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On the Brink – Saving a Cherry Bush from Drying Up

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Cherry Bush Not Doing Well

Cherry Bush Not Doing Well

About three weeks ago, I noticed that one of my cherry bushes was not doing well at all. The temperature at that time was well above 90 degrees for a few days straight, and there wasn’t much rain. The leaves on my plant had begun to drupe, and the cherries it tried to produce were very small and unhealthy looking.
Since I had trans-planted this bush from my sisters garden in the fall of last year, I figured the roots might not have been covered enough to protect them from the heat. I decided to take a four layered approach to fix this problem, starting with a fresh layer of soil.
Start with a Layer of Pot Ash

Start with a Layer of Pot Ash

 After the soil layer, I added a layer of “Pot-Ash” or what’s left when burning wood. I had a good deal of this ash in the pit where I make bio-char. I mixed the ash with water, and sprayed a bit of Miracle Grow into the mix. The nutrients in the fertilizer should sink into the ash, and be released slowly as the plant grows.
A Layer of Manure

A Layer of Manure

 On top of the ash, I added a layer of composted manure. Again, I put this layer on top so that some of the nutrients would leach into the ash below, and hopefully be stored in the soil longer. The manure was composted for at least a year and a half before being applied.
Straw to Hold in the Moisture

Straw to Hold in the Moisture

 To hold the moisture in the ground, I finished off the layering with some old straw I had sitting around. I layered it thick enough so that the sun could not directly hit the soil below. This should prevent the soil from having it’s moisture sucked out of it.
Once the layers were complete, it’s time for some serious watering. I dumped ten gallons of water around the cherry bushes base, hoping to hit the roots, and the soil directly around them. I followed up with a couple more gallons every few days during hot spells.
"Boots" carrying a snake

"Boots" carrying a snake

 While I was trying to save this excellent growing cherry plant, my cat was also hard at work hunting down snakes in the field. He is a very friendly cat, well to humans anyway…
Crazy Cat.... Who Knows What he is Doing ?

Crazy Cat.... Who Knows What he is Doing ?

 After he dragged the snake out of the field, he decided to take a break and sit on the snake…. while purring away.
Growth Once Again

Growth Once Again

Three weeks later, my hard work had payed off, and you can see the bush is growing once again. After spending a good deal of time around plants, I’ve discovered a very simple method to see if the plant is healthy. Look at the very top of the plant, or anywhere where you would expect to see new growth. If the plant is a bright or light green, it’s quite healthy. This holds true for many indoor and outdoor plants.

More Cherries and Berries

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Tart Cherries

Tart Cherries

I took a look around to see just how much rain we had gotten from a recent storm. I was very happy to see that the soil seemed satisfied for the time being, and I had no obligation to carry 5 gallon buckets of water half way across the farm to cure my plants thirst. I soon found my self with a zip lock bag in my hand, picking some tart cherries, and I thought I’d share the view. These are berries which were planted by the grape arbor near a small crick which runs through the center of the farm.

Grapes

Grapes

Just around the corner, I noticed how good this season’s grapes look. I’ve made my own potion and suggested that it be called wine in the past, but I’d like to make another attempt at fermenting these grapes into a pleasing mixture. This may be the crop that I get to experiment with, so I’m keeping a close eye on the plants, and the grapes.

Blueberries

Blueberries

Just a few paces away grow some tiny blueberry plants. I’d guess they are about five years old, and they sure are taking their time in their vertical race. I’ve been trying to bring the soil to the proper PH, which is lower then most other plants, using wood shavings. The berries are quite good, even thought I am generally not a fan of these berries. They must be a special type of blue berry if I like them !

Better Days, Soon

Better Days, Soon

Just as I was about to put the camera away for the night, I saw this beautiful sunset. If everything does happen for a reason, I’d say this display is clearly meant to suggest better days are coming, and they may just be right around the corner.

Timing and Progress

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Broccoli

Broccoli

I’ve been trying to expand my gardening skills to include cooler weather crops, or in other words the items that I didn’t like to eat as a child. I’ve had to adjust my thinking about the growing season to get the plants going, but I think I’m on the right track. I planted my broccoli weeks before the garden was roto-tilled, using a pick axe to turn over and smash up the soil. The plants were tiny then, and after a few visits from some ravenous critters, I wasn’t sure if they would make it, but here they are, growing quite well.

Zucchini

Zucchini

I’ve found a few peas that are ready to be tossed in salad even though they were planted late. I’ve also found that the squash plants that have invaded my strawberry patch are quite good, although they don’t seem to taste like zucchini. They carry a nutty flavor, and light colored stripes. I’m going to assume they are a cross over mix of many of the squashes I grew last year.  Either way these plants must have gotten a very good jump on the season, as the  rest of my zucchini plants are shorter then the veggie shown.

Winter Seedlings

Winter Seedlings

I’m not the only gardener thinking about the late season possibilities. Over the Fourth of July weekend, while visiting the whole family and enjoying my birthday cake, my Mother and I began conspiring to plant cooler weather crops, and so we planted seeds for broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. I hope to add cool season kohlrabi to the mix if I can locate seeds soon. We decided to leave the seedlings on the steps to allow them to grow up in full sun.

Peppers

Peppers

The peppers and tomatoes seem to be right on track now, after some heavy watering with my new water cannon. The peppers shown still need some help from the compost pile, but in due time they will be growing like the bean in the fabled jack in the bean stock story.

Honey Berries

Honey Berries

The honey berries that I planted in the field are doing really well. They have begun their vertical reach, and are nearly 8 inches tall. I wasn’t sure how well they would do in my neck of the woods, but daily trips out to the edge of my yard with a gallon of water have paid off very well.

Goji with Shading

Goji with Shading

I’ve finally taken the plunge and moved out my tiny goji berry plants. I’ve added a layer of safety just to be sure the sun would not cook them while they were taking root. I placed a green mesh over the plants to block out about half of the sun’s day time rays. I was mainly trying to block the hot rays the sun beams down during the middle of the day, as they seem to be the most damaging. I moved one of the plants out to the field last week using the same setup, and recently added the second. The shade will be in place for about a week just to be sure the plant gets a good grip on it’s new soil.

I’m still waiting for my paw-paw tree, which won’t be shipped until September or October. I find the timing of shipping to be odd, as most plants arrive in spring, but when it comes to paw-paw trees, I’m the still the amateur.

Summer Cherries and Berries

June 28, 2011 2 comments
I think these are Service Berries

I think these are Service Berries

While mowing the field over the weekend, I spotted these berry plants growing wild. I did some investigating online, and I believe that they are Service Berries. The leaves of this plant match the descriptions of service berries on several websites. I’ll be sure to give one a try as soon as it ripens. If they are pleasing, I’ll transplant some of these berries to my large long term garden situated all around my home.

Goose Berries

Goose Berries

After finding the service berries, I thought I’d have a look at the rest of berries, and post pictures of them. I planted Goose Berries a year or two ago, and they are just this year starting to set berries, which resemble a striped marble.I haven’t yet tried one, as I’m unsure when they are ripe.

Sweet Cherries

Sweet Cherries

I did try the cherries which are bright red above. They are still somewhat tart, and small for cherries, so they must not be ripe yet. I’m quite amazed at the number of cherries which grow on a single bush.

Tart Cherries

Tart Cherries

There are also tart cherry bushes in my collection. These berries are a bit sour when they ripen to a dark red, but I still enjoy them just the same. I’ve heard they make great cherry pies, but I’m not much of a cook so I haven’t tried it.

Wild Mini-Strawberries

Wild Mini-Strawberries

Finally my favorite berry, and one I’ve had a lifetime of experience picking. They may be small, but the plants are usually short enough to duck under mower blades, and they spread out into patches dozens of feet wide and long if left unchecked. Before giving up my sandbox, I used to have a detailed map in my mind which would guide me to the appropriate location on the farm to find lots of ripe berries.

Getting Serious About Organic Fertilizer

Getting the Spreader Ready

Getting the Spreader Ready (Rob Driving, Davie Watching)

There’s a new tool on the farm, one that’s been needed for far too long: a John Deere tractor. Now that it’s finally here, it’s time to get serious about spreading manure. The manure spreader has been on the farm as long as I can remember, but it was never much use without a tractor to get it moving.  Before we could use the spreader, it needed to be oiled up, and prepared to work. The machine has been sitting idle for years, so we had to knock off some rust here and there, add air to the tires and replace a few pins.

Manure Spreader In the Garden

Manure Spreader In the Garden

The bucket on the front of the tractor is very useful for getting giant scoops of manure and plopping them into the holding area. When it’s full, simply pull it to the field, and flip a lever. The cart then uses the rotating motion of the wheels to power a series of gears which fling the poo everywhere, and in just the right amounts. Manure should be allowed to rot for a year before spreading it, or spread it at the end of the season. I can’t express just how much work this tool has saved me,  as I used to do all this work with a pitch fork !

Black Raspberries

Black Raspberries

After all of the progress in the garden, I finally got around to planting these “Black Raspberries”. My sister gave them too me last year, and they have been sitting in buckets next to my walkway. When they were in the ground, I mulched then with some straw to prevent weeds from growing nearby.

English Roast with Onions and Swiss Chard

English Roast with Onions and Swiss Chard

To replace all of the energy I expelled during the day, I figured it was time to try out something new. In the fall of last year we bought a “half-cow” or all of the meat cuts from the animal. Since I’m not used to the names of the different cuts, it’s been a trial and error learning process about how to cook it. I like to keep things simple, so a frying pan, and some butter seemed appropriate. I then cut up the “English Roast” to help it cook better, and tossed in a few Stuttgarter onions from last years garden.  Just as I was about to finish up, I ran out and grabbed some Chard, and added it before calling the whole concoction “edible food”. I really enjoyed the taste, so I thought I better add this to my blog so I won’t forget how it’s made.

Before and After Cherry Blossoms

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment
Cherry Buds Before Opening Up

Cherry Buds Before Opening Up

The other day I just happened to look over at my two sweet cherry bushes, and noticed that they’ve got quite colorful, so I decided to snap a few pictures.  The very next day, I looked at the plants once again and found that all of the buds had opened, revealing really cool white flowers.

After Opening Up

After Opening Up

The photos were both taken at about 11:00 AM, on April 23 and 24 respectively.

These two bushes were a gift from my sister in the fall of last year, and I haven’t yet gotten to try these cherries, so I’m pretty eager to see them grow.

Photos by Nate: 2

August 1, 2010 Leave a comment
The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse

I’m really impressed with my nephew’s photos, and I’ve decided I will post them once a week. This will give me a break, as well as show off the garden from Nate’s perspective. I’ve made it a point to teach Nate as many things as possible, and he was a huge help while constructing the greenhouse. I had lot’s of offers of help, but I was on a mission to prove something to myself, and wouldn’t allow anyone older then myself to help me (except my sis Maurice).

IT-Farmer Holding a Week Old Goat

IT-Farmer Holding a Week Old Goat

Here’s a photo of me in front of the barn at my sisters farm. The goat I’m holding seems to think it is a puppy, and even sleeps with 9 of them nightly. It’s very friendly, and it was just too cute, I had to pick it up.

Raspberries

Raspberries

Above are Raspberry plants, which are growing in my Mother’s garden. Her garden is a more conservative size then mine, as she has five tomato plants. I offered to give her more, as I had started well over 600 in the greenhouse; but she said five was plenty. Next year, I’ll plant fewer tomatoes, and more Pepper plants.

Guess I better get out there and mow around the perimeter where I hope to expand the garden too….