Posts Tagged ‘help’

Oct28

Alpenfire Cider

When they were young, Nancy and Steve “Bear” Bishop used to head up to Canada to take advantage of the lower drinking age. It was there that they first discovered hard cider. “We’ve been cider enthusiasts for so long, we’ve been learning about it since the 70s,” Nancy recalls. “We started making it as a hobby back then.”

The hobby turned into full-blown obsession after a fateful trip to Europe in 2001. While there, they visited the cider regions of England, France, and Spain, and realized they would have to plant cider apples to produce the kind of cider they tasted. Upon returning home, they enrolled in a Peter Mitchell class at WSU (naturally) and bought 900 French and English cider variety trees. They planted the trees on their land in Port Townsend, WA, in 2003 and saw their first harvest in 2008.

Their orchard was certified organic in 2005, and in 2009 Alpenfire Cider became Washington’s first organic cidery. The state requires two separate certifications to be considered an organic cidery, one for the fruit and one for the cider production process. This presented certain challenges, but the Bishops were up to it. “We didn’t have a real background in fermentation at first, and then we started to learn about the things involved with producing cider organically,” she says. “But we’ve learned to work around the challenges. We didn’t even stop to consider that we might do it differently. We were in the organic farming program way back when at Evergreen State, so that might have something to do with it.”

The additional work with organic production, coupled with the fact that the Bishops largely operate the cidery themselves, means they have to get creative when they need help. They have found success engaging the surrounding community through education. “Our favorite thing is bringing the local 4th graders out to help pollinate the trees,” Nancy says. “We gave the kids paintbrushes and pollen and had them go up and down the rows. Teachers had already covered bees and the pollination process in class.” The kids were so enthusiastic and such a big help that the Bishops plan to welcome them back every year.

City Fruit is excited to welcome Alpenfire to the 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser on November 6th. Alpenfire will be pouring three of their terrific ciders: Pirate’s Plank, a bone dry English style cider and 2014 GLINTCAP Gold medal winner; Glow, is a single varietal rosé cider made from the bright red flesh of the Hidden Rose apple (reminiscent of a watermelon inside); and Spark!, a customer favorite made with traditional cider apples and Lazy J’s heirloom varieties and a 2014 GLINTCAP Bronze medal winner in the common cider division.

Alpenfire Cider Logo

Oct14

City Fruit Receives Funding from Wallingford Community Council

The Wallingford Community Council has awarded City Fruit a grant of $5,000 to help support the care and maintenance of fruit trees located at Meridian Playground and along the Burke-Gilman Trail. This funding is made possible by the neighborhood’s participation in the Waste Management Think Green Recycling Challenge.

Specifically, City Fruit will use the funding to engage in a large-scale effort to prevent pests from destroying fruit on the trees in Meridian Playground and the Good Shepherd Center orchard. This is the first year City Fruit has stewarded the park, harvesting over 2,000 pounds of fruit for donation to food banks and cleaning up another 7,000 pounds of fallen fruit.

Additionally, City Fruit will use the Wallingford Community Council grant to increase the number of natural pollinators in the neighborhood through the introduction of mason bees and native plants. Pollinators are essential to the production of fruit.

City Fruit thanks Jim Fryett, President of the the Wallingford Community Council for his leadership, Lee Raeen for coordinating the grant process, and the full Council for their support of the organization’s mission and these important projects.

 

Aug21

Meet City Fruit Ambassador, Phil!

Phil fruitselfie                 Philfruitselfie2

Meet Phil. Phil is just one of 13 City Fruit Ambassadors. The Ambassador program is simple: as an Ambassador you’re the voice and face of City Fruit in the neighborhood of your choice by committing 3-5 hours of volunteer work every month for a year. There are general themes and objectives during certain months, but you get to choose your activities based on your skills and passions. As an Ambassador you receive awesome City Fruit gear, support and guidance from our Community Outreach Coordinator, and a cool community of like-minded folks in your neighborhood to meet and collaborate with on projects!

But let’s get back to Phil. Phil is one of our Ballard Ambassadors. In the words of Phil, “Really, it boils down to the people for me.” Before Phil was a City Fruit Ambassador, he led volunteer fruit tree harvests with Solid Ground — an incredible organization that used to harvest fruit trees in Seattle’s northern neighborhoods. Leading neighborhood harvests in Ballard is the reason why Phil decided to become an Ambassador.

As an Ambassador, Phil enjoys getting to know people  be it fruit tree donors or the people who receive the donated fruit. When Phil harvests a tree he likes to get to know the tree donor — why did they choose to donate their tree, what’s their experience with fruit trees, the history of their tree, etc.

However, what affects Phil most is the actual delivery of the fruit: “When you get to experience the appreciation for something that I think we all take for granted [access to fresh food] it changes the way you look at your own circumstances. It really makes me feel very fortunate, and energizes me to take steps to help others.”

To learn more about how to get involved with City Fruit, sign up to volunteer at one of our regularly scheduled harvests here. And don’t forget to view our calendar for other opportunities, too!

Aug20

Out in the Orchard: Falling Fruit

It’s my turn to blog a bit about my City Fruit world. I’m Barb Burrill, the orchard steward coordinator. I support the volunteers who take care of 11 orchards on public land in Seattle, and coordinate orchard care with Seattle Parks grounds staff.

I became involved with City Fruit as a volunteer orchard steward for the fruit trees along the Burke-Gilman Trail in Wallingford. That orchard started with six trees and now has 41. Learn more about the orchards that City Fruit volunteers manage at the orchard stewards web pages.

If you have a fruit tree or two in your yard, or your neighborsCodling moth damage on apple
do, you notice when fruit starts falling on the ground. Falling fruit can be a sign of fruit ripening on your tree, or, if it’s too early for your fruit to be ready, it’s probably evidence of insect damage.

For apples and pears, take a look at the fruit on the ground and see if it has the tell-tale exit holes of codling moth larvae (see photo at right.) The rust-colored material is what the codling moth larva leaves behind when it exits the apple: chewed material and excrement, called “frass.” Just makes you want to take a big bite out of that apple, doesn’t it?

You can still use fruit that has codling moth damage – just cut out what the worms have damaged. Codling moth larvae typically focus on the core of the apple, so most of the apple’s flesh is left intact.

Keeping a clean orchard floor is an easy way to reduce the local fruit-infesting insect population. Pick up any fallen fruit within a couple of days and dispose of it in your curbside compost bin – not your home compost pile – before the maggot can crawl out of the fruit and continue its life cycle.

Cleaning up fallen fruit will help reduce the overwintering population of insect pests and keep all nearby fruit trees healthier. Have a chat with your neighbors if your sidewalk is gooey with squashed fruit. Or put on your garden gloves and help pick it up.

Neighbors under 18 might enjoy making a game of throwing the fallen fruit into the compost bin. Thanks to our orchard steward volunteers from Lakeside School for showing us how that’s done.

Enjoy the rest of summer! And keep watering those fruit trees every week.

Barb Burrill is the orchard steward coordinator for City Fruit.
Jun26

The cherries are coming!

photo (1)In my opening New to Fruit Trees blog, I said I was disappointed not to find a single fruit tree in my yard after moving to Seattle from Washington, DC. Not so fast. Let’s call this my second #fruitfail.  Not one, or two, but five — I have five cherry trees in my yard.  Seattle is truly an urban orchard. (To be fair, at the time, no cherries were growing!)

For help identifying our trees, I was able to call on one of City Fruit’s many experts. Laila Suidan, a trained arborist, taught me about each type of tree (and plant) in our yard and provided instruction on care and maintenance. Among other things, she taught me that many fruit trees, including cherry trees, have identifying lenticels on their bark.

City Fruit will soon launch a set of residential services, including connection to experts that can help identify and assess your fruit trees and assist in tree care and management. If you’re interested, please email info@cityfruit.org and we’ll send you more information. 

I’m looking forward to our first harvest of cherries this week! If you aren’t lucky enough to have cherry trees in your backyard, make sure to sign up for Collins Orchards CSA. Deliveries started June 25th, but you can sign-up at anytime.  The first few weeks of the CSA will include Early Robin Rainier cherries.


 

City Fruit members receive a 10% discount on the CSA! Join City Fruit Today — members may request the discount code by email.


 

Catherine Morrison is the executive director of City Fruit.  Follow her blog series and send your New to Fruit Tree questions to info@cityfruit.org

 

 

Jun18

Top Ten Reasons You Should Vote for City Fruit to Win $50,000!

There’s less than a week left to vote for City Fruit in Zipcar’s Communities with Drive program! We hope you’ve taken the time to help us win $50,000 and expand our urban harvest.  If you need a little more convincing, we have compiled a list of reasons to vote for us:

10.  Figs! You may not know it, but figs are a fruit grown throughout Seattle. Our annual gathering of figs helps sustain the harvest, as the fruit is too delicate for most food banks and we are able to sell them to partners like Tom Douglas Restaurants.

Fig

9. Apple cider. Each fall, we celebrate the apple harvest with a series of apple cider events in Seattle neighborhoods.  We also loan out our apple presses – one manual, one electric – to community organizations.  Tasty, delicious fresh apple cider? Yes, please!

8. Partners for a more sustainable future. We have a diverse range of partners that believe in the work we are doing and who help fund the harvest and our programming, including the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the King Conservation District.

7. Network of tree owners. With hundreds of residencies from around the Seattle area donating their trees to City Fruit, we help build communal solidarity through the idea that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy produce. Neighbors get to participate in the sharing economy and build a stronger sense of community.

6. 55,000 pounds of fruit.  Over the last five years, City Fruit has harvested over 55,000 pounds of fruit from Seattle neighborhoods. This year the harvest is taking place in five neighborhoods – Wallingford, Ballard, South Seattle, West Seattle, and Phinney-Greenwood. We hope to continue expanding to new areas with your support, harvesting more fruit and getting it to those in need.

5. Stewardship. We conserve and protect Seattle’s natural resources by encouraging organic tree care, reducing the amount of pesticides entering our streams and oceans, and providing a healthy environment for our precious pollinators. Many of our orchard sites were once overrun with blackberry vines and other invasives before stewards intervened. We’re working to preserve urban orchards for the next generation.

4. Dedicated and knowledgeable Orchard Stewards. We train and support a network of hardworking volunteers who are committed to caring for Seattle’s diverse urban orchards. This amazing group works year-round to care for fruit trees and share knowledge with the public.

3. Delivering fresh fruit to 50 programs and growing. During the harvest season, City Fruit donates fruit to local food banks, meal programs, senior centers, and daycares, among others.  We’ve reached over 50 programs in the last five years.

2. Amazing volunteers.  From orchard stewards, to local volunteers, to corporate partners, to our amazing and talented board of directors, our work would not be possible without community support from people like you.

1. Rescuing a local resource. We take wasted, unused fruit and make it available to the emergency food system. Food banks often struggle to provide fresh produce for their patrons, and fresh fruit is especially appreciated and valuable. We also find uses for fruit that isn’t fresh eating quality, such as fresh cider, hard cider, preserves, and dried fruit.

Jun04

Summer Bliss in the Urban Orchard

Having just moved to Seattle from the Midwest in December to join City Fruit, I’ve yet to experience a true Pacific Northwest summer. In fact, many times when I talk to people about how I just moved to Seattle in December, they sort of lament with me a bit over the timing of my move, tell me to pep up, and that soon enough the weather will be so immaculate that  I’ll never want to be inside. If this weekend at the urban orchard  over at Amy Yee Tennis Center was anything like what summers in the PNW will be like, then I’m staying for good.

With the help of over 30 volunteers, we managed to put organic pest barriers on over 2,200 apples. Yes, you read that right. Together, we saved 2,200 apples from possibly being infected by worms, falling to ground, and essentially getting mushed up underneath our shoes. Our incredible volunteers came from various parts of our community — some from Issaquah, Edmunds, Kirkland, various neighborhoods in South Seattle, and even a van load of AmeriCorps NCCC volunteers from all over the country who were returning to Sacramento from the Oso mudslide disaster.

Check out some pictures below and join City Fruit as a volunteer in any capacity that you can this year! You can reach me at: melanie@cityfruit.org.

 

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Jan30

Support City People’s to support City Fruit

cfluvcpeople

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 gardenstore@citypeoples.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.

Aug09

City Fruit-Cycle: Drop off your fruit every Wednesday at Bike Works

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 colette@cityfruit.org if interested.

 

Oct19

Ask Don & Jon: Fruit Q&A

[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?
Thanks, James

 

Hi James,
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

  • Don & John

 


 

 

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.

Thank you,
Debby

 

Hi Debby,
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!

Sincerely,

  • Don & John

 

 


 

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?
Rachel

 

Hi Rachel,

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!

  • Don & John

 


 

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,

Mark

 

Hi Mark,

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!

  • Don & John

 

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?
Barb

 

Hi Barb,
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!

  • Don & John

 


 

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!

Aaron

 

Hi Aaron,
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 & John

 


 

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.

Sep02

September Report

     I want to talk about the Piper Harvest Fest, but first a side note on the weather.
    We have had weeks and weeks now with no rain….as long as you have been watering the newly planted trees and container trees, then you will have no problem.   In fact, just as there is a silver lining behind every cloud there is also a silver lining behind havng  no clouds as well.    You see,  Seattle has had an over-abundance of water the past few years.   It is nice to see some dry weather (for a change) and give the trees a breather from all the fungal diseases that have been plaguing these trees during the wet weather we have been overly plagued with.

      But the main emphasis of this post is this:   The Piper Orchard Festival of Fruit on Sept. 15th, Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be at Carkeek Park again this year.   Please consider being there. (see website for directions)
                             www.pipersorchard.org
     Not only is this a chance to meet people from the Tree Fruit Society, and to meet Gail Savina, or to see a cider press in operation or to sample  baked backyard pies  or to have your fruit identified by Dr. Rob Norton.    But on top of all of this, there is a chance to hear  a world-class teacher, Tim Smith from Wenatchee.  Tim Smith  will be there to talk about backyard techniques for improving backyard organic fruit growth.     Tim knows a lot about a lot. As a side note, he helped pioneer one of the few organic pesticides GF 120 NF and I (Don Ricks) will have some of this product there at the festival to be seen by anyone interested   with the further offer  to help people with this product for year 2013 if they are interested.

         Please consider coming.

Aug16

mid-August report

1. Congrats to Gail Savina and Ingela Wanerstrand who did a good job answering questions on KUOW this past week. Being live ain’t always easy to do, but they fielded questions nicely.

2. Remember to water. Especially newly planted trees and berries, shrubs or trees in containers. The heat will dry things out. Water.

3. Someday if you are up in the Mt. Vernon area you might drop by and look at the trees and berry bushes at the Mt. Vernon research center. On Saturday, August 18th, several speakers will be there as well talking on fruit-related subjects. I have mentioned the Master Gardeners, the Answer Line, Seattle tilth in previous blogs. The Mt. Vernon Research Center is just one more resource to help the backyard gardener.

           http://mtvernon.wsu.edu/

Jul01

July report

A new pest is making its way to the Seattle area……the brown marmorated stink bug….but since I over-estimated the damage that would be done by the spotted wing drosophilia (which is, though, a real problem)…..I want to be more cautious as to say what to expect from this new “stinker”…..it is not here en masse yet, may never be, and we will “watch and see”.

On a  different note, let me mention two more services where one can get help with gardening questions.
One is the Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline M-F 9- 5 p.m. 206-633-0224

And another is the “Plant Answer Line” associated with the University of Washington Miller Library    206-897-5268
Try the Seattle Tilth line for basic questions and the Plant answer line for more technical research.

Jun13

Burke-Gilman Stewards Put Footies on Trees

We talk a lot about ways to help prevent and manage pests and diseases on fruit trees. Afterall, the fewer pests & diseases, the healthier the tree, and, as a result, the better the fruit.

In addition to encouraging and educating home owners to take care of their own trees, the Fruit Tree Stewards have done a great job making sure that trees within parks and other urban orchards are protected. One example of that is the Burke-Gilman Fruit Tree Stewards (did you know fruit trees were along the Burke-Gilman trail?) — they’ve been super active caring for the fruit trees along the trail and most recently applied a bunch of bags on the low-hanging fruit on some trees. And using some footies City Fruit is supplying, they’re in the process of finishing off the trees by adding additional footies to the fruit higher up.

Their work is turning these previously neglected trees into productive, healthy trees that produce tasty, beautiful fruit.

Interested in learning more about how to apply footies or bags to your fruit trees to help keep pests away? Check out this video from our resident fruit tree expert, Don Ricks. As you can see it’s super simple.

Jun10

June Fruit Tree Tip: Thin Fruit Now

If you’re like us, you’re getting excited for the upcoming fruit harvest. I can’t help but continually check out our fruit trees to watch the progress of our fuit — apples, pears, plums all getting bigger. And by now, your apples and pears should be the size of a quarter (or larger), and hard as it is to contemplate, it’s time to ruthlessly remove much of the fruit (called ‘thinning’).

This activity helps the fruit tree focus its energy to a fewer number of fruit, making those fruit that are left larger and tastier. Would you rather have a lot of small, bland fruit or slightly fewer fruit that are of good size and taste? It’s not just about this year though — leaving fruit on the branch means that you get smaller fruit this year and less fruit next year. So thin your fruit now for both short-term and long-term benefits.

In this short video, Tom Thornton of Cloud Mountain Farm, shows how and tells why to do this.

May31

Another wonderful way to use your rhubarb!

Our plants are more productive than ever….and am I glad! The New York Times’ Dining section had a great recipe for Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl.

Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl
TOTAL TIME
1 hour 15 minutes plus chilling and freezing time
Ingredients
• 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
• 1 and 3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
• Pinch fine sea salt
• 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
• 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
• 3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
Preparation
1.
In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together the milk, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds and its pod. Simmer gently until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 30 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod and return mixture to a bare simmer.
2.
Place the yolks in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in hot milk mixture. Scrape the custard back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in sour cream. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
3.
In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb with 1 cup sugar. Simmer until rhubarb is just tender and has begun releasing its juices, but has not started to fall apart, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to a bowl. Continue to simmer the juices until syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Pour the syrup over the rhubarb. Cool completely.
4.
In a clean, dry and preferably nonstick skillet, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over medium heat. When it begins to melt and lightly color, sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons and start swirling pan to help evenly distribute sugar. Add the final 2 tablespoons and cook, swirling pan until all the sugar has melted. Let cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar syrup caramelizes and turns dark brown. Pour in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons water (stand back; it may splatter). Simmer, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula until smooth. Cool completely.
5.
Pour the custard base into an ice cream machine and churn. Add rhubarb compote for the last minute of churning.
6.
Scrape a quarter of the caramel into the bottom of a freezer-proof quart container. Top with a quarter of the ice cream. Repeat layering until all of the caramel and ice cream has been used, ending with the ice cream. Freeze until firm for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
YIELD one scant quart

May14

Mid-May report

The codling moth is starting to fly. If you have an apple tree consider using a solution that will attract and drown this pest at this time.
http://www.wikihow.com/Control-Codling-Moth-Organically
Also consider talking to your local nurseryman about getting a product that has either neem oil or kaolin clay or spinosad in it and how to apply one of these products  to protect your fruit.    I recommend getting  the spinosad product because if you have a plum tree then later this summer you may need it.
The apple maggot barriers can be applied when the apples reach the size of a marble. For most people this will be late May or early June.   There will be an early work party at the Good Shepherd Center on May 23rd from 5 to 8 pm. for those interested. Come and help protect some apples and see how it is done.

Address: 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North
We will be working on the Seattle Tilth lot and in the parking lot more to the south side of the building.

Apr02

April Report

An abnormally wet and cool March…..geesh !   Maybe if I post this on April 2nd (rather than April 1st) people will know I am not joking when I say the weather should improve.
Fruit trees need a decent Spring and Seattle hasn’t enjoyed any of those in the past few years…but there are “silver linings” behind these grayish  clouds. For one, pest populations have been retarded. Also, cold hardiness of the buds has been promoted. Further, delayed blossoming will help reduce the chances of any devastating freeze coming after blossom time.
Some plum trees have already blossomed. However most of the apple and pear trees I have observed are still in such pre-blossom stages as those called “green tip” or “tight cluster”. And thus, these trees  should do well the 2nd week of  April when we start to get some sun…and some blooms….and with temperatures near 60 degrees we might even dare hope for some bees as well.
http://www.hrt.msu.edu/faculty/langg/Fruit_Bud_Hardiness.html

On April 14th, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. the Piper’s Orchard will host a work party for those interested in hands-on learning on the subjects of hand pollination,  mating disruption of codling moth,  mason bee pollination and trichogramma wasps.
www.pipersorchard.org
All are welcome…bring gloves and something to drink.

Jan23

Seattle Orchards: Martha Washington Park

[This exerpt is the first in a series about Seattle orchards from Seattle's Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It's a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]

The origins of the surviving historic orchards are connected to the rich narratives of the early settlement and development of Seattle communities since the late 1800s. Many of these historic orchards contain a diversity of tall heirloom varieties, instead of the semi-dwarf or dwarf, specialized and standardized varieties. Some of the orchards that were planted recently have heirloom varieties, but they are mostly semi-dwarf or dwarf species. The eleven orchards are only a few of the vast network of fruit trees that spreads across Seattle.

Apple and cherry trees at Martha Washington Park; photographed by Audrey Lieberworth

Like many of the other orchards in Seattle, the orchard at Martha Washington Park has a rich history. The pioneer E.A. Clark, Seattle’s third schoolteacher was the first settler to own the land, but he soon sold it to settler David Graham in 1855, who then sold it to his brother Walter Graham ten years later. Graham was a horticulturist and planted the orchard found here.

The location of Graham’s land was close to the cable and trolley cars that traveled to the city center, which enabled easy transport of their harvested produce into town to sell. Graham ended up selling his land to Asa Mercer, who is known for sending two groups of maidens north to Seattle to help meet the demand for single settlers had for wives. Graham met Mercer because he married one of Mercer’s young women. However, Mercer ended up selling the piece of property to John Wilson soon after as payment for a loan because he went bankrupt after sending his second shipment of brides.

In 1889, Wilson sold the piece of land to Everett Smith, an attorney who was the clerk for Judge Thomas Burke. Smith later sold the property to the Seattle School District in 1920, which turned the property into the Martha Washington School for Girls in order to provide resident supervision for delinquent girls. In 1957, the state of Washington took over care of the site, and in 1972 the City of Seattle acquired the land.

Map of Martha Washington Park locationToday there are nine cherry and apple trees left on the property, cared for by SPD and community members. Jim Kramer, one of the community orchard stewardssays that many of the trees do not have harvestable fruit because they have apple maggot flies, which they are trying to counteract by putting nylon socks on the individual pieces of fruit.Kramer states that since these trees are very old, the fruit is 30 feet up in the air and not very accessible. One of the main tasks to accomplish in the next three or four years is to do major pruning in order to encourage fruit production lower on the tree. Kramer hopes that they will also be able to plant more fruit trees at the site in the future.

Jul05

Nudging your neighbors

We get asked a lot, “My neighbors have a beautiful fruit tree that they never harvest, what should I do?”  Sometimes it’s more like, “I WOULD have great fruit if only my neighbors wouldn’t leave THEIRS to rot all over the ground!” or “They have this tree that hangs out over the sidewalk and and drops fruit everywhere so no one can get by and it gets all over your car and shoes and…”

Calm down people!  Here’s what to do: First, take a deep breath.  Remember this nugget of wisdom: People aren’t lazy, they’re exhausted.  Your neighbors are probably too busy to even think about that fruit, or maybe they see it in passing and think I should do something about that… but they’re already off to whatever’s next.  But that’s why City Fruit exists.  We take all that fruit that people are too busy for, and give it to people who really need it, meanwhile, cleaning up your rotting fruit problem!

Now it’s time to talk to your neighbors, and it’s best to be prepared.  Find out ahead of time who to contact, and write it down.  I’ll make it easy for you:

Think about what to say.  We reccomend keeping it positive, leaving out your annoyance altogether, and focusing on helping people in need.  Here’s a script:

“I noticed you have a fruit tree in your yard that isn’t fully harvested.  I wanted to let you know about an organization called City Fruit that harvests neighborhood fruit trees and donates the produce to organizations in Seattle that help people in need. Would you be interested in that?  I wrote down the email address here.”

This could go a couple of ways:

  • “That’s great!  We’ve been so busy lately.”  Good job, you’ve rescued the fruit!  Make some small talk.  Maybe check in a week later, since they’re busy people and may have forgotten.
  • “How does it work?” It’s OK if you don’t know the details.  Here’s the basics: We scout the tree to see when it’s ripe, then organize a volunteer work party.  The owner can decide to be there or not, and we schedule harvests daytime, evenings, and weekends.  We can leave a small box of fruit at the owner’s request.  For other questions, they can check out our website or just contact the harvest coordinator directly.
  • I’m the last person in the world without a computer” (I don’t mean that out of sarcasm, that’s just always what people say.) Offer to contact us for them.  Write down their phone number, send it to us explaining the circumstances, and we’ll give them a call.
  • “I can harvest it, I just can’t use it!”  They can take donations to the food bank themselves.  See our website for a list of donation sites.  Also consider exchanging some fruit, or other goods, if you’d like a taste of some of that fruit!  We’ve heard of neighbors setting up an exchange so that everyone gets one box of plums, one of apples, one of pears, etc.  You could even hold a canning party to make some jams for everyone.
  • “I can use it, I just can’t harvest it!”  PNA members can check out an orchard ladder from the tool library.  Or maybe you have one to share!
  • “Bah! I can let ‘em rot if I want!”  I do mean that out of sarcasm.  People probably won’t say that, but it’s possible.  If so, don’t push it.  You can’t win ‘em all.  If there’s really a mess on the sidewalk or street, you could offer to clean it up.  You could report it to the city too, since residents have a responsibility to keep the sidewalk clear, but that might result in the loss of the tree, so consider carefully.
  • If they’re not home, try again or leave a note, but be sure to sign it.  If they realize it’s coming from a friendly neighbor, they’re much more likely to follow through.

Thanks for caring so much about harvesting fruit!  We find that folks often just don’t know what to do with a fruit tree.  Once they see it harvested, they start to see it as good food, which leads to taking caring of the tree and harvesting it.  Good luck!