Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Jan30

Support City People’s to support City Fruit

cfluvcpeople

City People’s Garden Store in Madison Valley is a locally owned and operated community garden store. Since opening in 1988, we have been committed to offering a wide selection of quality plants and organic and natural products to help you grow them. With over 15,000 square feet, the outdoor nursery is an urban oasis!

City People’s strives to give back to our communities who have so generously supported us over the years. Through donations and marketing avenues we support organizations that help us grow healthy communities in the areas of environment and gardening, education and youth programs, and food security.

This winter the Garden Store is concentrating support toward City Fruit through the sale of bare root fruit shrubs and trees.* 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these items through March will go to City Fruit. We will also host City Fruit workshops this month and throughout the year (details below, and on the calendar).

Bare root berries are coming from Peaceful Valley Farm, an organic farm in California; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, and currants, plus rhubarb, jerusalem artichoke, & asparagus. We are excited about this new organic vendor who use no sprays (including biological sprays), making sure not to harm any critters – especially fragile bees and butterflies.

Bare root trees from Mt Vernon, Washington and Mallala, Oregon include:
Apples – dwarf, columnar, espaliered & 4-way combo varieties
Pears - espaliered & 4-way combos
Cherries - including several dwarf varieties
Hardy Nectarine - dwarf
<& Plums, Figs, Meyer Lemons, Honeyberry, Kiwi, Japanese Pepper, Goumi, Grape and Hops!

City People’s Garden Store’s bare root fruit selection will be arriving the first week of February. Come early for the best selection!

* Buying bare root plants is an affordable way to grow your edible garden as you are buying only the plant and not the soil or the pot.


Don’t forget to check out City People’s Garden Store’s fruit-related talks coming this spring:
Registration is required. To sign up for a workshop, send an email to gardenstore@citypeoples.com or call the store (206) 324-0737.

Winter Fruit Tree Pruning
Sunday, February 9th, 11 am – noon
Winter fruit tree pruning can improve overall health and appearance and can increase fruit production. This class, co-sponsored by City Fruit, discusses pruning tools, basic biology behind pruning fruit trees, basic cuts and how to stimulate fruit production.

Planting Fruit Trees
Sunday, February 16th, 11 am – noon
Getting your fruit tree off to a healthy start means buying a healthy tree and planting it correctly. Root health is critical for tree health, and this class demonstrates the key considerations in planting a new tree. Bare root trees will be available and a portion of purchases of fruit will go to CityFruit. Instructor Jana Dilley is the Program Manager for the City of Seattle’s reLeaf program and is a certified arborist.

Pollinators — Mason Bees, Honey Bees & Others
Sunday, March 9th, 11 am – noon
Learn why pollinators are critical to fruit production, why mason bees are helpful in the Pacific Northwest rain, and how to encourage pollinators in your yard and orchard. This workshop is co-sponsored by City Fruit.

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.

Oct18

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.

Jan07

Cozy Food in Winter

Looking for a delicious recipe to serve friends and family at a winter brunch? Try this one out.

Spicy Ginger Muffins With Currants and Toasted Pecans

Butter for greasing muffin tin
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
5 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup dried currants
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk.
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Pour into a large bowl. Whisk in baking soda until dissolved. Whisk in molasses and oil until mixture is tepid. Whisk in eggs and 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, ground ginger, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry. Fold in 4 tablespoons crystallized ginger, then the pecans and currants. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk and remaining 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger until mixture forms a smooth glaze. Spoon glaze evenly over muffins. Sprinkle tops with remaining 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger.

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.

Jun06

Low-Sugar Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Shunning the sun on Saturday morning, several canning enthusiasts (or soon-to-be enthusiasts) holed up in the kitchen of Phinney-Ridge Lutheran Church to learn how to bottle the summer sunshine for dreary winter months—in the form of low-sugar jams that is.  Instructor Shannon Valderas specializes in making low-sugar jams, to make healthier alternatives for her family.

The secret?  Low-sugar pectins, specifically Pomona’s Universal Pectin (others exist, but typically include dextrose, which is actually a sugar).  It takes one or two extra steps, but you can adjust your jams to have the amount of sugar that you want, above a certain minimum.  Sugar is actually not that important for the safety of canning, that’s taken care of by the acidity in fruit or added lemon juice (sugar does help preserve the fruit once opened, so smaller jars or big appetites are important).  Sugar’s role in jam-making is to activate the pectin, which causes gelling.  Pomona’s is primarily activated by calcium, so you can use significantly less sugar.  And this isn’t just bland diet food, the flavor is great, even preferable to super-sugary jams because it lets the flavor of the fruit shine through.

Pomona’s is available at many natural foods stores, and even some regular super-markets.  The package comes with good instructions and some recipes, and several more recipes available online.  If you’ve never canned before, make sure you read up on the basics or take a class before attempting any recipe, but jam is a great place to start.  Here’s the strawberry-rhubarb jam we made in the class:

Strawberry-Rhubarb low sugar jam
Taken from Pomona’s Pectin recipe page

  • Makes 4-5 cups jam
  • 2 cups mashed strawberries
  • 2 cups cooked rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup up to 2 cups sugar
  • 2 t calcium water
  • 2 1/2 t pectin

Measure fruit into pan. Add 2 teaspoons of pre-mixed calcium water. Stir well. Measure cold sugar into separate bowl. Thoroughly mix 2 ½ teaspoons pectin powder into sugar. Bring fruit to boil. Add pectin-sugar and stir vigorously 1-2 minutes. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Fill jars ¼” headspace. Wipe rims clean. Boil for 10 minutes.

Feb06

Better trees = better fruit

What you do with your fruit trees this winter has a big impact on the quality and quantitiy of fruit you’ll get later. We’ve already put on two pruning classes this year and now here’s a chance for some additional hands-on learning.

Get one-on-one pruning advice from an expert while helping to renovate a neglected orchard.  You can’t beat that.  The first event is tomorrow Feb 6 in south Seattle (plum trees only). The other is Feb 13 in Factoria (many varieties).   No charge.  Sign up at info@cityfruit.org .

Or maybe you want your trees pruned but you missed the classes and aren’t sure where to begin? City Fruit has trained a number of volunteers to help homeowners prune their trees.  If you would like some help, contact info@cityfruit.org.  If you have a big job and need a professional who is experienced in pruning fruit trees (not everyone is), contact the Plant Amnesty referral service  at 206-783-9813.