Thursday, March 27, 2014

Citrus Flowers

Citrus Flowers

The 3-N-1 Citrus tree I bought last year is blooming! The smell of the blossoms is intoxicating. I stood next to them today for ten minutes just enjoying the scent. The 3-N-1 is a mix of orange, lemon, and tangerine. The fruit will be full sized, but the tree is a dwarf growing inside in a pot.

Citrus Flowers

The flowers are small; they are just larger than a quarter. It is great to see something blooming when we still have snow outside. I don’t think the tree is big enough to produce fruit yet, but I am happy to just enjoy the flowers.

Citrus Flowers

Monday, March 24, 2014

Basic Fruit Tree Pruning Class

Fruit Tree Pruning Class

I recent attended a basic fruit tree pruning class hosted by Growing West Side. It was a quick introduction to pruning trees specifically fruit trees. It was taught by a local city forester. He spent some time explaining some of the reasons to prune: health, shape, and production. He also showed the tools he uses to care for the trees in the city.

Fruit Tree Pruning Class

After the classroom part, we took a short walk down the street, so he could demonstrate some of the techniques with the different tools. Here he is starting with a four year old plum tree. At that age, he felt the tree could be pruned as much as 30%. With the cold temps still in Minnesota, the time was right for pruning. He trimmed back some of the branches competing with the central leader. The central leader is a concept of a main branch that is the tallest and strongest.

Fruit Tree Pruning Class

A few minutes later, and you can see the tree is looking much better. Lots of the problems with branches competing with each other and rubbing on each other have been resolved. It also looks more open which should allow more sun to reach more parts of the tree. He did most of his pruning with a small pruning saw. He said he prefers that to sheers for most cuts over 3/4”. I will have to consider getting one. It made the job look very easy.

Fruit Tree Pruning Class

In this last photo, he is demonstrating his pole trimmer. It was a very nice tool. When my fruit trees get bigger, I will consider getting one. It extended from 8 to 16 feet. It was easy to use and had a rotating cutting head to get the angle of the cut just right.

I feel more confident about pruning my own trees now. Thanks Growing West Side.

Friday, March 21, 2014

More Microgreens

Sunflower Microgreens

I’ve been having fun planting more microgreens. My wheatgrass is still going strong even after several harvests. I have started some new trays of wheatgrass too. I don’t know how long the existing ones will make it.

In the top photo, you can see some sunflowers just a few days old beginning to grow. The sunflowers in the middle are almost two wheels old. I think the cold temperatures in my house is slowing down their growth. I have been snacking on them even though they aren’t quite ready for harvest. They are very tasty. I can’t wait to eat the whole container.

Clover Microgreens

This container has clover growing. It is also almost two weeks old and growing slowly as well.

Chia Microgreens and Wheatgrass

You can see the wheatgrass in the background behind the chia seeds. I have been nibbling on them even though they aren’t ready to harvest. They still have their original two seedling leaves and haven’t grown the second set yet.

Sunflower Microgreens

This last container is some sunflower seeds I planted today which have just barely started to sprout. I soaked them in water for a day and then waited for the little tails to poke out before planting to ensure the seeds were viable.

These indoor plantings are making the long winter more bearable. Have you started planting anything yet?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wheatgrass and Other Microgreen Experiments

This winter in Minnesota has been the coldest and snowiest in the last thirty years. I have been craving seeing (and tasting) something green and fresh. While browsing on the web one day, I came across the idea of microgreens: bigger than a sprout, but smaller than a seedling.

It seemed easy enough; plant some seeds and eat the little shoots. I looked around the kitchen for some seeds and found some hard red wheat. I soaked them for a few hours to wake the seeds up and get them to sprout. I wanted to make sure they were still viable before planting. After about a day, they grew little tails.

Wheatgrass microgreens

After poking a few holes in some old take out containers, I densely planted the partially sprouted seeds. I watered every day or so, and a few days later they were two-three inches tall. I’ve been eating some of the wheatgrass every day since. They taste like spring - slightly sweet and spicy at the same time. I like the flavor. They keep growing back too. Nice!

Wheatgrass microgreens

I also tried some kale and chard. The kale grew nicely, but I didn’t plant it dense enough. The chard didn’t do very well. I need to save more seeds this summer. I also have a few other containers started with chia and clover. I’ve heard they both taste good. I really want to try sunflower seeds, but will have to wait for my order of seeds to arrive. I’ve been trying to get them locally, and they keep selling out before I get there.

Get some old containers, some soil, and plant some seeds!