Thursday, August 9, 2012

T bud graft

The T bud graft is a great method of grafting for apples and pears.This grafting is done using scion wood from this years growth after some of the new buds have formed.This graft is best done in mid summer when the bark peels easily. Here we are grafting an heirloom apple variety to a branch of a seedling apple tree. The scion wood is the variety you are trying to reproduce, so the first step is to collect your scion wood. It is best to graft right away but the scion can be stored in the refrigerator for a few day if necessary. Next step is to cut a T in the root stock.
Make the top horizontal cut first by rocking your knife back and forth. Then use the tip of the blade to make the vertical cut. After the T cut is finished use the tip of the knife to pry open the T. It should peel open and have two flaps. Next prepare the scion by picking a nicely developed bud on this years growth. Cut the leaf off but keep the stem attached. Make a horizontal cut 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the bud about half way through the stem. Then starting under the bud slice toward the horizontal cut.
After the scion bud is cut you are ready to slide it into the two flaps of the T cut on your rootstock. Make sure you push it all the way in.
Next wrap the bud into place with a strip of plastic. I cut my strips of plastic from one gallon storage bags. Make these strips about 1/2 inch wide.Use a small piece of masking tape to tape the plastic strip to the bottom of the rootstock. Begin to wrap from the bottom to the top covering all the cuts but leaving the bud and stem exposed. Finish the wrap with another piece of tape to secure the end.
After a few weeks callous will form around the cuts and the stem will fall off if the graft took. Leave the graft alone through fall and winter.
In the spring when the buds begin to swell cut off the top of your rootstock or branch about a half inch above the graft.This will stimulate your new bud to grow and by the end of the summer it will have grown into a small tree.
Remember practice makes perfect.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Peento Peach

Peento, Peen To, Pan tao, Doughnut peach and Chinese flat peach are a few of the different names of this incredible sweet and tender peach. Last year I planted our first Peento peaches.We started with two different varieties, Sweetcap and Saturn and we added two more varieties this year, Tangos and tangos II. So far the Saturn peaches have ripened and my sons rated them as a 9.5 or better for flavor
The peento peach, like all peaches, is native to China but it has only been cultivated in the US since 1869
The flavor of this white fleshed peach, when tree ripened, is one of the sweetest I have ever had. The flesh melts in your mouth and is easily separated from the seed.The fruit is high in sugar with very little acid. There is little to no fuzz so these can be eaten without peeling. I really enjoy tree ripened fruit, but this can be a problem as wildlife of many sorts seem to enjoy the fruit also. Peaches can however be picked before fully ripe and allowed to ripen off the tree. The fruit will ripen better if allowed to remain at room temperature

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cobb oven

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of going to our friends' house to cook homemade pizza in their cobb oven. The pizza tasted incredible and I was quite impressed with how fast and easy it was to cook the pizza. They described how they had made the oven and how they used the clay they dug up in their back yard. It was then I decided to build my own. A few days later I leveled off a spot in the bank out our front door. The kids had fun mixing the cobb. This was made from clay we gathered in the back yard and we also added sand, water and straw.
The oven was formed over a mound of sand. After the cobb was allowed to dry for a week we removed the sand and built a fire inside to finish hardening the clay mixture.
A roof was also built to protect the cobb from the weather. This will allow for a longer life of the oven. I also built a wire rack that i place near the inside peak to smoke fish/meats on while we get the oven heated up. It usually takes the wood fire about 45 minutes to heat up all that clay, but once it's hot, it stays hot for quite some time.
The oven is such a joy to cook in. We cook pizza in it at least once a week. We have also used it to bake breads, soft pretzels, cinnamon rolls and pies along with smoking salmon
The cobb oven was very easy to build and really cuts down on heating up the house during the summer. The pizza is usually done cooking in 2 minutes so care must be taken when cooking

Sunday, May 27, 2012


                                     Honeyberry or Haskap

    The honey berry is a fruit producing member of the honeysuckle family.This shrub is very hardy to at least -40 f and its flowers which appear early in spring are hardy to 17 f. The Honeyberry is native to Siberia and Japan. Among the earliest flowering of fruiting shrubs, it ripens its blueberry like fruits at least a month ahead of the earliest blueberries and a couple of weeks before most strawberries. Here the Honeyberry fruit is ripening just as the blueberries are flowering. The fruits can be eaten fresh or used in baking or for preserves.


   We have several different varieties and this spring we added the two new larger fruited and better flavored varieties from the University of Saskatchewan Haskap breeding program.These varieties are called "Tundra" and "Borealis".These new varieties have fruits that are at least twice as big as the older varieties and much improved out of hand eating flavors. There is much demand for the haskap fruit in Japan for its long held belief of it health benefits. Haskaps are high in vitamin C and a great source of antioxidants.

  When planting the Honeyberry at least two different varieties need to be planted for pollination.This plant has proved itself to us as being very hardy and fruitful.They do best when planted in a area with very moist soil.The biggest problem we observed with these plants is that as the berries begin to ripen they disappear quickly.  Birds, mostly cedar waxwings, which at all other times are welcome on our property ,are quite fond of these little treats and will eat them all. Covering these plants is a must if you want any fruit as it will disappear fast.                                          

Thursday, February 9, 2012

European Hazelnut or Filbert

Hazelnuts( corylus avellana) are very nutritious. They are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamin e, minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants and have been shown to lower cholesterol .

Hazelnuts have been grown for thousands of years in Scotland and other European countries. Not only were they a great source of food but they were also coppiced or cut to the ground every couple years and the new growth, being very straight was used for arrows, basket weaving, fences and to build their huts with. Today they are grown commercially in many countries including the United States. In the U.S. they are produced commercially in the states of Oregon and Washington.

The European hazelnut can be susceptible to the eastern filbert blight, a disease that can totally kill the whole bush. Our native hazelnut bush, the American hazelnut, is immune to the blight, and crosses have been made to improve the larger nutted European hazels resistance to this disease.We have not seen any eastern filbert blight here. Most of our filbert bushes were started from seed by us. Now in their 6th year they are starting to produce better crops.They will usually start to produce nuts in 4 - 5 years after planting from seed. There are many cultivars available today and we also have a few of these in our orchard. Usually these are rooted suckers and will produce nuts in a year or two.
Hazelnuts can be grown as a bush for easier harvesting or as a tree if the suckers are removed as they appear growing from the roots. The nuts ripen in early fall and will begin to fall from their husks. As they begin to ripen they are quickly discovered by the many squirrels, chipmunks, deer and bear.

Hazelnuts can be a great addition to your edible landscape with many seasons of interest. In spring and summer its bright green leaves, in fall its crop of nuts and in the winter its display of catkins.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Yakumo Asian pear

The Asian pear has been grown in Asia for centuries and more recently here in the United States. There are over 100 varieties of Asian pears but most of these are grown in Japan. We have 14 varieties here in our collection . These are sometimes called Chinese pears, salad pears or apple pears. They range in size, color, shape and flavor. The Yakumo Asian pear is the first to ripen in our orchard, usually the second week of August. The Yakumo asian pear has bright yellow thin skin. Its fruits are amazingly juicy, crisp, crunchy and have a sweet melon like flavor. They are perfect to eat right off the tree. In fact my sons and their friends circle around the trees for weeks eating these treats. And so do I.

The only real problems we have had is that the bears find them quite attractive and usually break off some of the fruit loaded branches. This we remedy with electric fence from about mid July to the end of harvest. The Yakumo Asian pear begins to bear fruit at a young age and needs another variety of asian pear for pollination. It also tends to over bear and needs heavy thinning to achieve bigger fruit size. We usually try to thin to one fruit for every 5 inches of limb. This usually requires taking off more than half the fruits. Besides eating the fruit right off the tree they will hold in cold storage for a few months.The pears make a great addition to salads both mixed with fruits or vegetables and are also great to use for cooking.They also are a very attractive tree and in the spring their flowers put on quite a show. We have really enjoyed these wonderful, productive trees.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wealthy Apple

In the early 1800s people were advised not to move to Minnesota because "you cant grow apples there". Apples were a staple at that time for most homesteaders. A few did not listen and tried planting orchards.All would die in a few years and some were planted three or four times without success. Many people planted apple seeds to try to have hardier trees. Finally in the 1860s after planting over a million seeds, the wealthy apple was the first to survive in the harsh Minnesota climate. In a few years the wealthy apple would become the first commercial apple in Minnesota and eventually was one of the top five most produced apples in all America. The color is yellow green with a red blush over it and some red stripes. Its flesh is tender but crisp, juicy and fragrant. The flavor is tart with hints of citrus and maybe some berry undertones.The tree is very hardy to -40 and is quick to bear.In our orchard it ripens mid September. Popular in southern planting as the fruits ripen there in early August.This tree is a wonderful antique apple and a great addition to any garden.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Artic Beauty Kiwi (actinidia kolomikta)

A wonderful addition for edible landscape.This plant is the hardiest of all the kiwi vines.A very ornamental plant with striking variegated leaves,beautiful flowers in spring and small tasty fruits in early fall.Both male and female vines are needed for fruit.Only the female will produce fruit.The fruit is fuzzless about the size of a small grape and has a very intense kiwi flavor with a hint of mint.The vines usually start producing their first fruits within a few years.The flower buds are not very frost hardy so care should be taken to plant in an area that provides protection.Our plants have done very well when planted near the house foundation.The three female selections we planted have the biggest fruits for this variety.They are Hero, Emerald and the largest is Viktor.These vine are also more attractive to cats than catnip but usually when the roots have been freshly dug.The only time I have seen our cat rolling in the plant is when I was transplanting them.