Tuesday, April 15, 2014

So called Professional Landscape Contractors

Each spring I fire up irrigation systems for my customers and few systems for friends of customers.   Occasionally leaks appear in spring, generally it is a street ell at the base of a spray head that fails, or occasionally a pipe has a tree root that grows near and pushes the pipe against a stone.  I have never seen an irrigation installation except my own that screens the back fill around pipes.  Having been self taught I find my standards are far beyond anything I see in the field.  Last week I fired up an irrigation system of a new customer in Broken top and saw water coming up next to an aspen tree.  OK a root and rock, just dig it up, and put in a quick fix and move on.  I wish it was so.  It appears that the irrigation crew and the planting crew did not talk.  A very nice aspen was planted directly on top of the irrigation line.  OK any one can make a mistake right!  Upon further investigation I found that a tee with a funny ell was also under the tree.  It appears that the irrigation crew plumbed in for a spray head and changed there mind and just cut the funny pipe and then folded the funny pipe in half and slid a two inch section of PVC pipe over the fold to stop the water flow.  Any contractors working on Tam MacArthur Loop in 2000 like to justify this high quality work? 

note tee and funny pipe
slightly closer view
After removing

repair, better than removing tree

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Water Conservation

Your automated irrigation system can be your single largest source of wasting water or the best source of conserving water.  The key to irrigation systems it proper design, maintenance, and operation.   Each spring when I fire up you irrigation systems I adjust the heads to make sure they are functioning correctly.  Unlike most contractors I start your system so it puts a solid 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water for each cycle.  This puts water 6 to 12 inches into the soil.  By putting water to that depth the roots will strive to reach deeper into the soil.  With deeper roots the plants are more drought tolerant.  That means when we get those few very hot days in August or September the landscape plants will be under less stress.  Also unlike others I do not irrigate the landscape on the every other day schedule.  I start the season only irrigating one day / week deeply and let the landscape dry out between irrigation.  As the weather warms and the landscapes need for additional water increases I add a day to the cycle.  By using this technique I reduce the wasted water often put in landscape each spring. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pruning Ponderosa Pines

On the left you will see Dan from Oliver Arbor Care www.oliverarborcare.com/‎ after he climbed a small pine with a rope before pruning the dead limbs and those infected with dwarf mistletoe. On the right you can see him in the same tree after pruning it.  Green limbs should only be pruned between end of November to end of February.  This is to reduce infestations of Sequoia Pitch Moth.  The moth generally does not cause severe damage to healthy pines but severe infestations can result in significant pitch bleeding from the tree.  This can make quite a mess in landscape.  See my facebook page for more information on the Sequoia Pitch Moth. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

California Drought, Not good for US

The drought in California and the Southwest will have a very significant impact on the quality of life here in Bend, Oregon.  A large portion of the fresh, frozen, and canned produce we enjoy come from California and the Southwest.  I doubt other regions will be able to make up the difference over the short term.  The net result will be increased costs to the consumers IE us.  Central Oregon is a great place to work, live and play.  It is not a great place to grow produce.  I have fought deer, frost, and poor soils for years at my home at Snowshoe Inn, to grow produce.  I have learned to add large quanties of good compost, manage water, and use row covers to reduce the risk of frost.  In addition I have learned how to create a hydroponic grow room in my basement.  I have been very successful in growing lettuce, beet greens, spinach and micro greens all winter. 

Food for thought, think about adding a raised bed in your garden.  According to Elliot Coleman a 4 X 8 foot bed can produce enough produce to feed one person for the season.  He advocates a very aggressive organic growing techniques.   My 2 X 4 foot hydroponic system produces nearly all of our greens when it is production.

If you think an addition of a produce section for your landscape is in order feel free to contact me for assistance.

Gardening is not only my business it is my passion


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Gardener (Winters)

 The winter is my off season.  This year Bobbe and I holidayed in Australia for 21 days.  We lucked out and had mild weather.  No extreme hot weather.  In December I spent a day in Portland attending the Oregon Landscape Contractor's training program.  In January I am attending a 5 day training in Organic Land Care program sponsored by Oregon Tilth.  In February I will attend a two day High Desert Green Conference in Redmond.  It is good to meet with other professionals and learn how to do things better for my customers.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Long Summer

From January 29 to October 21 has been a long time.  Most of my customers are aware it has been a transition year for me and my family.   I lost my mother in August and now finally getting my life back together.  This winter Bobbe and I will be traveling to Australia.   We will do a road trip from Adelaide to Sydney.  I will drive about 2600 Km in 12 days.  This will be a personal adventure along as a gardening adventure, did I mention the wine?   My mother's father was born in Adelaide in 1900 and his mother was born in Colac,  Victoria.   I plan a pilgrimage to those parts of Australia and also visit as many, botanical gardens, natural history museums as I can within our time frame.  Oh, did I say we plan to visit a few winery tasting rooms while there.  I plan to try to post while on the trip showing some of the gardens and wildlife found along our route. 

I am hoping to do more posts on use of natives & appropriate plant species suitable for Central Oregon gardens. 
Here are some crocus that I naturalized in to a low intensity lawn area.  The early crocus come up as the snow melts across the lawn in the spring and are all done flowering by the time the lawn needs it's first mowing.   For me fall is the best season of the year, cool nights and warm days as we have been having the past few weeks.  Spring on the other hand has a few nice days then a week of cold wet weather.  And when it is clear it is cold and so many tender plants are killed by the late frost we have in Central Oregon.  Spring crocus add a smile to my face and remind me spring will really be here in June. 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Season

Greetings from the Gardener

I wish to use this post to bring everyone up to date.  Last fall was a rush to get things done.  For the most part I was successful.  The end of November I had a total knee replacement.  The procedure was successful and my physical therapy was progressing a head of schedule.  Three weeks after my surgery I stepped out on to the ice near my cabin and slipped.  So much for my great recovery from the surgery.  A week later I checked in with my surgeon and he did a 2nd surgery to repair tares to soft tissue.   After the second surgery my wife put me on house arrest.  We stayed at my parent's home on the east side away from the fun life here at Snowshoe Inn. Less snow and ice in town to slip on.  Now a month after the second surgery I am back on the path to recovery.  I do not expect to be 100% early this spring but recovered enough to get things done. 

So far our snow pack was as much as 28 inches just before Christmas.  Since then we have not had any significant snow falls here.  I estimate that we have about 6 to10 inches of snow pack now at Snowshoe Inn.  That keeps Bobbe happy because she does not want me to shovel snow for a while longer.  

After a winter in recovery from my surgeries I am so excited to get back to work and enjoy the great life in Central Oregon.  I look foreword to seeing everyone this spring.