Now is the Time
SUMMER PRUNING To decrease the vigor of summer growth and attain more flower buds for next year, do your major fruit tree pruning as soon as a crop is harvested. It helps to dwarf your tree. Detail pruning is then easily accomplished after leaf drop.
BERRY TIME The problem of planting strawberries in January (when they first become available in nurseries) is that they fruit at the same time as my 'Tropical" blackberries. At least my "Triple Crown" black berries and "Rosanna" raspberries will ripen much later in the season.
I still have remnants of Red Berry Mite on the Tropical berries, even though I sprayed at the first signs of new growth with lime sulfur. Next year I'll take the advice I gave Terry Kiser and use compost tea. He was successful in overcoming this scourge. Terry says his 'Holy Grail' is to develop a black raspberry that will do well in our climate. He has a triple hybrid of Boysenberry, a "Knott's" berry and a "Cumberland" black raspberry that produces abundantly (3 gal a picking on 32' of berries). Besides eating fresh he also makes a berry wine.
COMPOST TEA You all surely remember Dr. Elaine Ingham, the dynamic keynote speaker at our annual meeting. She advocates compost tea for several reasons: It suppresses foliar disease; increases the amount of nutrients available; and speeds up the breakdown of
toxin on leaves and in the soil. Her method is a little more complicated than the one Terry used - pouring hot water over compost and letting it sit for 2 or 3 weeks. This anaerobic method could produce alcohol which, when applied to plant leaves, destroys cell walls.
For Dr. Ingham's method you will need a 5 gallon plastic bucket and a few aquarium supplies - a pump large enough to run three bubblers, several feet of air tubing, a gang valve to distribute air to the bubblers, and 3 bubblers. If you have well water, you can use water straight from the spigot. If you use city water, aerate the water first by running the bubblers in it for a few hours to dissipate the chlorine, which would kill all the beneficial organisms. (Or you could let it sit for a day to let the chlorine escape.)
To make the tea, fill an empty bucket halfway with compost but don't pack it in. The compost must be loose for the bubblers to aerate it properly. Cut one length of tubing and attach one end to the pump and the other to the gang valve. Attach three lengths of tubing (long enough to reach the bottom of the bucket) to the ports on the gang valve, and place a bubbler at the end of each length of tubing. Hang the gang valve on the bucket's lip and bury the bubblers underneath the compost.
Full the bucket to within 3 inches of the rim and start the pump. With the pump going, add 1 ounce of molasses to feed the bacteria, and stir the mixture vigorously. After 3 days, turn the pump off, let the mixture settle for 10 to 20 minutes, and then strain it into another bucket or directly into your sprayer. For the tea to be effective, it must be used immediately. (Remember: Early morning or evening is the best
spraying time.)You can add the solids you've strained to your compost pile or directly to soil.
Research is still ongoing but compost tea is known to control certain leaf diseases like fusarium wilt, blight, gray mold, downy and powdery mildew, apple scab and add to this list - Red Berry Mite! Dr. Ingham has authored a booklet, The Compost Tea Manual, which gives further information about making compost, brewing compost tea, and determining which recipe is right for your conditions. This is available from:
SoilFoodWeb at (541) 752-5066 or <email@example.com>
SoilSoupInc. At (871) 711-7687 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Growing Solutions at (541) 343-8727 or <email@example.com>
POLLINATOR ATTRACTANT Our previous Container Growing Specialist wrote about a Salvia "Indigo Spires" as an exceptional pollinator attractant. I bought a plant and found not only honey bees but many other kinds of beneficials were attracted to these blue flowers. I mentioned this to the propagator at the Fullerton Arboretum. The last time I was in there for their weekend plant sales, I noticed they now have a large number of these plants for sale. The plant has a tendency to sprawl - so give it plenty of room. You'll find it a beautiful addition to your garden or orchard. It does not produce seeds or grow from upper stem cuttings. A salvia expert said to use only the very basal stems to make new plants. The color blue seems to be bees favorite color.
Even though I no longer have a hive, I have no shortage of bees or other beneficials. It may look a little unkept, but I let other salvias, dill, Italian parsley, celery and alyssum go to seed all over my hillside as a residence for insects. Plus, I always grow some flowers in my vegetable garden for them.