Posts Tagged ‘summer’


Food Waste Makes National Headlines

foodwaste-blogThis month, John Oliver highlighted the issue of food waste in his weekly show, Last Week Tonight. Check out of the full segment here (warning: contains some explicit language).

He highlighted the outrageous amount of food we waste in America — 40 percent! Research in Seattle shows that young professionals and families with small children are most likely to waste the greatest amount of food.

We recently asked campers at the Pacific Science Center’s Farm to Table Camp how much food they thought we wasted in the United States in regards to number of football stadiums. Most guessed ten or twenty stadiums.  But thanks to John Oliver we know that number is 730. Imagine 730 Seattle Seahawks stadiums FILLED with food waste!

Since learning about the issue of food waste and joining City Fruit, we’ve tried hard at my home to reduce our waste through a few strategies:

  • Carefully considering what we buy at the grocery store.  Do we have enough to make meals for the week? What is going bad?
  • Freezing everything.  I’ve yet to find something that cannot survive freezing.  For fruits and vegetables, I try to clean and chop the produce into pieces before freezing.
  • Creative recipes. In the winter, we make stew from leftover ingredients (plus all the bits and pieces of fruits & veggies we are less familiar with).  And in the summer, we create unexpected sorbets, margaritas, and infusions.

Here is one recipe that worked out quite well when a watermelon we purchased started to turn.

Watermelon Margaritas

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
  • Lime wedges or watermelon balls (optional)

Directions: Mix everything except the sugar in a blender.  You can prepare the glasses with a sugar rim if you like. Garnish with lime wedges.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for our free class on using up your summer produce on August 22! Find more information and register here.




Meet Your 2015 Harvesters


Pictured from left to right, Dusty Towler, Luke Jesperson, and Yvonne Socolar comprise City Fruit’s 2015 harvest crew!

Going into his fourth summer as a harvester with City Fruit, Dusty is focusing on West Seattle. Luke, City Fruit’s Harvest Manager, will be working in South Seattle including the neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Rainier Beach, and Columbia City. Yvonne Socolar is harvesting in North Seattle, covering the neighborhoods of Wallingford, Ballard, and Phinney/Greenwood.

City Fruit has expanded the harvest into Northeast Seattle for the first time ever this year, which is covered by Luke and Yvonne – our first fruit of the season were Bing cherries from View Ridge!
These three have been kept busy harvesting for the past three weeks with the early season this year, and have already donated over 5,000 lbs of fruit to Seattle food banks!
Want to get involved? We need your help!


Special thanks to our summer intern Sam Maylor, who has been rotating as an extra set of hands wherever he is most needed!


Meet City Fruit’s Summer VISTA and Interns!


Pictured from left to right, Sam Maylor, Ethan Davis, and Allie Andrade have joined the City Fruit office this summer, focusing on a variety of projects to help build City Fruit’s capacity.

Both Environmental Studies majors at the University of Washington, Sam and Allie will be working with City Fruit as part of their senior capstone project. Sam will be assisting with annual harvest efforts, while Allie will be focusing on community outreach. Together they will write a series of impact briefs that connect City Fruit’s work with larger issues and policy.

Ethan is an IT major at Portland State University, home to enjoy the summer in his native Wallingford neighborhood! An AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Ethan will be working to develop maps of Seattle’s public orchards, and has already mapped and measured the trees at Meridian Park! This extra set of hands is made possible by Rotary First Harvest.

We asked our interns some very important questions to get to know them a little better:

Favorite fruit: A tie between yellow peaches and watermelon
Favorite summer activity: Kayaking
Highlight so far at City Fruit:
A highlight so far was tabling at the Wallingford Farmer’s Market. I really enjoyed the chance to interact with one of the communities that City Fruit works in. I was able to meet many community members who already were involved with the organization in one way or another as well as talk with those unfamiliar with City Fruit about why City Fruit is important in their neighborhood and how they can get involved.

Favorite fruit: Peaches
Favorite summer activity: Playing outdoor sports in the sun
Highlight so far at City Fruit:
Getting to explore the orchards around the city.

Favorite fruit: Mangoes
Favorite summer activity: Going to music festivals
Highlight so far at City Fruit:
Harvesting loquats! Loquats were awesome – they were super easy to pick, super tasty, and they’re really bright orange so when you pick a whole tree of them you can see what you’ve done really clearly.

Keep an eye out this summer for Ethan in one of Seattle’s public orchards, Allie at outreach events, and Sam on a ladder in your backyard!


#GivingTuesday: Why I Donate My Time to City Fruit

GT2When I was 19, I did a summer internship on a family-run organic farm outside Bellingham. I worked in the fields all day planting, harvesting, and weeding, and in the evenings ate with the family in the farmhouse. I worked up a serious appetite, and relished the simple yet delicious meals comprised largely of vegetables from the farm.

We often ate the culls, a word I had never heard until that summer. Throughout the day, any vegetables a little out of the ordinary got culled for the house kitchen—carrots twisted around each other, the smaller tomatoes, the bigger zucchinis, the deformed onions, or the broccoli that was too open. They weren’t ideal for selling to the grocery stores or at the farmer’s market, but they were still the best veggies I ever had.

The farmer would slice up heirloom tomatoes for us to taste at dinner, and the family would talk about the flavors. Until then, I had never had a tomato that wasn’t a Roma. I learned that there were deep purple tomatoes and green striped ones; tomatoes better for saucing and some better for eating fresh. I hadn’t known that there were so many more varieties of fruits and vegetables than you see at the grocery store.

That summer changed my awareness of the food we eat and piqued my interest in food systems. It changed the way I thought about waste, and got me excited about heirloom and unique plant varieties.

There are organizations in Seattle like City Fruit that care about these things, too. City Fruit harvested 28,000 pounds of fresh fruit from right here in the city that would otherwise have gone to waste, donating much of it into the emergency food system. As was the case on the farm, the fruit comprises a range of varieties, including less common ones like our grandparents may have eaten. Please consider supporting the work of this proactive organization that matches the abundance of urban fruit with a real local need. Celebrate #GivingTuesday by becoming a City Fruit Member or sign up to volunteer today.

Amber Casali is a City Fruit Ambassador.


Out in the Orchard: A Good Time to Plant a Tree

It’s November. You’ve harvested the fruit from your trees, BGT March 22 work party 2cleaned up fallen fruit, raked up diseased leaves, and spread mulch up to the dripline. What to do now? Plant a tree!

November is the best month to plant trees in our climate. Plant a tree in the spring, and unless you are really disciplined about watering, the dry summer months will stress your tree when it is trying to get established. Plant in November, and the rains take care of watering duties. Plus with our mild fall and winter, roots of the trees can even continue growing once they are planted, whenever the soil temperature is above 50 degrees.

A problem with this plan, though, is that most nurseries are not selling fruit trees in November.

City Fruit has a few fruit trees and edible perennials that are ready to plant now. Sign up using the online form. A small donation per plant is requested.

Some small local nurseries such asCal watering quince Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska and Hartman’s Nursery in Puyallup may have fruit trees you can buy for planting now. Burnt Ridge sells trees at The Farmers Market of Olympia, open Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 3 through December. Contact small nurseries to confirm their fruit tree inventory before you take a road trip.

To get the most fruit production from your trees, buy two or more trees that can pollinize each other.

Location is crucial. The more sun the better – full sun is best. Leave enough room for the tree so it can grow to its ultimate mature size. You don’t want to be moving that tree again in a few years.

Once you are ready to get your trees in the ground, refer to City Fruit’s on-line resource document on How to Plant a Fruit Tree.

Good luck! Send us a photo of your new trees at [email protected]

Barb Burrill is City Fruit’s orchard steward coordinator. 


New to Fruit Trees – Summer Pruning

Pruning copyThis past weekend, I attended City Fruit’s second Sunday series at City People’s Garden Store on summer pruning with Bill Wanless.  The class was packed – over 30 attendees! Clearly, this is a topic of interest.

While my plum tree is too young for summer pruning, here are some tips and tricks to help promote growth and fruit production.

August is the best time for summer pruning. We prune fruit trees in the summer to improve the health of the tree, protect against pests and fungal disease, and produce more fruit or flowers. To make room for more sun and air, consider these cuts during summer pruning:

  • Cutting back new shoots that crowd the larger, more established branches,
  • Removing dead and broken branches,
  • Removing all suckers — branches that are growing from the base of the tree

Don’t prune too much – no more than a quarter of the total leaf surface in any one year. And don’t try to fix a tree in one year; if the tree needs a lot of work, do it over several years. For more guidance, check out this City Fruit video with Ciscoe Morris and Kristen Ramer Liang or this resource sheet.

Catherine Morrison is executive director of City Fruit and new to fruit trees. She planted her first tree, a Hollywood plum, earlier this year.  


A conversation with Barb Burrill, Burke-Gilman Trail Orchard Steward

Note:  Two weeks after Lori interviewed Barb Burrill for this post, Barb was named a national finalish for Volunteer of the Year, an award organized by the Alliance for Community Trees in Boston. 

Barb and I met at Mosaic Coffeehouse in Wallingford, which she recommended. This sprawling space, below a church, has lots of big mismatched tables and chairs, comfy chairs and sofas,  and a whole separate room for kids. And they take donations for the coffee, tea, and sweets, so you pay what you’d like. So cool. I can see why Barb loves it so much! Gail was with us in spirit, too, as half the questions I asked Barb were hers…

Lori: How did you end up becoming an orchard steward?

Barb: My son started school at John Stanford International. To get there, you walk along the Burke-Gilman from our house. So I’d walk him to school and pick him up. . .  .  I’m trying to remember now. I noticed some trees. Well, really two trees, along the way. One of them took me a long time to notice, because it was a tree that was totally enveloped by laurel. You could only see it when it bloomed. I could see it sticking out the top.

Barb sharing cider

Barb sharing cider


So I’d had some training before with Green Seattle Partnership (now Forterra). And so I knew, had experience, in removing invasives, and that’s pretty much what it was at that point with those trees, just finding the tree under the laurel, and then blackberries with the crabapple. So then I started noticing more trees along the trail, that was my main route. And then I went farther in both directions. I had that in mind. And then—I don’t know how—I heard about City Fruit. . . . So had that connection. So then when they started talking about the orchard stewards, I suggested, I guess, it was 6 trees on the Burke-Gilman. 

And then the Burke-Gilman got selected! And I thought “Alright!” It’s such a strange park. I mean it’s trees that have been either abandoned or volunteers. There are now 23, and then there are two others, we keep finding them!

Lori: What are the outlier trees? The farthest one way versus the other way?  

Barb: The farthest that we have taken on is the University Bridge to the east. . . . The other end is Northlake Place and Northlake Street, which is just west of the new Center of Wooden Boats, which is west of Gasworks. There’s one there, and one tiny one beyond that. So that’s the farthest west. But the tiny one needs to be moved, because that’s totally shaded. I do count that one. And there are a couple just across from Gasworks that aren’t official, they’re on a really steep slope and totally shaded, so it could be 25 trees now. Unless we plant some.

Gail: How do you keep people interested in pulling blackberries and ivy? How have you managed to create and keep such a loyal group over the past 3 years?

Barb: Well, it’s a fluid group. The big work parties, which have done most of the invasive removal recently, and a small core. In the past, our first work parties, we did do some blackberry work and then follow up. But it’s something where you really need a lot of people and generally, if you have a larger group of people, there’s a certain core that likes to do that. Most people do not like to do that. [Lori giggles.] But the ones who do, do really get into it. We have, really 3, maybe 4, people in our group that like to do that, so it’s not something that we do all the time.

And I guess that’s part of it. With our core group, there are certain things that they like to do, some don’t go on ladders, and most don’t do pruning. So it’s kind of the thing, we can choose what we do, and now that our trees are cleared, there are sort of easier chores that can be done for most of them.

Bruke-Gilman work party

Burke-Gilman work party

Lori: So they can follow their passions?

Barb: Yeah, and if it fits into their schedule. So things like — we had a couple who were planting daffodil bulbs, just as an apple tree guild. And they did that as they could.  We have more people working now than initially, so it’s harder to get together as the whole group. But it’s a combination now between the small group that is doing things over time and then the other, bigger, corporate groups. There’s one more—I have a meeting tomorrow with Seattle Parks to see if we can clear another area around some new trees now: one a volunteer and one that was planted. Once that’s done, though, the maintenance is pretty minimal. Do you put socks on? And harvesting. And thinning. Those are the big things.

Lori: So Gail’s question about how you keep a loyal support group, I heard fluid, I heard as their schedules allow, and I heard small core group and using temporary big groups.

Barb: Yeah. Flexible. . . . I’ve been trying to get somebody to be in charge of scheduling, because I find it hard to schedule myself out. And then we have people—some who can’t come on Sunday mornings, some who can’t do Saturday mornings, so that. I’d like to delegate that scheduling to somebody who can manage that and then to have that published so that the people who like us on Facebook, who have come from corporate groups, can find it and take part, so it’s a little easier for them.

Lori: What have been the best moments, your favorite moments, as an orchard steward so far?

Barb: It’s always fun when people stop, and thank us, for what we’re doing. It’s really interesting—it’s amazing—to me, how that varies depending on where we are on the trail. Even though it’s about a mile and a half, yet not everybody goes the whole length of the trail. We get certain kinds of affection in certain areas and others not so much, it’s really interesting. Maybe it’s certain people who see us more often, I don’t know.

Giving and receiving thanks along the trail

Giving and receiving thanks along the trail

And then last year was really good, because we had such a big harvest, which was amazing, with just that little bit of love. I mean it’s mostly just been clearing and spreading bedspread compost from the zoo, and not even—very, very little pruning—but a HUGE difference. And that’s how we’ve had the most reaction, because people can see through the trees and between the trail and the sidewalk, and they are amazed at how it feels. It’s so open, and they can see the trees, they can see the apples when they’re on the tree, and they’re not left to rot on the ground. It really is, it’s beautiful, and has an arboretum sort of feeling there, so there I think we’ve had the most response from people. Pruning the trees as they grow out over the trail, too, they were obstructing as much as half the width of the Trail —  so yeah, we have a lot of good feedback.

Lori: I thought the fact that when you did the cider pressing in the fall, that’s one of my favorite orchard steward moments. You letting different people use the cider press along the trail. I go to lots of cider presses, and usually there’s a couple of big, burly experts doing the cider pressing. Yours was so unique. There were kids using it, and lots and lots of people trying it and using it, and you had a lot of us who became expert in the process of using it, not showing up as experts.

Barb: That was our second year. The first year we had two—a brother and sister, probably only 6 and 8 years old—and they ran it two out of the three hours. [We laugh.] Because that’s normal for our little cider pressings, to have kids doing it.

Gail: What are the most difficult aspects of managing this linear orchard along a trail?

Barb: Well, keeping track of what’s going on with individual trees is really hard for me. It’s another area we could use some help. We’ve toyed with the idea of assigning a steward to each tree, but we don’t have people living along the same area. The hardest part is to be aware of what’s going on. Once you decide to go there, they’re not that far away, but it’s, you know, what stage they are. I’ve been keeping track of blooming times, and harvest times, and so now I know which come first, and which are next, so that helps.

Lori: I can imagine. Most of the other orchards–I’ve been to 6 or 7 in Seattle this past year–and most of them when you’re in the orchard, you can yell at each other, regardless of where you are, you can hear each other, and you can sort of coordinate on the fly, from within shouting distance.

Barb: And we generally don’t do more than one location during a work party, and that’s kind of tricky too, because some of them are just individual trees. But yeah, for this, we’re having a group from Washington State University come on March 10th, and it’s a very organized group from there. It’s their spring break, and they do service in different areas around the state, and we were chosen as one of their sites, so I want to get them a good experience, but I don’t really have much for them to do where we have a lot of trees, I mean they’re in pretty good shape. And they’re not pruners or grafters. So it’s getting a little trickier to find a big area for people to do things other than pulling invasives and hauling wood chips.

Lori: More guild planting?

Barb:  Yeah. But we need, we have a lot of slopes, where blackberries need to be pulled and then replaced with something.

Part of the orchard is under I-5

Part of the orchard is under I-5

Barb: But, I tell ya, the main challenge for me is working under I-5. It is so noisy. That’s where the cider pressing was. I have to have ear plugs, really good ear plugs.

Lori: I’m going to write that down for Gail: “Remove section of I-5.” [We laugh.]

Barb: Yeah. It’s really. I mean, talk about not being able to communicate when you’re right next to somebody.

Lori: Who in the orchard steward community has been an inspiration to you or a mentor for you?

Barb: Well, Craig Thompson is amazing. I’m just so inspired by him.

Lori: At Jose Rizal?

Barb: Yes, Jose Rizal. Yes, how much he gets done. And then his persistence. [She belly laughs.] It’s not like we have had any real issues here. We just, I’ve had great support. From Parks. And we haven’t really had  many problems. But he’s been working there for a long time, and had a lot of things that he’s dealt with, so yeah. He just gets things done.

And also, another inspiration is, not an orchard steward group but an urban forest group. Friends of Burke-Gilman Trail, they work up around 65th, and they do major, major restoration, and they are so persistent and consistent. They’re mostly retired, and they do strictly restoration. They just have been at that for years, doing amazing work.

Gail: What ideas do you have about educating the public about these fruit trees, and where did your ideas come from?

Barb: Well, since it’s so strung out, we’ve talked about having walking tours. And that’s possible a couple of different ways. In Wallingford there is Wallingford Walks. So it would be fine as one of those. And also, last spring, I met Penny who is the Tree Ambassador for Greenlake and Wallingford, I think she’s the first one.

Lori: What a great title!

Barb: Yeah! Isn’t it? And she’s something. She’s got a digital tour of the trees around Greenlake. And so you can have it on your phone, but ah, wouldn’t that be nice? She’s already done it. And we only have 20 something trees compared to her–she doesn’t have every single tree on it–and all the different species, but yeah. The Wallingford Walks are fun, because they’re really community based. We’re a little trickier, because where do you end up [laughs] once you’re in the area? If you started at one end, you could end up, there’s Essential Baking Company on the hill, we could end there. Then there’d be a coffee shop.

Lori: Yeah, human logistics. Need a bathroom stop along the way, coffee. Essential Baking would be a great stop. We were just in there.

Barb: They’re pretty much straight up from that last tree.

Lori: That reminds me of something I read last summer. Some village in England or Ireland or Scotland. They made their entire village a walking tour. They put up permanent plaques. And you can do it without a guide person. And you can go from plaque to plaque, and there’s a digital component. You can scan things and get more information for the entire town.

Barb: Well, yeah. There’s so much history. With these trees, you can get that in there, and gosh, I . . .  found Paul Dorpat’s Web site. He’s amazing historian. He does the “Now and Then” column for the Pacific NW Magazine in the Sunday Seattle Times. I’ve been meaning to talk to him for a long time about the history of these trees and what he knows about the trees on the trail. And you get on his web site and he has digitized plats from 1912 so you can see what was going on where these trees are in the city at that time. Most of them are old trees.

Lori: And you’re also doing the Facebook page, which seems to be educating the public.

Barb: Yeah, yeah. I always link it to City Fruit education, and to fruit tree education and care in general, because I just like to talk to people in the neighborhood about their trees. And they don’t usually know what’s going on with us, in south Wallingford. They know about Merridian probably more so, but yeah, they just think it’s a great idea. Pretty much the most popular question is “What do you do with the fruit?” and we when we say we give most of it away, they’re pretty happy to hear that.

One of the things that’s most exciting about those trees is finding that one—and another that’s not officially part of these—those two trees have amazing, unusual apples.  So that. One is a variety and the other is not, so if we could come up with a new variety for our orchard, that would be very exciting. That was something my dad always dreamed of. My dad had an orchard. That was his dream. That he was going to find some new variety that he could name.

Lori: Yeah. It is fun. Even for someone like me, who doesn’t know anything. I started volunteering for City Fruit in the spring, really excited, right on through July, and then had a lull in energy in August. And then September came and suddenly I was going to orchards and people were handing me apples to taste. It was just so fun!

Barb and Jan

Go sisters!

Lori: It activates a whole other part of you. If you like to cook. If you like to can, home can things. And getting all the new apples, every time I showed up a new apple was put in front of me.

Barb: And what do you do with it? And what is it best for?

Lori: And getting to introduce my friends and family to apples they’d never heard of, or seen.

Barb: Mmm, hmm.

Lori: Those bright red little apples that Craig gave me with the bright white inside, just off the tree!

Barb: We had some like that too. They’re pretty good. We had the most volume of those, 8 boxes. They disappointed me over time. They’re really good at first, and they’re ok keepers, but they don’t knock your socks off with tartness, like this one tree is. Oh yeah. That one’s really been great because it’s so prolific and productive, so it’s good but it’s not amazing like these two others are.

And they vary. I was talking to Lori Brakken, she did some ID’ing. And Bob Norton, he did some of the ID’ing of the apples from some of our trees plus the big one at the John Stafford school. I mean, it’s a really sad tree– it’s got scab, in a terrible location–but it tastes like champagne! I mean, or like a chardonnay or something, it’s amazingly complex. And Bob was just blown away, which I thought “This is very cool, if Bob Norton thinks this is great!” So I still had some left to ID, and Lori was doing that for us.  They all turned out to be seedlings, not an identifiable variety.  And she said it varies with these seedlings. They vary from year to year and you have to see how consistent they are. I mean, I’m not used to that!

Lori: Interesting!

Barb: Yeah, because some were so grim. I mean they just had no flavor, and then you wonder, it’s like, well,  are they going to be better this year? And then what does that mean?

Lori: And they’ve only had a little bit of love.

Barb: You were talking about trying different apples. We got some really tart ones, and then the ones from the school, at a school Move-A-Thon they do every October. So the kids are running, walking, biking right by three of our trees. We had a little table where we offered samples of our apples, and the kids were loving it. They just thought that was the coolest thing. They especially liked the apples that made them pucker up. 

Lori: It’s fun to see adults kind of act like little kids. I noticed that at the cider tasting along the trail too. It’s interesting to watch. Some people are just too busy to even stop. And those that do are amazed. What, it’s free?!  That is a strength of being a trail orchard. So many people coming through.

Community celebration work along the trail

Community celebration work along the trail

Barb: Oh yeah. On a nice day. Yeah. It’s getting them to slow down. Some signage would be nice. Getting people to stop and investigate the tree. We don’t have that, other than when we’re out there.

Gail: If you could have any wish for the orchard, what would it be?

Barb: Well, maybe that’s it right there. Signage has not been a big request for us compared to the other orchards. It would be really nice to get something, like what you were talking about, something that has a digital component to it too. And something that can’t be easily taken away. Picked up and run off with. But something like a self-guided tour would be nice, because, as you say, there are so many people that are there. It would just be great if they could stop.

Lori: I’m hearing more about walking tours everywhere I go.

Barb: And to tie in with cideries! There’s a lot of that too. The home brewed cider, which most, at least the people that I know, don’t know anything about cider. Or like my husband, who doesn’t even think he’d like it! And beer, we all love beer, but that whole thing. And having it local. And the local foods.

That’s another thing, another dream is to have some tie of Burke-Gilman apples to a local food company. Gelato or Mighty O Donuts or fritters… So that’s, we’re working on that. I need to do more leg work before harvest. That’s what would be really nice. That one tree would generate enough volume that it would be of interest to a bigger company.


Stewarding becomes a family affair

Stewarding becomes a family affair

Lori: My last question is, what do you have planned for 2013?

Barb: Well, we might have that walking tour, but we don’t have any signage. [we giggle together]

But I would like to pursue the food/apple connection. Are you invited to that City Fruit thing next week? That will be some of our cider from our apples, Paul Brookshire, so that’ll be interesting. And Don Ricks talks about drying apples. But I just want to be able to find a use for all these apples and goodies. Promote that. Sell that. Besides the fresh. Because a lot of these apples are not good for fresh, so you have to have other ways to really promote that this is food, and we can do a lot with that as a community.

We’re also going to do some grafting. So that’s the first time. I’d really like to take these two amazing trees and get them grafted to other, better locations. I’ll know more tomorrow if the Parks gardener is in favor of doing that, it’s almost right in front of my house, which I can keep an eye on it. But to get some other trees, or expand the better apples. We do have some problem apples, with the pest management protocol we’re working on. If we’ll be able to improve the health of some of the trees. It’s not bugs so much, it’s scab. It’s really kind of discouraging. Because we’ve done everything we can, and still the scab is so bad. I guess this is the year to see if they make it. Or we need to do something else to move them to a level where they have quality fruit. It varies so much. Some are good but others are just not in the right place, not the right variety, they’re old trees in the wrong place.

Lori: Thanks for your time Barb. And thanks for some of the questions Gail!


Bug Notes Part 1 — Don Ricks

Codling moth worm. Photo: David Smith

  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).

The codling moth is the first pest to attack fruit in the spring.  Basically, the first generation only goes for apples, and the arrival of the first generation can vary dramatically in terms of the time.  Certain varieties of apples in certain very warm microclimates in parts of Seattle might be first attacked in late May.  Other apples, in locations away from the city and at higher elevations, may not meet the first generation until July.  And some unique places, such as certain San Juan islands, Piper Orchard, or very rural and remote areas may not even have codling moth problems.
At places in the city where the CM is numerous and agressive (what we call “high pressure”) the CM may even eat their way through the foot sox.  In places where CM pressure is high, I found reglar foot sox did not work . . and that even kaolin clay on the regular footies didn’t always work.  What seemed to work were the super-strong foot sox –and especially super-strong foot sox with kaolin clay.  That worked — and it worked convincingly most everywhere.
Ziploc plastic bags and the #2 bleached white paper sacks will also work effectively to keep the CM out where CM pressure is high.  I have had success with fuji bags in Eastern Washington, but they haven’t worked for me in Western Washington.  Different climate; different results.
Regular foot sox will work in many situations where either the particular apple variety is resistant or the CM pressure is low.  It pays, then, to know how bad one’s codling moth problem is in order to solve the problem and have the right tools.  Next year I want to experiment less with mating disruptors, which are questionnable in an urban environment, and work instead with trichogramma wasps, as I look for ways to reduce CM pressure.
The second generation of CM comes later in the summer and can be even more intensive.  It will, in some cases, also attack pears.  Pears have such hard skins early in the summer that no protection is needed until July — and in some cases, no protection is needed at all.  In my opinion, pears deserve additional respect with the knowledge that they are completely resiostant to apple maggot fly and to spotted wing drosophilia, as well as being partially resistant to CM.  Pears are a good pest resistant fruit and deserve more recognition.

Mid – October Report

Three dry months….and now we get the rains….No more watering is necessary unless you have pottted plants and are going to bring them indoors or under eaves for protection. In fact, putting potted fruit plants under something that will provide protection from the overhead  rain is not a bad idea.   Such an endeavor  will reduce peach leaf curl for peach trees and anthracnose for apple trees.

Did you miss cider-making events this summer? Well, it’s not too late. Look at City Fruit’s “Classes and Events” link and learn about the two events on Saturday, Oct. 20th and the one event at Burke-Gilman on Sunday, October 21st.
Then next week, October 27th there will be an event in conjunction with the Greenwood Food Bank….
Finally, a hard cider tasting on Thursday, Nov. 1st.

So, make sure you have harvested everything and then kick back and enjoy a cider fest. Apples can be stored in a fridge or even in a shed (if protected from critters) and last for months.
Winter is coming —- but not yet.


mid-July Report

Watering time. Yes, yes, we get an ocassional summer shower here and there in this area.   Don’t count on it as being adequate for your fruit trees.   July and August still don’t produce much in the way of total rainfall.   You need to be careful especially if you have just planted a tree or if your fruit tree is in a container (the future, in my opinion, for city gardeners).    For trees that don’t have a deeply rooted established root system,   then you need to make sure your trees get a weekly source of water that reaches down to the roots and provides some moisture. Seattle gets a lot of rain, yes,  but not in July and August.   In those two months the Seattle area becomes more like our  arid Eastern Washington counterpart.    It is time to make sure your trees get an adequate source of water these next two months…….after that,  in Autumn, don’t worry, we can go back to the monsoon season again and you can stop ensuring a weekly source of watering.


Homegrown Supports City Fruit with a Watermelon Caprese

Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shop is constantly striving to push the envelope on what social responsibility means in business today. They opened with a steadfast commitment to sustainable food sourcing and a rejection of wasteful products like bottled water.

As part of that, they created the Seasonal 10: an initiative that partners Homegrown with a like-minded non-profit each season for a donation of 10% of the sales from their seasonal sandwich. And this summer, they’re partnering with us!

They’ve created a tasty Watermelon Caprese: watermelon, heirloom tomato, fresh basil, feta cream + balsamic reduction. $6 for a small, $10 for a large. Plus you can add prosciutto for an extra $1. My mouth is watering just writing this.

So while you eat at their Fremont, Capital Hill, or Queen Anne locations, you are helping us cultivate urban fruit in order to nourish people, build community and protect the climate. Swing by Homegrown between June 21 and September 21 to support a great local business and local nonprofit.

Big thanks to the folks at Homegrown for their support!


mid-June update

The cool weather this June probably means you are still in time to do some protective work on your apples and Asian pears as there have been some delays on our bugs coming out.

European pears (like Bartletts)  do not need protection at this point as the skins on the pears are still very hard.

And your plums also  do not need protection at this point (for most people, anyway). Maybe later in the summer we can talk about the plums.

Also, please note: What everyone should know is that many of your gardening questions can be answered by Master Gardeners at locations near you. Visit the website for King County Master Gardeners or open this link please and note that there are various useful sites to click on, (such as the 2012 Plant Clinic Schedule:


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.
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.


Joining City Fruit in 2012 pays off

Starting in 2012, joining City Fruit will not only make you feel great for supporting a worthy cause — it will also save you money. City People’s Garden Store, Swanson’s Nursery, and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream are offering discounts (and free cones!) to people who join or renew their City Fruit memberships in 2012.






Join now to get these great deals! An individual membership is just $30 and a household membership is just $50. Your important contribution helps us continue to collect thousands of pounds of fruit each summer that helps feed low-income people in our community.

You can sign up online or send a check to the address listed here.


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-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!


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!


Phinney Volunteer Meeting Tomorrow!

Don’t miss the Phinney Harvest Volunteer meeting tomorrow, from 6:30-7:30pm at the Greenwood Library!  All new and returning volunteers should attend.

If you can’t make it but would like to volunteer this summer, please contact [email protected].

See you soon!



In the next month, we have classes to help you grow beautiful fruit, and then preserve it for year-round sunshine in a jar!  Plus, we’re gearing up for the Phinney Harvest.

First, there’s Organic Pest Management for fruit trees coming up this Saturday, June 18, 10am-12pm at the Green Bean Cafe in Greenwood.  Many folks who are serious gardeners know very little about how to protect fruit from pests (at least organically).  But, I’ve found more and more interest as people are recognizing fruit trees on their properties as a great source of food, and they would like to keep the fruit edible and pretty.  This class will cover lots of different methods for protecting fruit trees from the most common pests in the northwest.

Then we have two canning classes for preserving the summer harvest, whether it’s your own or your favorite farmer’s.  Jackson Place will host Jam-Making Basics on Saturday, June 25, 2-4pm, and on Phinney Ridge we’ll have Canning Basics, on Saturday, June 16, 10am-12pm.  Both of these classes will be taught by City Fruit board member Nancy Gohring, who is a Seattle Tilth Master Preserver.  They both will cover basic water-bath canning techniques, but with a slightly different recipe focus.  These are good classes for the beginning canner, and you can build off these skills to do many more recipes, from marmalades to pickles to salsas.

Finally, all you harvesters Save the Date for our 2011 Phinney Harvest Volunteer Info Meeting.  Details: Tuesday, June 28, 6:30-7:30pm at the Greenwood Library.  All returning and new volunteers should attend this meeting (if you can’t make it, email [email protected]).