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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bamboo shoots update 2012

All bamboos have started shooting by now, some of them just starting out, and some of them are almost finished. Shooting season usually starts around mid April and lasts through June around here. All these photos were taken over the past 3 days so there may be pictures of the same shoots just a bit taller.

Phyllostachys Dulcis: This one has a 1.25 inch shoot which is the biggest so far out of any of my bamboos this year. This one went from around 3ft two days ago to over 6ft tall today.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Unpacking the new Itoh peonies

Last week, I received a box of 5 dormant itoh peony tubers. It was a pretty heavy box so I was definitely excited to see what was inside. I ordered Scarlet Heaven, Lemon Dream, Canary Brilliance, Cora Louise, and Old rose.

Here's the box it came in.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Update on the actinada arguta issai kiwi plants

Back in spring of last year, I purchased 3 tiny kiwi plants from eBay. The species was actinada arguta issai which is known to be a self pollinating species. I've also found that this type propagates very easily from cuttings.

They came in tiny 2 inch pots, and were approximately 5 inches tall. Here's how they looked when I purchased them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Peony blooms

 I don't have that many of them at blooming size yet, but generally tree peonies have the largest blooms, and herbaceous types have the smallest blooms. Itoh or intersectional peonies should be somewhere in between.

Kinshi Tree peony

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Update on all the peonies, itoh, tree and herbaceous species

One of the things I learned this year about peonies is that there is an intersectional peony which is a cross between a tree peony and a herbaceous peony which grows more vigorous that both. I find that these guys have woody stems, but also produce new eyes as prolifically as herbaceous peonies.

ITOH Peony

Here's my newest acquisition, a Julia Rose itoh peony which didn't have much root mass, but as long as it gets established in its pot, it should grow well. I planted it as deep as I could to encourage more eyes to form.

Sedum succulent garden hardy succulents update with many new species

Here's the link to my sedum blog from 1 year ago.

This year I have manually started to start spreading my sedums out, and actually cutting back on the original one since it keeps expanding. They are very hardy so zone 6a winters are usually never a problem especially since they grow so low to the ground and get covered by the snow. All of them made it through the winter except the Angelina, but I have re-acquired that species so it's OK.

Here's the original sedum that I started out with.
Sedum Sarmentosum

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Air layering running bamboo shoots for small divisions

Last year, I did an experiment where I took a phyllostachys dulcis shoot that hasn't formed its anchor roots yet, and forced it through the drainage hole of a nursery pot, filling it up with soil. As expected, it turned out to be a viable division as 4 rhizomes grew out of the based of that shoot after it was severed from the mother plant.

The biggest problem was that the shoot that emerged was too big, and had too many anchor roots that dried up it's little 2 gallon put very quickly. Last year I grew a rhizome close to the surface on purpose in order to promote the formation of smaller shoots which are easier to work with, and I can get plenty of which will be less of a burden for the mother plant since they are so small. As expected, the mini-shoots formed. This propagation method can be used for running bamboos that have a hard time running, or juvenile bamboos where you want to turn small shoots into divisions without draining the energy of the mother plant too much. These are clearly true shoots because you don't always have whip shoots available in the spring.

I'll guess I can name this shoot bud activation, air layering propagation.

Here's the shoots that were downsized while the shoots on both ends of the same rhizome are full size.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bamboo shooting season 2012

It is the middle if May (mothers day), and my bamboos are finally starting to get going. Most of them have started shooting, but the best is always going to be last. At least most of my bamboos are putting on an upsize of some sort

Phyllostachys parvifolia: There are many shoots that are just barely out so I still can't determine their diameter yet since they can still gain a lot of diameter when they are just barely out of the ground. This one looks like it should get over 1 inch.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Update on the Garlic, Soft neck and hardneck

There are two primary types of garlic. Hard neck, and soft neck. The hard neck types usually have larger cloves, but fewer cloves in each bulb with a stronger flavor. The soft neck types can have a huge cluster of smaller cloves depending on the species, and it is the type they usually sell at stores since they store longer than hardnecks, but they generally have less spice than the hardnecks. I either buy them from bulbils which are kind of like seeds which take another year to reach full size, or I buy the cloves which cost more, but produce full sized bulbs when they are planted in the fall. The thing I love about garlic is that they really take no effort to grow as all I need to do is drop the cloves in the ground during the fall, and harvest them the following summer.

I grow both kinds and many species of them.

Starting with the hardnecks, here's Selvitta sunset started from bulbils

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dividing pachira aquatica money tree from cuttings

Last year, I succeeded in dividing one of my money trees into a few large 1ft long sections. All the divisions seemed to thrive and rooted out with ease. This was done in partial shade, but I'm trying them in full sun this time around since it might get them more growth this year.

I had two 5 gallon sized trees which I took outside by the beginning of March. I've found that they can handle a few degrees below freezing without leaf burn, but took them back indoors every time it got below 30F. The goal was to get them accustomed to outdoor conditions so they are ready to propagate. Here's how one of them looked.

Bamboo removal made easy

Since bamboos are one of the plants I collect, I did have collected many types and I have also gotten rid of many types of bamboo as well. There are basically 2 ways to get rid of bamboo. 1)Cut all the culms down to the ground with a lopper or chainsaw and keep repeating until the grove runs out of energy or shoot buds. 2) Dig it all out, and check for missed pieces.

The reason why I am writing this blog is because sometimes people have problems with certain types of bamboos. Some species of bamboo can become invasive if they are grown in the right climate/ conditions or if the owner of the property doesn't understand or care about it. A lot of people don't know how to properly control, or get rid of bamboo which can cause problems for neighbors. If you have an understanding of how bamboos grow, it can actually be very easy to get rid of.

Method 1:
This method only requires a lopper and maybe a lawnmower if feasible. Most loppers cut up to 2 inches in diameter, but if the culms are bigger, an electric chainsaw will be sufficient. This method is preferable if the bamboo you want to remove covers a lot of ground ie several acres. 

1. First It is best to wait until spring when new shoots start rising and get to 2-6 feet tall. This means that many buds have activated, and the bamboo is expending its energy. 

2. When the new shoots are several feet tall, it is now time to cut down all over the existing culms to soil level in order to remove all of the plant's source of photosynthesis, but the new shoots should be left alone to continue draining the energy from the grove. 

3. Once the new shoots reach their full height and they are branched out, but before they start leafing out, it is time to cut all these new shoots down to soil level when the energy of the grove is almost completely depleted. 

4. With the remaining energy left in the grove, the bamboo may still have the ability to generate very small survival culms. The best thing is to wait for them to finish their growth and repeat the process over by cutting them to soil level right before leaves are about to form. Regrowth can happen 3-4 times, but the size and number of them should decrease each time as the number of viable shoot buds are reduced, and the energy dwindles. If it is an open area, planting grass seeds, and keeping the area mowed will be sufficient.

 The idea is to starve the bamboo of all its starches stored in the rhizome system and herbicides are generally ineffective.There is no need to remove the rhizomes as they will die and rot away without a source of energy for several months, and there is no need to pay thousands of dollars to remove bamboo with heavy machinery when you can do it by yourself with simple tools such as loppers and chainsaws.

Method 2:
This method is only feasible when there's is not that much bamboo, and it can all be dug up in a few hours, and the benefit is that the bamboo can be removed all on the same day as long as every rhizome is taken out.

1. The first step is to wait until after a nice rain when the soil is easy to dig through.

2. Cut all the culms down to soil level so they are out of the way.

3. Dig out every piece of rhizome starting from the perimeter inwards. Most bamboos only grow near the top of the soil. This can be done with a sharp shovel, a pick and loppers. The inside of the grove is harder to dig out as some species can form a solid root mass if culms were growing very closely.

4. Wait about a month and check to see if there are any sprouts. It's very possible to miss a few pieces which can easily be detected when they start shooting.

Here are a few pictures to show some results on some of the bamboos that I have removed.
Phyllostachys Aureosulcata (yellow groove)


Friday, May 4, 2012

Sempervivums hens and chicks waking up

Last spring, I added many sempervivum cuttings to my collection. Only a few of them produced their own offsets, but this year, it looks like every species may start producing them. They usually start growing by around April, and now they are almost full size. This year, the new ones are about twice the size they were last year so there's a good chance that some of flowering.

Here's the original giant sempervivum that can get 9 inches in diameter when there is enough growing room, and partial shade.