Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pawpaw Tree Seedling Update

It has been nearly eighteen months since I last spoke about my little pawpaw seedlings. You may remember that post from last May in which I spoke about creating tree shelters for my pawpaw seedlings in order to keep the seedlings shaded from the sun. I have read that pawpaws will grow in the sun but when the trees are young they need to be grown in shade because the leaves are somewhat sensitive to the UV light from the sun. I now have some updates on the three seedling, grafted varieties I grow. The above pictured seedling is 'Overleese'. I took these photos recently so the leaves look a little ragtag but the seedlings are healthy! This is good news since I decided to remove my tree shelters about a month or two ago in August.
The above pictures shows the tree shelters from last year. I used metal cages around which I wrapped burlap to shield the seedlings. All three of my seedling pawpaws were planted in November of 2013. From that point until August ot 2015 I had the little seedlings covered.
This year I was absolutely delighted to see the pawpaw seedlings leaf out normally and fairly robustly. The above pictured one is 'KSU'. 'KSU' is growing on the upper side of a slight slope and seems to really like the spot well. It was the one I would've expected to be sunburned by the sun after I removed the tree shelters but no, it is as happy as it can be. I think I can safely say that nearly two years the pawpaw seedlings were shaded was sufficient to protect the young trees, but of course I'll evaluate and watch them closely next year as well. If the seedlings get into distress I am prepared to recover them. I felt I should remove the tree shelters because the seedlings have doubled in size and were really filling out their shaded space.
The last seedling tree I show is 'Sunflower'. 'Sunflower' is not quite as happy as the other two seedlings but that may have something to do with the fact this seedling is located at the bottom of a slightly sloping hill (you can easily see the slope in the second picture). It may be this seedlings gets a bit too much water or it may be that it sits in water longer than it should. Our unamended clay soil is very tough on plants and plants at the bottom of the hill may suffer a bit more due to the waterlogging capacity of clay soil. I do feel like the spots I planted all three pawpaw seedlings are perfect for them. We found a small grove of naturally growing pawpaws on our property that is in a low area in a draw that has a wet stream flowing through it sometimes. I tried very hard to simulate those growing conditions when I planted these seedlings except for the fact these seedlings are in the open and not under hardwood trees, and also I mow the orchard floor where these seedlings are part of a group of twenty four fruit trees. Each tree is spaced fifteen feet on center and are so far doing really well without the added shade of the tree shelters. I am so looking forward to seeing what they do for me next year....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bald Faced Hornets

Living in the country brings all sorts of new discoveries and interesting finds on an almost daily basis. My big find this summer has been a large bald faced hornet nest. Did you know bald faced hornets are not hornets at all? They are actually yellow jackets, tho they have only black and white for coloring. Read this link as it is short and very informative.
I used to walk around a long trail on nearby Fort Campbell and once while walking, my friend spotted an old bald faced hornet's nest in the woods. We were quite a distance from it so I was not able to see it up close. There were no live hornets in the nest since we were walking during the winter so I wish I could've seen it up close. I must say she had a good eye to catch sight of it at all. That particular nest was in the middle of a forest quite a long distance from the road we were walking on. Therefore it was never a problem for anyone and we simply observed it from afar.
Our particular hornet's nest is quite a distance from our home and is located about 10 feet up in a maple tree. I was riding by the tree one day in June when I spied the nest. I immediately came back to the house and did a Google search to discover what kind of 'bees' the built these kinds of nests. Come to find out these are not bees at all, not hornets, and not wasps, but yellow jackets. And they are beneficial yellow jackets. The bald faced hornets actually eat protein in the form of other yellow jackets, flies, and any other unwary insects it can find. I can tell you from the two severe paper wasp stings I have received this summer these bald faced hornets need to eat more stinging insects!! An occupational hazard of being a gardener is while digging or weeding in the garden one might disturb a paper wasp nest and boy oh boy do those stings ever hurt. Despite riding by this nest daily and sitting below it to observe the activity, I have never actually seen one of the bald faced hornets flying around my garden. I read somewhere that they mainly stay well above ground level and the level of people. What a relief!
Since Mr. Fix-it and I mainly garden for nature, and since these insects will not harm us unless provoked, and since the nest is a long way from where we live and play, we have left this nest alone. Once a hard freeze or two hits all of the hornets in this nest should either be gone or dead. It will be at that time that I plan to cut the nest out of the tree and place it on my porch. I am hoping its presence will scare away other yellow jackets come next summer. This year we had no less than five red wasp nests up under the porch attached to the brick and vinyl siding! I was not really quick enough or aware enough to realize wasps were building nests near and on the house. Once I realized the problem the red wasps were promptly disposed of because they will sting unprovoked and their very location made them quite dangerous. Once you spray the wasps you must remove the nest or they will return to the nest. I did not know this at first but quickly learned it when the wasps returned. The area the red wasps built their nests was near our dogs and those dogs had some issues with the wasps. Yikes. I'll take bald faced hornets over paper wasps and red wasps any day!
The nest is a fascinating thing to observe-from a distance. There is almost constant activity around the nest but not so much that it can be compared to a bee hive where bees are constantly buzzing around the entrance to their hive. These yellow jackets are fairly large and can easily be seen when they fly away and return. I only wonder what the inside looks like on a busy day. The nest is a thing of beauty....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pretty Lady Emily Anemone

Gardening is all about growing plants, so from time to time I like to profile super good plants. The last one I profiled was Allium 'Millenium' and this month it is 'Pretty Lady Emily' Japanese anemone

It seems like at the end of the growing season each year there are several pots of the 'Pretty Lady' series anemones left over in our local big box stores. Since I love Japanese anemones and I love a bargain plant as well, I always tend to pick these perennials up. I have to tell you though that I've never had luck with them coming back in my garden until this year. 

Even before our house was finished last fall I happened across several pots of these pretty little anemones. I immediately bought them and planted them in a foundation garden at the edge of the sidewalk. I seem to recall it was in October of 2014 that these plants were planted. I honestly did not have much hope for them because the soil where they are planted is not the best and they were planted fairly late in the season. It was also a tough winter for perennials last year. Despite these little not so perfect conditions this anemone came back wonderfully. Even where the original plant had died out the plant managed to put on new growth from the roots near the original plant. Slowly, but surely, all spring and summer these plants filled in. They actually got quite a bit of good leafy growth and I believe I'll be able to divide these soon and increase my stock of them due to all the growth.
It was sometime early last month that the numerous buds began to open. Slowly at first then with more speed, so much so that the plants are now covered with pink blooms. They are an attractive edging along the sidewalk and just happen to be planted near my pink garden so they really work out well for me. Now that we are in October the plants are still blooming but the older blooms have declined quite a bit. They are still pink but not so much in their prime as they were a few weeks ago. I absolutely love these perennials! This particular anemone is more compact than most and stays in its allotted space fairly easy. I've allowed about one square foot of space for them and they'll get about that tall as well.
I never watered them at all this summer and we have had some serious dry spells but that did not seem to faze these guys. I have them growing on the east side of my home where they get the full morning sun until about noonish.

This pretty lady is a great addition to perennial beds for late season color....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden