Saturday, October 26, 2019

Thinning out the fruit trees

Thinning fruit trees

Many fruit trees are biennial bearing; that is to say they will bear a lot of fruit one year and very little the next. Though it may reduce the total weight of fruit in a given year, some judicious thinning out will increase the size, color and quality and at the same time encourage regular bearing.

Thinning out is more easily done with a pair of long-handled pruners on a taller tree, by hand if the fruit is within reach. Remove all the misshapen or diseased fruit first then the smallest of a cluster to leave one or two fruit on each twig.

Some varieties of apples, for example, Granny Smith are self thinning in most years but Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, Spartan and Gala will all benefit from this procedure.

Life in the garden is often a balance of one thing against another. The practice of good culture and garden hygiene does much to diminish a lot of problems but some insect pests and diseases are in evitable and steps have to be taken to control them.

Cherries are the main host of Pear and Cherry slug which begins to make an appearance at this time of year particularly in cool moist weather, however, apples, pears, plums and many other ornamental plants are also affected.

The dark slimy slug-like larvae feed from the leaf tissue before falling to the ground to pupate before a second and even more destructive generation appears in mid summer. Insecticides used to control them now will greatly reduce a more serious problem later on.

Powdery mildew quickly affects a number of fruiting and ornamental plants. In the vegetable garden the cucurbits - cucumbers, zucchine and squash, are particularly prone unless you have planted resistant varieties.

Early morning rather than late day watering by the drip system instead of over-head sprays will not cure it, but may assist in control. Steps should be taken as soon as the first signs are evident other wise the result is extensive damage to crops. Combination sprays which contain sulfur are a useful means of control.

Keep vegetable crops on the move with regular application of liquid fertilizers. Lettuce plants should mature quickly to remain crisp and sweet: slow growth usually results in a bitter flavor to the leaf.

Endive which is related to chicory is an interesting alternative. Similar in appearance and grown much the same way as lettuce, it can be planted later in the season for harvest in autumn.

Potatoes should be earthed up regularly to protect the haulm, produce a bigger crop and prevent any of the tubers from being exposed to the light and turning green. Ridge up the soil on both sides of the plants to leave a V-shaped trench between rows.

Continue to plant clumps or drifts of summer-flowering annuals where there are gaps in the shrub borders. Pansies are still flowering well and may be kept in bloom even longer if they are dead headed regularly. Any holes which have appeared in the petals are usually caused by earwigs.

Though carbaryl sprays are normally effective, the pests may be trapped in match boxes filled with damp straw or rotted leaves and disposed of later.


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