Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Fruit Advisor and My Nasty Apples

I'm not sure how I ended up here yesterday, but the University of Massachusetts Amherst has some wonderful information on fruit trees.  I started by going through the PDF on Fruit Tree Management for the Home which covers apples, pears and peaches, plums and cherries (all trees that I want to plant next spring in my new orchard that I'll be making next spring, but maybe apricots instead of plums).

The discussion is so clear and the pictures are so good that now I have the answer to a question I asked earlier in the season.  "What is wrong with my apples?"

The answer, according to this information is the following:
- plum curculio
- apple scab

Gotta go - I have some researchin' to do!


  1. Thanks for the helpful link, Jordan! I bookmarked it.

    Early last year I planted two apples, two plums and a pear. During the first year I saw the best growth on the plums, especially the one I planted closest to the leech field for the septic. (Hmmm...) The others seemed to fade... I won't know until late next spring if they survived the winter and my heavy clay soil. I did not give the soil much help, being half lazy and half cognizant that plenty of other trees took hold in the same yard without help. They got lots of water.

    Next year I want to add two or three peach trees and blueberries. The Reliance peach is supposed to be one of the best for colder areas.

    I am going to spend a lot of time exploring the link you provided, so thanks again!

    And some day I really want to hear your goat story, how you got to thinking you want goats. I'm not adverse to having animals, but not sure I want to stay put in one place, like I'd have to. There's a city girl thing in me still. Maybe I could move to Troy, which is more animal friendly, and get two goats that like travel -- keeping the VT place.

    Plans, plans, plans! Okay, I'll shut up!

  2. OMG - remember that apricot tree in your back yard in Ohio City? Wow, I've never seen anything like that crop of apricots.

    Fruit trees are hard to grow here - the blossoms get zapped by late freezes and it's recipe for disappointment. I am, however, thinking of building/buying/resourcing a big container (with a bottom to keep runners at bay) of raspberries - yum.

    I read one shouldn't plant raspberries in the same soil as tomatoes and peppers, as there are soil nasties that can affect the razzleberries. I'll be planting those things near the berries, so it makes sense to isolate them.

    It's so fun to think about gardening when it's 12 outside :-)

  3. Oops! I planted the trees early this year, not last year!

  4. Linda - I'm going to go right now and look for a picture I have of that apricot tree bursting full of apricots. If I find it, I'll scan and post it. Maybe there's a way to protect fruit blossoms from late freezes? I've been reading your blog, and it seems you're full into winter now. It hasn't started here yet.

    Kate - I'm curious - how much space did you give your trees? Did you buy dwarf trees? How did you protect the trunks from wabbits and other varmints? My soil is probably acidic, so I need to find out if there's anything I need to do to it before I plant. I'll plan on writing a post sometime soon about why I want goats. It's kindof a long story.

  5. Jordan,

    I gave the trees the distance that the instructions said. Not dwarfs. For apple, it was 25 feet between trees. One of the others -- I think plum -- said 20 feet. Pear was 25 too.

    I had planned -- oh, how I plan -- to put the trees in a clearing next to the house.

    What I actually did, though, was discover I could have that 25 feet by ringing those 5 trees around my house, not off in the clearing.

    I tend to be someone who pays attention to what is RIGHT near me, and I knew if the trees were out in the clearing they would not get half as much attention. (Yup, that's me.)

    The peaches, though, will be out there, since I used the available space near the house. Peaches like wind breaks, so they will be at the far end.

    For varmint protection, I used "hardware cloth" (which is just a closer wired mesh than standard fencing -- no actual cloth). I bought my trees over the web from St. Lawrence Nurseries, which is in Potsdam, NY. The hardware cloth (36 inch height) came from Lowe's. All the detailed instructions came with the trees: get hardware cloth....

    You cut the hardware cloth (it comes in rolls) and ring it around the base of the tree in a cage. For extra protection, you can take window screening and tuck it over the hardware cloth.

    One other thing. It can be good to dig the tree holes in the fall, because the ground can be frozen when the trees are shipped in very early spring. If you are planting over time, just get started and do that the next year if you didn't do that yet. That's what everybody I know did.

  6. P.S. Cornell Cooperative Extension (in NY) tests soil and gives loads of advice. They have offices around NY.

  7. Thanks for the info! One of the permie people around here (permaculture) planted paw paw trees in his mother's yard. That's not a fruit I'm familiar with. I wonder if they're good...

  8. Paw paws (custard apples is another name) are native to bottomland areas - we had them growing on the floodplain at the park I worked at in Toledo. Humongous leaves, edible fruit, although the seeds are very large. They grew as an understory mega-shrub/small tree under the sycamores down there.

    How I miss the variety of deciduous trees back east...