Archive for plums

Grafting – 101.1

Posted in grafting, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic farming, Pruning with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2014 by Grouse Mt. Farm

I’m going to try to do a fairly complete series about grafting fruit trees, step by step throughout the spring and aftercare through the summer. For a quick read on grafting, what it is and why do it, check out this link of a blog entry I wrote a few years ago: https://grousemtfarm.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/grafting/ and look up other resources where ever they may be .

I’ll be working with common fruit trees: apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, cherries and walnuts. Some fruits are easier to graft then others. Apples and pears are probably the easiest, with the soft fruits a bit more finicky (mostly timing) and difficult to get a good take. Walnuts are the most difficult for me, I’ve only had scant success grafting them, but we will try… The techniques are similar with other species then those I’ve mentioned, mulberries and persimmons are fairly easy. If you want to try something else, I recommend looking up the specifics for the species on the web or library etc.

The first step is to collect scion wood (pronounced sign or sine). The wood must be collected when the tree you’re collecting from is dormant, mid to late winter is good. If early is the only possible time, as long as it’s dormant and you provide good storage it should be fine too. If it is collected too late in the winter/early spring, the scion will begin to grow after being grafted before it has fused with the tree you’ve grafted to and in short order exhausting  its reserves and drying out. When all goes well, the tree and scion form a connection then as the wood comes out dormancy it’s tapped in to the tree to provide the energy it needs to grow and survive.

Gathering Scion Wood

Gathering Scion Wood

Moderately vigorous one year old wood is optimum for scion wood. That means a branch that had grown in the previous season. Sometimes called suckers, generally upright growth about the size (diameter) of a pencil or slightly bigger, much bigger just makes for more difficult cutting when we get to the knife work. I’ve marked (rather crudely, I admit) an approximate point where you could cut scion wood from, on this particular tree (this tree was grafted two years previous, note the tape and paint on the trunk).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

The second photo shows, in my opinion, optimum sized wood. The piece to right and apart from from the grouping of three is the top of the piece cut, this is usually soft and pithy, it may work , but I usually discard it. The others are firm mature wood ready for storage. I wet a few pieces of newspaper and wrap the scion wood in it, place in plastic bag and in to the refrigerator. Not too wet, but you don’t want it to dry out either, and protect from freezing. AND, remember  to label as to what variety it is, it all looks the same when grafting time comes!

I usually begin grafting cherries in late march or early April because cherry wood doesn’t keep well and begins to sprout while in storage. Apples and pears in April here, and the other soft fruits the third to fourth week in April, during a bit of a warm spell, if possible. The walnuts I’m still trying to figure out, but more towards the end of May when the weather has warmed up. I’ll write about tools in the next post.

Elephant Heart Plums

Posted in Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by Grouse Mt. Farm

It’s been almost five months since I harvested the Elephant Heart plums, September 18, 2012 to be exact. It wasn’t much of a harvest, often times it isn’t with this variety, for us anyway. We have three big mature trees that usually bloom prolifically but more often then not, just don’t set fruit. We’ve planted a few more varieties of Japanese plums to help with the pollination (Plums can be fickle this way) and when the weather is conducive to bees getting out and visiting the flowers, we have gotten good crops from these trees. The weather is a huge factor here too (as with most everything), it’s  often windy, cold and rainy in the spring, so bees don’t have a chance to get out and  do what they do. Other plums we have seem to never have an issue with setting fruit; Santa Rosa, Shiro, Burbank, all pretty much bloom around the same time and are consistent bearers. The Elephant heart is one of a few varieties we grow that customers ask us about when we get back to the markets in July, months before they’re ready, a favorite.

Image

 

Elephant Heart Plums, in January !

 

You might be wondering why I’ve chosen now to write about this illustrious fruit now? As I mentioned above, we didn’t get much of a harvest last fall, but we did get about a box (20+ pounds or so) which we kept for ourselves, and I’ve been eating them with my breakfast since, one or two every day. I just ate the last ones today; January 14, 2013, no foolin’! Not all were in great shape, they begin to break down with browning around the pit spreading to the skin, some of ours had browned a little, but still good to eat. Thats right, FIVE months since harvest, for a soft fruit! I wouldn’t attempt to market them this late, but to know they can last this long is a revelation to me. The longest we’ve kept them before was to just after the Thanksgiving holiday (late november) and then to just before Christmas, but into January now. Our method of storage is that I turn off the refrigerator unit in our walk in cooler when it gets cold out (November) and use the cold outside air to cool it, basically a refrigerator.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This coming season, if we get any to set, I’d like to pick some a week or ten days before when I usually harvest them and see if they last any longer or hold up better in storage, and if they’ll ripen. It’s a bit of balancing act with fruit harvests, when a variety is destined for a long term storage it gets picked sooner then if the fruit is intended for immediate  consumption, but care must be taken to make sure the fruit is ripe enough to mature when taken out of storage and also not to pick it too ripe off the tree and too far along the ripeness spectrum as to be past prime. (Ever had a peach from the grocery store that never get sweet or ripen properly, they were picked to soon. Conversely, if you leave a peach on the tree just past it’s optimum picking window, it gets mealy and loses sweetness ) And of course it varies dramatically from fruit to fruit and also from variety to variety within the same fruit. But, Japanese plums in January that weren’t shipped halfway around the world, Yeah!!

Walnuts – They’re here !

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic farming, whats fresh with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2011 by Grouse Mt. Farm

We will have walnuts at the University District Farmers Market in Seattle, this Saturday, October 22. These walnuts have quite a following, we have people asking about them all season. They are good tasting, easy to crack with a well filled nut and good sized. There is a limited quantity, so we recommend being at the market early. We will have more walnuts in the following weeks, some smaller ones and our bigger BIG  nut as well.

Walnuts on the tree, the cracking husk indicates a ripe nut

A couple of years ago we made a short video about part of what we do to harvest and process the walnuts. Here’s a link: http://youtu.be/arpGitU-S6o

When the husks on the nuts begin to crack is a sure sign that they’re ripe. In a vacuum the nuts would all fall from the tree as they ripen and we could pick them up minus the hull. But with squirrels and Stellar Jays getting the jump on them we have to shake the trees and gather them, husk and all before they all disappear. Once gathered the nuts need to be de-husked. With a nut whose husk has begun to crack the nut pops right out but since I shake the tree, not all the nuts are as ripe so those not need to be put aside for a few days before the husk will  release itself from the walnut. After husking the nuts are quite wet and need to be dried for three to four days in a food dehydrator. If they’re not dried fairly quickly, the nuts will mold inside. We’ve found that if we remove the husks and store the nuts, still wet, while waiting (more then a few days) to put them  in to the dryer they’ll mold. But storing for up to a couple of weeks in the husk they won’t mold. Once dried, then at last: ready to eat!

Walnut Exposed

Also this week we’ll have:

Nickajack, Prairie Spy, Gala, King David, Belle de Boskopp, Macoun (not many), and a few Coxs Orange Pippin Apples.

Hosui and Shinseiki Asian Pears,

Bosc and Abate Fetel European Pears,

Elephant Heart and Italian Prune Plums,

Hardy Kiwis,

Concord Grapes,

and O’Henry and Honey Nectar Cot Peaches (Last peaches of the season)

See you Saturday.

Belle de Boskoop Apples

Fresh for October 2, 2010

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit, whats fresh with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

Fantasia Nectarine


Its been a mostly clear week, and warm, feels great.
This will be the last week for peaches and nectarines, I guess summer is over!
This week we’ll have:
-O’Henry Peaches
-Honey Nectar Cot Peaches
-Fantasia Nectarines
-Prune Plums
-Hardy Kiwis
-Shenseiki Asian Pears
-Hosui Asian Pears
-Gala Apples
-McIntosh Apples
-Prairie Spy Apples
-Jonathan Apples
-Coxs orange Pippins (a few this week)
-Tomatoes

Shenseiki Asian Pear


See you saturday!

Fresh for the Market, September 25

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit, whats fresh with tags , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

Hardy Kiwi Fruit


Another cool week has kept fruit ripening slowed down, I was hoping to have more apple variety’s this week but it will wait until next. One surprise was that our kiwi fruits are on, a bit out of sync with everything else but here they are. If you haven’t had a Hardy Kiwi, they’re about the size of a big grape with more concentrated kiwi flavor then a regular fuzzy Kiwi and there’s no fuzz, so you can just pop them in your mouth.

Pink Pearl Apple


On our market table this week:
-Honey Nectar Cot Peaches
-Fantasia Nectarines
-Friar Plums
-Swiss Arlet Apples
-McIntosh Apples
-Pink Pearl Apples
-Shenseiki Asian Pears
-Red Clapp Pears
-Grapes
-Tomatoes
-Kiwi Fruit
The Pink Pearl apple is a red fleshed fruit, quit striking when you cut or bite in to one. Used by many for apple sauce. We only have a few boxes (the trees are still young).

McIntosh Apple


We’ll still have Nectarines and Peaches for another week after this one. The Honey-Nectar-Cots area combo of a white peach, nectarine and apricot in the guise of a old fashioned white peach.
They’re not the prettiest fruit, always a bit green looking, but inside a delicious fruit. They were bred by the noted fruit and nut breeder Bill Schildgen who lived near Palmer Lake outside of Oroville , Washington. He bred many varieties of walnuts, filberts, chestnuts and quite a few variations of soft fruit mixes, an amazing person I’m honored to have met.

Honey-Nectar-Cot Peach

See you saturday.

Whats Fresh for September 18

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit with tags , , , , , , , on September 16, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

We had sort of return to Summer late last week and the beginning of this one and now cooler and a little wet, whatever its Fall..
Some leaves are beginning to turn colors and drop, its a great season. The cooler weather also helps color up the apples.

Swiss Arlet Apple


This week we will have:
-Red Globe Peaches
-Red Gold Nectarines
-Fantasia Nectarines
-Belle of Georgia White Peaches
-Shiro Plums
-Burbank Plums
-Friar Plums
-Wickson Plums
-Red Clapp Pears
-Swiss Arlet Apples
-Sunrise Apples
-Tydeman Apples
-Gravenstein Apples
-Akane Apples
-McIntosh Apples
-Tomatoes (more then we’ve had all season)

Gravenstein Apple


We’ve been seeing more bear signs around, and actually saw him/her on our way to Seattle last week a mile or so down our road, but luckily no missing fruit or busted up trees. Next week is the Equinox, the days will be shorter then the nights, WOW!
See you saturday.

Our loyal friend and dog, Blaze

Fresh on the Market Table for September 11

Posted in farmers market, Grouse Mt. Farm, organic fruit with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by Grouse Mt. Farm

Red Clapp Pears


Its been a crazy weather week, it rained from Monday until early this morning (Thursday). Over an inch of precipitation, and cool, not much warmer then 60. I love that kind of weather personally, but Peaches and Tomatoes don’t care for it. I usually pick the soft fruit every other day, as it ripens, but ripening pretty much stopped this week. In last weeks post I stated that there will be Fantasia Nectarines, but not yet. Everything else I said would be, will be at the market on Saturday. I know better then to predict what will be ripe tomorrow or next week, I’ll attempt to refrain from doing so and maybe state what may be coming…
For sure this week we will have:
-Red Globe Peaches
-Red Gold Nectarines
-Shiro Plums
-Burbank Plums
-Akane Apples
-Ginger Gold Apples
-Gravenstein Apples
-Sunrise Apples
-Swiss Arlet Apples
-Tydeman Apples
-Tomatoes

Red Globe Peaches


The apples like the cooler weather and are coloring up nicely. We should be getting in to our Fall apples in the next couple of weeks, Nectarines and Peaches still on the way.
See you saturday.