Category Archives: Plants

How to Guard Against Leaf Miners

November 16, 2019

Joan here. I have been volunteering at FECO since the beginning of time. Recently, in my writing class, the instructor charged us to write a set of instructions for how to do something. Here goes!

Leaf miner larvae were infesting the Swiss chard I was trying to grow in the FECO raised beds. They ruined the leaves, inserting themselves between skins of the leaf blades and laying their itty-bitty eggs on the backs.

“What to do?” I asked Sue Hartman, who had helped me plant the seeds in April. “Cover the

Sun Nov 16, 2-4, Work Party
Sat Dec 7, 10-12, Work Party
Sun Dec 15, 2-4, Work Party
Sat Jan 4, 10-12, Work Party
Sun Jan 19, 2-4, Work Party

Swiss chard with Reemay, a light cloth that lets air and water in,” she said, and showed me how to do it:

First, cut off all and destroy all the infected leaves. I lost about 1/3 of them.

Second, find five one-inch bamboo posts, four of the same length, and one slightly longer for the middle of the plot.

Then, so the posts don’t pierce the Reemay, duct-tape and secure eight-ounce yogurt cups upside down on each post.

Drive holes into the four corners of the plot, and one into the center of the plot to hold the poles.

Cut the Reemay generously and carefully lay it over the protected stakes.

Trim the Reemay where it gathers over the corners and apply two two-inch binder clips at each corner.

Set stones on the edges of the plot, so the Reemay won’t blow off. Presto: A leaf-miner-proof-plot!

Joan Davis

P.S. For more information on leaf miners, visit this website:
https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-insects/leafminers

Are Those Freckles?

October 18, 2019

Not Freckles. Dimples? Not dimples. Bitter pit. It’s a bothersome disorder, common in  Honeycrisp apples. In the cells of this apple, there is more air space and more pores than in normal apples. The pits are manifestations of clumps of dead cells. The scanned photo of an apple shows fewer veins in the calyx (bottom) of Honeycrisp, which is why bitter pit tends to show up near the bottom.

Lee Kalcsitis, WSU Assistant Professor, Tree Fruit Physiology, writes: Honeycrisp naturally have bigger cells than most apples. That seems to predispose them to structural degradation associated with bitter pit. And trees that have access to extra water allow those cells to grow even bigger, while limited water during the later stages of fruit growth can keep the fruit cells a little smaller and more stable.

Sun Oct 20, 2-4, Work Party
Sat Nov 2, 10-12, Work Party
Sun Nov 17, 2-4, Work Party
Sat Dec 7, 10-12, Work Party

Calcium binds up pectins which translates to the glue that holds the cells together. That glue helps to resist bitter pit but it breaks down as the apples mature. The glue breaks down faster in fruit with less calcium.

However, calcium is one of the most immobile nutrients. When leaves pull up water from the roots, calcium also travels up. Since the leaves transpire more water than fruit, they get the bulk of the calcium. (Cork spot in pears and tomato end rot have the same issue in that the calcium may be in the soil but it’s not necessarily in the fruit tissue where it is needed.)

The strategy for commercial growers is to withhold water, without stressing the tree, and apply calcium sprays. Still, results of these techniques are highly varied. Crop load is also an important factor because, if there are a small number of fruit, they will be large and more susceptible to bitter pit. On the other hand, too many apples can cause fewer blooms the following season.

My strategy: eat them when they are ripe! (Storage time increases the pitting.)

Ruth

additional resources:
Calcium Absorption during Fruit Development in ‘Honeycrisp’ Apple Measured Using 44Ca as a Stable Isotope Tracer. L Kalcsits, G van der Heijden, M Reid, K Mullin – HortScience, 2017

Advanced sensing techniques for analysis of elemental concentrations associated with bitter pit in apple. Zúñiga CE, Jarolmasjed S, Kalcsits LA, Sinhal R, Zhang C, Dhingra A, Sankaran S*. 2017. Postharvest Biology and Technology 128, 121-129.

The Perfect Fruit Tree Owner

August 29, 2019

McIntosh. My favorite.

Most will say you can’t grow a Mac here. Well, there is at least one tree in the Seattle area. Lori Brakken, apple sleuth, drives around and slams on the brakes when she spots any apple tree. She saw a Mac in the Seattle area and called me up. I visited the tree last winter and got permission from Kathy, the tree owner, to take some scion wood. (Allison and I made two grafts this spring and they both are doing well!)

Per the orangepippen website,  this apple was discovered by a John McIntosh, a farmer in Ontario in the early 19th century. The McIntosh was suited to the cold climate of the area as it achieves its best flavor in colder apple-growing regions.

Sat, Aug 31, 10-11, Qi Gong
Sat, Sep 7, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Sep 15, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Oct 5, 10-12, Work Party
Sat, Oct 12, 2-5, Cider Fest

“The McIntosh style is typified by attractive dark red or (more often) crimson colors, and a crunchy bite, often with bright white flesh. The flavor is simple and direct, generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, and usually a hint of wine – often referred to as vinous”.

Kathy was anxious for us to return this summer for pruning and to give her a yearly management plan. Her tree has apple scab so she has been instructed to pick up all the apples and leaves. (Venturia inaequalis resides in the litter.)

Kathy is the perfect fruit tree owner. She cares about the tree,  is eager to learn how best to care for it and allows us to glean much of the fruit for the food bank.

“I’m in the arts”, Kathy announced. “I am not fruit tree expert. I was given an assignment in a training to draw part of a tree, once each month for three months. I chose this apple tree. Noting the details and the changes really woke me up to nature.”

Structural pruning is usually done in the winter but we “took a bit off the top and the sides”. Kathy wanted pruning on the street side so auto owners would stop breaking the branches. She also wanted a walkway between the tree and a nearby bush. Pruning has to consider all of the various goals.

Allison is tall and she managed the long-handled pruners. She ate as many apples as she could while pruning. In the end, Kathy was satisfied. “The tree looks good, like it did in years past!”

Below is a comment by Bruce, from the orangepipen website:

I grew up in central Pennsylvania and with the scent of McIntosh apple pie and apple dumplings, next door, in my aunt Eleanor’s kitchen. The stand-out attribute of this variety in my mind is the distinctive aroma. Quite unlike any other. The fruit, also unlike any other, is extremely delicate; that’s why I think most grocers avoid stocking them (the phrase I’ve heard them called is “smash and toss” apples) They bruise easily then rapidly mush and rot. They are like a beautiful sunset. Awesome and short lived. I’m attempting (with limited success) to grow them here in Western Washington, difficult because it doesn’t get cold enough in the winter. I will continue the effort because these are the best apples EVER !

Ruth