Learn from my mishaps.

It looks like I will be investing some time on learning the craft of propagating. I found my biggest, tallest and oldest nectarine tree fallen yesterday. It looks like part of the base didn’t grow fully and it made it weak, thus when it was getting tall and heavy, it just broke. I searched and couldn’t find any explanation and I know the kids didn’t touch it. My fruit trees are like sacred investments.

Fortunately, this was the nectarine we brought over from the blue cottage and it wound up being two trees. The one that broke was a surprise and it grew so fast. We still have the original tree as you can see it still had it’s bands and label. The other was a mystery, but it did produce fruit so I felt a little heart wilt when I found it. I salvaged much of it and followed instructions on how to prune it back and put the trimmings in a bottle of water until we plant. That is a whole other procedure but not that complicated.

This has been a big learning season thus far. We are enjoying such abundance and good fortune in some areas and not so swell success in other parts. I’m making new mistakes, and learning about new issues such as fungus, aphids being farmed by ants, and how to mulch properly.

I mulched all my trees and parts of the garden with piles of rice straw. I mulched too much. I discovered that all the watering wasn’t truly soaking the earth around the trees. I had the straw too thick and dense and it would be soak up all the water and keep the top of the ground moist but not enough water was getting to the tree roots. I pulled all the straw back last night and soaked every tree. I’m not sure if that is what did my apricot tree in. It was thriving and then died. Or not, we will give it winter to see if it recovers. I think that is what happened with my blue berries too, not enough water was getting past the straw and then I fertilized with chicken manure pellets. You want to feed them acidic blue berry food or coffee grounds, as a friend suggested. And ease up on the mulch, not too thick and don’t put it up against the trunks, it smothers the tree.

I pulled it far away last night, but I will redistribute it thinner and away from the base. I sure would love some chickens about now. When I pulled away the hay a city of bugs scattered. There were plenty of earwigs and, according to the Farmers Almanac, they are good and could be a nuisance only if they run out of things to clean up and aphids. I’ll leave them.

I now have an artillery of foods for all plants and trees, natural pesticides and medicines to treat all sorts of issues from fungus to aphids and ants. I have snail bate, diatomaceous earth, sticky solutions for tree trunks, and many nights of watching gardening videos.

I remember reading in a few backyard homesteading books that gardening successfully takes a few years. This will be second summer here but 5th time gardening. We have tried in three different zones and in three different soils. It is always like starting over when you have a new climate, soil, and zone. It makes one wonder how our great grandparents survived without a garden nursery near by.

Some of our trees are surpassing our expectations. Our orchard is just a year old but eager to produce. To me, this is a good sign of healthy soil. The bugs are thick, the trees are productive…all good signs of rich life.

The top photo is the old pear tree that has probably been here almost a hundred years. We pruned it something extreme, it hadn’t been pruned in decades. It came back thick and is loaded with pears. We also gave it lots of compost, chicken manure fertilizer pellets, and water. That was a success. The other trees are the apples, a triple hybrid pear that can’t seem to wait until it can actually handle the load so Bali rigged up this odd frame to help it for this summer. Then all these sunflowers! It started with only one last year. We didn’t plant the sunflower, it just appeared. We let it stay and die off in the garden and now we have a field of them. They are wonderful for the birds. If you keep water baths and sunflowers in the garden the birds won’t cause damage. They will eat your bugs and leave things alone if they have plenty of water and food.

This garden can and will be so much fuller and more lush next year. You need a good year of just watching the sun patterns, how much shade and direct sun light each part of the yard gets and when, what seasons, and so on. Then there is the soil. We have clay soil so it takes a lot of amendments. This garden is a vast improvement from last year and I already have so many ideas for next year. We have winter gardens dragging into summer and summer crops just beginning. I’ve had cilantro, mustard greens and some lettuce and basil bolt already. I will have front yard gardens next year for more shade tolerant plants and greens that need coolness. The winter potatoes are thriving. Some of you recall that video when I planted them waaayyy off season. I finally have a proper planting guide for this area and boy oh boy does it make things easy.

I know I said I was trying simple, no dig, but Bali and I have decided to till everything under after this summer. There is so much good stuff; horse manure, remains of a cover crop, straw, compost, leaves…we want to mix it all in and then do proper rows and patches. We will then layer more for the winter and begin all over but more organized. I will make a map of what is where and I desperately must have a work space/green house. I have decided to try propagating our trees instead of paying for more. We have so many rose clippings from the old house to propagate as well. I’m researching that on YT right now and ordered some Rooting Hormone. I’ll keep you all posted on that.

Now, here is another subject. Frozen bottles. If you have plastic bottles, fill them half way and put them in the freezer for the next day. these are great for hiking, kids playing outside, or putting in an ice chest. But water expands when it freezes. Don’t put metal in the freezer.

With a plastic bottle you can reshap it…not so with a metal bottle. We can no longer sit this one on anything as it is now with a round bottom.

Now here is a victory! Ten points for the Kate and Bali team on this one. Bali found a fantastic pump and we stick it in the pool or tub after a bath. The hose hooks right up and we water the garden and trees directly. No more heavy bucket. It was a good work out but enough already, now we have the smart way.


  1. Great job Kate!! Especially with the pump! We have problems here in Alberta Canada with ants, slugs and Especially aphids. Yuk! I’ve always had the best luck with Diatomaceous Earth. Natural remedies is the way i always go. I even use it on my house plants.
    Take Care Kate
    Love from 🇨🇦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gardening is always a work in progress. I don’t think anyone goes a season without some loss or a new lesson learned. The point is to reap the harvest that comes and continue on next time. I can’t tell you how many trees I’ve lost to voles and I keep trying. It’s hard sometimes, but worth everything when you see your success. Thanks for continuing your blog. I sure am going to miss you on YouTube, but I get it. Maybe you will start again someday or start on Instagram. Glad you sold your other house and are more comfortable now. I know you said Bali was a bit stressed. It was the perfect time to sell! You manifest well!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gardening is such a wonderful learning experience. I think you are doing well. Your garden looks much better than mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Smart thinking on that pump!!!!! Love it.
    Sorry about the tree – gardening is always a learning process. Much success to you.

    Cheryl @ Cheryl’s Frugal Corner

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh fruit trees were a battle here. It is certainly a learning curve. Raised beds were the answer to growing a lot with a little water. I love Sunflowers in the yard.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tell me more about that pump! What is the brand and model number. My garden is just outside the bathroom and that is an awesome water reclamation idea. Thanks in advance!


  7. I love smart thinking. The pump for the tub and pool is a great idea. I was always taught when it came to mulching any tree to think of donuts. There should be donut of ground between the tree and mulch. I forget a lot of things, but for some reason that one stuck with me.


  8. Sounds like your trees got smothered with the mulch. Tree trunk crowns need to breathe so you need to leave a distance between the mulch and the trunk. Your tree that died and fell over, most likely was root bound. Sounds like it from your description. New plantings need generally double the width of the container they were living in prior to transplanting. Then filling the hole with loose crumbly soil. Also scarping the roots, before you plant will encourage them to send out new roots. I would check your remaining trees to see how well rooted they are. If they are root bound, you can save them by replanting them now and making the hole bigger.


  9. We had our bbq at lunch today and it was lovely. I am sitting on the deck now looking at my herbs, container vegetables , and cats as the sun sets over the field. I think we all don’t give ourselves enough credit for surviving what we went through during the pandemic. Blessings.
    Valerie in SC

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Don’t lose hope! We have been gardening for years, 2yrs ago, we bought our tomatoe starts from a new nursery, they all died! Success and failure, are part of it! Looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so impressed by that pump! Do you have more information about it? I’d love to have something like this.

    I’m also eager to hear your thoughts on propagating. That’s something I’ve always wanted to try.


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