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egalecki 01-26-2009 07:11 AM

Are you planning your gardens yet?
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, are you planning your gardens yet? Are you trying any new vegetables this year?

Are you finding that you are changing your plantings to accomodate your wfo habit? :)

I'll be putting in several pots of basil this year as well as putting it in the garden proper. I'm still drooling over seed catalogs, so I haven't made my final selections. I am going to put in more winter squash this year- I like it grilled in the wfo.

Wiley 01-26-2009 10:05 AM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
Elizabeth, we certainly are :-)

One of the joys of having a garden is looking thru the seed catalogs. We are putting together our order for new seeds and this year are going to try a variety of squash called "Potimarron" (Seed Savers Exchange name). We normally have a fairly large garden unless we are planning a long summer cruise on the boat, if we are gone too long the weeds really take over :-(

We always put in lots of basil and that was before the WFO. This year I will get the greenhouse completed...last year I got sidetracked and built the WFO!! No complaints, but the greenhouse HAS to get built this spring. SWMBO has spoken!

My wife has just about halfway thru pruning the orchard trees. The days are getting longer....Spring can't be too far off!


egalecki 01-26-2009 10:55 AM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
We're going to prune my husband's pet apple trees sometime in the next couple of weeks. What would your wife recommend as a good reference for proper pruning? I know some basics, but since we're fighting the deer for the apples and their nice tender branch tips, it's a little tough to get them trimmed nicely.

I'm going to work on a sort of a hoop house enclosure for some of my garden beds for next winter. I can't do a greenhouse here. I should be able to grow cold-weather things like spinach, mache, chard, etc. pretty well with plastic sheeting over hoops and some row cover underneath.

I'm going to try a new variety of scarlet runner bean this year which doesn't get quite so tall- I think the ones I grew last year got to be 12 feet! There's one that has lovely yellow-green leaves which is only supposed to get to 6 feet. Using an 8 foot ladder in the garden to pick beans is not best practice for safety. Do not ask how I know this...

Potimarron- is it a winter squash? Does the seed savers exchange have a catalog? I grew a zucchini last year called "tromboncini", which, while it had to be on a trellis, was easily the best summer squash I've ever grown. They get really long, up to 3 feet, and even then all the seeds are at the blossom end. None in the long neck, which has great flesh quality. You can pick them a lot shorter, though. I didn't have as much trouble with borers and wilt, either.

Wiley 01-26-2009 07:32 PM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
Elizibeth, We (my wife primarily but we have a family membership) to our local Fruit Club. They are connected to our state ag research department and twice a year we have fieldtrips to their facility in Mount Vernon WA. There they put on demonstrations and teach pruning in the spring and in the fall we help with the harvest and can sample the different varieties of apples (primarily apples although they also deal in some stone fruits and nuts). That's a great way of deciding what one likes and wants to plant. As to a recommended guide, that's a hard question. We use the Western Garden Book which may or may not be applicable to where you live. There're lots of good guides I would suggest contacting your state's Department of Agriculture no doubt they will have a free or low cost guidebook on pruning.

As you probably know pruning is different for different fruits. I think everyone does it slightly different. That you are willing to prune your husband's pet trees is braver than I would probably be. I prune different from my wife. When one of us is stumped we confir with the other. It all depends upon what shape one wishes to achieve, open center or spindle each is different and where on each branch one decided to make the cut can vary. Pruning old trees is different than young trees. Peaches bear on last years wood and apples typically bear on fruit spurs year after year on the same spur. Way way to complex a subject to handle in this simple posting.

We have 13 dwarf (M9 sized trees) in our main orchard area with a dozen or so filbert trees, and another 20 or so trees on M27 fruitstock in a second area. Our orchard consists of peaches, plums, pears, persimmons, cherries, filberts and of course lots of apples. We got tired of fighting the deer and so I enclosed an area about 100ft by 300ft with high fencing. Most of are upper garden is enclosed in that space as well.

Potimarron is a winter squash brought over from France where is is supposedly quite popular. We'll see how well it does. A few years back we brought back seeds for a Charente melon (we have friends in central SW France). The melons were great there but their soil is very basic with lots of limestone. Here our soil is quite acidic and the plants did very time will tell on these squash.

Here's a link to the Seed Savers site where you can order a catalog or download it as a pdf file:
Seed Savers Exchange - Catalog Request

Sorry to rattle on so,

gjbingham 01-26-2009 09:24 PM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
Good info Wiley. I'm not knowledgeable at all on apple root stalks or varieties within specific apple types. I suggest a notebook or log on how you prune each tree, with additional notes made during budding stages so that you can determine exactly how your trees behave. I have seven apple trees, two apricot, and a single tree of self polinating plum, pear and peach.

As stated above, some, or perhaps most trees bear fruit on second year wood. Some of my apples bear fruit on branches grown just last year (as do my grapes). With good notes, you learn how to prune each tree according to its own fruiting properties.

From what I've read, the current practice for apples is pruning them so that they are shaped in a somewhat coniferous, or perhaps goblet shape. That allows maximum sun to reach and ripen the fruit. My trees are ancient, and were pruned in an ubrella style, where the fruit hangs closer to the ground. I've kept up this practice, but the deer are great benefactors of this design.

Xabia Jim 01-26-2009 09:44 PM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.....all within a few paces of the kitchen.
Have a few cilantro plants coming up naturally from seed and planted some new seeds in a pot...but I have a hard time with cilantro. We also put down some green bean seeds but no sprouts yet.

Pruning has been done to the almond tree, cut way back from it's former glory...but it blossomed this week.

there is something really special about picking your own produce.

Xabia Jim 01-26-2009 09:44 PM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
Do you save your apple prunings for the WFO smoking?

Wiley 01-27-2009 12:19 AM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
Xabia Jim, Our prunings are usually several arm loads of pencil sized waterspout type cuttings. I suppose one could use them for smoking. Years ago when we commercial fished we used to smoke alot of salmon and used alder wood which is readily available on our property.

George, Are you sure that's a pear on that apricot and plum tree? Pear is often on a quince root stock to dwarf it and as it is not a stone fruit I would be surprised to see one with the other two.

We used to have a single tree with nectarine, Shiro plum and apricot. The Shiro took over and the other two died back. Now it's a Shiro plum and produces huge quanities of fruit so juicy one has to eat them over a sink! We have found that trees with multiple types of fruit on one tree usually end up with one being dominant and taking over the tree. Then too we have created our own "Frankenstein tree"... I have this nice Red Bartlet and my wife wanted to graft a Seiki pear onto it (Seiki is an asian pear). It took over the whole tree enlarging the truck up to the point of the graft and making a quick 90 degree turn there and then over about a foot whereupon it heads straight up. Poor Red Bartlet has only once borne a single fruit and is overwhelmed by the Seiki. We get lots of Seiki pears though :-)

The first thing we did 20 years ago when we bought our property was plant the largest part of our orchard. After that we started the house.


Chef 01-27-2009 03:52 AM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?
We ordered both seeds and plants a couple of weeks ago, the plants will arrive when ready to plant but the seeds are on the way to us. This year we ordered from gurneys (they gave us 50% off) but we also ordered from Cook's Garden - Home the selection was amazing and what we loved about it was we could order plant collections. So we dont have to have 6 tomato plants of the same variety, we ordered 6 plants one of each variety. We also liked the selection of seeds.

Now for a question has anyone grown tomatos upside down? We are trying to maximize our space in the garden and if we grow the tomatos upside down in the topsy turvey hanging tomato planters we will have more space to grow even more veggies!!

Archena 01-27-2009 05:57 AM

Re: Are you planning your gardens yet?

Secerets Of Building Hoop Greenhouses-Hoop House-Supply

The above links are for the folks building greehouses - hope they help.

I'm planning a container garden - no land yet. I'm glad you mentioned the upside down tomatoes, Chef - I want to try that. I'm also going to try some homemade earthtainers - I can post a link if anyone else is interested - but right now I need to be a good girl and get moving!


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