SUNDAY STILLS: #SUMMER = Hiking!

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There’s no joking around, summer’s are made for hiking! You knew that, right? One of my favorite places to go hiking in the summer is in Lassen Volcanic National Park. If you’ve been here before, you knew that as well, since I go there all the time. How can I not? It’s close by, and SO amazing.

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Yesterday we hiked to Mill Creek Falls. At a majestic 70ft, it’s the biggest waterfall in the park. Somehow I have missed this hike. I’ve been thinking of going to this fall more than once, but been persuaded to go on other hikes. Yesterday I finally got to see it. It was amazing. The fall was extraordinary, and so was the hike there. The wild flowers along the trail are exquisite.

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The yellow flower above, is a mule’s ear. The vegetation covering the ground next to the trail below, is all thousands of mule’s ear, growing together. I’m estimating that along 1,5 mile of the trail, the sides were covered with massive amounts of mule’s ear (like in the photo.)

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Mill Creek Falls Trail is another out -and back trail, totaling 3.8 miles. It’s not difficult, I believe it’s rated moderate. It was in the 80’s yesterday, and because of the coming 4th of July holiday, there was lots of tourists visiting, many having some problems with “the heat”. (I live in the valley, one hour away, and it was 107 there..) The trail actually offers plenty of shade, but warm summer temperatures should be considered when you’re planning this hike of course. We did not see any bears, but there are bears in this area. I talked to a girl that had seen one there the day before.

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The fall was even more magnificent than I could of imagined. One of my friends claims that we have 80 waterfall, within 1,5 hour drive. I’m not sure if that’s correct, I could only think about 20, or so. In the end we agreed that we are blessed with many amazing waterfalls. Mill Creek Falls is definitely in my top ten now.

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If you continued a little further on the trail, after the fall, you would see a bridge on the left side of the fall. We walked over, and had a picnic lunch above the fall.

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I cooled my feet in the creek, while eating my salad. It was really nice to sit down in the shade.

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The view from the top of the fall.

It’s impossible to feel anything other than immense gratitude when hiking in this park. The views make you grateful to just be alive, and able to hike these amazing trails.

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The shade in the forested parts of the trail was appreciated.

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I hope you enjoyed my take on Sunday Still; Summer

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Until next time –

Love,

Ms Zen

Fig Propagation – Growing A New Container Fig Tree From Cuttings

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Figs have an almost magical appeal to me. The only time I enjoyed them growing up, was during Christmas, when dried figs were available in the grocery store (where I lived, in northern Europe.) As a teenager I went on a trip to Greece with one of my friends. While exploring a secluded beach, we saw a beautiful tree high up on a cliff. We had no idea what kind of tree it was, but climbed up there to look at the tree. It took a good 30 min to climb up to the tree. We were well rewarded for our effort. As you probably guessed, it was a fig tree, full of ripe, delicious, juicy figs. That was the first time I tasted a fresh fig. My mouth starts to water just thinking about it today, 20 years later. We sat under the fig tree for several hours, until the heat of the day passed. We ate a lot of figs. My friend took his shirt of, using it as a bag, and packed it full of figs. Before the last rays of sun disappeared, we slowly climbed down with our treasure.  

I live in California now, and fig trees love our mediterranean climate. (The climate in our valley is actually very similar to the climate in Greece, where I first got a taste for this delicacy.) There’s so many different kinds of fig trees, and almost all of them like it here. My daughter loves figs as much as I do. We eat them fresh, when they are in season. They have a very short shelf life though, and we freeze most of the figs we can’t eat. We just freeze them as they are, separate, on a tray. When they are frozen solid, I put them in bags, or small boxes with lids. That way they are easy to thaw, one by one. The freezing process crystallizes the sugar in them, so without adding sugar, they become even sweeter, when they are frozen. I serve the figs halfway-thawed as desert, or a treat. It’s absolutely delicious. Many guests have asked how I make this wonderful desert I serve, and almost don’t believe when I say that it’s only one fig, nothing else added.  Sometimes I serve them with cheese and crackers, use them in baking, or make preserves of them. Figs are packed with nutrients, and they are considered to be a super food. They have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and cancer fighting properties. Figs have lots of fiber, and are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper, and are a good source of antioxidant, vitamins A, E and K. As if the delicious taste itself wasn’t enough. 

My fascination with figs, and fig trees, have led me into experimenting growing different varieties. I’ve planted figs the traditional way, in the ground, but I also grow them in containers. If you have a place big enough to plant a fig tree in the ground, by all means, go for it! A fig tree can grow up to around 30 ft, and bear fruit for a couple hundred years. It thrives best if it has plenty of space, and full sun. You could give a legacy to your grandkids, and their grand kids. If your space is limited, fig trees thrive in containers, and this big tree, is much easier to handle when trained to be in a container. Animals tend to love figs, and when you grow them in containers, it’s easier to protect them. No one want to give their whole harvest away. Growing figs in a container also allow people that don’t have much space to have a fig tree, or two. You could even have one at your balcony in the city. If you live where the weather isn’t very mediterranean like, you can move your fig trees indoors during winter, if you grow them in containers. 

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A two year old fig tree, grown from a cutting of a friend’s fig tree. This fig tree is planted in a smart pot (made out of fabric.) This was how I used to plant all my trees. This season I’ve started to plant my (bigger) fruit trees in self watering pots, as an effort to preserve water. The new cuttings will go into self watering pots, when they have roots. 

I believe that container gardening, is a growing movement, and I’m all in. For me it’s perfect. I don’t own the place I currently live at, but I still love to have fruit trees. When using containers it is easier to fight off pests, insects, and to efficiently feed your plant/tree the nutrients it needs. The trees in the experiment below are meant to be for container gardening.

You probably already know that I homeschool my daughter. The theme of our latest school project was; Trees. In this theme my daughter and I learned to identify local trees, learned about their place in the eco system, planted trees, propagated trees, and learned about what a tree needs to thrive. We tried three different ways of fig propagation, (growing a new tree from cuttings.) The methods are similar, but not exactly the same. I wanted to see what method is most efficient. If you have a fig tree you like, or maybe your neighbor, or your friend have one, you could try this yourself. They are all very simple methods.  Before starting I’d like to say that you can grow roots really fast by placing cuttings in a glass of water, but those roots are never as strong, as the roots you get from placing them in a medium like soil. I’ve already discovered that in previous experiments. If you want a strong, healthy tree, high quality soil is the way to go. 

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These are cuttings from a fig tree, that I simply put in a regular pot, filled with soil from my compost. I keep the cuttings in the shade outside, until they get leaves. When they get leaves, they have a root system, and they get to be in the sun. We have warm temperatures now, the night’s don’t get under 50 F, and the days have a high of 80-85. If it was colder I would start them inside, in a window with filtered light. The fig two year old  fig tree, in a smart pot (in the photo higher up,) was started this way.

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This is basically the same idea, but I covered it with a bag, to make a mini green house. I have tried this before, with good results.

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I have never tried the third method before. I stumbled upon this video on Youtube, and naturally I had to try! Watch the video, and tell me what you think.

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This is what the third method looks like, from a distance.

The purpose with this project is to see which method, of these three, that produces the strongest roots, in the shortest amount of time. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see the results! We planted a total of 30 cuttings, to have a decent number of trees to compare. I will keep you posted about the progress.

What’s happening in your garden right now? Any fun plans for the weekend?

Love,

Ms Zen

Growing Fruit Trees In Containers

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I grew up in a cold place where it was impossible to grow fruit trees of any kind. I love fresh fruit and vegetables, and eat a lot of it. Sometimes it was even difficult to find a variety of fresh fruit in the grocery store, and it was always very expensive. Now I live in California (garden zone 9b,) and my options are (almost) unlimited. I can grow anything my heart desire, with a little effort. I’m in heaven!

Fruit trees take several years of growing, before they produce fruit. I have been moving more times than I can remember the last six years, lived and worked at several different ranches, and been on a cross country trip with my RV. My semi nomadic, adventurous lifestyle, lead me to start experimenting with  container gardening, a few years back. Now I successfully tried growing; different kinds of peaches, cherries, olives, plums, pomegranates, lemons, and figs in containers.

Last year I decided to sell my whole container garden, it was starting to get BIG in every aspect of the word (the trees were huge and many,) before moving to a new place. This year we’re leasing a property, and I will plant a traditional annual vegetable garden. On the side I’m going to start a new container garden with fruit trees. I planted the first four trees yesterday (photo above. Don’t mind the surrounding mess/weeds, we’re in the middle of moving in to our new house.) I’m focusing on trees that are suitable for our dry/hot climate, like pomegranate, and fig trees. I will plant some other trees, but I’d like the majority to be draught resistant.

I’m trying to think of ways to save water. For the past three years I’ve planted my fruit trees in smart pots, durable grow bags made out of fabric. It’s cheap to get used ones where I live (!) They work great for growing vegetables, and fruit trees. Last year I grew tomato plants that was closer to 10 ft, in 25 gallons smart pots. (Here is a post with some container gardening from last year.) The only thing I was concerned about was all the water that poured out on the ground. I’m sure there is a way to work around that, to save that water. Until I figure out how, I’m going to use self watering pots that water the trees automatically. The first week you water on top, after that you fill up an empty space at the bottom, and the plant uses the water it needs. I’ve tried it indoors with flowers, ten years ago, or so. Using them outside, as a means of saving water is new to me. I will keep you posted about how this method works for different kinds of fruit trees.

I prefer dwarf, or mini dwarf trees, for container gardening. It’s easy to maintain a short tree. You can pick the fruit with ease, prune it, and easily cover it with a net if it need protection from birds. I have tried regular sized trees in containers as well, it works, but you have to train the tree from a young age to the form you like. It’s a little more work, but doable. Just don’t let it get to big in the pot. Depending on the tree, I find that 15-25 gallon containers are most suitable. 25 gallons pots can grow a big, productive tree, but are very heavy to move. I have a heavy duty garden cart to move them on, but it’s still slightly challenging to move the 25 gallon trees by yourself. (I’ve done it many times, that’s why I choose to sell my container garden before moving last summer.) The trees I planted yesterday are in 15 gallon pots. Which will work perfectly for a couple years, until it’s time to replant them anyways (before they get root bound.) One of the most important thing when choosing containers for your fruit trees, is that the container drain well. You don’t want the roots to constantly be wet. They need to dry out in between.

If you have a container garden because of limited space, and you buy your trees at a nursery, pick your trees carefully. Try to pick “cone shaped” trees, with branches growing at a 45 degrees angle upwards. It’s easier to keep training that tree in the right shape, that will save you space. (Naturally you don’t always get to be picky, and that’s fine, you just have to work with what you got.)

I will keep adding trees to my container garden throughout the season, when I get a good deal locally. My goal is to have a variety of fruit trees, so that there is always fresh fruit available, year round. It is actually possible here. I sometimes barter working a few hours on someones place, or with someones horse, towards fruit trees, or fresh produce. The farms and ranches in our area are usually very busy during spring/summer, and appreciate the help. If you want to know what these two strong arms worked with today, check it out on Instagram. (It’s going to be 30ft x 30ft when it’s done.) I assure you I don’t need to hit the gym today, and I won’t have to do it tomorrow either..lol. I love this time of the year!

Are you interested in container gardening? Have you tried it? Do you have a container garden? Are you interested in trying? What type of fruit trees thrive in the climate where you live? Tell me about your garden!

 

Love,

Ms Zen