Posts Tagged ‘weather’

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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May16

mid-May report

The exceptionally warm and sunny weather has increased fruit set on some trees, hastened the time in which the fruit will come into bearing, and (unfortunately) has increased the bug activity.
Codling moths are flying now. If you are applying foot sox, they should be applied as soon as you see an evident apple upon which to apply the foot sox.
The good news is that Eastern Washington growers are also experiencing an early season and those who love cherries should be seeing some cherries coming from Eastern Washington in early June.

Oct27

Celebrating Harvest Season with the Seattle Orchard Stewards

Hello friends,

I’m Lori. You’ve likely seen me asking questions and taking pictures anywhere orchard stewards are gathering. I’m a community story wrangler and a City Fruit volunteer. All the photos I gather live here, a testament to the amazing people who care for Seattle’s fruit and nut trees: http://seattleorchardstewards.tumblr.com/.

Gail asked me to start blogging once a season for City Fruit to summarize what’s been happening across the Seattle orchard steward world and to eventually tell longer orchard steward stories. Grateful for the chance to do so. First up, harvest season. Yay!

Piper orchard’s festival of fruit (Sept 15th)

I’d never been to the North end’s Carkeek Park, or to Piper orchard within, in my 20 years in Seattle. I can’t believe it took me so long to find this amazing place. What the heck have I been doing with my time?!

Daniel and Chris, fellow pie tasters

After months of hot weather and no rain, by mid September the rest of Seattle was crisp (and many of us gardeners more than a bit cranky about it). So walking through the densely forested park–with it’s self-created humidity and damp, earthy smell–up a steep hill to the festival site was pure delight. I’d been sick that week, and I swear this walk healed me.

We drank fresh-pressed cider and ate a slice of apple pie. Then, 20 minutes later, after the pie contest winners were announced, we had a couple more pieces of the award-winning pies for good measure. That was the polite thing to do, right? That is the lie one tells oneself at slice #3.

Apple identification

We talked to Gail who was sharing plums and information with passersby from the City Fruit table. We listened as indentification experts helped people identify their apples and, for a few, their pests.

Magical Piper orchard

Then we took another delightful walk through the woods to the orchard itself, following little “orchard this way” signs along the way, like walking on a life-sized treasure map.
This old orchard is so beautiful, so magical, I can see why orchard steward Don centers his life’s work around it.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Piper orchard to hear more of Don’s stories in the coming year.

Amy Yee orchard harvest/work party (Sept 20)

Team multch

These trees sit up above the tennis center of the same name just up the hill from MLK Jr Way South, a few blocks south of I-90, and a long stone’s throw from Bradner Gardens. This was an especially fun harvest for me, because the work party was a large group from PopCap Games–the creators of the world’s best iPad game (in my humble opinion) Plants vs. Zombies, a game in which you defend your home from silly cartoon zombies via strategic and savvy gardening. Genius! And I got to meet one of the creators of the game! Ah, life was good.

PopCap Gamers harvesting at Amy Yee

I’d heard from other orchard stewards that the PopCap Games folks were fantastic work party folks, and they proved that rumor true. They cleared blackberries and brush, mulched around trees, and then harvested apples like they were in a World’s Best Harvester’s competition. So much energy! They were a lean, mean, harvesting machine, and a joy to watch as they came up with a myriad of ways to harvest: from small group approaches with the apple catcher sticks to traditional ladder work to climbing up into the trees themselves. Gail brought them a huge, gorgeous plate of sliced fruit from other area harvests. Um, yeah, I hope that was for the story gatherer too. ;-) Delicious!

Burke-Gilman Trail orchard harvest/work party (Sept 22)

One of the big old "trophy roots" that was bothering the apple tree

The Slow Food work party was going strong by the time we got there. They were working thoughtfully, steadily, chatting, and laughing the whole time. Manifesting the spirit of their organization, I thought. They were so much fun to be with.

Barb and Jan, sister stewards

I got to meet Barb’s sister Jan, who’d come to Seattle to help out. This was hard manual labor: digging into rocky soil, digging out huge old roots, and with the Burke-Gilman traffic whizzing by their ears all the while.

Not sure I’d be able to get my sister to do the work, let alone be happy to be there.

Amazingness clearly runs in this family.

 

Dr Jose Rizal orchard harvest/work party (Sept 30)

Dr Jose Rizal orchard stewards

This was my first trip to the Dr Jose Rizal Orchard on Beacon Hill. It lives in the shadow of the beautiful old building (formerly a hospital, then the Amazon building, and now I’m not sure who’s there) that looks lovingly over downtown, like a benevolent old queen looking out across her subjects.

Stewards with a view

You hike down a steep, and sometimes slippery, hillside to get to the orchard. And it’s worth the journey. The amount of work that it’s taken to clear the hillside, and liberate the fruit trees from the jungle-like conditions, is apparent. Somebody has devoted many, many years to this still-coming-back-to-full-life orchard. After being stunned into silence by the beautiful view of downtown, my first thought was “How the heck do they get a wheelbarrow down here?”

Beautiful

Craig and company were harvesting perfect little winesap apples, with an amazing view of downtown Seattle and the happy sounds of the adjacent off-leash dog park wafting up at them. And he gave me a few to try. What a treat! I look forward to getting back and hearing Craig’s stories in depth! As it was, I couldn’t stay long because I was on my way to West Seattle…

West Seattle harvest cider pressing (Sept 30)

cider in the works

Also great to finally see a cider press in action (at Piper, they’d finished pressing before we arrived).

Betsy filled our growler for us, we bought some plum jam from Gail, and then we watched the cider pressers do their thing.

Thanks Betsy!

The cider press seems like a tool designed to foster community as much as to make cider.

Old wisdom and damn good design, in my opinion.

And the weather was warm and sunny and perfect.

Life was good in West Seattle.

Martha Washington orchard harvest/cider pressing (October 14)

Jim invited us to the harvest and cider pressing event at Martha Washington orchard a few weeks later.

Rainy harvest at Martha Washington

True Seattle fall decided to show up in full force this day, drenching us and teaching me that rain and my camera will never be the best of friends. As a gardener, though, I reveled in the rain after so many months of nothing. Yay rain!

Jim and company had thought ahead, and brought portable stoves, so we had hot cider to warm us from the chilly fall rain.

Cheers stewards!

We learned that we were on the site of an former wayward girl’s school: the old trees, school trees. The beautiful colors of the umbrellas and clothes that the kid helper/harvesters were wearing leant an air of whimsey and magic to the very wet day. The rain-fuzzy images in my camera calling to mind the ghosts of those who came before us.

Is it any wonder I like to be in orchards. Seems like magic always finds me there. Thanks for the invite Jim. Great cider!

 

Burke-Gilman Trail cider pressing (Oct 21st)

harvest dancers

Last Sunday I joined Barb and company again at Burke-Gilman–this time in the shadow of the ship cannel bridge–for their cider pressing event. The I-could-rain-any-minute sky cooperated nicely and gave mostly sun breaks to the 3+ hour event. Barb had invited some traditional dancers to bring good fortune to the harvest and make the cider taste better: I think they helped with the weather too.

Helpful hands

Amanda from Solid Ground and Burke-Gilman steward Harriet were expertly working the cider press and encouraging those who came by on the trail to take a turn. I worked the press long enough that it was clearly an upper-body workout, which meant I could skip the gym, which was nice. ;-) But seriously, it was amazing to get a chance to use the press and to watch people of all ages do so as well.

We did free cider tastings of different blends and also one-kind varieties of cider. Other stewards sorted apples into “cider” and “eating” boxes and multched around nearby trees. Barb’s son and his buddy manned the information booth and proved themselves to be fantastic fundraisers beside the donation bucket. Such a fun day. ANd I came home with yet another growler of cider, which I’m sipping right now. So. Freakin. Good.

who likes cider pressing events?

Happy fall, my friends!

You can find more photos and stories of Burke-Gilman events on the Burke-Gilman Urban Orchard Stewards Facebook page, and more photos of all these events at the Seattle Orchard Stewards blog. . If your orchard steward event wasn’t mentioned, invite me to the next one! My email is lori@collectiveself.com.

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.

Jun16

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:

  http://county.wsu.edu/king/gardening/Documents

Jun04

Early June report

Lately, the nippy weather and rain is probably holding down the codling moth activity…..in many locations of Seattle you are probably still in time to protect your apple trees with Neem, Spinosad, Bt, or Kaolin Clay (see nursery). You are probably also still good for applying your foot sox, if that is your chosen protection method, as the eggs that have been laid by the codling moth of the first generation are usually not on the apple and haven’t reached the apples yet.   However,  these are activities that need to be started right away and in the case of foot sox, completed by mid-June.
Piper’s Orchard welcomes anyone who wishes to learn how to apply foot sox on Saturday, June 9th from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at the Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park.
www.pipersorchard.org

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.

Dec01

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.

Apr19

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.
Jan20

Haiti & Mangoes

We’ve all seen & heard about the horrible situation down in Haiti because of the earthquake. Beyond the physical and emotional trauma inflicted upon the people & their country, natural disasters have long-lasting and far-reaching impact in to agriculture and business.

Found this article in Packer — “The Business Newspaper of the Produce Industry”. I didn’t know this but it seems that mangoes are the number one commodity of Haiti and many of the shipping and export businesses in Port-au-Prince. This will impact the price and availability of mangoes as well as the businesses that rely on that commodity. The aftershocks keep coming.

Very similar to the news down from the Southeast with the freezing temperatures and wet weather. It’s not helping the fruit industry down there. Except for peaches, it seems.

As these natural disasters impact the agriculture businesses around the world, the availability of fresh, affordable fruits & vegetables is reduced. This is where having have local food sources all the more important.

Don’t get me wrong, I love orange juice and mangoes and will probably continue to buy some to help support the farmers in those areas that are impacted by the natural disasters. But the work that City Fruit, and other organizations like it, are doing to ensure that local, healthy fruit is harvested and distributed to those in need in our communities is even more critical now.

And if you haven’t already given to support the aid effort in Haiti, there are a number of agenices I encourage you to support: