Monday, May 28, 2012

Apple Bagging Time

Chives are great food for native pollinators.
Plum curculio has attacked these apples.
I cut  both corners of the bag for drainage.
Once bagged I staple close to the stem.

I use a mini stapler to do the job - handy.
Some bagged fruit does not need stapling
The black fig tree has made good progress.
I use peat pots for my pole bean seedlings.

I usually soak the beans at least four hours or more.
Four beans per pot seems to work well.

I have looked back in 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and most of the apple bagging was done in June and sometime the second or third week.  But this year the Plum curculio is already at work attacking the fruit and so bagging needs to start now - in May.
I have looked at video and blog entries in the past and June 14th of 2009 and June 19, 2011 are blog entries that focus on the skill.
Apple bagging with plastic zipper bags of any type keep the normal apple pests at bay.  They can't get at the fruits and lay eggs.  I usually try to get the bags on before the Plum curculio attacks the fruits but this year we did not succeed and I will bag the fruit with eggs crescents as most of the time the apple will grow and crush the egg.  I will get a blemish on the skin of the apple but only a cosmetic effect and nothing that we cannot accept.  In the past I would spray to deter this pest but I have stopped doing that. 
I will prep the bags with a drainage cut in the bottom corners of the bag and pull the excess plastic off the top of the bag as I put them on the fruit or pull them all before I take the bags to the trees.  Normally I can bag 50 to 60 apples in an hour.  That time includes thinning fruit clusters to one apple for every six to eight inches on the branch.  A commercial orchard will thin fruits with chemicals.  My fruit thinning is with the snips before I bag an apple. Watch the video below for thinning, pulling excess plastic off bag ( it a quick move) and then bagging.  I have my snips and stapler on rubber bands so they are handy on my wrist and I usually have a bunch of bags in my pocket.
We have a nice fruit set even though I was concerned about bees again this year.  Native pollinators help so I have left as much blooming parsley, cabbage and radish family plants in the garden as long as possible.  Plus I let the chives bloom as long a possible as an early nectar source for growing bumble bees.  Even those seem to be in short supply this year.
I will be bagging on and off for the next week until the job is done and then the apple trees are no-care until the early fruits are ready in August.
We finally got some nice rain in the last two days, filling the rain barrels and softening the garden soil so that I can get planting.  I have moved the tomato and pepper plants outside into the cold frame.  One of the fig trees in out already and the new Chicago fig will get out soon.  I was waiting for new shoots to sprout on the stem.
I planted the pole beans this week per pictures.  Why in peat pots?  This makes planting out the pole beans much more efficient against their poles.  One or two pots per pole make for a good crop and then I can place the poles where I want and bring the bean seedlings to them and not try to make the beans grow after I have placed the poles.  I have three different types this year and I finally think I have recovered my old favorite variety after almost loosing it several years ago.
Happy Gardening

Apple Bagging Procedure

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rain, Travel, and Repairs Complicate Gardening

There is a reason my crab apple is called Snowdrift.
The garden ditch was important with all the rain we had.
This tulip blooms this pretty yellow and as it ages -
It changes color until they are all pink - Great flower.
I am growing my own dandelion greens but these I found at a market in Chicago this week.
I also found these too -
Do you know what they are?  I have never eaten them at this stage.

We have had some wet weather and after over 14 days of waiting I finally got my lawnmower back from the shop - and have cut the grass twice since its return.  I guess I should have tilled a while ago because the rain has postponed that job for a while and so the weeds and grass are really growing.  Plus my seeding schedule had to be adjusted while I went to Illinois to  help move my parents and returned twice in the last month to get other jobs done.  Hopefully the garden and yard can get back on the work schedule.  I did get the west bed tilled before it rained - that was where we cut out the big cedars from last season.  Not too many roots to contend with and now that area is getting some dirt from where I am digging out to extend the kayak trailer cement pad.  I want to put bricks in the space next to my fence so I have a nice landing for my trailer.  The dirt I dig out, to make room for the brick pavers, is going into the west bed.  That spot should be good for squash, sunflowers and maybe the sorghum too.
The spinach in the hoop house is on its last but the lettuce will replace it soon.  The inter-planting of radish is making for a good crop but the warm weather earlier made some of them taste hot.  I have moved the seedling tomatoes and peppers out into a cold frame and have started another run of crops in the greenhouse today - cucumbers, herbs, and cotton.  I have not grown cotton for a while so with and area by the house that will get nice heat I decided to plant some brown cotton again.  I have started some cucumbers to grow in the greenhouse instead of out on a garden trellis. Last year I picked a poor variety for greenhouse growing so this year I got some that are supposed to be grown indoors hopefully they will be like several years ago when we had a great greenhouse crop.  I also want to try melons in the greenhouse, and will start them later after I am done with my seedling bench work.
I only have a few apple blossoms left and the fruit on the trees is starting to swell.  I am concerned that Plum  curculio will be early this year because of the warm spring so I will have to ready to bag fruit soon - I think.  There is video and explanation on a previous years post so when the job starts I will refer to those to help any new baggers understand our process.
Happy Gardening