Mark Builds Arbor for Grapes

In my tree series,you may have noticed I buy clearance plants. One advantage of this is the plants aren’t expected to do much on the first year. If they live we have success. Well year two rolls around abs all of a sudden my bargain grapes  are attacking the garden and the yard simultaneously.

Now I was left with two choices. I started with explaining that World War II future changed with the opening of the Eastern front, leading German forces to split their strength against superior numbers.  The grapes didn’t listen. The attack on the grass got worse on the “Mars” variety of grape. I wasn’t surprised somehow.  Choice two build it and they will climb.  A Trellis.

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I appropriated five 2″x2″, seven brackets, a bunch of #8 wood screws, four eyelet hooks, four open hooks, 100 feet of 20 gauge spooled wire, 8  1/8″ wire clips, and four turnbuckles.  And three single hole cinder blocks and a bag of fast setting concrete.  Other party favorites needed were a drill, a couple of drill bits (7/64″ and 1/4″), tape measure, level, needle nose pliers, screwdriver (or bit for drill)

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I measured my grapes and found that the node where the vines split at was about 18″ of the ground.  I drill holes for attaching hardware with the 7/64 bit and in middle post with the 1/4″ bit for passing the wire through. The height of the wires can be customized, or evenly spaced.  I placed a bracket at the top of two posts and two on a third that will be the middle post. I placed one 2″x2″ in place like an L shape to mark the resting place.  By placing the bracket in place and using a pen to mark where the screws will be placed.  Once all piece are marked, the small bit will create a pilot hoke for screws.  Be careful not to drill completely through the posts. From the bracket measure out the spacing you wish for your wires.  I choose uneven to match where my grapes branch now. I have over six feet of height after installed,even spacing would be about 15″ apart as the too would potential be another support.  Measure these four point out on post.  Drill partially through on the end with small bit.  The center piece is drilled all the way through for the wire to pass through with the larger drill bit.  Attach the hooks into the end pieces by hand.

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The cinder blocks are dug in.  The holes dug here used are not the same depth.  The land slopes and for final Arbor to level this maybe necessary.   You can start with same depth and back fill to make the top level.  It helps to have a second person.  But if you are alone put two posts a piece linking them.  Place the cinder blocks in holes, then attach the top piece.  Put a level on the top and check to see what adjustment is need. Once you get the first two done repeat with the third, but disconnect the first post only use two at a time or you may crack the wood or twist a bracket.

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If we are level, no we,a reddis the concrete.  The fast setting concrete takes about a gallon of water.  The small cinder blocks will allow for a single bag to cover all is them.   Place a ppst inside then pour enough concrete mix to fill the inside of block 2/3 and add about a quart of water.  Pivot the post side to side a bit without lifting.  Fill the rest of the block up.   You can sandwich the post between two buckets filled with water to hold in place.  You could add another piece of wood to support it as well by temporary screwing another piece to be a leg.  Two ensure the second post is spaced perfectly, I put the piece that would fit on top between the posts in the middle.  It can rest on the eye hooks of the first post.  But let the first post sit for about half hour to hour for concrete to set.  Repeat for last post. Once all posts are set you add the wood pieces on top to complete the frame.

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The wire that will support the vines needs to be connected.   The best way are wire clips.  They are U-bolts made really small. The clip goes on top of wire, you thread wire through loop and bring wire back through the U-bolts, then tighten.  The picture shows turnbuckle, but process is the same for the closed loops I started at the closed loop on our end side lowest on the post.  I threaded through the center post and then attached it to the turnbuckle as shown above.  The turnbuckle will slip on the opening hook on far post.  As shown, the wire is actually tightened by turning the turnbuckle.   After you install all the wires, you may need to retighten the first one.   You have created tension  across all the pieces and may have drawn the posts closer together.

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We have completed an Arbor.  I used a soft wire covered strapping to tie the grape vines to the wires.   The leaves will look flipped over but they will straighten out.  The grapes will need a little attention to keep them in their right place.   Once the vines are supported,  I will weed and pave a weed barrier and mulch to keep the vines happy.

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Tree Part 6

Today’s theme is more on survivors.   Most of these were either in a bad space or some other tree took away there own space.

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The grey narrow leaves here belong to a Russian Olive.  It doesn’t set fruit, but is very hard to kill.  They tend to spread and take over areas.  Some states have actually outlawed them.  Well, no chance in it taking over.  It lived quite peacefully but a Willow and Honeysuckle bush have converged in its space.  It could have been eight foot wide and ten feet tall.   Its only those dimensions at an angle.  It grew to fit the open space.

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This is a Red Bud Tree is a sign of spring.  It’s trunk is lined with wine red buds.  The flowers follow the branches not the tips of the branches.  This is a native tree.  It’s not as hardy as it seems a native should be.  Portions of the tree are subject to dead fall.  For no apparent reason it happens.  Trimming get the dead off usually gives the tree a fresh growth spurt.  This is a tree the Arbor Day people sell for 10 trees for $20. Full grown they rarely top 10 feet.  Most likely will be 8 to 10 feet wide.

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The European Birch is a baby.  This is a tree from the clearance bin last year.  It was put near some Pin Oak Trees.  The Pin Oaks are out of control but provide shade to help this fellow establish itself.  While it is a 5 foot stick, the future could bring a graceful arching tree 15 to 20 feet tall.  Normally they will have multiple  (2-4 trunks) that will stay kind of tan.  Not as pretty as most birches, but fairly hardy with better tolerances of temperatures.

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Winesap Apple Tree is another tree in the wrong get spot.  It simply didn’t keep up with the Pin Oak in the last few years.  As with most Apple trees having another kind of apple that blooms at the same time will give you a better harvest.  The tree has never produced well because the pollinating tree has past on to the Orchard in the sky.

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Scotch Pine Trees are evergreens.   But allows have brown patches.  They look half dead a lot of the year.   They love wet ground.   My swamplandis perfect for them.   The tree in the middle is about 65 feet tall.  It leans a bit.  Several birds pick off the dead ends for nesting material.

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Black Chokeberry is a shrub.  It’s an escapee of incredible endurance.   It’s everywhere.  It’s a bird feeder for Cardinals, Robin’s, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice, and Cedar Wax wings.  Needless to say, the seeds are spread by them well.  I kill off dozens of these a year.  The will get 15 feet tall and as wide as they can.  They fill the space given to them.

Trees -Parts 4

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This is the back side of my property.   This is a forest about 80-100 years in the making.   The hardwood forest is typical for a swampy area of the Midwestern US. Hickory, maple, beech, and oak make a large canopy averaging about 60 feet above the ground.  High above Coopers Hawks, Red Tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, and little Saw Whet Owls nest and patrol the woods.  Where the woods open to savanna with high grass,and shrubs they hunt for song birds, mice, squirrels, and anything small enough to pick up.
The sounds come alive after about five minutes.   My wild turkey lives back here with deer, red fox, coyotes, and probably a mink or two.

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The lower left is a Son of a Beech! The big smooth grey barked trees are Beech trees.  They are sixty to eight feet tall.  They drop branches in storms easily.  But the openings in the trunk are ideal for an owl to crave out a nest.  Woodpeckers can try small one but often get kicked out.  The Beech is softer wood and fast growing.  Common for populating reclaimed farmland.

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This is a Sassafras Tree.  The leaves look like gloves.  Some are right and left, a few are double thumbed.  Another soft wood, but we have a surprise here.  If you break a branch it smells like root beer! Well that’s what its used for in traditional formulas.  This is another 50-60 foot tree.  They are self seeding, but never take over.  Smaller birds will nest in the branches, their large clustered leaves hide them well.

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The Green Ash used to be the most common tree here.   It spreads easily.  The wood is great for firewood.  It grows at a moderate rate so it can quickly establish a barrier or reclaim land.  There’s only one problem.  The Emerald Ash Borer from China is decimating them.  We have lost a dozen full size trees in a year.  It’s graceful compound leaves (they cluster on the tips of branches) wave in the breezes.  

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On the edge of the woods, the Swamp Willow with it’s silvery leaves is a super hardy tree.  The original tree fell over in a storm.  One of the branches fell into the ground sinking a couple feet in to the mud.  Two week later, we have a tree that grow roots and two months later spread out new branches.  The biggest this guy will get is about 30 feet tall, maybe this one will be 20 feet wide. It anchors the savanna, the transition from forest to field. 

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The Thicket Service berry is an awesome shrub for the savanna area too.  It requires water.  That’s about it. This baby is old. It has more than thirty stalks, or trunks making it a shrub.  It will have red berries in August in years that frost doesn’t get the blooms!  I’m not sure if I will have any for the birds.

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Lost on the little green, but centered with two trunks is a Hawthorne Tree.  These are Arbor Day Foundation Trees.  That means a paid $10 for 10 trees and eight years later, this is the only living tree left!  Hawthorne Trees have beautiful orange berries that Cedar Wax Wings, Cardinals, and Grossebeaks go crazy over.  The tree also has three inch thorns!  Apparently, the tree must be tasty…nature doesn’t add defenses without reason.  On its own, and your suburb may use these on tree lawns, it’s 15 feet tall and a column build to it.  Nice light colored leaves add detail to lsndscape.

Trees – Part 4

We go small today.   Most of these are ornamental shrubs and trees.  Everyone can use small but interesting features.

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Around the base of a Black Locust, I have planted two Flowering Almonds with a Barberry between them.  The Flowing Almonds have tight, double blooms of pink in April. They are very airy.  The appearance is a little unkept.
They need little and water.  If given the space they will be five feet high and six feet wide.  The space used here is way too small for them.  I trim them a bit.  But you can see the Barberry is getting squeezed out.  The Barberry will only get two to three feet high, but can spread out to four feet.  The red leaves make a great accent.  You may get whitish/pinkish berries late in the year. 

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Thus is a Hydrangea.  A Blue Hydrangea actually.  The flowers are only blue if it’s fed acidic fertilizer, peat moss, or pine needles.  It good soil they can grow four to six feet tall and wide, depending on variety.  This one will only grow to three feet tall and wide.  The heavy soil doesn’t help, but there are ways around this.  I have dug a extra deep hole and buried a plastic pail upside down under it.  The pail has holes drilled in it with gravel on top too.   This displaces water from the roots, keeping plant happy!

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The Prairie Fire Crabapple is a midsized tree.  In spring, deep pink/red blooms cover this tree.  It’s red/bronze leaves add interest.  The Crabapples are the lowest maintenance tree you can get.  Most are so easy that a little water is all you need to do.  If you get one of these or another red leafed Crabapple, you need to trim out any green branches.   If you don’t the tree will be overrun by green branches!

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This little guy is new!  Last fall I planted this Saucer Magnolia.   It’s about a foot and a half tall.  It will be ten by ten in about a decade.  The growth rate is quick and it needs space.   It has already doubled in size.  This blooms early, often before other trees have leaves. This means plant me in the shade!  You can leave it in light,but it prefers some shade during summer.  The glossy leaves reflect ambient light into dark areas.

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The Black Hills Spruce is the evergreen if you have time.  This tree was two feet tall five years ago.  We have a three and a half tall tree now.  Once it gets about five feet it will grow faster.   But that’s a couple years off.  The color has a bit of blue grey to it.  It’s low maintenance.   Good near a house, meaning a good ten feet from foundation.  If we live long enough, the little guy could make 80 feet in a century.

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The most common ornamental tree in my area, the Weeping Cherry.  It needs loose soil to thrive.  It will live with drainage, but won’t bloom as well unless you add a lot of organic material and sand.  April brings a carpet of white blooms across the top.   Really looks like a giant umbrella in white.

Trees – Part 3

The big world is a patchwork of tiny places. Small area didn’t mean little. These trees are in a space is about the length of a house.

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The black gum, sometimes called Tupelo, is a mid size tree.  It’s slow grower at first but soft gentle, bright green leaves are nice addition to partial Sun place in the yard.  In fall, this beauty becomes a red flame.  It turns early and loses leaves after a month but what a month.

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Eastern Red Cedar is an easy evergreen for any landscape.  They like to have dry soil when first planted but after that they can take almost anything.  They can become 25 feet tall and spread about six feet across.  They provide good hiding spots for nests.  The year around green looks good even in winter.  The needles don’t hold much snow, which also means little breakage.

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Squeezed in here is a giant.  The Shagbark Hickory will become 75 feet if it has the space.   After about 15 years the bark starts to separate from the trunk.  Giving it a apparently of falling off,at one time it was called shagging.
This guy here is about ten, maybe this year or next it will produce nuts. The nuts fall of on their own.   You can float the bad ones out in a bucket of water.  Worms inside trap air inside the nut causes them to float.  Nuts can be roasted.  The wood is used to smoke meat as well.

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The Streamco Willows are a sure sign of water. They can be started by cutting a thin branch and sticking then in mud.  About 50% will grow.  These babies won’t fit in the picture.   The largest is about 80 feet tall.   It took about 3 year to get over 30 feet.   Another 3 and it’s this big.   I chose to keep them together to build a wind barrier.  They have an upright pattern, meaning they branch up not out.   Even when they have lost their leaves, they can be thick enough to block wind.   Staggering them would be better for this.

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The Sand Cheery is a small shrub.  It’s nice red leaves should fill out well.  If you plant it in the Sun.  In half shade, it looks a lot like this.  Small at 2 1/2 feet but could reach about four feet high and wide in more light.  There are little white flowers in May.  It would like dry ground but can live with some water.

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Although the Honeysuckle was shown in last post, thus is the whole thing.  Thus monster is 9 feet wide and about 7 feet tall.   You should be able to see red and orange berries.  The birds love these things.  The seeds get eaten and deposited near a nice shady area.  You will never have one.   Nor will you probably have to buy one, those nice birds.  Great for places where nothing else will grow!

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A popular shrub is the Wine and Rose’s Wegielia.  It had red leaves and red blooms.   The blooms will open shortly.   A great choice because it’s not picky.   Give it some water and dirt and it’ll grow.   They are a little chaotic, this guy had been trimmed to the shape.   You can try to increase your plants by sticking the cuttings into mud.   I have keep fall cutting alive over the winter to create more of them.  Cutting are best trimmed to about two feet long and half of the length into the ground.

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The Silver Maple is super common in the Midwest.  It’s cheap and easy to grow.   Home builders like to throw these in the front yard or a couple out back.   They grow quickly to.   This is about fifty feet tall and took about 10 years to get there.   They can get rather large if nothing else is near by.   Their radios growth means they can lose large branches in storms.   So they aren’t ideal once you own the home a builder planted one in a small front yard.   But with some space they are great shade tree.

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Putting all these together and it’ll look like this.   Biodiversity in action!

Grass planting

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Last week night had free Dirt.  After spreading it out, Wednesday and going for rain to smooth out the clumps of hard dirt.   I found the hottest day of the year to plant grass seed.  So the pile above covers about 1500 square feet now.

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My garden cart loaded with peat moss.  We begin by tossing out the grass seed to cover the ground much like sesame seeds on a bun.  The seed is lightly covered by pest moss.  This will hold some water against the seed and hide it from the birds!  In a perfect world, with great dirt I would be done.  But no so lucky.  If I have cracks in the ground or chunks of dirt I need extra peat moss to fill in gaps.  Or I’ll have a crazy line of grass growing in these cracks later.

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So after, I cover myself in peat moss, and the dirt, next is straw.  My car trunk covered from hauling it two miles!   Time to cover grass with it.   The idea is to shelter the seed in a warn most environment.  The straw does an excellent job, but it has seeds from all kinds of weeds.  In a really nice yard, I wouldn’t use it.  Here in swampland, hey there are green and blend in.  Time to water and wait a week for signs of life!

Trees Part 2

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Photo credit: NASA
Concentrations must be kept below 450ppm to keep global warming below 2 C. Photo credit: NASA

This is your atmosphere on Carbon Dioxide.   We need more trees.  So here are a few more from the yard.   Look at it as a carbon bank, taking Carbon Dioxide out and replacing it with Oxygen.   Come on!  How much difference can it really make?  Each new tree can remove 10 pounds of Carbon Dioxide in first year.  Ten years in that tree is grabbing 48 pounds!  Every new acre removes 2.5 tons of the greenhouse gas! Ten years later, doing the math 12 tons gone.  Now if we keep the trees we have too.  We save ourselves.  Ok maybe not.

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Sides of your property can provide much need shelter for birds.  Where big  trees don’t fit, we enter a mix of shrubs and ornamental trees.  At the bottom, a Bush Honeysuckle branch curls from underneath.  On its own the Bush Honeysuckle woukd be ten feet with a ten feet spread.  The glossy leaves of the Common Dogwood actually lighten up a dark space.  The thin branches provide nest building platforms for songbirds.  At about ten feet tall, it’s blooms get lost sometimes.  Below is a better view.

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The Silky Dogwood shares the leaf pattern buy  it much else with its more popular cousin.  It’s flowers hold a cluster of eight to twelve tiny flowers with a flat top.  It’s has many trunks, so spread underground called stolons to make addition plants.  It to provides plenty of shelter for birds.

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The most common tree in North America, and it still needs an introduction!  Above is the Quaking Aspen, at five years old it’s growth rate is crazy.  It also has a problem keeping it’s branches at times.  They are great shade trees, but you are looking at fifty feet of tree in five years.  Don’t go near the house with one of these things!  (Somewhere a person reading this has a Blue Spruce up against their house that did the same thing at a slower rate ).  While after a good storm you maybe picking up leaves, during the breezes you’ll hear the leaves quaking.  Truly an awesome sound.  If you land is wooded, sometimes they get help being planted like this one was. I guessing a squirrel was involved, they have planted many oak trees too!

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Speaking of oaks, the mighty Pin Oak, swampland’s friend!  If you have wet soil where nothing grows….I have a tree for you.   It needs only to be ignored, maybe lower branches cut if you mow around it.  Other than that, killing one is very difficult. This baby is at least 13 years old.  It’s about 35 feet tall.  There are lots of places for critters to hide.  Birds and squirrel in the branches.  Stray cat, racoons, and moles underneath.  It will turn brown in fall and those leaves will stay on the tree most of the winter.

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Above is a close up of th e leaves.  The form is shape and deep cut between points on the leaf.  Opposed to the other one below, the Swamp White Oak.  Similar build and needs as the Pin Oak.  This is the only easily visible one in my yard and it’s mixed in a row of trees and doesn’t show its ture shape.  It would like the Pin Oak above, little narrower.

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Organic Grains Growing Presence

For those who like to know what’s in their food,  here’s something that should be good news!   Also explains what is necessary to be certified organic

http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/organic-grain-industry-is-gaining-ground/341650.html