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Friday, July 1, 2011

Tuesday, July 2, Todo at The Orchard

Orchard todo
One of our "white" figs
There is lots to pick but please pick up fallen fruit under the trees before picking fruit or doing anything else in the orchard. Once it gets stepped on it is much, much harder to pick up. It is extremely important to keep a clean orchard floor. Use one of the small rakes in the tool shed to rake the fruit to the aisle and then follow that by picking the fruit up from the center of the aisle rather than bending down and picking the fruit up from under the canopy.
The yellow or "white" figs are coming in now and need to be checked. Figs are nonclimacteric fruit so will not ripen once picked. They must be picked when fully ripe and the neck begins to collapse.

We have lots of peaches coming in right now so please pick and get them in the cooler before the birds hammer them.

Jobs will be posted on yellow postit notes in the office with the number of volunteers needed on the note. Dont forget to sign in and sign out!

Tuesday todo
• Irrigate. We are irrigation three times a week now.
Todo List on Postit Notes in the Orchard office
• Pick up fallen fruit. This helps keeps some damaging insects from getting to damaging numbers.
• Check figs
• Pick Anna apple at 18/1 (Row 18 is along the south fence)
• Red Haven peaches fully ripe and must be picked now
• Mid Pride peaches are coming in and should be picked now
• Stark Saturn (donut peaches) should be picked
• Double Delight nectarines should be picked. Badly scarred and suitable for juice, jelly, jams, etc.
• Evaluate the following: La Feliciana peach; Babcock peach; Double Jewel peach
• Change pheremone traps and put new pheremones in

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ironite May or May Not Turn Bottlebrush Green Again

Bottlebrush yellowing in rock mulch
Q. I have several miniature bottle brush plants, some of which are a very pale or faded green as compared to the others.  The red "brush" that is the flower seems pale as well.  Do you think "ironite" will take care of that? I used a liquid concentrate of iron and soil acidifier and that seems to have helped a lot.

A. Ironite may or may not take care of it. It may be a bit more of a deep-seated problem than just the iron alone and the Ironite may give the plant a temporary fix. Ironite relies on this product to increase soil acidity so that the iron in Ironite can be used by the plant. This will sometimes work depending on the situation but it is a “Band-Aid” approach to fixing the problem.

            Because Ironite works only “fairly often” I hesitate to recommend it for that reason. It usually works best on woody plants when applied in late winter or early to mid spring. Applications this time of the year of any product that adds iron to the soil may or may not work. At this time of the year you should focus on getting iron directly into the foliage. This requires spraying iron directly on the plant along with something that helps move the iron inside the foliage.

            You might try some multiple applications of iron sprays at this time of year combined with a liquid detergent or surfactant. The surfactant would be a liquid spreader/sticker combined with the iron spray.
Spreader Sticker Example

            You may be able to substitute a teaspoon of Ivory liquid per gallon of spray solution. This may require perhaps five or six applications about a week apart to get some re-greening. This varies from plant to plant. Some plants re-green easily while others are more difficult to re-green. Do this ONLY when air temperatures are cool and there is a chance of some leaf burning on some plants so don’t apply it hog wild.

            More of a long term fix is focused on improving the soil with amendments and the use of organic fertilizers. A better source of iron but more expensive would be iron 138 applied in late winter. I know that Plant World Nursery and Grow Well have carried it in the past. This is expensive but it goes a long way and requires only one small application of a few ounces per year in the early spring.

            You might consider fertilizer sources such as Miracle Gro, Peters or Osmocote applied a few weeks after growth resumes in the spring. These are good quality fertilizers which are not organic.

One of the iron 138 products

            Try your Ironite first but I think it may be a crap shoot at this time of year. The liquid foliar iron can be just about any liquid iron and does not have to be the expensive138 form. The 138 iron is really works best if applied to the soil more than a foliar spray.

Weather Has Profound Affect on Bees and Summer Squash Development

Readers yellow squash with fruit turning oranage and dying
Q. I have had great success growing both yellow and green squash in my garden for the past five or six years.  Last month I harvested about ten nice pieces, but in the past couple of weeks they have all been turning very hard and the yellow pieces have turned dark and almost orange.  I have attached a couple of pictures of both the fruit and the plants.  Please let me know if you any suggestions.

A. Your summer squash looks nice.  You will get more blemish free fruits with twice to three times a week sprays of insecticidal soaps including spraying the undersides of the leaves. The lack of squash development is due to poor pollination most likely due to cool weather and poor bee activity.

Readers yellow summer squash when it is producing
            You can attract more bees to the area by planting plants that bees love and flower at the times your vegetable garden needs pollination. Bee loving plants include many of the herbs which are allowed to flower. These might include rosemary, basil, lavender, oregano and thyme to name a few.

            Woody ornamental plants typically flower for short periods of time but there are some like Texas Ranger, brooms like Scotch broom, lantana, verbena, and others. Go to your nursery and see what is in bloom, particularly reds, purples, pinks and start planting.

Companions Need Proper Spacing

Q. Can peppers and tomatoes be planted next to each other? I printed a companion list off the internet that says “Yes”. An Ortho vegetable book I got from the library says tomatoes can't be planted near peppers because they are in the same family. I have a yellow bell pepper plant next to a Heatwave tomato plant and although it has 2 peppers on it, it's not growing in height. Just bushier than when I bought it. My banana pepper plant is tall and thin and every time it gets blossoms, they die and fall off. It was hiding under a pear tomato (I had no idea the tomato plants would get that huge!) so I moved it out and into the sun. Still nothing.

A. Companion planting can mean different things to different people. Yes, you can plant vegetables in the same family next to each other typically with no problems. These two are in the nightshade family. It is recommended however to rotate your vegetables so that vegetables of the same family are not grown in the same location year after year.

Not rotating the spots where you grow your vegetables can lead to a buildup of soil problems primarily diseases. Get to know which vegetables are in different families and try to group them so that you rotate them in different locations. I posted the families for vegetables on my blogspot.

Make sure that you follow recommended spacings for your plants. Tomatoes can vary in size tremendously due to whether they are determinate or indeterminate and their genetic potential (crossbreeding that was done). If they are too close together they will hinder in each other’s production.

Make sure you follow the spacing on the seed packet or if you bought them as transplants look the variety name up on the Internet for spacing. Usually transplant tags will give you the correct the spacing.

Sometimes Iris Need To Grow Up Before Blooming

Q. Last fall, I planted about 2 dozen iris corms. I followed the directions explicitly. All the plants appear to be healthy, growing green and straight but no blooms!! I was advised that they need greater sun exposure. I had planted them in an interior courtyard that has sun and shade. Some of my plants were in a planter so I moved them to a southern exposure but they haven't bloomed. I have the same problem with some day lilies I purchased in LV, green, healthy, lots of leaves but no flowers.

A. Two thoughts come to mind. In many cases iris need a year to get established before they will bloom. Much depends on the size of the rhizome that was planted and how it was planted.

Sometimes late spring freezes can interrupt a flowering cycle as well. Give them another year to get established and my guess they will bloom nicely. Try not to overfertilize them or they may tend to be juvenile and grow leaves with no or few flowers. Fertilize them after blooming rather than before.