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Friday, February 3, 2012

Desert Orchard Expands to West Texas

One of our Orchard volunteers, Matt Heff, started a small orchard in West Texas, near the panhandle a bit south and west of Odessa. One year later his Orchard in now on its way with 100 fruit trees using two or three of each variety. He writes:

Hi Bob!

Matt Heff here.

Attached our Texas orchard pics 1 year later.
Wanted to show you the difference by planting clovers to recharge the Texas alkaline soil just like you and Jon told me to.

The orchard was covered in peat moss, Texas compost, manure and tons of clover seeds (different varieties).

Over 1,000 worms happily living in west Texas- notice the difference between worms and no worms photo?

We broke bud 2 weeks ago. Very early  and trees are very much Alive.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Job Posting: HEAD FARM MANAGER, MOHAVE COUNTY, Kingman, Arizona, USA

DESCRIPTION:  Head Farm Manager will provide strategic direction and hands-on leadership for a unique desert farming operation. The position requires the ability to manage a diverse, high-quality irrigated vegetable farming operation from start-up through post-harvest. Business expansion to include large and small livestock operation, orchard, vineyard and other high-value crops suitable for the middle desert environment. Applicant must have an appreciation for organic and sustainable food production. The Head Farm Manager will be responsible to coordinate with livestock range manager and corporate office of absentee owner. The ultimate farm operation to include 38,000 acres.


·         5 Years management experience in farm operations in arid or desert environments
·         Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in Ag-related field
·         Farm fiscal and budgetary experience using appropriate computer software
·         Hands-on experience in food production under arid or desert environments
·         Experience in compost operations and recycling, sequential planting and harvest, water efficient irrigation practices, postharvest handling of food products and business management
·         Must be willing to live in northwest Arizona
·         Experience in start-up operations a plus


·         Outstanding start-up skills and self-motivation
·         Extremely well organized and multi-functional
·         Strong business acumen and computer skills
·         Strong Interpersonal skills that further the interests of the organization
·         Strong communication skills, both written and oral. Ability to communicate at all levels
·         Strong business knowledge with the ability to support and achieve the financial objectives of the organization
·         Self-Starter with ability to develop goals and initiatives and deliver on measured targets of performance

Resume and cover letter should be emailed to: recruiting@harmonyhomes.com
I can help with inquiries. Extremehort@aol.com

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Bee Group Forming in Las Vegas

Become A Founding Member of a New Bee Club!

Anyone can join!

All ages welcome!

If you want to learn about our pollinator friends, or want to have a more abundant garden, or you want to become a beekeeper this is the club for you!

When: Sat. Feb. 4th, 2012


Where: RISE Resource Center (Housed in the Advent Church)

3460 N. Rancho (Between Gowen & Cheyenne) Las Vegas,NV

What to bring: Yourself and a friend, a sense of adventure and a "Bee Friendly" attitude

Contact Rita at pillbow@gmail.com

Tom Spellman to Speak at Orchard 2 PM Thursday Feb 16 2012

Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery
If you are interested in fruit trees and hearing from true experts on the subject I would invite you to come out to the UNCE Orchard on Thursday afternoon at 2PM on February 16 to hear Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery. He will tour the orchard and talk about new fruit tree introductions from Zaiger Genetics. There is no fee. This only happens once a year and the first time I have offered this opportunity to the public.
Tom is a true expert on citrus as well.

How Much Asparagus Should I Plant?

Asparagus spear just starting to become
overmature for best quality
Q. I'm gardening in raised beds that are 4' x 8'. I'm not sure how much asparagus to plant. My wife and are I the only ones who would eat it and I'm guessing we would harvest 1x per week during the period they are harvestable. How much of my garden would need to be dedicated for that production level?

A. If asparagus is planted correctly it should start producing in February and you will stop picking about eight weeks later. When asparagus is in production and when it is warm outside you will picking as frequently as every other day to stay ahead of it. If you don't, much of it will be unusable. There is no such thing as picking weekly with asparagus once it is in production.

            It does freeze well, it makes great soup and they can be grilled nicely. I would say half-dozen crowns should be plenty for you and your wife. My asparagus class will be offered in March at Plant World and through Eventbrite.com.

Replanting In Same Hole for Fruit Trees Usually Not a Problem if Borers are the Reason

Q. I removed a diseased (clarified by saying the only problem was borers) peach fruit tree.  How soon can I plant another peach tree in the same hole?

A. If this is from borers, then you can plant immediately. Not a problem with borers and replanting. The entire lifecycle of the borers in our fruit trees are in the aboveground portion of the trees, not the roots or soil.

            There is a problem potentially with something called replant disease but it is minor in this case and should be not a problem for you. Remove as much of the root system as possible before planting.

Removing White Salt Deposits on Walls With Acid

Q. Our backyard block wall has some white stains on it. These appear where the sprinkler water hits the wall and I want to remove them.  I have read on-line to use things like diluted muriatic acid, but I don't want to kill the plants my wife has throughout her garden.  How can I clean the stains, and can I treat the walls to protect from more stains forming

Salt deposit on slumpstone wall when plants are being
irrigated by bubblers. Salt in the water is carried
up the wall where it evaporates, leaving behind the salts.
The other side of the wall does not have sprinklers
hitting it either.
A. These are salts remaining from either those sprinklers or water from the soil wicking up the wall. Our soils contain quite a bit of salt as well as our water. Water coming from Lake Mead carries about 1 ton of salts for every 326,000 gallons. It sounds fairly dilute but it is not.

             Our soils vary much more in salt and can be removed by leaching. The salt in the water of course is consistent. The combination of the two can mean some pretty high salt levels. Salt dissolves readily in water and when the water evaporates from the wall, it leaves the salt behind. These are probably the salt deposits you're seeing on the wall. Even drip irrigation can cause problems like this since the water can wick through and into porous surfaces.

            You don't have to use muriatic acid but you can use and acid, even vinegar to help remove it. The major concern with plants is having the acid fall on foliage. This will damage the plant. Of course the best way to prevent it is to not use overhead irrigation.
            In the case of drip irrigation, put the emitters on the opposite side of the plant from the wall, not next to the wall. Perhaps there is a treatment to the wall that could prevent this from happening. I don't know of any.

Special Deal on Fruit Trees on My Twitter Causes Frustration - For Me!

Q. Your twitter feed mentioned a good deal on peach trees which we are going to now purchase. Which two peach trees to get for a 10 x 10 space? I'd like to keep the harvest staggered so we can enjoy the fruit longer. I also have a five-gallon Bonanza dwarf peach in a whiskey barrel that I started last October.

https://twitter.com/ or go to my home page and follow my Twitter there.
Stark Saturn peach with some bird damage. For some
reason birds LOVE this particular fruit.
Problem: SO DO WE!
A. This was a special deal on ten fruit trees for $199 plus $35 shipping on Groworganic.com. On the peaches that they had available, I would recommend that you look at Red Haven (yellow acidic), Babcock (white subacid) or Stark’s Saturn (donut, white, subacid, but birds like it alot). For an earlier peach, mid July or so, and Indian Free (late august, beautiful flesh turning nearly blood red and subacid) or O’Henry (early august, yellow, favorite at roadside stands and farmers markets) for a later peach.

            It is hard to recommend just one or two peaches since they can be so different from each other. There is not really a June peach in the group that I know well enough to recommend.

When to Transplant Fruit Trees?

Q. With this unusually mild LV winter, when is the best time to transplant dwarf grapefruit trees?

A. By transplant I take it to mean you are moving a grapefruit from one location to another location. Planting or transplanting can be done now. You will have more success if the tree has not been in the ground more than three years. You will have even more success if the tree has been watered by drip irrigation in a fairly small basin or area next to the tree. You will have even more success if the tree was root pruned last fall around mid to late September.
Roots of M111 on 12 yo Anna apple. We remove fruit
trees from the orchard as we learn about them and
then move on to those varieties we have not explored.
Root systems can get large quickly and make it no longer
feasible to relocate older fruit trees to new areas after
about three years in the ground

            Root pruning just means you went around the entire tree with a shovel and severed the roots in the approximate location where you are planning to dig and transport it. Given all that, prepare your hole for planting first before you move the tree. Dig deep enough to accommodate the root ball but not much deeper.

            It is more important to dig it wide than it is to dig it deep. Get your soil amended and add some phosphorus to the soil. Move your tree as quickly as possible to its new location and try to orient it in a similar orientation, north to south, as it was in the old location.

            Backfill around the tree. During planting, run a hose in the hole at the same time you backfill to remove air pockets. Drive a stake next to the tree and into the bottom of the hole into solid ground. This stake will immobilize the roots if tied to the tree tightly.

            I usually use rebar pounded into the soil next to the tree after it has been planted. I wrap the tree and rebar together with green nursery tape to immobilize roots. This leaves the top to move in the wind.

            The trees should be planted the same depth as it was when it was removed from the soil. No deeper and no shallower. If you have rabbits, protect it with one inch chicken wire after planting. Mulch the soil around the tree with wood mulch keeping the mulch away from the trunk a foot. After one season of growth, remove the stake.

Apples Planted As A Hedgerow May Need Special Rootstock

Q. I planted ten bareroot trees I picked up at the orchard yesterday. I followed the directions from your Blog and everything went really well. I cut them all off at approximately knee height but when I got to the apple, I wasn't quite sure what to do.  Should I cut off any side branches? Leave desirable ones? Cut them partially back? Or just leave them alone? I am planting my trees in hedgerows 10' apart with 4' between trees.

A. In hedgerows make sure the trees are on very dwarfing rootstocks. M111 rootstock is probably not aggressive enough for planting that close. You could do them maybe six feet apart but four is really close. 
Birdseye view of young apple tree scaffold limb development
            If any of the branches can be bent down and they touch the ground they should be removed to the trunk. The lowest branches are probably going to be somewhere around 18 inches to 2 feet off of the ground.

            On apples look for a whorl of branches, a minimum of four and probably a maximum of six, to leave attached to the trunk. These will be your scaffold limbs which are limbs that support other limbs which bear the fruit.

            Otherwise, if this is to be a hedgerow, you can wire trellis the limbs to support them so they don't touch the ground and you could keep limbs as close to a foot off of the ground if you wanted to.

            If you are not sure what to do even after reading this just remove the ones that you know are too close to the ground and leave the rest, come to the orchard so we can talk, and address the problem next year.