Thursday, May 30, 2013


OK so you've gotten the down and dirty lesson in Grafting, now let me expand on some stuff. Firstly if using black electrical tape, it should only be left on for one season, as it will constrict the growth of the plant.

Don't worry if not every bit of the Cambium is touching, as long as you have good contact the graft has a good chance. Different types of grafts have better percentages of success. Plant material being grafted should be from the same family i.e. Apple/Apple, Stone fruit/stone fruit.

When doing Cleft Grafts use Grafting wax to seal the grafts. Do not rely on the asphalt or tar material, or paraffin type wax. They will all crack thus making the graft no longer air tight. A cleft graft, by the way, is where you saw a limb or trunk of a tree, then make splits at the ends in order to insert the scion wood with 2-3 buds contacting what cambium you are able,.

The Bridge graft would be used where a tree or other plant is damaged, as in some animal chews the bark girdling the trunk. You can take Scion wood from the same or like plant and graft both ends of the scion across the girdled area. Don't do what I did, Please nail both ends with appropriate sized brad nails. When I used this graft I just taped it in place on both ends (I used three around the trunk of a small tree). The tree did well the first summer and well into the next spring, but then we got some big winds which broke the grafts and the tree died.

A couple of odd grafts, I have not tried but they are supposed to be compatible are, tomato grafted to the root stock of potato, or Hops Scion grafted to the root stock of the cannabis plant. (note Cannabis plants are illegal in most state without special circumstances) There are many companies selling what they refer to as fruit cocktail trees.

also there are certain grafts normally used on certain family's of trees as Bud grafting usually used for stone fruit, citrus, and small fruit trees done by the hundreds in nursery's. Splice grafts to add pollination to a tree, to add a desired variety to a small seedling or rootstock or top work small trees.
Cleft Graft is usually used to top work larger branches or tree trunks. This being said I have not heard or read any hard and fast rules regarding this. For grafting smaller (pencil sized) stock there is a tool that cuts a "keyhole" Type cut across the stock, grafts made with this tool are supposed to have a 95% success rate. Other grafts have lower success rates.

Arbor sculpture, one thing I want to try is to plant Willow whip cuttings along a line where a fence is wanted. Willows are 100% strike rate and planted at 45 degree angles opposing each other and then weave and graft to make a fence. A living growing fence might be pretty cool!!! Imagine a weeping Willow fence.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


OK, so along the way I have told several people that I would devote a post to the art of GRAFTING. I was born and raised in the central valley where at that time there were many fruit and nut trees and I was a curious child.

 I tried my first graft at age 6, and would have most likely succeeded if I had used an air tight tape instead of surgical gauze.

I later took a grafting class through the OSU Master Gardeners in about 2000, I then became a Master Gardener in 2005 and taught Grafting along with other subjects for some years. I have also taught Grafting through our public Library.

This is going to be pretty down and dirty, Firstly make sure you sterilize all materials, tools, and your hands. A solution of one part bleach to nine parts water is good for this. This is after all, Plant Surgery.

At this point we need to talk about the biology of the plants you want to work with, by the way Grafting only works on diploid plants. these plants consist of three basic parts. There is the Xylem, this is the woody part of the plant. Then you have the Phloem, which is the bark material of the plant. In between these two parts is the Cambium, this is the layer that produces the rest of the plant and where the plant grows.

Next we have to realize there are many types of Graft, each working basically in the same manner but just in a different form. Types of graft include the Cleft, Splice, Bridge, Bud, as well as others. The most commonly used Graft by the average person are Splice and Bud Grafting. Not all Grafts will succeed.
The basics of all grafts are; you need to make good contact of the cambium of the Root stock and the Scion wood, The graft needs to be kept Air tight (so it won't dry out), make sure all materials tools and hands are sanitized.

In Splice grafting long tapered cuts are made on both the rootstock and the scion wood, if you want a tongue can be cut in the middle to assist in holding position. This graft is usually done at the first slip of the bark in spring, about Feb. - March. Making good cambium contact tape together with black electrical tape or grafting tape, tightly. This needs to be air tight. In grafting Scion wood you only want 2-3 buds on the scion wood , no more. Seal the top of the Scion with 2-3 buds with Grafting Wax so it has less chance to dry out and die.

Bud Grafting is usually done in late summer where a swollen growth bud is taken from the Scion plant in a small shield shape. These are found at the base of the leaf stem or petiole.
Remove the wood (Xylem) from this piece. Make a T cut vertically on the root stock and open the Bark (Phloem) on both sides, exposing the Cambium, and insert the bud under the flaps making good Cambium contact. In this graft it's best to use Grafting Tape, wrap tightly but only put one layer over the top of the bud. this bud should heal but not grow until the next spring. If using on a small rootstock in the spring cut above the bud to force it's growth.

Sorry most of the graphics I used in my power point would not copy or transfer over to the blog, but please if you have any questions please ask! Oh before I forget Arbor Sculpture is using Grafting in making interesting living items. Willows work very well for practice.


Monday, May 27, 2013


 Nue Van Song was an ARVIN (South Vietnamese Army) Lieutenant with whom I was friends.
I can't help but remember and think about fallen comrades on this day, especially since I had gotten into my Company (C company 2nd Platoon 2nd Battalion of the 60th Infantry)  in Viet Nam the second week of May 1969. People forget the price paid by our Brave young Men and Women in times of war. And any conflict our country is in, is a WAR.
Tommy Nebel and I arrived the second week of May, and were in combat the next day. This started out by our entire Battalion being pinned down in a single rice paddy. We were being hit with mortars and snipers fire, and then an Officer set off the wrong colored smoke grenade. This is when our own helicopters opened fire on us, many casualties.
That day was bad, but the next day was worse. We still had the entire 2nd of the 60th infantry together with two 155MM howitzers (the lightest projectile the 155's fired was 92 pounds with bags of powder behind them) and a lot of Air Support, this time on line advancing on a tree line supposedly against at least a battalion of NVA regulars. We  advanced three times and were repelled three times, along with air strikes and artillery fire in between with many more casualties.
At three in the afternoon, my platoon leader decided that Tommy, myself and Sgt. Jenkins should try to flank the tree line to the right. We are talking about, two newbie teenagers (third day with our unit) PFC's with a more experienced, still teenager Sargent Trying to flank a Battalion of North Vietnamese Regular soldiers whom howitzers, jet aircraft with bombs and Napalm, and cobra helicopters carrying mini-guns and rockets along with our machined guns and M-16 hadn't whipped..
We advanced about 300 yards when we saw the muzzle flashes, I jumped right and started laying down cover fire. Sgt. Jenkins jumped Left and also returned fire, Tommy dropped in his tracks. After neutralizing the threat, both Jenkins and I went to Tommy, he had been shot twice through the guts and once in his hand. The shot in his hand had laid the left hand open , you could see all the bones, tendons muscles and such. The two through his guts ripped out most of his liver and spline and deposited that along with a lot of blood onto the front of my clothes. I ended up wearing a lot of Tommy for three days.
We patched Tommy up as best we could, and tried to tell him he would be OK, then carried him back to our lines and the med-evac helicopters. Tommy lived 14 days when doctors said he should not have lived fourteen minutes.
We captured many enemy weapons that were later made into plaques for the officers which THEY were allowed to take home.
Later Sgt. Jenkins showed me a letter, he was  writing me up for a Bronze Star with a V for Valor, I never got that citation, but really didn't care because I was just doing my job for my country and trying to cover mine and my comrades butts. Well I lived through that action and many more each more horrific than the last, I was in my post, Tan Tru, on an  unusual time off duty, and decided to go and get a regular Mess hall meal, as we had only eaten C rations and stuff purchased or sent from home. As I approached the Mess hall, Darned if it wasn't taken out by an enemy mortar, not one regular meal but we all became master chefs with C rations canned in the 1940's.
I was assigned to "Eagle Flights" basically we flew from place to place looking for a fight, and boy did we find them. I am ashamed to say it got to the point where I didn't want to know anyone else, they would just die.
I came home and even though I always worked, I was angry, depressed and denied I had PTSD for years. I married my wife, Janice (a Saint) and had two children (great sons), but I lived with survivors guilt and a lot of anger over the waste of life, and still do. I worked thirty five jobs in thirty years, with the longest being eight years as a child protective worker for the State. While in Viet Nam I was protective of a war orphan, "To My", (not to be confused with Tommy), who lived on the scrap heap of our camp, they would not allow him in the safety of the Huche (wood building surrounded with dirt filled Ammo boxes to protect from rockets).
It didn't hit me until many years later that someone who didn't deserve that citation may have received it. I was at an eye doctor's office waiting to be seen and while looking around the wall noticed the citation of a Silver Star awarded to that Doctor, just for being in Viet Nam, no blood, no death, just for being in country. I also read in the news about a Major in the air force playing Trombone with a band who got a Bronze Star just for being in Iraq.
I am not writing this for sympathy, I just want to remind people who read this, that we still have Brothers Sisters, Mothers and Fathers still under the hardships of WAR. We need to remember and HONOR them every chance we get. They are the reason we are free to laugh, and work in a free Nation, the United States of America.
Remember our NAVY, ARMY, MARINES , AIR FORCE, and  COAST GUARD even at home protect our Counrty!!!!
Life today with grandchildren is GOOD!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


We are three weeks into our new adventure as beekeepers.  My amazement every time I peek in the hive, or the saucy pride I feel when I notice some of our bees working away on lavender, kale, and fruit tree blossoms has yet to wear off.  At this point, it is hard to imagine I will ever take these hardworking little honeybees for granted!
As a beginner (and I mean brand new, never-before, only-read-a-bunch-of-books novice), my first obsession was simply getting the bees to stay.  I wanted to make sure our home-built hive was as hospitable as possible and that the new bees had everything they needed to get off to a good start.
We started by preparing our hive—since we built a Kenyan Top Bar beehive, we needed to make sure that each of the 28 bars was an obvious choice where the bees would know to attach their combs.  We melted about 4 ounces of beeswax pastilles over low heat, and dipped lengths of hemp string we’d precut to be just a tad smaller than the bars into the warm wax.  We then just pressed the string along the length of the bar.  This way, the bees would have a guide from which to attach the combs they’d be building from scratch!  For added hospitality, I sprinkled a handful of beeswax pastilles along the bottom of the hive and shook several drops of lemongrass essential oil at each end of the hive.  We did this a week or two before we got our bees, so the hive was ready and waiting.
Herbal Bee Tea
Amidst all my pre-bee research, I came across the Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary ( in Virginia.  They are a wonderful resource for organic beekeeping and bee health information.  There is a “Healing Tea for Honeybees” created at Spikenard Farm that I adapted for our Pacific Northwest bee scene:
(I used a mix of dried and fresh herbs and flowers, but you could use all dried or all fresh):
Heat 3 cups of water to boiling
Prepare a tea mix:
½ teaspoon organic dried chamomile
½ teaspoon organic dried yarrow
½ teaspoon organic dried nettle
½ teaspoon organic dried peppermint
¼ teaspoon organic dried sage
2 fresh Dandelion flowers
½ teaspoon organic fresh or dried hyssop leaves
½ teaspoon organic fresh or dried thyme leaves
2-3 big, organic fresh or dried lemon balm leaves
Put all of the herbs into a large tea infuser (you could use cheesecloth or simply put them in a jar and then strain them after steeping) and pour 3 cups of boiling water over.  Let this steep for 10-15 minutes.  Then, add 3 cups of cold water.  You will find this is a surprisingly strong smelling infusion! Check out the original recipe for other herbs you can add to the tea.
Once it has cooled to room temperature/lukewarm, stir in 1 cup of high quality, organic, local honey.  I put a quart of this in a chicken watering container and filled the tray with little rocks, but you could definitely use a quart-sized bee feeder too (store the remainder in the fridge and use if/as needed.) The idea is to put the tea out where the bees can take it if they need it and use in times of stress—new colony and hive, early in the season, late in the season, etc. I left it out for about a week until it seemed like the bees were doing just fine and had plenty of nectar and pollen to forage for.
At this point, our bees seem to be going strong.  We have been going in for a visit each week and have watched as they built the initial combs, the queen started laying eggs, and things have progressed to several full combs, hundreds of capped brood, honey and pollen deposits, and what looks to be an expanding operation! I love the faint smell of honey as I walk by the hive on warm, sunny days and the steady whirring buzz of all those bees working away inside.  And don’t even get me started about how fun it is to watch those bees clamber all over our garden plants and then speed off back to our hive!
The Above was copied from with written permission. I wish to give many thanks to Mountain Rose Herbs for letting me share this post. ALSO TO NOTE I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS PERSONALLT YET!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Our oldest son and his family came to visit us this weekend and was very enjoyable. The two older girls and I went riding on Sunday after it rained all weekend and finally cleared up just before they were getting ready to leave. So it was a very short ride, but they had fun any way. They like to come to grandma and grandpa's house to ride.
I took a picture of the youngest with her grandpa playing a game on the computer. Was too cute to pass up.

She won the game

Friday, May 10, 2013

Honeybees are vanishing so fast we might soon have nothing to eat

Honeybees are vanishing so fast we might soon have nothing to eat (click the previous line to read the article)

In order to try to ensure our own survival we must spread the word. Pollination accounts for 80% of our food supply. Act now, contact your legislators and even down the line to State, County, and City government people.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Things here are going well, or at least as well as can be expected. Our new honey bees appear to be happy and setting up housekeeping in their new hives.
The Horses have been very good lately, wanting to please more than ever before. Janice and Andria took them for a ride on Sunday for about 1 1/2 miles and they did well. Of Course they are little out of shape from sitting all winter.
The baby goats are all big enough to wean and sell, which will happen very soon.
I started to remove some of the mountain of dirt from the upper driveway. Prior to that Janice and I dug in a used tire retaining wall around the west rear corner of the horses barn as Flash had stomped a pretty large hole in the west stall. After the repair I moved a lot of dirt to try to help keep the dirt from coming out from under the barn wall. There were several areas in the paddock where sudden drops were left, after having some stumps removed, which I tried to repair and smooth out. There is still a lot to do.

In the picture above the large pile of dirt at the back of the upper driveway used to be over twice as big. I spent about 5-6 hours on the tractor moving what I got moved. OK, so my tractor is a compact, it's better than a wheel barrow.
 One little chore Janice and I took care of yesterday was to move a few stock panels to the top of the garden in the center of the yard. We felt we needed to do this for two reasons. One, we graze the horses on what others would call lawn, and Flash has been known to taste things that look good to him that are really for us, like the really nice Asparagus spear. Then Second We have a lot of deer in this area and several think everything we have planted is for them, so hopefully this will discourage their munching lips. 
 As you can see in the above picture Janice has started that stack block wall below the Filbert Hedge. It is slow heavy work and I help what I can, but Janice does most of this, I just move some block around where it's easier for her to reach.
 As you can see by the line of pallets of block in the back, it is a long process. It's also hard to see but between the stack block wall being built and the river rock wall in front we have planted six apple and pear trees across that area. They are still pretty small as I only grafted them year before last.
The cedar stump in the middle of the wall that didn't get ground this year, was a good location for our Grizzly Bear.