Posts Tagged ‘report’


Reflections on Equal Rights in Our Time

As we head into Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend, I have been thinking about the man and, more broadly, the movement this holiday seeks to recognize. Whenever I think about the Civil Rights Movement, I find myself oscillating between the macro, “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” perspective that encapsulates the struggles humanity faces as a whole, and the stories that helped define the movement and highlight injustices.

One of the stories that comes to mind pertains to the four African American college students in North Carolina known as the “Greensboro Four.”  One day in early 1960, these students decided to walk down to a local diner and perform the simple act of ordering a cup of coffee. They waited all day without ever receiving service. Long story short, over the course of the next few weeks and months, this simple act inspired sit-ins across North Carolina and several other southern states, solidifying these actions as highly effective forms of peaceful protest across much of the south that culminated in desegregation.

Almost sixty years after the sit-in by the Greensboro Four, it’s important to reflect on what it means to have equal rights in today’s society. At City Fruit, we believe everyone should have ready access to fresh, nutritious food. In the State of Washington, almost 15 percent of households report being “food insecure,” and 1 in 6 people rely on SNAP. While the barriers today may be different, those who lack the means to access the food they need still suffer needlessly.

Over the course of this weekend, I will think about what Dr. King’s words and deeds mean to me personally. I will reflect about what it means to be a good citizen, and how I should show support and solidarity with fellow human beings struggling in ways I can hardly begin to fathom. It’s easy to get too muddled in the abstract and forget that small, simple acts of kindness are what really make profound changes. By picking apples from a tree, I can ensure that hundreds of kids and families can count on a healthy snack each week. I’m thankful that my job at City Fruit allows me to spend time trying to do good for my fellow community members in Seattle, and to all of City Fruit’s supporters who make our work possible.

There is still much to be done to address inequalities in our society. As I think about my roles and responsibilities not just at City Fruit, but in life, I will remember the words of the man whose life we honor during this time every year. I think you’ll agree Dr. King’s words resonate now as much as they did 40 years ago:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels inevitably. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle: the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social destruction. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

Luke Jesperson is City Fruit’s Harvest and Community Outreach Manager.



December Report

As the City Fruit pointed out on their Facebook page, now is a good time to rake up the leaves under the apple and pear trees. Do this  if you had any evidence of apple or pear scab on your fruit. This scab is something that you would recognize if you saw it as it leaves blotches on the fruit. It may be said that this condition is unsightly but totally cosmetic only and not at all harmful to eat, nevertheless, if you wish to improve the appearance of your apples and pears, raking up the leaves now will reduce the chances of overwintering spores coming back to haunt you in the Spring. A suitable compost spread over the leaves in a suitable quantity is another alternative.

What I really want to talk about here is the weather, though. Ordinarily December is a good time in which one can prune your apple and pear trees, but the last couple years we have had a La Nina pattern with unusually cold and wet winters and that has made for a little caution.

The La Nina pattern is the single most dominant pattern affecting the Northwest weather. There are even some who believe the overall pattern has indeed been global warming the past few decades but that it is precisely the warmer temperatures East of the Cascades that is drawing air masses over the mountains in such a way as to produce cooler and wetter temperatures here West of the Cascades.

Whatever  the reason for the abysmal weather patterns we have had the past couple years, let’s hope we have a more congenial winter this year.  So far,  during this  Autumn of 2011,  there have not been any unusual weather patterns of concern and so it certainly looks as if it okay to begin pruning the apple and pear trees without risking any minor damages to the tree whatsoever. The trees should be sufficiently “hardened off”  now so that as they drop their leaves they have become ready to be pruned. Wait a month or two for the stone fruit trees, cherry and peach and plum, later until it is definitely clear that the harsh part of winter is over.


Mid-November Report

Believe it or not, actually Autumn is the best time not only to transplant but to plant. Here is what Larry Davis, a City Fruit supporter has written:

“As winter approaches, the temperature drops and most plants enter a period of dormancy. In a mild climate, like we have here in the Puget Sound region, many plants do not completely shut down, and still continue to grow slowly. For this reason, fall planting is recommended as well as spring planting in the region. Unlike in more severe regions, the transplanted tree can actually begin to establish its roots during the mild winter and be more prepared to make its start when the weather does warm up in the spring.”

City Fruit’s website has helpful information for many things, including how to plant fruit trees.

So,  consider getting a head start and putting in that fruit tree right now.  Ignore convention, thinking that you have to wait until next Spring and either look around now for that new tree you want or else transplant that wonderful little Honeycrisp tree that you have in a shady corner and give it a better start on your property where there is more sun.

Many nurseries prefer to sell their bare-root fruit trees in the Spring, but you might be able to find a discount somewhere on a potted tree that would be exactly what you are looking for.   Why not go for it?

(Side note:  Usually fully grown trees are not good candidates for transplanting…we are only talking about small trees that have not reached a height such as your height and the smaller the tree, the less the pain and the more likely the success of transplanting).


November Report

Let’s talk about Fall fertilizers. I am including some suggestions here from Norma Connolly, a friend who has some knowledge about this:

Potassium: Associated with better fruit color, and more sugar, this is something best applied in the Fall because it does not move quickly in the soil.  Consult with your local nursery about amounts to use for your particular tree.

Micronutrients: If one can obtain Azomite, this would be great. Email [email protected] if you are interested in how to obtain this and I may refer you to Norma or to another source.

Liming: Dolomite lime is usually a good addition in our highly acidic, rainy  Seattle soils. But the best way to be sure you are adding the right amount  is to make sure you have first  tested the PH of the soil yourself.   Test by digging down 8 inches and then get your soil from there.    By adding lime, some nutrients like potassium will sometimes become more available. Application rate for 100 square feet would be about 4.5 pounds of lime for each rise of one PH point you hope to achieve.

Nitrogen: sometimes good for trees with low vigor but NOT good for Fall application.  Wait until Spring if you think you need to make the trees more vigorous.   Heavily pruned trees will probably NOT require nitrogen even then as they are already putting out too much “sucker” type growth.

Phosphorus: This product can help with flowering, but unfortunately, the best time to have applied this was by putting in the soil before the tree has grown and has become  well established.

Make all applications evenly and work in the soil and be sure to have fun….otherwise, what’s the point?


Mid-October Report

       Gail Savina updated you earlier on this blog as to many wonderful activities happening this month. I am just going to give a little more “color” on three cider fests coming up…at Beacon Hill, in the Ravenna area and in Northeast Seattle. Consider going to the one nearest you, surprise them, and support them.

      Oct. 16th 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Northeast Seattle

               Bring your own washed apples/pears/grapes and let them get juiced up, if you want (no fruit from ground please)


          Oct. 22nd – Beacon Hill Harvest Festival, 1 – 9 p.m., Garden House on Beacon Hill,  2336 15th Ave. S. in Seattle,


          Oct. 29th — near  Freeway, 6th Ave. NE and NE 63rd St. in  Ravenna District,   2 to 5 p.m.

                   — bring your own apples if you want and have them juiced up and/or come for some free cider

                      — for more details and directions or map contact Ruth Collard at 206-527-4035  or email [email protected]


(Note: Blog on Nov. 1st will be on Fall Fertilizers. Blog on Nov. 15th will be on transplanting)


October Report

     If you protected your apples from bugs this summer, congratulations ! Not only can you now harvest your labors, but you have set an example for our community.   You might enjoy them yourself, give to family or friends, or even give to a local charity.
     If you do not have apples worthy to showcase,  don’t worry.  You can still use them.  Consider washing them and and then bring them down to donate to one of our City Fruit cider press events this Fall.    Just be sure, as a matter of public policy,  that none of the apples we use ever touched the ground.

     It is Autumn now.   Harvest time.    It is also time to start  thinking  about what nutrients we wish to put in the soil and what transplanting we may do. More about these last two subjects later.


Mid-September report

      Okay, we’re still in pear time and getting into apple picking time now. Are you wondering when your apples are ripe? Try tasting them. Or look for the “background” color against the green. Or cut one open and look at the seed color.

       One cautionary note, though…..if your apples were not protected by an insecticide or by foot sox, then the apples  may be dropping prematurely due to the effect of the bugs’ effect on the abscission of the apples’ connection to the tree itself…..i.e., the dropping of apples on your trees tells you something, but not necessarily everything about whether your apples are ripe or not.
       The longer we can leave the apples on the tree the better it is for improving the sugar content.
      One of the best ways to process unsprayed apples is to wash them and then juice ’em up ! City Fruit will be doing this in several places this Fall. One can also see a demonstration of cider-making at the Piper Orchard in Carkeek Park on Saturday, Sept. 24th. The agenda and the directions are on their website:

       Susan Dolan of the National Park Service will be the feature speaker at the Festival of Fruit and she is definitely one reason to come.    It is also an opportunity to meet Gail Savina of City Fruit, who is talking that day  about what we in Seattle are doing with our own public parks.  

        Hey, folks, just a side note: If you come to the Piper Orchard Festival of Fruits be sure to also meet Ingela Wanerstrand and Will Murray as they demonstrate cider-making for both kids and adults. Ingela and Will are almost tireless proponents of sustainable gardening and cider-pressing.    Do me a favor. If you have the pleasure of meeting Will or Ingela (and they are both approachable folks), grab a cup of fresh, hot, local apple cider to warm you on this the first Saturday of Autumn…….and then thank them for all the volunteer effort they give to Seattle’s backyard gardening movement…….(a little appreciation is sometimes as warming as the cider is.)


September Report

      A note on Pears: It is time to start thinking about your pear harvest, if you haven’t already. Each variety of pear requires a different kind of treatment. However, in general know this: Asian pears should be picked when they are ripe on the tree while European pears (like the Bartlett) are picked when still green and must ripen off the tree. Also, remember that every pear needs some chilling before it is allowed to ripen.

        A note on the Spotted Wing Drosophilia (SWD): This was a light year for the drosophilia. We don’t know why but perhaps the intensely cold temperature we had just before Thanksgiving in 2010 reduced the population. We are seeing evidence of SWDs in raspberries and blackberries, some cherries, a few plums. So far, Washington grapes (as opposed to warmer clime California grapes) seem to be somewhat resistant to this pest.
        There is no damage from SWDs to apples and pears with their harder skins.


Mid-August Report

First to ripen are the strawberries. Then the sweet cherries. Then the sour cherries. Then some of the early peaches (for anyone who has them) and raspberries.

About this time of the year (mid-August) the next to ripen are the blueberries, Asian plums, and the summer apples, which are ripening now.

Then toward the end of August the Bartlett pears and Italian prune plums…and in September and October come the rest of the apples.

Someday I think it would be cool if we mapped out the different micro-climates in the Seattle area and we learned the ripening habits for each particular variety in each area and we were also aware of the particular odd weather patterns for any particular year. In other words, I think it would be cool if we got a better handle on exactly when people in Seattle can expect their particular fruit to ripen.

But for now, knowing when the fruit will ripen in advance is an inexact science and we just try to remember when the fruit ripened last year and figure that for 2011 the fruit will ripen about two weeks later than usual due to our cool Spring this year.

More on picking and storage tips later!


August Report

If you thought trees don’t need water in the Pacific Northwest, think again!
Fruit trees do better when watered in the dry months of July and August and here is why:
1. These months get less precipitation than what is needed.
2. The fruit sizes up right now and the health of the tree and the fruit is improved by watering now.

Anything planted in containers is prone to dry out prematurely.

Young trees that are less than 10-15 feet high will grow best with a watering system that reaches down about 12 inches below the surface. Water near the “drip line” every 7 to 10 days with deep well watering. The drip line is the outer perimeter of where the leaves of the tree are. The roots under that point are the most receptive to water.

Old established trees will do well whether they are watered or not…but for the largest size fruit, think of watering a few times this month.


Mid-July Report

Pears – The hard skin of most European pears has made them impervious to codling moth so far. However, as the summer progresses and the skin softens, it is time to think about putting a bag or footie (or spray) on the pears to protect them. You are probably not too late if you do this before August of this year.

Spotted Wing Drosophilia
– This dangerously well adapted fruit fly has been causing organic growers to tear their hair out as it is hard to control with organic sprays. Nevertheless, the record cold and wet spring that we experienced seems to have reduced their numbers this year. It would be a good precaution to apply a preventative a week to two weeks before your berries, cherries or plums are ripe.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
– So far Seattle hasn’t seen this bug in very big numbers but it is a growing problem back East and in Portland. We’ll post if we see a large influx.


July Report

We had an unusually wet winter, and some anthracnose can be seen in the apple trees. Clip out the dying twigs and small branches that are bad on your fruit trees as you examine them.

The next couple months are an ideal time to trim back your fruit trees in an area with moderate temperatures such as we have in Seattle. You can lower the height of overgrown trees, cut out the water-sprouts (sometimes called “suckers”) and open up the trees where the branches seem crowded to allow developing fruit to receive more nurturing sun.

Summer pruning is a good time for “containing” fruit trees that are taller than you can conveniently reach. After you’ve harvested your cherries, think about pruning the cherry trees, because they are more susceptible to disease when pruned in the wetter months than when pruned now. The final argument for summer pruning here in the Pacific Northwest? It’s a lot more fun to be out on a pleasant dry July or August morning than a wet and windy February one!


Mid-June Report

First, thanks to Jill E., Lily S., and Linda K. who work in connection with City Fruit and who helped Sue Hartmann and her half dozen volunteers to protect the Seattle Tilth garden area apple trees last week. The event was a success and marked a coordinated City Fruit and Seattle Tilth cooperation, something which we hope will happen again.

Now, as to the fruit this year: It seems to be a light year for fruit, so if you have any, be grateful. If anyone out there has seen an Italian prune plum tree with much fruit on it, please email me as I would like to know.

Apricots? Forget it. We don’t grow them in Western Washington and this year is no exception.

Pears? No need to worry about pests just yet, but check the July report in two weeks.

Cherries? It is time to spray for cherry fruit fly. Consult a local nursery for help.

Plums, Peaches, Blueberries? Okay so far. Wait for the mid-July report for more info.

Apples? The codling moth is flying and mating now, but there are no eggs hatching into larvae just yet. City Fruit member Claire D. is helping me monitor these and she caught many moths in her Greenwood trap just recently… just as I have seen these in the Wallingford area a couple weeks ago. The codling moth is what puts the proverbial worm in the apple.

The other pest for apples, the apple maggot fly, is less perceptible and more destructive. Since it doesn’t start flying until July this year, you still have plenty of time to protect against it with your apple maggot barriers (aka footies). Kaolin clay and neem oil also work.
Final note: You can learn how to apply footies at the Piper’s Orchard this Saturday, June 18th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drop in for an hour or a half hour…or just stroll by and enjoy the park.

Report by Don Ricks


June Report

     We may not end world hunger but we can reduce the problem. We may not make every backyard fruit tree in Seattle productive, but we can increase our knowledge base. We will not always spray every fruit tree but we can at least make a difference, one apple at a time.
     Now is the time to apply foot sox on apples. If you can discern the apples on your tree, then thin out each cluster so that you have only one apple every 8 to 10 inches apart. Then put on a protective barrier. (see link)

      Also, if you would like to help protect the apples from apple maggot fly with other volunteers at the Good Shepherd Center, then consider dropping by sometime in the next few days.   All volunteers are welcome as we work on the apple trees right there in the parking lot  of 4649 Sunnyside Ave. (in Wallingford area).      Stay for a minute, or an hour,  or however long you would like:  Consider visitting us at one of the times below.

June 2nd    Thursday,     6 to 9 p.m.
June 4th     Saturday,      12 noon  to 5 p.m.
June 8th      Wednesday,  5 to 8 p.m.
June 9th      Thursday,     6 to 9 p.m.

         Every volunteer is welcome. If you have a small step-ladder, that is fine, but most of the fruit  can be reached from the ground. Foot sox will be supplied.

        Also,   if you have an interest in protecting the apples at the Amy Yee tennis center, email [email protected] to help arrange a time to do this.

(Side note:   If you have cherries on your trees, consider a spray program using a Spinosad based product and spray every 10 days or so, beginning about the second week of June….how often you spray will depend on whether you have observed worms in your cherries and depending upon the rain.   Make sure you have not sprayed for an adequate interval before you harvest those cherries.   Consult your local nursery for all the details, please,  and  consider these ideas mentioned here  as being merely suggestive of developing a strategy and finding out more about it on your own).


Mid-May Report

       Finally a few sunny days ! !
       I have already seen a few developing pears and a few sour cherries getting started. Since the sour cherry trees are self-pollinating, they at least could survive our incredibly cool wet “no fly zones” created for our bees this Spring.
       This will undoubtedly be another bad year for some types of plums, but the apple trees that are out in bloom now should be fine in terms of being sufficiently pollinated.   

       Some people will have taken steps to protect against apple scab already, but this is the time of the year when it is time to now start paying attention to the bugs.    The first bug to arrive on the scene for the apple is the codling moth….and if you live in South Seattle or by the Phinney area, there is a chance the codling moth will arrive about May 27th in very small numbers.
       Talk to a local nursery about a spinosad product or neem oil or kaolin clay or some such for organic solutions.
       Those applying foot sox to protect against the codling moth should probably think about putting the footies on the apples as soon as one can discern the apples this year. Here is a link that may help:

       No other fruit crops need pest protection at this time, but summer approaches……stay tuned for the June report the first week of June.


May Report

       If April showers bring May flowers, then what do Mayflowers bring?
       Nope. Not pilgrims. Guess again.
       The answer this year is a very late pest program, with footies to be applied in late May (more details later).

        Our April was phenomenally cold and wet, and  in fact, the past 8 months have been unusually wet.      As a result of these past wet  months we had to so patiently endure, we will now see much more moss both on our trees and on our lawns.   We will see more peach leaf curl on the peach trees, more anthracnose on our apple trees, and more pear and apple scab on our fruit.
Geesh !    To counter this onslaught of  problems related to our rain, fruit enthusiasts are encouraged to talk to a local nursery about organic solutions, such as lime/sulfur for apple scab right now, and Spinosad products for pest control later this season.
        What the organization “City Fruit” will be doing this year is to protect some of our fruit with a harmless barrier that doesn’t even require spraying. We use foot sox sold by the Seattle Tree Fruit society for apples and pears.       

       Read more about this

     In addition,  I, Don Ricks, am  personally  offering to GIVE away these items to anyone who emails me and sends me a mailing address:
              — 12 foot sox, and/or
              — 12 paper sacks (with stencils where you can “name” your apple) and
               — 6 Fuji bags (like used in Japan)

              Jill’s last blog about “container” planting is right on the mark. I am convinced this is the future for Seattle gardeners….and I additionally am offering to give away insect netting to those people who have dwarfed cherry trees, peach trees, or blueberries where the net can cover the entire tree. (Apples and pears should be footied individually…..the nets are for smaller fruit trees and berries).

             I will arrange to let you have the mosquito nets at one of our upcoming work parties to be announced later…but the foot sox I will offer to mail to you at no charge…….there is no catch other than this:   I will email you in the Fall to ask about your results.
          Again,  there are no other conditions to receive these items to try them out.   This is something I believe in and we can all learn at City Fruit by experimenting, growing, learning and working together to find solutions.

                                                      [email protected]


City Fruit…what about Veggies?

I have to admit, I was caught off-guard Friday when I checked the weather forecast and saw little suns on nearly every day of this week.  We finally got some sunny weather, although it won’t be warm enough to lure out many pollinators for our fruit trees that are blooming already (see Don’s report below).  The sun was certainly enough to lure out the people though, and the packed weekend farmer’s markets proves it.

I visited my new garden plot on Sunday, and I was almost as pleased to see my garden neighbors as I was to see my peas coming up.  Lots of people were digging, planting and enjoying the sun this weekend in our community garden and in P-patches and yards—front and back—all over the city.  I also got to chat with one of the leaders of our brand-new community garden, and she stressed the importance of donating some of the produce to food banks and meal programs.  We have two plots devoted to producing food for donation, and after our conversation, we’re going to make sure other gardeners know how to donate extra food, which of course inspired me to let our blog readers know!

Our friends at Lettuce Link (a program of Solid Ground) coordinate the “veggie side of things,” so hop on over to their website if you need some more resources.  Here’s some tips for donation this summer:

  • If you garden in a P-Patch, you may already have a donation program.  If you do, connect with the volunteers in charge of it, because organizing with other gardeners makes the whole process more efficient.
  • If your P-Patch doesn’t have a donation program set up, contact Lettuce Link to find out how.
  • Plant an extra row.  Food banks and meal programs prefer large amounts of one thing, if that’s feasible.  If you’re planting at home, you can coordinate with neighbors to harvest the same crop at the same time for donation.
  • Many of the places listed on the City Fruit website for growing fruit will be happy to accept whatever comes from your garden.  Lettuce Link has created an updated list for 2011.
  • You may want to contact the program you are growing for before you plant.  Find out what they need most and how to drop off the food when the time comes.
  • Donate within 24 hours of harvesting, so that the produce will be at the peak of freshness.
  • Tell people about it!  Put up a sign in your garden that explains you’re growing for donation.

April Report

      Have you discovered disease on your fruit tree and you wonder what it is?
      Every Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture, Master Gardeners are on hand to help look at your diseased branch or leaf samples. The service is free and open to everyone.

     Location is:  3501 N.E. 41st St/ Seattle (google for directions.  The Center is approximately a  half mile from Husky Stadium)  is the website for Master Gardeners
        206- 897-5268 is the “Garden Hotline” number staffed by a Professional at the Center for Urban Hort.

        Consider bringing a sample of  a diseased branch, leaf , or fruit  sometime (along with a sample of the same tree that is not diseased).   Come on a Monday night between 4 and 8 pm.  to this location.   Not everything will have an immediate answer, but if these samples need a more thorough analysis then they may be sent to Puyallup for professional diagnosis from there.  (for a very small fee)

    On April 11th, from 6 to 9 p.m. ,   members of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society will be visiting this Master Gardener Clinic as well as learning more about the Miller Horticulture Library next door. We will also watch some videos on anthracnose that night in the Isaakson classroom of the Center for Urban Hort.
     Think about dropping by on this night.   If you can not make it on this particular Monday, don’t worry…..come another Monday with your diseased or troubled plant to try to get a diagnosis.     Sometimes your local nursery can help to diagnose your plant problems, or sometimes you can find a Master Gardener at a Farmer’s market,   but this service provided by unpaid volunteers is  another good place  to keep in mind for the future.


March Report

The kaleidoscope of changing Seattle weather patterns makes it difficult to predict in March how fruitful our trees will be in August.  One thing is for sure:   Extended early warm weather followed by unseasonably cold weather in the Spring is dangerous and helps explain our Italian prune loss for last year, 2010, because that is what happened last year.

Generally speaking,  the further along  fruit buds are in development, the more sensitive they are to cold temperatures.

For 2011, our unseasonably warm January helped to swell some of our plum buds prematurely and it is possible that a few of the 20 degree nights we had in late February caused a small percentage loss of some of  the plums to come.  (Probably just a nice little thinning is one guess).

So far, we are optimistic.  Actually, this cold weather for early March  is a good thing.  We are not ready for our fruit trees to blossom out just yet and we welcome delays in bud development at this point.


Food Economy

courtesy of wsj.comThere’s a great piece on one of the Wall Street Journal’s blogs about food economy: It’s the (Food) Economy, Stupid. Clever play on the Bill Clinton catch phrase. The research behind the blog post is courtesy our of our local University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition.

The main thrust of their research found that…

“Having a grocery store nearby doesn’t guarantee purchases of fresh produce or other more healthful foods, the report found — those decisions are often driven by economics.”

Not that proximity of available fresh, nutritious fruits & vegetables isn’t important — it’s just there are other factors at play. One other driver is also the relative price within the store itself. Makes sense. As they write in the blog post: “Money matters”.

Only related by topic, I found this short series about Food Economy and thought it interesting. There are three videos so the entire thing is a little long, but educational.