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Saturday, December 24, 2011

First snow of winter

It's been a very warm fall and early winter so far, but we did get some snow that stuck for a few hours so I got some pictures in while I could. I don't expect winter to be very harsh this year. There's nothing exciting at this time of the year in the garden, but there shouldn't be much happening all throughout winter until around March when the earliest plants start flowering.

Snow finally sticking to the grass

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pictures of the garlic in the winter

It is now officially winter and the garlic still appears to be growing, but one thing I noticed with the ones that are barely in the ground is that the cloves are all getting rounder, turning into rounds likely in response to the cooler soil temperature as vernalization occurs. I believe that by March, they should all be completely rounded as they are prepared to release all the energy they have saved up. These guys are also a bit larger than the cloves that were planted, but they make their real gains in the spring when they fully mature into bulbs.

Here's one of them showing the top part of the garlic showing how rounded it is becoming in December.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Protecting bamboos over the winter in zone 6

It is a bit early to tarp the bamboos, but up until last year, we haven't seen sub-zero temperatures, but with a record tying low of -9F in upstate NY last year, it is better to be safe so I ended up protection all of my plants yesterday. Historically the only major threat for subzero temperatures goes from the start of January through the end of February and most of my bamboos will start leaf burning from 0F to the -5F range. Simply providing wind protection will make a huge difference and there are many ways to protect bamboos successfully in zone 6. I went overboard just to show the ways I can overwinter them even though many of them probably won't get much leaf burn even without the protection.

Method 1 This method is good for bamboos that are 1 inch or larger in diameter with over 25 culms, upright stature and tight clumping. It should work no matter how large the bamboos get as long as there's a high enough ladder and enough string. I used this on my phyllostachys aureosulcata(yellow groove). It's almost effortless and could be upgraded with a layer of plastic, but I really doubt YG will leaf burn much anyways.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Late season plants; Plants that can keep growing well into december.

From October through March, almost everything stops growing in this climate, but this year, it has been a very warm fall, and perhaps a mild winter will follow, but it is already well into december and there are still many plants growing. It hardly gets below freezing and on some years, there is already a foot of snow on the ground so hopefully this pattern continues.

Here's some of the alliums. None of the garlic cloves seem to be turning into rounds yet which means they are not dormant yet because the soil temperature is still lingering around 50F.
Garlic: I grew several batches over a couple months so many of these will vary in size.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Protecting the bananas and some of the other plants for winter

I made a blog about my last year's winter protection of the musa basjoo, but they have grown larger this year so this year I am trying to protect up to 3 feet of the psuedo-stem so that they have a head start onto next year.

First I have the corm itself wrapped up in bubble wrap with wall o water plastic at the bottom for extra protection and that is topped with a couple of trash bags to ensure that the psuedo-stem stays as dry as possible over winter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall planting of garlic for better results in the spring

From late September until the middle of November is pretty much the window of time I use to plant my garlic which are planted at all different times, each batch a couple weeks apart, and altogether, there are nearly 1000 cloves planted. The spacing is also variable. I have some of the only 3-4 inches apart, some around 6 inches apart while today, I just created a huge garden bed not in any of these pictures with garlic spaced around 1foot apart to see how much bigger they get with the extra space. It is necessary to plant them in the fall as opposed to the spring for maximum sized bulbs because it gives them an extra half a year to produce roots, growth hormones over their dormancy period, and come out strong once the snow melts.

These in the closest bed are spaced close to 6 inches apart which is a pretty good benchmark for decent sized bulbs. Closer planting generally results in higher overall production as long as there is very rich soil while wide spacing will usually result in larger bulbs so I mix it up.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Maximizing the growth rate of bamboo by adding a temporary greenhouse

If you've seen my previous blog, before I used grass clippings and roofing tiles to heat up the soil temperature in order to hold in moisture as well as increase the soil temperature by 5-10F which worked well however it only works with fresh grass since it create heat through decomposition.

Now that it has cooled down and I no longer have fresh grass, I have decided to build a temporary greenhouse around the phyllostachys edulis moso bicolor in order to increase the humidity as well as air temperature around the plant especially on sunny days. With this setup, temperatures can climb up to 20F more than the outdoor temperature with the greenhouse effect so I leave the door slightly open and have waterbuckets in there to prevent overheating. I have also added more roofing tiles and loaded up the plant with dried leaves in order to help retain heat for the plant.

Here's a peak inside the setup.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Adding a layer of leaf mulch to all the bamboos to overwinter

In zone 6 and cooler, a good way to help protect plants over winter is to add leaves so I ended up collecting over 100 bags to get the job done. This helps protect shoot buds and rhizomes that are close to the surface since it provides extra insulation, and also allows snow to cling to it. I believe this helps to reduce the chance that the plant dessicates over winter when it gets extremely cold and the moisture is sucked out of the plant. Tarping is the next step, but that can happen in late December when the temperatures can drop below 0F, and I will likely do it to the marginally hardy species.

Phyllostachys atrovaginata

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall update on the banana plants #2

It's almost time to cover up all these bananas once the frost hits, and there's not much chance of a late warmup. To start out, with the musa mekong giant seedlings that I got about 4 weeks ago, each of them have put out a new leaf and seem to be thriving after having been planted in the ground for over a week. I always try to plant them at least a foot in the ground so that they automatically have winter protection, and I usually add more protection to ensure they come back strong the next year.

Here's how they looked when they were first potted up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Update on the tree peonies seedlings and grafted plants

If you've seen some of my earlier blogs, you know that I really like tree peonies, perhaps second to bamboos just because of their cold hardiness and relative ease of growth once they get established. They also look very pretty once they turn into a 3-4ft tall shrub after 5 years or so.

I have been growing them from seed in many batches. I only started out with a few the first time around back in summer of last year where I got a few to germinate, and then I planted more this spring as well as this fall in random locations around my flower beds.

Here's how they look when they germinate. It usually takes a warm period to swell up the seeds followed with a cooler period to germinate them, and then another dormancy cycle over winter to cause them to sprout their initial leaf in the spring.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New banana plants Musa Mekong Giant( Musa itinerans) arrives and gets potted up

Since Musa Mekong Giant is considered to be as hardy as Musa Basjoo, and it also looks different with the potential to reach 40 feet in a warmer climate, and still grow at a faster rate then basjoo, I decided to try it out. This banana is characterized by very tall purple stems and more spaced out as opposed to basjoo's clumped together appearance.

As I got them, as expected, they were already perhaps 18 inch tall plants and looking pretty good. I got these off of eBay.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall update on the Banana plants

The first banana plants I purchased was back in fall of 2009, 2 musa basjoos which survived until I tried to bring them indoors and over-winter however the lighting was not adequate enough and those ended up rotting.

I then bought a couple more in spring of 2010, small 2 inch pt musa basjoos, and these grew to 4-5feet in the season even after being planted 1 foot deeper than soil level. Here's the result of last fall.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall update on the inground bamboos fully leafed out and making rhizomes

My bamboos have finally reached their full glory as they become fully leafed out in the fall, and become energized in preparation for shooting season next year which should produce shoots that rise above 20 feet if I'm lucky.

Phyllostachys edulis moso bicolor: This one is getting pampered more than any other bamboo since the soil has been prepared with hundreds of pounds of organic manure with a mixture of manure, compost, worm castings, scraps, and topped with grass clippings. I added the roofing rubber to keep the area insulated so rhizomes can be encouraged to spread.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

some of my garden harvests

Here's just a few pictures of some of the vegetables I grow in my garden. I grow varieties of vegetables than just this, but this is just a picture overview of the the garden. It really doesn't take a green thumb to create huge harvests. I simply prepare my gardening beds very well with manure, compost, and use aerated compost tea up until around August. Then I just leave the sprinklers on since watering is probably the most important part to getting good harvests. There's no need to buy vegetables when you can grow your own.I'm actually not the one that does the harvesting. I just enjoy growing plants and watching them grow.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heating up bamboos with grass clippings and roofing rubber to accelerate rhizome growth

I may have already started this thread on the forums however this project has had better results than I expected. The idea is that grass clippings will gradually decompose and produce heat which can escape easily however when there are pieces of roofing plastic placed over it, a lot of the heat will be trapped. Since it is well known that bamboo as well as other plants will grow faster at higher temperatures, an addition of several degrees should increase the spread of rhizomes especially because the moisture is also held in a lot better.

I started this project with phyllostachys edulis (moso bicolor) since I want it to become a grove as soon as possible and here are the pictures to show the progress.After the first week the temperature differential was around 5-6F however after around 3 weeks once the air temperature dropped, there was a 16F temperature differential as it was 62F for the air temperature, 66F regular soil temperature, and the temperature in the heated area is up past 82F as it looks like the warmth never escaped. I use a needle thermometer to take my readings.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Update on the sempervivums and other succulents

After the summer, most of my succulents are pretty much done growing and looks a bit dried up, but the rain  late in the season is helping them out.

Most of the sempervivums have produced their own chicks despite starting from small cuttings, some producing more than others, but overall I'm satisfied with their performance. Some of them disappeared out of thin air and I'm assuming that they were eaten by some kind of animal because I don't see their remains.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer updates on the musa basjoos and gunneras

Now that it is near the middle of August, both my bananas and gunneras are close to their height for the year. The Musa basjoos are probably a bit over 6ft, and might gain another 2ft, and the gunneras are done growing their leaves and should only increase the size of their corms for the rest of the year to store food for next year.

This is the banana plant that had a corm that survived.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Some of my bamboos Well leafed out now

Most of my bamboos are at least 50% leafed out by now which is good since it means they can produce energy for next year's shoots.

 Phyllostachys Parvifolia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deers destroying plants and recovery; Peppers and winter melons

Hot peppers and winter melon plants were the most damaged, but I tried to spray them with deer repellant and will be putting up deer netting once it gets in the mail.

Here's some bhut jolokia and trinidad scorpion, almost completely stripped of foliage, which will take at least 2-3 weeks to recover and keep growing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Progress on my hot peppers 6 varieties April through July 9 time lapse

This year I decided to try growing multiple varieties of hot peppers including bhut jolokia (ghost pepper), trinidad scorpion, devil's tongue, cayenne, banana, and pequin. All of them do look slightly different however the super-hot peppers that are rated among the hottest in the world tend to have very large leaves, and take a longer time to flower. I did start the seeds in the beginning of April so that should be still more than enough time to get a good harvest since they can keep growing until some time in October. I'll start from the beginning.

April 2, here are some of the seeds germinating after a week or so.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Results of some of my bamboo divisions taken this year

It sometimes takes a bit of experience to get good divisions consistently, and success rates will vary depending on the species and other factors as well such as temperatures. Here's just some of my results.

Phyllostachys parvifolia: I took 14 divisions 6-8ft tall and potted them into 5 gallon containers. Since I took large root balls with lots of rhizome and roots on both ends, it looks like all of them made it, and I have most of them already adapted to full sun only after 4 days of division.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

cleaning up a bamboo grove, culling, taking divisions; phyllostachys parvifolia timber running bamboo

This year my phyllostachys parvifolia has gone from 4-5ft shoots of last year up to 7-12 footers, and it spread out pretty good producing around 45 new shoots. It looked a bit messy with the new shoots leafing out and the old culms at the bottom, blocking the view of the culms. I ended up culling all the old culms and a few of the tiny culms from this year, and also took around 15 divisions.

Here's the grove before the clean up.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

up-potting phyllostachys kwangsiensis seedlings

2 months ago, I moved my little kwangsiensis seedlings from small cups up to 1 gallon pots, but now that they're bigger, the pots tend to dry out very fast so I had to move them up to 5 gallon containers while the largest one to a 15 gallon pot. I usually fill 1/2 the pot with dried leaves for drainage and so I don't have to use as much soil before using my home made potting mix, which is now usually old soil that keeps getting re-used.

Here's how they looked nearly 2 months ago when I moved them to their 1 gallon pots.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Update on bamboos 17 June 2011. Branching and leafing out of new culms or shoots

 Here's just another update on most of my bamboos. Some of the largest shoots this year have reached 1 inch, and a few groves have broken the 10ft mark.

Phyllostachys Atrovaginata. The tallest one here is about 11.5ft tall in these pictures, and still have a bit of growing left so I think it will be my tallest bamboo this year.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Update on the bamboos for 9 June 2011

Here's just an over view of how my bamboos are doing by species. Some shoots are getting up near 10 ft with more room to grow.

phyllostachys parvifolia: This one has a few 1 inch shoots, and many shoots are breaking the 8ft mark already. The division is well established.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Taking divisions of phyllostachys edulis moso bamboo early in the season

I have usually waited until September or later to take divisions however after a bit of observation, I have noticed that divisions with new culms seemed to do well.

These are all 1 culm divisions. In preparing for the divisions, the first thing I did was water the area thoroughly a couple hours in advance to make sure the soil is loose. I also applied wilt pruf so that the leaves do not transpire very quickly.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

bamboo shooting season rising new shoots 31 May 2011 turions

This year has really been by far the most impressive year as far as gains, and some of my bamboos are putting out 1 inch diameter new shoots which will likely break the 10ft mark in a week or so. With consistently warm temperatures, a bamboo shoot will grow around 95% of it's height within a 2 week span, and some of my shoots are just starting to enter that stage.

Dulcis: Most of it's shoots are surprisingly coming off the same rhizome, and there are not too many of them, but it's planted in the shade so it shouldn't be growing as aggressively. The biggest 2 are around the 1 inch mark.

birds in the garden

This is just a brief post on some of the birds that live around my garden, and some of these guys stay here all summer.

Pigeons. These guys love to sit around the base of my bamboo groves, maybe because of the shade or to eat the bugs around.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Update on the Bananas and gunneras

Since the weather is finally becoming pleasant, I would like to give some updates on the bananas and gunneras. Corm plants tend to respond to heat very well.

Here's my bigger musa basjoo after a week of removing the winter protection.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Take 2 on measuring bamboo shoots with a caliper

By now, most of my bamboos have started to shoot. Sometimes bamboos tend to gain diameter because they were not all the way out yet however sometimes the culm sheaths make the shoots look bigger than they actually are. Anyways the main show for this year's boo shooting season is under way with Atrovaginata currently in the need, giving me shoots over 1 inch in diameter.

Phyllostachys Atrovaginata incense bamboo: I'll start out with the best. Last year's culms were only about 1/3 inch in diameter, but this year, they are clearly over the 1 inch mark, and hopefully I'll get a 1.5 incher if I'm lucky.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More bamboo shoots growing taller 22 May 2011

Just another update on the bamboo shoots. Some of them are almost done growing like the moso, and some of the potted ones. As long as we keep getting warm temperatures, they should grow pretty fast.

Moso bicolor: This is the first shoot that is twice as big as the original culms at around 2/3 inch in diameter so it should get up to a good 6-7ft as long as the weather holds up.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sedum succulent garden hardy succulents

Aside from sempervivums, one of the other succulents that can be grown in zone 6 would be sedums which are ground cover succulents which I use to highlight the edge of my garden stream. These proliferate very fast, and tolerate almost any kind of conditions so therefore I plant them straight in clay soil, knowing that they will grow well.

Here's my original species. I don't know the name of it, but if anyone can help me out with it, any help would be greatly appreciated. This covers an area of about 1ft by 6ft. Just found out it is sedum 'Sarmentosum' thanks to Cheryl

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bamboos at multiple stages of development from new divisions to established groves

Here's an update on most of the newest divisions I have either taken off my in ground plants, as well as some of the newest acquisitions through trades this year. I have over 30 species of bamboo ranging from ground covers to giant grove forming types.

Pleioblastus distichus: This is a new one off a trade which is a ground cover, and just starting to make some small shoots.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Size of my largest bamboo shoots so far 14 May, 2011

Shooting season has started only a couple weeks ago, and some species are still dormant so I think there are larger shoots to come than what I already have, but here's the largest shoots from each of my species so far. I measure at the base, and don't count the sheaths, so they may look bigger than what I say they are.

Moso: The biggest one is around 0.75 however there are many similar in size. That's quite a bit larger than the largest last year that was only about 0.42.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bamboo shoots 13 May 2011

With 2 consecutive days of temperatures near 80F it looks like most of the bamboos are waking up, even Dulcis which is usually one of the later ones. The in ground parvifolia, and atrovaginata are the ones I'm expecting the most out of so they'll probably come later.

Here are some of my moso shoot pictures, all from the in-ground moso. The tallest one is well over 2ft now, but the fattest ones will ultimately end up the tallest at the end.

Sempervivum update May 13, 2011

All the sempervivums that were bought about 3 months ago started as little cuttings, but they have all doubled or tripled in diameter and some of them are starting to make chicks. I believe some species will be able to put out over 10 chicks in a year, but I'll find out soon enough.

Here are 5 of them with chicks already produced. They will probably get several inches away from the hen, and perhaps become established enough this year to make their own chicks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Update on the lilies.

I grow around 8 different species of lilium, and they generally grow about 1 inch a day on average until they reach full height. Some of the smaller ones, more like 1/2 inch a day since they only get up to 2-3ft. I think I might get a few 8 footers this year. Here's some of them in my collection.

Wall o water results after 4 days of use

A week ago, I received my wall of water which are plastic things that can get filled up with water to create a wall of water around the plant, and this is supposed to prevent the effect of frosts as well as extend the season. The biggest benefit is that it is supposed to heat the soil which is an important factor in a northern climate. Let's see how it helps some of my plants. These pictures are taken 4 days apart.

Gunnera division. They are slow growing anyways so not much change. I don't really understand why this uploader rotates pictures sometimes, but it does. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Update on bamboo shoots May 9th

Just an update on the boo shoots. Let's start with the big moso. It is clearly showing mature characteristics with the brown furry sheaths, and dark spots. They look a lot different from that of last year. So far the moso has probably been the most rewarding however the most cold hardy, and biggest boos still need to shoot, and that should happen once we get a warm rain.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Progress on the lilies and tree peony

I've been growing several species of lilies, and these can range from 2ft or higher than 7ft, exceeding 1 inch in diameter at the base. They appeared in the beginning of April, and will probably flower some time in July since they take their time to grow, especially the larger species. The one I'm taking the most pictures of got up to near 7ft last year, and it should break the 8ft mark with 2 stalks this time. I don't know how they do it, but usually there are little bulblets that appear around the plant in the spring that I pot up, so I'm assuming it either comes from the roots, or something.

Here's the biggest one with both stems above 1 inch in diameter over a period of 3 weeks.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

sempervivum hens and chicks succulent cold hardy plant

Here are some of the hens and chicks, sempervivum collection I started this year. These are cold hardy down to zone 3-4 and grow almost everywhere, and I'm trying to build a nice collection of them. I bought most of these from SMG squaw mountain gardens succulents, and also recently gained a few more species. Once these guys produce their own chicks and proliferate, I am definitely interested in more trades to have more species.

Some of them look pretty similar, but I took pictures of most of them trying to avoid repeats.

These are the first ones to start producing chicks which after about a month will set their own roots in their ground and form new plants. 


Alliums are some of the easiest plants to grow since they are very cold hardy. I kept few 1-3 inch onion sets in the garage over last winter where the temperature still dropped to the teens or below however despite becoming frozen solid, these onions started to sprout while they were still inside the garage, feeding off the starches they have built up since last year. These were grown last year from seed, and some were harvested, but these are the extras.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Measuring bamboos & other plants with the caliper

One of the fun things to do in the spring is to see just how much the plants get bigger from year to year, and with bamboo shoots and some other plants, this can be done pretty easily with a caliper which I'll show in the following pictures. The diameter of the bamboo is one of the biggest factors in determining how tall the culm will get, and I think it's a more accurate measurement of it's progress.My more exciting groves are still dormant, but that only builds up the suspense for later. I'll start out with the bamboo.

Starting off with yellow groove, the average culm that came up last year was around 1/2 inch with the biggest one at 0.70, but this year it looks like the average is up to around 0.67 while the biggest one so far is close to 0.80 as shown in this picture.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some of the bamboos that I have sold back in 2010

Most of the bamboos that I have ever sold are the moso seedlings which were either planted in spring of 2009, or 2010. I have either traded away, given to people or sold all but 1 of the ones from the 2009 batch which I plan on keeping to see how it does. Moso seems to excel especially in a warmer climate(zone 8 & warmer) so I have gotten emails back of reported results that would never happen up here simply because the growing season is not long enough, and it doesn't get hot enough in the summer to maximize their potential, not to mention the inevitable die back since I haven't figured out how to protect them completely until last winter.

Here are some of the Moso bamboos that were sold over last year.

These are the big ones that have rhizomes running up to 1-2ft and were very difficult to fit into a large flat rate box, even with a lot of the soil shaken out.

Over-view of blueberries

Since spring of 2010 I have started growing blueberries from seed, and have close to 50 seedlings going, in a seed rack. They take about 4 weeks to germinate, and start off very slowly, but after about 4 months, they pick up their pace and after a dormancy period, I'm assuming they will get a lot faster. Even before that I had 4 blueberry plants that I purchased back in 2009 however 1 of them died off probably due to over-watering in 2010, or some type of fungal disease.

Here's a couple of my first blueberry bushes which were purchased in 2009, but they are finally getting flower buds this year. November 2009.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Uncovering the Musa basjoo

I have 3 musa bajoo, all planted at least 1ft deeper than soil level so that the corms are protected from the winters, and additional covers were added to keep them alive since they are the most vulnerable for their first winter. To start out, here's a couple pictures of them last fall before I over-wintered them.

Early shoots of 2011

This year has been very slow to warm up, however it has been warm the last couple days, getting well into the 70s with lots of rain so some of my earliest bamboos are starting to shoot. Since my yellow groove is starting to shoot, hopefully that means that most of the other phyllostachys are only 1-2 weeks out, but it will also depend on how the weather is. I know there's going to be plenty of rain since we've been consistently doubling or tripling the average monthly rainfall however the temperatures have remained consistently below average since December of 2010.

Here's my f rufa. The in-ground one looks like it's only putting out a few shoots. Must be a bad location for it, or it is on its off year.

 The potted ones are close to leafing out now, and producing a lot more.