Continuing Class: Chip Bud Grafting

Last summer, we not only planted a lot of fruit trees;  we also worked at making a lot more.  see

Today was a continuation of that project.

Unlike the dozen in my yard that got eaten by rabbits (and I am going to have to get creative to save) the 95 apple trees I grafted at the Adickes farm appear to be fine.

Claire made the run out there with me today, and we got through all of them with the Adickes boys help.  All were cut just above the grafts that took last year, and then the cut was sealed with pruning sealant.

The pruning sealant serves a couple of primary purposes here.  First, it prevents the sapling from drying down past the graft and killing it.  Second, it creates hydraulic pressure when the sap moves up the tree, in the same way that it hits the primary bud (if you don’t cut it off) along with all of the growth hormones the tree sends up to move growth upwards.  In this way, we are hoping to make the tree turn that grafted bud, into the tree.For about 60 of the trees we had a good system going, where one of the boys would remove the protective screen tube, I would cut the top off above the graft, Claire would paint it with the pruning sealant, and then the boys would replace the tube.

At the bottom of the hill was a lot of ice, and the boys moved off to play their own version of Crashed Ice while Claire and I finished off the shorter second row of trees.

After all of that, Jerid and I worked through their orchard, working out pruning strategies, figuring out what made it through the winter, what needed to be repaired, and ultimately, we pruned all of the saplings they planted last year.

On the way back up to the house afterwards, I got a cute shot of Junior by one of their maple tree taps.

So that was the day.  My body made it through 130+ deep knee bends and though I sure know it, I also seem none the worse for wear.  For the moment.  I will need to do the same thing to the bud grafts I did up north at the property as well.  Still need to finish pruning the big trees.  But this part of the project has moved on to its next stage.


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Trees Are Running!

Our extended forecast looks good.  Highs in the mid 30s to 40s, with night time temps dipping below freezing.  Right now it is 44 degrees and all 4 taps we have in are running well.  They had just started up again yesterday evening, and by noon today they were nearly a quarter full.

We had an early run which I posted on.  Not enough to fill the buckets all the way up before it froze solid again, but I have to tell you, when we cooked it down, it made the lightest colored, sweetest, buttery maple syrup I have ever had.  Just one big jar of it.  Not even a full quart.  But good lord is it wonderful.

It has me convinced to watch the weather closely, and get some taps in early if we are going to have an early freeze-thaw cycle.

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Holding Patterns

This is one of those between times in the year.  It is a bit too early to be starting much in the way of tomatoes or peppers.  It is also early to be gathering maple sap, but the buckets had a good amount frozen into them, which we are cooking down today.  Temps will not get back above freezing until tomorrow, and the buckets will back on the trees.  As things stand now, what we have would reduce down to one and a half pints of finished syrup, though I will not cook it down that far right away.  Just need to reduce volume.

I made a drive out to Fairhaven Orchard on Saturday to meet with Dave MacGregor.  He was involved with the early side of cold resistant grape vine breeding and general viticulture for the upper mid west along with Elmer Swenson.  We spent time reviewing the property my family purchased, talked about ground prep, varieties to grow, and in general had a great afternoon sitting in front of a fired up wood stove, talking about growing things.  I have a list of books, authors, and specific topics to research on my own for a few weeks.

The eagles pictured, I pulled over and took a photo of, where 14 runs into 55 from the south.  I stopped and got out of the car to get the pic, and got to hear them talking to each other.  They are waiting for spring as well.

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Making Willow Trees

IMG_9289Claire wanted to go for a walk this evening, so we did a little project together, which is just a continuation of lessons in clonal reproduction of trees.


This is a big willow next to a retaining pond near our home, tucked back in a marsh.

IMG_9291 IMG_9292

We collected a bunch of green cuttings from it.


Tucked them in a wide mouth quart jar,IMG_9294

filled it with filtered water, and covered with tinfoil to keep lights off the roots, then put it on top of the fridge, at the back, where it would stay warm and out of direct light.


Nell and I did much the same a few weeks ago, from an ancient weeping willow on my parent’s old property.


3 weeks out from taking those cuttings, and 2 of them were developed enough to warrant being potted up.  You cannot do this with all trees, but if you have a willow you want more of, or want to save for whatever reasons, it is a fun project to do.

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Corn Flour (Red Speckled)


I have been asked what we do with all the corn we grow.  Well, the popcorn is pretty self explanatory, as is the sweet corn, but when you tell people you primarily grow flour corns, you get an odd look from most.


We have a variety of mills we have picked up over the years, from a cast iron double cone behemoth with flywheel, a standard hand crank double plate, and a coffee mill.


The soft flour corns will give you consistency as light as smooth as pastry flour.


We double bag it to prevent insect damage.  Corn left as whole kernels are fairly immune to all but rodents, and it lasts pretty much forever.  Once you grind it, the kernel has been killed, and it will go rancid in time.  We do a couple of gallons at a go, both corn flour and corn meal, and pack the equipment away until we run out again.  This is corn from 2015, that we just ground, so nice to know we have a couple of years worth of corn before we are close to running out.  I would have done a photo of the corn bread, but that did not last long enough to get photos this time.

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For Holly: Saving Grape Vine Prunings To Start New Vines

So a friend of mine asked, after the last posting, for me to do a more detailed post in regards to what I do to propagate grape vines.


Step 1:  You need wood that is approximately the width of a pencil, and last year’s growth.  In the picture above, there is 2 year old wood, thicker, and with bark that is peeling a bit, running horizontal.  There are 1 year old canes growing out of the top that I want to save for rooting, which is a way to clone the original varietal vine, in this case, a Bluebell eating grape.


The first cut is just below the first primary bud on the cane.


You ideally want 3 or 4 buds left on each piece, and each piece to be 10″-12″ long.  When you eventually plant them, only the top bud will be exposed.  The other two will be buried, and will send out roots instead of leaves.


The next cut is done at a diagonal, leaving about two inches of cane above the top bud.  This is because when you eventually plant it, the exposed top will dry back a bit, and cutting on a diagonal makes it obvious which end is the top.  (It is not always obvious looking at a piece of cane, removed from the perspective of the whole vine, which end is “up”).


You need the saved cane to not be winter injured.  Here, this winter, we got to -30F, and there was some cold injury to some of the vines.  The one on the left, above, is healthy.  The one on the right has died.


Just showing the cut end of the vine, left one is alive, while the right is spongy and brown.


Where I cut the vine just below the first bud is also healthy and green.


As you work your way through your pile of prunings, it is a good idea to have a bucket of water you can put them in that keeps them upright, and separated by type if you are doing more than one kind of grape vine.


For longer term storage (because this is January, and they will not be planted out into the soil for months) I place them butt end down in moistened peat moss (not sopping wet, I have soaked the peat moss, and then squeezed the water out) inside a 2 gallon heavy duty plastic storage bag.


This bag of 50 cuttings is ready to sit in the fridge for a few months.  When it is getting closer to the time to plant them out, I will take the bags out of the fridge, and place them, butt end down, on top of the fridge to warm them up, for a week or two, and then soak them, submerged in water, overnight, just before planting outside.  I will try to remember to add those photos when that time comes to pass.

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Pruning Grapes & Damn Rabbits


We are in a January thaw, with no more extreme weather expected, so I thought today would be a good day to head into the back yard and prune the Bluebell and Swenson Seedless grape vines.


The first photo is not a grape vines.  Neither is this one.


Nor this one.  All but one of the grafts I did last summer, have been eaten.  The little bastards.  I can probably save the rootstocks and graft onto them again this year, but I just lost a year on the trees.  We have never had rabbits bother things in our yard before.  We have apples, cherries and currants.  None of them were ever touched when young.  This last winter, that was not the case.


This is the Bluebell grape vine, with it about half done for the spur pruning.


Just another shot of the vine, pruned and ready for summer.


That is the two Swenson Seedless, which are kind of hard to see, now that they are pruned and not just a tangled mess.


This is what I removed from the two Swenson grape vines.


I went through all of the prunings, tossing all the winter injured pieces, and making cuttings to root for new vines this next summer.


I ended up with about 150 pieces.  Not too bad for just two vines.  I did not get into the Bluebell vine prunings yet.  That will be tomorrow.  When I am done with it all, I will pack them in 2 gallon Zip Loc bags with moist peat moss, and just put them in the crisper of the fridge until things warm up.  Then they will go into the ground, and/or pots, to root.

That took my morning and early part of the afternoon.  We are going to head up to the Adickes farm to talk about gardening and have a sausage and red sauce dinner.

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Saying Goodbye

This was the second weekend of helping my mom and dad move.  Closing of the sale on their place is set for this week.


Nell and Phoebe were down there with me this weekend.


And it seemed appropriate that for most of the day, there were deer we could see.  Don’t know how good your eyesight is, but in that photo are 4 deer.


IMG_0506Zooming in with the camera helps.


Even the little one-antlered buck that walked under Nell’s stand when she slept in was out there.


Just to show her, this is Blaze.  She is a pissed off cat that is not happy about the whole packing and moving thing.  She let me pet her for a few minutes, before deciding that my hand needed to bleed a little, so I would know how she felt.

Still have a lot of mixed feelings about the whole moving thing for my parents, but they are happy about it, and ready for their next adventure.

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Making Sausage!


This morning, before I left for the office (in a snowstorm, horrible commute, 80 minutes to drive 40 miles) I took out 4 bags of venison (half a neck, a shoulder, and two bags of trimmings) and a 10# bag of Adickes free-range pork trimmings.  This evening Claire and I ran it through our new Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment (gift from my parents), added 1 Tablespoon of salt per 2 pounds of meat, lots of garlic, black pepper, basil, and wild rice.


Initially we ground the pork and venison separately.  The pork is about 50% fat.


The venison is about 0% fat.


Puddy Man was very interested in the whole mixing side of the event.  He also begged a lot of scraps off of Claire during the grinding.


Pike had got a bowl of bits that we trimmed and that hit the floor, which he continued to hold while watching us mixing.

So, after a huge meal of sausage patties and beans (honestly, we ate about 4 pounds at one go) we have sixteen 1.5# bags of home made sausage in the freezer.  We have enough venison to do a couple more batches the same size, but will need to pick up some more pork, or just do straight venison.

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Pulling Stands

Lack of forethought on my part.  Pulling ladder stands in January, in Minnesota, creates a problem.


The lowest sections are all frozen into the ground.  Maybe I will hike back up the bluff next weekend with a pick axe, but for now, we have the top ends of 3 ladder stands.


Nell and Claire hiked in to them with me, and helped haul all of them out.  I have really mixed feelings about taking the stands out.  I am really happy for my parents that they have sold the B&B, as it is just too much work for them.  I am really really really going to miss our deer hunting spot.


Not sure how attached the kids are to the hunting part of it, as far as the location goes.  As far as they know, all deer hunting is like it has been for us.


I also took cuttings from the old apple trees on the property.  Whatever varieties they are, they are old trees and a part of the original homestead.  This is really early to be cutting and storing scions for grafting, but was pretty much now or never.


And did I mention it was cold out?  Beard is really getting large.  Kids like it, Patti is not thrilled, my mom thinks it should be a lot shorter.  <grin> Keeps me warm out there though.

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