Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hardy Kiwis

Hardy Kiwis.
Actinidia arguta

I was surprised to learn that Hardy Kiwis can be grown here in Washington. When I read about them I had to have some!

Hardy Kiwis come in several varieties. Some need male fertilizers. One male can fertilize up to 8 female plants.  Most require 3yrs to fruit. Mine are on their 2nd year and I have yet to see any flowers. The Issai tends to be self fertile however, I found some at the Grange in Issaquah. These will fruit after the first yr! I can't wait to try some.

*Ken Red Hardy
*Anna Hardy
*Dumbarton Oacks hardy
*Meyer's Cordifolia

Edible Landscape seems to have the largest selection that I've seen.

1st yr in the ground.

2nd yr it's tripled by May and still growing.

But still no fruit. Hopefully by the 3rd yr we should start seeing some flowers.

Brown Turkey Fig Cuttings

Brown Turkey Fig Cuttings from 2014

Mustard Greens & Bok Choy

This year I got lazy and needed to use up some of my seeds from last year. Seeds tend to be less viable year after year. So instead of planting seed starts in cells I went ahead and just broadcasted them straight into the garden beds.

Mustard greens.

The mustard greens did great. I harvested them and sauteed them into a tasty dinner.

Bok Choy

The Bok Choy however quickly bolted. Could be due to our higher temps and over crowding.  I may need to start these guys in February instead next yr.

Pumpkin Growing Contest


This year I thought it would be fun to do a pumpkin growing contest amongst my friends. I bought everyone big max pumpkin seeds so that it would be fair.

If you want to join our little contest feel free to join here on facebook.

Espalier Fruit trees along my fence.


The beginning of my Espalier Fruit trees.
4 in 1 Asian Pears
4 in 1 Asian Pears
Spartan Apple
Akane Apple

At first the espalier idea seems a bit intimidating but once you get the ball rolling it's not so bad. I pruned all the unwanted branches off of my selected trees. Leaving only those that would tier well with wire that I was planning on attaching to my fence.

I used 8 inch eye screws and 12 gauge 100 ft wire. I plan on having 3 levels about 25 inches apart. In hindsight I probably should've kept the spacing to about 20 inches.

Apples, Pears and Figs take to this type of treatment well. But any stone fruit will probably be much more difficult to control.

Try this out if you have very little space in your yard.

Quince tree

Pineapple Quince Tree.

How awesome does the flower on this Pineapple quince look? The fruit might not be for everyone but as a decorative plant the Quince can hold it's ground against any magnolia or dogwood.

Apples Apples Aples


As a Washingtonian we live in prime real estate for some of the best apples in the country. So of course I have to have at least half a dozen varieties in my yard.

My Trees consists of:
1. Rubinette - Offspring of a great orange cox pippin
2. Akane - Great tasting apple for the NW
3. Spartan - In blind taste test the Spartan beat out 40 other apples
4. Beni Shogun - Related to the fuji but rippens early enough for the NW weather
5. Columnal Sentinel - I bought this guy for the novelty of a single stalk tree. I have since grafted 2 other varieties on it to see if it will take.

*Grafted Honey Crisp and Macoun.

All of my trees were purchased bare root. I planted them with a mix of compost, manure, bone meal, and Micorrhizae to give it an extra boost.

My beautiful rubinette Apple tree.

Column Apple.
Last year I got 2 apples from this tree. They were not fully ripe but conveniently fell off the tree when my mom came over to visit in September. 

Go to this link if you want reviews on Apple varieties, it's taste and other neat info.

My row of Fruit trees.

Cheap Mini Greenhouses


My greenhouse from 2014. This little death trap... I mean gem was purchased for $99 from my local Big lots. It was pretty handy until the zipper broke on it after about 3 weeks. I managed without a working zipper but regardless of how much you weigh it down and tie it. Just the slightest of winds will rip it to shreds.

In all it gave me 6 good months. That's about $16.50 per month. In it's place is a great new paved patio!

What a disaster

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fritillaria Imperialis

Fritillaria Imperialis.

I'm not much for growing flowers but these have got to be the king of the bulbs! I first saw them on the British show, Gardner's world on youtube.

I purchased 6 bulbs and they for some reason did not flower this year. I even sacrificed one of my garden beds which has great soil to increase the chance of success. Maybe I didn't get them in the ground intime so they could build up the energy to flower. Oh well maybe next year.

The other question is where can I put these guys other than my garden bed?




Hello my little radishes. Radishes are great cool weather veggies and they grow to maturity with a month. So it's easy to have a couple of crops of radishes in the spring and the fall. Such a tasty treat.

Grafting Fruit trees


I have a column sentinel apple that honestly doesn't taste all that great. So I decided to try my hand at grafting fruit for the first time.

Here it is with it's flowers. Pretty and takes up very little space but just not that tasty.

I have to admit that I made some rookie mistakes. I pulled out my Mac paring knife that is uber sharp but not ideal for grafting and some medical tape i had laying around. I ended up cutting myself twice but I think I managed to get the graft done.

I hate not being well equipped so I went on Amazon to get the right tools.  I am a total Amazon junky. I love the reviews and prime gets me 2 day free shipping so... I tend to buy even every day needs from them.

Anyhow I ended up getting the Kershaw Corral Creek Knife with Sheepsfoot Blade. Great ratings and cheap price. I also picked up some parafilm for taping the branches together.

With the right tools the grafting is so much easier. I can knock out a whip and tongue graft within 2 minutes.

This is a macoun apple grafted onto my beni shogun whip. Not too shabby eh?

Update: Unfortunately none of these took. I think the problem was that they dried out and I did it too late in the season with warmer weather.

Rooting Fig cuttings

Rooting figs.

This is the cup method with perlite and loose soil.

So this is one of the easiest things to do. It's also the most frustrating. What has worked for me this year has been to be patient and to understand how to eliminate the enemies. Enemies to figs? Yes.

Figs root super easy it's how we keep them alive is the tricky part. Fungus Gnat flies and mold can destroy your whole crop of rooting figs. It sure did for me. The best thing to do is eliminate the conditions that the flies can dwell in.

This year I've had about 90% success with my fig cuttings. I take a bit of soil 50% mixed with perlite 50% add it to my rooting cup about 3 inches deep. Then I top off the rest of the cup with just perlite. I water the cup all the way through and then bag it up for a month. Air out as needed. The top layer of perlite will give the roots plenty of oxygen. It also gives no place that the fungus gnat to lay their eggs.  The new roots tend to grow right between the soil layer and the perlite layer.

It's tempting to think that leaves equal roots but its a bad thing to do. Just let them be. Time matters more than anything. Once you can establish that there is a good root system. It is then time to acclimate the new leaves to a dryer environment. You do this by opening the bag more and more each day until you can take the bag off completely. The process should take atleast 2 weeks to get fully acclimated.

There's a million ways to do this so see if you can come up with your own. Good luck!

My Tropical Fruits

My Tropicals.

I know I live in the Seattle area and we're not suppose to be growing anything from the tropics. But that sure hasn't stopped me from trying.

My list of tropical I'm trying to grow.

1. papaya - 3yrs growth

2. cherimoya - 2yrs growth

1st year:

3. longan

4. miracle fruit - I just can't recommend growing these here in Seattle. I bought 2 saplings and failed miserably. I also bought a larger plant and that died too. It needs extremely high humidity and ver acidic soil that drains wells. Just way too temperamental and high maintenance.

5. guava

6. sapote

7. june plum - Spondias

8. dragon fruit

9. Jaboticaba 

10. Moringa

11. Cassabanana

I'll separate posts about each and what has worked and not worked for me.



If you haven't heard of Moringa then it seems you are missing out. It's nature's vitamin cabinet.

The leaves of Moringa Oleifera are nature's multi-vitamin providing 7 x the vitamin C of oranges, 4 x the calcium of milk, 4 x the vitamin A of carrots, 3 x the potassium of bananas, and 2 x the protein of yogurt.

The are relatively easy to grow from seeds. Just soak them for 24 hours and then stick them in some soil. 5 days later you should have a sprout. The one below is my 2nd yr sprout. It's smaller than it should be but these things are hardy. Just do not over water it like I tend to do all my plants.

Che, Chinese Che, Chinese Mulberry, Cudrang

Che, Chinese Mulberry.

From everything that I have read about this fruit, it sounds like a great addition to my growing collection of fruits plants.

FACTs About the Che

I love the fact that it has a melon taste and that the red globed fruits remind you of a lychee. I also love the idea that is cold resistant and that it's still a relatively unknown fruit.

Some say that the fruit isn't that sweet, as if that's a bad thing. I like subtle sweetness instead of eating something that makes you pucker from sugar overload.

I bought my plant from edible landscape. I got a 2ft tall plant for $45 after shipping. I paid another $12 to redirect the shipping since it was going to be sent to my office on Sat when it's closed. So Altogether $57. I tad high but not very many places carry it and I've been wanting so badly since I've read it that the price wasn't going to stop me. Hidden Springs also carries the plant but they dont ship until November and I wasn't going to wait that long for it. I want as much of a jump start as possible.

It takes about 3 yrs to get fruit from what I have read. The first few years they will drop their fruit. Some say you need a male plant but Edible landscape says there's is self pollinating. So we shall see.

The Che plant is the leafy plant  on the left.

Check out this great video from Edible Landscape on the Ches. Through tons of research. I ended up buying one from them. But rolling river nursery as well hidden springs nursery has them.

My Backyard Garden and Mini Orchard

My Backyard garden in 2014.

I live in Renton, WA and I guess it depends on who you ask but I think it's zone 7b or 8b. Either way we get mild winters and a fair amount of rain. The summers have a week where things are searing when it hits the 90s. Compared to California and some the desert cities like Vegas, we just do not have the wonderful smog like some California does that filters out some of the sun's rays. I've lived in various parts of California and 90s in Seattle feels much different than 90s in California.

Anyhow I bought a house in 2013 with this giant triangular back yard. For the first yr, I spent my time mowing it, weeding it and keeping the grass green. What a futile battle with the weeds and the expense of keeping something alive that doesn't give back very much in return. In short I find grass to be a such a waste of money and time. So I have been slowing trying to eliminating it. I put in 3 gardens 4x10s. And a 900sqft patio with rustic belgard pavers. I also planted over a dozen fruit trees.

I used Malone's Landscaping and couldn't be more happy with the work! Extremely professional and they got it all done within 1 week!

Anyhow for my future projects:
1. Espalier fruit trees on the north fence
2. New row of fig plants
3. Hoop cold frame
4. Polycarbonate roof over my deck