A friend of City Fruit and local photographer Camille recently took a journey to Danny Woo community garden and orchard with her camera, and has some lovely photos to share. Check them out on her site, the Farm Imaginings blog:
A friend of City Fruit and local photographer Camille recently took a journey to Danny Woo community garden and orchard with her camera, and has some lovely photos to share. Check them out on her site, the Farm Imaginings blog:
City People’s Garden Store in Madison Valley is a locally owned and operated community garden store. Since opening in 1988, we have been committed to offering a wide selection of quality plants and organic and natural products to help you grow them. With over 15,000 square feet, the outdoor nursery is an urban oasis!
City People’s strives to give back to our communities who have so generously supported us over the years. Through donations and marketing avenues we support organizations that help us grow healthy communities in the areas of environment and gardening, education and youth programs, and food security.
This winter the Garden Store is concentrating support toward City Fruit through the sale of bare root fruit shrubs and trees.* 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these items through March will go to City Fruit. We will also host City Fruit workshops this month and throughout the year (details below, and on the calendar).
Bare root berries are coming from Peaceful Valley Farm, an organic farm in California; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, and currants, plus rhubarb, jerusalem artichoke, & asparagus. We are excited about this new organic vendor who use no sprays (including biological sprays), making sure not to harm any critters – especially fragile bees and butterflies.
Bare root trees from Mt Vernon, Washington and Mallala, Oregon include:
Apples – dwarf, columnar, espaliered & 4-way combo varieties
Pears - espaliered & 4-way combos
Cherries - including several dwarf varieties
Hardy Nectarine - dwarf
<& Plums, Figs, Meyer Lemons, Honeyberry, Kiwi, Japanese Pepper, Goumi, Grape and Hops!
City People’s Garden Store’s bare root fruit selection will be arriving the first week of February. Come early for the best selection!
* Buying bare root plants is an affordable way to grow your edible garden as you are buying only the plant and not the soil or the pot.
Don’t forget to check out City People’s Garden Store’s fruit-related talks coming this spring:
Registration is required. To sign up for a workshop, send an email to email@example.com or call the store (206) 324-0737.
Winter Fruit Tree Pruning
Sunday, February 9th, 11 am – noon
Winter fruit tree pruning can improve overall health and appearance and can increase fruit production. This class, co-sponsored by City Fruit, discusses pruning tools, basic biology behind pruning fruit trees, basic cuts and how to stimulate fruit production.
Planting Fruit Trees
Sunday, February 16th, 11 am – noon
Getting your fruit tree off to a healthy start means buying a healthy tree and planting it correctly. Root health is critical for tree health, and this class demonstrates the key considerations in planting a new tree. Bare root trees will be available and a portion of purchases of fruit will go to CityFruit. Instructor Jana Dilley is the Program Manager for the City of Seattle’s reLeaf program and is a certified arborist.
Pollinators — Mason Bees, Honey Bees & Others
Sunday, March 9th, 11 am – noon
Learn why pollinators are critical to fruit production, why mason bees are helpful in the Pacific Northwest rain, and how to encourage pollinators in your yard and orchard. This workshop is co-sponsored by City Fruit.
Fruit trees remind us of our agricultural past and continue to be an important community resource. To date, City Fruit has harvested more than 50,000 pounds of fruit from residential trees and donated it to those who otherwise couldn’t afford fresh produce. Keeping these urban fruit trees healthy is a priority.
In 2014 City Fruit will launch a new Master Fruit Tree Steward Program with support from the King Conservation District Community Partnership Program. City Fruit will train lay fruit tree experts who can, in turn, teach their neighbors—an efficient and effective way to improve the health and productively of urban fruit trees.
In this train-the-trainer program volunteers will participate in workshops, field trips, and mentoring sessions on fruit tree care in exchange for providing hands-on support and mentoring to Seattle residents who live on properties with fruit trees. The 2014 goals include designing the curriculum, producing videos and slide shows, training an initial cohort of volunteer stewards, and creating a business model that is replicable and self-supporting.
Workshops will run from July – Dec 2014. Anyone interested in joining the project to become a Master Fruit Tree Steward should contact firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15.
Recent news from one of our favorite local nurseries:
Greetings City Fruit Supporters,
My name is Melanie Peters, the new AmeriCorps VISTA at City Fruit. I’m part of Rotary First Harvest’s “Harvest Against Hunger” program that has connected farmers, food banks, volunteers, and truckers to make sure no crop gets wasted, especially when food insecurity very much exists in our community. I’m thrilled to be starting this year of service to my country and community in Seattle with new challenges and rewards.
Growing up about twenty minutes outside of Chicago, some of my earliest memories were spent alongside my dad and sisters in our backyard, harvesting rhubarb to make fresh rhubarb pie. I’ve always had a connection to the land and to food, so it wasn’t a surprise when I picked up sustainability as a minor in college and began to work with the local food movement in Northern Indiana. I interned at Rise Up Farms during the terribly dry summer of 2012 where I learned the basics of permaculture, how to operate a CSA, and how grow bountiful vegetables without using caustic sprays or chemicals.
After graduating from Indiana University, I moved to Indianapolis to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Indy Hunger Network. I worked alongside wonderful people and organizations that cared deeply about making fresh food a reality for all, regardless of income. One of Indy Hunger Network’s proudest accomplishments occurred last year after receiving a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the USDA to fund a double-up incentive program at six Indianapolis farmers’ markets. This program provides up to a $20 match to any SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) recipient at any of the participating farmers’ markets.
At Indy Hunger Network, I also developed a gleaning program with Butler University’s Sustainable Foods Fellow that has since been taken on by a new AmeriCorps VISTA. In the two months that we operated what we called “The Glean Team,” we harvested over 15,000 pounds of produce (including 2,000lbs of apples!) with over 35 volunteers that would have otherwise been tilled under the ground. All of the produce was delivered free of charge by volunteers at neighborhood food pantries.
While most of my work in the food movement has been with vegetables, I’m ready and excited to learn and work with urban fruit and nut-bearing trees. This year at City Fruit, I plan to vamp up the volunteer opportunities that City Fruit has to offer, increase member benefits, and coordinate harvest teams. I so look forward to meeting and working with each of you throughout this year.
Melanie A. Peters
The following is excerpted from Paul Tower’s blog in Civil Eats.
Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. This month Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect. In early December in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and over 60 other food, farm, faith, and investor groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to protect bees.
But these noble pollinators are in trouble. Beekeepers in the U.S. have been losing, on average, over 30 percent of their bees each year since 2006—twice what is considered sustainable. And commercial beekeepers, whose bees pollinate California almonds, lost over 50 percent of their colonies last year. Some even reported historic losses of 70 percent or more.
This is unsustainable, not only for beekeepers, but also for our food system and the agricultural economy.
EPA has stated that it’s at least five years away from doing anything to protect bees from pesticides known to be harmful. First, the agency needs to complete its review of neonicotinoids, a relatively new and widely used class of systemic pesticides—which isn’t due to conclude until 2018.
Scientists point to neonicotinoids as a catalyst driving bee declines. While acutely toxic to bees (it kills them), studies have shown neonics also compromise bee immune systems and make them more susceptible to a wide range of other impacts like poor nutrition, mites, and diseases.
Until EPA completes its (very slow) review of neonic products, the agency will not take action to adequately protect bees from this known threat.
Beekeepers say they—and the bees—can’t wait for the agency’s glacial pace. Federal officials have tried to appease beekeeper concerns with aimless conferences and reports, along with changes to pesticide product labels that yield no additional protections for bees. But decisive action, not token action, is urgently needed.
As beekeeper Jim Doan of New York said: “Beekeepers are losing colonies at an unprecedented rate—the losses are too extreme to keep up with, and our entire industry is at risk of collapse unless federal action is taken. Convening conferences and changing pesticide labels is not nearly enough.”
States in Action
Since EPA has failed to step up in a timely way, states across the country are taking up the issue of protecting bees. In New York and New Jersey, legislative leaders have already introduced bills that would ban or track neonicotinoid pesticides.
And last week, we were offered another glimmer of hope as Oregon regulators announced they are planning to restrict the use of neonicotinoids used on trees—and linked to a recent massive bee kill in that state.
While state action is helpful, bees need more comprehensive and uniform protections across the country. EPA should see states in action as a signal that the agency needs to step up. And quickly.
Take action » See a copy of the advertisement and join the Center for Food Safety, the Ceres Trust, Beyond Pesticides and PAN in sending a message to new EPA chief Gina McCarthy: It’s time to step up for bees.
- See more at: http://civileats.com/2013/12/02/above-the-fold-epa-protect-bees/#sthash.2B6Leq5J.dpuf
This post was excerpted from an article by Debbie Teashon and published in the Dec 2013 newsletter of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society.
Rumor has it that Monsanto Corporation owns the Pacific Northwest-based seedhouse, Territorial Seed. This rumor is simply not true. Tom and Julie Johns, who still own the company, purchased Territorial Seeds from Steve Solomon back in 1985.
When Monsanto purchased the wholesale seed company Seminis, Territorial looked for other sources of seed and phased out buying seeds from Seminis. By 2012 Territorial no longer purchased any seed from the Monsanto subsidiary.
Territorial continues to trial seeds for the Pacific NW’s unique and challenging temperate, Mediterranean climate in an effort to provide quality seed for the Northwest gardener. This includes no GMO’s.
We are excited to announce that this year’s Hard Cider Tasting will feature an food-tastic silent auction.
-Signed copy of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine
-FinnRiver Cidery Tasting and Tour
-EcoBeauty Spa Package
-Hard Cider Making Kit from Sound Homebrew
-Dinner for two at Tom Douglas restaurant, Cuoco
-much much more!
Click here to download our silent auction catalog and thanks for supporting the urban harvest!
This post is excerpted from a longer article by Don Ricks published in the Seattle Tree Fruit Society’s Urban Scion Post:
John Chapman (the original and real Johnny Appleseed) roamed Ohio in the early 1800′s and helped pave the way for the future western migration and colonization of settlers into what was then the frontiers of Ohio and Indiana.
Chapman was deeply religious. A devout Christian, he was in fact a mystical Swedenborgian Christian, someone who might prefer to preach rather than to plant . . but did a lot of both. He roamed the woods in stark clothes, slept outside, and was a marginalized character in a marginal frontier society. He didn’t marry, although marriage was considered a necessary religious state to Swedenborgians.
Chapman believed grafting to be immoral and was concerned that apple trees should come purely from seed. As a result, he contributed much to genetic diversity and to apples that were fit for cider, maybe hard cider, but not apples that could match the sweetness of today’s eating apples.
October is all about apples! Check out this awesome recipe from our very own Betsy Moyer.
5 cups peeled & sliced apples (the apples I use are the Gravenstein from our front yard, but any sweet/tart cooking apples will be good. Don’t use Red Delicious, they get a little mushy and loose their flavor).
2 TBS white sugar
2 TBS light brown sugar
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup butter at room temperature
¼ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
Directions: place apples in a 2 qt baking dish and stir in the 2 TBS of white sugar and the 2 TBS of brown sugar. For the topping, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour and spices. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly without any loose ingredients left in the bowl. Fold in nuts. Sprinkle the topping over the apples. (I love this topping, so I usually double it for the 5 cups of apples). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden and you can stick a fork through the apples. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!
Seattle’s Got Green?, a local grassroots organization that works to make sure low-income people and communities of color have access to the benefits of the green economy, is issuing a call to action for more access to healthy food. Got Green? was instrumental in launching Seattle’s Fresh Bucks Program in July 2012. Under this program, EBT (food stamp) users receive $10 in Fresh Bucks per day to buy fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets. Families receive up to $70 extra “bucks” each week. The initiative is hailed for reducing food insecurity in Seattle as well as boosting Washington’s farmers and farmers markets.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s budget contains $100,000 to support the Fresh Bucks program in 2014. The budget went to the City Council on September 23, and it us now up to all of us to ensure that the City Council approves funding for this important program.
Here’s what you can do:
→Show your support at the Seattle City Council Budget Committee Hearing: Thursday, Oct 3 at 5:30pm City Council Chambers (600 Fourth Avenue)
→Call City Council members Visit Got Green’s Facebook event “Call Seattle City Council to fund Fresh Bucks in 2014 city budget!” for a sample script, talking points, and contact information for our City Council members.
→Spread the word
City Fruit is kicking off a new initiative in which we encourage homeowners to harvest their own fruit, drop it off with us, and we’ll make sure it gets to one of our many food banks partners.
We are so psyched to be partnering with Bike Works to provide this community resource. Bike Works has been working for kids, bikes, and community since 1996. Their programs invest in young people and encourage bicycling as a clean and healthy transportation alternative. Check them out!
Our lovely fruit trike will be parked out in front of Bike Works in Columbia City on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:30 pm during the Columbia City Farmers Market. Come on by with your extra fruit and help us get this initiative off the ground.
Wanna volunteer? We need people to help staff our fruit cycle on Wednesdays from 3:30pm-6:30pm. Contact email@example.com if interested.
TIME: at Cuoco
LOCATION: Cuoco’s Sophia Room
Cost: $40 for one class
All proceeds of this event will benefit City Fruit
Cuoco is proud to team up with *City Fruit for a 3 month series of cocktail classes. These cocktail classes will focus on the fruit being harvested around the city and will demonstrate various techniques for utilizing fruit in drinks including bitters, infusions, syrups, purees, pickles and more! Sampling of all the drinks created as well as snacks will be provided, along with the opportunity to get some hands on participation.
Class attendees can expect to take home recipes, a city fruit membership (which gives them access to special events as well as discounts at various nurseries around town), fruit from City Fruit, as well as treats to make cocktails at home!
Cherries are almost here!! Check out this delicious recipe from Hazel Singer
Buttery, crumbly tart crust
¼ cup toasted almonds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg + 1 yolk, beaten
3 tablespoons cold water
Pulse the almonds and sugar together in a food processor until finely ground. Add flours, butter and salt and process until consistency of wet sand. Add egg and as much water as needed, little by little, until dough comes together into a ball. Divide into two balls, flatten into 4-inch discs, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.
Makes 2 crusts
Preheat oven to 400 F.
1 disc of Buttery, Crumbly Tart Crust, chilled
¼ cup blanched almonds
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 large egg
½ cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 pound cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 pound apricots, halved and pitted
Roll out the pastry dough on a silicone mat or floured surface to a 13-inch circle. Spray a 10- or 11-inch tart pan with cooking spray and carefully lay the dough on top. Tuck it in to fit to the pan and trim the top, leaving a ¼ inch above the pan. Crimp edges along the ridges of the pan.
Spray a sheet of parchment paper with cooking spray and lay, spray side down, on the pastry shell. Fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove beans or weights and paper, and let crust cool on a rack.
Pulse together almonds and ¼ cup sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add egg, creme fraiche and almond extract, and and run the processor until the mixture is smooth. Scoop mixture onto tart shell and spread evenly.
Arrange the halved cherries and apricots on top of the tart, cut side up. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and bake 30-40 minutes, until filling is set.
Let cool and serve.
The exceptionally warm and sunny weather has increased fruit set on some trees, hastened the time in which the fruit will come into bearing, and (unfortunately) has increased the bug activity.
Codling moths are flying now. If you are applying foot sox, they should be applied as soon as you see an evident apple upon which to apply the foot sox.
The good news is that Eastern Washington growers are also experiencing an early season and those who love cherries should be seeing some cherries coming from Eastern Washington in early June.
Adapted from “Bubby’s Homemade Pies” by Ronald M. Silver and Jen Bervin (John Wiley & Sons, 2007)
Photo by Emily Barney on Flickr
Time: 2 hours
Dough for a 9-inch single-crust pie
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup, packed, light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough and line pie pan. Prick dough with fork, then line with foil. Fill bottom with pastry weights or dry beans. Bake 8 minutes, remove foil and weights and bake 8 to 10 minutes longer, until pastry looks dry and is barely starting to color. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Place flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor and process briefly to blend. Dice 6 tablespoons butter and add, along with pecans; pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
3. Melt remaining butter in a large skillet. Add apple slices and sauté over medium heat about 5 minutes, until a bit softened around edges, with some just starting to brown. Remove from heat. Mix remaining brown sugar and cinnamon with a pinch of salt, the cloves and nutmeg. Pour over apples and fold together. Fold in whiskey.
4. Pour contents of pan into crust and top with crumbs. Place pie pan on a baking sheet, bake 10 minutes, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake about 40 minutes longer, until topping browns and juices bubble. Allow pie to cool completely before cutting. Pie can be made a day in advance and warmed for serving.
I work with fruit trees in parks and public places and have made some subjective notes and impressions from this past year. The first of these concern the codling moth (CM).
Three years ago you couldn’t see the fruit trees nestled at the bottom of a hill just west of the old Amazon headquarters on north Beacon Hill. Looking down, it was blackberries and brambles. This neglected piece of Dr. Jose Rizal Park caught the eye of Craig Thompson, who was working with the Green Seattle Partnership and others to remove invasives from the adjoining woods. Craig turned his attention to the apples.
This October, three years later, the orchard produced 500 pounds of apples of several varieties. Neighbors and stewards picked 300 pounds for a cider pressing to benefit the Rainier Valley Pre-school. Don Ricks, who has been working on heritage orchards in several Seattle parks, says that the Dr. Jose Rizal Park orchard has turned around faster than any he has seen.
In recognition of Craig’s leadership in turning an unsightly bramble patch into a productive orchard, he has been selected to receive a 2012 Denny Award by the Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, Christopher Williams. Denny Awards recognize individuals who provide ‘leadership in enhancing and preserving parks. . . ‘ and demonstrate ‘ . . significant personal commitment of time and effort . . . ‘. Craig will be honored at a free dinner, open to the public, at Langston Hughes Community Center on Nov 29 (6 – 8 pm.)
As one of City Fruit’s orchard steward leads, Craig attended workshops on fruit tree care and recruited a team of stewards dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal Park. His reach into the greater community is extensive: Craig brought large workparties of Filipino-American students, Earthcorps, Safeco and Fred Hutchinson volunteers, and students from Seattle Pacific, and he has collaborated closely with Parks Department staff to clear, prune, mulch, fence and harvest the orchard.
[Even though this is no longer active, we posted the archive below because we think the information is useful.]
These two guys know a lot about fruit, fruit trees, pest prevention, etc, and they’ve graciously agreed to try to answer any questions you have.
Dear Don & John,
Not a fruit question, but what’s with the new name?
As you know, we’ve done a few Q&A pieces on this blog, answering people’s questions about their fruit trees, fruit shrubs, and, well, fruit. Well, turns out that there’s actually a company called The Fruit Guys and because of that, we’re changing the name to Fruit Q&A with Don & John. Same idea — you ask questions, we answer them — just a different name.
I do want to talk about The Fruit Guys, though. They were very nice in contacting us to let us know about their company and they care about the same stuff we do. From their site:
“The FruitGuys provides fresh seasonal fruit from local farms to thousands of American businesses, from small family-run businesses to major Fortune 500 corporations…We consider ourselves fortunate to work with customers who share our ideals about health, the environment, and our communities. The FruitGuys launched our Farm Steward Program in April 2008 to support sustainable small family farming. We donate 88,000 pounds of fresh fruit a year (more than 7,000 pounds a month) to non-profit groups and regional food pantries nationwide, such as Somethin’ Fresh. With your support, we sent over 7,000 pieces of fresh fruit to food-banks and programs for families in need over the winter holidays with our Donate-A-Crate Program.”
Seems like a great company and we’re happy to have made their acquaintance.
Learn more at fruitguys.com
Hi Don & John,
I garden at Greenwood P-Patch, where we have a row of blueberries along our garden’s western edge. Unfortunately, the planters did not gauge the light level correctly, and most of the trees have failed to thrive and set fruit.
We have about six bushes that look healthy. They plan to eventually move them into garden plots, where they will get more light and presumably do better. I have six gardeners who have pledged to put their mud boots on and move the bushes while they are dormant.
My question concerns the remaining bushes, which are in very poor condition–stunted with yellow leaves. I’ve pulled out several dead bushes while weeding. How can I tell if these bushes are likely to survive? Once the other bushes are moved, it may be possible to move the sick bushes to areas in the row with more light.
We have seen some blueberry plants set tasty fruit in the shade, but the fruit will be more abundant in the sun. Blueberries can do well in shade, but need water and a soil that is acidic — yellow leaves is usually an indication of too alkaline a soil. You also would need a primarily organic soil as you cannot compost, wood chip, sawdust, etc. too much with these plants.
Also be sure to keep the weeds away. Pull weeds, do not hoe or dig up the soil near the plants as they have a very shallow root system. You can also use a low nitrogen fertilizer early in season (Feb-May) and keep things damp. As I mentioned earlier compost heavily, or wood chips are welcomed. Water is the biggest restriction with these plants.
Here’s a great video we found that has a great overview of blueberry care: Blueberry Plant Care Video
With that work, hopefully the remaining blueberry bushes can make a come back. Hope that helps and good luck with the p-patch!
Dear Don & John,
My neighbor and myself grow both Red Currants and Gooseberries. This year we both have a bumper crop of fruit setting on our healthy, leafy bushes. We were very excited, until we noticed that something (an insect?!) has carefully laid eggs in every single berry. You can visually see the damage on the outside of the not-yet ripe fruit and inside there is a small, white grub growing.
What pest would do this to Ribes family fruit and what can we do to discourage this is future years?
Thanks for writing in. We don’t get many currant or gooseberry questions!
You’re instinct about the problem being an insect is probably correct. Currants and gooseberries are usually a pain to grow here because of the Currant Fruit Fly which actually is a small fly which hits the fruit, and the Currant Sawfly which is not a fly but a type of wasp whose larvae look like currant-leaf-colored caterpillars. There’s also a small chance it could be the Spotted Wing Drosophila (which they recently found in WA), but we suspect the larva is more likely the Currant Fruit Fly, pictured here.
The good news is that there is a non-chemical way to address this issue. You should immediately pick all fruit and remove it from the area – I wouldn’t recommend eating any of them, although if you only juice the fruit, you can still pick clean now and process.
The reason for removing them from the area is that the larvae drop to the ground and overwinter under the bushes, much as apple maggots burrow into ground under apple trees. Removing all the infected fruit may cut the life cycle enough such that you get a clean crop next year.
And while you can share this information with your neighbor, there’s no telling what the rest of your neighborhood might be doing and there may be infested currants in your area which are not managed and these can re-infest your fruit next year. One way to help against that is to net the shrubs with a fine mesh just after pollination but before fruit begins to form.
If you want to determine exactly which insect it is, save a handful of fruit, place in large Ziploc bag, store on kitchen counter, keep beady eye on it and see who emerges. If a small vinegar fly emerges in a couple weeks or so, you have the Spotted Wing Drosophilia. If no one emerges or rice-sized pupae are seen, you have the fruit worm which won’t emerge until next year.
Hope that helps and good luck with the berries!
Dear Don & John,
I actually have two questions built in to one request.
1. My inherited apple tree (variety yet unknown) has some kind of disease causing the leaves on many branches to curl and look nasty. How do I treat it without chemicals? Is it too late?
2. Do you know where the best place is to get a reasonably priced orchard ladder (tri-pod style)? Those things are crazy expensive.
Thanks for writing in. It looks like you get a 2-for-1 special today!
Your apple tree probably has apple scab, causing some leaf curl and color distortion and you can read all about how to manage scab organically on the Pests and Diseases page. We’ve got some suggested sprays and techniques listed there.
However, if your leaves are tightly curled upward that could be a sign of a new insect, the Apple Leaf Curl Midge, that’s been coming down from British Columbia, Canada. The damage is caused by the new larva feeding on the leaves – which can lead to distorted limb growth, premature leaf dropping, etc. Luckily there is no evidence of reduced quality of fruit.
For a mature tree, you should be safe to ignore it. For a 1 or 2 year old tree, remove affected leaves to try to save others from curl since it is thought to have 2 generations per year here. We would anticipate that parasitoids will slowly catch up with it and keep it in check.
With regards to the orchard ladders, yeah, they can definitely be pricey but worth it. You should probably be able to get by with a 6-8’ ladder unless your tree is really tall. We’ve found Tallman to be an excellent brand generally, which you can sometimes find used. For new, we purchased ladders for City Fruit at Horizon in Bellevue, WA, but Wilson Irrigation in Yakima is also a good bet.
Hope that helps and good luck with the apple tree!
Dear Don & John,
An apple tree on my block is 20-25 years old, pretty much neglected, but has a good crop of apples. I haven’t looked at it closely this spring until today, and was dismayed to see that the apples are all junk – see the photo.
What is the cause of this distortion? The leaves generally look OK, though there are a few curled and gray.
What can I do to help this tree?
The photo is great and always helps us provide a more accurate diagnosis. We think there are a couple things going on with your apples.
First, the spots on your apples are probably due to “scab” – a varying collection of fungus. The fact that the apple tree is older and has been neglected doesn’t help, but the wet weather probably had something to do with this as well, giving the fungus more time to establish itself on the fruit.
While problematic, there are organic solutions. The first step is to remove all old leaves from beneath the tree in the fall and put them in the yard waste container, or bury them. Prune out affected twigs, which bear small, blister-like pustules, and put them in the yard waste. Do both of these things in late winter or early spring, before growth begins in the tree.
There are also several organic spray options including sulfur, lime-sulfur, or Bordeaux mixture (copper sulfate plus lime) applied early in the growing season. These are readily available at most nurseries. Spray as soon as the buds show green. And since scab likes damp weather, spray every week until midsummer if the weather is dry. If the summer is wet, spray until 30 days before harvest.
The dimpling on the apples is more difficult to figure out, but it’s most likely a pollination problem – which is a more difficult problem to solve this season. It would be good if you get a lot of bees or other pollinators, as that would help ensure good pollination. Otherwise, next season when the flowers are blooming, take a small brush and a container, shaking some pollen free from the flower, and then using the brush to then apply it to other flowers.
Hope that helps and thanks for writing in!
Dear Don & John,
I was cleaning up the ground and fertilizing some of the fruit trees this weekend and I noticed something really odd. All of the plum trees are acting like it’s fall. Several species, all very mature and prolific full-sized trees, have started yellowing and dropping their leaves. 50-60% of the leaves seem to have turned yellow almost overnight. The leaves have brown spots and drop in droves at a simple shake of a branch. I looked for signs of mold or insect damage, but didn’t see anything obvious. They just act like it’s fall.
None of the other fruit trees (cherries, apples, pears, fig) have this issue, though all are suffering somewhat from the weird weather.
Does this have to do with the funky weather we’ve been having? Please help!
You did all the right things in checking what you did. Those are good steps.
And while plum trees in general aren’t producing as much as they did last year, we don’t think the weather is the culprit here, but rather some sort of fungal infection – but it’s difficult to tell without actually seeing the leaves ourselves.
Our best guess is that the fertilizer might be the trigger here. Fruit trees in the Pacific Northwest tend not to need too much fertilizer beyond specific nutrients. But too much nitrogen can spur excessive growth, leaving the tree susceptible to fungal infections.
So we suggest holding off on the fertilization for now and seeing what impact that has on the tree in a few weeks. With all fungal infections, it’s a good idea to pick up all the fallen leaves and put them in the yard waste bin – not your home compost or the disease can spread there.
While you might not get a good crop this year, you can most likely improve the quality of the tree health for next year. In the fall, the tree could benefit from a good pruning – targeting the parts of the tree that were infected this year. This should help the tree produce new growth in the spring.
Fungal infections also benefit from various sprays. Because we can’t identify which fungal infection your tree might have, we suggest bringing in a leaf sample to the Center for Urban Horticulture on any Monday from 4pm – 8pm. They have experts on hand who should be able to more accurately identify which fungus is affecting your tree and then recommend the appropriate organic spray – which would be applied next spring.
Hope this helps and thanks for writing in.
Don Ricks has been leading the charge on applying foot socks to apples & pears throughout the city. While Don shies away from the term “expert”, he’s very knowledgeable about fruit trees and pest prevention. He’s very involved with the Friends of Piper’s Orchard and sits on the City Fruit Advisory Committee.
John Reardon is a long-time member of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society and has spent many years helping educate and inform people on the proper methods for caring for fruit trees. He also sits on the City Fruit Advisory Committee.