Author Archives: Ruth

It’s A Game Of Mistakes

October 20, 2018

Why didn’t soccer coaches ever have anything positive to say at halftime? Because they had just watched 45 minutes of errors. Even the pros only complete 57% of their passes in the final third of the field. I often feel this way about gardening; it’s a game of mistakes.

First was my failure to outwit the winter moth. The female does not fly. She has to crawl up the fruit tree to lay her eggs, from which, larvae emerge and eat the fruit tree blooms. I smeared Tanglefoot on the trunks to stop her in her tracks. Problem was, I put it on too late. I thought I had until mid-November but, not so. Not only did we battle with the winter moth larvae this spring but also the oblique-banded leaf roller larvae showed up – a more difficult opponent. I will double my efforts to come up with a better strategy this winter.

Just look at this little devil – the larvae of the strawberry root weevil. Sometimes there were two of them inside the root, in total cooperation. I was pressing my luck hanging on to those wonderful Glooscap (Canadian) berries, which I had planted in 2011! This year they were still sweet as ever but not productive. It’s no wonder. I should have paid heed when the pros told me to keep strawberry plants only a few years.

The elderberry produced quite a bit of fruit, bless its lil ole heart, in spite of the fact that it was a sufferin’. I pruned dead branches all summer. Finally, I sat and studied it a bit. Someone was making tunnels through the bark and into the trunk. I peeled back some flaky bark and watched as the following scampered back to darkness: black ants, red ants, tiny gray bugs with antennae, a slender shiny black insect that jumped, a little red mite. Actually, I have a feeling all of these critters were just using the network created by someone else. I won’t know until dormant season when I will have to do some vicious pruning. Observation is king in gardening!

Sun. Oct 21, 2-4, work party
Sun. Nov 18, 2-4 work party
Sun. Dec 16, 2-4 work party
Bring your wallet for homemade goodies

Nancy also had growing pains. It’s a snap to grow grape plants if all you want are vines. To get fruit, you have to prune properly. Nancy thought she could choose between cane pruning and spur pruning so she developed some of each. Wrong. The take-away from a WSU pruning class was that, in the maritime NW, spur pruning reduces the number of fruit-bearing buds. So, this winter she will have to rework the vines and train them for long-term cane pruning.

Then there’s summer pruning. She thought all you had to do was take out excess growth. She took another class. Wrong. Wow! It’s so much more complicated. Essentially, you need to do three things: mark the shoots that will become next year’s canes, remove some but not all of the non-fruit bearing shoots, train but don’t tip the fruit bearing shoots. Training means get them up off the ground and onto the trellis, but don’t snip off the terminal bud.

Not to mention the continuing saga of failed pickling cukes, the appetite of the rats, the disruption from the squirrels, and the off-leash dogs. All this to deal with and now … the bunnies are coming!

Ruth

 

Tulle – A Cool Tool

September 3, 2018

Stretching the parameters of our climate is part of gardening. We add row covers or netting to keep out a pest or alter sunlight transmission. But it’s not that simple is it? These tools can affect soil and air temperature, humidity, wind, light penetration, pollination, and productivity. Did you know red shade cloth can increase productivity of tomatoes.

For example, installing a row cover with a mesh size to keep the white fly off your Brussels sprouts will most assuredly cause a decrease in sunlight and wind, and a mid-day increase in humidity and air and soil temperature.

The impacts that row covers and netting have on plants are significant. Seeds need a certain soil temperature to germinate successfully(1). Better ventilation helps reduce air temperature and humidity and improves the evapotranspiration process for crops (plants sweat through their leaves).

In short, well, there is no “in short” to this topic. It’s complex. Try figuring out how to relate the Frazier measurement of air permeability to the discharge coefficient. Note the gaps in my chart!

Sun, Sep 9, 10-11, Intro to Qi Gong
Sun, Sep 16, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Oct 6, 2-5, Cider Fest!
Sun Oct 21, 2-4, Work Party

I had to call an engineer, who settled the air permeability issue for me. “Just take your shop vac, put the hose on the other end so it blows out and hold the fabric up near your face. You will feel which fabric has better permeability.”

By the way, if you get stubborn and want to figure this stuff out, know that there is a pretty good relationship, with very thin fabrics, between porosity and air permeability. And, there is a pretty good relationship between water permeability and air permeability. Try putting the fabric in your coffee filter holder, run water through and time each fabric.

For an overview, here’s a link to a general article about agrotextiles from Textile World, http://www.textileworld.com/textile-world/nonwovens-technical-textiles/2005/09/agrotextiles-a-growing-field/ However, there is nothing in the article about Tulle. Tulle?

Rhode Is Sch of Design

Netting is a nylon fabric in which the warp (vertical lines) and weft (horizontal lines) yarns are looped or knotted to create open spaces in the fabric. Tulle is essentially a special type of netting with a lower denier, which means the individual fibers are finer. Tulle is lighter than netting, and the spaces between threads are smaller.

You can Google Tulle and turn up tutu designs but, if you want to know about the fabric characteristics you end up reading medical studies. You can use it to repair a hernia!

I decided on Tulle for my Brussels sprouts this year. Why? Because it comes in lavender!

Important note – Row covers or netting need to be removed from some plants to allow for pollination. Most vegetables that produce flowers before they make a crop, such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, require visits from insects. Root crops and leafy greens need no pollination, so they can live under covers until they are ready to pick.

Ruth

(1) Cold Crop Vegetables – Tagawa Gardens

Water Conservation in 2018 – Is It Working?

August 2, 2018

Please visit us this Saturday, 10-noon, for a tour of our new watering system. We will have signage throughout the orchard and we will be anxious to get your ideas about how we can manage water even more efficiently.

Our system begins with our three cisterns, which catch 4,000 gallons during winter rains. Our human-powered treadle pump pushes water into barrels that are five feet above the garden beds. We have three different gravity-fed drip irrigation systems that do the work of spreading the water from the elevated barrels to the plants.

We are also using 1/4″ poly line siphoned from 5-gallon buckets for trees, clay ollas matched with perennial and annual vegetables, perforated pipe (bamboo) for our vertical garden and for edible shrubs.

Sat, Aug 4, 10-12, Open House/ Work Party
Sun, Aug 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Sep 1, 10-noon, Work Party
Sun Sep 9, 10-11, Intro to Qi Gong
Sun, Sep 16, 2-4, Work Party

Come, review our watering log, our water measuring tools, and find out about mistakes we made, needed improvements, and how we managed to keep clam during the two weeks with temperatures near 90 degrees.

Questions we are expecting on Saturday:

● Is rainwater running off the polycarbonate roof better or worse than tap water?
● Would you stand under the water barrels that weigh 400 pounds?
● Which drip irrigation system can best usher water to specific plants?
● Do the drip systems allow for cleaning and storage in winter?
● How does the rate of water discharge through a drip system affect the percolation depth?
● Can perforated pipes be installed subsequent to planting?
● What are the factors that influence how quickly water will seep from the olla?
● Does cistern water contain bacteria and algae and, if so, will it adversely affect plants?
● What’s the difference between soil moisture based irrigation and crop demand irrigation (evapotranspiration)?
● Are some crops better at using water than others?

More questions? We will soon have a page on our website dedicated to the details of this project. In the meantime, enjoy the marvelous brochure produced by Dylan and Luke (Spellebee Space) on our Library page – Documents of Interest (under photos).

Stay tuned for a celebration if we make it through the summer without turning on City water. Perhaps a water balloon fight!

Ruth