Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Renting the Cabin to Lindsay

Our last renter moved on at the end of July and Olga and I agreed we would either use it ourselves, or rent to family. After doing some considerable cleaning, painting and restoration, the cabin was sitting empty when my niece Lindsay asked about her and her partner moving in. After some discussion, we agreed on a plan that mutually served our needs and boom, just like that, the cabin now has new residents. Our last renter, Bruce, used to like to say it was like living in paradise, and I think he was right! Although there is an awesome view to the south west, at night, not a single light is visible. At night the Milky Way Galaxy puts on her wonderful show and we are privileged to just kick back and enjoy the experience. The cabin is about 1000 square feet with all the amenities for comfort, plus a few mice. The water comes from the spring and the power comes from the Sun and the rain. The cabin deserves to have tenants. It is a lovely home for the right people, and I am very glad it does not have to sit by empty. Such a unique place will be the happy recipient of much praise from its inhabitants!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More on Grafting

Two different twigs brought together through a few careful cuts, and the result? Wow, a whole new tree! Grafting can be used as an experimental vehicle to create something new. The tree pictured is a standard pear root with a Comice scion or twig grafted on and within just a couple of years this new tree will be bearing fruit. Luther Burbank did plenty of grafting on his farm down in Sonoma County. If ever there was a farmer who understood the possibilities that existed for each plant, it was Luther who had this gift. It is an amazing feeling of accomplishment to return to the site where a graft had been done six months earlier and find a healthy tree growing. After the new tree gets bigger, then the apple farmer again gets to play his hand by shaping the tree in the manner the farmer desires. I like a tree with a strong central leader, that is, a trunk that grows straight toward the Sun, and has lateral branches that head out to the sides of the tree in an effort to spread out and expose itself to as much light as possible. But before we get to pruning the tree, first we've got to get the tree established and settled in its new environment.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grafting is a Miracle of sorts in the Orchard!

Apple trees have different rootstocks depending upon the eventual desired size of the tree, the soil conditions available, and the amount of water the tree might receive. The old fashioned "Standard" rootstock is not very common anymore. So often dwarf or semi-dwarf trees are what will be sold in the nurseries. Most people are buying trees for their back yard, and they may not have room for a full grown tree. The other consideration is that "Standard" rootstock can take from 6 to ten years to begin bearing a crop. However, though it takes time to get established, these trees will be hearty, disease and insect resistant and able to survive in challenging conditions. I like this old rootstock. What I like even more though is cutting small twigs, called scions, from the existing old trees and grafting these cuttings onto other apple starts. Usually when an apple tree dies above the grafted spot found near the root, suckers will grow out of the root very spontaneously. While these will typically not make good apple trees, they make a great partner for the cut scions and by using a grafting method, some waxed paper and tree adhesive, the sucker can become a new thriving real honest to goodness fruit bearing tree. I told you it was a miracle! Yesterday when I was in the orchard, I noticed I have three successfully grafted trees, where the little scion branch came from an old glorious Gravenstein Tree. I hope to practice on a few more this coming spring. This is about as close to creating a live plant as I may ever get. Yippee!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lilly Dog at the Apple Farm

Yes, a man's best friend enjoys the farm just as much as her master! Lilly knows that we are going for a ride in the truck as soon as she observes the preparations happening. There is no doubt for her what is about to unfold. She becomes increasingly agitated just wanting to get in the cab and be done with the waiting. This is heaven for her as there are no leashes and plenty of varmints to chase all over Timbuktu. She never tires of sniffing the same spots and claiming this as her territory. As the day wears on, the look starts to come over her body language, and her unspoken question is, "Dad, are we about ready to go home? I'm hungry!" In variably the day does come to an end and we troop home, and one exhasusted doggie sleeps ever so soundly.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting Ready for the First Rain

The First rain of the season is always a magical time. After months of checking the water tanks, fixing leaks, repairing drip lines so emitters gush the prescribed amount of water, suddenly the dusty dry environment is perched to be drenched from the sky without a bit of effort from my side. The ground is so parched and thirsty that it will devour every drop of water initially and there is zero runoff. The new smells of dampness on the dry hay is a heaven sent scent. The lightness of the air and the misty overcast set the stage for the water to come that will satisfy all living things. Even the gnomes and fairies are dancing with glee at the thought of creeks flowing and dripping leaves. Once the rain starts, the ground will soften and become friendly again to the shovel that wants to loosen and dig. I am always happy when we arrive at this time of year, although it is a sure reminder that the next challenge begins. Now is the time to organize that firewood and just know that every day there will be that new chore that for so long was just a distant thought.