On the farm: June 6, 2013: New cuts with big approval! Clematis Recta, an upright (well, sort of, if it doesn't rain and blow), has turned out to be a favorite for almost any client. Somewhat difficult to cut (like all clematis) but not impossible to deal with, it sports several small white, star-like blooms, and comes on just in time for the wedding season. Another winner: Rudbeckia Green Wizard, a petal-less plant (in non-botanist lingo)that appears as a cone with green "petals", a real textural addition to floral arrangements. And who knew Oriental Poppies would be such a great seller! They may not last long (if conditioned properly, they'll make 4-5 days), but they are a real show-stopper for special events. A new peony, for us at least, Scarlet O'Hara, shows promise as a fantastic single red of extremely vibrant color. Then there's scented geranium--who knew (Jeriann, she knew)--a great foliage. These new items make life for a grower interesting, and hopefully does the same for buyers.
January 30, 2013
We're heading into another year (twentieth, by some accounts), the heated houses are prepared for tomorrow's plant delivery: snaps, bells of ireland, poppies. Just six more years before retirement (the old man will be sixty-two), so it's time to begin looking for someone to take over the farm. Hopefully, someone young and energetic (with access to money) will be interested in a lifestyle we find lucrative but which won't approach CEO wages unless the business expands. Ten acres, a four bedroom stucco house that's only eight years old, greenhouses, outbuildings, a mature body of woody perennials and perennials, well-amended soil, plenty of water rights (enough to drip ten times the acreage we have, 500 blue spruce as of this spring, and to top it off, Jeriann and Ralph will babysit the place for a year to make sure the new buyer succeeds (manual labor not included with this offer). So if you know someone who loves the outdoors, is personable, likes plants, is willing to work, likes winters off and most importantly, has money, contact us and we'll show him, her, or them around.
On the Farm: Ralph spoke at the ASCFG National Conference in Tacoma a few days ago. Here are the outlines from his presentations. First outline is on tulip and bulb productions, the second is on multizone hoophouse production.
I. 4 methods of planting tulips
A. TRENCHES are easy—just soften the soil with a tiller, dig the trench, put the bulbs in, and cover. No extra materials needed.
1. bad points: if bulbs don’t come out when tulips are pulled, you will have to contend with volunteer tulips forever.
2. Even if you do pull the bulb, bulblet offshoots can break off and continue to grow in the soil, making for increased possibility of diseases.
B. you can eliminate this problem by planting IN CRATES
1. good points:
a. can be planted at a comfortable, waist high level, then dropped to the ground;
b. since sterilized soil is used for planting, bulbs can be easily pulled with the harvested flower
2. bad points:
a. outside bulb row is too exposed to elements, leaving tulip underwatered, short, and unmarketable
b. if drip tape is just laid over the top of the crates and left uncovered, tulips will raise the tape as they grow, and tape must be tucked between plants or leaves will get wet and make fungal problems more likely
A. tulips can be planted IN CRATES IN TRENCHES
1. good points: bulbs can be pulled; no outside row problems;
2. bad points: extra work and material
B. tulips can be planted iN ARTIFICIAL RAISED BEDS
1. can be built with minimal materials—1 x 6 boards attached together with metal straps and supported by rebar on both sides of boards. All materials are reusable
2. good points:
a. easy, no need for crates, bulbs can usually be pulled; no need to dig trenches;
b. bad points: extra construction, a bit cumbersome, not OSHA approved
B. CRATE PLANTING BY STEPS
A. Line crate with newspaper to keep soil in
B. Add soil for root base
C. Put bulbs on soil, finger space between
D. Cover with soil and fertilizer
C. TRENCH planting by steps
A. Till, then mark out with carpenter string
B. Dig trench 4-6 inches deep
C. Put sterilized soil in trench bed if desired
D. Place bulbs in trench, 13-16 to a row
E. Cover bulbs slightly
F. Lay four drip lines over covered bulbs (less if soil is clay)
H. cover the drip lines with soil, making sure lines don’t move by turning on water as trenches are filled
I. Note on winter irrigation, especially under cover: every two to three weeks tulips must be watered so they do not dessicate.
D. With STAGGERED PLANTINGS: you can have 12 weeks of tulips, even without buying precooled tulips, which could extend your season even longer
A. We start the tulip season with a heated greenhouse
1. WE TURN HEAT ON ABOUT THE FIRST OF FEBRUARY, when the tulips emerge on their own having given themselves their proper 14 weeks or so of dormancy, and begin harvest six weeks later
2. WE KEEP THE THERMOSTAT AT 33, to save on propane costs, as night temperatures may be 15-20 below zero for two weeks at a time
3. If you keep your greenhouse warmer, at 50 degree average day/night temperature, you can begin harvest in five weeks from emergence
4. If you keep house at 60 avg. day/night, four weeks
5. THE TULIP HARVEST IN THE GREENHOUSE LASTS ABOUT THREE TO FOUR WEEKS, USING VARIETIES THAT BLOOM AT DIFFERENT INTERVALS
B. HOOPHOUSE TULIPS EMERGE ACOUPLE WEEKS LATER THAN THE GREENHOUSE TULIPS, as the house is colder with rollup sides, and we start harvesting near the first of April, as the greenhouse tulips are finishing
1. The passive solar of a hoophouse means you are subject to cloudy days and less control of average temperaturs
2. We leave sides up except on exceptionally cold nights, below 25
3. Tulips can take cold temps; even down to the low teens; they may be black-leaved and laying flat on the ground in the morning but will recover by afternoon. This may be startling even to an experienced grower, but the only damage will be to very tall tulips, which may rejuvenate with twisted stems, and tulips that are very near to harvest, which can blister
4. Tulips that are frosted severely may have a pebbled surface on the bloom, but most buyers do not find this unsightly
5. Harvest in hoophouse ends near the end of April
C. JUST AS THE OUTSIDE TULIPS BEGIN
1. Outside tulips are subject to elements and animals
2. Are subject to high heat events, which may scald blooms
3. May need mulch or shade to elongate stems in high light areas
4. Shade may slow harvest only by a few days
5. Outside tulips need a lot of water
6. Outside harvest lasts about 3 weeks, as days are longer
D. CHOOSING VARIETIES: HERE’S A LIST
1. There is generally a three to four week window for blooming tulips of a specific group
2. Earliest include the Impression series and Clearwater
3. Oranges are mid season: orange queen and orange county are almost indistinguishable, Ad Rem is shorter and earlier; Big smile, La Courtine are good yellows and mid to late season; Parade is a nice red; spring green is an unusual late variety, sporting green streaks on white;
4. LATEST: Maureen (a white variety to supplement the early Clearwater), Avignon, Dordogne, temple of beauty (a lily-tip variety)
5. To lengthen a color-season, split crates so half are planted in middle or hot area of greenhouses, half on wall where temperatures are cooler.
E. PARROT TULIPS
A. Cost about a nickel per bulb more but are worth 30 to 40 percent more in sales
B. Are susceptible to disease
C. ROCOCO is a short variety but has stunning color
D. FLAMING PARROT is tall
E. SALMON PARROT also tall
F. RED CAP also good
G. SUPER PARROT most beautiful of all but very prone to disease
F. DISEASES AND OTHER PROBLEMS
A. TULIP FIRE is called fire for a reason: moves very fast
B. can destroy a crop in a few days
C. high humidity, wet foliage creates climate for this disease
D. a high humidity cooler can exacerbate the problem; we lost thousands overnight in a wet season
E. APPLY BRAVO/EQUUS/PAGEANT WEEKLY TO KNOCK TULIP FIRE BACK
A. Soon as Darwins show color they can be picked; they will color up in the cooler
B. If picked a little earlier, they may not “open” but this is a good thing, as they seem to last longer if the petals don’t fall outward
C. By pulling the tulip, rather than cutting it, you can get an extra 4-6 inches of stem—just cut the bulb off after pulling.
D. Can be, but shouldn’t be, stored for two weeks in cooler.
1. well liked but not the bang for the buck that tulips are.
2. Instead of a flower in six weeks of care, it has to be nursed all winter.
3. spring planting with either plugs or corms resulted in just 2 stems
4. late fall planting will survive in unheated house (not rollup) but will suffer some leaf damage (this should be removed so fungus doesn’t thrive)
5. heated through winter results in best, but expensive;
6. ranunculus will take 12 degrees and survive but damaged plant matter must be removed
1.40 bulbs to a crate,plant just like you would tulips. Leave bulb on for sale
2.bulbs will freeze and rot if left aboveground in crates
3. more flowers abort in less than optimum conditions-hoophouse, and outside susceptible to problems
J. ANEMONES are another cool weather crop
A. 5-6 stems per corm
B. seem to have a SPECIFIC harvest window—if they start blooming early, they will also quit blooming sooner.
K. OTHER BULBS
A. Brodiae/tritelia—buried in crates in hoophouse prevents weediness; not hardy in our area outside
B. Muscari-in crates prevents weediness, can be moved around after harvest
C. Allium—indoors doesn’t seems to make earlier harvest
D. Ornithogalum—dubium will take 15 degrees and still produce
E. Daffodils can be grown the same way as tulips if you have a market; do not pull bulb; best to grow in crates so they can be moved.
I. SUCCESSION PLANTING WITH HOOPHOUSES EXTENDS SEASON TO NEARLY FOUR ZONES
A. With a HEATED GREENHOUSE you PICK UP TWO ZONES,
B. With an UNHEATED, PASSIVE HOOPHOUSE PICK UP ONE ZONE
C. You have the default OUTDOORS zone
D. And with a SHADEHOUSE you can SLOW DOWN MANY SPECIES, EXTENDING MARKET WINDOWS YET ANOTHER “ZONE”
E. Specialty cuts often have the problem of short blooming periods
1.often a customer may just look the first week, try it the second, and fall in love with it just as it ceases to bloom
2. with hoophouse succession, many species can be kept marketable for many weeks
2 SWEET PEAS
1. they are a high value crop that can and must be grown at low temps, making them perfect for low input greenhouse production; it would not be unusual to harvest 3-400 stems a day from a single 85 foot row, for a period of 7-8 weeks.
2. We grow one row down the center of the greenhouse, planting the first week of February when heater is started. Ground may be too cold for seeds, so plugs are best
3. Once the sweet peas begin to flop we drop netting from the center purlin, attaching with zip ties; then we attach another four foot section to t-posts from the ground up and tie the two sections together.
4. As vines get leggy we wrap each side with another layer of netting to keep them manageable
5. Near end of May harvest begins and continues until end of June
6. Shade house peas then start blooming (no need to plant in hoophouse, as they have a long cutting season in heated house)
7. Shaded peas can be planted as early as mid March but probably won’t emerge until first of May; will be harvested until first or second week of August
- MUSCARI IN FULL BLOOM plant muscari in crates so they are contained and don’t spread out of control; If planted in heated house they bloom sooner than even tulips, so we forego that planting and use hoophouse and outside for successive plantings. They can be removed from house or field after blooming and put in unused area to be occasionally watered through summer, then returned to hoophouse and outside for use the next year. This can be done with other bulb crops, as well. We do it with brodiae.
- Poppies are a good cold crop.
a. Champagne bubbles blooms heavily and seems to be disease resistant.
b. We plant first crop February 1 for mid april to mid June harvest.
c. We forego hoophouse planting, but put crop in shade house for harvest until end of July.
5 CHANTILLY SNAPS another good EARLY crop for cold houses
A. They are harvested before aphids have made headway, always a problem with snaps for us
B. Using different snap cultivars, it’s possible to have snaps maturing all season. Since we have a small market, we can plant plugs of different varieties at the same time, but harvest them successively, Rockets, potomacs late, with rockets being the most productive (10 stems a plant is not unusual) but taking a very long time to come to bloom.
C. BELLS OF IRELAND is yet another excellent cold greenhouse crop
1. CAN BE SEEDED BUTARE HARVESTED EARLIER IF TRANSPLANTED (and time is money in greenhouse terms); shouldn’t plant closer than 3 plugs to a three foot row, offset row to row in checkerboard fashion
2. BELLS HAVE A VERY LONG HARVEST WINDOW, nearly a month;
3. BELLS are prone to a disease called cercospora, a quickly developing tan spot on the leaves that can destroy a crop quickly. This is often a seedborne disease which comes from the plug producer. If it appears, harvest if you can, otherwise you must spray a fungicide regularly until harvest is complete.
4. If you have a market for bells, Succession plant bells in heated house, then unheated house, then outside (no need for shade)
5. No need to remove leaves for our clients—the leaves are a pleasant plus.
D. ranunculus is a good cool weather crop
1. Fall planted ranuncs can produce 8-10 stems a plant.
2. They will survive a lengthy spell of 15 degrees, but you must take care to remove damaged foliage or various foliar diseases will result
E. MATRICARIA is another good crop for us
1. After trialing a number of varieties over several years we now grow VEGMO SINGLE ON A CONTINUOUS BASIS
3. VEGMO SINGLE IS A “CAMOMILE” TYPE BLOOM , WHICH MAKESIT TOO WEEDY FOR A FLATLANDER FLORIST, BUT OUR RESORT CLIENTS LOVE IT
4. FEB. 1 PLUG PLANTING (in greenhouse) blooms only one week sooner than april 15 planting, so we forego early plant but plant successively in heated house after tulips are harvested, hoophouse, and outside in 3-4 week intervals.
5. Later plantings cram together as days lengthen and hasten bloom
6. Outside plants are multiple stems, but shorter, while inside are often single stems with less marketable sideshoots
F. MANY SPECIES ARE LIKE THIS, where planting early gains little time in harvest. GODETIA and NIGELLA are among
G. FOXGLOVE and other biennials can be fall planted in either heated or unheated houses if a fall crop is not harvested. Foxglove can be ruined by a frost if in bloom, so be careful to be ready to protect in unheated situations.
H. IBERIS and FORGET ME NOTS are too short in hoophouse situations in high light areas where shade cannot be applied due to late snows
I. BLOODFLOWER can be a good hoophouse or heated house crop, getting much longer stems than outdoor plantings and gaining many weeks in time of bloom. However, thrips can quickly decimate a crop indoors.
J. INFO ON SOME THINGS WE HAVE TRIED
1. glads: aborted under shade
2. alliums: less than a week early
3. red hot pokers: failed to bloom, too shady
4. white veronica (icicles): too tall, only slightly earlier
5. phlox: slightly earlier, but can be planted late for a delayed crop
K. REBLOOMING VARIETIES
1. BELLS---three to four week rebloom if cut to ground
2. SNAPS—rockets best for this, cut late so high summer temps don’t make weak stems
3. MATRICARIA—cut to ground, 4 weeks to rebloom if desired
L. Good shadehouse crops
1. lysimachia clethroides much taller; unmarketable in our area without shade
2. Lysimachia “firecracker” much taller, early cut, second cut possible; early as foliage (very long vase life); later as foliage or flower
3. Phlox, later and taller
4. Campanula glomerata; unmarketable without shade for us
5. Lisianthus gains height, but got botrytis due to later bloom into high humidity nights of Idaho
6. ornamental sage-berggarten from Goodwin creek gets another six inches tall; very good foliage.
< May 2012: A couple new products this year at Bindweed include snowball viburnum,
A few clematis are also for sale.
May 2012: The Bindweed Bus--the only Mercedes we'll ever own--has been spruced up with a Jeriann Sabin painting of a Mango-colored Iris (from a photo of Howard Phillips' flower).
At the "palate":
Jeriann is back at the Meridian Center on January 30 (that's a Monday), teaching "panic meals".On March 12 follow the creation of Taj Mahal Chicken and Indian Curried potatoes; check out her blog, too!
On The Farm
April 2012: Bindweed will be be starting its Pocatello/Idaho Falls bucket route this month, sporting a new Ford Transit (which looks like a Sprinter in miniature). We'll have tulips, hyachinths, forsythia, possibly white and purple grape hyacinths (muscari) and an assortment of twigs to start the southeast Idaho route off. The first ten thousand tulips have made it from the greenhouse to homes and events, and we are starting the second house, a passive solar construct, this week with an assortment of French and Parrot tulips. While the Parrots have been a success, we hope those planted in the unheated hoop do better than those in the greenhouse, where two varieties (Inzell and Super Parrot) had very poor bloom rates. So unfortunate, considering the Super Parrot may be the showiest white tulip out there--a real jaw-dropper.
In more news, Ralph Thurston, President of Bindweed, Inc., will be speaking before the ASCFG convention in Washington in November. He will relate his experience with bulbs and hoophouses for the membership.
March 2012: Red Impression Tulips, Apricot Impression Tulips, Rai Parrots, and Attila French Tulips are all blooming early. Next week Hyacinths and Ranunculus and Anemones. Pussy willows almost finished. Spring is here and vacation is over. Another year upon us.
Early ranunculus developed powdery mildew almost overnight, a first for us at Bindweed. Hoping to save at least a small crop, we cut them back to the nubs, hoping that they will regrow and bloom in late April for a short cutting season, at least. Of course, we are risking infection of the other crops in the greenhouse with powdery mildew by leaving any remnant of infected plants in the house, but it's a risk we decided to take--we'll see if our bet was a bad one.
January 2012: Hellebores, lilies, sweet peas, ranunculus, anemones, ornithogalum dubium--so far, they've made it through the winter in a minimally heated greenhouse (33 degree nights), though the thermostat failed on the coldest, below zero night and allowed at least a couple hours of fifteen degree weather in, damaging some lilies (others fared fine) and knocking the ornithogalum back to the nubbins. More lilies will be coming this week, and next week plugs will be coming: snaps of all sorts (Chantilly series, our first try!), beaucoup icelandic poppies, bells of Ireland, and probably some things we don't remeber that we ordered. We will have two heated houses come the first of February, with French tulips in the old Peony House.
2011: The tulips were planted late, due to one of the wettest summers on record in the Netherlands and subsequent problems in harvesting the bulbs there. But once they'd arrived, it took just a day to plant the 27,000 bulbs--thanks to the assistance of good friends and good help. A number of new varieties should excite the clientele next year (it certainly excites the grower). Bindweed has ramped up its concentration on parrot tulips, planting Inzells, Red Caps, Flaming Parrot, Super Parrot, Apricot Parrot, Libretto, and Salmon Parrot--now, we just hope they don't suffer any disease or malformation (parrots are notorious for their susceptibility to problems, which may be why they are more expensive. We once had a variety abort its entire planting for unknown reasons--so, we may not be so smart in planting so many of them but we just couldn't resist. After all, we are plant addicts. Muscari, Hyacinths, Brodiae also return to the farm, along with fall plantings of forget-me-nots and iberis (candytuft), two species we've never planted but which we finally yielded to (they'd been calling for several years).
October 2011: The Bindweed, Inc. Board of Directors meeting was held in Piemonte, Italy at the agriturismo centered La Traversina. Ralph and Jeriann eyed the possibilities of growing wine grapes (Barbera, in particular--if they are sufficiently hardy), iris root as a teething biscuit, and roses for the production of rose syrup. Later, they visited the Ligurian flower area to glean ideas from Italy that might be taken back to Blackfoot, Idaho. (The village the directors home-based in, Vernazza, suffered 18 inches of rain on October 25 and a consequent flood and wall of mud that nearly devastated not only it but neighboring Monterossa)
September 2011: Another year over! Record cold spring that extended through June, record aphid populations not just on our farm but in all southern Idaho agriculture; a near record dry July-August-September that brought spider mites to just about everything; rust on crops that normally have no such problem and yet, a near record year in sales! Go figure. We are sewing up the farm, pulling out the drip tape and preparing beds for next year's tulips and hyacinths--we'll have 11 new French and parrot tulip varieties, so we are excited about the coming season (particularly since it's so far away).
July 2011: The "perennial" glut has begun, with all the perennial flowers filling the cooler after a delayed spring is compressed into summer. Early bloomers like Knautia and Basketflower are blooming along with later flowers like Asclepias, and no doubt the annuals will be coming soon, too, so we will miss the annual break between perennials and annuals. The weather is always fickle, it seems, and never normal.
On the bug front, aphids have stricken lupine for the first time in our flower farming life, and they have also struck the Silver King--an annual affair that makes no sense, as the aphids fly in, then leave, apparently discovering they don't like artemisia after all. I'd like to know what they think they're dropping in on when they stop--something with similar foliage, I presume. Aphids have also hit the godetia in the greenhouse, and we're washing them off and spraying them, hoping to save the crop. Cercospora, a fungus, is just starting in on the Bells of Ireland, so we're harvesting that before it spreads (this fungus never affected us here until it was brought in with plugs a few years ago--the plug grower claims it came from the seed he was using). Some years the crop inside is decimated by this disease, but this year we caught it in time. The Bells we sow outside never succumb to Cercospora, thankfully.
June 2011: The annual fight-the-black-vine-beetle (or strawberry root weevil, no one here seems to know which) is underway. After two years trying to find something that would kill them we've finally found the answer: the chemical Tempo. Cyfluthrin or Bifrenthrin (sic) are two generic pesticides that will take care of the pests, which only come out at night and are thus difficult to spray. Nematodes are said to work, as well, though we had no luck using that method. The pest is more common than one would think--often gardeners think they have grasshoppers, seeing notched leaves on their peonies, but the little black beetle is the real culprit. Other favorites of the beetle are scabiosa and lysimachia species, and willows and osiers seem especially tasty, as well. If you wake up in the morning and find a small black beetle crawling in your house you make have mistaken it as a small cricket or stink bug, but instead it's the black vine beetle.
AT THE PALETTE
Jeriann's work "Iris III" will be unveiled at the Portneuf Medical Center on Friday, April 29, along with a number of other commissioned works (many by local artists). At 60 inches by 40 inches, it is the largest piece of her career and is sure to stun those who see it.
Jeriann will be teaching two kinds of risotto March 24 at the Meridian Center, behind the Wine Garden in Blackfoot. 7-9. Don't miss it! check out her blog, too!
Jeriann had such great success with her first class (in which she made grissini, biscotti, and tiramisu) at the Meridian Center (behind the Wine Garden in Blackfoot), that a second class is being held February 28 from 7-9. "Wine Sauces" is the theme--Jeriann will take a basic wine sauce and first turn it picquant, then move it to sweet (marsala), and then show how to make a quick and easy dinner in fifteen minutes.
--Get the recipes for her first class click here
--Get the recipes for her wine sauces click here
At The Palette
- January 2011: Jeriann's work will be at the Ciao Gallery's new February-March show, the Fourth Annual "Naturally Nude". The two paintings below are featured:
"Full Moon at Neap Tide"
Also, her "Iris", selected from over 1000 entries, will appear in Albuquerque at the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies alongside work by artists from California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Idaho, including paintings by Kathleen Torgeson-Murdock, Linda Aman, Anne Merkely, Brian Schreiber and Dwight Williams. The show commences May 6 and runs through June 5 at the Expo Fine Arts Building.
AT THE DESK
Open Range: Grief, Humor, Music and Other Occasions is at the printer and should be available in November.
AT THE PALETTE
October 2010: Back in the studio to work on a major commission, Jeriann is taking advantage of Idaho's high mountain light--a light that multiplies its richness in the coolness of autumn.
May 2010: Jeriann's work appears at Jackson Hole Flower Company--including full sheet watercolors as well as small scale meditation boxes.
October 2009: Jeriann's art hangs in Thora's Travel for Pocatello's First Friday Art Walk. Simultaneously, the Idaho Watercolor Society's Travelling Show will be at the Pocatello Art Center, where her award winning piece, "Encore", will show for the entire month, along with work by Torgeson-Murdock, Jackie Zumwalt, Anne Merkley, Dwight Williams, Chris Twardowski, Barbara Watkins, Lori Searle, DeAnn Goodwin, Linda Aman, Ryan Drew, Bill McCusker, Patricia Fennell, Karyn deKramer, Ilse Schreiner, Tom Cunningham, Carol Myers, and Jany Rae Seda. What a great show this year!
July 2009: Jeriann's work appears at Jackson Hole Flower Company, near Teton Village in Jackson, Wyoming.
June 2009: Jeriann achieved signature status at the 2009 IWS awards, receiving the Ruth Clark Award for her painting "Encore". The piece will be joining nearly 20 others to be shown around the state for the next several months in the Idaho Watercolor Society Traveling Show. Kathleen Torgeson-Murdock took top honors in this year's event.
AT THE DESK
Loving Allis Chalmers: Reflections From Agraria. Released in December 2007.
Purchase a copy.
See the Table of Contents.
No Sage: Essays From the Margin appeared in its second edition and includes two new essays, Mangoes and The Abstract Land. The book is availabe through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.
Leaving the Bucket: Searching for the Sacred in Addiction, essays on addiction and rural life, was released October 2005.
(Click on the image for a better view of the cover)
buy a copy
ON THE FARM
December 2010: It looks like a thirty year winter here, with snow already piled up like it was in early 1988, when the New Year brought 80 below wind chills to the upper valley and bulls froze their testicles in the field. But Bindweed is buttoned up, and though we have to pull snow off the greenhouses (snow that is already hip high on the sides), we are warm and waiting for spring, eating biscotti and drinking coffee.
July 2010: Sunflowers are three weeks behind, knautia (one of the earliest bloomers here on Bindweed) flowers alongside globe thistle (one of the later flowers). What a strange weather year--only one 90 degree day so far. The annuals are soon to bloom--before the perennials are through (now that's a first!).
June 2010: Killdeer update--deprived of sunflowers, they've acquired a heretofore unexpressed taste for zinnia seed. What next? Well, beaver, coming up from the canal each night to decimate a row of poplars. And painted lady caterpillars working on the sunflowers. Viburnums toast due to aphids. And, strawberry root weevil attacking scabiosa, lysimachia, peonies and a host of shrubbery. Get this, they must be sprayed after dark since they only do their dirties when the sun goes down. This should be interesting.
June 2010: Killdeers win--we had to cover the last seeding of sunflowers as they have decimated earlier plantings. They have expanded their tastes to include sorghum this year. Adding insult--aphids on the viburnum, tulip fire on the tulips, spider mites in the peony house, frost in late May damaging thermopsis, delphinium, annual and perennial transplants, the beginnings of rust on snapdragons, an aphid outbreak on matricaria, of all things, strawberry root weevil getting ready to do their thing, frosted peach blossoms (thank God we're not fruit growers), a ruined indoor peony crop--it's time for a desk job.
May 2010: Cold weather has extended tulip season well into May. It looks like they'll be blooming for Memorial Day week. Of course, that means the peonies will be slowed down considerably, so they WON'T be starting to bloom that weekend, as they often are, but will likely not begin until mid-June. The forsythia froze for the second straight year, though this year we'll know to cut it back so it grows straight (and marketable) stems next year. One fortunate thing to offset the bad weather: it is the year of the stupid killdeers, who this year are not eating the sunflower seeds out of the ground (an expensive meal, at a hundred and fifty dollars a pound). Now, if they'd just shut up once in a while--they are obviously on meth, as any time of day or night you can hear them KILL-DEEing out in the field.
April 2010: The shade cloth is on the unheated hoophouse in an effort to make the tulips grow taller and more slowly. A window in the weather allowed us to plant when we thought we wouldn't be able to--six inches of snow just sixty miles north one day, seventy degree weather the next, and a ten day forecast that says "no frost" (who can figure out Idaho weather). A thousand lisianthus went in the ground in the heated house yesterday, with the help of our new man, Miguel Hernandez, who has taken the place of Sara Jo Call. Sara mangled her foot at her own greenhouse in a bizarre accident and won't be back on her feet for a couple months. We'll miss her and we wish her well.
April 2010: Given the number of web surfers who end up on this site looking up "bindweed control", I'll give our method of dealing with the pesky weed (AKA "morning glory"). We mix one part Roundup and one part water (make sure there is an oil in the mix to make the Roundup stick) and spray the mixture on bindweed that has made at least one or two square feet of foliage (so it can suck up sufficient chemical to commit suicide). It is the only method of control that has worked for us; our organic friends claim that housing pigs on a morning glory-infested area will take care of the weed, as the pigs root out all the roots to quite a depth.
April 2010: The first fifteen thousand tulips of the greenhouse are all pulled, the next ten thousand in the unheated hoophouse are just getting ready to bloom. Lisianthus comes next week to fill the greenhouse, and plugs of cold hardy annuals are coming for outdoor planting--let's hope they are VERY cold hardy, as the fields are still too wet to work and the ground temperatures will surely tighten up any roots that hit the soil. Our invaluable helper mangled her foot working on her own greenhouse at home and will be out of commission for months, but we've found a new assistant who is eager to work and appears to be diligent as well as a perfectionist (we'll have to teach him to be sloppy to match our own ways here).
September 2009: Jeriann and Ralph were invited to share their "Aha" moment with Mutual of Omaha, which has sent a crew around the country filming short pieces detailing life-changing moments. Though our moments are more "Omigod" moments, or maybe "Oh, Shit" moments, we were able to revise history enough to create an epiphany from the long chain of events that got us to where we are. Here's the link: http://www.ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/7635
June 2009: The windmill, on the windiest day, will crank out 25 watts of power---about a buck seventy five. So don't go buying one as an investment. Every little bit of local power produced is that much less coal burned, that much less oil imported, but you won't be getting rich from having one.
The inside peonies are finishing up--late frost got the whites yet again. Outside, the rubra plenas are in bloom, and the Coral Charm should start blooming tomorrow (June 2). The race with the aphids on the lacecap viburnum is on, and it appears we are winning this year. The cold weather may have held them back, but who knows, in a week the aphids may have demolished the entire crop.
May 2009: The wind turbine has been fixed--a faulty relay board was to blame for its being out of commission for two weeks. Steve Painter of West Mountain Wind and Solar was the trouble shooter, and we recommend his company over the other local dealers (one of which installed our windmill, unfortunately) as he is the only one to actually understand the Skystream and is the only one able to service them. Please contact us if you're thinking about having a turbine installed, and we'll send you his way and explain why he's the best. A new computer program tracks daily electricity output, so we'll be able to tell you exactly how cost effective a windmill is in this area.
April 2009: The heated greenhouse has almost been harvested (15 thousand tulips cut), and the unheated, passive solar hoophouse is just starting to produce--right on time, believe it or not. The lilies inside the hoophouse have to be covered each night to protect from temperatures that still get buried in the teens, but they appear unharmed at eighteen inches high. Outside tulips have all emerged, but they're not too eager, given it snowed the night of March 31 and is expected to snow more the first week in April. Fieldwork waits while the ground sits soggy, and lisianthus plugs will be coming in mid-April to claim the greenhouse beds where tulips were just harvested.
March 2009: The first tulip bloomed on February 23 (an orange "world's favorite"), and the first blue hyacinths were right behind. Clients are making their Easter orders already (it's in mid-April this year), preparing for the first onslaught of color. Snow still hangs on the field, but the nights are warming so spring is not far away.
February 2009: The tulip greenhouse heat is on, and we're excited about a number of new varieties from our new suppliers. A number of brilliant colors will be available this year, colors we haven't had in the past, and we're hoping our customers will appreciate the expanded palette. We have a little trepidation about the coming year, what with the sinking economy, but we've planted as though there will be no disaster, and we intend to help our customers in any way we can to keep us all afloat in troubling times. Without them, we wouldn't be in business!
January 2009: The first power bill has come, with disappointing results. What seemed like a windy December provided us with only an estimated $10-$20 worth of power from the new windmill. But there is good news, we hope: a windmill expert stopped by and found our monopole to be out-of-plumb, which could halve the generator's energy output. With an inventive tool that hangs on the generator neck and drops its handle to eye level, he moved the generator and blades around to see if they "flow" toward one place rather than staying where they are put (as a level mill should be!). We won't know for a month if his adjustments really do provide an increase in energy output, but we are still hoping! If you have any questions regarding the windmill, please feel free to contact us and we will put you in touch with the expert, as well as share any information we have on the performance of our unit (which at this moment, still looks pretty iffy for this area).
November 2008: As part of the big financial world bailout, a bit of pork legislation was added to the congressional bill that Bindweed decided to take advantage of. Since the bill extended tax credits for alternative energy (up to 4000 dollars in tax credits--credits, not deductions, right off the top of your tax bill), windpower became more affordable, so we put up a windmill, a Skystream 3.7 that can pump out about 2000 watts (we've actually seen it hit 4000 briefly). To check out more on windpower go to awea.org; for distributors in the southeast idaho area, visit windenergy.com. Idaho also provides a tax break, spread over 4 years, that amounts to almost one thousand dollars in savings.
While our initial impression is that windmill electrical power is not particularly a money maker in our area, which has some of the cheapest power in the nation, if you live in a place of higher speed winds that are more consistent or in a place where electrical costs are higher, you'll probably recover your costs in just five or six years. We're hoping the Skystream we bought pays for itself eventually; in the meantime, it's a nice, if expensive, garden ornament. We would advise, by the way, putting up the tallest pole possible, as we were told (after having already installed our windmill) that a 45 foot pole would have provided 20 percent more power than our 33 footer. Live and learn!
June 2007: The Northwest Regional Meeting was held at Bindweed Farm, with attendees coming from as far as Nebraska and Washington State. Gary Pellett of Newflora (Kordes rose breeder in Oregon) sponsored the lunch, Dr. Steve Love of The University of Idaho Research Center spoke on rose pests, Paul Muirbrook gave an interesting talk on weeds, and Erin Benzakein, Jeriann and Ralph gave a rundown on growing specialty roses in the US.
Members gather for the Bindweed Farm tour (as seen through a willow fence)
Bingham County Weed Superintendent Paul Muirbrook speaks on invasive species.
June 2007: The Northwest Regional Meeting will be held the 14th at Bindweed Farm. Click on the link for info!
May 5 2007: we start harvesting hoophouse peonies today, a minimum of three weeks before outside peonies will begin to bloom.
April 2007: The trialled roses made it through a zone 5 winter, where temps dipped to fifteen below for several winter nights. We've pulled away the protective bark to reveal green canes with, in some cases, nearly fully developed leaves. Most, if not all, the roses survived. Next: pruning and a dose of dormant oil that we hope limits aphid problems in the coming season.
The first ten thousand tulips are harvested, and the daffodils have begun. It's our first year with daffies, and we've learned a few things already. Varieties: Bridal Crown has a wonderful, strong scent with multiple tiny blooms, but has the drawback of short stems. Ice Follies sells well, but has a fainter scent. Tahiti has a large bloom with a very good stem length, but its scent is light.
Hyacinths are also another first for us. We find they are so short that we must dig them from the ground and sell them bulb and all--if we grow them again, it will be in crates. And grow them we probably will, as designer reception seems positive.
Our first trial at successive phlox crops appears (at first glance) to be promising. The heated greenhouse crop has reached the support netting, being over a foot tall. We hope to see it bloom in May or early June. If it does, we may plant another crop in another, unheated house, in order to grow it as we do tulips--in three successive seasons, one immediately following the one prior. We'll keep you posted.
March 2007: French tulips are starting to bloom; the "lupine experiment" in the hoophouse appears successful, with the non-heated lupine emerging. Phlox in the greenhouses has emerged, as well, with our hopes that we will be harvesting it earlier than the outside phlox by a couple months. Bleeding hearts, another new species on Bindweed, appears healthy in the greenhouse--we've tried to grow it outside before, but the area has so many late frosts we were never able to harvest saleable stems.
The Northwest Regional Meeting will be held at Bindweed June 14. Seminars on outdoor rose production, two season peony production, sweet peas inside and out, and radiant heated cool weather crops will be presented, as well as a special session of instruction on color. Be there!
December 2006: The ranunculus experiment continues: hoping to get larger blooms, we left corms from the prior year in the ground, thinking that second year plants would throw more massive blossoms. Ninety percent of the ranunculus made it through the dormant period of summer, and will be blooming in February. Stay tuned to see if the blooms are indeed larger on second year corms.
November 2006: Jeriann was voted in as Northwest Regional Director for The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, and will serve from 2007 to 2009 in that position. A Regional Meeting is tentatively planned for Summer 2007 at Bindweed Farm.
May 2006: A genetic oddity appears in the icelandic poppy crop: a "bi-color".
April 2006: Despite a heater failure in early March when outside temps reached fifteen below and inside hoophouse temps fell to 15 for several hours, the ranunculus survived. Below see them as they stand now, five thousand stems already harvested from about twelve hundred plants. Freesia doesn't take such extreme cold and burned to the ground, but it still is throwing a few blooms. Both crops will be left in the ground for next year's harvest, to see if second year blooms gain in size and make it feasible to grow ranunculus and freesia as winter crops.
Despite what must be a record wet year (Blackfoot has received ten inches of moisture already--its average for the year), we've made it into the field (just barely). Below is the setup for irrigation at Bindweed.
This drip tape layer was manufactured by a local implement dealer, and is comprised of a simple shank with tubing formed on its backside, through which drip tape feeds under the ground, behind the shank.
When tape laying begins, the end of the tape is tied to a stake (in this case, a discarded potato digger link) to keep it in place.
To see earlier goings-on at Bindweed, visit the archives.
AT THE PALETTE
May 2009: Two of Jeriann's paintings were accepted to be judged for the Idaho Watercolor Society's Annual Travelling Show. If she places in the show, she will become a signature member of the IWS.
April 2009 Jeriann will be presenting and lecturing at the Utah Watercolor Society in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 7, 2009.
March 2009: Jeriann Sabin's work will appear at Ciao! Gallery in Wilson, Wyoming. Three pieces, including a three-dimensional work, were accepted for the Women's Show there. Opening night is March 27, 2009.
November 2008: An interview with Jeriann Sabin appears January's issue of ShopSmart. On Page 43 she gives you tips on bouquet making. Check it out at shopsmart!
Winter 2006-7 was spent on a number of large works, including this iris:
For a larger view, click on the pic.
Jeriann's work will be shown in a Hailey, Idaho venue, Petals and Stems, in early May. The opening is schedules for the evening of May 11. The above piece, as well as a number of smaller works, can be seen at that time.
One of Jeriann's most recent artistic forays was into the realm of book arts. "Dharma", a twelve frame folding book based on the Buddhist Eightfold Path, is shown here. The piece was recently shown in the juried exhibition "West of 105", which included book art from the best of artists to the left of the 105th parallel.
Click on the images for larger views.
Continuing in a similar, Buddhistic vein, Jeriann's triptych Mind, Body, Spirit was shown at The Walrus and the Carpenter Bookstore in Pocatello, Idaho , along with work from fellow artists Paula Jull, Margot Proksa, Jessie Proksa, Sarah Joyce, Cathy Sher and Kaye Turner. (click on images for a better view)
A companion piece of Jeriann's, On Reflection, was also hung at the show.