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Starting Early

March 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Peach Pits

Peach Pits

I’ve been waiting for several months to experiment with fruit tree seeds, and the time is about right to thaw them out and give them a shot. The seeds have been stratifying in my freezer for several months, which … [ Continue Reading at http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2523 ]

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It’s Begun

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment
Celery Seeds in Dirt

Celery Seeds in Dirt

I’ve been waiting patiently, restraining myself from starting any seeds till the time is right, and that time is now. The season begins for me with Celery, which should be started 11 weeks before the last frost, several weeks before most other seeds will be started.

This is only my second attempt at growing the crispy garden snack, and last year didn’t go so well. I was not aware of the long amount of time required by Celery for Germination, gave up on the seedlings too soon, and re-used the dirt for other seeds. Later in the season, I found one celery plant by luck.

Chard Under Cover

Chard Under Cover

I ventured out to check on my chard cover over the weekend, taking a few pictures in the dark. I set my flashlight at the end of the small hoop-house, pointing the light towards the opposite end of the tunnel.

View from the Side

View from the Side

This tunnel setup is working so well that I may use it next winter in an attempt to grow Chard year round. The leaves which are not covered by the tunnel are wilting when they are covered with snow, but the plants under the protective cover are starting lots of new shoots, which should be edible in a week or two.

Concord Grape Canes

Concord Grape Canes

I finally got around to cloning a few grape vines. Jenny and I clipped a few canes from two vines on the farm, and I planted the clippings in these small ceramic pots. In the past I would have gotten carried away and started dozens of grape vines, but this year I’m trying to be more realistic, so I’ve only started a few. If your interested in the process for cloning your own vines, check out this post.

Grape Graft

Grape Graft

I’m always trying new things as I figure if I do this enough times, I’m bound to figure out some pretty neat tricks. Since I’ve read about grafting fruit trees, and I’ve heard that the root stock will color the flavor of fruit which the scion bears, I thought I’d try something similar with grape vines. I started with two clippings, from two different vines, and fused them together as a apple scion would be fused to root stock. I used some candle wax to seal the bond, and prevent air from drying out the canes. I’m hoping the difference in the two types of grape vines will cause the grapes to have a very interesting flavor.

Fruit Experiment

Fruit Experiment

Above is my latest experiment with cloning fruit trees. I put this together in haste, and it shows as my taping is very sloppy. You can see the buds beginning to open on the peach canes, and all of the other clippings are showing growth when you look close. I’ve gotten this far in the past, but I remain hopeful for this batch as I’m shielding the roots from light this time. Soon the clippings will deploy new leaves, and with some luck, they will grow new roots, which would be a step forward for my experiment.

Fruit Trees from Seed

January 31, 2011 2 comments
Apple Seedlings

Apple Seedlings

Cloning Fruit trees does not look very promising, and although I’m not giving up, I’ve decided to hedge my bets a bit by trying the one guaranteed way to get new plants: from seed. I should be very clear about this up front: When you grow fruit (especially apples) from seed, your not guaranteed much. These tiny seedlings could grow up to be the most sought after apple variety to date, but the odds are quite steep against getting a tree that grows anything but crab apples. Wildlife will eat crab apples,  so I guess the worst case scenario would be to fatten the local deer up a bit.
Apples, Pears, Plums, Peaches

Apples, Pears, Plums, Peaches

I’m also starting some other types of seeds, ones in which the odds of success are very much stacked in my favor: Pears, Plums and Peaches. Here’s how I do it: Purchase locally grown produce, and get some kids to eat the fruit. Save the seeds, and let them dry for a day or so, then place in a zip lock bag, and store them in the freezer for about three months. Thaw them out, and place the seeds in a small tray of water till they begin to sproat.  Place the sproating seeds in containers with Miracle Grow, covered with only 1/4 inch of soil at most.  Keep the dirt moist.  When the last chance of frost has pasted they can be moved outside.

Be sure to mark where you plant them, and what type of tree is planted there. It’s very easy to forget in a year or so.
Categories: Fruit Trees Tags: ,

Try, Try, Try Again: Fruit Tree Cloning

December 13, 2010 14 comments
Sweet Cherry Cuttings

Sweet Cherry Cuttings

A few years ago, I learned how to clone grape vines. Ever since then, I’ve tried the same approach to clone other plants. I’ve managed to clone an Elderberry bush, a Lilac, countless Weeping Willows, even a tomato; but there is one category of plant I just can’t seem to clone: Fruit Trees. If I had the option, I would just give up cloning and resort to Grafting or starting plants from seed. Seeds are out of the question because the genetics of apples vary so widely that a seed from the best apple in the world will usually develop into a crab apple tree. Grafting would require that I have the proper root stock, something I haven’t found a way to order yet.

My only option left is to try, try, try every possible  method to clone these trees. It’s something of a winter obsession for me.

Pear and Apple Cuttings

Pear and Apple Cuttings

Red clips -> Pear;      Blue clips -> Apple. The side with the colored clips are treated with root growing solution.

In the winter of 2009, I tried to use Miracle Grow as my rooting medium, with good initial success. The cuttings grew new leaves, but no roots.  This year, I’m trying two rooting mediums, Sand and Garden Dirt. I’m also trying two planting styles, one with bare cuttings, and another with a solution that encourages roots to grow. I’ve moved my setup from my seedling room where the light was very bright in the morning, to my kitchen where the lighting is a constant shade. I’ve also used much less water in the base rooting medium, in an attempt to keep the cuttings from rotting.  I’ll only add water with my misting bottle.To top it all off, I’m applying a small amount of Anti-Fungal agent, something I apply to my trees during the summer months.

I’ve started very early this year, and I hope to try three different approaches by spring time. My newest concern is if I will have enough cuttings for further experiments, as I’ve pruned three trees already.

Here Comes The Work Part of Winter

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment
The Farm

The Farm

I’ve been thinking about getting a jump start on the winter season by pruning my fruit trees and grape vines before it gets too cold, but Mother Nature apparently has a different plan. This morning, just as the sun was raising itself in the sky, I noticed the temperature at 5 F;  Several inches of snow cover the ground, and I’ve found my plans for getting ahead of the season thwarted. I guess it’s for the better, as I’m still in need of my yearly Youtube pruning instructions for a quick refresher of the do’s and don’ts of tree trimming.

Fruit Trees Await Their Yearly Pruning.

Fruit Trees Await Their Yearly Pruning.

When I’ve finished pruning these trees, I’ll have lots of cuttings to experiment with, so I’ll need to get some new ideas for cloning hard woods. I have yet to find a source which states that cloning fruit trees is possible, but I can be quite stubborn, and I won’t let this idea go. I’m going to try a sandy soil base this time, and mist the cuttings more so then in the past. I’ve learned that too much top growth can be bad for clones, so I’ll try to encourage root growth more then anything.

Grape cloning is another possibility for this time of year, and I’ll try not to get carried away again. I’d love to start new vines, as it’s one of the few signs of growth in the winter, but I simply have too many grape plants to tend already.  I’m sure rational thought will go out the window however;  when I’m knee deep in grape vine trimmings. I’ll wind up with a room full of grape vines, with no where to plant them. I’ll just have to pawn them off on neighbors and co-workers….

Categories: Fruit Trees, Grapes, Planning

Mapping Progress

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Blue Concord
Blue Concord

In the long term, I hope to clone most of the grapes which I’ve planted near the garden. The cloning part isn’t that difficult, but keeping track of each specific vine’s name over the course of several years may prove the hardest part. That’s where my Tiny Vineyard Map comes in. This morning, I walked around all of the now dormant vines, and noted each varieties name on a small map.

Vine Map
Vine Map

I also decided that this blog may be the best place to store maps of various plants, so here’s a map of my small orchard as well:

Small Orchard Map
Small Orchard Map

I may need to amend this orchard map, as two of the small trees didn’t seem to be doing that well this fall. There are also two new sweet cherry bushes which would be on a third line below the Red Delicious and Cortland apples on the left hand side of this map.

Evening Shots

July 12, 2010 2 comments
Apple Tree, Planted Last Year

Apple Tree, Planted Last Year

On Friday, we had a gorgous sunset, and I had to share some of the photos I snapped. Above is a Apple tree that I planted last year. It’s still very young, and won’t likely bear fruit for many years. To capture the green in the leaves, I had to set my camera to “Forced Flash” mode. The camera would normally judge the amount of light, and decide not to use the flash, but this leaves only a shadow of the tree in the picture.

Cloning Grapes

Cloning Grapes

Here is a shot of some of the Cloning Grapes. I believe these are “Giant Green” Seedless. They are still very short, having just grown past the first wire that will support them. The colorful strands of wire were part of a larger cable, which had a bundle of four thick copper cables. I’ve made it a point to cut through the plastic jacket and expose some of the copper. Copper deters many things such as Late-Blight, and I’m hoping it will help the vines as tiny amounts of the mineral leach into the soil.

Sea-Buckthorn

Sea-Buckthorn

Here’s a “Sea-Buckthorn” plant. I have been quite worried about these transplants, as the heat has really been brutal to them. The soil they are planted in is normally pretty dry, and in this heat it is like a desert. I’ve been watering them daily, and also added some grass clippings and garden soil around the base to hold in the moisture.

Kentucky Pole Beans

Kentucky Pole Beans

Last but not least is the pole bean trellis. Some of the Beans have grown all the way up the trellis, and they are just getting started. These plants grow so fast that the weeds aroung them look spindly, and unhealthy. It’s nice to see the weeds struggle a bit for a change. Behind the beans are the Yukon Gold Potatoes, and the luminous sky in the background wasn’t quite as red in real life. I believe the flash fooled the camera into changing the color a bit. It’s all good though, as it makes a wonderful photo.