Saturday, January 30, 2010

Seedings and pruning

My collard and tomato seedlings have germinated! Some of you ask how long seeds last, so this week's information is worth reporting. I collected the collard seeds from my own plants in 2005. The sweet-100 tomatoes came from a Fedco package dated 2007. Seeds last a while.

A less successful experiment this winter is parsley. It does grow in the window sill, but its yield is very sparse compared to lettuce, and I won't do this again, although I AM eating the yield now.

I'm relieved to say that the recent batch of carrots I pulled from the garden are MUCH larger than earlier ones. If there is a very high surface-area-to-volume ratio, it takes a long, long time to prepare the carrots for eating. These "new" ones are much less time-consuming and we're eating more carrots -- and lots of alfalfa sprouts.

It's the time of year to prune fruit trees and vines. My apples, pears,
peaches, plums, grapes, and kiwi keep me busy in nice days throughout February. I spray with dormant oil as I go, and this seems fine for the apples and pears. Jerry's wife told him that if he didn't have a better peach yield, she would insist they cut down the tree, and he managed to get a fine yield via a formidable regimen of spraying. I'm not that committed, and my peaches have been nothing to brag about in recent years.

Fred doesn't threaten my peach tree, so I think I'll try to be a BIT more conscientious with dormant oil this year. John, who sold me the tree, was sure we wouldn't get decent harvests without lots of spraying, but for several years we did. I wonder what happened since. I guess someone moved in and I haven't been able to get them out.

The written rules for pruning fruit trees are (1) remove any branch that grows upward because it won't yield and (2) remove branches that cross and interfere with other branches. I'm sure that professional tree growers have lots more knowledge than that, but I seem to be able to stumble along and get decent pear and apple yields with only these guidelines.

Grapevines can be cut all the way back to the sturdy pieces that sit on your supports. Kiwi fruit grows on first-year vines, so the challenge is to figure what bore last year and cut it off without removing next year's prospects. Apparently I did it right last year. I had an enormous kiwi yield this fall. Does that mean I can repeat that feat? We shall see.


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