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

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

The Sweet Perfume of Freshly Cut Homegrown Apples

A sensuous experience! Believe it, all of these petite, wonderful apples will be part of my dessert for lunch tomorrow. It’s an 8-ounce container! They are courtesy of my 3-in-1 apple tree. In previous years, the tree produced fewer, but larger apples. And I’ve still not gotten into the routine of thinning the fruit, either, ever since I planted the tree. This season, the fruits are smaller in size, even though they’re blanketing the few relatively modestly-sized branches – many steps above a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree!” Still, even in its relatively young age, this tree produces such flavorful apples. Moreover, and it’s not mentioned enough, when you cut into a homegrown apples, the perfume. I had to close my eyes for a few seconds and repeated. This further reflects well on my decision to plant apple trees. Growing up at my parents’ home, we had one apple tree that never got very big at all and not very productive. Not until I gIMG_3306ot a home of my own did I recognize that I had dearly yearned for an apple tree. This one tree has been a dream come true. This is the one fruit that I can eat every day and not get bored, especially if they taste this good!

The two newer trees have been struggling a bit, fighting off cedar apple rust, and one, I’m anxious to say, might not survive it. It has neither leaves nor fruit currently. Should it perish, I would most certainly consider adding another apple tree in its place. The second of the other struggling trees is in leaf and I’m hoping that it will produce healthy fruit. Mentally, I’m prepared to sacrifice both of these trees if it looks like they’re too ill to make it, and pragmatically, to ensure the health of my garden as a whole.

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

Apples in the Cold Months for My 3-in-1 Apple Tree!

It looks like my 3-in-1 apple tree is well on its way to a full recovery from its recent bout of cedar apple rust (fungus). After treating it with a fungicide spray, the rusty, infected leaves have subsided and my tree is now covered with healthy green leaves and emergent apples. This is such a relief, since I have never used fungicide on my plants before and was not sure of the results.IMG_3139

What I am quite excited about is that my tree is gearing up to produce another round of apples, hopefully to enjoy early next year. This tree, though young and rather small, has been impressively productive, blessing me with some of the most delicious and flavorful apples I’ve ever tasted.

I predict that I will be enjoying baked apples and fresh applesauce in no time, along with other delicious culinary possibilities!

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

CAUTION: Commercially available fungicides have varying degrees of toxicity, so use care when applying them to your plants and trees, and spraying when them only when they are dormant, that is, when they are not in fruit.

Do Not spray fungicide on fruit and Do Not eat fruit that you suspect may have been sprayed with fungicide – they are poisonous and may be hazardous to your health if consumed.

Cedar-Apple Rust

Caused by a fungus, Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae, cedar-apple rust started appearing on my apple trees a few months ago. I had searched for homemade remedies (e.g., one was made with a solution of water and aspirin, another was made with a solution of water infused with juices of chopped garlic, baking soda, and dish soap) and tried them for a few weeks, but more leaves became infected. These treatments proved ineffective in my case. The leaves may start with rust along the their edges, a sign of infection, and spread throughout the leaves. The leaves must be removed.IMG_3114

The fungus originates in juniper and eastern red cedar trees and the fungal spores can travel for miles, so even if you do not notice these types of trees in your immediate area, the culprit trees may not be obvious, In my case, my two new apple trees were from a nursery that was adjacent to a large city park, which has juniper trees. This fungus also attacks crab apple trees.

You may buy rust-resistant varieties of apples, but if you already have established apple trees and they become infected, the next step is treatment and prevention. I went to my neighborhood nursery and was told to spray my trees with fungicide twice a month until I no longer saw any more evidence of rust. Left untreated, the fruit becomes infected and damaged also, leading to loss of your crop.

None of my trees are in fruit right now. All leaves of my two new trees were infected so I removed all of them and sprayed the fungicide on all branches and trunks. My 3-in-1 apple tree still has leaves, so I sprayed the upper side and lower side of the leaves as well as the branches and trunk.

More information about cedar-apple rust can be found here:

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/diseases/rusts/cedar-apple-rust.aspx

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

CAUTION: Commercially available fungicides have varying degrees of toxicity, so use care when applying them to your plants and trees, and spraying when them only when they are dormant, that is, when they are not in fruit.

Do Not spray fungicide on fruit and Do Not eat fruit that you suspect may have been sprayed with fungicide – they are poisonous and may be hazardous to your health if consumed.

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