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Trees

When we considered moving to Oregon, Bruce’s dream was to have a nice, large piece of land with plenty of room for gardening.  I found a piece of property in Roseburg that was just perfect for both of us in that it has a very nice house, lots of acreage and a 2 acre garden.  What we didn’t plan on was having an established farm.  Our farm is a tree farm, planted in Ponderosa pines by the previous owner.  And boy, do we ever have a lot of Ponderosa pines!

The bark helps to distinguish it from other species.  This is a hardy, drought tolerant tree having thick , protective bark comprised of stacked plates that sometimes look like puzzle pieces. The deep cracks in old tree bark smell pleasant, like vanilla with a hint of butterscotch or warm cookie.  Old growth ponderosas grow 150 to 180 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter.   http://www.bentler.us/eastern-washington/plants/trees/ponderosa.aspx

We don’t have anywhere near old growth status, but they are all a decent size.  We are supposed to go out in the late fall and winter when the sap isn’t running and prune the lower branches of each tree, which increases the diameter of the tree and in turn, will yield a higher price when logged.  (See the post on November 1, 2013, called Lifting and Falling to read more about this process.)

At any rate, we do have a lot of trees, but apparently not enough for Bruce!  He just recently ordered 100 saplings and we ended up getting about 250 of them.  Oh my!  Bruce wanted to fill in some bare areas of land and since he had so many he planted them in areas where they probably won’t grow, like the swampy spot down by the neighbor’s pond.

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Can you see any planted trees in the photo on the left?  They are there, but they are very small.

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The trees, even if we don’t live long enough to see them harvested, have many benefits.  They are a very nice ground cover that I don’t have to mow, they provide shelter for the elk and deer and birds, they block us from the neighbors, and they just look great!

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Vegetable Garden, March 2015

The spring garden is off with a splash!  It has been a warmer than normal late winter with close to normal rain fall. So it has been very tempting to get into the garden and start planting!  The muck boots have been a requirement and soil compression is a constant concern.  It has been a pleasure to have the roto-tiller constantly at hand, so that on those days when the soil is dry enough I can get at breaking up the soil and getting the rows ready to plant.

Harvest:  The asparagus started throwing up shoots the last two weeks of March. They are a tasty welcome to spring and a driving force to get the garden into full gear.

Growing: The garlic and shallots that were planted last fall are looking great!  The fruit trees are in full bloom, the wildflowers are starting to bloom, and of course there are weeds everywhere!

Planting: Fennel, yellow and red onion, bunching onion, leek, lettuce, spinach, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, romanesco, and kohlrabi plants were planted from seedlings started in February indoors.  Parsnip, carrot, beet, turnip, and Swiss chard were direct seeded in the garden.  Pea and radish were direct planted in the garden every 3 to 6 weeks to stretch out the harvest.  Lettuce is being seeded indoor every 8 weeks as well.  We got a few days when the temperatures got down to 29 F. and that took the basil out, but no worries more basil is sprouting indoors now.  Everything else appears unaffected by the cold nights.

Seeding: Basil, lettuce, pepper, artichoke, and cardoon have been seeded and are sprouted.  I will be seeding tomato, squash, melon, cucumber, and eggplant indoors very soon.

Projects:

Germination box: I decided that trying to maintain the 85 degrees F. temperatures in the small greenhouse that the pepper seeds need to germinate was too difficult and too expensive. So I built a 30” x 60” x 24” insulated box, hung 4 shop lamps (2 LED and 2 fluorescent), and attached a thermostat.  I now can maintain 85 degrees F. at about 90% humidity with less than 210 watts of power.  If the plants do well under the LED shop lamps I will go 100% LED next year; at that point I will be using 140 watts of power for heating and lighting.

Larger Greenhouse: I have been working on a 10’ x 18’ poly film greenhouse.  Our good friends the Jenks came to visit and Jeff helped me get a good start on this project by building the supporting structures.  Since then I have completed the table tops.  I have to build the ends, attach the loops, and apply the poly film.  This is sort of a back burner project as it will not be needed until the end of April.  OMG that is just weeks away!

Berry patch:  During a dry patch, I cut in a 40’ x 60’ plot for our berry patch in which we are planning to grow blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.  I plan to start with one 40’ row of each with room to add a second row of each if we feel like doing so. The strawberries will be grown in 6” PVC pipes about 38” off the ground for easy and clean harvesting.

Bird houses:  With help from the Jeff, I built and hung 10 bird houses, 5 for wrens, and 5 for western bluebirds.  Both of these birds eat a lot of insects and I wanted to encourage them to hang around. As it turns out, the tree swallows think they are just the place to setup housekeeping!  The good news is tree swallows eat insects as well so I am good with them using the bird house as well.

 A friend of ours called this kind of late winter weather that is warm and not too rainy “sucker season.” It makes you think spring is here and that you should start planting, then when you have your plants in the ground here comes the cold wet weather that Oregon early springs are known for.  Well, it did get the basil!  And if it gets really cold the parsley will not make it, maybe even the lettuce will take a hit!  On the other hand, it feels so good to get working in the garden, working the soil, hearing the birds, and planting, who really cares if a cold, wet snap takes some things?

Plans:

Preparing the garden: As the soil dries out, I will be tilling and forming rows in the rest of the garden for planting.  I have to wait until the middle of May at the earliest to get this done.

Indoor seeding:  Tomato, squash, melon, cucumber, and eggplant will be seeded the early part of April.

Up potting:  The basil, lettuce, pepper, artichoke, and cardoon I seeded in early March will be up potted and grown out in the small greenhouse, then moved to the large greenhouse at the end of April.