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Offerings

July 26, 2019

Whatever we offer to the community, a larger offering comes back, in one way or another.

Yesterday morning a teen was sitting cross-legged on the bench, reading a book. She stayed quite awhile. The bench is a small offering to those passing by.

But a much more significant offering this year was from you and your friends and family. You did it! You surpassed our fund raising goal of $600 by $135. The timing could not be better since we just incurred an unbudgeted cost to fix the website.

We also received $300, to date, for our spigot replacement fund, a separate capital cost that four other volunteers offered to help with. We don’t know the plumbing cost yet but we’ll try one spigot, of a different type, to see if it survives vandalism and theft. Cross your fingers.

Sat, Aug 3, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Aug 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Sep 7, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Sep 15, 2-4, Work Party

Meanwhile, Sue and I are also ecstatic about recent volunteer offerings!

Spring helpers were redirected toward squishing larvae. One volunteer grumbled that squishing was not on the to-do list and another couldn’t face the task without tweezers. However, most were mildly enthusiastic and their hard work paid off. Even though the crop on the Liberty and the William’s Pride are only 1/10 of their normal yield, we would not have any apples without that early attention to those blossoms.

Allison, a weekly volunteer, has a keen sense for detail, a good pair of eyes and an ease for fruit and nut tree work. I am lucky to have her help.

Thank you to newcomers Nicole, Amy, Maxwell, Matt, Eric, Daniel, Emily, Jeremy, Reid, Ryan, Sarah, Micah and Hannah. Signs of their work are everywhere. Last Thursday, after harvest, Sue looked at me and said she was going home early for the first time! (She looked a bit confused but I peeked down the sidewalk and, in fact, she was headed in the right direction.)

University Y volunteers, Andy and Sandra offered mulching and gravel reclamation services. We are thankful for their partnership.

The offering from LaFawnda’s KidsCo troop is always commendable. The kids march down NE 60th St each month to help with construction and watering, and then make sure no mulberry goes to waste.

I am especially grateful to the veteran volunteers who stick with us year after year: Sue, Nancy, Jennifer, Kate, Nora, Joan, Arly, Brannon, Max, Maya, Ken, Michelle, Meg, Renee, Melody and Jeff.

Last night a man strolled to the herb spiral, pulled out a pair of scissors and carefully nipped a few herbs. He then walked by me with his bouquet in his hand and nodded, “Thanks for the offering.”

We are honored by the commitment of the community to Freeway Estates and we will continue to be a peaceful refuge with abundant offerings of food, education, and personal connections.

Ruth

Pollen in the Wind

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July 2, 2019

I am riding my bike around Wallingford, looking for a couple of big Chestnut (Castanea) trees. I know they are here somewhere. Our lonely Prococe tree needs pollen. I have her male catkins stuck on the end of my bike, in case there is another solo tree out there in need of pollen grains. (Chestnut trees receive pollen from the wind, but the second tree needs to be within a few hundred feet.)

Edible Chestnut trees (not related to Horse Chestnut) need pollen from a different variety in order to pollinate properly. We have two varieties at the orchard … or should I say, had two trees. I am afraid the Maraval is in the bardo. She suffered childhood trauma and maybe that set the stage.

When she was tiny, someone, something, broke the main branch. Without a proper grafting rubber strip, I used a rubber band and put her back together and it worked.

But then, more trauma as a teen. In her third season she was in great health and then, season four, there were bumps all up and down the trunk, and side branches were stubby. Bernie, from Washington Chestnut Company , said some name this ‘bubbly bark’. He suggested I cut the tree way back to just the lower part of the trunk. I did so and, once again, the tree recovered nicely.

Sat, Jul 6, 10-12, Work Party
Sat Jul 20, 10-12, Herb Class
Sun Jul 21, 2-4, Work Party
Sat Aug 3, 10-12, Work Party

At this time of year you can smell a Chestnut tree a block away. I can visualize that intersection. Was it 42nd? The house with the big trees is on a south west corner here somewhere.

Back to the poor Maraval. This spring, she was another casualty of winter moth larvae. They defoliated her whole south side. But, after they gorged and headed for the ground to start a new cycle, she showed some new leaf buds, just like the fruit trees did. Whew, I thought, she will be back. I walked away from her to attend more pressing matters.

But then, things went south. The leaves started to droop despite sufficient water. Then they turned brown. She hung on for dear life until, just recently, nothing green remained. (I hope to blog about her autopsy in the future.)

I spot the Wallingford trees. I snip four mature catkins, push two of them into a clean bag, and attach two others to the back of the bike to wave in the wind.

Back at the orchard, the Prococe Migoule is a picture of health. The styles of the female burs have turned yellow and have spread out across the top of the flower; the tree is ready for pollen. I use the catkin like a paintbrush and lightly touch each female bur. If it’s a success, her burs will grow and have two or three nuts in them this fall.

The pollination period lasts two weeks so I am keeping the catkins on my bike. The more – chestnuts – the merrier.

If you want to learn about the various nut trees you can grow in the Seattle area, there is a rare opportunity to tour Burnt Ridge Nursery. July 20 is sold out but there are still tickets for September 14.

Ruth

Welcome to our Demonstration Garden!

May 14, 2019                                                                                                      DONATIONS PAGE LINK

The fruit trees in the orchard this year would amaze anyone. They are striking and flush …
with pests. It’s true. Come and allow us to demonstrate all manner of pest infestation plus other unsightly disorders.

Last year was a record bounty but, this year, we are counting on one hand the number of fruits from most of the trees.

Why, on one small branch of the Mirabelle plum (photo) you can view tip dieback from brown rot, scale, aphids and leaf roller damage. The pear, just after the height of the leaf roller infestation, has now been chewed to smithereens by the California pear sawfly (photo).

Wander over to the Fuji and notice apple blister mite. Then, check out the powdery mildew on the William’s Pride.

This situation takes me back to coaching where you had to make sure you didn’t spend all of your energy on the one high-maintenance kid and take for granted the other 14 well-behaved teammates. So, yesterday, I coddled our precious persimmon. The persimmon, like the mulberry, sits and watches the devastation and only asks for a drink of water now and then. I composted-in-place its weeds, fed it some nice compost and leaf litter, and laid out a coat of chips on top. Namaste.

Sun, May 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 1, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Jun 16, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jul 6, 10-12, Work Party

Back in February, Allison and I thought we had the winter moth larvae in check. We had banded the trunks then flattened the eggs below the band. The problem was, while we were focused down on that trunk, the winter moth larvae soon would be sailing through the air, landing on whichever fruit or nut tree was within striking distance. Much like a skilled parachutist, I think they tug a certain way on that silken thread to ensure they make it to the canopy. In April, they were landing on our sweaters and hats faster than we could squish them off the leaves and blossoms. We had kept our own trees from propagating larvae but we were defenseless against tall neighboring trees that spit out the little buggers like factories.

Yesterday, I sighed as I cleaned off more dead material from Liberty branches (photo). Oh, but then I looked closely. Was that a little speck of green? Sure enough, the tree is pushing out a new leaf where the others had been eaten.(photo) The Liberty is willing and ready to try again. OK then! We will also find energy to grow and prepare for the next obstacle.

Ruth