May 2016
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Property Update – May 23 2016

It has been 3 weeks since my last property update. It has been unusually dry for most of April and May. I filled the swale a couple of times from the pool, which has the level in the pool down. We finally got a couple of good rains over the past week, which helps the plants and also raises the level in the pool. It’s still down about a foot from maximum, but there is quite a bit of rain predicted over the next couple weeks.

The tomatoes and cucumbers in the new backyard beds are starting to take off. We will be building the trellises over the next week. This will be somewhat experimental. The structure will be built using screws to allow for adjustments and reuse of the materials. I’ll take pictures and post something when we build it.

We’ve had a lot of deer and rabbits visiting the swales. Last year the deer did a lot of damage eating the leaves off the new trees. It says something about how productive the swale environment is that those trees came back even stronger this year. The good news is that the deer have been eating more of the comfrey and less of the trees. The comfrey will keep coming back and growing more leaves a lot faster than the fruit trees, so the comfrey plants are acting as a diversion for the deer. Chalk up another example of the amazing function-stacking characteristics of comfrey.

The honey locust seedlings I transplanted along the swales aren’t doing well. It is probably due to lack of water. Also a couple have been eaten by rabbits or deer. I only planted about 10 of them. I have about 50 more in 1 gallon pots and only about 30 spots where I need them along the swales. I’m planning to keep them in pots for the rest of the summer. I’ll keep moving the best looking ones up to larger pots and put them in the ground next fall. I’ll take the time to protect each one of them with chicken wire so they aren’t bothered by the deer during the winter. I don’t think they’ll ever get big enough without some protection. The deer like them too much.

I continue to spread a thick layer of wood chips over the grassy areas around the swales. It’s cool to see how much water they hold after a rain shower like we had a couple days ago. Yesterday was a very sunny, dry day. The surface of the chips dries out but underneath it stays moist for a long time. I’ve already seen how the moisture helps improve soil activity. It’s exciting to think how much it’s going to improve over the next year with all those wood chips.

More Wood Chips Between the Swales

More Wood Chips Between the Swales

One of our Santa Rosa plum trees has a good crop of fruit developing. This one is not overloaded like the peach tree, so I won’t be doing any thinning. Some internet research says the Santa Rosa should have flowers in May and ripe fruit in July. I think the fruit will come earlier than that because we had flowers in April and nice sized fruit in May. I’m guessing it is early because we had such an early spring. Our last frost was about 5 weeks before the last frost date. It will be interesting to see how early the fruit ripen.

Our peach tree is so loaded with peaches that the limbs were sagging badly. I did some research that told me I needed to thin the peaches some. There were just way too many fruits on the tree for the amount of foliage. I was concerned that the peaches would be under-developed, so I decided to try some thinning even if it was a little late. I was in the process of thinning when I lost my balance on a step ladder, grabbed for a limb, and broke it right off along with about 40 peaches. In the future I’ll pay more attention and thin the fruits early on. Even though the fruits are a bit small, we’ve started picking a few each day and putting them on the kitchen counter to ripen. After a couple days, they get ripe and man are they good! When I bit into that first peach, I thought to myself that this is why we do this. Home grown, beyond organic, and incredible flavor. Fantastic!

Peach Tree with Limbs Sagging under the Weight of Peaches

Peach Tree with Limbs Sagging under the Weight of Peaches

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