Turkeysong

Experimental Homestead

Virtual Garden Tour and Seed Packet Give Away for Subscribers

Here is a quick tour of my garden this early summer (not super quick, but my version of quick relative to the hours I could have spent).  It is not what I’d like it to be, but it’s pretty tidy and growing well, much better actually than the last two years.  We are in year two of a pretty bad drought, but I think the ever flowing spring is going to trickle on through this one too.  So, I am undaunted.  Of course many of the things touched on in these videos will be revisited in future videos and blog posts.

Well, giving away onion bulbs was fun last year (or whenever that was) and I’m happy to think of all those onions dividing away out there to be shared out to friends and neighbors, so I decided to give away some seeds this month.  Not the best timing, but I know you guys aren’t fleeting gardeners for the most part.  I save seed pretty regularly.  I don’t save everything every year.  Not at all.  But every year I’m saving some seed or another.  I can only plant so much, so I end up giving most of them away at the Farmer’s Market and at the local Scion Exchange.  I had to give up the Farmer’s Market for now, and all bets are off on whether I make it to the Scion Exchange.  I thought, what better people to give seeds to than blog subscribers!  I feel kind of bad that I haven’t done it earlier!

I have been gardening and intentionally testing varieties for long enough to have amassed some favorites that are standard fare.  I don’t spend much time poring over seed catalogs anymore, just to be tempted into trying new varieties  that are unlikely to be any better than what I already grow.  Once in a while I’ll pick a vegetable type and gather multiple varieties of it to do some loose trials, but I haven’t done that too much for a while and it usually results in little more than a light wallet and a confirmation that what I grow already is pretty good.  No doubt there are better varieties out there, but finding them takes some effort and money.  So, most of these are varieties that have stood the test of time.  Your mileage may vary due to climate, taste or what have you, but they work well for me.  Each packet will have 10 seed varieties and one I’itoi onion bulb.  There are 14 packets altogether, so when those are gone, they’re gone.  And again, this offer is for subscribers.

DSC00331_01 Continue reading

June 27, 2015 Posted by | Garden Stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Some News, and Videos on Scion Storage and Cleaning Black Trumpet Mushrooms

A couple of videos and a little news on apples and flowers!

It’s grafting season.  A lot of people have probably already finished their scion trading, but here is my take on storing and shipping scions.  I was so caught up in the details that I kind of forgot the basics, like store them in the refrigerator.  If it were more comprehensive, it would also include storing the scions without refrigeration, which maybe I’ll do later, but same basic concepts apply.  Mostly, I was trying to address the potential of excess water and the use of paper to cause problems.

And for those of you who are lucky enough to have black trumpet mushrooms in your neck of the woods, this video is on how I clean them really fast, and dry them. It also includes a (what in my opinion is an all too short) rant on efficiency and work as a symbolic activity.  It is a long video for how to do something really fast, but I think the stuff about intention and mental attitude is just as important as the physical part, and it will save your a lot of time in the long run if cleaning large quantities.

DOOOOODS!!!  Two flowers from the first batch of Daffodil Seedlings grown from seeds pollinated in 2011 have put forth flower buds!  The bulbs are  still rather small, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are under-developed, but that’s still pretty exciting, especially considering that I haven’t taken stellar care of them.  I figured I was at least another year off from seeing anything.  I seem to pick breeding projects that take a long time.  Daffodils typically take about 4 years or more, and apples 5 or more years.  They should open within the week, at which point I may have to update the Daffodil Lust series with a new post.  Even more exciting, one of the seedlings is from Young Love, the daffodil that inspired it all!

Young Love seedling

Young Love seedling.  Not sure who dad is.  She was rather promiscuous that year.

I just recieved 50 apple rootstocks in the mail for grafting up my latest round of red fleshed apple seedlings, and last year’s pollinations are sprouting up in the greenhouse.  Good news, I just talked to my friend Freddy Menge, who is sort of my apple guru or early inspiration.  We talk about apples on the phone about every other year.  He’s getting results from his apple seedling trials, which I believe are mostly open pollinated, but he has a good collection of quality hand selected varieties growing, not just some random stuff.  He say that he gets more apples that are worth eating than ones that aren’t.  That’s just what I suspected when I started my breeding project and what Albert Etter seemed to be saying.  It also is totally at odds with what passes for common “knowledge”.  He has sent me two of his seedlings that I’m trying out, one I’ve been calling King Wickson (not sure if he has a name for it) which he thinks is a King David x Wickson cross.  The other selection is Crabby Lady a small, more intensely flavored version of the latest ripening apple here, Lady Williams, also thought to be crossed with Wickson crab.  Crabby Lady ripens at the same time as Lady Williams, and sounds like a real improvement on an already very good and super late apple, so that really got my attention.  I’m hoping King Wickson will fruit this year, but I just grafted Crabby Lady this past week.

Freddy also said that about 1/4 to 1/3rd of his red fleshed apple seedlings have red flesh.  I was hoping for a little higher percentage on that, but such is life.  I may do some crosses between red fleshed apples this year to try to reinforce the red fleshed trait.  Another amateur plant breeder just contacted me through the blog who is also gearing up to do some red fleshed apple breeding.  Yay for grass roots apple breeding for the masses!

I’m off to get ready for the farmer’s market in the morning.  Not much in the way of vegetables to sell anymore, but I cleaned up selling Erlicheer narcissus flowers on Valentines day and have a new batch ready to go.  It’s nice to have that plan working out.  The Erlicheer are planted along both sides of a row of oblique cordon apple trees, so they require no extra care other than what I already do in taking care of the apples.  By the time the apples are leafing out, the flowers are thinking about going to sleep, so they have nearly opposite seasons

Flowers for market.  !Kaching!

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Apples, Daffodils, Foraging, Garden Stuff, grafting | , , , , | 3 Comments

Simple, Efficient, Cheap, Flexible Biochar Trench Video, and Frankentree Trailer

Coming next weekend!  I guarantee the actual video is less exciting than the trailer, but it is much more edifying!  This video will just be an introduction to the idea, and the benefits of frankentreeing.  I hope to put together a much more technical video in the future.

Below is my second fast motion video on the two simple biochar methods I’ve been experimenting with.  A few notes…

Fuels:  I suspect that pieces larger than about 3 inches are better either split down or charred by another method, and chips might be better done in a TLUD or some such device.  I haven’t tried either in the trench though, so that’s just speculation.  I doubt that large wood will char well in the trench because it takes so long to char all the way through, but chips might be just fine if fed pretty constantly in thin layers.  As long as everything you’re putting in turns to charcoal and you’re not getting a lot of ashes or a lot of smoke with it, you’re doing well.  I’ve done green and dry wood.  Dry is better of course.  I think the jury is still out on green wood.  The one I did mostly with pretty green wood was a very hot, large pit and the wood was brushy allowing for the ingress for large amounts of air.  It was still pretty sluggish and I’d certainly tend to let the stuff dry for a summer first if possible. Continue reading

October 4, 2014 Posted by | BioChar, Forestry, Garden Stuff | , , , , | 1 Comment

Simple Biochar Production, and Grape Reviews, a Few Videos

Yay, burn season is here!  Just uploaded a few videos.  A couple of short grape variety reviews, The pretty darn good Glenora and the excellent Reliance (of which I’m eating some right now, and they’re super tasty!).  And a somewhat long winded, but cool, video of burning a top lit open burn brush pile to make biochar (Which Kelpie of Backyardbiochar calls TLOB).  This is one of the two charring methods I’ve been messing with, the slope sided pit (or container), and the open top lit piles.  I think each has it’s merits, but probably more importantly, each might be better suited to certain materials that people commonly have.  Both can be scaled up and down in size and neither should produce a ton of smoke if the wood isn’t either soaking wet or green.  A pit burn video should be forthcoming.  Hopefully I’ll get better at shooting and editing video, learn to talk faster and develop a video personality at some point.  In the meantime, pop some popcorn and check it out.

No Guinea Pigs were harmed during the making of these videos, although some chickens were verbally assaulted.

September 23, 2014 Posted by | BioChar, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts, Garden Stuff | , , , , , | 12 Comments

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