Apple Tree Branch Cutting Is Alive!

Several weeks ago, I was trimming apple tree branches that crisscrossed other branches and branches that seemed not in keeping with the tree’s overall form set forth by the larger, older branches. I saved 2 of these cuttings with the thought that they were long and sturdy enough to serve as stakes for a surrounding tomato plant whose vines needed some support. I simply placed these 2 apple tree cuttings into the nearby large soil-filled container and watered that container (which is already occupied by a raspberry plant – many players here!) as usual each week. As it turns out, one of these branches has now sprouted new green leaves – it’s alive! I hadn’t planned on the cuttings serving as anything else but a support for a tomato plant – and a good way to repurpose a tree cutting. Without any extraordinary effort at all (just soil and water), I may have (we’ll see how it goes in the future) inadvertently propagated at least 1-2 apple tree saplings that may one day fruit. Wow! It’s from my 3-in-1 apple tree, so I am not sure which apple(s) might come from these 2 cuttings, but I’d simply be happy if they fruited at all. But now I’ve got to think about how and where to accommodate this and possibly the other branch should both successfully develop into apple tree saplings in their own right. I have a bit of time to come up with a plan. A lot of exciting activity is going on in my food garden right now!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

Southern Belle Dwarf Nectarine Tree

After contemplating my backyard garden space, I came to the decision to welcome a new fruit tree, the Southern Belle dwarf nectarine tree. This genetic dwarf fruit tree, according to its label, is to grow no larger than 5 feet tall and produces very large, juicy and delicious (!) nectarines. I was so excited going to my neighborhood nursery this early morning and found my tree. It already has one very young fruit on it. I am hoping that it will enjoy its new home and stays healthy and will be productive.

I’m still thinking about how best to use my backyard garden space. I will have think about my future nectarine needs (!) and am actually looking for a space where a second of these nectarine trees might be realistically planted within the current backyard scheme. As you can tell, I’m very excited about this latest member of my backyard food garden!

Hope of Spring: Bare Root Peach Trees

The sadness of the loss of one of my apple trees has been soothed a bit by the addition of 2 bare root semi-dwarf, self-fertile peach trees: Desert Gold and July (Kim) Elberta. I planted these earlier this afternoon. About 4 years ago, I removed 2 quince trees (which began life as pear trees) since the fruit was attacked by plum curculio beetles (https://janedata.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/quince-fruit-culprit-drilling-tiny-holes-identified/), rendering the fruit inedible and increasing the risk for brown rot. This same beetle has been known to attack peach trees also, but enough time has passed and I’d like to give these trees a chance and see if peaches might survive and thrive in my food garden.

In the end, it’s always a bit of a gamble to see which plants survive in a garden. The premise of “grow what you actually enjoy eating” still rings true for me and I see no point in growing thriving fruits and vegetables in my private food garden that I don’t actually enjoy eating. Among other reasons, I like knowing that I grow the food that eat. The distance from “farm to fork” is shorter!

Saying Goodbye to a Tree

Nearly 4 years ago, I planted two bare root apple trees, Beverly Hills and golden delicious, with great hope that they would thrive in my backyard (https://janedata.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/apple-trees-golden-delicious-and-beverly-hills/), as has my 3-in-1 apple tree. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Both fell victim to cedar apple rust and despite years of treatment, the Beverly Hills tree has continued a downward trend, with a weak root system and producing fruit that would not survive to maturity.  The golden delicious has also been struggling, but has been able to produce delicious fruit to that survive to maturity. Although I’ll be keeping my eye on the golden delicious, today was the day I decided to say goodbye to the Beverly Hills apple tree and dug it out.

While it’s a sad event, it’s the nature of gardening – not every plant survives, despite efforts to keep it healthy. I’d probably kept it too long, but really wanted to give it a chance to turn things around, which didn’t happen. Investing in the care of a declining plant may be helpful in the short run if improvement in health is evident shortly after restorative efforts; otherwise, it’s better to put place efforts into the healthy, stronger plants. My 3-in-1 apple tree was also hit by cedar apple rust but has been able to fight back and produce quite a lot of apples. Loving trees as I do, especially fruit trees, I know the decision was right for the health of my entire backyard food garden. Goodbye, Beverly Hills apple tree.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

Chinese Flame Trees Stricken with Bacterial Infection

My area has been in drought conditions for a few years. The mandatory water restrictions that followed have stressed out the Chinese flame trees growing along my parkway, so much so that they started oozing sap. It didn’t help that some of the pruning that my city did this year were very close to the trees’ roots. I noticed honey-like sap coming from my trees a few weeks ago. I suspected some type of infection and today, the city’s tree expert called me and said that the trees are not in anyimg_1540 danger of dying (thankfully), but they do have a bacterial infection. He said I am to water the trees every other day for a week and to use a balanced fertilizer along with it. I will also be allowed to water more frequently henceforth. I asked him about the drought playing a role in my trees’ plight, and he said it was likely a factor. I suspect that the trees are infected with something called bacterial wetwood disease (https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/SP631.pdf).

I am grateful to have caught this infection early and will treat it as recommended, particularly to help heal the vulnerable wounds that may become targeted by insects and/or birds that may worsen the problem, and in fact, these wounds are likely vulnerable to even worse tree infections. I hope that watering and fertilizing the tree will, indeed, be the right medicine for these fine trees.

Dragon Tree, “Blood” Resin

One year ago, I removed a few branches from my large dragon tree. One of the cut areas is now showing a small amount of the very dark “dragon tree blood” resin. It is so very striking, a very deep red. The tree is very healthy and robust. This is the first time I’ve seen evidence of the famed “dragon’s blood.” One of my beloved tree’s mysteries has been revealed. Stunning.IMG_3367

Apple Tree, Caged!

Nearly a year ago, I noted how the sparrows in my area had descended upon my helpless (but prolific) 3-in-1 apple tree. I recall losing up to 50% of this tree’s fruit to them, which is quite an astounding feat (well played, birds). The tree is still relatively young, so the loss was significant. Following through on my thoughts from last year, I decided that today was the day to cage the tree, using stucco netting (also known as chicken wire), wire cutters, and a few pieces of twine. One apple was already knocked down (but not victim to the birds, happily – it was sweet and delicious). Several apples are nearing ripeness and I didn’t want to lose the chance and then more fruit this time around.IMG_1480

The handiwork is a bit basic, but I wanted it to be a simple project, which it was. I wrapped the tree with netting with a circumference just out of the reach of bird beaks – I know how funny that sounds! I wrapped another round atop the first one since the tree is taller than the height of the netting. I also put a layer of netting on the top. I secured the layers in a few places with twine, with a few tied in “bows” or “rabbit ears” so that I can open up the cage in strategic places to get to the fruit. The design is easy to remove and expand as the tree gets bigger, and I could do it myself, in about an hour. I’m already so happy looking outside and thinking about all of the fruits that I will get to enjoy this year!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

Chinese Flame Tree Maintenance

I’ve enjoyed many fine years of beauty and shade from my two Chinese flame trees planted along the parkway. But keep in mind that these trees require some maintenance, primarily because they are deciduous trees. Once each autumn, there is a one-two day wind event that clears out most leaves, tiny branches, and paper lantern seed pods from my Chinese flame trees. Slow and steady? No way! Essentially, most of my year’s maintenance of these trees happens all at once after this wind event! And the results land mostly on my lawn and a small bit on my neighbor’s lawn. This year’s wind event happened a few days ago.IMG_3327IMG_3328IMG_3329

This tree is a survivor and will make every effort to propagate itself, so you’ll have to be vigilant unless you want your own private forest of Chinese flame trees. It all starts with the paper lantern seed pods. Check out the two dark round seeds in the center of the photo. This is a seed pod that has broken open. If there is enough moisture in your area and a bunch of these seeds make contact with the soil of your lawn, you’ll likely be spending time pulling out seedlings from your lawn, which, if left unchecked, will become their own stand-alone trees. In other words, it can become a weed. My area is generally very dry so it’s not really an issue.

My city maintains the trees and recently trimmed some branches that were growing near the base and elsewhere. As shown, a new sucker has appeared at the cut. If that sucker is left to grow unchecked, it will become a branch. How do I know this? The branch that was cut started as a sucker, just like this one!

In the end, there are trade-offs with this tree, which I love. The tree may be a good choice if you love a beautiful, showy shade tree in the warm months and you live in a relatively dry area.

 

 

Dragon Tree: Branches Cut

Prompted by my recent visit from a termite inspector, I successfully cut a few small branches from my dragon trees. I took 3 branches from the larger tree and 1 branch from the smaller tree. These branches were growing towards my roof. This project was a preventive measure against a costly roof repair. I returned minutes ago from my home improvement store with an electric chain saw that I rented from them (Makita, 16 inch). The person at the store was very kind and gave me brief instructions and I was on my way. The time I spent actually cutting the branches was probably around 5 minutes. The overall integrity and structure of both trees have been preserved. The photos also show before and after the cuts.

IMG_3311IMG_3312IMG_3314IMG_3315IMG_3316

TIP: In the past, I would have called my tree guy to take care of something like this, but thinking about it, I wondered if I could just take care of it myself. Had I gone with the tree guy, it would have cost around $200-$250. With my first-ever effort with a chain saw, it cost the princely sum of $36.89.

It started to rain a bit by the clean-up, so I got a bit dirty and wet, which made it really fun. I’m wearing goggles and a pink hoodie and splattered with ground-up bits of tree branch. Now that’s a fantastic experience! Some folks shy away from the manual labor, but I love it. I came away from this experience with a new skill, which makes it very satisfying. It’s always great to pick up a useful and practical skill!

The branch cuttings: from previous experience, they can lay flat like that for several months and then planted into containers and root successfully. I will do that in the next weekend or even later. Dragon trees (and their cuttings) are quite resilient and strong, inspiring and always beautiful!

Apples Are a Favorite of House Sparrows

Keep your eye on the sparrow! My 3-in-1 apple tree has produced apples that are proven winners to the neighborhood house sparrows and at least one very bold northern mockingbird. Apparently they are quite delicious! They are tearing through the fruits, almost daily so I have to stay vigilant so that I can still pick edible fruits for my own enjoyment. The rust-color specks on the leaves in the background are oxidized apple bits after the birds fed off of this one apple just this afternoon. The pecking must have been wild and a bit cartoonish! The apple in this photo was intact just yesterday. I expect that the birds will finish it off tomorrow. And it wasn’t even fully ripe!IMG_3307

Long ago, I accepted that in terms of my fruit trees, most of the fruit would go to the house (me) and some to nature (birds and critters). I think that’s right to some extent, to be a good partner with nature. But as seasons like this prove, this seemingly rabid feeding frenzy by these energetic birds has to be managed so that the scales do not tip the other way. This hadn’t happened in previous seasons much because the tree had not produced so many fruits before, and all at one time, so, in a way, it’s a signal that this tree is successful. I am very glad. In the future, however, I will need to be vigilant and prepare to do some bird abatement around my apple trees. I’m envisioning the use of inexpensive nylon webbing to create a bit of a canopy to significantly reduce apple loss. I will thin some of the fruit and will leave some in an area away from the tree for the birds to enjoy.

A bit of good news to report: The two newer apple trees that I have shown signs of improved health, as both have produced new green leaves and very young future apples! It’s been so disheartening thinking that I may have to consider removing one or both of these trees because they have been stricken with cedar apple rust and fighting against it. I’ve not applied any further fungicide this year. I just removed rusted leaves as they appeared and watered the trees – just a generous dose of tender loving care and it seems, as of today at least, that they have responded in a positive way. I hope this is the start of a healthy trend.

As with my roses, I do not want to prematurely sign a “death certificate” to my plants. I want to give them a lot of time to improve and have their health restored. It’s such a big decision to remove/kill a plant, for me anyway, since each plant is a member of my beloved garden community and I am looking at my garden with a long-term perspective. Should these trees survive and thrive, I know that I will be rewarded with a garden overflowing with delicious apples for many years to come. That’s a warming thought!

 

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

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