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Month: August, 2008

Lunch at Aunt Di’s House

by Scott Smith

Ready Set to Go

by Scott Smith

A sound investment?

by Scott Smith

Do any of you have experience with cherry pitting devices? I purchased some cherries to make jam and now am wondering how I’m going to get all of those cherries pitted in a reasonable amount of time. I’ve done a little looking around and this one seems like it might be a good investment (as opposed to this one at sausagemaker.com which would cost somewhere around $300 after shipping or this one which is a bargain at $9.99 – you’ll need to save every penny for your carpal tunnel surgery).

Cherry Pitter at Fantes

This one seems like a nice compromise at $54.99.

Black Raspberry Jam

by Scott Smith

I finally put some food by. I found a bag of black raspberries from last year when I cleaned out the freezer and decided it was now or never for jam making.

I do love to see those jars lined up.

Postcard from Arizona

by Scott Smith

Cherry Elaeagnus — Elaeagnus multiflora

by Scott Smith

The perfect solution for my black walnut “problem.”

Here is the description from Oikos Tree Crops (emphasis mine):

Gumi was introduced from China into the US over a hundred years yet this species has never really caught on as a edible fruit plant until recently where analysis of the fruits reveal numerous healthful compounds. Unlike the autumn olive this species has larger fruit up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Fully ripe fruits are juicy and are good enough to eat fresh. According to Michael Dirr in “Dirrs Hardy Trees and Shrubs” goumi “does not produce the stray seedlings” like Autumn olive. Useful for pies, jellies and juice. Free of insects and disease. Nitrogen fixing. Can grow under black walnuts.
Height to 10 ft.- 6 ft. wide. Zone 5 hardiness. Hardiness -20 °F.

And from another website (emphasis mine):

Bloomtime Range: Late Spring to Late Spring
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 to 7
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Light Range: Part Sun to Full Sun
pH Range: 4.5 to 7.5
Soil Range: Mostly Sand to Some Clay
Water Range: Semi-Arid to Moist

Black walnuts, check. Sandy soil, checkaroo. And at 10′ x 6′ I can probably plant three of them.

English Walnuts

by Scott Smith

I’ve been moving my as yet nonexistant cherry trees back and forth in my mind. First, they were near the big tree that stands in the center of our “back yard” in front of the barn (in our barnyard I suppose). Then, they were moved up to the soon to be repurposed vegetable garden near the Black Walnut trees. Where, in my imagination at least, they remain.

My new plan for the tree in front of the barn is to plant a couple more of them (well, maybe just one, it’s a big tree). Turns out, our neighbor, Scott C. is right – that tree is an English Walnut. It’s a lovely tree all on it’s own, but it needs a friend to be productive. I may be a very old woman before the trees produce, I may not. But there is nothing wrong with a tree planted as a gift to future generations.

Plant Identification

by Scott Smith

I wish that I was better at plant identification. If you put me in the middle of a traditional perennial bed I can probably name 95% of what’s there, but ask me to identify native plants, or trees and shrubs (native or not) and I’m a little lost. I have a hard time remembering that the stand of trees planted to the north of our house are poplars, I didn’t recognize a bush planted in front of the house as a lilac until it finally grew back enough to produce a spectacular show this spring, and I’m still not sure whether or not my little plum trees are American Plums or Sand Plums.

We have a little bush planted amongst the pine trees on the south edge of our property along our driveway. I keep wondering what it is and whether or not I should get rid of it or add more. I was just perusing The Native Plant Nursery and I may have found my answer: Red-Osier Dogwood. Not everything matches though. I haven’t noticed any white or blue berries on the bush, but it has not flowered heavily. My mystery bush also does not have flaming red bark in the winter, but it does not have ideal conditions if it is a Red-Osier. I read on Wikipedia that the wild varieties do not have the vibrant coloration in shaded areas. I’ve been considering branching up the maple tree that sits on the neighboring (empty) property in order to give my pines room to grow. Maybe it will also give the bush more sun, more water and more color.

Black Walnut

by Scott Smith

I’ve decided to give up on trying to force a spot that does not want to be a traditional vegetable garden a traditional vegetable garden. For three seasons I’ve struggled to make a spot work that doesn’t want to do the work I’m asking of it. Each season I blame myself for not enough time to weed, not enough attention to irrigation, just generally not enough commitment to the garden. But I’ve neglected other gardens and been rewarded with abundance none the less.

This evening I’ve been thinking about the patch of black walnuts not far from the top of the bed (the garden is on a slope). I started thinking about them because while I’m giving up on the traditional vegetable patch in that spot I’m not giving up on that particular spot providing me with some food. I want to plant a fruit tree at the top of the bed and maybe some berries below that. Knowing that not everything will grow amongst the juglone producing roots of the black walnut I made a mental note to look up the varieties with which I might be successful. When I did my google search I had that “aha” moment.

Turns out, the plants that do poorly in the root zone of black walnuts are pretty much all of the plants I’ve been asking to grow in that area. Tomatoes are particularly susceptible. The most success I’ve had with tomatoes here have been the ones planted furthest away from the walnut trees. My asparagus does beautifully, but is also planted well outside the drip line of the trees. While I knew vaguely about the juglone, I wasn’t considering how large the root systems of those trees might be. So next year, the traditional tomatoes, zucchini, peas, and eggplant will have to find a new home (maybe I will mix some among the perennials like I’ve considered doing in the past and keep a small patch right outside the back door).

My plan for the edges of the black walnut patch is to plant a cherry tree – two if I decide on dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties and some transplanted black raspberries. If I have the space I’d like to fit in a serviceberry as well. I don’t want to rid my property of mature trees, so I’m stuck with at least a few [black walnuts] up near the house but I may also go ahead and thin out a couple of the smaller trees to reduce the amount of juglone in the soil.

Black Walnut: The Killer Tree
The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook