5


April 12


May 1

may1Red Gravenstein4



April 5


April 12

Apr12WinesapTree Apr12Winesap5 Apr12Winesap4

May 1




April 12

Apr12Yarlington3 Apr12Yarlington




April 5

Apr1Montmorency Chreey4

April 12

Apr12Montmorency3 Apr12Montmorency

May 1




April 5


April 12





March 24

B1-Mar24Evereste Crabapple


April 5

Apr1Crabapple6 Apr1Crabapple3


Apr5EveresteCrabapple4 Apr5EveresteCrabapple3 Apr5EveresteCrabapple2


April 12

Apr12CrabappleTree Apr12Crabapple3

May 1




April 12


May 1




April 5

Apr1Hazelnut3 Apr1Hazelnut2

May 1

May1Hazelnut2 May1Hazelnut




March 24

Mar24AsianPearS Mar24AsianPearN

April 5




March 24

mar24D'Anjou Pear3 mar24D'Anjou Pear5

April 5

Apr1D2DAnjouPear2 Apr1D2DAnjouPear



March 24

mar24Bartlett PearNorth mar24Bartlett Pear5 mar24Bartlett Pear Mar24-2-Bartlett Pear

April 5

Apr1D3BartlettPear3 Apr1D3BartlettPear2

May 1

May1Bartlett Pear3




April 12

Apr12IzuPersimmon2 Apr12IzuPersimmon

May 1

may1Izu Persimmon2



April 12

Apr12HachiyaPersimmon Apr12HachiyaPersimmon2




March 24

Mar24-2Early Lexton Plum Mar24Plum, Early Lexton

April 5

Apr1EarlyLextonPlum8  Apr1EarlyLextonPlum9

April 12


May 1

May1Early Lexton Plum3




April 5

Apr1Italian Prune

April 12


May 1




March 24

Mar24-Moyer Prune

April 5




March 24

Mar24-Coes Golden Drop Prune Mar24Coes Golden Drop Prune3

April 5


May 1

May1Coes Golden Drop




April 5


April 12

Apr12HavranTurkish5 Apr12HavranTurkish3

May 1

May1Havran Turkish Quince



April 5

Apr1SmymaQuince  Apr5H2SmynaQuinceMaybe


April 12

Apr12Smyrna4  Apr12Smyrna2

May 1

April 20Quince April20Quince May1Smyrna Quince




April 12



Possible Mulberry







Fruit Tree Study-Part 1

The fruit trees started looking alive in early March.  I had no plan in mind, but slowly started to think that the buds on the trees actually looked different from one another.  Every few days I went out to record their progress and at some point I got a map and a list of the trees and took notes.   This post will be part one of a two or three part series, just because I took a very large number of photos.  This first part is a collection of of photos of the very beginnings of fruit.  At this point, in early, I am just starting to see little tiny fruit on some of the trees.

Here’s what the map of our garden looks like; click on it to enlarge it to see the detail.

Garden Map 5

The letters and numbers correlate to the types of fruit trees:

Apple: A1 Golden Delicious; A2 Granny Smith; A3 Melrose; A4 Red Gravenstein; A5 Winesap; A6 Yarlington Mill

Crabapple: B1 Evereste

Grape: C1 Himrod; C2 Flame

Pear: D1 Asian; D2 D’Anjou; D3 Bartlett

Persimmon: E1 Izu; E2 Hachiya

Plum: F1 Early Laxton;

G1 Italian; G2 Moyer; G3 Coe’s Golden Drop

Quince: H1 Havran Turkish; H2 Smyrna

Walnut: J1 Walnut

Cherry: K1 Montmorency (sour); K2 Rainier (sweet)

For orientation, the upper side is north, and the house is just north of the top of the garden, the pine tree farm is to the west, and the main road is to the east.  The vegetable garden is in the upper right corner and the entire area slopes down to the south.


The first photos are of an apple tree on March 4th, the only tree with any activity to see.

AppleBudMarch4  March4Apple blossom

The next batch are from March 12th

12March3   12Mar


A few days later, on March 15th

15March13    15March7 15March6 15March5  15March3 15March2 15March


And the last batch of nameless trees, on March 18th

_MG_3150-1 18March _MG_3189-1 _MG_3183-1 _MG_3181-1 _MG_3180-1 _MG_3175-1 _MG_3174-1 _MG_3171-1 _MG_3170-1 _MG_3164-1 _MG_3162-1 _MG_3158-1 _MG_3155-1 _MG_3154-1

As you can see, there was a great deal of activity going on in just a few weeks.  I loved seeing all the variations but I also loved that these trees were telling me that Spring and Summer were surely on their way and the days of cold and rain would not last forever.



Vegetable Garden, April 2014, No. 1


April has been an interesting month, with rain, a couple of nights of freezing temperatures, and a few days later a couple of days that reached 90+!

I managed to rent a big tiller and till the current garden and cut in an additional 36‘ X 84’ garden space to the west of the current garden.


With this new space I have close to 6,000 square feet of garden space. I assume this will be much more space than I will need, but it will give me lots of room to try things.  I felt very constrained in my garden in San Jose and feel like this size garden will remove that constrained feeling, although I am not sure feeling unconstrained is completely a good thing.   I tested the soil in the current garden as well as the new space.  As I guessed, the original garden soil was nearly perfect due to the excellent stewardship of the previous owners (Thank you so much!).  The new plot is a different story; it is very acidic, low on nutrients, and organic matter.  I have some work to do before that is sorted out.  I also managed to plumb the depth of the soil in the northwest corner of the new plot.  At about 1 ¾ feet down, I found shale gravel.  I did not dig into that very much as I had a focus on getting my potatoes planted.  Not knowing what the story is there will bug me so I know at some point I will dig a hole big enough and deep enough to sort out what is going on down there.  I hit this gravel over an area of about 10 feet by 5 feet in that northwest corner.  In the rest of those rows the soil was more than 2 feet deep as that is about as deep as I dug.  Even if it is the edge of a gravel shelf, 1 ½ feet of soil is fine for most vegetables and if I plant in raised rows which is my plan there will be more like 3 feet of soil and that is more than enough even for tomatoes.  The other interesting discovery in that side of the new garden is a layer of black PVC film.  I am guessing that film was put down at some point in past, maybe to heat up the soil or something, and was left there.  Over the years it became covered with dirt and grass.  The tiller tore it up into small pieces which I expect I will continue to pick up for a while to come.  It is not a big problem just an interesting discovery, something to wonder about, and a reminder that what we leave behind always has an impact.  We make a lot of choices every day; they all have consequences.


_MG_4004  _MG_4018 _MG_4109


I installed T-tape irrigation and a battery operated timer system in the current garden.  The timer came with a three ¾” valve setup so I can use it to control irrigation for both garden spaces and the adjacent orchard.  At this time, I am using 0.700 Poly tubing as the main lines just to get things going.  Once I am happy with how things are working I plan to convert it to a ¾” PVC pipe system dug into the ground to protect it and provide greater water flow.

_MG_4551 _MG_4554

I built my grow out tables which provide two decks that extend 16 feet by 3 feet giving me lots of room.  I put up a temporary greenhouse structure built with ¾-inch PVC pipe and covered it with 4 mil PVC sheeting (not greenhouse film) held in place with old PVC clips and some mason line used for anti-billowing lines.  When the wind got too strong the PVC film blew up, but then new PVC clips arrived in the mail and it has been holding so far.   The PVC film is not ideal but seems to work.  For next year, I hope to have a more permanent structure and then I will use greenhouse film.  To really protect from the frost, I would have to setup a two layer film setup, which would require power.  Of course then, I would start to think about wanting to add heat so that it does not freeze during very cold dark periods, and automatic ventilation… .

_MG_3739              _MG_4546


I transplanted my lettuce, pac choi, mustard, and cabbage in mid-April after the freeze and before the 90+ temps.  A couple of the cabbages look sad but that might not have anything to do with the weather as it could just be field shock from the transplanting.  I have lots of back up plants ready to transplant to replace any plants that fail. The rest of the plants are looking great.


Potatoes finally got planted at the very end of April.  I feel like this was a month later than I would have liked but the garden was not really ready any earlier.   I planted 15# of seed potatoes in three 33’ rows.  This is tighter than recommended, but I just did not want to commit any more of the garden to potatoes.  Next year I need to limit my seed potato order to about 12# for closer to normal spacing.


I started my tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers at least a month too early.  The tomatoes are way too leggy and the peppers should have been in the ground a few weeks ago.  It is a lot more work planting these leggy plants, but if I am careful they should turn out fine.  Both tomatoes and peppers benefit from being planted deep in the soil, but at least the tomatoes are a bit beyond the ideal size.  The rest of the plants are all in good shape and ready to plant.

_MG_4548 _MG_4550

I seeded summer and winter squash, kohlrabi, cucumber, and melons in the greenhouse late in April.  They are starting to germinate and will be planted in 3” pots in a few weeks.   Any that do not germinate will be direct seeded in the garden at planting time.


Plan:  by mid-May.

Transplant plant tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, romanesco, fennel, and eggplants into the garden.

Seed leeks in a garden seed bed for transplant later in the year.

Apply lime and compost to the rows and sweet corn area to the new garden area.

Setup pole bean and cucumber trellises and direct seed pole and bush beans.


Plan:  by end of May.

Complete the warm weather garden planting.

Take down the temporary greenhouse structure and move the tables to a better location.

Turn my focus to the orchard, flower beds, and yard.

Start to work on building a walking path around the property.



The soil in the new garden space needs a lot of improvements.  My idea at this time is to try to improve to soil in the area where the vegetables are actually planted and will grow and not the entire space as I feel under pressure to get things planted.  Then, as those crops finish up this fall, add major amounts of amendments, which can then mellow into the soil during the winter.  Then, in very early spring, test the soil again and make minor adjustments before the summer planting starts.  I suspect this process will be repeated for years to come.


We have been letting the yard grow out to enjoy the wild flowers that are coming up in the grass.  It is an interesting look although a bit wild and un-kempt.  We will start to get our arms around that situation in May as well.