Garden Giants V

Parsnips took the garden giant crown for the second year running; but this time not because of impressive height, but due to the size of the root. I could hardly believe how big this thing was when I dug it up. What’s more, it was a volunteer plant that had seeded itself from last year’s growth, so no work on our part was required – my favorite kind of gardening.


Oh, and it tasted good too, as soup and in a roasted vegetables dish.

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Bud Grafting Success

Most of my grafting experience thus far has been with stem grafts, which involves fusing a piece of scion wood onto the existing tree or root stock. I’ve become pretty comfortable grafting apple, pear, quince, and plum trees this way. However, stone fruit like cherry and peach do better with bud grafting. In this case, grafting is performed in summer; and only a single bud with a sliver of bark is tucked into the bark of the host tree. The injury to the host tree is much smaller and heals over faster.

The success rate of bud grafting is generally higher and it is the preferred technique in commercial grafting. The downside is that you need to wait until the following year to see the bud begin to grow. I was dubious about this technique, but I’m happy to note that my bud grafts from last year are leafing out.

Here’s a nice example of an inverted T bud graft of plum on plum:


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DIY Grafting Wax

When I graft, I am usually bark grafting on established trees. An important step in this process is sealing the insertion point to prevent the grafted scion from drying out. On smaller limbs, electrical tape works well: it exerts pressure on the graft union while sealing it. The downside is that you have to come back later to remove it; and it’s not well suited to larger diameter branches and trunks.

I’ve tried latex paint and commercial grafting wax, but had issues with both of these. I think I’ve finally hit on a good solution: a soft grafting wax that can be slathered on like butter. It’s easy to apply, doesn’t stick to your fingers, doesn’t wick into the graft union, and doesn’t need to be removed like tape.

And the best thing is that you can make it yourself: simply melt 1 part of bees wax in 3 parts of vegetable oil. Here’s what it looks like on a recent job:

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Update 5/7/15:

So far, things are looking good. All of the scions have leafed out since I grafted them a month ago. The wax coating did shrink and crack a bit, but it was easily fixed by molding it back in shape. In one spot, a bird had eaten away most of the exposed wax, but it didn’t damage the scion. I think I will be using this technique a lot going forward.


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2015 Kite Makers Conference

WP_20150315_001The “Fort Worden Conference” was not at Fort Worden this year – instead it was held at the Warm Springs Center near Camano Island. The State Parks Department had been making it increasingly expensive and onerous to conduct a 3 day conference at the Fort. The new location is cheaper, more spacious, and more conveniently located since you don’t need to ride a ferry to get there. It’s a little sad, since the Fort is such an iconic place; but overall this change ought to improve the quality of the conference and boost attendance.

My big project for this year was a modern rendition of Hargrave’s classic box kite. Wendy and I collaborated on the design for this one – I think it turned out rather well. I still had enough time left to make a small Japanese Tosa kite with a funky printed fabric.


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Vancouver Weekend

IMG_1338It’s been a while since our last visit to Vancouver, B.C. And since Vilde had never been to Canada, we decided to take a weekend trip up north.

The weather was not very cooperative. As it turns out, Seattle is a fair bit drier than Vancouver, thanks to the rain shadow effect of the Olympic mountains (37″ annual precipitation versus 46″).

Luckily, the city offers many attractions for rainy days as well. A highlight was our visit to the Museum of Anthropology with its outstanding collection of Pacific Northwest tribal artefacts. IMG_1361

Any of the these objects has a really powerful presence – now imagine walking into a hall filled with towering 30′ totem poles and all manner of other mythical figures. It’s easy to see why Emily Carr was so enthralled; and sad to contemplate the oppression of the coastal tribes and the destruction of their culture.


As usual, we ended our trip with a stop at Granville Island. It’s so much more than just a giant indoor market. For example, we discovered these merry fellows adorning a cement factory.

All in all, it was a fun weekend and a great introduction to Canada for Vilde.

More photos …

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