Annual Report – 2016
Annual Report – 2016
2016 ANNUAL REPORT
** Please note the below is cut and pasted from postings from an online forum – I will work on cleaning it up later **
Spring 2016 report
So far it appears that everything has survived winter but it is a bit early to say
First frost was Oct 16, 2015 which was nearly 1 month later than 2014 which helped give everything time to enter dormancy before winter hit in full force. The winter was long but not particularly severe. Minimum temperature was -32 celcius and we maintained a good snow cover through the coldest parts of late winter. Total snowfall for winter 2015/2016 was 203 cm. We had record snowfall on Feb 16 of 52 cm.
Annual thaw started 2 weeks earlier than the last couple years with melting happening March 28 with near full melt on April 1 with crocuses coming out of the ground.
We had a setback on April 9 with 1 foot of snow and -12C temperatures.
Final melt around April 12-13 with crocuses starting flowering.
April 16 Jostaberries and Currants had bud swelling, my rhubarb is starting to send up shoots and I grafted all my new apple scion wood (thanks to Konrad for the trades and O’Keffe Grange Orchard for bought wood).
Scions were: Apples: Norkent, Prairie Sensation, M360, Calville blanc d’hiver, Fireside, Ashmeads kernel, Williams pride and Wolf River. Plums: Nigra, Mount Royal, Green Gage and M800.
You can see the size of the O’Keffe Grange wood below.
Here are my 5 bud spurs.
April 19 – I received my Whiffletree order. As usual their service is excellent. I only ordered Tiben Black Currants from them this year and they were shipped on the 18th and arrived on the 19th. Well packaged, wrapped in plastic with moist cardboard cuttings and HUGE plants with massive roots. They appear to be 3 year old plants. Price was $15.95 each and $26 shipping.
As mentioned earlier the winter was much easier than that of 2014-2015. Of additional benefit was the nice gradual transition to winter last fall as well as the extreme gradual arrival of spring which allowed for a late breaking of dormancy. That said during the melt we had morning temperatures of 1 degree Celsius while 7 days later we had daytime highs of 29 Celsius! So for example while last year my rhubarb crown break was May 1, this year it was May 10th, the grape that had first leaf May 9 last year was May 21 this year and my Kappa chum which flowered May 9 last year flowered May 21. So roughly a 2 week delay compared to spring 2015.
So now for the big report:
Apple – Pristine Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Single flower.
Apple – Redfree Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Couple flowers. 3 fruit growing. First fruit harvested September 2. Seeds just starting to turn brown. 90g. 12 Brix. Tasting note: Very crisp. Mild apple flavour. More acid than sweet but not puckering (eg. still sweeter than mcintosh). I liked it.
Apple – Liberty M27?- DR (Planted Fall 2012 – Green Barn) – Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers. Formed TONS of fruit. I think this is on M27 as it seems to have maxed out height around 6 feet. I thinned the fruit to 1 per cluster and they are sizing up nicely. I am testing bagging with some apples in ziplocks, some apples in Organza bags and some left exposed. The exposed apples despite being “disease resistant” were heavily attacked – some on higher branches and fully exposed are 1/4 the size of bagged apples. No difference between ziplock and Organza bags but the Organza bags were way easier to install and look much better on the tree. (Note: later years showed that bugs were able to inject eggs through the mesh of the organza bags if they were touching).
Apple – Egremont russet Bud9- H (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit.
Apple – MacFree M7 or M26?- DR (Planted Fall 2012 – alive and doing well) Green Barn. – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. 2 apples.
Apple – Goldrush Bud9 – DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.
Apple – Enterprise M7 – DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) (M7 is shipping error, it should have been Bud9) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.
April 27 I grafted: M360, Prarie Sensation, Norkent, Williams Pride, Ashmeads Kernel, Calville Blanc d’hiver, Fireside, Wolf River. (Scion from Konrad and O’Keefe Grange)
Liberty and Macfree leafing out May 14 instead of May 9 last year.
May 24 – Hand pollinated Liberty, Redfree, Crimson Crisp and Macfree using a combination of wild crabapple and Crimson Crisp pollen.
Pear – Hayatama (Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Die back to graft union in 2015 and 2016. It had 2-3 feet of growth but appears to have either died back or had fireblight. Just does not seem hardy enough. I will give it 1 more year then let the rootstock sucker and graft something else.
Pear – Northbrite (OHXF 87? Planted Fall 2012 Green Barn). Has been struggling but last year put on 2 feet of growth on 1 shoot. No dieback on that shoot over winter. This year has shot up to 5 feet tall with some nice laterals. Pears have a tendency to grow very upright branches so you can see clothespins installed on the trunk to force the branches to a more 90 degree angle. You want to be between 60-90 degrees to encourage fruiting wood instead of vegetative and to have a stronger branch that will have less chance of breaking under heavy fruit loads.
Plum – Toka (myrobalan – Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale). Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. I grafted Mont Royal (died) from Konrad.
Plum – Black Ice (I understand later that this is believed to be a mislabeled graft) (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Survived. No dieback. No flowers. Very bushy upright growth. Heavy pruning to open it up. No flowers. 2 feet of thin growth this summer. Really seems to want to be a bushy plant. Grafted Nigra plum (2’ growth) from Konrad.
again, these plums are all planted in the wettest area of my clay yard. Standing water late fall and spring. So far so good. I tried hand pollinating the flowers this year but no luck. Crossing my fingers for next year. I grafted all plums on May 8th as buds were just starting to leaf out. Of the 5 grafts attempted 4 took.
Chum – Kappa (Planted Fall 2012 – Green Barn) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.
Sapalta was peak flower May 14 of 2015 but May 22 this year. I only had successful pollination of a total of 5 plums between Sapalta and Kappa and all got eaten by bugs. I am shocked that despite the massive flowering, pollenization was so poor. I don’t know if it is a lack of bees or they are just poor pollenizers. I will try hand pollenating next year.
Haskasp – Tundra (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.
Haskasp – Aurora (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.
Haskasp – Honeybee (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.
Haskasp – Borealis (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.
All the Haskasps were flowering around May 14 with Tundra perhaps a bit later. Aurora and Tundra seem to have the longest bloom time. The plants are still pretty small, about 18-24” tall. The new varieties Boreal Blizzart and Boreal Beauty seem to be amazing with much larger/sweeter fruit and flowering 2-4 weeks later! I just don’t have room!
Fruit was ripening June 15-20 but still tasted pretty sour. I heard leaving them on the bush made a difference so I left them longer. Well the day later the birds discovered them and took about 50%. I netted them quickly but will be sure to do so earlier next year. On July 1st I harvested the rest except for some Aurora’s which were still ripening.
The ones labelled Honey Bee in my photos are actually Borealis. I also had Tundra and Aurora.
Aurora is by far the largest. Tundra and Borealis were similar in size. Taste test with my wife: For fresh eating Aurora won hands done. Borealis perhaps had a slight edge over Tundra. Measuring Brix Aurora (17, 14), Tundra (9, 9.8, 11.8), Borealis (12, 12, 11.2) so you can see why Aurora was more pleasant. In the end we ate the Aurora’s fresh and I made a compote with the other 2 by mixing 1 part berries to 0.5 part sugar by weight and it was nice and tasty and acidic.
Yield post bird attack was tiny. Aurora 5 berries (8 grams), Tundra (41 grams), Borealis (32 grams). All are about 3 year old plants.
Saskatoon/Service/June berries – Northline (Planted May 2014 from saskatoonfarm.com 3)
Crappy shipping from saskatoonfarm (Plants were shipped bare root with NO MEDIA/moisture for roots. Shipping was by Greyhound and it took over 1 week. They arrived bone dry). Only 1 leafed out and it struggled since so I just planted it in the bush. July 13 I went to take a look at it and found it had actually fruited. Only a small handful and the fruit was over-ripe but it was delicious with a really nice nutty almond flavour. Really nice so I am going to plant some more. (Later I found out it is a major source for fireblight infections so I pulled them out and transplated to a far away wild field to not risk my pear/apples.)
Elderberry – Bob Gordon (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Flowering last week of June and continued flowering until mid August. Started having ripe fruit last week of August with bulk of fruit ripening at once. The mid august flowers did not get pollinated and formed no fruit.
Bob Gordon are the big suckers left and right, Wyldwood is small in front and in back. Bob Gordon came as bare root vs Wyldwood as plugs so size will probably catch up.
Delicious, blackberry flavors.
Purple Raspberry – Royalty (Planted May 2014 pepiniere ancestrale)
Total yield of 7.4 kg. Down from 9.8 kg last year. The Japanese beetles were bad again this year.
So I am growing my grapes for cold climate. They are multi-trunk (aiming for 4 trunks), on a Geneva double curtain trellis (trunk 1 left wire south, truck 2 left wire north, trunk 3 right wire south, trunk 4 left wire north). Then I am trying 2 different pruning methods. 2 trunks spur pruned, 2 trunks cane pruning. Then I am leaving 2 canes standing all winter (1 cane, 1 spur) and I lay down 2 canes for additional protection (1 cane, 1 spur). Finally to delay bud break I prune late winter to 5 buds from where I want to end up and then just as I am seeing bud swelling I prune again down to 2 buds. Only 2 of my vines are old enough to have made it all the way to this 4 trunk combination. Others are only at 1-2 trunks but you have an idea of what I am trying to do.
May 8 – Grapes that were protected over winter are at wolly bud stage while the exposed vines are mostly still dormant. Trimmed back all spurs to 2 buds.
Finally, I have found that trunks left up had bud burst delay by 7-10 days. However, “Polar Green”, Concord Seedless, and “Pink Pearl” showed greater than 50% fruit bud death in the exposed trunks vs those layed down on the ground (less than 10%). Somerset showed no difference but the vine is somewhat sheltered under an oak tree. From now on I will by laying ALL my trunks down each year and accepting the earlier bud break and using frost covers to try and protect from any early frosts.
Example of the frost covers shown below.
My Somerset grapes were amazing. They started changing color July 28 and I started harvesting August 8th and finished with the last bunch from the vine September 4. Early they are a paler red with a slightly spicy flavour with definite strawberry flavours. Early brix of 20-21. Later they turn darker red and become more aromatic. Sugar increased to a peak brix of 23. Acidity decreased and strawberry flavour was more prominent. My wife and I probably had a slight preference for the earlier taste but they were still winners later. They are a non-slipskin grape with a slightly crunchy texture. As of Sept 4 some grapes in the last hanging bunch were starting to shrivel. An absoluty wonderful grape and one that every cold weather gardener should have in their yard. I took samples to work and there were 100% unanimous amazement at the flavour and texture. Several people asked how they could buy vines for their backyard.
I got about 19 (small) bunches weighing a total of 935g. Expecting more next year.
Grape – Reliance (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Should fruit next year.
Grape – Pink Pearl (Again this is another mislabeled Greenbarn special – Think it is Trollhaugen based on later years) (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn). Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Tight clusters – would benefit from thinning. Not sure if it is the right plant as grapes are DARK purple when ripe (not pink) and have small seeds. Started changing color first week of August. Ready to eat about 2 weeks after Somerset (4th week August) when grapes have been purple a while and develop a sweeter more concord like flavour. Sept 6 still have some bunches hanging.
Grape – Polar Green (Again this is another mislabeled Greenbarn special – Think it is Trollhaugen based on later years) (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) 4 trunks.
Tight clusters – would benefit from thinning. A certain percentage of bunches have sections drop during ripening. Absolutely NOT a green grape. Has small seeds.
Started changing color first week of August. Ready to eat about 2 weeks after Somerset (4th week August) but a bit later than Pink Pearl when grapes have been purple a while and develop a sweeter more concord like flavour. Sept 6 still have some bunches hanging.
I wonder if this might be the same grape as “Pink Pearl” but the leaves are a bit different and the clusters seem to fall apart a bit so I am not sure.
Grape – Earliblue (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) – 2 trunks. Died. Pulled up.
Grape – Catawba (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). 1 trunks. Unclear if survived – no bud break yet. When planted did not realize this grape ripens 3 weeks AFTER Concord. Doubt I have the season for it. Will try next year and if too short will pull out. This is why I am looking forward to more people using http://www.gardenregister.com/ 2.
Grape – Concord seedless (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree). Very vigorous vine with 8’+ of growth. Large grapes in loose clusters. Started changing color last week of August.
Grape – Concord. Nursery vine bought on sale at end of season last year. Planted in a pot simply to give me a benchmark to compare ripening of my other grapes too. Will probably end up removing. May be ripening earlier due to being I a pot with warmer roots but I do not know. Started changing color first week of September.
Grape – Vanessa (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth.
Grape – Petite Jewel (Whiffletree was a division of Greenbarn so I think this is another Greenbarn mislabled garbage plant – think it is Valiant) (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). I don’t think this is the right plant. Very small, dark purple grapes with 50% of mass made up by seeds.
Grape – Valliant (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). Just planted this spring. It was a small plant so to early to say about vigor. Has not reached the 6’ wire.
Grape – Swenson Red (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). Just planted this spring. It was a small plant so to early to say about vigor. Has not reached the 6’ wire.
Blueberries – Chandler (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. Couple berries first week of August.
Blueberries – Northsky (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering. Tiny berries (1/4 inch) on a tiny plant. Pulled out.
Blueberries – Toro (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. Got a handful of berries first week of August. They don’t like my soil.
Blueberries – Patriot (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbar) Survived. Flowering but not thriving.
No fruit. Pulled out.
Blueberries – Pinklimonade (Planted fall 2013 from local) Looks like dieback over winter again. No berries. Not hardy for zone 4. Pulled out.
Blueberries – Duke (Planted May 2014 from Costco) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. Got a handful of berries first week of August. They don’t like my soil.
Cherry – Romeo (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit still.
Cherry – Cupid (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit still.
Cherry – Juliet (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) – Survived. No dieback. No fruit still.
Cherry – Crimson Passion (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com 5) – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit still.
The deer LOVE these so they keep getting haircuts which is not helping them much. Going to try and fence them better.
Appear to be males. Planted in a rural area on heavy clay with no irrigation. Growing like crazy. These are TOUGH. Bone dry soil for weeks at a time, nutrient poor – not even grass is growing but these still grow.
Mulberry – Seedling (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. No dieback. THIS IS A MALE. Man I am ticked off with Greenbarn. Totally useless and they wasted 4 years. I got tons of flowers/fruiting bodies which dried up and fell off. Looks like a male. I’ve trained this plant for 4 years and the trunk is approaching 3 inches in diameter. Need to decide if I top work or simply graft to a sucker. Advice anyone?
Plumcot – Taylors Gold (Not a bloody plumcot but a plum that supposedly tastes like an apricot – Greenbarn strikes again) (MARIANA 26-24? Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Really taking off this year. 4’+ of growth. Coming along nicely into an open vase. Going to try grafting apricots to a couple branches if I can get some scions.
Strawberry – All Star – June bearing (Planted May 2014 from Costco – survived winter)
I left these uncovered this winter and the runners survived. First year fruit size is fine but 2nd year they go tiny. I also lose too many to birds to make it worthwhile so I am pulling them out.
Rubarb – Victoria? (crown has been propagated in family for +80 years over 4 different moves!) Survived and thriving. 13.274 kg harvested with at least 1 more harvest to go.
Heartnut – Imshu (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – did not survive winter 2015) Sending up shoots from roots.
Heartnut – Campbell CW-3 (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – did not survive winter 2015) Sending up shoots from roots.
Medlar – Giant Breda (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – died back to graft 2015). Struggling along. Probably will die.
Medlar – Royal (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – died back to graft 2015). Struggling along. Probably will die.
Heartnut and Medlar are planted on a rural property in quite sandy soil. They got heavily eaten by deer in the fall 2014. Some mice damage over winter 2015. I saw some re-growth from the graft of the medlars last year and they seem to be leafing out this spring from those shoots. The Heartnuts both died down to ground last year but then sent up shoots from the seedling roots. Those shoots appeared to survive this winter and I am letting the grow to see what happens.
Gooseberry – Black Velvet (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Lots of fruit. Small and tart despite reaching 16 brix 4th week of July. Ripens last week of July – 1st week August. To tart for me and my wife for fresh eating but makes a great jam.
I LOVE currants. Easy to grow, you can’t buy them in stores and they laugh at early season frosts. Make fantastic jams and can be used for infused Vodka and be juiced as well.
Josta Berry – (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree – survived winter). Survived and flourishing. No dieback. Many flowers but hardly any fruit! I have 2 of these planted. They now spread 5 feet x 5 feet. Each plant takes up nearly 2x the area as Titania but Titania gave me 2.5kg of fruit and each of these gave me 8 berries! EIGHT berries!?! They are right next to Titania, Tiben and Ben Sarek as well as my 3 gooseberries so it can’t be pollenization. The berries produced were only as big as my large Titania berries and not even that good. I am giving them 1 more year but if they don’t shape up they are being torn out.
Paw Paw – Campbell NC-1 (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree) – Struggling. Hardly any growth each year. I am going to try grafting it to some of the branches of my seedling to make sure I have future pollinators.
Garlic – Nothing like home grown garlic instead of that no-flavour USA/Chinese garbage. Plant in fall and harvest in summer when you see about 3-4 leaves have gone yellow/brown. Break open your big bulbs in fall and replant a couple weeks before frost – I do 3rd week September usually. Yum, Yum! Pretty sure this is Music – got the original bulbs from Hendrick Farm and have been replanting the best bulbs each year to improve the size. This big bad boys just pour oil out when you cut them!
I just had 2 big projects this year. First is irrigation. Last year I installed 700 feet of underground soaker for a cedar hedge around my backyard. This year I have tied into this soaker hose in 5 places to bring water to other areas. I placed a manual valve at the tie in point then ran ½ inch non-perforated pipe underground and then put spray heads at each tree/large shrubs and drip outlets to my smaller shrubs. In total about another 500 feet of underground piping but now to water 1 zone I just have to flip a valve and come back in 3 hours to turn it off.
My other big project was grafting as I mentioned in my earlier post. 8 different apple varieties but with the amount of wood I had it was about 25 different grafts. 4 different plums in 5 grafts. So far amazingly I have around 95% take! I tried a variety of methods. Inside where it was warm I wrapped the scion wood including both ends fully in parafilm.
$26 +$16 shipping for 2” x 250’. I cut into 1” strips so 500’ will last me a while. This was to avoid damaging the graft union site after and to avoid having to use grafting wax/paint (which I could not find locally). Then on the day of grafting I would just cut the length of wood I wanted and wrap the exposed terminal end in another piece of parafilm. I would do the graft (a mix of cleft, whip and some using a grafting tool.
to cut specific male/female shapes. I then tightly wrapped the junction from about 1” below the graft site in parafilm up to 1-2 cm above the site then tightly wrapped the union in black electrical tape. My grafting “knife” was simply an exactoknife (boxcutter) that I dipped in pinesol between each cut. My wedge to open clefts was simply the one blade of scissor hammered into the wood, frequently one side would get the cambium torn up a bit but the other side was fine. This cheap and dirty method seems to have worked fine so far.
** Delayed note: Years of experience now tells me the Omega grafting tool sucks. Impossible to clean or sharpen the blades and the graft union it makes is week with branches breaking years later under wind loads or heavy fruit. Just use an exacto knife for cheap or get a single bevel grafting knife for even straighter cuts. See my tips section for more info. Also, use green painters tape stuck to the scion and itself marked with pencil for labeling.
95% of my plum and apple grafts took. No difference between cleft, whip or the special tool grafts. Given ease and better sterilization I will stick with the exacto knife from now on.
For bugs my main battle is with Japanese beetles. I can’t imagine what gardening would have been like before they came. Must have been heaven. For control I simply walk 1-2x per day with a bucket of soapy water and tap the leaves to knock them into the bucket. I have 1 acre surrounded by acreages. Nematode treatment would cost a fortune and probably not work that well for me. Do it in the morning so they drop, in the afternoon when warmer they fly away. I think the best would be chickens that can browse underneath. Put them out in the morning then just go shake the vines to drop them to the ground.
The only spraying I do is 1 time with dormant oil at the end of winter to all my trees. I then bag all my grapes and apples. When I have them I will probably bag pears and plums too.
To reiterate on the subject of bagging fruit. Ziplocks caused my grapes to rot. Organza bags were perfect. Organza Bags Wholesale and Retail:
I used Moss Green as they are not visible in the foliage. I used the 6×9 bags but are they are a bit short for long grapes. Perfect for plums and apples and small bunches of grapes. I think they would work awesome for peaches as they breath very well but keep the bugs/birds out. After 3 months exposed to environment they still look new. So far with apples there is no difference between ziplocks and Organza bags except the Organza bags are much easier to install, you can tie the string around the branch to less drop due to wind/squirrels, and they look MUCH better. I will be using Organza bags 100% for my fruit bagging needs.
(Future note: Do not put the organza bags on too early. Wait for the fruit to start changing color. I put them on early in a wet year and got HUGE mold problems and lost the majority of my crop).
You might say the vent holes are too small in the bottom of the bags but when I cut larger the wasps and earwigs got in.
Until next time.