Michael Journey

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since Sep 24, 2015
Western WA, Olympic Peninsula, USDA Zone: 8b
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Recent posts by Michael Journey

I agree with Scott.  Make sure your newly planted trees are watered in well and that's about all there is to it.  Assuming you purchased your trees from a nursery somewhere in our region, they've already been surviving our winter temperatures before being planted in your yard.

Happy growing!

4 weeks ago
I agreed with Sonja- I was raised by parents who taught me to buy the highest quality tool available and then care for and maintain that tool religiously.  Quality will provide a lifetime of use.  Thereafter you can pass on said tool to your grandchildren.  My version of sustainability I suppose and counter to mainstream cheap import throw away production.

I also agree with Ben.  Samurai saws are superb.  In fact my fixed blade saws are Samurai and they are top notch.

Bill, something else to consider aside from the speed of cut from a quality saw.  That is the saws we're talking about provide a very clean cut.  Essentially no raggedness at the periphery of the cut which heals smoothly.  I belong to the fruit tree "winter prune for architecture, summer prune for size" school of thought.  So for the past month or two I have been cleaning up tree architecture in my orchard.  In wandering amongst my trees and looking at branch removal cuts from prior years made with these saws, every single one is a nice uniform well healed callus at the branch collar.

Not trying to spend your money Bill, just a little more food for thought.

1 month ago

Bill Weible wrote:Hello, I am back with a hopefully simple question...what is the best short blade (10 inches or less) pruning saw?  Especially the folding kind.  I will be doing a limited amount of pruning.    I will have more pruning questions and new pictures before too long.  Thanks, Bill

Hi again Bill.  Pruners, saws, orchard ladders... is a bit like asking your favorite brand of truck, chainsaw, underwear, etc.  Sort of the Felco vs. Bahco hand pruner routine.  Anyway, I've tried multiple saws over the past decades and my personal favorite is the Silky Professional Series (GomBoy) folding saw.  More expensive than your typical Home Depot offering but built to last a lifetime with a guarantee to match.  I have several of these saws in our orchards and they hold up to heavy use year after year and retain their super sharp edge very, very well.  I like Silky Pro folders but YMMV.

1 month ago
First a disclaimer.  My main interest and focus are fruit trees, primarily apple trees, particularly heirloom cultivars.  My root stock preference for apple trees is standard or semi-vigorous options such as M111 or B118.  My glacial till soil is listed as "sandy loam" by our local conservation district but my wife and I joke that "very rocky sand" would be a more accurate descriptor.  The vigorous rootstocks tend to perform better for me here but YMMV.

As above, Burnt Ridge is a staple of mine as well.  I have also been pleased with Raintree Nursery.  Raintree prices are a little higher than Burnt Ridge but I've found that the caliper of bare root trees from Raintree are larger than what I typically receive from Burnt Ridge, likely explaining the price difference.  Both nurseries are located in SW WA.

I have used Hoffman's (Puyallup) heavily but sadly Mr. Bob Hoffman died a few years ago and the nursery closed.  Bob was a great contributor to western WA fruit tree societies so I wanted to take a moment to send kudos his way.

I've had good luck with One Green World (Portland) as well but have not used them as often due to the rootstock options they offer on their apple trees (primarily dwarf).

A couple of other west coast options for you.  I've been pleased with everything I've received from Trees of Antiquity (CA), particularly for difficult to obtain heirloom cultivars.  They offer very nice large caliper bare root trees (the majority of which are on M111).  Last I'll mention Bay Laurel Nursery (CA).  I've ordered dozens of fruit trees from them over the years and they've all been very nice, large caliper trees.  I think Bay Laurel sources their trees straight from Dave Wilson as the latter is in the same area.

We're fortunate to have many great choices here on the left coast!

1 month ago

Trace Oswald wrote:

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:With a tree that small, It'd be really easy to start over with something healthier.

This is my thought as well.  You could graft it and try all sorts of heroic measures to save it, but it will never be as healthy as a tree that did well on it's own without your help.  If it isn't thriving, I would take it out and plant a new tree.

Yes, I'm with you two also.

Sally, unless your struggling tree is a harder to obtain cultivar or an heirloom variety of some sort I wouldn't personally spend a lot of time grafting a cutting from this tree.  Like yourself, I'm a fair hand at grafting fruit trees but it still seems to be a hit and miss proposition.  It's your tree and time of course but this is bare root tree season in WA.  You're in SW WA.  It would be fairly simple and relatively inexpensive to purchase a bare root replacement tree from one of the local nurseries down there such as Raintree or Burnt Ridge.

Plant the replacement bare root apple tree in a happier spot and you'll be eating apples from it before you know it!  :-)

1 month ago
Hi James:

Depending upon where you located here in western WA, you may want to check in with one of the chapters of the WCFS.  I belong to the Olympic Orchard Society and several members of the OOS are big cider makers.  If you're not familiar with them already, WCFS would be a good resource for.


2 months ago
Hi Kaleb:

What you seek are apple cultivars grown on, or grafted on to, standard, seedling or Antonovka rootstock.  Standard/Seedling/Ant rootstock will produce a full sized, vigorous, long lived tree.  These terms (standard, Antonovka) seem to be used interchangeably at times.

I'm not sure where you are located but as an example, an east coast US supplier of standard rootstock is Fedco.  They also have a nice selection of heritage apple cultivars on almost exclusively standard rootsock:  https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/malus-antonovka-rootstock-268

2 months ago
Another western WA nursery that has N Gift is Raintree nursery.  I've ordered Nikitas Gift trees from both Burnt Ridge and Raintree.  The trees from Raintree were larger than those from Burnt Ridge both in terms of height and caliper, likely accounting for the price difference.



I'm maritime west coast so I'm familiar with the nurseries in my "neighborhood".  There may be a source of this cultivar closer to home for you Al.

4 months ago

Andrea Locke wrote:I bought some Antonovka seeds for planting as I am intrigued by having read that they are one of the only apples that will come true from seed. I gather that outside the permie community they are primarily used as rootstock in most parts of the world, although there seems to be a whole apple industry based on them in some parts of eastern Europe.

Anyone out there familiar with their eating qualities, not just as rootstock? What did you think of them?

Hi Andrea:

I've had them and they were OK.  Somewhere in the so-so to good range (typical in my experience for early ripening apples).  They wouldn't make my top 10 favorite variety list but again not bad for an early apple.  Yes, as you mentioned, ANT is one of my preferred rootstocks as it is deep rooted and drought resistant, both qualities of which are desirable for me here in the rain shadow region of the PNW.  Your neighbors are growing them (Salt Springs Apple Co.).  Here is their description:


- Michael
5 months ago
Hi Jeremy.  One thing I have learned about pruning questions over the years is that the answer will depend upon whom you ask and what you're trying to accomplish with your tree.  So this is what I would do if this nice little Winecrisp was my tree in my location (maritime pacific NW USA).

My reading of Fukuoka has led me to believe that he was talking about no prune methods for non-grafted trees.  Once a fruit tree is grafted on to a specific rootstock it basically becomes a "pruned tree" at that point.  My feeling is that this being the case, you may as well make peace with pruning the tree thereafter.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a lot of pruning but in most cases at least some pruning will be required to maintain health and production of the tree.

We have a small hobby orchard of about 60 fruit trees.  My winter and spring climate is very wet and I learned that the traditional time of year to prune fruit trees (late winter/early spring) is asking for disease trouble.  Some years ago I stumbled upon Dave Wilson Nursery and their Backyard Orchard Culture (BOC) including summer pruning of fruit trees.  For me personally, this changed my whole approach to my fruit trees.  I primarily have my trees on semi-vigorous rootstock for soil and climate reasons that I won't bore you with (M111, B118, M106).  With BOC I've maintained my trees at an easily accessible height of 8 or 10 feet despite my choice of rootstock.

So... after this background info on me and my preferences- looking at your tree I notice what appears to be blue paint on the trunk near your black support rope in the second picture.  I assume this tree is grafted then.  You may know the rootstock it's on and if this is the case that would influence my pruning advice a bit.  For me personally, I'd remove the three lower branches (by the black support rope) making the cut at the branch collar.  Over the years growing fruit trees I've settled on a modified central leader pattern for apple trees.  You basically have this already with your Winecrisp.  I'd make a heading cut on your tallest (dominant) leader to achieve this.  Otherwise your tree looks very good.  You may wish to use spreaders on the lateral branches and aim for a crotch angle in the 45-60 degree range.

Last it's a young tree so I'd remove most of the apples to allow the tree to put it's energy in to growth saving a few of the nicer apples to sample (I know, hard to do).

Hope this perspective helps some Jeremy!
7 months ago