A Walk Through Sam's Place

It's amazing what a difference a little rain can make! After several years of drought, Sam's Place is finally getting some much needed relief. Coming out of the driest Fall and Winter that I know of, Spring has brought with it a ton of moisture. The plant life has sprung into action. Grasses, shrubs, and trees are putting on growth after years of just surviving. It is a beautiful thing to see. Hopefully it holds through the Summer. Brushpile and I "planted" a number of mulberry and poplar truncheons about 6 weeks back. Last year's plantings had variable survival depending on the timing of the planting as drought overtook the are area. Our first round did very well, but persistent drought killed nearly 100% of my second round of truncheons planted only a week later than the first. With moisture flooding the soil, this year's plantings have 100% survival so far. Both mulberry and poplars are thriving. Here are a couple of examples of the growth so far.
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Though all of my pears took a hit from early warm up/ late frost, most of my apples are doing well and covered in fruit. I even have a few trees coming into fruit for the first time. Fireblight has never been much of a problem with these trees due in part to their resistance, but also the dry conditions they have suffered through which has slowed growth. This year I do have one of my mature trees that has a fair amount of blight. I attempted to cut out the worst branches, and will see how it fairs. Most of my trees are thriving.
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Plenty of moisture also leads to good grafting survival. I grafted about 30 persimmons 2 weeks ago, and all the ones I looked at are starting to push leaves. This is a big improvement from the 50% success I had with last year's grafts. In some drier spots, only about 10% of grafts took which is way lower than the 90% or better survival that I typically get. I also grafted several che fruit to osage orange. Che is also called melonberry, and is an Asian fruit that is very sweet, with a melon like flavor. Much like their relative, Osage orange, these che scions are very vigorous! I had two grafts that were totally dislodged from the severe weather that has repeatedly hit the area, but all other grafts were pushing leaves, and significantly ahead of the persimmons grafted on the same day. I am very excited about this new addition as I have thousands of rootstock to choose from :).
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Despite their vigorous nature, che is not an easy tree to graft. The wood is very hard, and takes a sharp knife and some "whittling". Also finding a hedge tree that isn't in a huge cluster is difficult. When you find a good candidate, cutting the tree down will almost always lead some part of you bleeding. Look at the top of the rootstock here, and you will see what I am talking about.
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Here is another example. Notice all the long thorns! One other thing to be aware of with osage is that right after being cut it releases a milky sap that is very slippery. The bark slips nicely to accept the scion, but the sap makes the wedged scionwood want to squirt out from underneath the bark. I believe this is why the heavy wind, rain, and hail were able to dislodge a couple of my grafts.
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Wildflowers were also taking advantage of all the moisture. Sam's Place was loaded with daisies, Indian paintbrush, milkweed, and a number of other wildflowers. Due to a low phone battery, I didn't get a lot of photos. Here is a less than wonderful photo of a spiderwort flower.
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Another interesting little find...This guy was crawling around in some rocks near my pole barn. This is the "eft" stage of the central newt. This is Missouri's only newt. The eft stage is the only time during the newt life cycle that it lives entirely on land. I haven't seen one since I was a kid and spent a lot of time rolling logs over in the forest looking for critters. I named this one "Gingrich" and turned him loose :).
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Another grafting success...This is an Ozark chinkapin that was top worked into an existing Chinese chestnut. This was grafted onto a single limb, so I should get both Ozark chinkapins and Chinese chestnuts if all goes well.
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Lastly, this is not a property pic, but is worth sharing. I took my youngest, Gabe, a couple of weekends ago on what we were hoping was going to be a knife hunt for hogs. A local man has a high fence operation for deer, and has been trying to eliminate wild hogs in the area for over a decade. The dogs he was using weren't exactly exceptional, and were having a hard time making much of the hog trail. However, we were able to locate a group and put one down with a rifle. Not exactly the knife hunt we were hoping for, but it was a good father/son time, and the price was right...free :). Hopefully Gabe will get a chance to knife one or spear one in the future.
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I love what you are doing with Che and Osage Orange! I planted 3 Che a yr or two ago with the sole intent of using those trees for grafting to my numerous native OO... exactly what you are doing!

I'm also a huge fan of Mulberry and have several native trees that I've released and cleaned up around so that they can do a little better. I need to learn your methods of planting truncheons to expand what I already have. I intend to plant a bunch of seeds this yr. We have lots of berries already.

You're doing great work! Keep on keeping on!