Wednesday, July 15, 2015

End of My Mole Problem (Beware : Graphic Photos)

I mostly live by the motto "live and let live".  So I have mostly tolerated the mounds of soil pushed up by the moles around my yard.  But when they moved into the lower (level ball-playing) yard last year, and pushed up gallons and gallons of soil, leaving the ground uneven, I finally bought gas bombs (the kind you light up a fuse, stick into the mole hole, cover up, and it releases a poisonous gas into the tunnels).

A few weeks ago, mounds started appearing in the lower yard again.  One morning I thought I saw one of the mounds moving, so I ran over to check, but no sign of movement.  So I dug up the entrance to the tunnel and inserted a gas bomb.  A couple of days later, I could see another fresh mound.  So my gas bomb has not been effective.  Then we were away last week, so I was not able to follow up.

This morning, I looked out on the back deck, and was surprised to see this :
Dead mole on the porch / deck.

Moving in closer for a better look :
Dead mole
Dead mole.

Other than one foot which was removed, the mole looked to be rather untouched.  Just like a rat I had found on my back deck years ago, also appearing to be more asleep than dead.  I am sure it is again an offering from one of the cats which prowl through my yard.  I'm surprised, since I have not really seen any cats recently, and I don't imagine why any of them would feel the need to leave an offering for me, but anyhow, I'm glad they may have solved my mole problem.

In the yard, I can see where they dug up the entrance to the mole tunnel, to find that creature :
Thank you to my mystery cat, for solving my mole problem, at least for now!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Another Big Haul of Plums - Second Part of Harvest

I thought that since we picked two days ago our first big batch of Japanese plums, that it may be harder to find as many ripe today.  But that extreme sun and heat that we've been having lately in Vancouver resulted in quick ripening.  So I hauled about the same amount again today :
Methley Japanese plum harvest.
Standing on the bathroom scales, it looks like we got about 37 pounds of plums today.  So about 70+ pounds so far.  Surprisingly, there are still a lot of plums left in the tree.  We've probably picked 2 / 3 of it now.  So the total may be about 100+ pounds of plums this year.

Wow!  What a little over-achiever this plum tree is.  I hope to treat it well, and this happy relationship can continue for many years.  Soon I'll need to start learning some plum recipes.  :-)

Lavender and Echinops Dried Flower Harvest

After our big harvest of Japanese plums, it was a nice and fragrant treat to harvest the long stemmed lavender, Lavendula grosso.  Although this year, the plants again flopped over, and many of the stems were bent, and only good for harvesting the flowers for potpourri.  But I got a few good bunches of the long stems to share with family and friends who enjoy them.
Long-stemmed lavender, Lavendula grosso, as a dried flower and potpourri.
Since the flowers are clean and 100% organic, they could also be used in cooking.  In the past, I've made lavender jellies and even lavender ice cream.  But I don't have any plans for that this year.

I also decided to cut the globe thistle, Echinops bannaticus.  It makes a great dried flower, if cut before the little spheres burst into flower, and become a magnet for bumblebees.  I cut the ones at the front, next to my driveway, and leave the bit patch in the back yard, where I can enjoy watching the bumblebees.
Globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus) as a dried flower.
Although the stems are very sturdy, the stem at the flower head is soft, so they either need to hang upside down, or lay flat on the counter until dried.  The little globes in the bottom right of the photo were from the side shoots.  Those can be useful for a small dried flower arrangement, too.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Big Haul of Japanese Plums - First Part of Harvest

One of the fruit trees which has overwhelmed me with its success is our young Methley Japanese plum tree.  Here is last year's harvest (below), and here are my comments from last year, as well as photos of the inside of the plum, which is sweet and juicy and very blood red.  With that rich colour, I'm sure they would make amazing juice.
Modest Methley Japanese plum harvest.

This year, I've been munching plums for a couple weeks now, and finally, with my 14-year-old's help, climbed the ladder and picked about half the plums, which were ripe.  I don't mind letting the birds and wasps have many of the plums (there were many pecked / partly eaten ones), but it would be a shame to let too many of them drop to the ground.  So here we are, with about half of this year's harvest :
Good harvest from my Methley Japanese plum tree - and this is only half!

Not a bad haul, for a tree we've only had for about 4 years now.  Here is the poor tree about 2 weeks ago, with the plums weighing down the branches so they form a weeping shape :
Japanese plum tree full of fruit.

It might be hard to see, but here is a typical branch, from a couple weeks ago :
Japanese plum tree loaded with unripe plums.
The branches were loaded like that from trunk to tip.  Pretty amazing.

As far as my other fruit trees, not so much success.  My italian plum which bore a lot of fruit last year, but had come down with some disease, put out flowers and even had some miniature plums forming in the Spring, but I don't see any now.  None!

My young peach tree gave me so much joy over the past few years.  Here is last year's harvest (below), and see my blog post for more details.
Memories of a beautiful little Frost peach tree and harvest.

Well, this year it put out a LOT of pink flowers, but then didn't follow up with any leaves.  At all.  It looked like it had finally given in to a disease which left many of its tender branches broken and oozing.  It looked really quite painful.  So I continued to water it, and hope, but finally a couple of weeks ago I realized it was not coming back, so chopped it back.  I hope to replace it next Spring.  So sad.
Remains of a dead Frost peach tree and birdhouse (and garden totem)

My little Morello sour cherry tree was purchased in 2008.  Here he is, the following year, showing good potential for fruit production :
Young Morello sour cherry tree.
Funny thing is that he never really grew very much.  And he continued to have the same weird pattern, fruit along the branches, and leaves at the tips.  Except the branches grew longer, so it looked even weirder.  Then last year, something (I suspect a raccoon) broke off the top half of the tree one night, leaving only 1 long branches and a few tiny side branches.  I decided to keep him, and see what would happen this year.

So this year, something again broke the main branch (perhaps crows this time), leaving it pretty much a skinny trunk and some tiny side branches.  I don't think he's worth saving now. he looks pretty pathetic, I will probably replace him next Spring also.  And will try to dig out the hole and add a lot more good soil, while we're at it.
Broken sour cherry tree.

But all is not lost.  My Bartlett pear, which was suffering for many years with a disgusting fungus infection, is doing much better this year, and looks like it may even bear a crop of pears.  Over this past year, the trees behind us were taken down, opening up more sun, and I spent some while removing the moss and lichens from the branches, and even sprayed it before leaf-out this Spring with a homemade mixture of dishsoap and vegetable oil and water.  Any or all of those things seemed to help.

The espaliers are also doing very well, all 3 of them.  And my dear "David" (Davidii involucrata) tree is forming a nice shape :
Beautiful young Davidii involucrata tree (dove tree).
Here he is flanked by two garden totems, made from my ceramic pieces.  If you want an amusing story of how the first totem became an apartment, read this post from May 2015.  When I went out there a couple of weeks ago to install the second totem, the ants and soil had made it all the way up to the top piece.  Pretty weird and amazing.  I wonder how long it take for them to full inhabit the second garden totem?
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