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Premature Fruit Drop on Apple Trees

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Check traps for codling moths and replace pheromones to continue catching damaging moths and reduce wormy apples.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming well throughout the summer. Watch for pests and treat immediately to prevent infestations.
    • Keep flowers and vegetables in peak condition by giving them a midsummer feeding with a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than in nitrogen.
    • Dig gently to harvest potatoes, a few plants at a time, after foliage yellows and dries up.
    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.

Premature Fruit Drop on Apple Trees

Fruits of all kinds must be harvested on time, at the proper stage of maturity in order to maintain their nutrients, quality and freshness. Apple trees can be somewhat tricky to determine when they are at their peak and ready to harvest.

Often, at this time of year, apple trees begin dropping fruit prematurely. There are several reasons for this occurrence. Apples infested with codling moths will have rotten areas within the developing fruit and they will often drop from the tree. 

It is important to remove the fallen fruit (even small apples) as soon as they fall so that the codling moth larvae are removed from the vicinity of the tree. Failure to do so allows the codling moths population to increase and overwinter to reinfect your fruit next year. Codling moths will have at least two generations per year, so be sure to replenish your traps with fresh pheromone attractant now.

Another cause of premature drop is a heavy fruit set. Apples that grow in clusters will “push off” each other close to harvest time. Early season thinning to reduce fruits to one or two per cluster will help prevent this type of drop.

Certain varieties are more prone to early drop that others. Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Liberty and Red Delicious are the most prone to pre-harvest drop.

Watch for full-sized, healthy apples dropping to the ground. Healthy apples typically only begin falling when the fruit is ripe.

So how do you know if your apples are ripe and ready to pick? Apples ripen at various times depending on the variety. Gravensteins ripen in August but Granny Smiths won’t be ready until November. A given variety will ripen earlier or later in different climates. It is best to keep a record for your own trees as they will ripen at pretty much the same time each year.

If the season is right and the apples are full-sized, cut an apple open and check the color of the seeds. The seeds of apples generally turn dark brown when they are nearing maturity.

When an apple is ripe and ready to pick, you can lift it off the tree without pulling hard or twisting. Just lift the apple upward and it should come loose from the tree.

If you think the fruit is ripe, do a taste test. The fruit should be crisp, juicy and full flavored with the tartness of nearly ripe fruit gone.

Then it is time to harvest your fruit or to call the Gleaners to let them do it for you.

For storage apples, it’s best to pick the fruit a little early. The riper the apple is when it’s picked, the quicker it will go bad in storage.

Always handle apples carefully to avoid bruising them. Apples with even small bruises will not store well. Only perfect apples should be used for long-term storage. The others will be good for fresh eating, pies, cobblers and applesauce.

Enjoy your bountiful apple harvest this year.

Fragrance in the Garden

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool-season crops now. Transplant them to the garden next month and they will be producing for you this fall.
    • Zinnias love the heat and will add a rainbow of color to your garden and the deer don’t like them.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming through the summer. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as soon as you see trouble.
    • Feed annual blooming plants and hanging baskets every two weeks for prolific bloom. Keep dead flowers pinched off.
    • Dig and divide crowded spring-flowering bulbs and tubers including daffodils, scillas, muscari, and bearded iris.

Fragrance in the Garden

Nothing conjures up memories of the past the way a familiar scent can. Orange blossoms, jasmine, lavender, fragrant stock, gardenia – even the words seem to perfume the air. To bring back pleasant memories and create some new ones, choose a few plants to place near the door or by the walkway, or fill your garden with wonderful fragrances all season long.

The first plants that wake up our noses in the spring are narcissus, hyacinth and lily-of-the-valley. Not far behind is the sweet-scented daphne, followed by the intensely fragrant flowers of the lilacs.

Chinese wisteria blooms with a profusion of fragrant lavender flowers in long clusters. The evergreen clematis vine, with its powerfully fragrant white flowers, adds its sweet scent to the springtime air.

The white snowball bush is another sweet scent in the spring garden and so are the tiny flowers of Sarcococca. Mock orange (Philadelphus) is an old-fashioned favorite with its strongly scented showy white flowers in early summer. The large pompom flowers of peonies bloom in late spring. Place one in a vase in a room, and it will fill the room with its delicate fragrance.

The spring flower bed can be filled with the lovely scents of stock and sweet peas. A carpet of sweet alyssum in purple, rose and white will perfume the air from spring to fall.

Summer brings us lovely lavenders, butterfly bush, star jasmine, lilies, honeysuckle and, of course, roses. Varieties like ‘Fragrant Plum’, ‘Rock ‘n Roll’, ‘Fragrant Cloud’, and ‘Julia Child’ have all been developed for their strong fragrances. Gardenias bloom in early summer with their legendary sweet fragrance so loved for corsages.

Heliotrope has large violet flower heads with a strong vanilla fragrance in warm weather. It’s hard to find a more sugary fragrance than purple petunias, especially the variety ‘Sugar Daddy’.

The large, beautiful, white flowers of the Southern Magnolia tree bloom in the summer and their heavy fragrance and welcome shade make the perfect place to relax on a hot summer’s day.

Late summer bloomers with strong fragrance include the exotic and heady fragrance of tuberoses. Sweet Autumn Clematis blooms profusely with wonderfully scented tiny white flowers. The pink flowers of Naked Lady Amaryllis have a strong fragrance that wafts on the air.

Don’t overlook the herbs for their fragrant foliage. Rosemary can be grown as a shrub or a ground cover. Thyme has many varieties with scents ranging from lemon and lime to caraway. The mint family has a long list of fragrant varieties as do the basils: lemon, cinnamon, spicy globe and Thai basil. Many Salvias, or sages, have beautiful flowers and fragrant foliage. There are lots of other herbs that can help create an edible, fragrant garden.

Fragrance plays an important role in our enjoyment of the garden. Plant some memories in your garden with fragrant plants you’ll enjoy all season.

Hot-Summer Garden

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Garlic should be harvested when the leafy tops turn yellow and fall over; air-dry bulbs, remove tops and store bulbs in a cool place.
    • Hydrangeas are full of giant pink or blue flowers all summer, filling the shade garden with color.
    • Shade-loving begonias will add color and beauty in both planters and hanging baskets.
    • Check for squash, or “stink”, bugs on squash and pumpkins. Hand-pick grey-brown adults and destroy red egg clusters on the leaves. Use pyrethrin spray to control heavy infestations.
    • Prune rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas to shape them now. If you wait much longer, you will be cutting off next year’s flowers.

Hot-Summer Garden

Give your garden some pizzazz this summer with a flower bed of hot-colored flowers. These are the warm colors found in glowing sunsets, crackling fires and brilliant fall foliage. From clear yellows to gold, orange and red, these flowers will brighten any garden bed.

Plan your flower bed with the taller plants to the rear and the low spreaders in front. In between you can plant a menagerie of medium-sized flowers. A mix of annuals and perennials will give you the most color all summer long.

For the back row, there are yellow and orang0e daylilies, yellow coreopsis, and bright colored zinnias. Red yarrow, Achillea ‘Pomegranate’, is a nice addition.

Daylilies come in a wide range of colors now, from yellow, orange and red into shades of purple and pink. The shorter variety ‘Stella D’Oro’ reblooms throughout the summer and is great for edging the front of the garden.

Coreopsis are a favorite flower with many gardeners because of their bright, sunny colors and long blooming season. Their drifts of daisy-like flowers light up the garden with bright splashes of gold, rust and soft yellow.

Zinnias are a gift from Mexico. Tall zinnias come in all the bright colors of red, orange, yellow and purple. Flowers can be ruffled doubles or spiky cactus form. A planting of mixed colors makes a colorful statement.

In the middle of your bed, the showy banded flowers of Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ will add a big splash of color with their large orange-red blossoms tipped by a ring of yellow.

Rudbeckias, also known as black-eyed Susans and Gloriosa daisies, are beautiful daisy flowers for the border. The petals are golden yellow, sometimes with splashes of red and all have black centers. ‘Autumn Colors’ produce large flowers in a range of bicolor shades from yellow through gold, orange and bronzy-red.

New varieties of Echinacea come in lots of bright colors from yellow to orange and red and bright pink. With their prominent centers, the daisy flowers are a bright addition to the border.

Marigolds come in all sizes from 8-inch French marigolds to tall African marigolds with large, fluffy flowers. The dwarfs come in a wide range of colors and bicolors while the taller flowers can be yellow, gold or orange. No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than marigolds.

For the front of the border, look to colorful spillers like calibrachoa or Million Bells. This tough, ever-bloomer loves the sun and the heat. Look for it in yellow, rose, orange or purple.

For the front of the border, look to colorful spillers like calibrachoa or Million Bells. This tough, ever-bloomer loves the sun and the heat. Look for it in yellow, rose, orange or purple. Dwarf zinnias are bright orange and make an outstanding edging.

Bright alyssum and the bright blue shades of lobelia are excellent border plants. They bloom all summer long.

Fill in the bare spots with marigolds and zinnias of different heights and the bright flowers of petunias and you’ll have amazing color from now till frost.

Fire up your garden with the hot colors of Summer.