Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fall Fruit Tree Follow-up

November 30, 2018

Fall is a fine time to do investigative work in the orchard and plan for winter or spring pest management.

Confirming that our Harrow Delight pear problem was Pear Trellis Rust (Gymnosporangium sabinae) was an excellent warm-up exercise, since the blemishes on the leaves are so clearly identifiable. I made a leaf infusion and put a drop under the microscope. There wasn’t much else to see but for the spores of this particular fungal problem. Confirmed.

Another set of eyes is so valuable when reviewing the status of the plants. We warmly welcome Allison, a new volunteer, who joined Sue and I last week as we continued our review of the fruit trees and other fruit-bearing perennials.

The three of us started with the Izu Persimmon and worked through the checklist:

  • Add Tanglefoot to trunk to dissuade the winter moth from laying eggs
  • Clear debris from around the root crown
  • Make sure staking materials and any plant ID tags are not choking a branch or harboring pests
  • Look for eggs on all surfaces
  • Review the new flowering buds for health
  • Prepare a leaf infusion if a fungal disease is suspected
  • Cut a twig and drop the end in water to check for ooze if a bacterial problem is suspected
  • Identify bamboo watering holes with survey tape to minimize tripping hazards
  • Add compost and mowed leaves, and consider the timing for full sheet mulching
  • Look for anything unusual.
Sun. Dec 16, 2-4, Work Party
Sun. Jan 20, 2-4, Work Party
Sat. Feb 16, 1-3, Tree Pruning Class
Sun. Feb 17, 2-4, Work Party

There was little to study on the Izu; the only problem it had was too many fruit. Of the 24 fruit it presented to us, we only allowed 7 to remain on the tree. It will need time to build a stronger scaffold to support more fruit.

We moved on to the Early Fuji for review. The new buds looked cheerful but the Fuji suffered from scab this year. After bloom, we had netted it with bee netting in order to keep the coddling moth at bay. We might have replaced coddling moth damage with scab damage! The apples were still edible and many were pristine enough for the food bank. But, we won’t net next year, in order to assess whether the tree will be healthier with improved air circulation.

The scab (Venturia inaequalis)  (photo) was also a pretty easy diagnosis but it can be confused with sawfly damage. Again, a leaf infusion confirmed the presence of many of the shoe-shaped spores associated with apple scab.

We noticed two male and one female winter moth caught in the Tanglefoot band around the lower part of the tree trunk. Since the moth activity is just past it’s peak, we set about looking for eggs and anything else that might pose a risk to our tree.

We didn’t find eggs but Sue was standing at exactly the correct spot to be staring right at the tiny protective covering of a scale insect. Good eye Sue! We were not sure of the scale type so we looked up its characteristics to confirm. I also pulled one apart and set it under the microscope to look at the multitude of white eggs. (A compound microscope can be crudely fashioned into a dissecting one with an extra light source.) We agreed it was Lecanium Scale (Parthenolecanium corni) and we will pinch those little bumps off the trees as we see them.

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Next week we review the Mirabelle Plum and its multiple problems, makes notes, develop our plans for that tree in the coming year and, hopefully, find something else interesting to put under the magnifying glass.

Ruth

It’s A Game Of Mistakes

October 20, 2018

Why didn’t soccer coaches ever have anything positive to say at halftime? Because they had just watched 45 minutes of errors. Even the pros only complete 57% of their passes in the final third of the field. I often feel this way about gardening; it’s a game of mistakes.

First was my failure to outwit the winter moth. The female does not fly. She has to crawl up the fruit tree to lay her eggs, from which, larvae emerge and eat the fruit tree blooms. I smeared Tanglefoot on the trunks to stop her in her tracks. Problem was, I put it on too late. I thought I had until mid-November but, not so. Not only did we battle with the winter moth larvae this spring but also the oblique-banded leaf roller larvae showed up – a more difficult opponent. I will double my efforts to come up with a better strategy this winter.

Just look at this little devil – the larvae of the strawberry root weevil. Sometimes there were two of them inside the root, in total cooperation. I was pressing my luck hanging on to those wonderful Glooscap (Canadian) berries, which I had planted in 2011! This year they were still sweet as ever but not productive. It’s no wonder. I should have paid heed when the pros told me to keep strawberry plants only a few years.

The elderberry produced quite a bit of fruit, bless its lil ole heart, in spite of the fact that it was a sufferin’. I pruned dead branches all summer. Finally, I sat and studied it a bit. Someone was making tunnels through the bark and into the trunk. I peeled back some flaky bark and watched as the following scampered back to darkness: black ants, red ants, tiny gray bugs with antennae, a slender shiny black insect that jumped, a little red mite. Actually, I have a feeling all of these critters were just using the network created by someone else. I won’t know until dormant season when I will have to do some vicious pruning. Observation is king in gardening!

Sun. Oct 21, 2-4, work party
Sun. Nov 18, 2-4 work party
Sun. Dec 16, 2-4 work party
Bring your wallet for homemade goodies

Nancy also had growing pains. It’s a snap to grow grape plants if all you want are vines. To get fruit, you have to prune properly. Nancy thought she could choose between cane pruning and spur pruning so she developed some of each. Wrong. The take-away from a WSU pruning class was that, in the maritime NW, spur pruning reduces the number of fruit-bearing buds. So, this winter she will have to rework the vines and train them for long-term cane pruning.

Then there’s summer pruning. She thought all you had to do was take out excess growth. She took another class. Wrong. Wow! It’s so much more complicated. Essentially, you need to do three things: mark the shoots that will become next year’s canes, remove some but not all of the non-fruit bearing shoots, train but don’t tip the fruit bearing shoots. Training means get them up off the ground and onto the trellis, but don’t snip off the terminal bud.

Not to mention the continuing saga of failed pickling cukes, the appetite of the rats, the disruption from the squirrels, and the off-leash dogs. All this to deal with and now … the bunnies are coming!

Ruth

 

Guarding the Grapes

September 23, 2018

neem

The predictable announcement was, “Yum!” from anyone who tasted our Interlaken table grapes. One taster cocked her head and let her eyes drift upward, savoring the sweet with a little tart sensation.

We were thankful to have a few grapes this year! Last year was a bust due to powdery mildew. In 2017, the grape clusters shriveled and dropped. We knew we needed a plan for the 2018 season.

Our first step was to sign up for another class from the grape guru Michelle Moyer (WSU – Prosser).

Michelle explained: Powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) comes in many forms. A vine is most susceptible when temperatures are 68F to 86F and humidity is moderate (40-75%), conditions that are quite common in Western Washington during the growing season.

Sat, Oct 6, 2-5, CIDER FEST!
Bring your tools for sharpening
Bring your appetite for tasting
Bring your wallet for homemade goodies

In cool climates, powdery mildew typically shows up one month after bud break – approx. May 30. Weather During Critical Epidemiological Periods and Subsequent Severity of Powdery Mildew on Grape Berries. Plant Disease 100:116-124.   Moyer, M.M., D.M. Gadoury, W.F. Wilcox, and R.C. Seem. 2016.

control

Proper pruning, including fruit-zone leaf removal and shoot thinning, to facilitate air circulation and sun light penetration is critical to aid in the control of powdery mildew. UV exposure and air circulation are both effective against this fungal problem.

Sadly, our most mature set of three vines rest along the sound wall where air circulation is compromised.

Michelle referred to a study by Matthew DeBacco (2011)  wherein compost tea and milk spray were used to combat powdery mildew.

Well! These materials were easy to find and certainly organic so we began our own experiment. The left vine we treated with neem oil, the middle was the control where we did nothing and the right vine received powdered milk spray (1/4 C non-fat dry milk, 1-T baking soda and a few drops of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water.)

We were not absolutely consistent in our applications but we tried to spray about every week to 10 days.

pow. milk

Our results (see photos) were convincing; the powdery milk spray was the most effective. All clusters dropped on the control and all but one on the vine sprayed with neem oil but we did have clusters ripen completely on the milk treated vine.

Next year we plan again to spray using an improved milk recipe per the studies we’ve read. We’ll use a backpack sprayer to make the process more efficient. We’ll also prune more effectively in February and remove fruit zone leaves a bit earlier than we did this year. We may try compost tea as a test spray against the milk spray. However, making the tea every other week is quite a process so we shall see.

 

Nancy

P.S. On a recent visit to Carnation Farms, the garden supervisor mentioned that she has had luck treating basil with powdered milk spray.

More reading: Crisp P, Wicks TJ, Troup G, Scott ES (2006) Mode of action of milk and whey in the control of grapevine powdery mildew. Australasian Plant Pathology 35, 487–493. http://www.publish.csiro.au/ap/ExportCitation/AP06052